Retrievals is a collection of criticism about underrecognized poets, unfairly discredited critics, artists obscured by more famous relations—basically, writers and artists that have fallen off the cultural map or never quite made it there in the first place. These essays, collected for the first time, span 10 years of Garrett Caples’ writing as an arts journalist and editor at City Lights. His encyclopedic knowledge of surrealism, art history, and Bay Area artists together with candid and tender anecdotes give his writing a humble charm not often found in works of criticism.
With this collection [Caples has] certainly achieved his goal of being “an activist critic”—one who seeks out lesser-known artists and writers, rehabilitates reputations, and brings new works to light.
The book maneuvers through modernism by taking close looks at some of its artists, theorists, and critics, spanning such topics as the invention of art history and personally collaborating with Humpty Hump. Written in Caples' signature blend of erudition and elan, the essays also include photos of some of the art in question.
Evan Karp, SF Weekly
Retrievals constructs an alternate (and wonderfully scenic) route through the 20th century that would likely lead us to Caples’s shelves. In this way, it’s a thoroughly personal document patched from public dispatches.
Michael Andor Brodeur, The Boston Globe
Garrett Caples is the author of Lovers of Today (Wave Books, 2021), Power Ballads (Wave Books, 2016), Complications (2007), and The Garrett Caples Reader (1999), a collection of outtakes, The Rise & Fall of Johnny Volume (2020), and a bilingual selection, Noches Apátridas (Unstated Nights, 2019). He’s also written a pamphlet, Quintessence of the Minor (2010). He’s the editor of Philip Lamantia’s Preserving Fire: Selected Prose (2018), Samuel Greenberg’s Poems from the Greenberg MSS (2019), and Michael McClure’s Mule Kick Blues and Last Poems (2021), as well as the co-editor of The Collected Poems of Philip Lamantia (2013), Particulars of Place (2015) by Richard O. Moore, Incidents of Travel in Poetry: New and Selected Poems (2016) by Frank Lima, and Arcana: A Stephen Jonas Reader (2019). He is an editor at City Lights Books, where he curates the Spotlight Poetry Series. He has a PhD in English from the University of California, Berkeley, and lives in San Francisco.
Publication Date: September 9, 2014
ISBN# 9781933517988 (6.5x9 304pp, paperback)
ISBN# 9781933517995 (6.5x9 304pp, limited edition hardcover)