Mandala: A Collaboration

Sam Hamill, Author, Lu Chi, Author, Galen Garwood, Illustrator Milkweed Editions $21.95 (78p) ISBN 978-0-915943-52-4
A spirit wavering between fieriness and crankiness animates this collection, a homage to Seattle painter Morris Graves. In Graves's aesthetics, Hamill ( Basho's Ghost ), editor of Copper Canyon Press, discovers a resolution to the age-old conflict between artistic discipline and inspiration: ``Perfect technique, then abandon technique to surrender completely to inspiration.'' At times this philosophy leads Hamill to curmudgeonly complaints about ``anarchists, avant-gardists, geeks / who would `liberate' Art / from the prison of technique.'' More often than not, however, Graves's work arouses in Hamill a kind of meditative defiance. In ``Malebolge: Prince William Sound,'' the poet equates the unruly modern world with Malebolge, ``the bowels of Hell's seventh circle'' in Dante's Inferno. Hamill intrepidly connects this image to the ``tar balls riding out the tides'' at the scene of the Valdez oil spill, provocatively suggesting political and environmental repercussions to taming the imagination. Garwood's monotypes, abstract visual representations of Hamill's themes, alternate with the poems in this handsomely produced volume. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 01/04/1993
Release date: 01/01/1993
Genre: Fiction
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