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Find us at the Pacific NW Booksellers Association 9.29

This Saturday, 9.29, 11:30am-1:30pm, Ed Harkness will be signing books, at booth 15, where I’ll be volunteering at this year’s PNBA Fall’s Trade Show, which includes authors, publishers, bookstores and libraries from WA, OR, ID, MT. Drop on by if you’re going! @ Hotel Morano, Tacoma.

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Happy Launch Day!

The Law of the Unforeseen
Poetry by Edward Harkness

Edward Harkness writes about family, history, family history, the natural world-its beauty, its degradation-the strange miracle of consciousness. Nothing is off the table. In fact, everything is on the table, including the kitchen sink.

$15 through October 15th

Order directly by clicking this link:

Join Ed and NW friends at upcoming readings:

Oct. 10, 2018: Jefferson County Library, Port Hadlock, south of Port Townsend, 7 p.m. I’ll be reading with Holly Hughes.

Oct. 11, 2018: Peninsula College, Port Angeles, 7 p.m. Reading with Holly Hughes.

Oct. 18, 2018: Third Place Books, Lake Forest Park, 7 p.m. Reading with Alicia Hokanson.

Jan. 25, 2019: Pelican Bay Books, Anacortes, 7 p.m. Reading with Elizabeth Austin.

Apr. 12, 2019: Immanuel Presbyterian Church, Tacoma, 7 p.m. Reading with Alicia Hokanson.

Happy reading this cozy fall, and if you can, please write a few words on Amazon or Goodreads to help build steam for more readers. Thank you for supporting this small literary press and its authors!

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Supporting friends of PBS, Valerie Trueblood, with a well deserved review in NYT

New and Selected Stories
By Valerie Trueblood
386 pp. Counterpoint. $26.

Trueblood’s stories are like the Tardis in “Dr. Who.” They’re small on the outside, but once you’ve stepped through the door they expand in all directions until, by the end, surely it’s a novel you just finished reading. Part of that effect comes from her tightly packed opening lines, which fling the reader directly into the middle of the action. Consider the first sentence of “Beloved, You Looked Into Space”: “Our father married a woman who took an ax to a bear.” Or this, from “You Would Be Good”: “The burglar was stoned when he cut his way in.” Sometimes it takes a while for the story to catch up, but it always does.

There’s a change, though, when you reach Trueblood’s new material, which comprises 30 of this collection’s 49 stories. Amid these hard-to-categorize observations, essays and reminiscences (perhaps) is writing that’s much more urgent and unnerving, as in “Helen of Troy,” about a woman murdered by her husband “in a land of guns. Men with guns, attacks, death, attacks in broad daylight, attacks called domestic, death, clouds of sulfur, children’s heads exploded.” Dogs and human violence recur: people saved by dogs, dogs saved by people, the ubiquity of war and loss. But all isn’t dark; there really is a story, called “Stay,” both sad and beautiful, that ends with “They lived happily ever after.” And there are lots of dogs in it.

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Ed Harkness: The Law of the Unforeseen upcoming launch and book reading events

THE LAW OF THE UNFORESEEN by Edward Harkness PUBLISHES this 9.15.18!

Join Ed and NW friends at upcoming readings:

Already past – Aug. 19, 2018: Oak Harbor Library, north end of Whidbey Island, 3-4:30 p.m.

Oct. 10, 2018: Jefferson County Library, Port Hadlock, south of Port Townsend, 7 p.m. I’ll be reading with Holly Hughes.

Oct. 11, 2018: Peninsula College, Port Angeles, 7 p.m. Reading with Holly Hughes.

Oct. 18, 2018: Third Place Books, Lake Forest Park, 7 p.m. Reading with Alicia Hokanson.

Jan. 25, 2019: Pelican Bay Books, Anacortes, 7 p.m. Reading with Elizabeth Austin.

Apr. 12, 2019: Immanuel Presbyterian Church, Tacoma, 7 p.m. Reading with Alicia Hokanson.



