Confessions of a Bird Stalker

[2019] Confessions of a Bird Stalker is an artist’s book reinterpretation of the poem, Ode to Bird Watching, by Pablo Neruda.

I came across this poem in my research on bird migration and saw the opportunity to create a new narrative using in form of the concertina book while experimenting with typography and letterpress. The entire book is hand-sewn and hand-set, mostly utilizing the blind emboss technique on a proofing press. The book is 30 feet long, 6 inches tall, and housed in a handmade slipcase.

The book exploits the psychology of watcher versus stalker. [read more]

There are two ways to read this book.

The first, reading the book straight through – both the blind embossed and inked words – as you would Pablo Neruda’s Ode to Birdwatching poem.

The second option, reading only the inked words, has a more sinister tone, similar to how a stalker would think or feel about their prey. [As I began to dive deeper into ornithology, I also found myself becoming a birdwatcher, and that is where I started to notice that the habits of a bird watcher and stalker are largely the same.] This viewing is meant to be a tactical and immersive experience. The red thread acts as a barrier between a stalker and their prey, becoming more haphazard and unraveling as the stalker gets more frustrated with the birds. The thread also acts as a visual cue to the next lines of type. 

At the end of the book, sewn into the last fold, is Pablo Neruda’s original poem in both English and Spanish. This provides a reference for the viewer to see the original format, as well as an accessibility feature, as blind embossed words can be difficult to read for some viewers.

Letterpress on Stonehenge white; inkjet on French Paper butcher extra white, with waxed cotton thread. Scrabble (wood type), Gothic (metal type), & Benton (digital) typefaces.

I am very grateful to Pablo Neruda for writing a beautiful poem for me to mull over and reinterpret. Learn more about Neruda here.

Neruda, Pablo. All the Odes. Translated by Ilan Stevens. Farrar, Straus and Giroux,  Bilingual edition, 2017.

Ode to Birdwatching in its original form: