Brian Felsen was president of CD Baby, Book Baby and Host Baby. At a writer’s conference in San Francisco, he participated in a late night poetry reading for Book Baby, and read some of his own poems. The writers hearing them urged him to publish, and the eventual result was Female Figure (Possibly Venus).
It is a small volume, comprised of 22 poems. They address love, romance and relationships, but if there is an overarching theme, it is that these poems are about language. And art. Playing with language. Sometimes playful language and images. Using art works as reference points. And the art of language.
In my dream
Garcia Marquez showed
as a moonlit cat,
a gift without saying
my full-flowered will. Were it otherwise
a dog would have presented:
“Hey, boy, I love you…
Now go ‘way now.”
I’m well primed and
equipped to glean
as a scent,
Tomorrow evening in dream research
at long last a beckoned lion
as Dali lets the spoon
brush in hand.
The key word is in the very first line – “dream.” Felsen is describing a dream that begins with the late Colombian writer and Nobel Prize winner Gabriel Garcia Marquez described as a moonlit cat, perhaps a reference to a short story he wrote about a dream and a cat – “Eva is Inside Her Cat.” The reference to the surrealist painter Salvador Dali at the end is likely to the painter’s homemade alarm clock he used for naps – placing a bowl on his lap and holding a spoon, so that as soon as he nodded off, the spoon would hit the bowl. Both references have to do with dreams and sleeping, but there’s more going on. It’s as if Felson is combining the magic realism of Garcia Marquez with the surrealism of Dali. The next dream won’t be about a moonlit cat but instead a purring lion, one that is beckoned.
We end up with a poem that’s about art, and perhaps art with a capital “A.” And Selene – the Greek goddess of the moon who drove her chariot across the evening sky – frames the poem and underscores the “dream” theme.
Not all of the poems are this complex, but they do share literary and artistic connections and a use of language that is intriguing and arresting. Female Figure (Possibly Venus) is a fascinating collection, exploring the artistic imagination.
Felsen is currently president of AdRev, the largest YouTube administration service. And I hope he keeps writing poetry.
Felsen answers five questions on writing and five questions on publishing in an interview with Jane Friedman.
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