“As a long poem, Basil King’s Mirage never flags. . . [He] recounts amazing stories contained in prose passages that break into the poetry like bedrock beneath a mountain stream. The title, Mirage, perhaps refers to the elusiveness of truth as time overwhelms our personal and public histories. Any reader with an interest in recent American literature and painting will be especially enamored with this work.” —M. L. Weber, American Book Review
“A great pleasure and adventure to read, from Blitz to art to spirit.” —Ron Padgett
“Essential symmetry of experience which has gone against both the metronome and arrhythmia and beyond the ornamentation of inessentials in so much present writing. It helps to have had one’s hands covered with paint. Someone, after a long life, is standing at the door of some facet of wisdom.” –Nathaniel Tarn
“It is a remarkable work/weave...with the sure touch of one who knows what he is talking about.” —Ted Enslin
“I’m awed by the simplicity and strength. [Basil King] does write like a painter, not simply with colors, but strong strokes here and refrains of blue there.” —Lucia Berlin
“He would have us believe that fact can be sufficient poetry – a claim that underlies much of our best poetry.... but King adds that if the fact is not already in the world it is the artist’s option (prerogative?) to place it there.... It is the imagination, not merely a theory of the imagination, that is in charge here.” —John O’Connor, Talisman
“Mirage will leave the reader with a greater understanding and appreciation of the visual arts of our time.” —Jason R. Macey
“Having meditated on pigment all his life seems to have given King an in on the use of words that transcends the vision of people who’ve spent all their time wrestling with words alone.” —Dora Fitzgerald
Learning to Draw
“What enchanted me was the fact that the work was such a free-flowing & compendious meditation on aesthetics & history, moving as the mind does, from Stieglitz to Leonardo to Pound to Black Mountain to Kline to Lindbergh to Breughel to Whitman to Gertrude Stein to Walker Evans and so on.” —Colin Still, filmmaker and principal of Optic Nerve.
“How to describe Basil King’s life’s work? Poetry? Fiction? History? Autobiography? And what of the intersections with his fascinating drawings? Warp Spasm continues this unprejudiced investigation—a weave of signs in a field, ever flexing to accommodate observations drawn from many times, voices & lives variously lived. In an era of rabid imperialism & cultural banality, this is the work of a man whose appetite for the fabulous life of the arts remains ablaze.” —Michael Hrebeniak, editor Radical Poetics, U.K.
“Because he is both painter and writer, Warp Spasm also informs how his poems came to offer a voice that adds to, rather than simply relies on, inherited poetic forms. His identity as an artist first and foremost (and one with a formidable knowledge of art history) is reflected in the fact that much of his poetry is about visual art, artists, and art-making.” —Tom Patterson, outsider art critic
“Its rich detail doesn’t stale on rereading but underlines King’s skill as a writer in matching technique to what he has to convey, or with local detail dovetailing connections between one painter and another. It’s a book too immediately attractive to deserve having its strength and subtleties explained in advance.” —Andrew Crozier, from his Introduction to 77 Beasts: Basil King’s Beastiary