Monday, April 23, 2018

New Book! A Sublime And Tragic Dance by Kendall Johnson and John Brantingham

It began when Ken gave me a tour of his backyard studio, twenty years of paintings collected and ordered in a converted garage, now a living catalogue of one artist’s mind. This was only the second time I’d talked to him, but there’s an intimacy in art. You’re given a view into the center of the artist’s consciousness. That day, I saw maybe one hundred pieces, and I knew that his ways of seeing, thinking, and worrying were close to mine.
We talked about the art and his impulses and soon enough our rambling conversation led us to Oppenheimer. We had both been thinking about the man for years. Ken had been painting visions out of the nightmare Oppie had created. I said something about how complex the man was. Ken responded with how he’d changed the world. I said the man had certainly shaped my childhood, my adulthood, the way I saw everything. We talked about evil and the limitation to the concept of evil. I found myself writing poems in conversation with Ken’s paintings. That was a little one sided, so Ken answered me with his poems. What we ended up with is this collection.
We have come to no hard conclusions about Oppenheimer. The man and his time are too complex, but we’ve followed some ideas for a while. I don’t know about Ken, but I have come to one crystalline conclusion about dropping another nuclear bomb, about making another one, about allowing them to come into any conversation where an explosion would replace diplomacy: for the love of God, don’t let’s start. - John Brantingham

As a writer and artist, Kendall Johnson is no stranger to mixing mediums. His prior books include Fragments; An Archeology of Memory published by the Inland Empire Museum of Art, and Johnson’s Pasture; Living Place and Living Time published by the Claremont Heritage. His paintings have been exhibited across the United States, and his composite photographs illustrate the novel In Cabazon. Kendall grew up in the citrus groves of Claremont, CA, fought fires and later consulted with the U.S. Forest Service and other emergency agencies in disaster stress management. As a psychologist and trauma specialist he has written several non-fiction books and numerous articles on trauma and school crisis. He trained crisis teams and rendered direct support following numerous school shootings, natural disasters, and 9/11. When disasters come on the news, his nostrils flare, he whinnies, tosses his head, and paws his hoofs on the ground as always, but nowadays he mostly writes or paints about it. He is the Director of Gallery 57 Underground in Pomona, and lives in Upland, California with his wife Susie Ilsley.
John Brantingham is the first poet laureate of Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park, the writer-in-residence at the dA Center for the Arts in Pomona, California, and a professor of English at Mt. San Antonio College. His work has appeared in hundreds of magazines including Writer’s Almanac, The Journal, Tears in the Fence, and Confrontation. 
He co-edited The L.A. Fiction Anthology (Red Hen Books). His poetry collections include East of Los Angeles (Anaphora Literary Press), The Green of Sunset (Moon Tide Press), and Dual Impressions: Poetic Conversations about Art (Silver Birch Press) with Jeffrey Graessley. His collections of short fiction are Let Us All Pray Now to Our Own Strange Gods (World Parade Books) and California Continuum: Volume 1 forthcoming in 2018, a flash fiction collection that covers the entire history of California written with Grant Hier. 
In the summers, he and his wife Annie teach free art and writing classes in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park. From September 2018 until February 2019, he and Annie will walk the length of California teaching free classes in a number of state and national parks along the way. Find more information at Watch the adventures of Lizzy the Dog on this trip too.
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