Piper Leigh came to Stone Forest with a vision.
Having just completed a book of her own poetry and photographs, she was seeking a space to host the release & reading of her new work, including the installation of her hand-sewn kimonos. “I just knew this was the perfect place,” said Piper when we sat down in the sunshine on a natural granite boulder bench to brainstorm on the event planning. Perfect because the event was to combine word, voice, image and installation together to create an atmosphere for the attendees to experience. In other words, Piper wanted to bring her book to life, and reinforce the fact that she “sees poetry as a conversation- listening and giving voice to the weave of story, community and land.”
Invitation | Left: Kimonos and photo by Piper Leigh | Right: Granite Wabi Basins by Stone Forest
About the Book |
Renée Gregorio of Tres Chicas Books
describes my thin-skinned wandering
as a book that “embraces image, language and texture through poetry and photography. It is a powerful invitation for the reader to become more than a reader of poems-to engage with transparency, the literary fragment and the image in such a way that the book becomes felt-experience, both physically and emotionally. The poems are a testament to what is born of loss, to the abiding natural world, and to embracing the intensity of longing so that the door can be opened to what mystery reveals.”
About the Author |
Piper Leigh is the founder of Comunica, where she designs “interactive workshops to help leaders and teams communicate, collaborate and innovate” by encouraging creative interactions. She publishes limited edition artist books, participates in collaborative projects, and creates installations with different forms and materials like scrolls, mobiles, and kimonos.
The reading took place on the evening of October 6th, with strong attendance that filled the interior gallery space (a few guests even sat in our marble Papillon Bathtub because of limited seating). Beautiful, translucent kimonos suspended from aspen tree branches billowed in the breeze outside against a dramatically stormy sky, and some spun slowly inside the gallery from strings.
The kimonos’ dancing movement outdoors was a contrast to their floating movement indoors. They spread their beautiful, light-weight arms like ghosts or clouds over the weighty carved stone, crafted wood, and cast bronze objects arranged throughout the spaces. Guests buzzed with excitement as they waited in line to purchase their own copy of the book, walked throughout the garden, and found seating. As I flipped through mine, I noticed that the text is printed in dark gray, the pages contain more white space than text or image, the photos are black & white with soft borders, sheets of translucent vellum veil the words and images, and then reveal them crisply underneath. Colorless. Yet full of color, continually sparked by phrases like “dusty blue” or “scarlet saturation” or “inside an indigo kimono”, letting your mind’s eye envision it’s own hues. The book is delicate and tangible and intimate.
Suddenly voices quieted down, and a screen was projected onto the large adobe wall above the Curved Waterwall Fountain. Piper read a selection of poems that were carefully coordinated with the images and words emerging and dissolving quietly over the wall behind her, mimicking the layered movement through the pages of the book itself. The photography depicted moments in nature in both expansive and detailed states, as if to remind the stone, wood, and metal sculpture in the room of their own journeys and origins. This sense of observation and reflection permeated the room; all remained hushed and attentive until her last words were spoken. Shortly after applause, a long queue formed for author signing and congratulatory remarks.
Q&A with Stone Forest & Piper |
SF: Was there a particular event or moment that sparked your desire to write this collection of poems?
P: I was invited by Tres Chicas Books to create a book using language, poetry and image. I had been making installations and different forms of artists books (small editions of scrolls, Japanese bindings like flutterbook, mobiles). I saw it as a challenge to create a trade-publication that could invite people into an experience which included white space, fragment, image, and poems. Could I create transparency in such a book?
SF: Tell me about the title of the book.
P: I continue to wonder: what will it take to travel in the world unarmed, without armor, and allow my self to be touched by the world? What will it take to commit to respond to the call of what meets me…without a plan or predictions? This is my thin-skinned wandering.
SF: What inspires your photographs?
P: I am fascinated by unexpected connections and encounters in the wilderness, in community, at my desk and in travel. The images spark and trigger poems. The poems often surprise me in the meaning that surfaces out of the direct experience of writing.
SF: What inspired you to hand-craft kimonos?
P: I kept wanting to go bigger. See the words in different layers, textures and contexts. Kimonos came to me out of the wish to wear my words. They have an inner lining and a public side…elements of mystery, dance and music. What if they were transparent?
SF: Name a few of your favorite poets.
P: Jane Hirshfield, Seamus Heaney, Adrienne Rich, Eamon Grennan, Mark Doty, Linda Gregg, Lynda Hall…I could go on and on. And, of course, poets we are lucky to have in our own community like Tres Chicas
(Renée Gregorio, Miriam Sagan, Joan Logghe) and many others. There is a strong and very much alive poetry and art community here. We are very fortunate.
SF: Why did you choose Stone Forest as the location for reading and book signing?
P: The work of Stone Forest is an exquisite combination of nature and the work of human hands. The qualities of water, movement and beauty in stone very much resonates with my experience of poetry and art. I have always delighted in this unexpected, secret garden right next to busy St. Francis drive. The “showroom” is warm, intimate AND spacious; a place people could listen, perhaps even dream. The connections between our small town, faraway places and artisans is the best of the concept, global. It seemed a perfect setting. I could see the kimonos in the garden and we got to see them with plenty of wind, movement and changing stormy twilight light. It was great!
After leafing through the long, smooth pages of my thin-skinned wandering in the cozy quiet of my own home, I’d like to share a couple of my personal favorites:
To purchase a copy of my thin-skinned wandering ($30, 250 pages 7.75″ x 11″), please contact Piper directly at [email protected]