“What the poetry strives to bring about, whether through the magic of words or the evocative nature of the watercolors, is a kind of transmutation. Jewell Zeller and DeBecker teach us how our thoughts and experiences can transform not just our world, but our very psyche, cultivating a consciousness that holds no divide, a mind that is border and transgression, moving elegantly between states of being. All, of course, this philosophizing is done in language that is casually elegant.” – Daniel CaseyRead more of Daniel Casey’s review of “Alchemy for Cells & Other Beasts” in the Tupelo Quarterly.
“Shurin’s engrossing love of his subject can be compared to a one man band with a head full of riveting compositions. He’s available with eyes and ears and skin, and heart memory as well as brain memory.” — Barbara Berman on Flowers & Sky: Two TalksRead the entire recommendation on The Rumpus.
In FLOWERS & SKY: TWO TALKS Aaron Shurin deftly uses its eponymous subject matters to consider the poetics of a whole life, following out the flowers and skies in his actual experience, as well as the appearance of these words in his work. The talks are excellent examples of the lyric essay, a form that allows the writer the latitude to make prose sense in a poetic way. One of the advantages of the form, fully exploited by Shurin, is the opportunity to use wonderfully sounded language to make incantatory as well as logical sense. A danger can be the risk of being self-indulgently vague. Far from falling prey to this danger, this book is precise and rigorous in its examination of a writing practice and a series of lived incidents that both inspire and comprise that practice. As revelatory as they are expository, these talks, along with the poems and other material in the book, allow Shurin to celebrate (and demonstrate) his poetics with an honest zeal that seems to tell all. Who better, I thought reading and rereading the book, to fully present one’s poetics than oneself? This work is like a textbook of how to write about one’s poetics in a way that is serious, accurate, and engaging. Old poets thinking to write their memoirs and young ones to assert their own poetics should take notice. -Laura MoriartySPD STAFF PICKS: 2017
“Aaron Shurin has produced a slim yet potent volume of significant yet delicately rendered prose and poetry that fans should enjoy slowly to savor the meaning behind his words” -Jim PiechotaThere’s a new review of Aaron Shurin’s “Flowers & Sky” in the new Bay Area Reporter. Thanks for the kind words and the reminder to check out the audio download! Read the whole review here: Focused Grace
“…the poems in “Alchemy” in particular, partially because of the interdisciplinary influence, play with space and line and syntactical disruption and fragment in ways that a lot of other contemporary poets are also playing – this deconstructivist approach resulting, I think many of us would say, from a fractured political and social climate, and from the sense of disorder and stress that so many of us feel.”Read the whole Interview here. SPOKESMAN REVIEW
Books about anxiety are too often deemed feminine and interior—too personally specific. But in the refractive kaleidoscope of ALCHEMY FOR CELLS & OTHER BEASTS, anxiety becomes an externalised and colorful weapon, one encompassing not just the landscape of the self, but the universe as it affects the self, the tales of other selves around the self. From geologic time to climate change, individual anxiety spreads virally throughout the book, populating its readers with the troubling accoutrements of human existence and its oft negative impacts — “so mammal / so leathery like our sin / the one I cover over my organs / like a filmy curtain.” Accompanied by misleadingly succulent artwork by Carrie DeBacker, ALCHEMY FOR CELLS & OTHER BEASTS is a journey at turns mystical and frightening, guilt-inducing and comforting, muddling humanity’s oppressive force with its animal instincts, all without being self-righteous or accusatory. We exist, it seems to say, and we have an impact. And what that is can be beautiful or frightening — it’s up to us. —Trisha Low