Artist of the Month: Jennifer Maier
For the past seven years, the Image staff has had the pleasure and privilege of working with Jennifer Maier as a colleague—grateful for her behind the scenes help with the selection of the marvelous poetry that appears in our pages. But until recently, you had to be a subscriber to various literary journals to have an inkling of her own gifts as a poet. No more. With the publication of Dark Alphabet, a winner of the First Book Award in the Crab Orchard Series in Poetry, her own voice as a poet can now be heard. And what a richly modulated voice it is: able to move from wry observation to emotional plangency to that most difficult of all literary feats—comic irony—with a turn-on-a-dime grace that can leave you reeling. Take her poem “Lot’s Wife,” where the narrator confesses that she is sick of looking at her husband’s “righteous backside,” then tells us that she must turn back to the city where she had friends; changed into a pillar of salt, she is tentatively approached by survivors who crawl out of caves and treat her as a salt lick: “They have consumed my heart, / but I will become part of their flesh / and part of my people forever.” In the poem that closes the book, the sight of Meganser ducks outside her window conjures up adolescent memories of beautiful Danny Scarlatti and thoughts of Ovid, Leda, and the swan. A poem about fortune cookies begins with a transcription of the fortune “Answer just what your heart prompts you” and the poem continues, “and shut up about the rest.” Maybe we shouldn’t introduce the word “limpid” in a review that’s already used “plangency,” but the simplicity and strength of Maier’s poetic lines makes us think...“limpid.” Anyway, we’ve had her to ourselves for too long; now she can be your friend and confidante, too.
Click here to go to Jennifer Maier’s Artist of the Month page.
New Gear on Sale Now at the Image Store
Just in time for the Glen Workshop: two new T-shirts are available from Image’s store at Café Press (plus tote bags). The first features Barry Moser's wry, loving portrait of Flannery O'Connor, our unofficial patron saint, who wrote that “In the novelist's case, prophecy is a matter of seeing near things with their extensions of meaning and thus of seeing far things close up. The prophet is a realist of distances.” A mission statement for Image if we ever heard one. The back of the shirt (which comes in both men's and women's cuts) says “The Realism of Distances.” This design is also available in a tote bag. The other shirt uses a paraphrase of a line from Graham Greene's incandescent novel The Power and the Glory: “Hatred is just a failure of the imagination.” The back has the logo and theme of this year's Glen Workshop, which focuses on art and the imagination as a lens through which to view the three great western faith traditions—and as a means to overpower hate. The previous generation of shirts, with Dostoyevsky's mysterious dictum, “Beauty will save the world,” is still available, too, in a variety of styles. Plus: mugs, buttons, hats, and more.
They’re being snatched up at the Glen as we speak, so get yours now.
Kjellgren Alkire: Pulpit
Kjellgren Alkire is one of those rare artists with a gift for getting inside religious clichés and recapitulating them in a humorous and meaningful way. A performance and installation artist, Alkire is currently studying for a Master of Fine Arts degree in printmaking, but his works transcend the two-dimensional: they are an interactive sensory experience. A former Lutheran youth pastor, perhaps Alkire understands the need to engage all of the senses when it comes to teaching theology. As a result, his work is not only entertaining, it’s profoundly sacramental—even when the gestures border on the ridiculous. For example, one of his recent projects was “Jesus Rodeo,” which encouraged onlookers to “join the Cowboy Carnival” and combined interactive performances with “odd sculptural carnival games.” This capacity to combine deeply-rooted theology with a sense of humor is the sign of a mature vision. Now Kjellgren Alkire brings his background in fine art and preaching to his latest project, Pulpit, which is currently being hosted at Eye Lounge Contemporary Art in Phoenix, Arizona. Pulpit, “a series of fine art homiletics and exhibition of sculptural hermeneutics,” will include interactive performance, books, and posters as examples of fine art (we like the poster that reads “Git Saved Tonite: The Rev Roughstock & His Rodeo Revival”). Pulpit will be held at Eye Lounge from August 3 – September 1, with an opening on August 3 at 5:00 p.m. and a reception on August 17 at 6:00 p.m. The gallery is located at 419 East Roosevelt Street in Phoenix.
For more information, visit Eye Lounge. Click here to see the promotional poster.
Awaiting Orders by Farrell O’Gorman
In the years before the first Persian Gulf War, young Wes Hammond, the son of an amateur military historian and grandson of a reticent WWII vet, graduates from a military academy in the south. His commission sends him to a base in California where...he waits. Wes chose the military because it seemed difficult, compared with the easy mediocrity of his first year at the state university and the life he could see it leading to. Alternatively, the military seemed to offer a set of clearly defined challenges, something bracing and orderly, something he could channel himself into. What military service in the peacetime of early 1990 offers is, in fact, something quite different. The novel develops into a meditation on power, idleness, young manhood, and coming of age in a jaded time—with a sensibility that’s at once comically earthy and profoundly moral. O'Gorman, who served four years in the navy and has published fiction in Image, Best Catholic Writing, Shenandoah, and other journals, spins out graceful, unapologetically writerly sentences (a welcome defiance of stereotype: Wes may be bored and disaffected, but he can be bothered to think complex thoughts). O'Gorman’s novel is a pleasure, a refreshing combination of frank creatureliness and ethical searching. He delves into our worst impulses without ignoring our noble ones. Valerie Sayers calls it “a compelling exploration of the moral life of a single, drifting character, whose journey mirrors by implication the moral life of contemporary American culture. Hemingway’s taut prose and Dostoyevsky’s spiritual quests inform the action, but Farrell O’Gorman’s sensibility is wholly original.”
Read more at Idylls Press.
Image Reviewed on NewPages.com
It’s always nice to receive positive feedback about Image and the work that fills its pages. And that’s why we were pleased to hear that NewPages.com recently posted a glowing review of Image issue #53 on their website. Among other things, the review says that Image is “with it.” Well, we’d like to think so! NewPages is an online resource for discerning readers, gathering names and links to hundreds of quality independent journals, magazines, bookstores, publishers, and more. The people at NewPages are up to good work: in addition to providing this fine listing, they also maintain a blog and regularly post reviews of literary magazines. In the review of Image #53, reader Sheheryar Badar Sheikh is won over as she reads through the issue from cover to cover. To see the review, click here.
Click here to go to NewPages.com.