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Conversations with the Ocean


Some burdens are too important to be let go.

When one young woman finds herself unable to sleep, she walks down the highway-- down, down, down, to visit an old friend. When the ocean offers to carry the weight of the world for her, she thinks that it will be a relief to put it down for a while. 

But what are the consequences of letting go of your grief? 


Conversations with the Ocean is a narrative poem by emerging west-coast writer Evelyn Elgie. It is a poem about throwing yourself in the ocean when the weight of the world becomes unbearable. Fittingly, the book cannot be read until it has been submerged in water. 


Formally, this is a set of three poster-chapbooks tucked inside a cloth drawstring bag. By "poster-chapbook" I mean one of those cleverly folded and cut structures that is simultaneously an eight-page-booklet and a single sheet of paper. In this case, the folded booklet contains the poetry and the unfolded sheet contains the illustration. 

The poster-chabooks have all been printed with a water-soluble resist and covered by an insoluble colour layer. When the resist gets wet, it washes away and takes the colour directly on top with it.

The drawstring bag is hand-printed, sewn, and dip-dyed. 


Conversations with the Ocean is available in four versions. All of the images and text remain the same, but the colours indicate the body of water that the book was washed in. 

  • The Atlantic Edition is the brightest blue and is being washed on the coast of Halifax. 
  • The Great Lakes Edition is slightly greenish and is being washed at Lakeside Park in Oakville (Lake Ontario). 
  • The Pacific Edition is the deepest blue and was washed (see the video above!) at Wreck Beach in Vancouver which is the setting of the story. 
  • The fourth and final version is the Collaborative Edition. This edition in black is for those of you who wish to be fully immersed (pun intended) in this project. The Collaborative Edition comes to you not-yet-rinsed and will have to be before it can be read/viewed.

You can read content warnings for Conversations with the Ocean here.