Warren Lehrer

Written by Dennis Bernstein. Visualized by Warren Lehrer.
Introduction by Steven Heller.
Published by Paper Crown Press, September, 2019.
6”x6”x 302 pages. Hardcover, quarter cloth binding. Archival paper.
Full color cover with embossed type, metallic foil. Black and white interior.

Longtime collaborators, Bernstein and Lehrer have joined forces again! Five Oceans in a Teaspoon is a (large) collection of (short) visual poems, written by poet/investigative journalist Dennis J Bernstein, typographic visualizations by designer/author Warren Lehrer. As with his journalism, Bernstein’s poems reflect the struggle of everyday people trying to survive in the face of adversity. Divided into eight chapters, the book reads like a memoir in poems. It spans a lifetime, lifetimes: growing up confused by dyslexia and a parent’s alcoholism; graced by pogo sticks, boxing lessons and a mother’s compassion; becoming a frontline witness to war and its aftermaths, to prison, street life, poverty, love and loss, open heart surgery, caring for aging parents and visitations from them after they’re gone. Lehrer’s typographic compositions give form to the interior, emotional and metaphorical underpinnings of the poems. Together, the writing and visuals create a new whole that engages the reader to become an active participant in the navigation, discovery, and experience of each poem.

Many of the poems included in the collection have appeared in literary magazines, newspapers, and online publications. Eight of the visualized poems appeared as works in progress in Type Tells Tales, an anthology of “Typographic Narratives” by Gail Anderson and Steven Heller (Thames & Hudson). The book is part of a multi-branched project including an exhibition, performance/readings, and animations. Stay tuned for more information.


preview of some sample pages and spreads

animation sampler

Lehrer has made and continues to make animations based on select poems from Five Oceans in a Teaspoon. Based on the page compositions—and always rooted in Bernstein’s words—the animations allow for a different kind of typographic realization/performance of the poems. In Living with Alzheimer’s, we experience letters struggling to become words, searching for memory; thoughts halt, rotate and stretch in a confusion of pleasure, frustration, habit and empathy. In the animated poem Knitting Club, a circle of women spin yarns that unfold into patterns of storytelling, textiles, music at once down to earth and of the spheres. The animations can live on their own or function as links to the printed book. They can be seen online and shared through social media, and are featured in Lehrer/Bernstein’s live performance/readings, in exhibitions, public screenings and projections. Please share them with others. To see more animations, visit the Five Oceans website.

Animations art directed by Warren Lehrer, written by Dennis J Bernstein. Animations produced with the assistance of Brandon Campbell, Najeebah Al-Ghadban, Austin Shaw. Original soundtracks composed and performed by Andrew Griffin.