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‘Echo: A Survey at 25 Years of Sound, Art, and Ink on Paper’; ‘Enheduana: The Complete Poems of the World’s First Author’; and Kari Percival’s Ezra Jack Keats Award

A new book holds 25 years of rock posters from music venue Higher Ground in Vermont.Solidarity of Unbridled Labour

New book features a quarter-century of art and music collaboration in Vermont

A colorful new coffee table book gathers 25 years of concert posters designed for the venerable Vermont music venue Higher Ground. “Echo: A Survey at 25 Years of Sound, Art, and Ink on Paper” is a rich and varied document highlighting the connection between the concert space and the design firm Solidarity of Unbridled Labour and Iskra Print Collective. The book is a time capsule, a portable museum of music memories, the there-and-gone experience of a concert solidified, with posters for a huge range of artists: Bob Dylan, Willie Nelson, Aesop Rock, Bonnie “Prince” Billy and Matt Sweeney, Wu Tang Clan, Beth Orton, Cat Power, Yo La Tengo, Taj Mahal, Guster, Wilco, Cake, Cowboy Junkies, and the Cherry Poppin’ Daddies, to name a few. There are skulls in a field, a man puking fire, groovy astronauts, disarming visages, a whale fluke, an umbrella in the rain, cool fonts, arresting colors, and two Victorian-era children standing with a tiger (for Neutral Milk Hotel). The book revels in the collaboration and synergy between the artists and the music. “What coheres in these images,” writes Jeff Tweedy, “is the work of the music and art communities intertwined and invested in each other.” The book is a document of a scene and a style, and its energy reverberates off the pages, echoes of a quarter-century of shows.


A translation of the world’s earliest known author in poetry collection from Yale

In 2021, Sophus Helle published a masterful translation of the Mesopotamian epic “Gilgamesh,” and now he’s translated the poetry of Enheduana, the high priestess of Ur in “Enheduana: The Complete Poems of the World’s First Author” (Yale). “In the annals of world literature,” Helle notes in his introduction, “Enheduana marks the earliest known appearance of authorship.” She precedes Homer by 1,500 years, and her hymns — dark, mysterious, surging with the great forces — aren’t meant to offer enlightenment or entertainment, Helle explains; her aim is not to describe the world, but to change it. “I went to the light,/ but the light burned/ me; I went to the/ shadow, but it was/ shrouded in storms.” Even the fragmentary chunks hold power: “your walls rise high, … heavy clouds,/ … snake,/ … moonlight.” A potent sense of lasting force comes through. Of the goddess Inana she writes, “She is a raging,/ rushing flood that/ sweeps across the/ land and leaves/ nothing behind … She humbles great/ mountains, leaving/ them as rubble.” Helle offers useful explanatory essays contextualizing the work, and asks the crucial question: “What would the history of Western literature look like if it began not with Homer and his war-hungry heroes but with a woman from ancient Iraq, who sang her hymns to the goddess of chaos and change?”


Boston-area artist and writer wins Ezra Jack Keats Award

Kari Percival, a Boston-area writer and artist, recently won the Ezra Jack Keats Award for her debut picture book, “How to Say Hello to a Worm: A First Guide to Outside” (Rise X Penguin Workshop). The book, which celebrates the act of gardening, moves with wonder and delight as Percival explores the thrill and satisfaction of placing a seed in soil, giving it a drink, seeing it grow, and then eating the results, and in so doing, coming to understand natural rhythms, and the connections between seasons, sunlight, the food we eat, and the people (and bees and ladybugs) in our communities. Named after the author of the iconic “The Snowy Day,” the national award honors children’s book authors and illustrators early in their careers, ones that portray “the multicultural nature of our world, the universal experience of childhood, and the importance of family and community.” In writing the book, Percival hoped “to inspire more people from all backgrounds to try their hand at growing food with the very young.” Her work with families and kids at the Malden Community Garden moved her to create the book. “Look at all we’ve grown,” she writes in the book. “Has anything ever tasted so sweet?”


Coming out

“Carmageddon: How Cars Make Things Worse and What to Do About It” by Daniel Knowles (Abrams)

“In Search of a Beautiful Freedom” by Farah Jasmine Griffin (W.W. Norton)

“The Last Catastrophe” by Allegra Hyde (Vintage)

Pick of the week

Paul Theriault at the Brookline Booksmith recommends “Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind: Informal Talks on Zen Meditation and Practice” by Shunryu Suzuki (Shambhala): “The right book, the right time. Always adaptable and applicable, but also sturdy as a tree trunk.”