Over at BOMB Magazine, Laura Van den Berg interviewed Stephanie Barber about her new book, All the People(Ink Press 2015), which is a collection of short, prosey portraits of dozens of fictitious-but-real humans. It’s a beautifully produced book—the cover is nicely printed onto cereal boxes and the binding is hand-sewn In the interview, Laura prompts Stephanie to talk about the thinking behind her varied types of work like writing a haiku everyday on Facebook, or the time she installed her studio for a month inside the Baltimore Museum of Art.
Stephanie Barber talks about the what:
But also, as regards media, I feel very strongly that I am simply making pieces of art. I don’t think a painting is a poem, or a film is a song, but I do think they can be received and created and considered as simply emotional or philosophical offerings made somehow sensorially manifest. I like the Buddhist word ayatana, which includes the mind as a sense organ.
and also how that works in her new book, specifically:
I’m also interested in using a sort of generic vernacular, particularly when what I am writing about is potentially too precious or heavy. There’s a desire to balance the depth of the concept with a light—or degraded?—handling. Mostly I was thinking about how something is being said as “the portrait,” not what is being said.
I just got home from the post office, where I’d shipped off the contributor copies of The Well-Dressed Bearto Jarod. As I pulled in, the mail carrier was putting these mini comics on my porch. He could tell how excited I was, but he didn’t stick around to watch me open the box. He shoulda! Look how pretty this is. Jarod used his risograph printer on sketchbook paper.
These are going out FREE to all the people who preorder the book.
Don’t forget to use coupon code BEAR-Y CHEAP to get the nice price.
At the Small Press Book Review, Melissa Reddish has put together a thoughtful look at Jarod Roselló’s graphic novel, The Well-Dressed Bear Will (Never) Be Found. Her review centers on current events—responses to the shooting of Cecil the lion in contrast to the shooting of unarmed people of color (she goes on to reference Trayvon Martin and his hoodie, as some characters in Roselló’s book wear hoodies)—and how through that we seek connection. She points to the ringing telephone and how it’s always the wrong number. In summarizing WDB structure, she says:
There are two parallel narratives in The Well-Dressed Bear Will (Never) Be Found: the text, which tells the story of a persistent wrong number, and the artwork, which tells the story of the Well-Dressed Bear’s persecution. Although seemingly separate, they occasionally merge within the artwork. The wrong number that rings, again and again, evokes Murakami while the menacing streets filled with hooded figures and helicopters beaming searchlights evoke a kind of noir/sci-fi mystery.
The September 8 concert will feature the world premiere of Baltimore composer David Smooke’s “A Baby Bigger Grows Than Up Was,” an hour-long monodrama on a text by Baltimore writer Michael Kimball (from the book “Words” published under the name Andy Devine), with visuals by Baltimore filmmaker Margaret Rorison. In this alphabetized tale, the relative stress created by repeating individual words as many as 443 times allows us to perceive elements of an underlying narrative structure while the repetition of words forces us to perceive them as sonic events. Within this unusual organization, we find intimations of more traditional stories that might possibly provide expressive foundations for our listening experience. What at first appears to be an abstract series of words eventually reveals itself as a beautiful, emotionally charged story. The narrator gradually develops a sense of self, growing up with a doting mother and a nearly absent father.
I can’t imagine a better description of what the book does, or a better medium to capture this effect.
Years ago, when Words was released, “Andy Devine” went on tour to dozens of cities across the country by having other people perform as if they were Andy Devine himself. I got to see Smooke perform as Devine in Baltimore, and his presentation was skillful and musical … and funny. I’m excited to see the final project, years in the making, in concert.
The discussion guide we made for Fun Camp (links to ebook version, $5.95) a few years ago could work just as well as a discussion guide for the Netflix show/prequel Wet, Hot American Summer. Here’s a link to download the PDF, if you wanna. (Particularly good for teachers who are looking for texts to use in their humor writing classes.)
Jarod Roselló, author and artist of The Well-Dressed Bear Will (Never) BeFound (coming out soon! Preorder it here), is featured on AWP’s website this month. It’s a cool interview about reading habits and his writing and teaching. “Part of the joy of reading,” says Jarod, “comes in entering into dialogue with a book. I want to be affected by a book, of course, but I want to answer back as well. So, I need to write in a book.” Why not read the whole interview how about?
Thanks to Kristen Felicetti for featuring Eat, Knucklehead! for summer reading over at Hopes&Fears, a very beautiful new culture website. Her description of the book is wonderful, and it ends, “This book should also appeal to those who understand that cooking can truly be a performance, or an act of creative expression, just like any other art.” Spot on. Order Eat, Knucklehead! right here.
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