In the summer of 2019, artist and poet Linnea Ryshke worked as a laborer at an organic meat farm. She transformed what she saw, as well as the specific and acute interactions she had with the animals, into a series of poems, photographs, and artwork. Ryshke’s intimate, honest, and poignant account reflects what it means to confront the lives and deaths of individual creatures who are valued commodities. Through image and text, Kindling profoundly evokes experiences with animals that will leave a lasting impression on the reader.
“It is difficult to find the balance between art and activism. Linnea Ryshke’s, Kindling, weaves poetry, photography, and painting into a heartbreakingly beautiful book about finding and holding space for the more-than-human. She creates a lasting dialogue between embodiment and materiality, the didactic and the ambiguous, and art and activism that avoids the trap of overt sentimentality. Kindling provides us that elusive and magical space in between, where empathy and change can flourish and grow.”—Kathryn Eddy, artist activist and co-editor of The Art of the Animal: Fourteen Women Artists Explore the Sexual Politics of Meat
“So many poets use non-human animals as metaphors, motivators, comforts. Linnea Ryshke takes a refreshingly different tack in her work: She sees other animals. And she doesn’t just see, she witnesses. She shares with us using language that is apt, deft, unflinching, breathtaking. But Ryshke’s empathy and craft aren’t ends in themselves; they lead us where we desperately need to go: a kinder world. Yes, art can do that. Yes, this art does that.”—Gretchen Primack, poet and author of Kind
“Kindling is a book that echoes in the reader long after closing the book. The images and poetry of Linnea Ryshke lead us to not only reckon with the violence perpetuated against animals, but to witness their resistance and agency. Gentle yet piercing, Kindling achieves what so much of our culture fails in: seeing animal others without possessing them. What emerges from that view is a silent yet powerful demand to, in Ryshke’s words, ‘know them as kin, not kindling.'”—Terike Haapoja, artist
“Kindling is unlike any work I have read. It is a book for the senses— visceral—and meant to be breathed in, if you are brave. It reveals Linnea Ryshke as scholar-empath-artist-poet. She weaves together drawings, photographs and words, asking us to see, hear and understand oneness with all living beings. It is wild—delving into experiment and offering the reader an experience. To read Kindling is to take passage through gore and truth. We are asked to muster the courage to look, to digest the words, to see anew.”—Colleen Plumb, photographer with her most recent book, Thirty Times a Minute
“In her unique volume Kindling, artist, animal activist, and ethnographer Linnea Ryshke uses observational research to skillfully construct an empathetic space within which readers encounter animals who are essentially invisible in our culture: those raised for food. Ryshke was involved in the daily care of the animals up until their deaths. Through her poetry, she traces the path of her emotions, her attempts to make empathetic connections, and her own burn out and aversion as she exhausts her reservoirs of compassion navigating the inevitable path with these animals. Ryshke’s fearless willingness to turn toward death rather than away from it, her inclination to employ curiosity when confronted by ideologies so different from her own, and her attempts to establish a bridge of compassion with beings whose life experience she was powerless to change, all make this beautiful book a valuable companion for facing the challenges of our own provocative and demanding times. Blending art and ethnographic research, Kindling is an ideal addition to the animal studies, critical animal studies, art, literature, or ethics classroom.”—Julia Schlosser, lecturer in the Art department at California State University, Northridge and the curator for RememberingAnimals.art