As Burning Leaves


Product Details

$16.95  $15.76
Red Hen Press
Publish Date
5.9 X 9.0 X 0.2 inches | 0.2 pounds
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About the Author

Gabriel Jesiolowski is a queer poet, artist, and curator. Born in the Midwest, they are the child of a textile artist and a psychologist. They work in a research-based practice using installation, photography, painting, performance, printed matter, and text to scuffle within the spaces of language and art. Over the past ten years they have taught art, writing, and gender studies at the university level and curated traveling and pop-up exhibitions. They live in the San Juan Islands off the coast of Washington.


"'[W]hat if there is no ghost realm?' asks Gabriel Jesiolowski in the quietly arresting, steadily confident As Burning Leaves. But what if a ghost realm does in fact exist, and we are the ghosts--both haunting and haunted--who wander those 'causeways between/fucking & nothingness' that lie in the wake of betrayal, violation, abandonment? These poems speak from and into that very realm, sifting memory's restless evidence in a quest for answers to what 'leads / / devotion / astray.' Add to this a harder quest, for belief itself, the belief that 'somehow, the body ceases grieving.' These poems are at once the enactment and the proof of belief's healing power. They stir; they shine." --Carl Phillips, author of The Rest of Love, finalist for the National Book Award

"The geography of the body changes; its landmarks temporary; its border shifting, in Gabriel Jesiolowski's As Burning Leaves, a cartography of new forms, new ways of being. These poems constitute a healing atlas, a journey of utmost compassion, marked by both formal elegance and artful eloquence. What a remarkable book; it will astonish and enchant you." --D. A. Powell, author of Lunch and A Guide for Boys

"What Gabriel Jesiolowski is up to in their life--their installation art and their photography and their writing too--is built from a push and pull between a politics of accumulation that is full of abandoning and giving away. It makes sense then to think of As Burning Leaves as a sort of writing that takes a life and ties many parts of it together with a thin string to make a beautiful package. This is in many ways a book of love poems. But what it loves is all sorts of things, everything from bark to humans to folk songs to steam and smoke. It is a work that is quiet and a work that is attentive and one that is resonant with care and grace." --Juliana Spahr, author of This Connection of Everyone With Lungs

"From wordless, our bodies. From nameless, our memories. An image, a yearning--every landscape, and certain people. The gesture, the wingspan, in quiet, and all across the page. Each scratch and smudge accrues the diary of As Burning Leaves, Gabriel Jesiolowski's wonderful, haunting, elementally human presence!" --Ralph Angel, author of Neither World, winner of the James Laughlin Award from the Academy of American Poets

On June 22, 2018, the poem of the day at the Academy of American Poets was "entry for not an island" by Gabriel Jesiolowski. Right away, the title syntax intrigued me, that unlikely pairing of "for" and "not," linguistic tug-of-war between affirmation and refutation. Then, I'm reading the poem, and I come upon these lines, which I pause to write down, though I won't soon forget them: "where in grief, even our own stories feel vacant--where you hear yourself telling the story & at the same time you think that's not it, that's really not it." Now I hear the all for naught of grief conjured by the title, and John Donne also, his "No man is an island, entire of itself." But grief makes us feel exactly that way--isolated, island-like, apart from the main rather than a part of it. Every word matters, down to its spacing and its syllabic count, yet communication is still impossibly fraught, even when undertaken with precision. (There's that for and not again, blended, blurred--fraught.) The fact is, this instance of Jesiolowski naming the "not it," the "really not it," is the closest I have come to "it" in a long time, as a reader or a writer. Somehow the poet articulates the vacancy within the story of grief. I seek out their debut collection. I write this review.

Read the full review here.