HOLD ranges over many topics: climate anxiety, corporate doublespeak, international migration, nuclear energy, and the counter-intuitive beauty of the world. The writing departs from an idea explored in Roy Scranton’s ecological lament Learning to Die in the Anthropocene: namely, that our obsession with thriving (from a Norwegian root word that means grasp or hold) is intensifying our environmental crisis. While the prints and text have been exhibited in Austria, France, Germany, Spain, and Tokyo, Fall 2018 marked the first time the book was displayed as an assembled whole (with events at the University of Texas-Austin and the Phoenix Art Museum). The poem appears in Ball’s third full-length collection, Hold Sway, about which the New York Times writes, “[Q]uestions of how to hold and be held; what holding is; and how to tether ourselves govern Ball’s collection. Her poems are often breathtaking.”
The artist’s book measures 26 x 20 inches and comprises 62 pages. It is printed on 300-gram Somerset paper. It is an edition of 35, with each one nonetheless unique. For example, for #13 (please request a link to see this version), the paper was printed entirely with black ink, then overlaid with rose, then gold, and then the linocut plate gave a fourth impression on top of those. Vičar then adds additional lino print images and textures onto the main text or image of any given page, so each page of each copy is unique.
Sally Ball is the author of Hold Sway (2019), Wreck Me (2013), and Annus Mirabilis (2005), all from Barrow Street. She is an associate professor of English at Arizona State University and an associate director of Four Way Books. Her work has appeared in American Poetry Review, Boston Review, Harvard Review, Scoundrel Time (first publication of “Hold,” which received their Editors’ Choice Award in Poetry for 2018), Tin House, and elsewhere. She lives in Phoenix.
Jan Vičar studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague. He has exhibited his work around the world—across Europe, in Japan, the United States, and South Africa. He has twice won Prague’s Print of the Year in the experimental category. He is the recipient of the 2018 Prix de Gravure Mario Avati from the Académie des Beaux Arts in Paris. He lives outside of Telc, in the forest in West Moravia, in the Czech Republic. More information at janvicar.com.
In 2019, there will be a fully engraved version of the book in translation into French.
“Hold” — poème en français
“Hold” — “Halten” auf Deutsch
“Hold” — in Japanese