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The Complete Poetry of Helen West Heller: with illustrations selected from her art Paperback – December 19, 2015
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About the Author
Larry Stanfel, PhD, is the foremost expert on artist-poet Helen West Heller and the author of the only comprehensive biography about her life: Uncompromising Souls: The Lives and Work of Artist Helen West Heller and Husband Roger. In 2016 he will co-curate a Heller exhibit at the Birger Sandzen Memorial Gallery in Lindsborg, Kansas, titled Helen West Heller: The Art of a Prairie Child.
A graduate of Northwestern University, Dr. Stanfel has published approximately eighty articles, most of which were peer reviewed and single-authored, along with four other books. A valued consultant in government and private sectors, he has earned two postdoctoral fellowships for research abroad and has spoken and lectured in countries around the world, including Japan, Sweden, China, Israel, Argentina, Austria, Greece, Switzerland, Norway, Russia, Australia, and New Zealand.
Currently Dr. Stanfel lives with his wife Jane on a small ranch near Roundup, Montana.
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Between April 1925 and March 1927, Heller (1872-1955) published a weekly poem in the Chicago Evening Post. Some of this newspaper work was inspired by artists or by individual works of art. Heller writes about the famous (Van Gogh, Maurice Utrillo, Odilon Redon, Marc Chagall, John Marin) and the less renowned like Frances Foy, a Chicago painter who was her friend. Another frequent subject of Heller’s poems is the business of the art world, sometimes layered with sexual politics (“The Average Man/Wants his women and/His art without wit”). Stanfel’s notes (separated from the poems and illustrations in a section at the back) provide information on process and Heller’s life situation at the time, highlighting the historic, biographical, and artistic usefulness of this book, which is printed in color and professionally presented.
Stanfel calls Heller “one of the world’s foremost woodcut and wood engraving artists,” but does not make a claim for her poems. However, his care with the research, selection of images, and notes make The Complete Poems an experience of discovering and coming to understand at least part of the creative life of a lost foremother. Some of the poems have not aged well, and some of the images, gathered from private and public collections, are in need of higher quality photo reproduction. As a whole, The Complete Poetry adds essential information to the biography of this early 20th-century artist. It is important because of the attention it brings to the history of women’s creative work in America.