Blurred Library: Essays on Artists’ Books by Tate Shaw

Blurred Library: Essays on Artists’ Books by Tate Shaw

Tate Shaw points out that Marshall McLuhan and Quentin Fiore claimed, “the book is an extension of the eye” (50). Shaw’s new book, Blurred Library: Essays on Artists’ Books, extends that claim to encompass the body and the psyche. So, if the medium is the message, then what, Shaw asks and explores, are artists’ books communicating? And how?

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How to Change the World - On Sitting in a Chinese Garden

How to Change the World - On Sitting in a Chinese Garden

In the latest edition of the experiential review series "How to Change the World"  James Thomas takes us to Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden in Vancouver, B.C. James thoughtfully observes the emotional qualities of the garden's architecture and reminds the reader to appreciate the wonders that often lie right under our nose or in this case, behind a wall: - The Chinese Garden is a little enclave of harmony planted in the midst of a city. It is the same way we are. Little organic bodies moving through an ecosystem of concrete, steel and fumes. The sounds of the city peek over the garden walls. The tall buildings look in from their deep foundations.The city birds perch on street lamps and perch in trees.

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John Millei "From the Same Hill" at TI-155 Gallery

John Millei "From the Same Hill" at TI-155 Gallery

One hundred 10 x 8 Inch paintings by the highly accomplished American painter John Millei have for the past month been on display at the recently opened TI-155 Gallery, San Francisco’s new and exciting contemporary art gallery, exhibitions and public programs space on Treasure Island. The exhibition was curated by George Lawson and the exhibition catalog was created in collaboration with George Lawson Gallery and TI-155.

The transformative energy that can be felt at the heart of TI-155 suits perfectly the one hundred 10 x 8 inch paintings that wind their way through the gallery space; each painting containing a world encountering it’s own unique state of flux, each harboring it’s own energy for the viewer to be drawn into and decode yet together make up a network of information like a string of DNA.

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How to Change the World - Sol Bailey Barker - "Between Night and Day"

How to Change the World - Sol Bailey Barker - "Between Night and Day"

The work of Sol Bailey-Barker draws its breaths from myths, legends and mathematics. He courts the earth with sculptures that balance like satellite dishes upon ancient cairns. His pieces evoke the stars and spectrums of deep carbon. Hollowness, balance and light fused with deep thoughtful meditations on being, change and symbol. In the latest edition of the experiential  review series "How to Change the World"  James Thomas takes us deep into the world of "Between Night and Day", Sol Bailey Barker's current exhibition curated by Kaleidoscope, Mayfair, London.

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Objects from a Borrowed Confession by Julie Carr

Objects from a Borrowed Confession by Julie Carr

The intimacy of reading a book can be likened to the experience of a confessional, be it in a church, at the bar with friends, or in bed with a lover. The telling is directed, often hushed, shared in implied confidence. The act of confessing creates a feeling of being chosen. And in essence, it is. In the moment you are reading them, the words in a book create this same sense—though hundreds, thousands, millions of people may be reading it, or have read it, or will read it. With reading, however, it is you who have done the choosing, of whose confession to receive.

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Bearing the Mask: Southwestern Persona Poems edited by Scott Wiggerman and Cindy Huyser

Bearing the Mask: Southwestern Persona Poems edited by Scott Wiggerman and Cindy Huyser

I was drawn to Bearing the Mask, Southwestern Persona Poems for two reasons. The first is that I feel a reverent love for the Southwest. I spend many days each year exploring its canyons, rivers, and wild lands and have had the honor of hearing stories from many of its residents—white, Latina, indigenous. The second is that I feel personally activated by the movement at Standing Rock. It feels both timely and revolutionary to give light to a body of work that illustrates the relationship between people and their homeland with all its beauty and complexity.

