If I Lay on my Back I Saw Nothing but Naked Women

line If I Lay on my Back I Saw Nothing but Naked WomenPoems by Jacqueline Saphra

Illustrations by Mark Andrew Webber

Paperback ISBN 978-1-910139-06-6
Publication date: 13th November 2014
Page count: 36
Price: £10.00 (paperback)

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* Winner of Best Collaborative Work in the 2015 Saboteur Awards *

This beautiful, full-colour picture book marries the sumptuous prose poems of Jacqueline Saphra with Mark Andrew Webber’s striking studies in the nude female form. Saphra constructs an eerie, sensuous world with her loosely narrative sequence of poems told from the perspective of a child, drawing the reader in with lush, wry descriptions of eccentric parents and step-parents. The surreal mood is complemented by Webber’s beautiful naturalistic linocut prints, which are based on speed-sketches from life-drawing classes.



‘This is a little beauty of a book. The size, design and vivid illustrations, together with its direct child-like voice, can make you feel as if you have a children’s picture book in your hands and that the young subject of the text is watching you, not far away. In seventeen prose poems Saphra gives us a strong sense of her parents, her step-father and three step-mothers and of the damage trickling through their story.’ — Rosie Johnston for London Grip

‘The book is full of strangely tender moments between parent and child, all of which are presented with an almost objective clarity and unemotional distance. Saphra manages to balance the narrative consistently between poignancy and hindsight, most effectively through the choreography of objects and people; their dance is a finely tuned masterpiece of her following them and they being led by her.’ – Jane Monson, Ink, Sweat and Tears

‘Full of exquisite phrase-making […] the work is by turns moving, disturbing and funny as it traces its narrative of a passion for words through terrain that’s tender, explosive and bizarre.’ – Ellen Cranitch, Poetry London

‘Jacqueline Saphra’s sequence of untitled prose poems, As I Lay on my Back I Saw Nothing but Naked Women, is a model of how production can enhance poems. There are 17 poems, in larger than usual type size, each arranged on a double page spread with an illustration by Mark Andrew Webber. The illustrations add colour and energy and, interestingly, emphasise the white spaces on these wide pages. […] though this is a satisfying book in the hand, it is a short pamphlet length to read. Thus, I read and reread it easily several times at the first sitting and it repaid each reading with new pleasures.’— Claire Crowther, Magma

The story is linear, yet darts and jumps from character to character, scene to scene, in glorious and frequently tender episodes. The result is a rich story of vibrant lives, a wonderfully original way to portray the revelations of relationships. As a reader I felt like a magpie, both eyes and imagination caught by all the shining, flashing, surprising images, greedily wanting to take and keep them.‘ — Anna Kirk for Ambit Magazine

This is a world of light and strong colour and Mark Andrew Webber’s linocut studies in the nude human form perfectly complement the tone of the text. The dark form of the nudes are set alongside blocks of jewel-like colours – yellows, pinks and blues, sometimes fragmented, sometimes whole.  In an interview with the Poetry School, Saphra described the project as a picture book for adults and, as in all successful picture books, the text and the illustrations work together to create a unified emotional effect. As you would expect from an Emma Press publication, this book is an object to cherish, to handle carefully and read over again.‘ — Alice Allen for Sabotage Reviews


About the poet

Jacqueline SaphraJacqueline Saphra has won several awards including first prize in the Ledbury Poetry Competition. Her first pamphlet, Rock ’n’ Roll Mamma, was published by Flarestack and her first full collection, The Kitchen of Lovely Contraptions (flipped eye, 2011), was developed with funding from Arts Council England and nominated for The Aldeburgh First Collection Prize. Read more about Jacqueline on her website. [Photo: Naomi Woddis]

About the illustrator

Mark Andrew WebberReading-based artist Mark Andrew Webber works primarily in linocut printing and specialises in painstakingly-researched typographic and geometric projects, including his ‘Where in the World’ series of enormous city maps and ‘FORM’, a six-part study of line and form. In 2007 Webber was awarded a prestigious Silver Cube award from the Art Directors Club of New York and has been featured in leading design magazines including Creative Review and Blueprint Magazine. His first solo show ran from July to August at the Londonewcastle Project Space in London. Find out more about Mark’s art on his website.

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