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ISBN: 978-1-62557-051-2
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Categories Poetry

The Book of Redacted Paintings

Publication Date: May 2023


Black Lawrence Immigrant Writing Series Selection

In The Book of Redacted Paintings, the narrative arc follows a boy in search of his father’s painting, but it is unclear whether the painting exists or not. The book, a poetry collection, is also populated by a series of paintings. Some are real, incomplete, and/or missing, while most are redacted from reality. The withdrawn paintings concept is the emotional arc of the book, a combination of wishing one could paint the pieces he/she/they envision and the feeling of something torn out of a person due to a traumatic upbringing. A sort of erasure ekphrasis, to foresee artwork that was never painted.


Formally various, narratively propulsive, and relentlessly earnest in its psychospiritual excavations, Arthur Kayzakian’s The Book of Redacted Paintings is a sincere achievement. That it represents the author’s first full-length collection makes it even more remarkable. In one poem, the sound of gunfire “splits the wind in half.” In another, “It rains, as if heaven crashes, it rains.” Kayzakian’s are poems of real stakes and scale, of the minute and the hour and the lifetime. His subjects—art, family, masculinity, empire—remain as timely as ever, but it’s the uncanny juxtapositions of lyric and visual art that make The Book of Redacted Paintings an unforgettable text.

Kaveh Akbar, author of Calling a Wolf a Wolf and Pilgrim Bell

In his poignant and devastating debut collection, Arthur Kayzakian skillfully excavates personal memory and family history to reclaim a missing heirloom. Through poems ranging in documentary, to visual, to lyrical, Kayzakian confronts how the grief of war and displacement are compounded by the loss of stolen familial objects, beloved items that served as a reminder of the life before. Where the harms of war are intensified by new harms, these poems push against historical erasure to establish a new narrative. Kayzakian stirs with poetic prowess while achieving generational reclamation.

Mai Der Vang, author of Yellow Rain

I love Arthur Kayzakian’s The Book of Redacted Paintings for its lyricism and its honesty which comes at us not directly but by way of images and music and always speaks in tongues in a way that alerts and awakens. There is both hunger and wisdom in these poems, both silence inside the singing and the fresh music out of rooms that might have been silenced once. Not any more! The new, original, inimitable poet is in the room. Kayzakian deserves our warmest welcome.

Ilya Kaminsky, author of Deaf Republic and Dancing in Odessa

Arthur Kazakyan’s The Book of Redacted Paintings is a deft and daring first collection. It’s also one of the best examples I’ve seen of a narrative sustained from poem to poem without sacrificing momentum. Constantly surprising, this gallery of moments is exquisitely curated; you will want to linger here. Themes of love, heritage, wonder, and the life of the artist are embodied in strokes that always seem fresh, still drying. “Forgive me collector,” he says, “I’m trying to get back to my world…” Follow this exhibition, it’s on the move.

Brendan Constantine, author of Dementia, My Darling

About the Author

© Andy Smith

Arthur Kayzakian

Arthur Kayzakian is the winner of the 2021 Black Lawrence Immigrant Writing Series award for his collection, The Book of Redacted Paintings, which was also selected as a finalist for the 2021 Philip Levine Prize for Poetry. He is also the winner of the Finishing Line Press Open Chapbook Competition for his chapbook, My Burning City. He has been a finalist for the Locked Horn Press Chapbook Prize, Two Sylvias Press Chapbook Prize, the C.D. Wright Prize, and the Black River Chapbook Competition. He is a contributing editor at Poetry International and a recipient of the Minas Savvas Fellowship. His work has appeared in or is forthcoming from several publications, including Taos Journal of International Poetry & Art, COUNTERCLOCK, Chicago Review, Nat. Brut, Michigan Quarterly Review, Witness Magazine, and Prairie Schooner.

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