My Minotaur – Poems by Keith Holyoak


Illustrations by Jim Holyoak

My Minotaur Audio CD

My Minotaur CD Cover

In this debut volume of selected poems, Keith Holyoak explores the borderlands where dualities run together—life and death, despair and hope, man and woman, reason and passion, human and animal, reality and dream. His poetic voice is juxtaposed with the surrealistic artistic visions of Jim Holyoak, Keith’s son. My Minotaur creates an extra imagination space between the dualities of father and son, word and image.

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Book Description

  • Kind: Perfect bound or Hardbound numbered limited edition
  • Pages: 161
  • Language: English
  • Available: Spring 2010
  • Audio CD: No
  • Publisher: Dos Madres Press
  • ISBN: 978-1-933675-48-0 & 978-1-933675-49-7


“Keith Holyoak’s reputation as a meticulous translator of classical Chinese poetry is already established. Now his powerful new book My Minotaur presents us with a wide-ranging selection of his own poems in a spectrum of varied forms. Holyoak is a versatile poet who can turn his hand as easily to extended narrative as to sonnets or concise lyrics, and his subject matter is similarly diverse: the self, nature, history, portraiture, politics, family and social relationships, philosophic questioning, aesthetics. Holyoak deals with everything, in a way that is not common today. The gem of this book is his terza rima “Descent,” a dream-vision that invokes Dante’s Inferno, although in a modern milieu of terror, violence, and harrowing uncertainty.”

—Joseph S. Salemi

“In a time in which fatuous proclamations of “greatness” are chock-a-block on the backs of new poetry collections, Keith Holyoak’s My Minotaur aims for something perhaps more modest, with an unusual degree of success. It is a good book that does not preen, that, through its solid formal control and humane disposition—as well as the lovely accompanying illustrations—manages to not only work its way into the labyrinths it builds for itself, but to get itself—and the reader—out again.”
—Quincy R. Lehr

An Excerpt from: The Farmer Gored By His Bull

Golden one, that thrust you gave that first
Slipped through my heart caught me by surprise
And held me there, listening to the burst
Of veins feeding a warm flood on the rise.
So many changes now—your black-tipped horn
Turned red, my soul turned free, my wondering eyes
Wide open everywhere. My body, shorn
Of weight and years, is just a visitor,
Joined by a silvery thread with this newborn
Beast we have made, our coupled minotaur—
A bull’s head hoists the body of a man!
I know your labyrinth, unraveler;
Below, the world lies open to my scan—
I see how all that ended first began.

About the Author & Artist

Keith Holyoak, poet, translator of classical Chinese poetry, and cognitive scientist, was raised on a dairy farm in British Columbia, Canada. His scientific work focuses on the nature of human thinking and its basis in the brain. He has been a recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, and is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Currently he is a Distinguished Professor of Psychology at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Keith’s son Jim, who also grew up in British Columbia, is an artist trained at the University of Victoria and as an apprentice to Chinese landscape master Shen Ling Xiang in Yangshuo, China. Jim is currently based in Montreal, where he is pursuing an MFA degree at Concordia University. He has exhibited his work in Los Angeles, New York, Montreal and Vancouver, and is represented by the Glass Garage Gallery in West Hollywood. Both Keith and Jim spend part of their time at Pterodactyl Studio on Salt Spring Island, British Columbia