Author Talk with Point Reyes Station’s Tom Killion
We sat down with Tom Killion to discuss his new book created with Gary Snyder, "California’s Wild Edge: The Coast in Prints, Poetry, and History."
MM: This is certainly not your first book, nor is it your first book in partnership with Gary. What makes this one unique? TK: California’s Wild Edge is what I would call a poetic history of the California coast. It combines my images with Gary’s ideas about nature, the wild and the poetry of place. We included some of his coast-centric poems, as well as journal entries from the 1950s, and poetry from several other writers, Bay Area locals Jane Hirshfield and Robert Hass among them. We also dug up work from historical poets like Robinson Jeffers, who lived in Carmel in a stone tower in the teens of the last century and wrote an immense body of poetry, all with the coast as the landscape.
MM: Did you learn anything entirely new through the creation of this book? TK: I learned a lot about a number of poets and writers who spent time on the coast. One in particular — Jaime de Angulo, an eccentric and controversial character in his day — caught my interest. He lived in Big Sur on a little homestead that he started up during the First World War, and he was a pioneer of the bohemian lifestyle. His poems and writings about Big Sur are very evocative of what it was like to live in that area before the road went through.
MM: What is it about woodcut printmaking that best communicates the spirit of a place for you? TK: The process frees you from this difficulty that artists have: when you draw, and paint, or do anything, you see exactly what you’re doing. With the printmaking process, you don’t at all. You’re using a different medium, and doing everything in reverse to eventually lead to a picture, and it sort of takes on its own life. Even though I’ve been doing it for more than 40 years, and have done well over 500 prints, I still am always surprised at how things come out.
MM: What is your all-time favorite coastal viewpoint in Marin? TK: Probably the most magical place in Marin is up on Bolinas Ridge. But there are a lot of other wonderful places, too.
Local Page Turners
California’s Wild Edge: The Coast in Prints, Poetry, and History by Tom Killion (Point Reyes Station) with Gary Snyder, Heyday Books, $50. Through his intricate, colorful prints, woodcut artist Tom Killion allows Bay Area residents to experience the profound natural beauty of their surroundings in a new way. Interspersed with poetry and prose by Pulitzer Prize winner Gary Snyder and a number of others, this breathtaking volume will take you on a visceral, multidimensional tour of the California coast. Appearing at Book Passage Corte Madera July 10, 7 p.m.
The Rainman’s Third Cure: An Irregular Education by Peter Coyote (Mill Valley), Counterpoint LLC, $26. In the follow-up to his 2009 memoir, acclaimed actor and political activist Peter Coyote opens up about the individuals and experiences that shaped him, ultimately leading him to explore Zen Buddhism. A captivating blend of eccentric anecdotes and philosophical contemplations, The Rainman’s Third Cure both entertains and enlightens. Appearing at Book Passage Corte Madera July 26, 5 p.m.
The Circle of Thirteen by William Petrocelli (Mill Valley), Turner, $16.95. It is the year 2082. Following a series of attempted bombings and acts of violence against women, a devastating explosion at the dedication ceremony of the new U.N. in New York City launches Security Director Julia Moro’s search for the leader of Patria, a formerly defunct terrorist group now on the rise. Book Passage co-owner William Petrocelli fluidly transports readers forward and backward in time. Appearing at Book Passage Corte Madera’s Mystery Writers Conference, July 23–26.
A Master Plan for Rescue by Janis Cooke Newman (San Francisco), Riverhead Books, $27.95. In 1942, a child from New York attempts to move on with life after losing his beloved parents. Meanwhile, in Berlin, a young Jewish man must walk away from the woman he loves. When their grief-ridden paths merge, the boy and the man discover the magnitude of memory and the spirit preserved in stories. A member of Book Passage’s Travel Writers & Photographers Conference faculty, Newman writes with enchanting compassion and tenderness. Appearing at Book Passage Corte Madera July 14, 7 p.m. and at the Travel Writers & Photographers Conference, August 13–16.