The Unfocused Eyes of Drones

They’re dream wrens in the clear lake of day,

like toys, a slightly larger replica

of those model planes men play with

at the park on weekends to escape the house.

One of them, Chuck, lives near me.

I see him summer afternoons, alone

on the baseball diamond’s pitcher’s mound.

He flies a delicate Sopwith Camel biplane,

then a screaming Spitfire that frightens a park dog.

He barrel-rolls his planes, gliding on some

unnamed emotion wired to his remote control.

You could say Chuck, the operator,

is well-rounded in his “Beer Beats Sex” tee shirt.

He’s got Santa’s beard and Trotsky’s glasses.

He wouldn’t harm a soul, though he lives

in a country that harms souls every day.

He may well know drones have been taught to think,

to beam down and detect human auras.

When its blue brain glows red, darts fly out,

quieter than starlight aimed at desert flowers.

The operator sits in a quiet room

playing the controls somewhere deep inside

the American Heartland—Ohio,

say, or Nebraska. He does not ask

who the girl in the red headscarf might be,

seen moving across his monitor

in what appears to be a courtyard filled

with trees, most likely lemon. She waters

a bed of eggplants with a plastic bottle

that could in his mind be a bomb

she plans to plant by the nearby roadside.

Crickets fill the air with their raspy chorus.

The operator can’t hear them, nor does he

know her scarf is red. He sees only

the flash of light on his screen, sees

an opened rose made of pieces of the girl’s house:

brick, rock, glass, iron, paper, threads

from her headscarf, seen on the screen

in various tones of gray and sepia,

a roiling miasma seeping outward

from the courtyard. When the last

chunk of mortar has fallen, the last

of the seared leaves flutters down,

the mist of lemons hovers in the air.


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2 Poems by Louis Phillips

American Life in Poetry: Column 691


I’ve arrived at an age at which I avoid looking into my old address books, although I’ve kept them all. Too many of those addresses are those of people no longer among us. Louis Phillips, a New Yorker, catches that feeling of loss in this poem from The Domain of Silence; The Domain of Absence: New & Selected Poems, from Pleasure Boat Studio.

The Address Book

How could I predict
That my life wd become whatever,
So many people
Passing thru—address books

Filled with names & numbers
I no longer recognize,
Pages torn loose,
Addresses crossed out,

Lives badly smudged,
Decades of earnest grief,
Missed opportunities,
Phones disconnected.

What am I now?
Just another old man
Among old men.
Turn the calendar upside down

& let the days fall out.



A Clark there was of Kent also

 That unto comic strips longe ygo

 Made a byggen splash, tho lene was his readers’ brains

As if they didn’t knowen to come out of rain.

This Clark was a reporter, mild and just,

Who for Lois Lane hungered with great lust,

But this meek carl –and this is God’s own truth –

Could change himself in any payphone booth

Into a hero faster than a speeding duck

(Some folks haven all the luck!)

& flew villains toward Lawe’s iron reche

For gladly would he learn and gladly teche

That Crime payeth not & is not too sound

When Superman leapeth over tall buildings

   with a single bound.

 Louis Phillips



What’s a reader like you

Doing with a poem like this?


 Louis Phillips

from ROWING TO THE SILLY ISLANDS (World Audience Books)

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Apollo Magazine pays tribute to Irving Sandler


Remembering Irving Sandler, the ‘sweeper-up after artists’

14 JUNE 2018

In Frank O’Hara’s poem of 1964, ‘Adieu to Norman, Bon Jour to Joan and John-Paul’, the American art critic Irving Sandler is humorously characterised as ‘the balayeur des artistes’, or sweeper-up after artists – a moniker Sandler liked so much it became the title of his candid memoir, published in 2003. The name refers to at least two details of Sandler’s life: his early apprenticeship with the Tanager Gallery, an important artists’ co-operative where he tidied and locked up at the end of the day (he would become manager in 1956); and his talent for directing personal relationships and interactions with artists into lively criticism.

