(Rockport, ME): Two Ponds Press, 2017. Hessler, Jacob. Oblong quarto. (56)pp. One of fifty deluxe copies, with an additional photograph printed on aluminum, a corrected manuscript proof of a poem, and in a special binding by Claudia Cohen. Foreword by Jorge Ramos. Twelve full-page photographs by Jacob Hessler, haunting and yet familiar in their barefaced juxtapositions of American suburban streets and southwestern landscapes, border walls and open shorelines, punctuate each of Richard Blanco’s poems. The collection meditates, boldly and painfully, on modern American life, teetering between fear and hope as it uplifts the urgent voices of queer individuals, people of color, immigrants, low-income communities, Native Americans, and even the land itself.
Blanco’s poetry has reached widespread critical and popular acclaim, carrying the political exile and subsequent migration of his Cuban family forward into his writing. In 2013, he became the first immigrant, first Latino, and first openly gay person to be the United States inaugural poet at Barack Obama’s second inauguration. Hessler is a contemporary photographer whose landscapes harness scale, texture, and composition to investigate rising seas, extinction, invasive species, borders and boundaries, and, more generally, mankind’s relationship with the natural world. Bound in full black cloth with silver adornment suggesting the twists of a river or land border. The proof is in a blue silk chemise. Together housed in a clamshell box. Very fine. Item #30049