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Marys of the Sea by Joanna C. Valente

Marys of the Sea by Joanna C. Valente

If the current state of American politics has caused its public to become obsessed with apocalyptic imagery, then Marys of the Sea perhaps reflects Valente's vision of misogyny and rape culture as a zombie virus infecting the populace. Valente's narrator devours the world as retribution for the ways in which her own flesh has been metaphorically consumed.

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Mysteries in a World That Thinks There Are None by Gary McDowell

Mysteries in a World That Thinks There Are None by Gary McDowell

The first thing I did after reading Mysteries in a World That Thinks There are None was look up works by Eric Fischl. I had not been acquainted with his work before and McDowell refers to him regularly in his poems. After an Internet gallery stroll, I felt like I’d been touring a family photo album, yet embedded in its snapshots were overlays of the human unconscious brought to light, filling it sometimes with violence and sexual innuendo that the eyes don’t often see in pictures reminiscent of a vacation slide show. 

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Franklinstein by Susan Landers

Franklinstein by Susan Landers

How does one write about something that, in a way, resists the fundamental ways we often approach writing? As a glance at any of Franklinstein's blurbs will tell you, Susan Landers has written a book that is somehow history, memoir, and poetry all at once. In a kind of explanation of this refusal to be just one thing, Landers writes early on, “To come closer / to come to see / this writing must meander.” From the beginning, we know that Landers' writing is not only a telling of, but also a searching for, what has happenedto her and to the Philadelphia Germantown of her upbringing. By the end, it is not clear whether she has found what she's searching for; but what her searching has amounted to, you'll want to read and revisit again and again.

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Death of Art by Chris Campanioni

Death of Art by Chris Campanioni

I’m drinking a glass of wine in a gallery and nothing means anything. There is work from 100 different artists up on the walls. The gallery is selling a recently published book of influential artists from North Brooklyn in full color. It’s going for $60 and it’s worth it. I’m in it. I don’t care. I’m getting another glass of wine now and scanning the room just to feel something. Just to make sure there’s nobody I missed saying hello to.

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Some Versions of the Ice by Adam Tipps Weinstein

Some Versions of the Ice by Adam Tipps Weinstein

The essays in Some Versions of the Ice are erudite, intertextual, and jarring—they combine the complexities of the natural world with those of the perceptions of it made by minds prone to error. With topics ranging from touchable language (Braille) to the history of the collar, this work was one I could not stop reading, circling, returning to. Weinstein begins the essay “Graveyard Shoes” with a Yeats quote so appropriate, it could easily be used to describe his own work as well, “This organism is now acknowledged by naturalists as belonging to the animal world.”

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Staying Alive by Laura Sims

Staying Alive by Laura Sims

At an Adamic level, humans have always, it seems, been destined to destruct or self-destruct. On an atomic level, the world once seemed scientifically determined to remain in certain composite, certain constitution, certain form or energy. Today, however, we know that to be untrue. Staying Alive, the most recent collection of bare(ing) poems by Laura Sims, is a documentation of sorts, a reckoning with the end as we may think it, predict it, and already begin to feel it.

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Crave by Christine Gelineau

Crave by Christine Gelineau

Gelineau’s Crave does not require metaphor—reality is enough. This work is rooted in the clear, precise, deadpan truth of everyday life, be it marriage, death, crime, illness, love, birth, children, nature, beauty, passion, intimacy, or surrender—an entire spectrum of issues, none of which are glamorized or glossed over. These pages of memories and stories are also revivals of love, tenderness, pain, loss, closeness, devotion—things people desperately need, not only to feel alive, but to feel the point of it. This piece is as much a memoir as it is poetry. And yet at once it is astonishingly fresh, current, and relevant. These are stories that our high-speed, technological world needs to understand if it is to stay in balance.

