The Blood Flower
Denise Newman
Em Press
Mill Valley, CA
ISBN 0-99632085-3-5
[8] p., 10 x 5.5
A poem in five parts
Signed & numbered edition of 150

…in her inspired weave between a primitive, biblical language and the arcanery of modern slang and argot…along with everything else, Newman's books are intensely charged political documents…
Kevin Killian

Denise Newman shows us that the world is round and flat and continuous and present; in multiplicity there is exstasy.”
Denise Liddell Lawson

     Deeper. Tunnelling down too far is always dangerous/but the Book has its own sense of eroticism:

The Blood Flower is a catechism of erotic origins, a flaying of layers to that shy island back behind memory, back before the blood fish egg beginning, the tree and body, layer preceding all layers. Erotic sources are mineral, salt water and the blood of stone, origin as island, as sea creature: There was iron in the rocks back home. The sought place is that origin beyond seeking yet it is got to through seeking.

Denise Newman’s lyricism is operatic or Gothic, the dark Grimmness of a northern fairytale, stone cold genitals of black winter earth/flowers, her heroine a Goth Persephone whose hell is the adolescent verge/virge, that moment of clarity, desire, horror at the blood cusp of girlhood and womanhood. Newman’s vegetative world is inhabitated by trees, by red and yellow flowers, each with its meaning: The flower is yellow is sweet like heavy eyelids––its name is/ freesia/ free, out of doors by sea and heads of these yellow sweet/bells quivering madly/light touch of your cheek (erotic is in the/contrast).

I first heard The Blood Flower at a poetry reading Denise Newman gave at Small Press Traffic in San Francisco, and had the experience of "seeing" the book as I heard her read. The black and rubric red of the inks and papers are an intentionally liturgical device for this erotic play of deep-night blood-letting go which transmutes Christian references (the poem begins: I am a Christian bleeding) to the more elemental fluids and fluidity of the female body.


Letterpress printed in black and red inks from photopolymer plates in Centaur with Bernhard Modern titles on Lana Laid, a French cotton mouldmade paper, with black Arches cover, red Unryu end papers and red Yatsuo chine collé title. Thank you Joyce Lancaster Wilson and Peter Rutledge Koch. Designed and printed by Dale Going. Printed on a Vandercook press at the Press in Tuscany Alley, San Francisco, metal type floral ornament from the collection of Peter Rutledge Koch.

The Blood Flower has been exhibited in Beside the Sleeping Maiden, O’Hanlon Center Gallery, Mill Valley, CA; at the San Francisco Main Library in the Members Exhibition of the Pacific Center for the Book Arts; and in Livres de poètes (femmes) , Berkeley Art Center, June 2000.
Denise Newman is a poet and translator. The Blood Flower was her first publication. She is the author of two collections of poems, Human Forest and Wild Goods, both published by Apogee Press. Her translation of The Painted Room by the Danish poet Inger Christensen is distributed by Random House (United Kingdom), and her translation of Azorno, also by Christensen, is forthcoming from New Directions. Her poems, collaborations, and translations have appeared in Denver Quarterly, Volt, Fence, Chain, ZYZZYVA, and elsewhere. For the past decade, she has been collaborating with composers, providing lyrics for choral works. She has been a Djerassi Resident Artist, and a staff editor at Five Fingers Review. She teaches creative writing at the California College of Art and at Mills College.

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