at the confluence of culture and creativity 

Our Authors

Will Barnes

The Ledgerbook, with author Will Barnes’ poetry, found diary entries, and photographs, encourages a lyric exploration of landscape, memory, and identity in the American West. Drawing from the indigenous traditions of record keeping on the western plains—winter count, ledger art, diary making, letter writing, scientific description and journalism—The Ledgerbook takes the motif of writing over and on top of the stories and texts that make up the history of the American West to write its own story of identity and the experience of dissolution. These poems are lyric, ambitious, multi-faceted. Using collage and erasure, The Ledgerbook then surely creates a polyphony of voices through which a personal reconciliation of the beauty and violence of the West might take place. Underneath all of it, always, is the land itself.

 Writing over, on top of, and into history, Will Barnes is a seeker and a tracker, a poet whose tracing gaze is poised to capture nature’s plain speech in all its complexity, collecting indicants, compiling evidence, missing nothing.  Shaping “the line, the real, the now,” The Ledgerbook is a palimpsest of beings: human, plant and “animate earth;” a chorus of prints: palm, hoof, leaf and otherwise. Barnes is a listener, witness and scribe to temporal realms; bringing our gaze to “bone chips in the roses,” this lyric telling “unplying at the spine” generously guides us to understand that we “are in the story, too.”

—Annie Guthrie, The Good Dark

The Ledgerbook is made of lavish textures. Line by line, the writing—intensely musical and connotative—takes on almost as much materiality as the gorgeous, violent West it addresses. Language is such a geologic and biologic presence here, it’s as if the story is layered in sheaves, as Barnes puts it. In concept and arc, the book sketches the tenuous, vibrant present into the spaces left by journal entries, love letters, and the brutal historical record. What beautiful, intelligent, ambitious work.

—Greg Glazner, From the Iron Chair, Singularity, and Opening the World

Will Barnes was raised in Colorado and has lived in New Mexico for 25 years. He is an attorney, botanist, and teacher and currently works for the New Mexico State Land Office in Santa Fe. He spent ten years as a field botanist for the Valles Caldera National Preserve, has taught middle school science and language arts, and now supervises the wildlife biologist, forester, and archaeologist for the Land Office. In 1998 and 1999, while studying for his Masters degree in Biology, Will was awarded the Academy of American Poets Prize for poetry at the University of New Mexico. He was selected to perform in the Taos Poetry Festival, the Santa Fe Reading Series, and Artists for Ekphrasis: Sacred Stories of the Southwest in 2014. He received his MFA in poetry from New York University in May, 2015. He lives in Santa Fe with his wife, Julia.