Wake: Up to Poetry
Arts & Culture
The cover art on The Wake Forest Series of Irish Poetry, Volume II to the casual observer may seem a tad too modernist or minimalist to garner any serious, long-term reflection. It could be say, a fork and a crumpled foil wrapper, or perhaps a field goal being kicked for those of us (yes, myself included) who do not always recognize the depth of a piece of cover art beyond a brief perusal and a more pressing urgency to get to reading what’s inside the covers. Indeed, I have always stood by the age-old adage “Don’t judge a book by its cover” and have snobbishly declared on occasion that I was not one of those who cared for the superficial aspects of a book—I was more about the brains than the beauty.
But I was wrong to dismiss the cover as a pretty (and sometimes not-so-pretty) embellishment rather than as what it should be—a complement to the writing and a force of contemplation in its own right. The cover of Wake’s second volume of Irish Poetry reinforced this belief. The cover art is called “Tangram II” by Irish artist Patrick Scott, who won the Guggenheim Award in 1960. The tangram, a traditionally Chinese geometric puzzle of seven pieces that can be arranged into various positions and shapes, adds an element of innovativeness and contemporaneity that mirrors the intentions of the poetry volume to introduce current Irish poets to a wider audience and emphasize the changing and dynamic view of Ireland through words and art.
Fortuitously, it appears Scott takes some liberties with the original concept of the tangram by forfeiting the seven pieces for five that conveniently matches with the number of poets in the volume: Seán Lysaght, Moya Cannon, Thomas McCarthy, John F. Deane, and Máire Mhac an tSaoi. The five distinctive voices coming together in one volume is tangibly exhibited by the distinct and original combination of the geometric pieces. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that “Tangram II” is black and gold, a small nod to Wake Forest University’s school colors.