Five Oceans in a Teaspoon

by EarSay

Five Oceans in a Teaspoon is a book and multimedia project written by journalist/poet Dennis J Bernstein, visualized and structured by designer/author Warren Lehrer. A large collection of short visual poems, the 300 page book (Paper Crown Press) sits at the center of a multibranched project that also includes animations, a traveling exhibition and reading/performances. Design historian Steven Heller wrote the introduction to the book.

Divided into eight movements, the book spans a lifetime: growing up confused by dyslexia and a parental gambling addiction; graced by pogo sticks, boxing lessons and a mother’s compassion; becoming a frontline witness to war and its aftermaths, to prison, street life, love and loss, open heart surgery, caring for aging parents and visitations from them after they’re gone.

Lehrer selected the poems—out of thousands of Bernstein’s short poems written over 45 years—and arranged them into the book. Each poem lead Lehrer to a typographic composition. The ideas within the poem, its themes, metaphors, allusions, double meanings, ambiguities, subtexts, conflicts, voices, characters, structure, rhythmic cadences, pauses and silences, underlying intent—were all grist for the mill. Many of the compositions give form to the interior, emotional underpinnings of the poem. Many compositions engage the reader to become an active participant in the discovery, navigation, puzzle, and interpretation of the poem. Some compositions allude to figuration or landscape, while others work more abstractly. The typographic compositions help create experience—within and across the pages of the book and in 4D within the animations.


Silver in Book Design 2020

Silver in Mix Media/Moving Image 2020

Created by:

Design Director

Warren Lehrer

Design Company



Paper Crown Press

Design Team

Warren Lehrer

Video (direct link)

click here


Individual Credits

animator: Austin Shaw, Austin Shaw
publisher: Matt Barteluce, Paper Crown Press
Poet/writer: Dennis J Bernstein, Dennis J Bernstein Writer