I know what you’re thinking: I probably shouldn’t do a Google Image search for “Double Aldrich.” It’s probably terrifying.
And I can’t say if it is or isn’t, because I am now myself afraid of performing such a search to check. So let’s just agree not to search that particular term.
The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum is located in Ridgefield, Connecticut, and, at least in 2005, held a poetry competition. The competition was, fittingly enough, called “The Aldrich Poetry Competition,” and apparently accepted chapbook-length manuscripts as competition entries.
As with all competitions and contests, you can safely assume that there was a good number of people who entered, but only one who was ultimately selected as the winner. I’d make that assumption, as well. Generally, we’re not supposed to assume a whole lot of things in life (the saying about assumptions and asses comes to mind), but in this case, I’d think it would be a reasonably safe assumption to make, since that’s typically how competitions occur.
In this case, we’d both be wrong and proven to be the proverbial assess, because there wasn’t one winner that was chosen. There were two.
Mary Oliver, acting as the competition’s judge, selected Judith Valente’s Inventing An Alphabet and Suzanne Frischkorn’s Spring Tide as the winners. Whether there was a monetary prize, I don’t know (and I’m not going to assume anything–I’ve already made jackasses out of the lot of us with my wild assumptions). But the winners did get their manuscripts printed up in book form.
And this is where it gets neat. (Not that it wasn’t already neat, what with Mary Oliver being the judge. But I digress.)
Instead of having their books printed separately, their books appeared together in the same volume; however, it would be remiss to say that one manuscript appeared after the other one, because technically there isn’t any order. Each one can be considered as appearing first depending on from which side one opens the book.
See, on one side of the cover, Spring Tide appears, and the book begins with those poems.
However, if you flip the book vertically and look at the other cover, Inventing An Alphabet appears, and those poems appear first.
To put it another way, if you flip to the middle of the book, ignore the three or so blank pages and look at the pages of text side by side, one page is going to be upside down no matter which way you’re holding the book.
This was the first time I’d come across this format before, and I think it’s great. It’s cuts down on productions costs for the publisher, and whoever ends up owning a copy gets two books bound together in the same volume.
As to where I found this book–judging by my past posts, I’m sure you could probably guess (hint: it rhymes with “Half Price Cooks,” which, side-note, sounds like a great name for a mediocre catering company. Like, they’ll serve roast beef, but only half of it is going to be cooked. Or if they serve omelets, they don’t break the yolk, so the omelet is made of egg whites with the yolks staring at you while you eat. Or yolks on the side in a little bowl. Whichever. The point is, yolks.)