I expected (when I was my student’s age) that I would settle for nothing less than a life on the stage or screen. That creating characters and delivering speeches was the only way to make me come alive. I thought that it was all about the art.
That’s one reason I so enjoyed the brief collection of stories and poems collected in Spiral Bound by Minnesota Hip-Hop Icon Dessa. My wife adores Dessa and really all of Doomtree and it was through her that I found and fell for their whip smart lyrics and whip crack beats (yet another thing that I love about my wife). Spiral Bound isn’t the foundation for any album, but it’s still a great glimpse into the life of an artist as she muses on the stories and images that have made her career what it is.
There are intimate personal stories as she recounts being trapped in the hold of a creaky boat with her father, or hot footing her way around South America on the Hippy Highway, or just living with a little brother. Each of these mini-memoirs, these personal reveries, comfort and combine her life with the audience’s, hitting common experiences with deft word choices and beautiful imagery. Her other pieces (including poetry and poetic prose on removing your mind from yourself or trying to fall asleep) showcase other skills, encapsulating complexity and complicating simplicity.
At a slim 66 pages, the only complaint is that you wish she had included more, that you could hear her read the poem rather than seeing the art confined to black and white of a page when it could be sung, or rhymed, or shouted from a stage. Still, Dessa’s done a marvelous job of capturing the essence of her art, and taking the reader along for the ride. It’s a beautiful experience that leaves you eager for more.
To want more art, to want to live IN art, is an amazing feeling. And it’s a feeling I get, not just from the rush of acting or the pride of writing, but from the moment to moment thrills of teaching. I’ve said before that teaching is less a job and more of an art. I love the challenge of it, the creativity it allows/demands and the people I interact with throughout it.
(With that I hereby finish my half cannonball. I may try to include reviews of other books I read this year…assuming my negative reviews of George RR Martin and Veronica Roth haven’t yet rendered me persona non grata among my fellow cannonballers.)