Rory Green Reviews Theory of Colours by Bella Li

Posted: 04/08/2022 by vequinox in Literature

To Koskino

Theory of Colours by Bella Li
Vagabond Press, 2021

Bella Li’s hybrid poetics of text and image are instantly recognisable. Her third collection Theory of Colours follows on structurally and stylistically from her well-received earlier works: Argosy (2017, Vagabond Books) and Lost Lake (2018, Vagabond Books). Here, as with her previous collections, alchemical concoctions of form and genre blend source materials into sequences with a commitment to the surreal and uncanny. Theory of Colours extends this eclectic approach into what is arguably the most thematically cohesive collection Li has published thus far, delicately threading abstraction and narrative immersion. It is a meticulous book-object, with her attention to detail extending even to the design of the cover and internal typesetting.

The collection’s title is borrowed from poet and polymath Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s 1810 treatise. Goethe’s Theory of Colours is a renowned historical oddity: part challenge of Isaac Newton’s physical theory…

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