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Comprised of lyrics, mock journal entries, prose portraits and odes, Book Made of Forest answers the "summons and challenge" of being both human and animal, urban and rural, cultured and philistine, formal and ruinous, willful and acted-upon. Jared Stanley strikes at the absurd thingness of things, rings out their histories, traces their loss in the 6th extinction, figures his voluminous overhearing into poems rhetorical and fragmented, mournful and comedic. People skulk, animals talk, trash multiplies. Contemporary California--it's art, scavengers, landscapes, weeds, pollution—effects its lyric smudges. Yet Book Made of Forest finds them all inexplicably desirous. For when the weather is found man-made, a function of our emotions, the pathetic fallacy returns, not as a symptom of undue personal imposition onto the landscape, but as the collective by-product of not having any god to blame. Without a deity, Book Made of Forest is the naked almer--"I'll wear any greeting from dirt, as if a hide"--finding its vision in the midst of things that simply happen.
‘If a Venn Diagram was constructed of city life, the natural world, and the oracular sensibility of a thrash happy cyclist yardsaler, Jared Stanley’s Book Made of Forest would be found in the parts that overlap.
Stanley has a knack for subverting his own images by employing a language that is all at once unabashed lyric, hard fact, and phonetic whimsy. By allowing the line a freedom to challenge itself, he finds a trueness in the most arbitrary particulars while at the same time illustrating an equally brilliant whole.
More than anything, these poems are celebratory of perception itself. They glory in the odd juxtapositions & startling combinations of rocks, trash bags, humans, animals, bric-a-brac, leaf litter, rivers, typewriters, trees, weeds, and Fisher-Price record players, to become a voluminous overhearing. What results in an extraordinarily atmospheric collection that allows the reader to experience the world as if for the first time; I can think of no better gift.
’ —Catherine Meng
‘As its title suggests, who touches this book touches trees (however late in their process), but I think one also touches a person, perhaps several, perhaps even oneself—C’mon. You know you’ve licked your finger before turning a page, and you know you like it. In order to praise its author—who writes hungry, thumping, sweetbitter love songs to and from his uncanny home state—I’d best plagiarize a painter: Dearest ones, his art is a growth art where forms, planes, shapes, memories of California germinate, breathe, expand and contract, multiply and thereby create new paths. Jared Stanley likes it under the trees all year long.’ —Graham Foust
‘“I stayed at night with a book.” – Jared Stanley. In the darkness that falls over a book, a word or phrase nevertheless persists beyond its bounds, hovering in the air above the text, a gesture of gold letters. That is what I once understood reading Blake, and I understand it again when I read these poems, which are both rural and industrial in their scope. In his Book Made of Forest, Jared Stanley makes a deep mark in the “overspread beige” of the landscape, then re-fills it with “gossamer,” “oil blooms,” “centaurs,” “duration,” and “midges.” These almost impossible colors and creatures flicker and merge to become a different kind of book by the end of reading: "movement and causation, temporary ... bright.’ —Bhanu Kapil
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