Sentenced to Light (Paperback)
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An astonishing series of unique collaborative image-text projects, Sentenced to Light privileges its poetic and formal textual space outside most of the images that are its original twins and offers the reader a glimpse of the dialectic of larger conversations, the unpredictable, improvisatory bavardage that whispers between words and pictures in a space we call culture."Anecdotal Waters" is an invited response to a mixed-media installation by Mireille Perron and Paul Woodrow. "Articulations" was printed on a series of fifty paintings by Calgary artist Bev Tosh and incorporated in both an installation and a performance of the work. "All Americans" was serialized for an installation on the Minnesota Massacre of 1862. A biotext of landscape and memory, "Twain" consists of textual improvisations provoked by and situated alongside six poems that artist Marian Penner Bancroft applied directly to the walls among the photographs in her exhibition "By Land and Sea (Prospect and Refuge)." The alphabet of "jingo cards" was written for a collaborative performance piece with Vancouver multi-media artist Haruko Okano called "High Bridi Tea" that gestated years later into her jargon art project "Homing Pidgin." "Pop Goes the Hood," was written for a video-text performance commissioned from video artist Henry Tsang and poet Fred Wah. "Me Too" pays ghostly homage to the visual and textual work of Roy Kiyooka. The two "transcreations" are part of photographer Ernie Kroeger's "Wild Writing" project that uses his photographically treated rubbings of the glyphs left by the Mountain Pine Beetle. The series of ppretences (prose-poem sentences) was written for "Pays Maya," a show of photographer Richard Baillergeon's Yucatan images. In the title section, the prose-poem sentences stretch to comprehend the vanishing edges of lens, eye and syntax within Mexican photographer Eric Jervaise's black-and-white photos, made with his hand-built panoramic view camera.
The cover as a composition is inspired like the whole bookthere is a minimalism in itit is so structured yet never over-wroughtthe shadow of the figure and camera ’producing’ the composition (literally) of the book fullyhere thenI thinkI place it next to Nichol’s Martyrology. I think too it’s as great, as astonishing as bissett’s major self-anthologized books. The ’visual’ intelligence that informs this book is extraordinary! I admire it’s clarity’Sentenced’ so far is my favorite poem in the book but that says nothingthere are too many! His book is an exhibition, a performance, a documentary and the montage, its potency, is seamless. This book is an extraordinary gift.”
For those new to Wah’s work, Sentenced to Light provides an accessible and beautifully produced introduction to a major poet. For longtime readers, it offers a reminder that Wah, as he enters the fifth decade of his career, is continually returning to originsto memory, vision, and the bodyin renewing his poetry. The cradle,’ Wah declares is where I want to be.’ ”
One has the sense of Wah’s effort to catch inspiration in its everydayness and at its most raw and vital.”