Seeking to redefine our concepts of cultural identity, history and language — and the classic reference work itself — Encyclopedia Vol. 1 A-E features the work of 114 writers and artists on information (and in a format) not found elsewhere. Under California, for instance, you will find “See canyon, Exene, exploration”; under catatonic or eaves, there are no words, only a photo or a line drawing. Original fiction and poetry, painting and photography are among the media used. Editors Miranda F. Mellis, Kate Schatz and Tisa Bryant met in the MFA program at Brown University, and Vol. 1 is the first imprint of their newly founded press Encyclomedia. The book itself is a beautiful hardbound edition and resembles its archetype — except for the bright turquoise-and-pink cover bearing the contributors’ names in metallic lettering. Those contributors include Eileen Myles, Georges Bataille, Brian Evanson, Alice Notely, Jorge Luis Borges and Samuel R. Delany. Entries that stand out: Anna Joy Springer’s rebus for her deceased teacher, the writer Kathy Acker, in which the pictograms that describe their relationship begin to fall apart; Jess Arndt’s narrative for the Barbary Coast, where space, time and histories collide in re-creating a tale of piracy and slavery that includes Ronald Reagan, Nicolas Cage and Jean Genet; and locals Ron Athey and Juliana Snapper’s definition of the term double voiced through reference to their operatic performance Judas Cradle (seen at REDCAT last year). Five more volumes are planned, with F-K up next. More information — and an open call for submissions — can be found at www.encyclopediaproject.org. The book is available for purchase on the Web site, or locally at Skylight Books.
Encyclopedia VoL. 1 A-E | Edited by MIRANDA F. MELLIS, KATE SCHATZ and TISA BRYANT | Encyclomedia | 336 pages | $25 hardcover