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January 10 , 2008

How to Paint the Savior Dead


“Jason Gray’s How to Paint the Savior Dead rethinks the complex traditional connections among women’s bodies, spirituality, and art. Gray is not afraid of hard work, hard thought, and big vision just because the subject of his fascination has been both exalted and besmirched by tradition, both enriched and impoverished by the hands of our predecessors. Gray throws himself into the mix of muses, amore, and immortality with more—much more—than common wit, passion, and intelligence. As he separates out mortal beauty from immortal, he ignores, as one of his poems says, ‘what is heavenly for what is Heaven.’”— Andrew Hudgins“Jason Gray ends his sequence ‘Meditations of the Tomb Painters’ with the lines: ‘Here is my heart in paint, a stowaway / Inside the art that only God would see.’ And indeed, in all of Gray’s work there is a sense that the heart, the faithful and abiding heart, is best (and most safely) transported via the artifice of poetry. From the heart-wrenching, blank-verse ekphrastic ‘My Daughter as the Angel Gabriel… ’ to the heartily clever nonce ‘You Put Your Right Hand In… , ’ this is work that is always worshipful of its medium.”— Kathy Fagan“The ekphrastic poems in How to Paint the Savior Dead celebrate and enact the power of words to exhume a living body—a human’s or a god’s—from the stilled depths of the painted image. Jason Gray, a chiaroscurist drawn to the drama at the border between light and dark, the seen and the hidden, and the sacred and the profane, writes wisely, wryly, wonderfully, and, at times, wickedly about the ‘common beauty’ of the quotidian and the ‘mundane miracle’ of the divine.”— Eric Pankey
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