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Artist/poet Kurt Cole Eidsvig critiques the "emptiness / and excess, " and violence, at the heart of contemporary life.
The operative word in the title of Kurt Cole Eidsvig’s new poetry collection is art, appropriately enough since he is a visual artist as well as author (the cover art is his work and is referenced in the title poem), and alhimself so because of the number of artists (de Kooning, Lichtenstein, Picasso, da Vinci, especially Warhol, many others) and authors (Hemingway, Vonnegut, et.al.) whose works show up here. But if much of this collection is rooted in ekphrasis, that is merely his starting point for a meditation on the “collaboration of emptiness / and excess” at the heart of contemporary life (including a deep dive into his personal life), a catalog of the “Alphabet Soup” of mental illnesses and addictions, and most of all the ubiquity of gun violence (the title derives from a Raymond Chandler essay instructing that “When in doubt, have a man come in the door / with a gun in his hand.”) “We know now that art is better for understanding / corpses than for crafting bulletproof vests” he writes, acknowledging the limitations of art to fix the problems of a murderous age. Thus “Today, again, is the first day / of the end of our lives,” and “Long remains / our sense of death and dying.” He closes with the adage that even if “Everyone wants / to go to Heaven. No one / wants to die.” But for all this hard-edged reality and resignation, there is also a note of hope and resolution: “Everyone eventually discards those things / they cannot carry.” And that is the simple art of living.
“Consider yourself lucky you didn’t come up the way Kurt did, this younger Southie Brother of mine, this almost too honest voice, this man who has become so eloquent, so artistic, who has so risen above what tried so hard to kill him.”
—David Connolly, author of Lost In America
“Kurt Cole Eidsvig’s THE SIMPLE ART OF MURDER is a deeply felt phantasmagoria, a kaleidoscope of experience and play, where ekphrasis becomes a way to confront memory, separation, and loss. Andy Warhol’s soup cans become the mother’s 'chicken and rice soup that can cure cancer.' Ernest Hemingway appears at the Mile Zero CrossFit Gym in Key West as a 'cartoon press-squats a bent bar on the painted logo,' and Picasso is a print on a cocktail napkin. But the collection also longs to soar above it all: 'My favorite conceit right now,' he writes, is 'we all come back as birds.' From Boston to Las Vegas to Key West, THE SIMPLE ART OF MURDER is a raw, funny, and formally inventive book written by a down-to-earth eagle-eye observing everything in the 'curving air.'”
—Sandra Simonds, author of Triptychs
“Eidsvig’s latest book takes us on an extravaganza, where literary history collides with art history and a personal mythmaking thus begins. Invitations abound and we are told 'to pick your targets carefully.' We can’t help but be seduced by Hemingway, Picasso, Warhol, and other artists who test the limits of our own looking. These poems trace lineages of all kinds in dramatic long poems and tender lyric asides, where the speaker’s family and friends help him sift through the dirt of the past—a homecoming 'where every direction says look behind.' The compass at the heart of this book instructs us to 'let the language grow all over you' and so I let it, marveling at its fierce scope, its incessant drive, its astonishment at living.”
—Catherine Theis, author of MEDEA
Kurt Cole Eidsvig's work in both poetry and art criticism has been featured in regular columns and series for Big Red & Shiny, ArtsAmerica, SpinRecords, and Examiner.com. He has been featured and published in outlets like The Boston Globe, Slipstream, Hanging Loose, Borderlands, Main Street Rag, Poets Reading the News, The Improper Bostonian, and The Southeast Review. Eidsvig has taught art and writing at UMASS Boston, the University of Montana, and the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. Kurt has won a Massachusetts Cultural Council Fellowship, a Warhol Foundation/Creative Capital Award, and the Edmund Freeman Award. A graduate of the Creative Writing Program at the University of Montana, in addition to THE SIMPLE ART OF MURDER (Broadstone Books, 2024), he is the author of the books Art Official (Terror House Press, 2023), Oxycontin for Breakfast (Main Street Rag, 2023), and Pop X Poetry (KCEMCS, 2021). A visual artist as well as a writer, his work is part of numerous commercial and private collections and has been included in solo and group exhibitions. With deep Boston and Montana roots, he lives and works in Key West, Florida.