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National Gallery - cover

National Gallery

Jonathan Ball

Publisher: Coach House Books

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Summary

Jonathan Ball’s fourth poetry book, the first in seven years, swirls chaos and confession together. At the book’s heart is a question: Why create art? A series of poetic sequences torment themselves over this question, offering few answers and taking fewer prisoners. Loose sonnets that consider the artistic creations of Leatherface, monster-killer from The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, sit alongside Rilkean elegies for an iPhone. Surreal meditations on the collage work of Guy Maddin are followed by all of the lines from Melville’s Moby-Dick that mention “salt.” Politicians and painters jostle while absurdist humour crashes into stark admissions of vulnerability in the wake of having children. A startling diversity of styles and subjects feed into the maelstrom of The National Gallery, and its dark currents will draw you in to drown.

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