About the Contributors #7

August 28, 2015 § Leave a comment

John Wood continues to discover exciting new poets: Ana Cristina Rudholm y Balmaceda and Keagan LeJeune offered two unique voices for different titles with Josephine Sacabo (of which one, Gilded Circles and Sure Trouble, is available). Daniel Westover was an early discovery published in our silver series title, Toward Omega, with Vincent Serbin.

Trinidad del Cielo at a Train Station
BY ANA CRISTINA RUDHOLM Y BALMACEDA

Death flashes me a thin-lipped grin
behind arched windows where I wait
with desert lilies and songs.
In the cantina, promises spill from goblets
and will soon be forgotten-
or remembered forever.
Ghosts open satchels seeking letters and tickets
lost among blue paper birds.
I wait for love sunk long in silver-hewed marbled caves
beneath the river where I hear your cries
lying beautiful and broken-
like tiny, discarded thorns.
You never arrive
so I drain my heart of blood
and offer it to the wind-
who claims it with long fingers
burning in gossamer gloves.

Sacabo2

Bentwood  
BY KEAGAN LEJEUNE

The food all gone, the dishes cleared,
the table’s centerpiece is all that’s left:
a rosewood bowl with a clutch of eggs,
each a marbled shade of brown or red
and too beautiful to be what they are.
All fact grown fragile as a finger bone,
we ponder them-half in awe, half in dread-
and ache to hold such oddness against our palms.

In the hand, their weight says they are not eggs.
Stones? If so, all rocks are jewels; all earth’s a prize.
Awe and wonder number as pebbles on a shore.
No, we realize the truth rests hidden in the grain.
The showpiece is nothing but a woodwright’s trick:
the spheres aren’t eggs, the eggs aren’t stone,
merely copies spun from a craftsman’s wrist
and lathed with skill enough to dupe the brain.

The carpenter knows best the curse of wood.
His chair never comes out quite the way he’s planned,
and though the board shapes when carved or bent,
what he has made will never stay made for good.

For a moment, though, beauty gathers in that curve,
and there, we hear the whir of his machine,
smell the pine, feel the thatched nest of a bird,
see a host of gilded feathers upon a golden bough.

Sacabo9

DANIEL WESTOVER
From the introduction by John Wood

Daniel Westover, a poet as brilliant in his art as Vincent Serbin is in his, had long admired Serbin’s work and shares a similar vast and evolutionary vision. In “The Physics of Angels,” the best poem about angels since Rilke’s Duino Elegies, written to accompany Serbin’s Earth Angel, Westover writes,

They travel fast as photons,
having long ago eclipsed terrestrial speeds
though they once tread on the ground,
wingless as you.

But now they have “broken clear of fettering flesh” and “realized the spirit’s relativity.” Westover tells us they were once like us. They learned “that suns explode and fizzle, that starlight / can lie, concealing a burnt-out source.” Like us

. . . they learned equations, formulae—
mechanics to explain a cosmic clock
and numb them to the gravity of faith.
But when they swiveled skyward,
reason fled beneath that astral tapestry,
for spirit knew what calculus could not:
the universe is more than lifeless flames
and dusty nebulae; it is an orchestra
of life, an iridescent possibility.

And finally in a stanza of intense poetic beauty Westover, like Serbin, weaves physics and metaphysics into one as he writes,

They orbit us, unbound now
by the mind’s lust for quanta, untroubled
by the frequencies of unbelief.
They navigate by their imagination,
and what they see is instant fact.
For time dissolves at light speed,
and fruits of faith are ever-ripe, ever consumed.
Each glimpsed omega is their now,
is wrapped within their wings’ geometries,
and heaven burns with angel lights,
becomes an ever-breathing hymn,
a universe of singing, silent fire.

Serbin6

#6/16: “Toward Omega” and “The Book of Life”

April 23, 2014 § Leave a comment

21st Editions is now celebrating sixteen years of The Art of the Book! In this series of sixteen emails we are sharing with you a chronology of highlights, events and stories from the beginning of our unique publishing endeavor up until now. We hope you enjoy them.

Life is serendipitous. In 1990 or so I found myself at the Saratoga Jazz Festival to see Dave Brubeck and Pat Metheny. They had artisan vendor tents set up and among them was a photographer who’s work I was immediately attracted to. I decided to purchase my very first photograph. It happened to be by Vincent Serbin, who 13 years later, I ended up crossing paths with again and decided to publish, provided that he was able to make all of the prints for the project. He did. John Wood paired Vincent’s photographs with the brilliance of Daniel Westover (poet, professor and literary critic) who constructed a poem for each image, which is a difficult task indeed.

Image

Equally difficult, as always, was the task given to the binder for the collection. He came up with an inventive vellum and patinaed copper binding, which helped to keep the tipped-in silver prints flat. Each patina was different over an underlying stamp. The book and collection are unique to 21ST Editions, as all of our titles are.   

Image

The Book of Life was a sequel to our first book with Robert and Shana ParkeHarrison, Listening to the Earth, and as successful. At the time, the ParkeHarrisons were receiving great acclaim within the circles of contemporary photography critics and collectors. Their shows in New York were close to selling out prior to the openings and we were grateful to have had the opportunity to create this unique set of books with 22 platinum prints.

Equally impressive was the poet, Morri Creech, in his execution of the collection of poems written for the ParkeHarrison’s images. In fact, these poems were subsequently published in Field Knowledge (Waywiser Press, 2006), which won the Anthony Hecht Poetry Prize. In 2014, Creech was one of three finalists for the Pulitzer Prize for poetry. Together, John Wood’s pairing of Morri Creech and the ParkeHarrisons early on helped to set a high standard for 21st Editions that continues today.

Refuting History: An Interview with John Wood by Daniel Westover

January 9, 2012 § 1 Comment

The following interview was conducted by email in late January and early February, 2011 and was published by The Asheville Poetry Review (www.ashevillepoetryreview.com).

DW: In literary circles, you are best known as a Southern poet, an Arkansas native who founded the first M.F.A. program in Louisiana. The Southern Review called you “The most engaging and lucid of the postmodern southern poets,” and when you were profiled in The Chronicle of Higher Education, Lawrence Biemiller wrote that you were “as well rooted [in Lake Charles, Louisiana] as one of the city’s live oaks.” And yet, in 2007 you left Louisiana and the South altogether, retiring to Saxton’s River, Vermont. I am wondering, first, if you still (or ever did) consider yourself to be a “Southern” poet and, second, how your move to New England has affected you as an artist. I am struck, for example, by how deeply some of the poems in your new book, The Fictions of History, engage with Puritan figures like Cotton Mather and Edward Taylor.

JW: No, I never thought of myself as a “Southern” poet, but I certainly wasn’t going to tell The Southern Review I didn’t appreciate the nice compliment. I appreciated it very much. I don’t think of myself as “postmodern” either, but again who could complain in the same sentence with “most engaging and lucid”? Of course, there are some Southern characters in my work because I lived in the midst of them—nutty, dancing preachers and hysterical women and so forth. There was a church on the end of the block I grew up on. They got very loud there. We lived at the other end of the block but on Sundays and Prayer Meeting nights you could hear them clearly, and I would sometimes go peek in one of the windows and watch the show. My mother was friends with Pastor Jimmy and Frank, the man who lived with him, a fact my mother found wonderfully amusing. She would take them extra tomatoes, okra, and so forth from the garden, as she did other neighbors. I would go with her sometimes, and though I didn’t know the word at the time, their house was a masterpiece of “camp.” Pierre and Gilles would love to have photographed it. « Read the rest of this entry »

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