What's new to our shelves this new year? Here are a few highlights:
I declare a permanent state of happiness : sixty-two artworks by Kenneth Goldsmith
London: Eris, 2018
“I never actually read the Tractatus. But I always loved the idea of it”. Between a riot of anonymous pink covers, conceptual American poet Goldsmith decorates and defaces Wittgenstein’s Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus with tippex, stickers, drawings, comics, spatters of blood and his handwritten amendments and marginalia. He plays with the philosopher’s propositions about language and reality in a way that feels more satisfying than sacrilegious (and this is coming from librarians!). A cast of heavyweights weigh in, amongst them John Cage: ‘I have nothing to say, and I am saying it, and that is poetry as I need it.’
Me and my Alien Friend: Cosmic Poems about Friendship / written & illustrated by Ed Boxall
Ardleigh: Troika Books, 2018
We first became aware of Ed Boxall when we purchased some of his children’s books at a small press fair. Previously, Boxall has published his poetry and illustration under his Pearbox Press imprint and this is his first publication with Troika Books. Celebrating best friends, animal friends, difficult friends and imaginary friends - “Me and my alien friend, / Sit on the moon and eat ice cream. / It’s quiet up here” - Boxall is not afraid to embrace the melancholy that children sometimes feel. His delicate and touching mixed-media illustrations show why he is much in demand illustrating the work of other poets, including Brian Moses’ new Troika book I thought I heard a tree sneeze / the very best of Brian Moses' poems for young children, also acquired by the library this month. Ed Boxall will be sharing his poetry illustration tips at a special workshop for children at the National Poetry Library in February half term as part of the Imagine festival.
Haiti, my country : poems by Haitian schoolchildren / illustrated by Rogé ; translated by Solange Messier
Ontario: Fifth House, 2014
The poems in this book were written by Haitian teenagers before the devastating earthquake of 2010 - indeed these teenagers were living in the part of the country unaffected by the quake. Their writings eloquently describe the natural beauty of the country and the pleasures of living in such impressive natural surroundings; some of the poets also deal with the struggle to exist in a country which has political as well as natural challenges. The illustrations are gorgeous and really add to the experience of reading the poems. We came upon this books some years after publication but we had to add it to the collection. It’s a book to spend time with, educational as well as inspirational.
Jackson Saves an Owl (Jackson Superhero) / words by Darren Garwood ; illustrations by Carl Osborne
UK: Untold Books, 2018
Written by Darren Garwood for his son Jackson who has the life limiting condition Krabbe’s Disease, Garwood imagines in charming rhyming couplets the superhero antics that Jackson gets up to while he sleeps: “Then he reaches into the puddle / and pulls out the plug. / Jackson dries out the owl / with a lovely big hug”. The quirky pencil illustrations by family friend Carl Osborne will appeal to children and inspire them to draw their own superhero adventures. Garwood has said that though he liked word games and anagrams he had never written before but his son inspired him; “What I always try to get across to Jackson is that when you are asleep, you can do anything you want to do. You can let your imagination run wild.”