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Literature & Fiction - Poetry

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Head of Island Beautification for the Rural Outlands: An Exhibition of Landscapes

ISBN: 9781939901255
Binding: Paperback
Author: Jefferson Navicky
Pages: 124
Trim: 7.5 x 9.5 inches
Published: 03/05/2023

When William Harrison Brown (aka Bird) returns to the island of his youth, he attempts to take up the family legacy of landscape painting, something he had previously vowed never to do because of his father's and his great grandfather's fame. However, Bird paints his landscapes with a 1961 Underwood typewriter, working towards the completion of his exhaustive project: A Complete Landscape Painter's History of Aquaneck Island.

A local art gallery hears about Bird's project, and primarily because of his family's fame, offers him a show. Bird's exhibit is, to say the least, unusual.

Head of Island Beautification for the Rural Outlands is part history of grief, part exploration of ghosts and hauntings, part philosophy of landscape painting, and part meditation on the nature of islands. Bird attempts to find peace within his lineage as a son, as an islander, and as a writer in a family, and in a larger culture, that often places visual artists on fame's pedestal.


Jefferson Navicky is the author of four books, most recently the novel-in-prose-poems, Head of Island Beautification for the Rural Outlands (2023), as well as Antique Densities: Modern Parables & Other Experiments in Short Prose (2021), which won the 2022 Maine Literary Book Award for Poetry. His work has appeared in Smokelong Quarterly, Electric Literature, Fairy Tale Review, Southern Humanities Review, and Beloit Poetry Journal. Jefferson works as the archivist for the Maine Women Writers Collection. He is the recipient of grants from the Maine Arts Commission, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Ellis-Beauregard Foundation, as well as two other Maine Literary Awards for poetry and drama.


"Peculiar, beautiful, beguiling…There is good heat here, like the hot sauces Bird uses, and sauce serves as paint, as creative juice, as flavor enhancer, as ingredient uniter." - Nina MacLaughlin

"Innovative and incisive, lyrical and illuminating, Jefferson Navicky's project inhabits the interior existences of artists and artmaking. This is a painterly-poetic narrative that burrows into the heart; that asks us to see and feel the intricacies of these lives, these imaginations, and our own." - Myronn Hardy

"Gorgeous and sweeping, lyrical yet grounding, Jefferson Navicky's words felt both otherworldly and at home in my head and heart as I was reading this delicious book. As an artist and islander, I savored his story's whispered secrets on legacy and art, family and individuality, and consumed Navicky's bite-sized prose with delight and wonder." - Mira Ptacin

"Jefferson Navicky's work of fiction is many things: a frolicsome, inventive and thoughtful work of the imagination, a meditation on the vastness of a human life; and a poem that gives shape to human longing, regret, and the inevitable passage of time. Three generations of artists inhabit this large world, with their memories, visions, failures, and loves. The eighty-two short chapters are infused with the light and sound of the ocean—its changeability, its power and beauty." - Eleanor Morse

"With grief disguised as a 'good sauce,' Navicky bends time between the living and the dead like a crab listening to the hum of her ancestors through her own seaweed–slicked shell." - Amanda Dettmann