Kaleidoscope by Tina Barr
"Inside this book, this kaleidoscope, Tina Barr has packed a life and everything that has intersected with it. You'll never return. This is a poet at the height of her powers."
—Joseph Bathanti, former North Carolina Poet Laureate
"The images that populate Barr's poems often veer towards the visceral and the surreal, her diction is an engine of apparently endless invention, and her vision is wide-ranging. . . . Kaleidoscope is a radiant collection."
—Shara McCallum, author of This Strange Land
"Kaleidoscope is aptly named, for here, in a riot of color, turn the bits and pieces of the world. . . . Barr has created a world filled with movement, shimmer, and sound. Even the bubbles in the tub 'sparkle and hiss.'"
—Alice Friman, author of Vinculum
In her new book, Kaleidoscope, as in her other books of poems, Barr is concerned with acts of perception. In Kaleidoscope, Barr's poems reconfigure smaller and larger worlds in the way multiples in a kaleidoscope shift and reform patterns. The kaleidoscope is both a spyglass and a turning wheel. Inside these poems a cabdriver in Cairo paints his steering wheel with words from the Koran; a girl's barrette evokes the idea of the wheel's origins; and Buddhist sand paintings reproduce the wheel of the universe. The poems' subjects range across time and geographies, in settings across the South to the Middle East. Their dense iconography incorporates subjects ranging from jazz to bird life to pawn shops, Henry Darger's watercolors to the conflict between Tutsi and Hutu. These poems assemble, juxtapose and question relationships, from the troubled to the redemptive, between self and other, within family as well as within the larger human experience.
The Western North Carolina Historical Association, in collaboration with the Thomas Wolfe Memorial State Historic Site, has been awarding the Thomas Wolfe Memorial Literary Award since 1955. Kaleidoscope has been nominated for the 2015 award.
Tina Barr grew up on the north shore of Long Island, New York. As a child she was fascinated by myth and fairy tales, an interest she brought to bear in her doctoral dissertation, "The War of Myths: From Modernist Archetype to Postmodernist Cartoon." She lives with her husband, Jazz composer and pianist Michael Jefry Stevens, in a cabin on the side of a mountain, in Black Mountain, North Carolina. She is currently working on a third full-length collection of poems, which incorporate mythic, Biblical and folk references, and are located not only in the rural landscape where she lives, but refer to her experiences in the Middle East and in the inner landscapes the imagination creates. Her second full-length collection, Kaleidoscope, was just released by Iris Press.