Bill Tremblay
Magician's Hat
Magician's Hat

Magician’s Hat:
Poems On the Life of David Alfaro Siqueiros

These poems engage the life of the famed Mexican muralist Jose “David” Alfaro Siqueiros, whose vision of a free, generous, and artistically liberated Mexico, completely responsive to both its people and its history, unified and informed his inner and outer worlds. It is a book about the muralist’s sensibility, about the way in which his experimental art and his human concerns synthesized in his work to become his vision. Less a biography than an interpretation of one artist’s sensibility in love, in war, and in painting, it is unlike the usual collection of “stand alone” studio poems, but is rather an interdependent sequence that argues out its dialectic in a connected and accretive way. The result is a magical and riveting work of historiography and the lyric imagination.

Read a review of this work on
An Interview with Bill Tremblay on Radical Poetry and the Art and Life of David Siqueiros

Buy it now!

What an ambitious book. It's rare for me to feel that I actually have learned something about the real world from a book of poems! In this way, it reminds me a bit of Tom McGrath’s Letter to an Imaginary Friend. The scope of the book is wonderful...and even so I wished it were longer. So much happens in those 84 pages. But as you say, it is a kind of mural so I suppose that is in the nature of the form: that a great deal can happen, can sprawl across a single wall.
It is quite a story and, of course, I can see why you were taken by it: his courage, his passion, his bullheadedness (even wrongheadedness, I suppose), the sense that this is a life larger than life. And though you do write him as larger than life, it doesn't seem to me that you misrepresent him. What sticks in my mind most strongly are both the scenes of violence (especially the whipping death) and the scenes of love. So I guess it comes down to passion, to honoring it, to noting its dangers as well as its triumphs.
--James Moore (from a letter to the author)

Bill Tremblay’s earlier Shooting Script: Door of Fire (2003) and his new book Magician’s Hat present a layered tableau, a palimpsest of the brief but intense period in Mexican history (1937 to 1940) developed in the first book as a cinematic scenario and deepened here by a dramatic presentation of the same period in the biography of David Alfaro Siqueiros, the prolific muralist whose revolutionary politics led to an unsuccessful attempt on Trotsky’s life earlier in the same year the assassination occurred. This book, like its predecessor, creates a vivid Mexico we can relive in our own time through Tremblay’s brilliant poetry.
-- Floyce Alexander, author of American Fires & Bottom Falling Out of the Dream