Poetry/Visual Art/Literature: 64 pages; 24 poems with 24 images plus title/cover image
What do you get when you put ten frogs in a coffee pot? Answer: Salamander, the latest in a long, imaginative line of animal inventories that began in classical Greece, if not on Noah’s Ark, became popular during the medieval period, and includes such modern innovators as Leonardo da Vinci and Lewis Carroll, Jorge Luis Borges and J.K. Rowling. A collaboration among a father, his daughter, and a woodcutter, this poetic menagerie celebrates the intelligence and ingenuity of two dozen creatures, from elk to eel, orca to owl. A labor of filial laughter, this carved, quirky rolodex is also a mirror in which we see ourselves, as “Wildness withheld,” for the endangered species we are.
— Andrew Zawacki
Woodcuts — are they black on white or white on black?—cut through the woods of words. The wood shows what the words mean. And the other way round. You can’t be sure with animals.
Animals are there just enough for us to glimpse (a woodcut is more shadow than flesh) and have some working poet explain them to themselves.
This book is all explanation. Read “Blonde Raven” to learn what it means to live in a visible world.
The poems are sparse — light shows through them — and tell us things about animals, and tell animals about themselves — so much so that I’m not sure, after reading through the 24 panels, whether I’m being explained or being enlightened. That’s a perplexity that comes when reading Rilke and Dickinson too, poets who can’t always tell themselves from what they see.
— Robert Kelly