All month I’ve been hearing from family and friends of the arrival of Reading Girl, from California to the Carolinas. And just in time for the holidays. I’m so grateful to everyone who ordered a copy—or in some cases many copies—during the pre-sales period. You made this book possible. I’m also grateful to Finishing Line Press for making my manuscript into a beautiful book.
If you’ve read my previous post about the book cover, you know that I’d hoped to use the Matisse painting “Reading Girl” on which the title poem is based. As it turns out, I think the book got the cover it needed. A few weeks ago I took several copies to the Baltimore Museum of Art, which has the largest Matisse collection in the world. The museum shop’s book buyer was enthusiastic and quickly agreed to purchase six copies. When I asked her how she decided to take the book, she said the cover was the main factor.
Ironically, I don’t think Matisse’s painting would have been as suitable a book cover or as referential to Matisse. And while I’ve gotten some nice comments on the poems, I’ve gotten more comments on the cover. Reading Girl got the right one in spite of my plans, and I love that–a sign that this book has a life of its own.
One response to “Reading Girl Out In The World”
Cheers on the book, Liz! I got two – one to give to an artist/writer friend and one to keep. My friend loved hers, and I just read and loved mine. I appreciate what you said here about the cover turning out to be the right thing. I think featuring your own art in homage to his is exactly fitting for the nature of ekphrasis. It’s a visual poem! The font is great, too, and the colors are wonderful. But, since you’ve gotten more thoughts on the cover, I must gush about the gorgeous work within!
Some of my favorite moments are as follows: In “Harmony in Red,” love the line “spring on the ground when there is still snow in the trees.” In “The Piano Lesson,” love the idea of the boy caught like a note in a measure. In “Japanese Mask,” the whole thing is just, wow! Love the “no-eyes” of “Zulma” and the “apparent vulnerability” of street performers in “Still Life with Geraniums” (that “hide themselves in full view”). In “Two Figures,” love the potential movement in “he would have lapped the horses,” and it’s well placed opposite the “tamed another creature to prove it wild” in “Odalisque.” Love the “squall of curtailed spontaneity” and “muddy banks of a darksome source” in “Woman at the Fountain.” The table and chair in “Interior in Yellow” converse well with the objects in “Still Life with Sleeping Woman” and the briefcase in “The Piano Lesson” — I like the way you personify throughout. Another one I swallowed whole was “The Artist’s Family,” but a favorite line was “He didn’t care for kings.” Love that striking lace collar like a “chimney to the jaw” in “Marguerite.” And just really love the end of “Two Girls in a Red and Yellow Interior.” The last poem coming last is wonderful — reading punctuates the book in such a nice way.
I think a measure of ekphrasis done well is when the pieces you make can stand on their own, and these fully do so without physical accompaniment by the Matisse works. But I also think this book can be read many ways, for instance reading it while paging through prints of his work, or while standing before an original in a museum. The list at the end of your book of where the pieces actually are is inspired! Congrats on this beautiful project!
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