Michael Andrews sees the secret wounds of pain and pleasure in Latin America. His photos are a trail of false gaieties....It is forever open, like a street mural in Toluca where a passing man becomes a part of the unmovable wall — or is it the mural that becomes a part of the pedestrian, is carried away by him and becomes a moveable icon, fluid, a river of colors in search, again, for its hole, its sewer, its navel? In this great photograph taken in Toluca, Michael Andrews permits us to imagine Ucello's battles as they overflow the space of the mural and spill over into the Umbrian countryside. A moment frozen in time. A moment, also, liberated from time.
Michael Andrews rides south but like Columbus sailing West he is meeting East. The Great Khan is waiting for us but we do not see him. He is a sleepy soldier with a dog under a blood tree in Nam or Nic; he is a boy waiting on a pink and blue curb in the Sierra Madre; he is a candy-apple girl in the thief's market of Lima la Horrible, the city Melville cried over. The camera moves. It follows an urgent trail, from North to South, from Far to Deep, from Nothing to All. The camera describes an epic search for the future, the deed, the glory, the violence of the human hero who first acts by traveling, by traveling decides to scratch his nails on the blind wall of destiny
Michael Andrews brings with him the biting lyricism of the true poets of California.
...it (RiverRun) is one of the most magnificent books I have ever seen. The photographs are spectacular and the whole mood of the piece captures the beauty of the Southwest as I have come to know it.
I've read and re-read probably half of the poems. Every one of them strikes a chord somewhere in my experience. Your book (Riding South) gives me the pleasure of turning into the deep truth in each poem, each picture.
...he has managed to enter through an unused door, to a point which is cool enough to allow the image to reveal itself to us in a way which implies and foretells things beyond the physical limits of the photograph.
Don Owens, PICTURE
Poems and pictures can stand alone, but in this show they enhance each other. Andrews captures oppressive heat, lethargy and squalor in village streets and doorways. He also finds intoxicating beauty in simple walls and markets. This is the sort of work that gets under the skin because it presents wrenching conflicts of poverty rendered gorgeous and of old civilizations traumatized by inevitable change. Some pictures are loaded with social commentary. Others — some of the best — are simply knowing compositions of, say, a batch of plastic brooms or pink crates on a truck. A photo of a man and a dog under a flame-red tree achieves a haunting spiritual presence as it tunnels into a channel of light leading down a road to a village.
Suzanne Muchnic, L.A. TIMES
There is a painting by Cezanne that shows a man who is at once craftsman and artist. The subject is completely and reverently absorbed in his work. He is at one with a precise and justifiable universe. Ego is submerged. His art and his life are rational, yet the colors and intelligence transcend reason. It is rare to find such a happy creature. Michael Andrews is one such creature. He is a maker of books, a photographer, a poet and a bit of a philosopher.
Ben Pleasants, BOOKS WEST
Andrews will make you angry. He'll make you laugh. He'll make you cry. But most of all, he'll make you think.
Michael S. Hamer, SOUTH BAY REVIEW
...the things he photographs tend to be either old or old fashioned: penny candies, a fire hydrant, marbles, Christmas tree ornaments, yo-yos. His images are for the most part tight, carefully composed, symetrical compositions, though he occasionally angles or crops his pictures in such a way as to make them read as abstractions.
Kristine McKenna, L.A. TIMES
...the stone picture at Machu Picchu implies much more than is stated. Andrews deals with things in this picture which words could never express. He takes us on a spiritual trip through time and allows the image to reveal itself through him. Andrews' photograph. Andrews' identity. Andrews' art.
Don Owens, PHOTOSHOW
If it unique vision that defines superior art, then Michael Andrews is a master artist in at least three areas: poetry, photography, and the mating of the two. His photographer's eyes lend his poetry an incredible visual presence while his poetic vision lends his pictures a compelling voice. By using the two mediums in concert, Andrews creates an experience rarely equaled on paper.
Andrews perfects a kind of macabre tongue-in-cheek... In Andrews' work there is such an urgency to savor life that even moments of depression prove transitory. His use of ideas is fresh and teeming with originality, and the language is so light and melodic that one never feels overburdened. The entire book is pleasantly stimulating.
Paul L. Meadows, HALF TONE JUBILEE, Fall 1990
...they represent life without the rose-tinted glasses so many of us wear. These are readily understandable poems, full of provocative language and “appeals to the senses,” but few if any deep, dark metaphors you will not comprehend. Andrews “tells it as it is.”
Mildred K. Henderson, HOB-NOB REVIEWS, #53
...is as impressive a book of poetry and photographs as I've ever read. Michael Andrews is so multi-talented, unusual, compassionate and articulate a human being as to overwhelm any jaded reader of lesser books of this genre. His poetry is always accessible, focused, narrative and moving.
Andrews comes by his knowledge of the things and people of his world the hard way — by direct and often painful experience.