Sandler died on 2 June in Manhattan at the age of 92. As a champion of post-war American art, he had a long and varied career. Sandler’s criticism first addressed gestural abstraction and sculpture at mid-century: both The Triumph of American Painting (1970) – the somewhat chauvinistic tone of which he would come to regret – and New York School: Painters and Sculptors of the Fifties (1979) look back at the evolution of Abstract Expressionism from a point in time when the movement had been all but displaced from its pedestal. He went on to narrate what came after, with American Art in the 1960s (1988) and Art of the Postmodern Era: From the Late 1960s to the Early 1990s (1996), which demonstrate his critical versatility and poise. Each of these texts avoided the dense, polemical writing of his contemporaries, such as Harold Rosenberg and Clement Greenberg, whose side-taking Sandler largely steered clear of. As a critic, he published widely in magazines and periodicals, and was a regular contributor to Artforum and ArtNews, where he was senior critic from 1956–62.

In A Sweeper-Up After Artists, Sandler describes the encounter that first brought him into the world of Abstract Expressionism – the artistic movement to which his name is closely associated. In 1952, as a doctoral student in history at Columbia, Sandler visited MoMA and saw Franz Kline’s violent, gestural, and enigmatic painting Chief (1950)a moment he remembers as an ‘eye opening revelation’. A work that used cheap, low-viscosity house paint to press urgent lines and swirls on to the canvas using a simple monochrome palette, Chief became for Sandler the embodiment of a new kind of painting. He switched from being a student of history to modern art criticism and never looked back. ‘Chief began my life-in-art,’ he would reflect, ‘the life that has really counted for me.’ For Sandler, life and art were never neatly separate. His legacy is the large body of writing that combined and fused the two with an insider’s eye.

Sandler was a figure who wanted to be in the thick of it, not always scribbling notes on the sidelines. As a curator, he co-founded Artists Space in 1972, a co-operative gallery that promoted the early careers of several artists, including Cindy Sherman and Judy Pfaff. He also curated several acclaimed exhibitions, including ‘Concrete Expressionism Show’ at New York University (1965) and ‘The Prospect Mountain Sculpture Show’ at Lake George (1977), which overlooked David Smith’s Bolton Landing residence. He simultaneously led a distinguished academic career, teaching at the Pratt Institute and New York University, and going on to accept a professorship at Purchase College in 1972 where he remained until 1997. His debut novel, Goodbye to Tenth Street, set within the 1950s art world – a golden age he looked to construct in his criticism – will be published posthumously in October.

As befits the nature of art-historiographical taste, trend, and politics, Sandler was strongly criticised (along with pretty much everyone else who hung out at the Cedar Tavern) by the generation who came after. He was accused of being too close to the artists, lacking critical distance, and – worst of all – being a mouthpiece for Cold War-era liberalism. However, Sandler’s surveys are still valuable as an unrivalled record of the times set down in readable prose. It is widely repeated that no one saw more exhibitions in New York than Sandler, or participated on more panels and forums (such as those at the famous Artists’ Club, where he was a regular participant) for the length of time that he did. Sandler was first and foremost a chronicler of New York’s art world. When we evaluate his achievement, it is hard to ignore the feeling that there would have been precious few artists working there in the second half of the 20th century to have remained independent of his orbit.

Irving Sandler expressed the spirit of the times in ways that remained true to his belief that art and art-making should never be turned cold or theoretical by criticism: instead, art writing must excite our emotions and intellect, and he recognised that the communities, constellations and friendships that are formative to an artist can be useful ways of understanding the artworks themselves. ‘Reading about what a critic thinks is good and bad bores me,’ Sandler wrote. ‘What I care about are ideas or insights that open up ways for me to see and think.’

