“Intelligent yet accessible” (as described by the Wellfleet Marketplace’s Book News), Mary Maxwell’s third book of poems includes a central series of verbal portraits of Outer Cape residents past and present. “As in certain special European locales,” Maxwell writes of the area’s remarkable roster of artists and writers (a group that includes Edna St. Vincent Millay, Edward Hopper, Robert Motherwell and Norman Mailer), “those who’ve committed themselves to a life of the imagination seem to have remained here as its perpetual inhabitants.”
In his “Best of the Year” column for The New Republic, Jed Perl wrote of Cultural Tourism:
Maxwell inhabits with easy yet never glib precision that mysterious zone where art and life meet. Her words about [Hans] Hofmann resonate at the end of 2012, as they would at the end of any year in the visual arts: “… Transformation / even death, requires patience, perseverance and acceptance of unknowable / outcomes. Nature is not bound by what we see.”
Some of the book’s other poems and translations (subsequently published in periodicals such as Paris Review, Provincetown Arts and Slate) were written while Maxwell was a resident at the Camargo Foundation in Cassis, France, or as a Visiting Artist at the American Academy in Rome. Given her view that art exists “outside of mortal time,” it’s no surprise that Maxwell addresses Catullus and Dante as though they were present, and treats certain of her actual contempories, such as performance artist John Kelly, as though they were already immortal.