The Final Days: Altering a Book

The first time I heard the word, "altered books" was probably in late 2000.

The first time I actually altered a book was in October 2001. I was at the funeral of a neighbour who died in the World Trade Center. I was distraught and didn't realize I was writing in a book found on the sidewalk outside of the Church. I wrote a poem, a way to both honour and distract me from the reality that had set in after September 11th.

I didn't realize it would be considered altering, but it was. I didn't burn and the bibliophile in me gave into the urge to continue. I called that first book Jimmyboy.

After that brief foray, I altered books regularly, as exchanges with on-line acquaintances or friends I had made in the art community.

Some of the exchanges were quite successful and the books beautiful.

And none looked like the most improbable, but well known altered book by Tom Philips' " Humument.

A search on altered books brings up dozens of references.

Then early in the Spring of 2006, I went on the road and headed first for a sweet sojourn in Scottsdale, Arizona for a fortnight. While there I finished the last issue of my zine, and picked up Woodward's "The Final Days" in a bookshop for 50¢ with the intention of altering it.

However, something in the Taos air kept me from doing much art, and it is only now that I have the emotional and spiritual space to take that book, somewhat primed with gesso, into its life as an altered book.

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