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Finn Wilcox, Too Late to Turn Back Now

Prose & Poems 1980-2016, Empty Bowl Press

A captivating, vicarious ride through this whole other world...

A selection from the article:

Q: In an article on, Jenny Westdal writes, “Although Finn Wilcox has traveled, his writings are rooted in place. That place is the Pacific Northwest. This is the Northwest where work is found in the woods, and life is hard, simple and engulfed in beauty. This place runs deep, down to the core of a person’s identity.” What do you think of that assessment?

A: I’d say that assessment is spot on. The Pacific Northwest has always been the baseline of what I am. Aside from a couple years in Utah and short stints in other western states, the Northwest is where I’ve lived all my life.

Mentors and heroes, artists and poets that I have the highest regard for, all spring from here. To my way of thinking, no other artists compare to Morris Graves, Mark Tobey, Guy Anderson, Philip McCracken, Kenneth Callahan and all the other great lions of the early Northwest art scene. Same holds true for poets I admire most: Robert Sund, Tim McNulty, Mike O’Connor, Clem Starck, Jim Dodge, Gary Snyder, Michael Daley and many others.

There is a sensibility (although hard to put your finger on) that ties all these artists and writers together in a loose but solid Northwest school. Half those poets I just mentioned I worked in the woods with all through the 1970s and ‘80s. If I had a dollar for every night we sat around a blazing wood stove in a tent drying out socks and gloves after a long wet day in the woods, I’d be a wealthy man. As Robert Sund said, “Poets with mud on their boots.”

From Village Books:

In this new book, Finn Wilcox gives readers of the off-the-road literature the sweet wine and tangy whiskey of his 3 books: Here Among the Sacrificed, Flower Mountain, and Lesson Learned. Add a healthy supply of new Wilcox work, and you have a collection demanding to be read to your beloveds, to your children and parents. This elegant tour de force by a devoted artist has the precision and clarity, care and compassion for which Finn is loved among workers of the word, and the woods and sea.

“From hobo jungles …to the cave of a hermit nun on a mountain in China, from the life of Pacific Northwest tree-planters to the tenderest of love lyrics, these poems and prose anecdotes sparkle…” — Clemens Starck

“These stories and poems are the sort I’d expect to find among the men’s clothing at Goodwill: survivors of the real world, not something I’d wear to a job interview.” —Bill Porter

Finn Wilcox worked in the woods of the Olympic and Cascade Mountains with the forest workers co-op, Olympic Reforestation, for twenty-five years, planting over a million trees. He spent a great deal of time riding the rails, learning about the life, journeys, and history of the once-respected American Hobo. His first book, published in the 1980’s, Here Among the Sacrificed, includes poignant photographs by Steve R. Johnson, depicting the people in boxcars and railroad yards who appear in Finn’s memorable poems and stories. Too Late to Turn Back Now contains all of Finn Wilcox’s published work: the freight train poems and stories, all the poems from Nine Flower Mountain, detailing his travels in China; Lesson Learned, love poems; and a suite of newer poems and stories called Not Letting Go. From the mid-seventies through the early nineties, Finn was an editor for Empty Bowl Press. He and Jerry Gorsline edited Working the Woods, Working the Sea: An Anthology of Northwest Writing. Finn and his wife Pat Fitzgerald live in Port Townsend. to order and find out more about Empty Bowl Press.
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Baret Magarian on The Authors Show June 11th

Click on Baret’s name to hear his show any time Monday 6.11! It’s a little insight into the workings of his book. He loves to discuss it with people, so don’t be a stranger. Feel free to ask him your own questions by commenting on his page on our site.

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Irving Sandler, Art Historian Who Was Close to Artists, Dies at 92

Sadly, an extraordinarily exceptional man has just passed away. What an honor to have gotten a brief chance to meet him and work with him. I only wish ‘Goodbye to Tenth Street’ could have come out before he passed on.

