Volume I sold out but we’ve just received the second printing.
French Quarter Fables: Volume I
Writer and Illustrator
Volume I sold out but we’ve just received the second printing.
French Quarter Fables: Volume I
Please join us to celebrate the release of French Quarter Fables: Volume I at Garden District Book Shop, 2727 Prytania St., New Orleans.
“So what are you supposed to be?” by Jeanie Riess
The writer, illustrator and former Gambit theater critic Dalt Wonk once found himself confronted by a Duena, the Pope and the Whore of Babylon all on a Mardi Gras day. All three of them were male. “It knocked me out,” he says. “The Whore of Babylon had a big belly and was fabulous.”
Costumes, he explains in a brief introduction to his new set of oversized playing cards, The Riddles of Existence, are visual riddles to solve, and Mardi Gras costumes are some of the most complex and original. The cards can be played in a group or alone and feature original watercolors and quatrains by Wonk, who says, coyly, “I am not a visual artist, but I can do something that has a certain amount of charm if I stay within my limits.”
[Read more…] about The Riddles of Existence in Gambit Weekly
THE RIDDLES OF EXISTENCE
You can choose to take playwright and poet Dalt Wonk’s latest, The Riddles of Existence, at face value and treat this oversized deck of cards as a literal game, where a short verse and illustration lends clues to each card’s depicted costume, to be paired with an index on the last card that includes titles like “The Worm,” “The Atom Bomb,” or quite vaguely, “Metamorphosis.” “The Light Bulb,” for example, is depicted as a bearded fellow with a tightly wrapped torso, accompanying filament crown and the verse “Fashioned like an ornament / although intended for a use, / I valiantly combat the dark, / but shatter at the least excuse.” (Though all the costumes aren’t so easily deciphered.) I find this collection works best with the “rules” dismissed entirely and treated as its own tarot deck, each card a hint at some invented mythology or divination, like a prop out of a Borgese story. The release of The Riddles of Existence is well-timed for Mardi Gras season, as it could be the perfect post-parade party game, to be enjoyed by a well-juiced crowd—like a poet’s charades—or even alone, where one can simply keep occupied with each expressive image (and its equally spry verse) until carnival’s excesses wear off. —Dan Fox
Link to source: http://www.antigravitymagazine.com/2014/02/reviews-february-2014/
Pelican Bomb continues our ode to summer reading with Benjamin Morris on Dalt Wonk’s French Quarter Fables.
Time, it is often said, slows down in the summer. As the days lengthen, bodies go slack in the heat, and busy, driven locals take off on vacations to parts unknown. For those otherwise in need of relief from these long, languid days, then look no further than a book in which time seems not just to slow down but to stop completely. French Quarter Fables (Luna Press, 2012) is an illustrated collection of 37 tales of wisdom and woe, drawn from Dalt Wonk’s decades as a resident of the Vieux Carré and observer of all that neighborhood has to offer. Written as well as illustrated by Wonk, published in a large-format folio, and bound as an art book with illustrations to accompany each tale, the collection would on its sheer size and weight qualify at first glance for a coffee table book.
But woe indeed to the reader who treats this collection only as such and leaves it on said table unopened. For French Quarter Fables has much to offer all readers, no matter their age or level of experience in New Orleans. Hewing closely to the traditional form—short tales, with morals or bons mots at their end and peopled exclusively by animals in clothes (Wonk’s self-proclaimed delight)—their chief concern dwells on what Faulkner would have called “the old verities”: greed, lust, revenge, anger, pride, sorrow, and desire. If it is through pain and loss that we gain the most wisdom, then what Wonk has done here is collected enough wisdom to last a lifetime. In other words, throughout the book, we are given the opportunity to learn from others’ mistakes.
