By Mark Doty & Darren Waterston
Prestel, 112 pages, $34.95
Sometimes art can be too artsy. A Swarm, A Flock, A Host: A Compendium of Creatures is a throwback to the bestiaries of old. In between some of the collages of silhouettes are poems that emphasize man’s connection to nature. The poetry is beautiful, sometimes even haunting, making for a rather nice complement to the art, which has an odd chimerical feel to it as animals spring out of other animals and the silhouettes merge together. This is a great-looking book and a thought provoking read.
This is obviously not a book for everyone. The artwork is evocative, but can sometimes be a little grotesque, especially for those used to more traditional art. It would fit nicely theme-wise with medieval art the necessary but the necessary lack of detail may throw some off. The poetry is also pretty good, but the typography may throw some off; letters are apparently randomly italicized, forcing the poetry into a strange rhythm when read emphasizing those letters. Because of that the poetry pools and spurts like a mountain stream, making for a more organic poem. This is definitely something to be read, and may teach poets a few more tricks.
Reviewed by Jamais Jochim