Release Date: January 22, 2016
Harmon Blunt Music
Nathaniel Bellows is a widely respected and broadly published poet, novelist, and visual artist based in New York City. Each of the songs on The Old Illusions was written in private, without audience, virtually unheard by anyone, for many years. When the composer Sarah Kirkland Snider heard these sequestered songs, she emphatically encouraged him to properly record them and get them out into the world. With the help of multi-instrumentalist and recording engineer Aaron Roche, Bellows began recording the music he had written in isolation, but which had always served as an invisible, invaluable parallel companion to his poetry, prose, and visual arts. The result is an assured set of spare, personal, emotionally and cerebrally textured songs, featuring arrangements by Roche, Alex Sopp (yMUSIC, NOW ENSEMBLE), David Garland (of WNYC’s “Spinning on Air”), Julie Lee and Dan Burns, and DM Stith (Asthmatic Kitty). Rigorously lyrical, with dynamic, complex guitar work, and sung in a voice of equal parts grace and grit, The Old Illusions demonstrates a wholly original mind exploring word, image, narrative, and melody beyond the written page and into the boundless realm of song.
Nathaniel Bellows’ first collection of poems, Why Speak? (W.W. Norton), was called “gripping...the book’s power depends on the slow accumulation of an inner world” by The New York Times Book Review and Library Journal pronounced it “a smart and powerful debut.” His poems have appeared in The New Republic, The Paris Review, The New York Times Book Review, Ploughshares, The Yale Review, Dossier, TriQuarterly, The Academy of American Poets “Poem a Day” Program, the Everyman Anthology, Poems of New York, and many other journals, websites, and periodicals.
Bellows is also the author of two novels: On This Day (HarperCollins) (“A triumph,” The Los Angeles Times) and Nan: A Novel in Stories (Harmon Blunt Publishers) (“beautiful... heart-piercing...necessary reading,” The Millions). His short fiction has been published in The Paris Review, Narrative, Guernica, Redivider, The Best American Short Stories (selected by Michael Chabon), and other journals and magazines. A recent fellow at Hawthornden Castle International Retreat for Writers in Scotland and an upcoming fellow at Yaddo, he earned a BA in English and Studio Arts from Middlebury College, and an MFA in Poetry, with a concentration in drawing and printmaking, from Columbia University.
For the past five years Bellows has been writing poems and libretti for the composer Sarah Kirkland Snider (“the finest composer for voice of her generation.” Agit Reader). Together they have created work for the poly-stylistic ensemble Roomful of Teeth (their song “The Orchard” was featured on Roomful of Teeth’s eponymous 2014 Grammy-winning debut), Cantus, Volti, The Brooklyn Youth Chorus, and The Young People’s Chorus of New York City for BAM’s Next Wave Festival 2015. They have multiple forthcoming commissions, including writing a “Mass Reimagined” for Trinity Wall Street Choir and NOVUS in 2017.
Sarah Kirkland Snider’s new record, Unremembered, a song-cycle for 7 voices, chamber orchestra, and electronics, was inspired by 13 of Bellows’ poems and accompanying illustrations. The record features singers Shara Worden (My Brightest Diamond), Padma Newsome (Clogs), and DM Stith (Asthmatic Kitty). A meditation on memory, innocence, and the haunted grandeur of the natural world, Unremembered has received wide coverage and praise from some of today’s most prominent music and cultural sources—from The New York Times to Pitchfork to NPR.
- Sarah Kirkland Snider