In 1963, Allen Ginsberg traveled to Cambodia and visited the ancient Khmer temples. He wrote “Angkor Wat,” an eponymous poem about the temple complex. It was a very different time: pre-Vietnam War, pre-Khmer Rouge, and before the bustling tourism trade that is now the lifeblood of Siem Reap. Yet the Angkor temples themselves remain a unique source of inspiration for poets and photographers who travel there from all over the world.
Over half a century later, Angkor Wat by luke kurtis is both the artist’s homage to Ginsberg’s text as well a celebration of his own pilgrimages to the ancient city. Published in 1968, Ginsberg’s Angkor Wat book was a single long poem accompanied by photographs by Alexandra Lawrence. kurtis’s book is a suite of poems paired with his original photography. Chronicling the poet’s own travels where he explored mythical stories and experienced mystical visions, kurtis’s poems take you on a tour of Angkor Wat (and beyond) unlike any other and tell the story of one American poet deepening his Buddhist spirituality.
Vigil is an eloquent and elegant story, told from the afterlife by a cast of dead teenagers who were victims of a school shooting. Bevins’s poems give voice to the souls who can no longer speak for themselves.