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Viva la Difference: Poetry Inspired by the Painting of Peter Saul
Published by Off the Park Press

Book Launch on Saturday, January 22, 2011 from 3 – 5 pm

We will have readings by poets in the anthology: Susan Berger-Jones, Todd Colby, Lorraine Doran, Judson Evans, Eileen B. Hennessy, Jennifer Hayashida, Boni Joi, Bill Kushner, Claudia LaRocco, Ronna Lebo, Michael Leong, Tom Obrzut, Thaddeus Rutkowski, Catherine Shainberg, Tara Skurtu, Sally Van Doren, John Yau and Scott Zieher.

Live music loops by Tobi Joi.

*Free copy of the anthology with a $5 purchase of white wine, beer or sparkling water*

Viva la Difference is an anthology of poems inspired by a painting of the same name by Peter Saul. Off the Park Press invited twenty poets to write about the painting. The following is the introduction from the book by John Yau:

“Peter Saul’s Viva La Difference is the second in a series of anthologies devoted to the work of a single artist. The first one was New Smoke (2008), which took the paintings of Neo Rauch as the starting point. The project is straightforward. Every few weeks, a group of poets meet to discuss their poems, as well as subjects, methods, anything having to do with putting words on a page. The idea of writing an ekphrastic poem came up during a discussion about whether or not there were figural paintings where description would not suffice. The work would be the opposite of Edward Hopper’s paintings and Joseph Cornell’s shadow boxes, which have been the subject of many poems. It is as if they are already poems waiting to be turned into words. Our intention was different; we wanted something that resisted being colonized by language, something that could not be encapsulated. Our intention was not to be an impressionist or to tell a story. Those are well-known solutions, and, frankly, we wanted something else.

All of us go to lots of exhibitions. We decided to limit ourselves to the work of a contemporary artist, someone whose work we all saw and liked. After New Smoke was published, we decided to continue the project, as well as invite other writers to contribute a poem (or poems) about the work we decided was the focus of the next anthology. It was very easy to agree upon Peter Saul’s Viva La Difference because all of us knew that writing about it would be a challenge. The number of people who we invited and who eventually told us they couldn’t do it only confirmed our suspicions.

If there are two imaginations making an effort, that of the artist who made the painting, and that of the poet writing a response, we reasoned that we wanted to choose a work in which the imagination of the artist (the other) could not be accessed, reduced, or explained. A work that might, in effect, defeat any attempt to respond in words.”
-John Yau

The book will be available through Small Press Distribution or for $15.

Book Design: Shari Degraw
Printed by Thompson Shore

For more info contact Boni Joi 347-249-2664 or go to

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