Brittany Balyeat

photo: Everett B. Wilson 1961

Review of Always/Far, by Brittany Balyeat in Rufous City Review (February 2011):

David Francis’ Always/Far is a shadowed adventure into the realm of love. The opening piece “Always” is a lover’s plea to never be forgotten. The closing piece “Far” presents a romantic ideal of what grieving lovers have to look forward to. In between these two works are a few songs of joy, some heartache, and a bit of loss. But overall Always/Far lives in the shade of grief. Grief that a loved one is gone. Grief over missed opportunities. Grief over broken promises. Grief over never having the opportunity to gain redemption.

What makes this piece so special is the handcrafted cover and the artwork displayed inside. The publishing company, along with Francis, hand-cut each cover and decorated them with stamps of Francis’ self-portrait arranged in such a way that no two copies are the same. Some of the pieces are printed over copies of the original handwritten works. The artwork inside is a collage of self-portraits and vague hand drawings that lend character to each piece.

The head of Oilcan Press, Aaron Howard, had seen Francis perform his songs and showed interest in putting out a chapbook of his pieces. Howard, along with others’ requests for a hard copy of Francis’ lyrics, led to the publishing of this truly unique book.

Overall, pain hangs in each piece. Lines like “Already feeling sad and you’re not quite gone/ I’m looking at a room that has lost someone” from “Already (Sleepover)” create a home for lost lovers and make them feel safe and comforted in between pages of anguish.