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Author of the Month: Karen Holden

Published: June 6, 2016

This Music

Karen Holden, Communication and Social Media Specialist, Office of the President

Published in 2014 by LettersAt3amPress, Karen Holden’s This Music is a collection of 22 poems written in response to music—from Bach to Moondog, Thelonious Monk to James Taylor. Her subjects range from Beethoven’s descent into deafness to a sensual reverie on Duke Ellington’s “In a Sentimental Mood.” An artist as well as a poet, Holden also created the book’s cover art. Her other work includes Book of Changes, a volume of 64 poems based on the ancient Chinese text “I Ching” and the limited edition How Love Comes Home: Los Angeles in Four Voices, which weaves family stories into the history of Los Angeles through poetry, essays and images. The Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) commissioned Holden to respond to works of art in their permanent collection. The poems are part of the museum’s mobile tour and are featured on the LACMA website. Michael Ventura of the Austin Chronicle wrote in the book’s preface, “Karen Holden’s poetry creates a space of listening. A space for listening. There is a quiet at the center of each poem that makes you expectant, alert. What happens in this collection is music—but more than the music of Holden’s words or the music of instruments made of wood, brass and skins. This: Music as behavior, behavior as music…music translated to behavior, behavior translated to music…all with Holden’s exquisite tension of syntax as in the necessary tension of a violin’s strings. I love the immediacy of Karen Holden’s poetry and her contemplative range. Tender but tough-minded, the quietude of This Music belies her boldness of conception and her adventurous grasp of forms. Every page is unexpected.”

Author of the Month: Karen Holden