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Yoko Ono publishes poetry sequel 50 years after first book


Acorn, according to publisher OR Books, is an extension of the 'intricate strands' Ono first wove in Grapefruit, published in 1964

"Poetry in action with participation," is how artist and musician Yoko Ono describes her new book of "instructional poetry" – the first she has published solo in almost 50 years.

Acorn, according to New York-based independent publisher OR Books, is an extension of the "intricate strands" Ono first wove together in Grapefruit, the "book of instructions and drawings" she published in 1964. The book, which comes out in June, is "classic Yoko", said the publisher, "full of intriguing and surreal exercises [which invite] the reader to uncover profound and often complex truths, in words and imagery that are playful and accessible".

"It's something I originally created for the internet," said Ono. "For 100 days, every day, a different instruction was communicated. Now it's being published in book form. I'm riding a time machine that's going back to the old ways! Great! I added my dot drawings to give you further brainwork."

With Grapefruit released through major publisher Simon & Schuster, it's an unusual choice for Ono to pick the tiny OR Books this time. OR pitches itself as a "new type of publishing company". It is highly selective, releasing just one or two books a month on a rapid turnaround schedule, and publishes only when books are ordered by readers, either through print on demand or ebooks, bypassing the traditional book trade. Recent titles include Julian Assange's Cypherpunks – one reason Colin Robinson believes he secured Ono's book ahead of bigger names.

A flavour of Acorn can be found in "Dance Piece III", in which Ono advises her readers to "Take your pants off / before you fight." In "Line Talk", she writes: "A line is: a) a sick circle. b) an unfolded word. c) an aggressive dot. d) what you want to erase. e) what you regret after you dish it out." In "Life Piece IX", she proposes: "Get a piece of rubber the size of your palm. / Imagine yourself stretching the rubber / to cover the world with it. / See how much you can cover. / Hang the piece of rubber / on the wall beside your bed."

Elsewhere in the book she suggests, "Walk from where you live to where your friend lives. Be aware of the turns and the views while you walk. / Walk back the same way. / Be aware of the turns and the views your friend experiences / when he or she visits you."

Grapefruit was described as "one of the monuments of conceptual art of the early 1960s" by art critic David Bourdon. It included an introduction from John Lennon - "Hi! My name is John Lennon. I'd like you to meet Yoko Ono". The Beatle also added: "This is the greatest book I've ever burned." It featured pieces such as "Tunafish Sandwich Piece", in which Ono writes: "Imagine one thousand suns in the / sky at the same time. / Let them shine for one hour. / Then, let them gradually melt / into the sky. / Make one tunafish sandwich and eat."

Robinson, who previously worked with Ono on the republication in 2001 of Lennon's interviews with Jann Wenner of Rolling Stone as Lennon Remebers, said that Ono's "commitment to social justice and environmental concerns, expressed in artistic forms that are adventurous and beautiful, precisely mirrors the values we are seeking to build our publishing programme around". OR's rapid publication schedule means the book will be published in June, exclusively available from the publisher's website, with international rights on sale at next week's London Book Fair, where it is likely to be a hot property.

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