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From the Scapes series

A richly textured collection that invites readers into the wonderful world of culture.

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A wide-ranging volume of poetry celebrates the arts.

Woodman, winner of the 2020 William Meredith Award in Poetry, immerses readers in the arts in this fourth installment of her Scapes series. Drawing inspiration from a variety of mediums, including painting, sculpture, and music, the ekphrastic poems are steeped in vivid imagery and inventive wordplay. In the opening piece, “Mark Rothko, I Challenge Your Claim,” the author contemplates Rothko’s 1955 painting Untitled: “I ask you, ‘Why “Untitled”?’ / Would you not name a friend or / a child born, 1955? Here’s what I see: / ochre-brown, black mouth screaming.” Chelsea Welsh’s photograph Caught in the Days Unraveling is the inspiration for “A Life Unravels With the Day,” a haunting meditation on life and death viewed through the lens of a woman battling cancer: “A barren life / her scalp will know, / when all is lost, / the cancer slow.” Woodman’s poems are written in a free verse style, which allows experimentation with form and content. In “Story Tower,” inspired by Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade, each stanza is separated by a single line that, when read together, forms a poem within a poem. In the whimsical “The Underside of Color,” inspired by Marc Chagall’s 1913 painting Paris Through the Window, the artist invites the author to his home because “he knows I love this painting.” The artistry of music is the focus of “Stand Under a Willow” and “A Kind of Gospel.” Inspired by Stevie Wonder’s classic “Superstition,” Woodman offers thoughtful life lessons in “Stand Under a Willow”: “Some have sipped the nectar / To make a healing brew / Learn from their traditions / Change your point of view.” The concluding poem, “A Kind of Gospel,” is a stirring, soulful contemplation of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” and how the song continues to inspire artists and listeners alike: “And now in our time of plague / more and more faces in sequestered places / come on line one by one, pleading / Hallelujah.”

A richly textured collection that invites readers into the wonderful world of culture.

Pub Date: Jan. 11, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-956056-12-9

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Shanti Arts LLC

Review Posted Online: March 1, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2022

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Breathtakingly magical.

A powerful homage to the natural world, from England by way of Canada.

Combining poetic words (somewhat reminiscent of Mary Oliver’s poetry in their passion for the natural world) with truly stunning illustrations, this unusually beautiful book brings to readers the magic and wonder of nature. This is not a book about ecology or habitat; this is a book that encourages readers to revel in, and connect with, the natural world. Focusing on a particular subject, whether it be animal, insect, or plant, each poem (rendered in a variety of forms) delivers a “spell” that can be playful, poignant, or entreating. They are most effective when read aloud (as readers are encouraged to do in the introduction). Gorgeous illustrations accompany the words, both as stand-alone double-page spreads and as spot and full-page illustrations. Each remarkable image exhibits a perfect mastery of design, lively line, and watercolor technique while the sophisticated palette of warms and cools both soothes and surprises. This intense interweaving of words and pictures creates a sense of immersion and interaction—and a sense that the natural world is part of us. A glossary encourages readers to find each named species in the illustrations throughout the book­––and to go one step further and bring the book outside, to find the actual subjects in nature. Very much in the spirit of the duo’s magisterial The Lost Words (2018), this companion is significantly smaller than its sprawling companion; at just 6.5 by 4.5 inches when closed, it will easily fit into a backpack or generously sized pocket. “Wonder is needed now more than ever,” Macfarlane writes in the introduction, and this book delivers it.

 Breathtakingly magical. (Poetry. 6-adult)

Pub Date: Oct. 27, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4870-0779-9

Page Count: 120

Publisher: House of Anansi Press

Review Posted Online: Oct. 23, 2020

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An odd but sometimes-moving imagining of the nocturnal thoughts of the presidents of the United States.

A fanciful look at the dreams of U.S. presidents throughout history.

Phillips, a painter and multimedia artist, offers readers a mix of fact and fiction in a book that’s not so much about the inner lives as it is about the sleeping lives of America’s leaders. Working backward from Donald Trump to George Washington (including separate essays for each Grover Cleveland administration), Phillips’ essays imagine each man’s dreams about various subjects, include his childhood, his parents, and sex. Each essay attempts to capture the personality of the president at hand, and some bring in the viewpoints of other people, as in a dialogue between John and Abigail Adams or the musings of Zachary Taylor’s horse, Whitey. The chapter on Gerald Ford has a blank space in lieu of an essay, while Millard Fillmore, who was also not elected to the office of president, gets a full examination. The essays’ focuses aren’t always what one might expect; for example, John F. Kennedy’s essay is about living under the shadow of his father’s ambitions, and Franklin D. Roosevelt’s is about the women in his life. This multimedia coffee-table book is full of the author’s own full-color paintings and illustrations, painted in styles ranging from surreal to abstract, and their effectiveness varies. Mainly, though, this book highlights the challenges of blurring the lines between reality and fantasy. In his quest to enter the presidents’ dreams, Phillips generally gets the history right and does a good job of capturing the essence of many presidential personalities and relationships. However, some of the sexual references can be overly graphic, as can some bodily descriptions, such as one about Cleveland’s testicles. As a result, this book can be unsettling at times. Still, its imaginativeness makes one wonder what the author would have made of the dreams of the current president, who defeated the man who called him “Sleepy Joe.”

An odd but sometimes-moving imagining of the nocturnal thoughts of the presidents of the United States.

Pub Date: Feb. 21, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-57-861384-0

Page Count: 215

Publisher: Black Book

Review Posted Online: June 15, 2021

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