Ugly Duckling Presse

A Non- Breaking Space
A Non- Breaking Space

Jen Bervin

Poetry/Art
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I started writing about clouds as a fire lookout on Red Mountain in Arizona. The lookout tower was in the Sonoran Desert about six thousand feet above sea level, on par with the surrounding peaks and the clouds. Summer is monsoon season there, and the clouds are quite dramatic—seedlike in the morning, burgeoning cumulus towards noon, thunderheads by early afternoon.

When I moved to New York in 2001, I was surprised to find the clouds just as spectacular. Alystyre Julian, poet and dear friend, and I collaborated on a cloud poem, The View from Everywhere, over the course of the next couple of years. That poem contains a collage of fragments from the lookout and such beautiful things by Alystyre. After we released it online (no longer available on The Poetry Project at St. Mark's website), I began work on this book. It was written and made in New York, with Dieter Roth’s 246 Little Clouds (Something Else Press, 1968) and Rachel Bers’s new drawings in mind. For a long time, I simply called it “the cloud book.” Its proper name comes from HTML (Hyper Text Markup Language) source code for a character, “ ” that preserves a blank space between words and simultaneously prevents a line break.

I determined from the start that this book would be scanned and viewed online through Ugly Duckling Presse. This allowed for a certain abandon in making it—no editioning process, no worries about whether the materials or methods were archival, and no production budget. I wanted it to be a free book, one called up on screen by demand—for it to exist as needed. When I give readings from this text, I bring the paper book for everyone to handle. I like to think that the object will eventually die from touch.

—Jen Bervin

About the Author

Jen Bervin
Jen Bervin is a Brooklyn-based visual artist and writer whose works often combine text and textiles with strong conceptual elements and a minimalist’s eye for the poetic and essential. Her work has been exhibited internationally and is held in more than thirty collections, including The Walker Art Center and The J. Paul Getty Museum. She has published eight books, including Emily Dickinson: The Gorgeous Nothings, named a Best Book of the Year by Hyperallergic and The New Yorker. Jen Bervin’s work receives support from Creative Capital and the Rauschenberg Foundation and can be viewed on her website.