TO INHABIT THE FELT WORLD Nominated for da Vinci Eye Prize

The photograph is from the WaterLight series.

The photograph is from
the WaterLight series.

 

 

I’m honored that my new book TO INHABIT THE FELT WORLD has been nominated as a finalist for the da Vinci Eye prize for cover art. The cover image is from my WaterLight series.

Garden Bench

Tepoztlan-river-webcopy

Garden Bench

 

Narrowing path

 

overrun with elephant ears, birds-of-paradise,

pampas grass, plumed with decay.

 

Tentacles avid, relentlessly accelerate.

Sumptuous excess silences slow wind.

 

In canopy leaves reach for sky.

 

Alone here, unlonely,

immolant joy.

 

Between seasons, angled apart, the stone rests on gray schist legs.

 

Each dry winter, cemented

in their shrunken rigid waterless bed

desiccated stems flake to dust

Leaves of streamside trees

wait for July rain to decompose.

 

Each rainy summer night it sinks another iota toward its ancestral home

amidst the bedrock

of the river’s underground channel

tipping  imperceptibly

aslant in the slippery loam

 

The path a dirt track, no longer wide enough for two people to pass,

once planted, now wild

 

below steep rock steps a derelict fountain,

verdigris-bronze head on the wall

calcified mouth unable to spout the rainy runoff.

 

There the bench waited for decades.

 

Broken sun glints through heavy foliage.

Awake

I dream the afternoon.

 

Words fall through cascade of air.

 

Lines found in any order,

reordered,

folded away,

 

found again,

foundered in the torrent

found sheltered

this reader of stone in the rain.

 

 

a                  a                a

 

Along a wide path,

white with florescent light,

white with cold empty shining air

immaculate, pristine, precise,

five people, a crowd covered in blue,

walk steady and resolute .

 

Awake

on the rolling platform

I dream back this sheltered garden.

 

The tiny black mystery, size of a fingernail, sends its life out

in threads, ready to take mine in suicidal excess.

They, steadfast under blue lights, mean to murder

this malignant monster.

 

Silence and noise, garden leaves,

insects and wind, muffled footsteps

 

 

A stone in the river ,washed smooth

by twenty years absence,

lies wet in the sunshine.

 

Gentle in its muddy bed,

heavy in my hand now, its body

contains the igneous history of the world.

 

A wader in this stream,

I step in the icy flow and fall

against its solid actuality.

 

 

2012

TO INHABIT THE FELT WORLD

To-Inhabit-COVER-7.5x9-webcopy

Susan Gardner writes “with no other proof but memory.”

She urges us

“take one breath,

exhale

then one more.”

Susan takes us by the throat to Toronto Island, Montserrat, the New York Library, a hospital, into seemingly veiled poems that leave haunting images for us to reinterpret, to meditate upon. These are poems for the poet-breath within us. One reading, one long breath is not enough.  Within Susan Gardner’s writing is the deep breath we take at the end of the book that says, I have heard the roar of a poet responding to the love and pain in a private, felt world.

As a fellow poet, I am revived by this gathering of penetrating tenderness.

– James McGrath, author of At the Edgelessness of Light, Dreaming invisible Voices and Speaking With Magpies

 

Susan Gardner’s spare but urgent collection of poems, To Inhabit the Felt World, is “the roar of alive”

I don’t believe I have ever read lines of such ferocity, honesty and pain. Yet Gardner continues, observes, listens, “fog drips on a forest mouse/ somewhere near a song.” grows, creates,

Hand circles inside black boundary,

water reflects from black surface

ink blackens

marbles over inkstone

 

slowly, slowly  readies itself for the brush.

And she opens herself to pasiion, “ the body of one/ raging with joy/ against the surface of the other.” “Not the thickness of a thread is between us… nothing between us but this hour.”

To Inhabit the Felt World is a remarkable collection by a remarkable poet/panter/photographer. – Elizabeth Raby, poet, author of  INK ON SNOW

 

Appreciation by Gary Worth Moody

Susan Gardner works with poetic forms and visual imagery to capture moments in time. Her poetry and visual art demands that we honor our shared sensual reality. Susan’s work unwraps these moments, then bounds them in all dimensions, with harmonious silence and the symphonic, visual and aural cacophony of nature, which create the social, tactile and psychic space we inhabit. Her work bridges our inevitable sense of memory with a unifying sense of the present.

– Gary Worth Moody, author of HAZARDS OF GRACE

DRAWING THE LINE ~ A Passionate Life

Kirkus Reviews

https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/susan-gardner/drawing-the-line-sgpPxDtA/

“much to ponder in this reflective memoir.” — Kirkus Reviews

The author recounts her life with an artist’s eye, furnishing telling details about the places and people she encounters. Arranged by locale, chapters contain shorter sections prefaced by a thematic word or phrase such as “No More Talking” or “The Dress,” making the book more accessible and richer than a list of events. Despite the disappointments in her life, the narrator doesn’t wallow in self-pity. Instead, she ties her experiences to political and historical events with clear, sometimes funny one-liners: “There was war in the Pacific and in Europe, and in our apartment.” In this way, her writing mirrors her line drawings—simple lines with surprising nuance and depth. The book’s title evokes her love of calligraphy, her meandering travels, her poetry (the book includes several poems) and society’s expectations for women that she must decide to uphold or not. Her deliberate storytelling style makes for thoughtful… reading.

