I'm truly honored to have had The Unfastened Heart chosen as the inaugural selection of The Icon Prize. Thank you to Catherine McFarlane, Helen Hanne, and the Icon committee for choosing the novel to launch this award. And thank you to the artists the world over who have responded with such abiding gifts and enthusiasm to Icon's call for art. Whether from the U.S., continental Europe, Canada, Australia, South America, New Zealand, Africa, the UK, Sri Lanka, India, the Middle East or Africa -- you have humbled me by the sharing of your generous talents. May 2011 shine a bright light on your wonderful works!
Jo-Ellen Trilling has painted this captivating work, Prayers from Earth. I love her vision of the physical and meta-physical intertwining here, the prayers interweaving with the vermicelli, shaping the noodles into a script that we can, very nearly, read for ourselves. She writes,
I am compelled now and forever to check the vermicelli stuck to the bottom of my pots in case there is a message spelled out.
A joyful and poetic capturing of the book. Thank you for honoring us with this work, Ms. Trilling!
Paula Rae Gibson has captured the nature of Mariela here, in the exquisite vulnerability within this portrait. She lives and breathes as part of a heightened world, in which the spirit is magnified, and hopes are writ large. She wears a luminous halo above her head.
Mariela's was a magical life, replete with frank yearning and unearthly reverence, both collecting in the air about her like an aura.
Thank you, Ms. Gibson, for sharing this sensitive, captivating work with us.
The Icon Prize is privileged to receive this transcendent portrait by artist Miguel Martinez of Taos, New Mexico. (Mr. Martinez is represented by the Michael McCormick Gallery in Taos, for those of you who want to see more of his luminous work.) How remarkably this woman's gaze captures the wise spirit of Anna de la Senda, generous, serene, a witness to the beauty surrounding her. Her eyes contain a reflection of that which is eternal and beloved. I recognize her, though I've never met her outside of the fictional realm of The Unfastened Heart. What a bright, shining gift!
Anna de la Senda lived for love. Not her own, but other people's. She took on counseling patients of all ages and attitudes, of all dilemmas and doubts, and she spoke with them in their living rooms about the health of their concealed hearts. In return, they paid her with what they could, with cash or avocados, with money orders or cotton cloth. The currency didn't matter to her. What mattered was the healing of the brokenhearted.
I am a literary novelist and screenwriter who believes that the process of creating art is that of making meaning, discovering abundance, revealing grace. I expect the literary arts to nourish the mind and the heart, together -- for one without the other is an impoverishment. In a world of technical virtuosity, I prefer the profound.
I am the author of two novels, The Unfastened Heart (Dutton) and Copper Crown (William Morrow), with a third underway.
I'm most grateful to have received literary fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the California Arts Council and Yaddo. And I'm deeply appreciative of the generous community of readers which has supported my work over these unfolding years. Thank you for giving my work vibrance and resonance as you've welcomed it into your abundant lives.