Nathan Shepherdson: lips over a waterfall
Nathan’s poem for Sophia’s Notebook, lips over a waterfall, has now been printed, packed and sent off in precious postal packs worldwide.
What a labour of love this has been! It has involved quite a journey across these Covid-haunted years to bring this beautiful thing into the world.
Nathan has written a delicate, intricate and subtle series of 22 poems (one for each year of Sophia’s life)—22 densely packed, visually rich 3-line poems set together in meaningfully ordered disorder. The 22 poems have been printed in 22 signed and numbered boxed sets (some of which are given to the state and national archives).
There is a painful reality to that number, 22, but there was beauty in how Sophia lived it, and there is beauty in what Nathan has made of it.
Printed on individual cards, the series comes with an “artist’s order,” but each 3-line poem can also be read singly in and of itself. Twenty two small and wonderful things, each perfect in the imperfection of disorder, the sequence as a whole embodying the necessary process of making meaning out of the randomness with which life, and especially death, all too often confronts us.
The natural world (the beautiful landscape in which Sophie spent half of her life) is a very real feature of Nathan’s poem, so it seems fitting that nature has a place in the physical representations of it. Each headed by a drawing of soft-hued Australian native leaves, the cards are printed on 100% cotton-based card, wrapped in Unryushi paper made from the bark of mulberry trees, and tied with silk thread. Fiona Dempster’s title calligraphy was also designed with nature’s flowing lines in mind.
One of the poems has, moreover, been printed on posters and postcards accompanied by the mysterious and evocative Last Moon, March 1998, painted of the local landscape by Nathan’s father, noted Australian artist, Gordon Shepherdson. I think Sophie, who loved both the landscape and art, would definitely approve.
Nathan has said of the printed version of his poem that it “slows the breath a little”.
In the all too frantic era we live in, taking a moment to stop, to experience such a “pause in space-time” (to quote Sophie’s Apotheosis as an Eagle), is a good and necessary thing.
Each poem written for Sophie’s Notebook is a gift of that moment, one I know Sophie would wish to give you.
Here then is Nathan’s poem (in poster format) to read and share: