Friday, September 09, 2011

Grady Harp Reviews THAT FEEL

The Blend of Visual and Written Art

THAT FEEL is one of the finest collaborative books published by the sisters Snell. Cheryl Snell is a fine poet and her sister Janet Snell is a fine expressionist artist. In their previous books there was often the question of whether Janet was illustrating Cheryl's poetry or if perhaps each artist made her art and then combined it in the most suitable manner.

Now it is obvious that the art that spreads across both sides of an open book is unified and equally involved in the nidus of expression. The poems and art of THAT FEEL seem to be more visceral than those that came before them - these are poems from the gut, art about alienation and longing and rapturous moments that fade too quickly (or were they even there?). For example in the combined expression of the following, the painting accompanying the poem is that of two faces distorted by reflection in glass or mirror or memory:

Each brush stroke had been its own allegory
and could not reconcile the break. I felt for
connection in blind corridors, whispering
Who's there? from within the room's glass
Maybe I was dreaming. The facts were hard
to parse and sometimes lied. I did, too,
confused by what my reflection showed. The
glass distorted it and the fissure widened from
a thin red line. It splintered our embrace and
again I was alone.

The book may be brief but it is a powerful one. The only criticism about this latest opus is the somewhat disjointed feeling of the varying fonts or typefaces the artists used. Those wide variations of print diminish the tone of the poetry/art like unwanted audience distracters. But that is a minor complaint in a book that further substantiates the excellent collaborative efforts of the sisters Snell. -Grady Harp

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