James Merrill; cover drawing by Dorothea Tanning.
New York: Nadja, 1993. Octavo. Illustrated white paper wraps. One of 30 roman-numeraled copies reserved for the author and the artist out of a total edition of 130 copies signed by Merrill & Tanning, additionally inscribed by Tanning to the late poet Adrienne Rich, "darling Adrienne," on the flyleaf. Near fine.
The poet W.S. Merwin described Nine Lives as an "encore" to the "enormous light show" that is The Changing Light at Sandover, noting that "its introductory verses" also "say some definite things about Merrill's own conception, or at least his late view, of the [poetic] enterprise." Tanning began as a surrealist painter and finished as a poet, though she was also many other people in between, including the wife of Max Ernst. She was close friends with a number of notable poets, people like Merrill, Rich, and Merwin. Tanning and Rich were also collaborators, with Rich's verse adorning Tanning's images: "Pistil, stamen and bractbut / never abstract: / the flower becomes the eye / we see her by." An extremely rare and desirable fine press book in its own right, but a singular treasure given the association—two major American artists, also friends, the inscription conveying the tenderness of that friendship.
"The ancient comic theater had it right"