Joan Baez’s "AM I PRETTY WHEN I FLY? An Album of Upside Down Drawings" to be published by Godine on April 4

Article Contributed by Sacks and Company | Published on Thursday, January 19, 2023

Anew collection of drawings by legendary singer and activist for social justice Joan Baez, AM I PRETTY WHEN I FLY? An Album of Upside Down Drawings, will be published by Godine on April 4 (pre-order).

Since retiring from active performing in 2019, Baez has focused her formidable talents on painting and drawing. This new collection shows another side of Baez: lovingly loose and charming sketches on reoccurring themes such as politics, relationships, women, animals and family. Each section, organized thematically, includes an introductory piece by the artist. Baez approaches her line drawings as exercises in freedom: she begins drawing upside down—often using her non-dominant hand—without any preconceived notion of where the lines might lead her.

Already receiving advance acclaim, Kirkus praises in a recent starred review, “The pages come alive, taking readers on a pictorial trip through Baez’s life…by gracefully walking a fine line between blunt-force honesty and flights of fancy, the book is satisfying, enjoyable, and rewarding…fans and newcomers alike will appreciate this intimate look into Baez’s unique artistry.”

In celebration of the publication, select book events and signings will be held this spring including April 6 at San Francisco’s City Lights Books (in conversation with Paul Liberatore), April 8 at Nashville’s Parnassus Books at Oz Arts Nashville (in conversation with Emmylou Harris) and April 10 at New York’s The Strand (in conversation with Michael Moore).


“A book exploding with spontaneity and humor, and a grand tour through the mind of one of the great artists of the twentieth century.”—Steve Martin

“Am I Pretty When I Fly? shows me a side of Joan Baez I could not have imagined. It is entertaining, moving, ridiculously funny, insightful, and mysterious.”—Lana Del Rey
“Joan Baez’s book of upside down drawings is moving, subversive, and heartbreaking. Childlike but not childish, full of wonder as well as despair. I loved it. Just like life. Thank you, Joan.”—Bette Midler

“Joan Baez is much more than a cultural icon and spiritual/creative godmother to multiple generations of people on this planet. She has repeatedly put herself on the line for peace and justice and for the downtrodden who have nowhere to go. And then there’s that voice—stunning, earth-shattering, loving, reaching in and piercing one’s soul to help us hang on for dear life. And now her artwork and drawings, along with her pointed wit, reach into us again. We know we live in an upside down world, but the human eye, in its every waking moment, is actually taking an upside down picture and turning it right side up on the way to the brain. This book insists we see the world the way it really is. I’ve never seen such a work as this. Wow. Just wow.”—Michael Moore

“These drawings elicit a stunning depth of feeling as they spin off from humor and romp through tenderness, cynicism, anger, heartbreak and—cloaked in silliness—a terrifying peek at current events. She has put down the guitar and reached for a pen and paper without missing a beat.” —Lily Tomlin and Jane Wagner