I read literature for many reasons, and one of those, plain and simple, is that it stimulates my imagination much in the same way it did when I was a child. As I meander through a poem (which is likely to present present a world via images), my relationship to the conjured visual world intensifies. Images walk up to me and disappear around corners, or float down from some earlier line of a poem until they are right before my eyes.
As a child growing up in the late 80’s, I was enthralled by the Nintendo games, especially those featuring Mario. I was never been particularly good at “winning” in these small pixel-worlds. Sometimes I would wander out of the game proper—a little carelessly, maybe even a little recklessly, the clock ticking down—to explore. I wanted to know what was out there, beyond the boundaries of the game world, and experience the mundane elements of this place. I wanted to feel that I was in a full and cohesive world. However, each time I tried I would literally run into the edge of that imagined world. Mario simply could not move any further, and all of the scenery—the little sheet of grass, the little puffs of cloud, and all the grey air in between—would wiggle as if shot through with soft lightening. What I had really run into, or up against, was the end of what had been represented. In other words, I had reached the outer limit of that world. Though it might have been frustrating then, now I gladly accept this limitation because visual mediums and experiences have so much to offer, including the opportunity, when we reach their edges, to imagine for ourselves what lies beyond.
All this is to say that when I recently discovered the blog 50 Watts, I felt a jolt of excitement. The website is an exhaustive collection of book-related art and design. For someone who loves to think about the minds-eye landscapes of writers, and who also loves to get lost in the beautiful, wacky, colorful and inventive work of visual artists, this blog, curated by Will Schofield, is the ultimate feast. It is a lovely reminder of how the written and visual can work together. Neither plays a mere supporting role. Instead, each medium nourishes the other in a meaningful kind of give-and-take. I encourage you to visit 50 Watts and see which pieces tempt you the most!
Illustration from: Long Neck Deer, written by Djamsheed Sepahi and illustrated by Yoota Azargeen