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The Gulf: High Culture/Hard Labor Edited by Andrew Ross

The Gulf: High Culture/Hard Labor Edited by Andrew Ross

Much has been written in recent years about the exploitative labor practices inherent to globalization, especially those pertaining to vulnerable migrant workers from the developing states. The Gulf: High Culture/Hard Labor, edited by Andrew Ross and featuring a deep bench of contributors from the social sciences, labor advocacy groups, and protest artists from around the world, provides a distinct voice and a highly specific contribution to the conversation. Focusing on the labor systems and practices of Persian Gulf states and the massive investments those states have recently made in cultural institutions–landmark museums, Western university satellite campusesThe Gulf makes a compelling case for opportunities to shine light on both egregious conditions ongoing from Dubai and Abu Dhabi to Riyadh, as well as opportunities to confront and dismantle these oppressive systems.

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Time Will Clean the Carcass Bones by Lucia Perillo

Time Will Clean the Carcass Bones by Lucia Perillo

I first encountered Lucia Perillo when I was an in-house poetry intern at Copper Canyon Press, in January of 2012. I’d been in the small, wooden archives, dusting new shipments of books, cutting satisfyingly thick paper for mail orders, and breathing in the heady air of dust and ink. Suddenly, I saw a cover with an erratic jumble of color across the front, Inseminating the Elephant across the spine. It became my lunchtime book that day, and the day after, and the day after. And now, it’s old enough to become a hard-time book, a bath-time book, a friend-time book. “The cover looks that way because it is actually a painting done by an elephant,” the managing editor had told me. “And welcome to the press.”

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Sex and Death by Ben Tanzer

Sex and Death by Ben Tanzer

In a literary world already graced by the likes of D.H. Lawrence, one might wonder if we really need another book about the passions and anxieties surrounding Sex and Death's titular themes. The answer may well be yes, if that book is written by Ben Tanzer. With prose free of poetic frill and all the more dense in meaning for its formal compactness, Sex and Death is proof that Tanzer has his finger on the pulse of the still vibrant humanity underscoring the impacts of modern gender roles, familial relations, and technology on our experiences of intimacy.

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A Book So Red by Rachel Levy

A Book So Red by Rachel Levy

Anachronies and displacements. Mismeanings or misunderstandings. Historical fictions or fictional histories. Aprocryphalism is at the heart of Rachel Levy’s A Book So Red.

What is natural?: “The people in the street asked, “’What are you?’” and “’Who the fuck made thee?’” (85) (to the lipsticked lamb in the street).

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Notebooks of a Chile Verde Smuggler by Juan Felipe Herrera

Notebooks of a Chile Verde Smuggler by Juan Felipe Herrera

What does it mean to be American? As a writer on the margins? Juan Felipe Herrera’s Notebooks of a Chile Verde Smuggler explores the question of writing in the embodied nation of an ethnic identity. Herrera illuminates the complexities and cargas of growing up Chicano in star-spangled soil and living to write about it in one’s own terms. Juan Felipe Herrera, former California and current U.S. Poet Laureate, has been a prolific writer, whose work spans at least four decades. In many ways, he is one of Chican@ / Latin@ literature’s seminal voices. This book seeks to give the reader and writer (especially the fledgling eagle-writer) a glimpse into the formative and explorative experiences that have shaped and endowed Herrera’s survival, introspection, and prominence in the field.

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Pink Museum by Caroline Crew

Pink Museum by Caroline Crew

Caroline Crew's poetry collection, Pink Museum, is compiled of five poetic sections, including one named with the book’s title. The Pink Museum possesses a singular, recurring theme, which encompasses the rest. Crew's poems reflect a certain kind of feminine mysticism influenced by Victorian sonnets, particularly those written by Elizabeth Barrett Browning.

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What Comes from a Thing by Phillip Barron

What Comes from a Thing by Phillip Barron

In What Comes from a Thing, Phillip Barron reveals the essence that seeps from the mundane just beneath our attention. He dwells within the blurred borders between nature and the hollow shells of artifice that seem to develop not on the geographical edges of civilization, but on its perceptual edges. 

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