Quote #66: “Yes to dance beneath a diamond sky…” Bob Dylan


“Bob Dylan” illustration 2016 by jpbohannon

“Yes, to dance beneath the diamond sky
With one hand waving free
Silhouetted by the sea
Circled by the circus sands
With all memory and fate
Driven deep beneath the waves
Let me forget about today until tomorrow.”

Bob Dylan, 2016 Nobel Prize for Literature Winner
“Mr. Tambourine Man”


Book Review: Black Aperture by Matt Rasmussen

“Sponsored by the Academy of American Poets, the Walt Whitman
Award is given annually to the winner of an open competition
among American poets who have not yet published a book of poems.”

black aperture

Black Aperture by Matt Rasmussen

Each year the Academy of American Poets sends its members a copy of that year’s winning volume. This year the title was Black Aperture by Matt Rasmussen. And if good poetry is meant to rattle in your head, nestle there a while in the corners of your mind, and then come unbeckoned to the forefront of your consciousness, then Rasmussen’s poems pass the test and the Academy made an excellent choice.

Within the collection, there are poems about deer hunting and bird hunting: “when cleaning a grouse,/puncture the crop/to release the scent/of fresh clover.” (from “O”). There are poems that re-imagine the creation:

The animals gathered
and having cried enough

would never again.
God knew he had

asked too much. He threw himself

into the sun and burnt
into white ash. It fell

from the sky and covered
the mountains. The animal

who named everything
called it snow. (from “And God Said”)

And there are poems about poetry itself: “Through the mirror, it saw a house/of air falling inward. The poem heard/the poet calling and jumped.” (from “I am not a poem”)

But the overriding theme is the suicide of a brother.

There are three separate poems called “After Suicide” and one poem, “Reverse Suicide,” which takes the events in reverse to when both the speaker and his dead brother are once again raking and bagging leaves. In truth, the majority of poems take this momentous act as its subject. And those that don’t address it specifically are tinged with the shadow of it, a shadow that hovers over every poem.

Yet the poetry is not maudlin or morbid. It is, in fact, a source of liberation, as the speaker attempts to clarify through language both the act and his reactions, both his grief and his understanding of it, both his dead brother and his relationship with him.

Midway through the book, Ramussen places a poem called “Chekhov’s Gun.” Chekhov’s theory is that if a loaded gun appears in a play in Act 1, it must be fired by Act 5. Rasmussen begs to differ:

Nothing ever absolutely has to happen. The gun
doesn’t have to be fired. When our hero sits

on the edge of his bed contemplating the pistol
on his nightstand, you have to believe he might

not use it. … (from Chekhov’s Gun”)

It is a clever argument within the Black Aperture, because that gun–not only loaded but already fired–is present from the very beginning of the collection. The possibility of “not firing” that he posits in the Chekhov poem, is no longer a possibility. The speaker circles the once possible act of not-firing, while coming to grips with the already accomplished fact. That he does so with clarity, compassion, understanding and brilliance raises Matt Rasmussen’s Black Aperture from a mere elegy for a dead brother into something much more universal and accessible to us all.

Aventuras de Avril, Reader Appreciation Award, and some blogs to check out

For a long while, the country that was third or fourth in readership of my blog was Ecuador.  That was mainly because of a woman named April who writes a wonderful blog herself and whose comments on my own postings were always amusing, thoughtful  and enjoyable.

April is a remarkable woman.  About a year ago, she decided to change her life. Not something superficial like a new hair-style, a new tattoo (I don’t know if she has even one!) or a change in diet. April picked up and moved to Ecuador.  As she said “I filled up a backpack, bought a ticket to Ecuador and left, without speaking any Spanish, with no job lined up, and just a starting point and a general goal.”

She has been living there for nine months now and she has been recording her adventures in a delightful blog called AVENTURAS de AVRIL.  You should check it out. Her enthusiasm for her new world, her new language and the many new people that are in her life is uplifting, and her writing and photography are special.  I had read two pieces this week–one in the NYTimes and one in the preface to the Best American Short Stories of 2011–which advised one to pick up his or her things, move to a place where the language is unknown, and discover something special about one’s self.  April has successfully taken that to heart.  So be sure to check out her blog by clicking on the link above.

So why am I writing about April?  To THANK HER. She has recommended me for a Reader Appreciation Award–a recognition that she herself just won.  In the large scale of things, this is a very unassuming award, meaningful and known to only a few. But it is a simple recognition from someone out there who’s reading. And that is very, very much appreciated.  So THANK YOU very much April!  Keep writing and keep wringing everything you can out of life.

♦     ♦     ♦     ♦      ♦

The Rules:

1. Provide a link and thank the blogger who nominated you for this award.
2. Answer 10 questions.
3. Choose 10-12 blogs that you find a joy to read.
4. Provide links to these blogs and kindly let the recipients know that they have been chosen.
5. Include the award logo within your blog post.

The Questions:

Your favorite color?     I like grey in all its many shades. (This is not a literary reference. Hah!)
Your favorite animal?      Otters
Your favorite non-alcoholic drink?     Chocolate Milk
Facebook® or Twitter®?     Neither.
Your favorite pattern?   Very small checks.
Getting or giving presents?   I very much dislike receiving gifts. I love giving gifts when I am truly excited about what I am giving.
Your favorite number? 18
Your favorite day of the week?    Every day.  I see no differences in them.
Your favorite flower? Bird of Paradise.
What is your passion? To learn to write well.

The Blogs I Appreciate:

Two of these are the blogs of a personal friend and a niece. The rest are by people that I have connected with since I began writing my blog at the beginning of March and are part of a very neat community.  Some I read for advice, others I read for inspiration, and still others I read for the shear joy of it.  So, here they are in no particular order:

Sue Healy – An Irish born writer whose short stories and dramas have won numerous awards. Her blog addresses the day-ins and day-outs of the writing craft.

Diane Bones – The very humorous opinions of a very funny writer. Diane opines on everything from SPAM to National Elections, from Award Shows to urban violence.  A great and wonderful read.

me myself and ela –a Romanian woman living in London, her blog is filled with magnificent photographs, music videos, and her own musings.

O Lumi in Imagini –another Romanian blog, this one focusing on art and film. A bit avant garde but fun to look at.

Courtney Gillette— a young Brooklyn writer who is literate, interesting, funny and saavy.

The Coevas–I am not sure what this is or how I got here.  It’s from a middle-European writing/creative collective that is putting together a novel and the film to go with it all at once on the site. Pretty dramatic images and a beautiful site.

francescannotwrite–“so let these writers impress you instead” states the header of this blog. I think she’s being modest. Francess Antoinette is well travelled and posts her amazing photos and amusing thoughts on her blog.  It’s a very nice read.

Pretty Feet, Pop Toe–post after post, this is one of the funnier blogs I read. A snarky complaint about all the things that drive all of us mad, written well and with a unique sense of humor.

apk: an art diary–I have probably forwarded posts from this blog site more than any other. It is like a digital art gallery that posts extraordinary art work from artists (all unknown to me) from around the world. Truly wonderful.

The Saturday Morning Post–as the title says, it is a blog that delivers a post each and every Saturday. It discusses the writing life in all its aspects, from successes to rejection, from inspiration to business.  Well written, serious, and informative.

♦     ♦     ♦     ♦      ♦

So THANKS to all of you for reading my  blog.  I was seriously considering putting my blog to sleep–but I’ve developed a strange relationship with it. So maybe we’ll go on for a bit longer. Go check out some of the blogs listed above. I’m sure you’ll find them interesting.

And thank you to April for sending me this Reader Appreciation Award. Please be sure to check out her blog. She’s a fascinating person.