Gravity & Spectacle

Published in April 2020 by Tolsun Books.

Jia Oak Baker's stunning photographs of a discarded punk-rock-skateboard-video-prop-mask, and Shawnte Orion's sardonic, pop culture-infused poetry make the strange world of Gravity & Spectacle. It is a slanted ode to Phoenix and its surrounding deserts, both gorgeous and absurd, stoic and wry, gravitational and spectacular, a "love letter to the fireplace" of a hometown seen through the lens and the pens of two of its inhabitants.

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"The persona that Orion creates through verse—and that Oak Baker brings to life through images—is simultaneously the desert on drugs and in rehab. He is the curator of the ugly-beautiful, the faded bricks and the fairytale horizon. But maybe the most delicious part is the fact that the line between ego and alter ego is invisible here, that every poem leaves you feeling as though you’re listening to the wire-tap tapes of some old-school hooligan, like it’s all a veiled confession in the spirit of Whitman’s Calamus poems, arranged and rearranged into a secret sequence of desire and longing."

~ Rosemarie Dombrowski, inaugural Poet Laureate of Phoenix, founding editor of Rinky Dink Press and The Revolution (Relaunch)

"This book is full of ghosts, reflections, refractions, and memories of a distant Phoenix, one that’s burned down and regenerated many times since. I loved it."
~ Sean Bonnette, songwriter, singer, and guitarist of AJJ

"The photographs and poems in Gravity and Spectacle are a biography, a field guide, a hymnal, and battle plan of, and for, the rest of your life. Yeah, you might just be that strange. I know I am, and as a result this book is somehow a great comfort to me, even as it complicates and celebrates my bewilderment. It reminds me just how bizarre (in the best ways) being alive right now really is—a reminder to attend to it with ferocity and joy but most importantly, with imagination and empathy by any means necessary."
~ Matt Hart, author of Everything Breaking/for Good and editor-in-chief of Forklift, Ohio: A Journal of Poetry, Cooking, & Light Industrial Safety