Howard Richard Debs’ debut work Gallery Recipient of 2017 Best Book Award

Toronto, Canada, December 10, 2017

With 1000’s of entries world-wide competing in multiple categories, Howard Debs’ new book Gallery: A Collection of Pictures and Words which includes fiction, essay, poetry, and original and vintage photography, has just received a 2017 Best Book Award as Finalist in Poetry.

Debs is also a finalist and recipient of the 28th Annual 2015 Anna Davidson Rosenberg Poetry Awards. His work appears internationally in numerous publications such as Yellow Chair Review, Eclectica Magazine, The Galway Review, Star 82 Review, Cleaver Magazine, among others, his essay “The Poetry of Bearing Witness” in On Being – On The Blog, and his photography in select publications, including in Rattle online as “Ekphrastic Challenge” artist and guest editor. He is co-editor of the forthcoming anthology New Voices: Contemporary Writers Confronting the Holocaust to be published by Vallentine Mitchell of London, publisher of the first English language edition of The Diary of Anne Frank.

Debs says, “Gallery was written to accord with the appeal of Nobel Laureate Czeslaw Milosz who once mentioned that the only credible poetic response to the Holocaust is in writing about anything and everything else.”

In Gallery Debs takes us on a journey through space and time, approaching the problems and potential of the human condition from four perspectives, or Galleries, East or Elsewhere, West or Anywhere, North or Nowhere, and South, or Somewhere. In Elsewhere he explores what we have done with our ordinary lives, invoking the nostalgia of a diner, with its own rhythm and language, or the art of the blues, music born of pain transformed into art, that wail balanced on the fine point of rueful humor. With these, and the other poems in this section we see what people make of situations ordinary and extraordinary, of grief and loss, hunger and love. We never let the cracked bowl sit broken, but like the Japanese artist, we fill the cracks with gold, changing the face of beauty.

In the second gallery Debs explores some of the worst humanity has created and endured. How do we deal with grief like that of those who received the bodies of their dead in fragments after 9/11? Do we bury the fragments as they are recovered, piece by piece, or does that become too unbearable to continue? What is demanded by the Holocaust, in terms of bearing witness, of memory and history and grief? Is that a burden that can ever be resolved? What of the horrors ongoing now, of injustice, war, genocide? Can the world be healed, repaired, and can we do it? The last two gallery sections move to the individual level–in North/Nowhere, he shows us the hopeless, the lost and abandoned, and we know them, we have seen them all, from the homeless addict in the ER to the celebrity who finds suicide the only way out. The final section is more personal yet, exploring the poet’s own family and friends, what it is to be husband, father, friend, to love and lose on the most intimate of stages. The thrust and culmination of the book ends here, on the personal, one on one human relations, that are the basis and beginning of any attempt to “repair the world.” Love, and love, and love. Gently, strongly, honestly convincing, and a place for hope. (from a review on Amazon by Mary McCarthy).

The book website, the link to which is included in the book itself, provides additional supplemental material related to the book on an open-ended basis and the Amazon page devoted to the book includes reviews and quotes about Debs’ work including these: “as always seems to be the case with your poems, I learned something in reading this that I hadn’t known about.” –Tim Green, Editor Rattle and, “a powerful lesson about the poetry of bearing witness.” — Greenwood Writer’s Guild.