Not Your Usual Book: A Poet And Visual Artist Collaborate

Caveworks Press publishes Manifestation Wolverine by Ray Young Bear
By: Caveworks Press and Studios
CEDAR FALLS, Iowa - March 25, 2014 - PRLog -- When Ray Young Bear, a nationally-acclaimed Meskwaki poet, approached the small independent letterpress publisher, Caveworks Press, it was the beginning of a years-long conversation that is now seeing a tangible outcome. Manifestation Wolverine is Ray Young Bear’s seventh book, representing his work over the last decade. For visual artist and publisher Julie Russell-Steuart, it is the fourth book project to come from Caveworks Press. They were the recipients of an Iowa Arts Council artist grant to produce a limited, hand-bound edition of 300 featuring a letterpress printed cover and wood engraving illustrations by the artist. The result is a fine art printing and hand-crafted realization of the book form. In an era of digital books, editions like these are treasures, appreciated for their tactile and finite nature.

Caveworks Press writes about the poetry: “Young Bear turns his carefully tuned poetic senses into a listening parabola for his paranormal investigations into the disappearances of people. On the edge of a dream-state, details emerge, their significance unknown, mulled over and put down on paper, sent in letters to police agencies, and crafted into these records, the poems.” For the poet, “Life and non-ordinary reality are on equal footing.”

Native American Ray A. Young Bear is a member of the Meskwaki Nation (the Red Earth People) and lives on the Meskwaki tribal settlement near Tama, Iowa. Raised by his maternal grandmother, who taught him Meskwaki customs, mythology, and language, Young Bear spoke Meskwaki as his first language, and didn’t become comfortable with English until high school. In an interview with the Des Moines Register, Young Bear said that his writing is a link to the writings of his grandfathers. He owns his grandfathers’ journals from the early 1800s and has said, “I believe that ‘word-collecting’ is genetically encoded in my blood.” Young Bear sees his poems as collages of many voices. His poetry is often surreal and informed by the Meskwaki culture, and his sources are myth, history, and dreams. In addition to his books, Ray’s writing has been published in journals such as the The Kenyon Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, Parnassus, Ploughshares, Solo, Virginia Quarterly Review, New Letters, Prairie Schooner, The Iowa Review, and Witness. Biography from National Poetry Foundation

Visual artist Julie Russell-Steuart grew up in Maryland and earned a BFA in General Fine Art from Maryland Institute, College of Art. She publishes letterpress books of poetry, prints, and artist’s books on a vintage Vandercook printing press under the imprint Caveworks Press. A guillotine paper cutter and three type cabinets full of metal typefaces and various antique cuts round out her print shop. Her artwork combines printmaking techniques like linoleum carving, pressure printing, collograph, and wood engraving. She has shown her work internationally, and her books are collected by several University libraries, including The University of Iowa, Texas State University, and the University of Kentucky Lucille Little Fine Arts Library. She resides in Reinbeck, Iowa, with her husband David, and daughter Cassandra.

Two reading events are planned to launch Manifestation Wolverine:

April 28, 2014 7:30 PM at Prairie Lights Bookstore, 15 South Dubuque St. Iowa City, IA 52240.

May 1, 7:00 PM at the James & Meryl Hearst Center for the Arts

304 West Seerley Blvd, Cedar Falls, IA 50613

Russell-Steuart will give a brief presentation about the making of Manifestation Wolverine before introducing Ray Young Bear, who will read from the work. Books will be available for sale. For more information on the project, please visit

The project is supported, in part, by the Iowa Arts Council, a division of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Julie Russell-Steuart
Source:Caveworks Press and Studios
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Tags:Poetry, Small Press, Letterpress, Art, Native American
Industry:Arts, Books
Location:Cedar Falls - Iowa - United States
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