The Chico Poems

The Chico Poems portfolios
© Lisa Nebenzahl

One project I was involved with in 2022 was The Chico Poems, an edition of 15 clamshell cases for Lisa Nebenzahl. Each case holds a suite of 8 poems written by Lisa’s mother, Chico Nebenzahl, in the 1940s. We printed the poems in letterpress at the Minnesota Center for Book Arts over unique cyanotype prints that were printed by Lisa on Rives BFK paper.

The cases are 16x12x1” in dimension, and covered in a blue/silver Japanese book cloth. The cover has a debossed photograph of her mother at her typewriter, with the title and Lisa’s name hot-foil stamped in silver.

This project was inspired by my late mother Chico Nebenzahl (1916-2000), who penned the poems in the early 1940’s. With the support of a McKnight Fellowship for Book Artists, the project took a year to produce as I employed the light of the sun to create the cyanotype prints in the spring, summer and fall of 2021. Letterpress and cyanotype printing come together to share these short, sometimes acerbic poems. A posthumous collaboration with my mother, who wrote poetry and fiction in her in twenties in Chicago but never shared them widely, gave me a chance to bring these poems out of their long rest and into the light.

Acquisitions have been made by The Museum of Fine Arts Houston Hirsch Library, the Phoenix Public Library, Rare Book Room and the University of Colorado Boulder Rare and Distinctive Collections.

More information on Lisa’s website here.

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