This morning I pulled four books off of my self. Four books by two authors.
This morning, and most mornings, I can tell a story, but I am not a master of words. Both of these authors put together words in a way that is pure art. The word “wonder” comes to mind. I am in awe.
These are books to savor. They include poetry, short stories, and a gentle calling.
I met Jon Obermeyer at a reading in Fair Oaks, California last summer. I was taken by his words. Like I said before it is all about the words. Jon is also just a great guy; smart, friendly, great sense of humor.
I’ve featured two of his books today. He has many.
by Jon Obermeyer
The official description: The 70 new poems in “Wingspan” reflects poet Jon Obermeyer’s wide ranging interests and geographic wanderings. A native of Santa Barbara, CA, Jon has lived most of his adult life in North Carolina (with a short detour to west Florida). In this third collection of poetry, Jon explores his West Coast roots and his East Coast habitats, the delights of parenting, creative work and exploring the natural wold, and musings about turning 60. In a confident, original voice Jon reminds us what is important and what keeps us going, riding the thermals. “What defines Jon Obermeyer’s poetry is a trust of plain speech and sure-footed humility; a willingness to let circumstance wash over, but not wash away.” Terry L. Kennedy, author of New River Breakdown “Jon Obermeyer was a student of the brilliant Robert Watson and one thing he learned from Watson was to find his own voice…diction, lyricism, and meaning uniting to let us see what he sees, hear what he hears, feel what he feels.” Kelly Cherry, author of The Life and Death of Poetry: Poems (LSU Press) “Jon Obermeyer is one of those poets who goes right for the gut. His words are bright, penetrating, clean as a bone. In this collection, he talks about tectonic plates, English invaders, and red-eye gravy in a spiritual way….He listens. He listens closely. That’s his secret. I’ve never met anyone with a better ear to the ground. He’s not trying to solve anything.” John Miller, from the Foreword
Centripetal Force and Other Stories
by Jon Obermeyer
Official Description: David Sedaris wrote, “A good short story should take me out of myself and then stuff me back in, outsized, now, and uneasy with the fit.” Sixteen stories are included in Jon Obermeyer’s second collection of short fiction. Both cautionary and comic, these post-2008 financial meltdown tales feature characters who are caught off guard, in their personal lives and in financial status. A divorced man finds witnessing the aftermath of a horrific highway accident strangely purifying. A retired auto inspection mechanic finds himself kicked out of an art crawl open house, and it triggers flashback to an incident on a high school football field. A homeowner and father worries that the ex-con handyman fixing his termite-damaged subflooring might also be a suspect in a local murder. Two couples, one wealthy, the other struggling financially, vacation together in Italy, as one marriage disintegrates and the other relationship is strangely affirmed. A woman is forced to choose a way to assuage the hurt of an absent boyfriend over a holiday weekend, possibly reuniting with a former finance. An unemployed poet decides to open a retail store devoted solely to one book, his 400-page opus about the working man. The author in his preface writes: “For two years in the early part of this century, I wrote the annual circus program for the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus. I ventured each December to Ringling “Winter Quarters” at the Florida State Fairgrounds in Tampa, and spent three weeks interviewing the performers and watching the new acts in rehearsal. “To make the circus interesting for the 12-year-old boys who were the target audience for the book, we planned a series of graphics alongside the text. These visual, small nuggets based on the science behind the circus, comprised what my editor John Miller called our “Dorling-Kindersley” approach. “That’s when I first learned the difference between Centripetal Force (center seeking) and Centrifugal Force (center fleeing). The Ringling equestrian act, circa 2002, worked on the defying the principle of Centrifugal Force, keeping the horses contained the small ring as they spun around it at fast speed. This act was known as “Little and Big,” because horses and small dogs were involved. “So, what keeps us from flying off the surface of our spinning planet into Deep Space? It’s gravity mostly, but I might argue there’s a bit of centripetal force at work, a subtler form of grounding. What keeps us from flying off the proverbial handle? What distinguishes that line between sane and in-sane? “Fiction, like poetry, keeps us from becoming scatterlings. It’s my job as a kind of Ringmaster, the professional artist, to salvage these little events that might have big import when laid out in a narrative arc; Little and Big. I’m going to take the tiny things that have happened to me, or something I’ve heard about from others or in a public forum, and whip them into an enjoyable froth, with some dialogue and description.”
You are loved. You are frightfully wondrous. Those are the words you will read or hear when the name Ra Avis comes up.
I’ve known Ra through blogging since 2012. I came across her words and her beautiful heart. Since then I’ve met other wonderful bloggers through her. I’ve also shared her work and message.
Ra is a dinosaur with a dinosaur heart. She is also a woman with a great capacity for life, joy, resilience, humor, words, and all things good.
Prison Poetry by Ra Avis
This book is both brutal and beautiful. Verse.
From the back of the book: The stories told here don’t always fall sinn-side up. They are the scrambled and fried edges of prison life. They are the illusion of dignity, the inconsistency of justice, and the fluidity (and fluids of the human condition. These are the true stories from my 438 days of incarceration.
by Ra Avis
This is a book that will inspire you and make you smile. Trivia: I have my own dinosaur heart necklace that I wear when I give docent tours at the art museum.
Official description: This book is a gentle call to happiness in a time of healing, and a reminder that — wherever you are, whoever you are– you are loved.
I’ll see you next Monday for more reading suggestions. Since school has started in most locations, and September is here, I will be changing the name to Juliette’s Reading or something along those lines.
Happy Reading. And feel free to share your own reading suggestions.
~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman