Cover image for A table of content : poems
A table of content : poems
Tanning, Dorothea, 1910-2012.
Publication Information:
St. Paul, Minn. : Graywolf Press, [2004]

Physical Description:
83 pages ; 23 cm
General Note:
Subject Term:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
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Item Holds
PS3539.A5519 T33 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



Renowned painter and sculptor Dorothea Tanning imagines and realises a collage of surreal wit, formal inventiveness, and urban and whimsical visuals. Oh, we were primed like canvas', she writes in one poem, and every page in this remarkable debut becomes a unique experience to gaze and wonder with this artisit's imaginitive, roving eye. We are made to see more clearly, more forcefully the city landscape, the creative impulse, and the words of potential disaster and sensual erotics with a vision that survives taste, trend and time.'

Author Notes

She was born in Galesburg, Illinois, in 1910 & learned to paint by visiting art museums. She attended Knox college, studied art in Chicago & in 1935 moved to New York City, where she supported herself with advertising art & painted in her spare time. A preoccupation with architecture, especially doors, windows & deep tunneling spaces, is a keynote of her style. Before & after her marriage to Max ernst she was occupied with stage & costume design for the likes of George Balachine & others.

(Publisher Provided) Dorothea Tanning was born in Galesburg, Illinois on August 25, 1910. She attended art school in Chicago, but left to study informally on her own by roaming the Art Institute there. She was a leading Surrealist painter of the 1930s and also dabbled in sculpture. She was married for 30 years to the Surrealist painter and sculptor Max Ernst. She also created ballet designs for George Balanchine, etchings for illustrated books, and the design of a house for herself and Ernst in the south of France. Later in life, she became a poet. Her works include A Table of Content, Coming to That, Chasm: A Weekend, and her autobiography, Between Lives: An Artist and Her World. She died on January 31, 2012 at the age of 101.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

This internationally known painter and sculptor's debut collection is a curious mix of numerous styles: confessionalism, Whitmanic declaration, a self-containment worthy of Merrill. The stance that speaks loudest is a straightforward, unmannered approach to the deconstruction of icons, references and symbols: "He told us, with the years, you will come/ to love the world./ And we sat there with our souls in our laps,/ and comforted them." Elsewhere, Tanning's methods draw on Surrealism; that is no surprise, given her lifelong dialogue with the movement in her painting and her marriage to Max Ernst. (A poem dedicated to M.E. refers to Ernst's La Femme 100 Tetes.) Her speaker's tone throughout is tinged with regret-at loss of opportunity, vitality, love-making the poems quieter at heart than some of their jagged surfaces first suggest. At moments of greatest directness, Tanning can dip into clich?, as when noting that "In French death is feminine," or that Merce Cunningham's dancers make "5 barely believable/ bodies/ become/ 1 thought." But more often than not in this marvelous miscellany, she pulls it off; "Time Flew" describes the whole arc of affection in a moment of eye contact: "What they saw/ would have no end, both knew." (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Internationally acclaimed for her paintings and sculptures, Tanning has turned to writing late in life (she was born in 1910). First, there was her 2001 memoir, Between Lives: An Artist and Her World, and now her wonderful poems. Like collages, softly surreal, delicately personal, but somehow perfectly right, these works paste together the tangible with what's not, drawing images from life, family, places, and ideas and showing what was and what could be: "As morning swallows dew, my shadow/ swallows what was left of morning ..../ Oh, we were primed like canvas." There is not a reckless moment in these poems; each word is a deliberate stroke, somehow perfectly right: "Slept dreams, they say, take just a few seconds/ no matter how long they are. Or how far// I walked on that bridge of spider silk/ with the moon beside me like a friend." Recommended for larger American poetry collections and for women's literature collections as well.-Louis McKee, Painted Bride Arts Ctr., Philadelphia (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

I Are You?p. 3
Aspects of Ice, Detailp. 5
A Table of Contentp. 6
Awake at Fifteenp. 7
Bridge, Moon, Professor, Shoesp. 8
Camouflagep. 9
Collage (La Femme 100 Tetes)p. 12
Destinationsp. 14
End of the Day on Secondp. 15
Figure Approaching, Oppositep. 16
Flea Market (Rainy Day)p. 18
Fortune Cookiesp. 19
Graduationp. 20
II Heaven on Earthp. 23
Il a Trouve la Mortp. 25
Insomnia, my cousinp. 27
It's Late in the Rue de Lillep. 28
Landscape with Postmarkp. 30
Life of Crime: St. Julien le Pauvrep. 32
Minor Incident at the Intersectionp. 35
9 table settingsp. 36
No Palmsp. 37
Occupied Musical Chairsp. 38
Of Beatitudep. 40
Of Flesh and Goldp. 42
Orphanotrophiump. 43
III Pursued, I Ran into the Barnp. 47
Raftp. 48
Rain of Blood, Aix-en-Provencep. 50
Reckless Wordsp. 52
Remindersp. 53
Report from the Fieldp. 54
Rue Monge Narratedp. 55
Secretp. 57
Sequestriennep. 58
Sibyllinep. 59
Six Avian Perilsp. 60
Space Disarmedp. 64
Strawberriesp. 65
Sybarisp. 67
IV The Triumph of Venusp. 71
This Is a Recordingp. 72
Time Flewp. 73
To Our Father Who Artp. 74
To That Gardenp. 75
Tour Dynamicsp. 76
To Zenop. 78
Two City Micep. 79
Unfounded Certitudesp. 80
Waverly and a Placep. 81
Window Treatmentp. 83