“. . . a memoir, a manual, and a philosophical essay . . . a hair-raising page-turner and, at the same time, a sweet and reassuring journey through the working of a mind fully engaged by the mystery of the eye, the hand, and the measure of words.” —Andrei Codrescu
“. . . full of vivid thought-provoking insights. It’s so light, and so heavy. I’m really stunned.” —Raymond Foye
“Grief is not shapeless; it has a surface. Bold strokes of hope—“the surreal knocks”—should be drawn again and again all over it. This is the epitome of purpose.” —Nicole Mauro
“. . . King takes the unfashionable approach of defining himself as a participant in a bigger project—the creation . . . of a 'language of devotion.'” —Tim Keane
On 77 Beasts: Basil King’s Beastiary
“Its rich detail doesn’t stale on rereading but underlines King’s skill as a writer in matching technique to what he has to convey, or with local detail dovetailing connnections betwen one painter and another. It’s a book too immediately attractive to deserve having its strength and subleties explained in advance.”—Andrew Crozier, from his Introduction
As a long poem, Basil King’s Mirage never flags—he creates an extremely diversified structure that draws from imagination, history, and his fascinating life. . . [He] recounts amazing stories contained in prose passages that break into the poetry like bedrock beneath a mountain stream. The title, Mirage, perhaps refers to the elusiveness of truth as time overwhelms our personal and public histories. Any reader with an interest in recent American literature and painting will be especially enamored with this work. —M. L. Weber, American Book Review
“I’m awed by the simplicity and strength [Basil King] does write like a painter, not simply with colors, but strong strokes here and refrains of blue there.” —Lucia Berlin
“[Basil King] would have us believe that fact can be sufficient poetry – a claim that underlies much of our best poetry.... but King adds that if the fact is not already in the world it is the artist’s option (prerogative?) to place it there.... It is the imagination, not merely a theory of the imagination, that is in charge here.” —John O’Connor, Talisman
“Mirage will leave the reader with a greater understanding and appreciation of the visual arts of our time.”—Jason R. Macey, Et Al
“A great pleasure and adventure to read, from Blitz to art to spirit.” –Ron Padgett
“Essential symmetry of experience which has gone against both the metronome and arrhythmia and beyond the ornamentation of inessentials in so much present writing. It helps to have had one’s hands covered with paint. Someone, after a long life, is standing at the door of some facet of wisdom.” –Nathaniel Tarn
“It is a remarkable work/weave...with the sure touch of one who knows what he is taking about.” –Ted Enslin
“Having meditated on pigment all his life seems to have given King an in on the use of words that transcends the vision of people who’ve spent all their time wrestling with words alone.” –Dora Fitzgerald
“There is something cumulative about the formal engagements, starting with the thin column ... and returning to this often through with an increasing tendency to work through repetitions. And then the different syntactical abutments at the end of the paragraph blocks....I think it is terrific.” –John Hall
On Warp Spasm:
“How to describe Basil King’s life’s work? Poetry? Fiction? History? Autobiography? And what of the intersections with his fascinating drawings? ‘Warp Spasm’ continues this unprejudiced investigation—a weave of signs in a field, ever flexing to accommodate observations drawn from many times, voices & lives variously lived. In an era of rabid imperialism & cultural banality, this is the work of a man whose appetite for the fabulous life of the arts remains ablaze.”—Michael Hrebeniak, editor Radical Poetics, U.K.
And more Basil King publications:
traverse – Winter, 2004 (140 East Concordia, Milwaukee, WI 53212) : cover drawing “Homage to Robert Duncan” and a long poem, “Looking for a Face in Akbar’s Court”.
Lungfull! Number 13, Spring, 2004 (316 23rd Street, Brooklyn, NY ll215): “Be Adam. Be Eve.” – excerpt from Learning to Draw (work in progress).
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Basil King attended Black Mountain College as a teenager in the 1950s, and completed his apprenticeship as an abstract expressionist painter in San Francisco and New York. Since that time, his art has taken a different turn, reaching through abstraction back to surrealism and forward into a new approach to the figure. Although he did not begin to write regularly until 1986, an involvement with poetry has always been part of his life, first in doing art to accompany poems in books and magazines, later as a book artist, and now as a poet/painter. Some of his larger paintings can be seen on the Web at the Spuyten Duyvil, Light & Dust, and Avec sites. His books include Split Peas, Miniatures, Devotions, Identity, The Poet, and Warp Spasm, Mirage and 77 Beasts: Basil King’s Beastiary .