Earth Recitals

Essays on Image and Vision

Melissa Kwasny

  • $19.95 paperback (9780899241289) Add to Cart
  • hardcover not available
  • Published: 2013
  • Subject Listing: Literary Studies
  • Bibliographic information: 160 pp., 6 x 8.50 in.
  • Distributed for: Lynx House Press
  • Contents

Essays on the life of the image and its role in visionary experience through a range of cultural practices focus primarily on poetry but include painting, sculpture, and song. Earth Recitals engages with the image in the history of poetry, as well as with contemporary poets, philosophers, archaeologists, artists, and cultural critics. It outlines the major tenets of Imagism and sketches the transformations the image underwent in modernism and surrealism. The book's central preoccupation is with questions of interiority and exteriority - the image's appearance as being and its subsequent reappearance in the mind - and introduces the writings of the renowned Sufi scholar Henry Corbin.
Melissa Kwasny has published four collections of poems, two novels, and the anthology Toward the Open Field: Poets on the Art of Poetry 1800-1950. She is also, with M. L. Smoker, editor of I Go to the Ruined Place: Contemporary Poems in Defense of Global Human Rights. She lives near Jefferson City, Montana.

"In the pages of this extraordinary collection of essays you will encounter a marvelously complex weave of ideas, yet, miracle of miracles, expressed without any jargon or fashionably obfuscating language. Kwasny walks on a winding path through literary history, with an eye to relevant and surrounding events, social and political histories and issues, always with a keen interest in the nature not only of poetry and prose but of human emotion, intelligence and perception. With a compelling mix of distance and empathy, for instance, she explores the fate of birds in warfare, juxtaposing this with the great Persian epic poem, The Conference of the Birds, the myth of Icarus, and lines by the late poet, George Oppen, that express wonder at 'The wild deer bedding down/That they are there!' Similarly this collection does what all the greatest critical works do, leads us to question not only what literature is and who we are but to wonder at existence."
-Susan Griffin

"Melissa Kwasny's Earth Recitals is a profound meditation on vision as both a dimension of art and a spiritual practice. What is it to see? What is it to create an image? What is it to live in a way that opens the heart and the mind to vision? Kwasny explores these questions through lyrical responses to a range of artists and writers, from the anonymous makers of ancient rock paintings to Morris Graves, from H.D. to Leslie Marmon Silko, among many others. This beautifully written book expresses in every sentence the life of care and vision it does so much to illuminate."
-Robert Baker, author of The Extravagant

"Melissa Kwasny's poems are so exact in their movement and presentation, so fresh in their botanical and observatory language, they invoke for the reader, with aching clarity, what it would be like to be brave enough to touch both the inner and outer worlds simultaneously, and with identical honesty and care."
-Christopher Howell, Christopher Howell

"Melissa Kwasny's work serves as a brilliant tonic, reminding us of the essential gravitas of poems of distinction. Hers present a richly textured surface and a deeply thoughtful interior, and have a compassion that deftly mingles the scholarly page with beauticians' hopes and tobacco pouches; a naturalist's tight focus with the wide gaze of a woman of the world; a lyricist's gifts with a philosopher's understandings. This is the real-deal stuff."
-Albert Goldbarth, Albert Goldbarth

"These thirty-seven poems are eccentric in the true meaning of the word-off-center. Their titles, bearing the names of weeds, flowers, herbs, trees, are merely points of departure. 'How hard can it be,' the poet asks, 'to lie down in the green/mussed bed of the senses . . . in clover.' Whether it's clover or rue, aspen or moss, the reader is invited into that rich and rumpled bed."
-Maxine Kumin, Maxine Kumin

"This book will be like having all one's favorite poets in one room, accompanied by a stunningly compact and comprehensive introduction which locates each in the luminously executed arc of the entire collection."
-Patricia Goedicke, Patricia Goedicke

"We know what happened when the Shelleys gathered by candlelight one summer to tell ghost stories; now imagine the wind has blown the villa's doors open again to welcome 25 additional immortals-a brilliant congeries of poets' voices."
-Sandra Alcosser, Sandra Alcosser