Forrest Gander, photographs by Jack Shear

The elements are timeless and fundamental—a male nude and a piece of black linen—and the photographic results are miraculous. Within Knot are twenty-three lush black and white photographs of a body and cloth performing a provocative ballet, a wrestling match, a tense sequence of appearances and disappearances that immediately take on symbolic weight. When poet Forrest Gander first encountered these images, he asked Jack Shear for more. As Gander recalls, the photographs arrived “dreamy, violent, mythic, and elemental… I set them up around the room and knew I wanted to write my way into them.” The result is a profound dialogue between word and image, observation and inspiration, imagination and intellect. “What do you see?” one poem wonders aloud. “A divinity wrung from a black cloud.”

ISBN: 9781556596711

Format: Hardcover

About the Author

Forrest Gander was born in the Mojave Desert and grew up in Virginia. He is a writer and translator with degrees in geology and English literature. Among his recent books are Be With, winner of the 2019 Pulitzer Prize, and Core Samples from the World, a Pulitzer and National Book Critics Circle Award finalist. His translations include Then Come Back: The Lost Neruda; Fungus Skull Eye Wing: Selected Poems of Alfonso D’Aquino; and Pinholes in the Night: Essential Poems from …

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About the Photographer

Jack Shear is a photographer whose work emphasizes portraiture and nudes. His work is represented in several permanent museum collections including the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City. He has published two previous books, Four Marines and Other Portraits and Short Season: Portrait of a Minor League Baseball Team. 

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“Pulitzer Prize–winning poet Forrest Gander found himself entranced by a series of images captured by artist Jack Shear that depicted a nude male body engaged in an elaborate performance with a large bolt of fabric. Here, Gander uses his poetry to investigate Shear’s photographs so as to contemplate the nature of time, life, and loss.” —Alta

“These mesmerizing pages animate a choreography by two formidable artists given to the moods and immediacy of shadow and flesh. Forrest Gander’s magnificent, unflinching poetic self-contemplation holds a mirror to the living and the dead embodied in Jack Shear’s photographic anatomy of a male nude in voluptuous time and its entanglements.”    —Roberto Tejada

“In Knot, Gander’s stirring poems converse probingly with Shear’s striking images, producing an art-text dialogue of the best kind: dynamic, mysterious, and haunting.” —John Keene

“Gander questions what it means to be alone, to have lost someone, and how we can fight our inner selves. He doesn’t really give us answers to these riddles of existence, but he’s along with us for the journey, and that is sometimes more important.” —Virginia Living