Thanks for providing me with the loud and clear message that putting a photo of a weird house on the cover of my book is NOT going to fly. I really like Martha Rae Baker's "The Glass House" (see previous blog post), especially the colors/textures and the tree part, but ... it just didn't scream out mystery! I mean, it took care of the "house" part but not the wacky, weird, unknowable parts of existence my book homes in on. Or maybe it did a little, but not enough.
So then I realized I have artist friends! Several! I contacted four of them, asking them to send work. David Graham, who is also a fine poet, sent me a link to his Instagram gallery, and I seriously considered using two of his photographs, "Paleo Egg" and "Window of Opportunity." (I would provide photos of these, but they are not downloadable as far as I can tell, and I don't want to make them freely available as I believe that would be copyright infringement?). "Paleo Egg" is this really cool photo of a transparent hand holding a ball covered with paleolithic handprints, sorta like some kind of Lascaux cave soccer ball. The other one, "Window of Opportunity," was of three windows, one half open, one mostly closed, and one completely closed over with bricks. These windows were working for me in terms of the unknowability of just about everything we encounter while we're alive (we're shut off from knowledge in the same way we can't see inside the window), but in terms of book covers, I felt I needed something more eye-catching, colorful, and recognizably mysterious. And then I saw this piece:
I decided to go with Russell Prather's "Circle of Fiends Ur Painting" for all of those reasons. Russell is a writer, a William Blake scholar, and a professor of English at Northern Michigan University, but he's also a talented visual artist who knows his Dali and Hieronymus Bosch, not to mention the visual artist side of Blake. Russ and I were both students at the University of Washington in the early 1990s. It has been amazing to watch his venture into creating visual art blossom over the last couple of decades, and I am delighted to provide his work with a wider audience.
Thanks so much for helping me realize the road my search needed to take. Stay tuned for the cover mock-ups (though it won't be till towards the end of summer).