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

ARTSCAPES

POEMS

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.

THE LOST SPELLS

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 often pleasant, time-skipping read that will engross fans of U.S. history, art, and architecture.

WE, THE HOUSE

A NOVEL

An offbeat novel that surveys American history from the 19th to 21st centuries through the unique perspective of an Italianate manor house and a garrulous portrait painting.

In this debut, architect Ashworth and composer Kander turn their artistic sensibilities to a narrative that explores ideas of progress, art, and the connections between humans and the places they live. Ambleside, a magnificent house built on a hill in Newton, Kansas, can see its surroundings but is unable to understand human language. A portrait of a woman named Mrs. Peale, hung within the house, can understand humans and communicate with the house but is only able to see things from its vantage point on the wall. The pair strike up a Socratic dialogue of sorts, combining their senses to piece together the story of the Hart family that inhabits Ambleside during its early years and to understand the sociocultural forces in the world around them. In this centurieslong conversation, Mrs. Peale acts as interlocutor for the endlessly curious house, taking up consideration of topics that range from household gossip to the substance of the soul. Readers also come to know Henry and Emmaline Hart, their three rambunctious daughters, and various other household staff members, friends, and descendants of the Hart family. The house and the painting share a charming fascination with etymology and classical antiquity, born out of the real Mrs. Peale’s time as an instructor of Greek and Latin at the Hartford Female Seminary, as well as a deep affection for the Harts that grows over decades. Throughout the narrative, the authors employ a light touch but also address weighty historical trends and events, including racial prejudice in the Jim Crow–era South, the women’s suffrage movement, the dire poverty of the Dust Bowl period, and two world wars. The detached perspective of the nonhuman protagonists offers a nuanced understanding of human nature, although the main characters’ moments of self-reflection are relatively few and fleeting, crowded out by quotidian meditations.

An often pleasant, time-skipping read that will engross fans of U.S. history, art, and architecture.

Pub Date: Oct. 7, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-73691-125-9

Page Count: 204

Publisher: Blue Cedar Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 7, 2021

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