Given the range of his experience in this world, one would have to think that if he had any words or other artistic means to describe his reactions, thoughts, feeling and observations, he could give us insights and ideas we could never accumulate on our own in six lifetimes. And that is exactly what his book does.
Nothing about Andrews is pretentious. He knows so much and yet he never preaches. His eye with words and camera is so exceptional as to leave this reader with the feeling on reading, pondering and slowly savoring this book of “just right.”
Laurel Speer, SMALL PRESS REVIEW, October 1990
Michael Andrews...strips and flashes with each revelatory scratch of pen, each camera frame on a spool of emulsion. And I admire the sheen of expertise in both media. The author composes in tight, disciplined form, lines that roll and burn into your consciousness. Not a word is minced nor a low blow thrown. ...do not expect to pour over these poems without consequence.
Bayla Winters, POTATO EYES, no.4
Books of poems are not meant to be read from cover to cover in one sitting, especially one of this size. I took this one to bed with me, thinking I would read until it put me to sleep, but I found myself at the end, at one o'clock in the morning, ready to read more. ...the kind of pictures, that, after reading the poem, you can stare at for hours and enter with your own memory.
Beverly Voldseth, RAG MAG, Vol.8
It reads like a nonlinear novel, fully integrating its familiar and alien territories. ...he is skillful with language and imagery. Andrews can make your heart ache with little sentimentality, and he has a nice, self-deprecating sense of humor. This book isn't always — or even often — happy, but it's alive and filled with precious detail. Michael Andrews is doubly fortunate: He has lived much and noticed plenty.
Mary Herczog, READER, 29 June 1990
...someone living a considered life, the life of a poet. He's a genuine local guy, born in Inglewood and made cynical by a life he could neither live in an ordinary way or ignore. He is a poet/artist on the William Blake model, a man who prints his own words on his own press.
John Bogert, DAILY BREEZE, 25 June 1990
...simply gut-wrenching. FACTSHEET FIVE #36
Michael's style of writing is mostly narrative free verse...easy to read, as they written in pain street language...marvelous descriptions of his “journeys” or just while taking it easy “at home” in Los Angeles.
Rosalie Avara, SE LA VIE WRITER'S JOURNAL, May 1990
Very rarely do I encounter a book I admire for its symbolic as for its literal value. It is a book I would recommend highly for its literal content. ...by its very existence this book, both the poems themselves and the autobiographical subtext that runs throughout these pages as introductions to the various sections, makes a statement, for this work seems to me both a highly personal document, presented with honesty and more than a little bitterness (but without pretense and self-glorification), and a revealing glimpse at an American poet's life and expectations in the late twentieth century. ...this book speaks as few others I've encountered about what it's like to devote oneself to poetry: to write, edit and publish, to live and think as an independent agent set within a society with mass values and tastes. There is tragedy and joy in this book.
Greg Boyd, ASYLUM, Vol.6 #1
...in the Jack Kerouac vein of rebellion...
Henry Berry, THE SMALL PRESS BOOK REVIEW, 15 June 1990
...a testament to the kinship between the found poem and photography. ...playfulness that resonates even through the darkest subject matter. It's an irreverence that sparkles, that dazzles like the color of his...prints, that ignites. Like that other Angeleno, Raymond Chandler, he can hit on metaphors that hit back. But the heart of this play is in the vision of life as a journey where the beauty and joy are poignant because the pain and suffering are real. ...Andrews has thrown himself without buffers into the path of things. Byronic is the irresistible adjective for Andrews and his taking risks for meaning. ...Andrews throws himself hurtling into the world, into foreign sceneries, into the brush with beauty and death.
...the small “gnomic” poems, for all their intense perceptions, seem to constrict him, just as Byron's lyrics never measure up to the man. This larger promise is realized in the big Byronic travel poems. In these, Andrews is there.
Andrews never takes liberties with the landscape. Not with the consuming eye of the tourist in search of souvenirs, but with the recording eye of the survivor in search of the kind of information that will keep him alive (both physically and metaphysically).
...these poems promote and angelic xenophilia. ...it is what he encounters along the way —the angelic negatives caught on film and poetic video —that made him who and what he is: a lover of strange peoples and places “and the map is me.”
Richard Collins, NEW DELTA REVIEW, LSU
Michael Andrews is at his best as a Vietnam War poet, but he isn't just a Vietnam War poet. Because Andrews hasn't played the academic recognition game, he's unlikely to ever draw the attention he should. Nonetheless he has established his credentials as one of the best and most original of the many Los Angeles poets.
Merritt Clifton, SAMISDAT Vol.56, #2
Rarely does a combination of media work so well. The images are concrete, and the poems contain the power, the still points and the balance of mind, heart and sense so necessary to great poetry. We sense something far greater than that massive explosion of workshop exercises. This is a poet that has fought to create his own, unique voice, and fought to communicate things that matter.
THIRTEEN POETRY MAGAZINE, Vol.IX, #1