Basil King : IN THE FIELD WHERE DAFFODILS GROW
Cover art by Basil King
Basil King is a classic hybrid, equal parts painter and poet, whose personal and aesthetic history has come to inform his recent literary outpouring. Born in England before World War Two, he moved with his family to Detroit when he was 12. At Black Mountain College, which he attended during 1951-56, while still a teenager, King studied writing with Robert Creeley, Robert Duncan, and Charles Olson, music with Stefan Wolpe, and visual art with Joe Fiore, Esteban Vicente, and Peter Voulkos. King’s art has been included in poetry books by Paul Blackburn, Allen Ginsberg and LeRoi Jones, and he has exhibited his art at the Poetry Project, Granary Books, the Gotham Book Mart, and the Bowery Poetry Club. His paintings were included in the exhibition “Black Mountain College: Una Aventura Americana” at the Reina Sofia museum in Madrid in 2002. His art has appeared in the periodicals Kulchur, Yugen, Rolling Stock, Hanging Loose, First Intensity, and Square One.
In 1985, following his first trip to England since 1948, King began to write poetry. His books include The Compleat Miniatures, 54 pages (London: Stop Press, 1997); The Poet, 228 pages (New York: Spuyten Duyvil, 2000); Warp Spasm, 116 pages (New York: Spuyten Duyvill, 2001); Mirage: A poem in 22 sections, 160 pages (New York: Marsh Hawk Press, 2003); Twin Towers, from Learning to Draw/A History, 26 pages (Austin: Skanky Possum chapbook, 2005); 77 Beasts: Basil King’s Beastiary, 176 pages (New York: Marsh Hawk Press, 2007). In 2006, King began the series titled Learning to Draw/A History. This is a work in 23 parts, of which two have already been published.
In The Field Where Daffodils Grow is the latest installment in a body of work that Basil King has established, mixing poetry and prose, personal memoir and aesthetic rumination. King, who started as a painter, has gained a loyal following for his writings and public appearances. In The Field Where Daffodils Grow begins with a meditation on Marsden Hartley and continues, gaining momentum, as the writer considers in a personal way the relationships of Pound, H.D. and Williams, passing through Giotto, Rembrandt, and Nijinsky to Virginia Woolfe and her sister, Vanessa Bell. Most poetically, he presents a portrait of Emily Carr, a painter and kindred spirit.
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