60 Lovers to Make & Do, by Sophie Herxheimer, is a collection of metaphorical contemporary love stories – vignettes written in playful poetry. They are presented with associated artwork in collage format which are a delight to explore. Each subject is introduced by their occupation. These women make use of whatever objects are to hand to create their ideal lover. Of course, lovers rarely turn out to be ideal. As in more conventional relationships, some of the pairings work and many do not.
Each poem is short but neatly conveys the complexities of living with a lover – the unexpected turns such alliances can take.
The desire to find a compatible lover is the driving force behind the creative activity. Subjects make the paramour they believe they want but cannot then control what has become a sentient being.
Some of the lovers turn out to harbour interests that were not predicted. The relationships are, very much, reflections of more conventional encounters.
There are a variety of reasons why certain relationships do not last. The bespoke creations turn out to be as varied as those met in other ways.
I mentioned the artwork that accompanies the poems. These collages are cut from a range of sources and it is fun to try to work out connections. They mostly depict the lovers as cutouts and pose them alongside the gap left from their removal.
There are also cut out words and phrases put together to add a further layer of interest.
As well as the poems – the occupations – the index lists the items needed to make the lovers detailed. This was a quirky addition that amused me.
The collection is entertaining throughout but raises serious issues about desire, control and expectation. A distinctive collection of art and poetry that is well worth perusing.
My copy of this book was provided gratis by the publisher, Henningham Family Press.