Writing shortly after the Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022, Britain’s poet laureate Simon Armitage responded to ‘what is coming at us in obscene images through the news’ with a poem titled ‘Resistance’, published in The Guardian newspaper.
Upon reading Armitage’s poem, Esslemont felt an immediate empathy, in particular with the poet’s repetition of the words “it’s war again”. By way of showing solidarity with the people of Ukraine, he created this illustrated edition of the poem in book form to highlight the awful recurrent and ubiquitous nature of war. It is his hope that the visceral calligraphy and choice of images reflect the unimaginable consequences and folly of war.
The illustrations combine montages of manipulated contemporary and archive photographs with Esslemont’s own drawings and images (some taken from his previous books). The calligraphic words are drawn from not only the poem but also a number of other sources – e.g., transcripts of Pathé newsreels, a list of wars spanning two thousand years, Putin’s menacing declaration of his mission (written in Russian), the Ukrainian national anthem, news headlines, and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s speech to the British parliament.
The verse lines echo the closed captions of news reports and follow Simon Armitage’s layout of the poem: three-line verses with the second line indented 3 spaces and the third line indented 6 spaces.
The book is printed digitally using Epson Ultrachrome K3 pigment inks. The paper is Hahnemuhle White Velvet.
The typefaces used were all created by designers with a connection to Ukraine:
Front cover, title: Bifur – Adolphe Mouron Cassandre (born in Kharkiv), digitized by Richard Kegler
Front cover, author: Arsenal – Andrij Shevchenko, Berdyansk
Poem and colophon: Genau – Aleksey Popovtsev, Kyiv
Production note: Bandera – Andrij Shevchenko, Berdyansk
Solmentes Press will donate 5% of net sales to Ukraine TrustChain, a ‘Chicago-based not-for-profit that delivers humanitarian aid and rides to safety for Ukrainians most in need within the warzone’.
Edition of 30 copies, 13.5 x 8 ins, paper covers, in a cloth-covered drop back box – $800 – out of print.
The original unique copy of the book is available – $6000