To honor the men and women who served in the war
Often, what civilians see of wars fought abroad is mediated by some second source—the news, government, entertainment industry, etc. It is not as often we see the horror through the eyes of some one who served on the battlefield, let alone see such an experience rendered in poetry. But almost twenty years after Michael returned from duty in Vietnam, he composed this book in an attempt to process pain through art.
When we first opened Michael’s manuscript, we were touched by his field photographs and the compassion that bled through his work, not only for soldiers and civilians on both sides but for the gorgeous land on which blood was shed.
Across my fields, I notice an apparition.
Two in the palm...
Somehow, Closz manages to hold beauty and horror together. In his book, the reader finds photographs of beautiful beaches juxtaposed with scenes of violence; tenderness for the human body’s frailty beside the agony raging in a soldier’s mind. And what most affected us was the poet’s empathy: he blames no one but the horrible unseen powers that were as he tenderly portrays those who suffered as mere tools of destruction but not destructive themselves—a distinction important to a man who experienced first-hand the bile and blame heaped on American soldiers upon their return to the US, men and women who had been traumatized by their grim duties.
Into the desolate garden...
During our collaboration with Michael, we felt haunted by his words and photographs as we helped him piece together the book’s palpable ghosts through rounds of cover and interior mock-ups. Most of all, we wanted to help him honor those spirits from the past by making sure his book was completely free of grammatical errors, ensuring each photograph was clear, and designing the perfect cover for his noble and hard-won magnum opus.
For the cover, Michael knew he wanted to feature a pagoda with a lush landscape, so we presented him with several options: one with a monochrome photograph, one with a full-color photograph, and one with a sketched outline of a pagoda. We love to give our clients plenty of options, but Michael happened to pick our personal fave—a full-color photograph with horizontal text.
One of the things we love most about what we do is tailoring our services to the wide variety of projects clients come to us with and serving each book and writer on a highly personalized level. Michael had pretty much settled on his poems, so we put on our design hats and helped him put his book’s best face forward—and, boy, is it stunning.
The Haunted Garden is the Winner of the Marine Corps Heritage Gannon Poetry Award, 2022.