‘Swept Up by Art’ has been sweeping me up. An exciting book, a look into the vibrant, thought provoking depths Irving Sandler explored within the art world and artists. His legacy will live on. If you love art, read anything by him.

From NY Times, Irving Sandler, Art Historian Who Was Close to Artists, Dies at 92

Irving Sandler in his Greenwich Village apartment in 1990. His comprehensive book “The Triumph of American Painting: A History of Abstract Expressionism” “shaped generations of collectors,” a Sotheby’s official said.CreditLinda M. Baron

By William Grime

June 2, 2018

Irving Sandler, an art critic who drew on his extensive relationships with living artists to compile authoritative histories of Abstract Expressionism and the artistic movements that followed, died on Saturday in Manhattan. He was 92.

The cause was cancer, his wife, Lucy Freeman Sandler, said. He had been in hospice care, she said.

Mr. Sandler was pursuing a doctorate in American history at Columbia University in 1952 when, wandering through the Museum of Modern Art one day, he came across “Chief,” an abstract painting by Franz Kline. The painting, a dynamic concatenation of thick black curves and slashes, gripped him with savage intensity.

“It was the first work of art that I really saw, and it changed my life, something like Saul jumping into Paul, as Elaine de Kooning wrote of Kline’s own leap from figuration to abstraction,” Mr. Sandler recalled in “A Sweeper-Up After Artists,” his 2003 memoir. “My conversion was less dramatic, of course, but my life would never be the same. Or, put another way, ‘Chief’ began my life-in-art, the life that has really counted for me.”

Mr. Sandler began haunting the galleries along East 10th Street, the hub of avant-garde activity in the 1950s and ′60s, and spending evenings at the Cedar Tavern, once the unofficial headquarters of the Abstract Expressionist movement. He came to know the principal figures in the art world of the time and eventually spent long hours interviewing them in their studios, getting them to think out loud about their work.

“It’s not unusual for an art historian or critic to mingle with artists; it is unusual for an art historian to turn those interactions and the firsthand knowledge that results into the basis for scholarship,” Blair Asbury Brooks wrote on the website Artspace in 2014. “This was Sandler’s gift.”

Mr. Sandler and his wife, Lucy Freeman Sandler, a historian of medieval art, at their home in New York last year.CreditTawni Bannister for The New York Times; All rights reserved Alex Katz, via Licensed by VAGA, New York

His relentless explorations led him to write “The Triumph of American Painting: A History of Abstract Expressionism.” Published in 1970 and lucidly written, it was the first thoroughgoing account of the movement.

“It is a book that has shaped generations of collectors,” Amy Cappellazzo, chairwoman of Sotheby’s fine art division, told The New York Times in 2016.

Unlike the critics Clement Greenberg and Harold Rosenberg, Mr. Sandler was not a polemicist. He had no argument to advance. Rather, he relied on the testimony of the artists themselves to offer a picture of the movement seen from the inside out.

He followed up with three equally searching volumes that traced the history of contemporary American art: “The New York School: The Painters and Sculptors of the Fifties” (1978), “American Art of the 1960s” (1988) and “Art of the Postmodern Era: From the Late 1960s to the Early 1990s” (1996).

In Artforum in 2004, the critic Robert Storr called Mr. Sandler’s sweeping narratives “readable and deeply informed by their author’s unrivaled access to the artists and art-worldlings about whom he writes.”

He added: “No one has seen more exhibitions in New York galleries or sat on, or in on, as many panels for as many years. Nor has anyone more scrupulously set down what people said in such forums, at openings, or in intimate studio or bar conversations than Sandler. Name a painter, sculptor, curator, critic, or idea man or woman and he will have talked to them and made notes.”


Mr. Sandler’s book “has shaped generations of collectors,” said Amy Cappellazzo, chairwoman of Sotheby’s fine art division.

