“The Amichai Windows, Interior of Opened Enclosure,” Rick Black, 2017, artist book, 15″ x 35″
Within the context of Israel, its culture, its literature, and in particular, its poetry, Yehuda Amichai—who, coincidentally, died in the same year (2000) as did Albrecht Goes—is considered Israel’s most eloquent and important voice, and one of the leading poets worldwide in the second half in the twentieth century. His poetry has been translated into 40 languages. Rick Black, from Arlington, Virginia, who lived for three years as a New York Times journalist in Jerusalem, has produced a carefully contrived handmade limited-edition book (only 18 copies were produced) called “The Amichai Windows”—a window into the poet’s poetry and its diversely directed address of Israeli, Jewish, and human issues. Yet again, the people of books is re-examined as a people of both poetry and images.
The artist has embedded eighteen of Amichai’s poems—the number is not accidental; in the numerology of Hebrew letters, the consonants that comprise the word “life” (hai) add up to 18—in Hebrew together with English translations into a triptych-like structure, in which the book opens its wings from both sides of its central section. Most frequently the artist offers a poem in Hebrew on the right and in English on the left and some relevant image, or series of images, within the central panel. Each “triptych” is presented, before one opens it, in the form of a Jerusalem window. Each of the poems has embedded within its verses the idea of a window.
Rick Black is an award-winning book artist and poet. His artist books are represented in private and public collections, including the Library of Congress, Yale University and the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. A journalist for many years, Rick worked overseas for three years in the Jerusalem bureau of The New York Times. While he enjoyed reporting, he was intent on pursuing his love of literature and books. He studied at the Center for Book Arts in New York and Pyramid Atlantic in Maryland, and eventually founded his own imprint, Turtle Light Press. In 2017, he completed “The Amichai Windows,” a ten-year project of translation, research, design, letterpress printing and hand bookbinding. A collection of 18 poems by renowned Israeli poet Yehuda Amichai, “The Amichai Windows” opens a window onto love, war, and being Jewish today. In 2019, Rick received the Isaac Anolic Jewish Book Arts Award. To learn more about “The Amichai Windows,” visit www.amichaiwindows.com. You can keep up with Rick’s other writing projects at www.turtlelightpress.com and www.israelhaiku.com.