Reading this book was also my July challenge for the 2009 Mini-Challenge: Read a book outside your comfort level or from a genre you don’t normally read. This book counts because more than half of it is poetry. I did follow Julia Johnson's advice about reading the poems aloud. So, the poems made more sense to me.
I also wanted to read this work, because Joseph Cornell is one of my favorite artists. I was wondering what other author and poets would write, being inspired by Cornell's assemblages.
This book is hard to find. I had to borrow it from another library system. Even the original publisher (DAP books) has sold out of the hardback edition.
The beautiful photos were of the bird series assemblages, that are now in various collections.
My favorite poem is Magic Muse'e by Martine Bellen. She writes:
Formed from heat, moisture, frost, concealment
How it drips, freezes fogs
How it forms columnar cracks, gashed with glass
My favorite short story is Barry Lopez' Emory Bear Hand's Birds. The narrator is Julio Sangremano (Bloody Hand) who is incarated for "computer services theft". His cell mate is a Native American from Montana. In order to pass the time, Emory starts telling stories about animals and nature that he heard as a boy. The Hispanic and other minority prisoners start calming down and the white supremist ones and the guards get confused. Emory is sent somewhere else, but a guard manages to smuggle a letter from him.
Emory wrote to his friends, "On June 20th, he wrote, each of us had to choose some kind of bird - a sparrow, a thrush, a crow, a warbler, and on that night, wherever he was, Emorby was going to pray each of us into those birds. We were going to become thos birds. And they were going to fly away."
I won't give away the ending but it was a mixture of magical realism and Native American mythology.
If you ever manage to find this book, I hope that you can read it. Check out the DAP link for the other writers that are included in this book.