Saturn Returns by Ashley E Walters

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I wrote this on a scrap of paper while eating an apple:
If I collect up all the images and thoughts and fears from my everyday life and mind and put it all together, will it tell me something? Will it give me a sign? I would like to pour my heart into the embodiment of the Paris, Texas monologue, but instead of separated lovers, it’s me trying to poeticize the detritus in my brain and I can’t quite see who I am talking to.

Google searches are poems. Spam emails are poems. Being lost is a poem. Everything reflects some part of me back to myself. It’s all kind of embarrassing.

The images and texts in Saturn Returns chronicle a strange time when Saturn re-entered the place it was at my birth, a difficult period of a few years that most astrologers believe to be the hallmark of adulthood. This doorway also acted as a mirror, one that reflected my utter confusion, moments of scrying at divinity, a war with my body. Filled with yearning and uncertainty, images from everyday are stacked and arranged to approximate a poem. From this arrangement comes another poem. They reflect back at each other–trying to understand.

The fourth volume in the BRUISER Zines series, Saturn Returns is a mixed-media collage of phone screenshots, photos, found images, and poetry by the Los Angeles-based artist and writer Ashley E Walters. Printed and assembled in Baltimore, this limited edition zine is an intimate, bittersweet meditation on the small moments and questions that accumulate over the course of existing in a mundane-yet-complex world.

POV: you’re spending one golden afternoon, or maybe one manic morning or one cool neon night in Ashley E. Walters eyeballs seeing what she’s seeing, scrolling what she’s scrolling.

POV: you just picked up Saturn Returns. This deft collection of poem-image-poems gives you the uncanny and sublime sensation of stepping into Walters’ skin and holding in your/her hand your/her cellphone and generating questionable google search histories via stream-of-consciousness-intrusive-thought search sprees. The barrier between image and poem dissolves as does the boundary between worlds outside and inside the phone while you hold it up to take a photo and receive a text containing a screenshot of a camera roll. Real ones will know the phone world is the real world, too. Real ones will step out of Walters’ skin with a new-found appreciation for the poetry easily discovered on daily walks and in spam email folders. Needless to say: Ashley E. Walters is a Real One.

Side note: I really want that hat. You’ll know which one I mean.

 — Anna K. Crooks, author of girl poems

It’s hour 5 of a 7 hour road trip. You look out the passenger side window. The land is flat and your eyes are starting to hurt. Ashley E Walters is driving. If you remember being 29, you’re starting to cry. Frenetic and unafraid, Saturn Returns is overwhelming in its ability to rescue the sublime from the mundane. Presented in two parts, two wholes, one hand steals images and the other holds open tabs. This work is not done lightly, but wryly, reveling in the absurdities that knock a body from (too much) despair. A masterful work.

 — Devlin Grimm

Saturn Returns presents the fluidity of mind-wandering and universality of strangeness one experiences when conducting deep introspection during a pivotal time period. Walters invites us into intimate scenes from her everyday life, experimentally layered, in image and text. We relish recent queries and glance through the rear window of her car. Walters gives space to the small moments that amount to monumental symbols of love, advice, longing, humility, recognition, and poignant absurdity. The presence of light gleams, is in transit, and is fleeting as Walters’ photographs and poems act as a mirror and at times a shadow of the real body.

 — Ellen Phillips

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