Winner of the 2011 T. S. Eliot Prize
A road trip novel-in-verse, Mutiny Gallery follows a mother and son on an exuberant cross-country journey to outposts of Americana. Fleeing domestic peril, Claire embarks with her young son Max on a continental zigzag through psychic and actual states of dislocation, abandon, and absolution. With candor and verve, these poems intertwine terms of class, consumer culture, self-invention, race, rebellion, faith, freedom, and the erotics of the everyday. B. K. Fischer’s luminous collection navigates a woman’s quest to traverse the American landscape with her wits intact, a quest that catches her in nets of caregiving and crisis, love and loss.
Poem after poem, this book channels its brilliance into a novel-in-verse without dulling the light. These poems display cleverness, wittiness, and innovative technique, for which one usually pays a price: a draining away of heart. Not in this case-these poems all have heart, big heart. It's a terrific book, a fine accomplishment.
—Tony Barnstone, 2011 T. S. Eliot Prize judge
As ever in these situations, the characters must keep telling who they are in order to recall who they were, to discover who they will be: this mother and son are escaping Everything, even each other, and of course all they flee is all they find. Crisscrossing a USA of nightmare museums where Edward Lear is King and the Queen of Heartache is Alice, of course they're in heaven if only they could stop anywhere, somewhere… America has given B. K. Fischer the Dream and she gives back all she woke to find: Mutiny Gallery! Her visionary poetry is a good mother's song, her novel a bad boy's scream. As another of those, I salute her and the revels I long to join.
B. K. Fischer’s maverick museums are archives of domestic peril as well as cultural ephemera: they invoke bridges burned as well as preserved, lives lived near the edge, the desperation of poverty, people falling through the safety net. Catalysts for meditation and metaphor, exceeding their literal sites, these wayward collections give rise to rich ontologies of childhood and piercing intimations of mortality. By such means, Mutiny Gallery brilliantly realizes—and revels in—the deepest possibilities of poetry and art.
If a museum preserves things of value by keeping them in place, the protagonist of B. K. Fischer’s exceptional debut has another idea—she preserves what she values by keeping it in flight. Dynamic, inventive, sonically rich, hard-hitting, whip-smart, and revolutionary in both spirit and form, Mutiny Gallery is among the most thought-provoking and scrupulously crafted books of poetry I have read in years—and certainly the most difficult to put down.
In a period when much poetry is thin—I biography, it is refreshing to come to a first book that is provocatively metaphoric and hearty… and with a personae, one surmises, set apart from the author.... Mutiny Gallery, is so worth the read, and leaves us looking forward to more from B. K. Fischer.
—Scott Hightower, foggedclarity.com
Ladies’ Home Journal, June 28, 2012
Museum of Motion
Museum of Miscellanea
Frog Fantasies Museum
Max’s Down-to-Earth Rock Shop & Prehistoric Life Museum
Bread & Puppet Museum
Exotic World Burlesque Museum
Museum of Bad Art
Navajo Code Talkers Room
Church of One Tree
Hello Gorgeous Hair Museum
Museum of Menstruation
House of Cash
Mon Bel Ami Wedding Chapel & Matrimony Museum
Clock & Watch Museum
Killing Time Museum
Museum of Ordinary People
Archaeologist of Himself
Museum of Questionable Medical Devices
Museum of Incandescent Lighting
Museum of Gems and Minerals
Museum of the Alphabet
American Diner Museum
House of Death
Max’s Dreamland II
Liars Hall of Fame
Home Sweet Home Museum
Wheels Through Time Museum
American Precision Museum
Liquid Paper Museum
The End Is Near Museum
Museum of Papermaking
Museum of Museums
Honey of a Museum
First National Church of the Exquisite Panic
Prayer Museum II
The Lightning Field
Max’s Dreamland III
Experimental Breeder Reactor #1
Fall River House of Law & Disorder
About the Author
B. K. Fischer holds degrees in writing from Johns Hopkins and Columbia Universities, and a Ph.D. in English and American Literature from New York University. She is the author of a critical study, Museum Mediations: Reframing Ekphrasis in Contemporary American Poetry, and her poems have appeared in The Paris Review, Boston Review, The Hopkins Review, FIELD, Southwest Review, Crab Orchard Review, Literary Mama, and other journals. She lives in Sleepy Hollow, New York with her husband and three children.