Musicality, Barbara Guest and artist June Felter

In Barbara Guest's Musicality, the mystery of appearances is replaced by the relish and cool regard of poetry. The book is a collaboration between Guest and artist June Felter, and the drawings and text work stunningly well together. As the readers' eye moves across the silky, busy drawings (all landscapes, observed in moments of disturbance by the wind), it is taken by the poem, where a light touch is combined with a subtle, roving wit. There's a discretion to the pleasure the poem conveys, a tender secretiveness, as though the poet's forgotten how elegant her shoes are.


who is shy driving her motor

watching big mountain thunder fall on shy trees



the composition is shy

The writing effortlessly simulates the pull from eye to hand which is conveyed by the drawings, and that translation marks it as fiction. Landscape is the backdrop, the cooling muse of an empty paradise, but the reader is located within collaboration. In that place, invented by the artists, the work moves between the visual and musical with sinuous assurance.


for four hands of chambered

breeze & cloud design

The subject is landscape, but it recedes, hides itself. It's understood that the transformation of the sensual eye and hand into poetry is a translation towards the abstract, and so tinged with irony.


orchards in most of their

depth the stubbed mountain

a chain of miniature birds

It's a "nature" poem, but free of the usual sentiments. It really describes the opposite sensibility, where a disturbed yet delicious pastorale is navigated by an essentially urban wit.

-Camille Roy