Despite the many mistakes committed by their characters, the fables’ poetic form lends the desired air of whimsy that prevents any one reading from taking them too seriously. With only a few minor exceptions, Wonk pairs his representatives from the animal kingdom nicely, and sketches them both in words and images in such a way as to reveal the full range of their emotions. Among the best are “The Minnow and the Pike,” a jibe at the hubris of a bloodthirsty king (the pike, a thinly-disguised Louis XIV), or “The Hippo and the Egret,” a satisfying tale of just desserts. But it is those tales in which the tragedy arises from no particular character flaw, as in “The Frog and the Lizard,” that ring the most true for the average reader—who among us has not tarried too long in one place, only to find what we’ve waited for has already fled? Some even approach the sublime: “The Young Tree and the Hurricane,” for instance, speaks of a beautiful young tree seduced by a visiting storm. In language as sensitive as it is passionate, Wonk describes how “He whirled her, swirled her, arched her, pressed her tight, / amidst a darkness, total as a cave, / except for the sporadic thunderbolt / that flickered like a light-struck jewel, / revealing a chaos of things torn loose and flying — / as though the world had risen in revolt.” With superb pacing and rhythm, and just the right metaphor for the situation, here the work shines as brightly as anything in the book.
French Quarter Fables by D. Eric Bookhardt
Anyone who has spent time in the French Quarter knows it always has been a great place for people watching. Living there can be like living inside the pages of a book of complicated short stories where all of the characters are unexpectedly connected. Observant residents are inevitably privy to all sorts of secrets that can never be revealed for fear of invading someone’s privacy. Although I never asked him point-blank, I have long suspected my colleague Dalt Wonk created his French Quarter Fables as a way of sharing his observations as discreet parables with elegantly funky animals standing in for human characters. All have a ring of truth about them, but rendered allegorically in verse they assume a near-mythic quality that is illuminating without being personally compromising.
Like the Louis XIV-era fabulist Jean de La Fontaine, Wonk writes in a deceptively simple style that sounds like either a charming children’s story or cautionary words to the wise. Like de La Fontaine, Wonk’s fables become more elaborate as they progress, so by the time we get to The Malamute and the Seal, they assume Somerset Maugham-like overtones. Here Wonk’s colorful animals make perfect foils for human foibles.
Nocturnes by Eugenie Dalland
One of the poems that appears in Nocturnes is called “For Chopin”: “Time pauses before the web / your seanced fingers spin, / glistening and so delicately attached / to anything solid, it consoles like perfume.” Frédric Chopin’s own nocturnes were freeflowing, rhythmic pieces, often lyrical, sometimes melancholy, and always very expressive. His use of the pedal gave to the composition a greater sense of emotional expression by sustaining the resonance of the played note. While Nocturnes, a collection of poetry and images, is not a tribute to the pianist, it is, in part, inspired by the same sensibilities. There is a sustained resonance in the book, too, one that is rarely achieved nowadays by most visual art books. Nocturnes is the first publication of Luna Press, founded by New Orleans-based photographer Josephine Sacabo and poet Dalt Wonk. It exemplifies their belief in the importance of interdisciplinary associations, and specifically illustrated books. “The best and most natural appreciation of a work of art,” reads their manifesto, “may be a response to it in another.” Partly inspired by Charles Baudelaire’s concept of “correspondences” in the arts, this belief in the natural interrelatedness of all art forms provides the key to understanding the rapport between image and text in Nocturnes.
Nocturnes by D. Eric Bookhardt
New Orleans Art Insider
At a time when the entire publishing industry is undergoing a sea change as the relative merits of digital and print media sort themselves out, there are certain books that will be unaffected by the turmoil. Nocturnes, a large format volume of Josephine Sacabo’s photogravures accompanied by Dalt Wonk’s poems, is a classic example. The reason is simple. As a beautifully produced limited edition it is something of an art object in its own right, a collectible that, while pricey, is still affordable to anyone who truly wants one. In it, Sacabo’s stunning images appear as mysterious, even romantic, paeans to the power of dreams, darkness and the lunar light of the psyche. Dalt Wonk’s deftly evocative poems, each printed on translucent vellum, segue seamlessly into her haunting visions distilled from the raw materials of her long personal history in the French Quarter, southern France and Mexico, as well as her lifelong immersion in the works of great artists and thinkers through the ages, from Rainer Maria Rilke’s poems to Gaston Bachelard’s philosophical ruminations on reverie.