Click Image to Visit the Pecan Grove Press Web Page for Poetry from Paradise Valley


Poetry From Paradise Valley

Pecan Grove Press has released an anthology of poems, a sampling of works published in Valparaiso Poetry Review during its first decade, from the original 1999-2000 volume to the 2009-2010 volume.

Poetry from Paradise Valley includes a stellar roster of 50 poets. Among the contributors are a former Poet Laureate of the United States, a winner of the Griffin International Prize, two Pulitzer Prize winners, two National Book Award winners, two National Book Critics Circle winners, six finalists for the National Book Award, four finalists for the National Book Critics Circle Award, two finalists for the Pulitzer Prize, and a few dozen recipients of other honors, such as fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, etc.

Readers are encouraged to visit the Poetry from Paradise Valley page at the publisher's web site, where ordering information about the book can be found.

Best Books of Indiana 2011: Finalist. Judges' Citation: "Poetry from Paradise Valley is an excellent anthology that features world-class poetry, including the work of many artists from the Midwest, such as Jared Carter, Annie Finch, David Baker, and Allison Joseph. It’s an eclectic and always interesting collection where poems on similar themes flow into each other. It showcases the highest caliber of U. S. poetry."
—Indiana Center for the Book, Indiana State Library

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Kenneth Noland (1924-2010)

When I read yesterday about Kenneth Noland’s death at the age of 85, I recalled the influence his paintings had on my early awareness of contemporary art. As I have previously written in an essay titled “Jasper Johns: Poetry, Painting, and a Sense of Life,” I believe “my true introduction to compelling contemporary art occurred when I attended the extensive ‘Jasper Johns Retrospective’ at the Whitney Museum in the end of 1977.” However, I have always regarded Noland as a fitting complementary figure, whose symmetrical and often-minimalist images frequently gave an effective impression of movement on the canvas (itself occasionally oddly shaped or with various sharp-angles) due to their edginess—especially the circles with uneven edges, appearing as if frozen only for a moment, perhaps like photographed spinning rings or fireworks pinwheels blurred when stilled in a frame of film.

The juxtaposition of vivid colors within fields in the images—whether in parallel lines or crisscross plaid patterns or concentric circles—usually creates an interesting emphasis on contrast that enhances the painting’s visual drama. Consequently, though the artwork’s geometric abstraction may seem coldly constructed, the response for viewers would contain more warmth since the colors seem to radiate from the painting’s surface, and the colors in the circles at times seem to shimmer the way heat or light might from a halo of fire.

In his book, American Visions (Knopf, 1997), art critic Robert Hughes described some of Noland’s compositions: “Noland’s circle paintings, in particular, seemed to expel everything ‘inessential’ to painting. No representation—it mattered that they weren’t targets, like Jasper Johns’s, but abstract circles. No drawing. A blazing sensuousness of color carried them, intensified by the circular format; since the circles were centered in square canvases, their form seemed gravity-free, not to be read as solid substance. The color seemed to come out of the weave of the canvas, as though dyed onto it; Noland used Magna, a synthetic pigment which gave a more even and intense wash than dilute oils. ‘I wanted color to be the origin of the painting,’ Noland said in 1969.”

Noland, who had lived on a farm once owned by Robert Frost, repeatedly displayed what I discerned as poetic notions in his energetic paintings. I have regularly written about similarities I perceive between various formal approaches to art and some poetic techniques, perhaps among the reasons contributing to my enjoyment of ekphrastic poetry that seems to combine elements of the two disciplines. Indeed, in the past, when comparing Kenneth Noland’s circles and Jasper Johns’s targets, I sometimes considered Noland’s works as exhibiting characteristics closer to what I was attempting in designing my own poetry.

Although I greatly admired Johns’s artwork and how his depictions of targets, flags, or other objects were persuasive and proposed to me ways poetic language equally can establish everyday images filled with ambiguity or allusion that are just as suggestive for readers, I often found Noland’s pictures to be a bit more expressive—less static, instead circles hinting at motion and grids in a linear arrangement apparently aiming toward a dimension beyond the flat plane within the picture’s frame.

Likewise, in an attempt to arrive at an effect even a little like that Noland accomplishes so well in his paintings, I hope my poems—including those seemingly simpler pieces that appear more narrative or straightforward—achieve the goal of maintaining a dynamic and ongoing sense of surprise or uncertainty in their composition that implies further development beyond the last line of the final stanza, extending one’s interest with the continuing feeling of wonder I felt when first witnessing Noland’s deceptively minimalist works decades ago, a pleasant response I still experience today.


Unknown said...

That painting is spectacular, and I wish I could see it up close. Just stopping in to let you know about a place;The United States of Earth: I discovered a network of people involved in the push to protect our Constitutional rights and to swear allegiance to our country and its citizens. Come fight the tyranny of tomorrow. http://www.usofearth.com/index.php

Ben said...

he was a giving Master, I helped move his large sculptures from Vt. to Maine and he shared his insights freely with potency you believed in....