Why pear001
Why pear?
Denise Newman
Em Press
Mill Valley, CA
ISBN 0-9632085-9-4
1 sheet ([12] p.) : 5 x 3 folded to 5 x 21
Signed & numbered edition of 250

This wine illusion of oneness / tongued to death. Denise Newman wants to taste the world through her senses; to lick it like a mother cat. Sometimes she gets so close, the body splits open.
–Denise Liddell Lawson

          Eat the pear, he says / to divide? / No, devour

Denise Newman is a poet of koanic questing. The clarity of her hermetic verse, a kind of delicacy and plainness of space and breath and speech, seems like fragments of Sappho, in a third generation xerox, blown up and nearly empty.

           a Greek god tourist in photocopied love time…but they look so real…He is fake…Camouflaged as a person/anyone…Twice-born god…in a boat/on a plate/ chipped and cracked…No warranty…As is, I’d been saying/as is, is as, as is

As in a dream where the dreamer is represented in each of its elements, Newman’s identifications of the human float among the animal/ vegetable/ mineral and the four or five elements. When she writes:

          You could be a star/You could be someone

the reference to fame seems secondary or tertiary to a more elemental, aerial reference. Give us that perfectly/eluding all and earth bird/talent. An earth bird is Icarus or a pigeon, not a gift of the gods (“a star”)––despite the prayer––but something riskier or less thrilling:

          already in the big sky travelers
          are floating lights
          each with a window asking
             is this it?

Why pear? is a poem of isolation and relationship whose title puns on "pair." The pair of pear colors, d'Anjou and Cornice (gold and green) of ink, cover and ribbon; the brushstroked icons of the paired front and back cover art (reading graphically "Why Pair?" through the symbols of a question mark and a minimally sketched pear); the pairing of Asian (accordion) and European (covered boards) structure, art (the calligraphed brushstrokes, Troy Peter's photograph of the reflection of a tree in water), and papers; the accordion folds allowing the poem to reveal itself either all at once or bit by bit—all contribute to the inquiry.

Photography Troy Peters
Thanks to Djerassi Resident Artists Program
Designed & printed by Dale Going at Em Press
Gill Sans Light digital type letterpress printed from photopolymer plates on a Vandercook SP15 using Arches paper & Yatsuo-covered boards in a ribbon-tied concertina structure.
Brush-painted pear and question mark on covers by Dale Going.

Why pear? has been exhibited in Beside the Sleeping Maiden at the O'Hanlon Center Gallery in Mill Valley,CA; in Art & Soul of the Handmade Book at the Blue Heron Gallery in Vashon Island, WA; 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.
Why pear002

Denise Newman is a poet and translator. 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.

Also from Em Press: The Blood Flower