A poetic collage of art in the modern world: from Rilkean elegies for an iPhone to a meditation on Melville's classic Jonathan Ball's fourth poetry book, the first in seven years, swirls chaos and confession together. At the book's heart is a question: Why create art? A series of poetic sequences torment themselves over this question, offering few answers and taking fewer prisoners. Loose sonnets that consider the artistic creations of Leatherface, monster-killer from The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, sit alongside Rilkean elegies for an iPhone. Surreal meditations on the collage work of Guy Maddin are followed by all of the lines from Melville's Moby-Dick that mention "salt." Politicians and painters jostle while absurdist humour crashes into stark admissions of vulnerability in the wake of having children. A startling diversity of styles and subjects feed into the maelstrom of The National Gallery, and its dark currents will draw you in to drown.
Jonathan Ball is an award-winning author of dark, experimental artworks. He holds a PhD in creative writing and uses an analytical approach to show serious writers new ways to write, edit, and work so they can create innovative art that stands taller than the crowd. He is the author of numerous books, including Ex Machina (Book*hug), poetry about how machines have changed what it means to be human, Clockfire (Coach House Books), 77 plays that would be impossible to produce, The Politics of Knives (Coach House Books), poems about violence, narrative, and spectatorship, and winner of a Manitoba Book Award, and The National Gallery (forthcoming from Coach House Books). Jonathan also published John Paizs's Crime Wave (University of Toronto Press), an academic study of a neglected cult film classic, which was launched at the Toronto International Film Festival and also won a Manitoba Book Award. Jonathan has also directed short films, (including Spoony B, which sold to The Comedy Network), served as the managing editor of dANDelion magazine, and founded the literary journal Maelstrom. In 2014, Jonathan won the John Hirsch Award for Most Promising Manitoba Writer. He lives online at www.JonathanBall.com, where he writes about writing the wrong way.