My imagination carries my sight through the kaleidoscopic distance, falling away from what was a moment ago. Trees, bridges, water, and the changing animal clouds in the sky shift with the lights at the sides of the tracks and overpasses that temporarily mark all changing lines of sight.


Desire Lines features an eclectic collection of Toronto writer/poet Ewan Whyte’s astute essays and reviews on art, poetry, and culture, both high and low. Among the subjects included: the Roman poet Catullus, the bondage photography of Maria Coletsis, the rain paintings of Viktor Mitic, Ai Weiwei, Vladimir Azarov, Anne Carson, Leonard Cohen, Christopher Logue’s Homer, Janet Cardiff, Alex Colville, Pasolini, Priscilla Uppal, Anish Kapoor, and Canadian performance artist Istvan Kantor, better known as Monty Cantsin. Spontaneous and contemporary, essays for those who like to re-think.


Here cultural critic and essayist Ewan Whyte uses his uncanny and rare capacity to slip inside works of art and figure out what make them tick. In Desire Lines: Essays on Art, Poetry and Culture, a sweeping variety of essays on imagery, language and creativity, Whyte offers up maximum insight with a minimum of attitude. Both a poet and translator, Whyte is a relaxed, lucid, knowledgeable critic of poetry as well as visual art. Desire Lines culminates with his personal essay about childhood in a religious cult. His sympathy for those trapped within bizarre, sometimes sadistic demands (and for art made under severe cultural restrictions) underpins his generous critical views. Whyte triumphed by embracing the imagination—and this splendid collection is a triumph for the arts as a humane and gifted writer understands them.

- Molly Peacock, author of The Paper Garden and The Analyst