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Josie Rozell



& surrealist collage artist

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The poets of old sat underneath carob trees and contemplated the holy visages of lady love: they considered details, they connected emotions and they came to their conclusions. How long might it take to express such contemplation in verse? 


Fourteen lines. 


From thus came the sonnet, the formula for contemplation in an economy of scale. It has been said that the form even mirrors the dimensions of the human face: eight lines of brow, eyes and nose and six lines of lips, jaw and chin. The energy that moves through a sonnet is the same that moves through a gaze or a single inhale. 


When the sonnet immigrated to America it swapped its chartreuse leggings for a pair of baggy Levi’s. In the unrelenting hands of Wanda Coleman, the sonnet mingled with West Coast jazz and raw and unpretty American themes. John Ashbery took it and unraveled the rest of its argyle sweater, writing verse so ordinary and so literary that it was America in a single fourteen-line breath. 

Deep Breath, a collection of thirty-one American sonnets and over fifty hand-cut surrealist collages, follows the traditions of Coleman, Ashbery, Edna St. Vincent Millay and Terrance Hayes. Written while cycling alone up the west coast of the United States and finished while living in Hawai’i, these poems contemplate a human’s place in an expanding (and receding) environment, from the oceans to the forests to the cosmos – and the inspired breath that accompanies all of life. Symbiotic collages guide the reader through the blank spaces between poems, eluding convention and extending an invitation to play – and contemplate – alongside.


American Sonnets 

poetry reading & musical performances

American Sonnets - Poetry Reading
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