Linocut illustration Maya Angelou

Linocut illustration Project: A Little History of Poetry

I’ve been working on a linocut illustration project for the book A Little History of Poetry. The book is part of the Little History series and will be published in 2020 by Yale University Press. The other books in the series also feature linocut illustration by some fantastic artists, including Clifford Harper, Sarah Young and Joe McClaren. My own illustrations will be on the book cover and at the start of each chapter. The illustrations are in black and white in a wide format akin to cinematic widescreen. You can see some of my previous linocut illustration projects here.

A Little History of Poetry is written by John Carey and covers a selection of works from the 4000-year-old Epic of Gilgamesh up to 20th century poets like Maya Angelou and Seamus Heaney. I’m not a poetry buff (I only know W. H. Auden‘s poetry from the film Four Weddings and a Funeral) so I have enjoyed researching a wide collection of poems and poets. With forty linocuts to make this has been a somewhat epic task, but it has allowed me to explore a variety of approaches to the illustrations.

Here are a few taster images. For most of these I’ve created the design using a wacom tablet with my laptop. This allows me to draw in a similar way to how I carve the lino. Once I’m happy with the design I print it off and transfer it to the block using Japanese carbon paper. Then I edit the image further as I carve. The finished lincut illustration has a quality which I can’t achieve with a computer.

Maya Angelou linocut illustration

Maya Angelou

linocut illustration for Beowulf


linocut illustrationof the poet Ben Johnson

Ben Johnson

The Rape of the Lock linocut illustration

The Rape of the Lock, Alexander Pope

linocut illustration of Perseus and Medusa

Perseus and Medusa, Ovid