Artists, writers and other “outsiders” will find much to ponder in this reflective memoir. — Kirkus Reviews

 

The Eric Hoffer Award

http://www.theusreview.com/USRhoffer.html#memoir

Honorable Mention

Drawing the Line: A Passionate Life, Susan Gardner, Red Mountain Press – The author has become an internationally known painter, photographer, and poet, and has traveled in Asia, Mexico, France, Canada, and throughout this country. Much of her artwork and some of her poems are included here. Although she has always been creative, she writes, “Being an artist was not a label I sought or understood. It is my identity, not a job… The intense desire for the work of making art is a yearning necessity, as irresistible as the most attractive and jealous lover.” ….This memoirist does not have grudges to bear; rather, her book reveals a fortunate woman, moving through her life’s adventures and disappointments with almost unflagging perseverance. It should especially provide inspiration for readers who are earlier on the risky yet rewarding path to “following one’s bliss.”

Drunken Boat # 15

http://www.drunkenboat.com/db15/drawing-the-line-a-passionate-life

Drawing the Line, a passionate life A Life Beyond the Lines by Jessica Treat

“Gardner’s memoir is most interesting and impressive…”

Susan Gardner is a poet and artist whose memoir, Drawing the Line, chronicles the life of a woman who increasingly places the rigor and discipline of art and the act of creation at the center of her life…..Gardner’s memoir is most interesting and impressive for its chronicle of the life of a highly intelligent, capable woman….

After an initial chapter in Mexico, Drawing the Linefollows Gardner’s life chronologically in a manner… which the reader comes to find increasingly compelling. The balance Gardner strikes between reserve and divulgence seems right, and the honesty and clear-sightedness with which she relates the continual challenges (the loss of a child, her husband’s affairs, exclusion from the working sphere abroad) as well as the resources she is able to draw from in facing them bind the reader to her with great compassion and respect.  Wherever she lives, she attempts to reach out, to create community, a life much larger than the one prescribed to her.  “From very early childhood I learned that because I was able to, I must do what was required of me,” (90) Susan Gardner writes. Here she chronicles her journey from meeting the requirements of being a daughter, sister, wife, mother, foreign service spouse, to those dictated by her art and her heart.  Gardner’s memoir will interest many….

Blood Lotus #22  Nov 2011 pp61-62

http://issuu.com/bloodlotus/docs/bl_22_whole_issue/61 

Drawing the Line ~  Passionate Life is a work to savor…. imbued with the same vitality, restraint, and dignity as a perfect line. – Diane Thomas, author of The Year the Music Changed blood lotus November 2011 p61-62

More commentary:

Drawing The Line is a beautiful story of a woman’s struggle to be herself…. a personal exploration of the last six decades, and a peek into the formation of an artist…. – San Francisco Book Review
 August 2011

Drawing the Line is a fine memoir with plenty to absorb throughout. – Midwest Book Review/Small Press BookWatch Vol 10 No.8 August 2011

Gardner has given us a meticulously detailed, ruthlessly honest and emotionally redemptive story…. Drawing the Line generously offers that epiphany to all of us. – Wayne Lee, author of Doggerel & Caterwauls: Poems Inspired by Cats & Dogs

… sophisticated in its simplicity and profound in its lack of guile. Drawing the Line is soulful and beautiful. – Marc Talbert, author of Altogether Ernest

Susan Gardner’s DRAWING THE LINE is a poignant and touching personal story that vividly captures what it is to grow and discover, not only as an artist, but as a human being. – Scott Harrison, Artistic Director, Ironweed Productions

 

TO INHABIT THE FELT WORLD

To-Inhabit-COVER-7.5x9-webcopy

“With… awareness and wisdom, ‘To Inhabit the Felt World’ is a fine addition to contemporary poetry collections, recommended.” Midwest Book Review, February 13, 2013

Susan Gardner’s spare but urgent collection of poems, To Inhabit the Felt World, is “the roar of alive”

I don’t believe I have ever read lines of such ferocity, honesty and pain. Yet Gardner continues, observes, listens, “fog drips on a forest mouse/ somewhere near a song.” grows, creates,

Hand circles inside black boundary,

water reflects from black surface

ink blackens

marbles over inkstone

slowly, slowly  readies itself for the brush.

And she opens herself to pasiion, “ the body of one/ raging with joy/ against the surface of the other.” “Not the thickness of a thread is between us… nothing between us but this hour.”

To Inhabit the Felt World is a remarkable collection by a remarkable poet/panter/photographer.

– Elizabeth Raby, poet, author of  INK ON SNOW