Irving Sandler was born on July 22, 1925, in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn, where his parents, Harry and Diana (Drozdik) Sandler, settled after escaping the revolutionary violence in what is now Ukraine. His father taught at Yiddish cultural societies with a socialist bent, a profession that took the family to Hartford, Winnipeg in Canada and eventually Philadelphia, where Mr. Sandler attended high school. After his mother died in 1933, he was reared by his stepmother, Anna (Robin) Sandler.

At 17 he enlisted in the Marine Corps, which sent him to Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, Pa., as part of an officer training program. He spent the rest of World War II with a stateside radar unit. After leaving the Marines in 1946 with the rank of second lieutenant, he attended Temple University on the G.I. Bill, earning a bachelor’s degree in 1948. Two years later he was awarded a master’s degree in American studies from the University of Pennsylvania.

His first marriage, to Lisa Aversa in 1949, ended in divorce in 1954. He married Lucy Freeman, a medieval art historian who taught at New York University before retiring, in 1958.

Besides his wife, Mr. Sandler, who lived in Greenwich Village, is survived by a daughter, Catherine Sandler.

After his fateful encounter with the Kline painting, Mr. Sandler left Columbia to follow his newfound passion. In 1956 he became the manager of the Tanager Gallery, an important artists’ cooperative on East 10th Street. Around the same time, he became the programming coordinator for the Artists’ Club, a weekly symposium attended by most of the major artists of the period.

In his three years at Tanager — where, he later recalled, “I sold a sum total of one piece” — he became fast friends with the gallery artists Alex Katzand Philip Pearlstein and with Al Held, who was represented by the Brata Gallery across the street. Mr. Sandler would later organize exhibitions and write about the work of all three.


Mr. Sandler, right, with the art historian and museum curator Maxwell L. Anderson and his wife, the actress Jacqueline Anderson in 2002. They were being honored by the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in Maine at an awards dinner at the Plaza hotel in Manhattan.CreditBill Cunningham/The New York Times

It was a small world, made up of perhaps 200 artists. “You could get to know them all,” he said in a 2016 interview with The Brooklyn Rail. “I did know them all.”

At the urging of Thomas B. Hess, the editor of ArtNews, Mr. Sandler began writing reviews in 1956. He was the magazine’s senior critic until 1962. He also wrote for Art International and, from 1960 to 1964, was a critic at The New York Post. He taught at New York University and in 1972 accepted a professorship at Purchase College, part of the State University of New York, from which he retired in 1997.

In 1972, with Trudie Grace, he founded Artists Space, a cooperative gallery that gave early exposure to Cindy ShermanBarbara Kruger and Judy Pfaff.


In addition to his four-volume survey of American art, Mr. Sandler wrote monographs on Ms. Pfaff, Mr. Held, Mr. Katz and Mark di Suvero. A selection of his critical essays was published in “From Avant-Garde to Pluralism: An On-the-Spot History” (2006)He was given a lifetime achievement award by the International Association of Art Critics in 2008.

Mr. Sandler revisited the subject of his first major work in “Abstract Expressionism and the American Experience: A Reevaluation” (2009) and continued the story of his life in a second memoir, “Swept Up by Art: An Art Critic in the Post-Avant-Garde Era,” published in 2015.

His first novel, “Goodbye to Tenth Street,” set in the art world of the 1950s and ′60s, is to be published in the fall by Pleasure Boat Studio.

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Book Readings in New York and Seattle

Baret Magarian, author of The Fabrications is travelling from Italy to give book readings in Seattle & NY. NY’s events will be a triple treat with Robert Karmon, author of Isaac, and Sigfried Kra, author of the upcoming Pleasure Boatrelease, Twilight in Danzig.


THURSDAY, May 17 at 7pm in the University Bookstore
FRIDAY, May 18 at 6pm in Vermillion in Capitol Hill
SATURDAY, May 19 at 4pm in C & P Coffee in West Seattle.


Tuesday, May 22 at 6pm in The Cornelia St. Cafe
Wednesday, May 23 at 7pm in the Pomegranate Gallery