Reading List

Before, Now

We were a little group of three yesterday afternoon—my granddaughter, one of my sons (not my granddaughter’s father), and me—in the beautifully curated children’s section of Second Story Books in downtown Laramie, Wyoming. My granddaughter found—on her own, and to my great delight, as you can imagine—Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret and began reading as I continued looking exploring the picture books, which have always been and remain among my favorite and most resonant sources of art, for both their lyrical story-telling and pages of visual art, each one its own glory.
Before, Now, by Daniel Salmieri, manages to capture for me—in its simplicity and beauty—the essence of those moments in the bookstore and the past couple of months in the Alderworks residency in Alaska and my art praxis/doctoral research. Tracing the arc of an individual’s lifespan among relational expansions and spiraling by playing with opposites in the text and illustrating the story with colored pencil, Salmieri celebrates the possibilities for a full and joyful life. On each page, he shows us what it is to connect with this experience of being human in our bodies, among other materialities and other people and other living creatures, within our learning and thinking and work. As I am processing the intensity of the isolation of the residency among the reconnections of decades-old relationships with an immersion in family relationships on this week-long, multi-generational Laramie trip that has immediately followed the return from Alaska, I am grateful to have found in Salmieri’s story an articulation of all that is swirling and fermenting in my body, mind, and heart. As I shared the book with my son yesterday, I warned him that reading it might be a misty experience, which it was, for both of us, even with our differing placements along life’s circular arc.