Reviewed by D.W. Jefferson
This is a slender volume of only 56 pages, but, unlike a novel of similar length, it should not be a quick read. These essays deserve re-reading and study. Ultimately this book is about the compulsion to write or engage in other artistic endeavor, the need to give meaning to life by expressing oneself.
For that which one cannot help but do becomes that which one must do.
(from “Clean Pilgrim,” p. 7)
Author Rob Davidson teaches creative writing. Spectators teaches writing and creative arts by example. Aspiring writers should read and re-read this collection of essays as they write their own essays, poems and chapters. Davidson’s essays are free verse poems, focusing on meaning rather than meter and rhyme, or portraits executed in words instead of paints. Many of the essays were inspired by the works of visual artists, and a number were exhibited together with photographs by Tom Patton at the Morris Graves Museum of Art in Eureka, California.
The appropriate use of this book is as a resource for writers and other artists. In attempting to describe it further, I find myself re-reading the essays and quoting from them.
“The world without words is the world unmade; it is not life that gives shape to art, but art that gives shape to life.”
(from “Walter: Six Meditations” p. 5; “Fog and Woodsmoke,” p. 49)
You don’t need me to quote passages from the book to you, get your own copy and read and re-read it often! Let it inspire you to exercise your own creativity.
D.W. Jefferson was a Peace Corps agriculture volunteer in El Salvador (1974-6) and Costa Rica (1976-77). A blog about his Peace Corps years is at dwjefferson.blogspot.com. He is currently retired from a career in computer software engineering.