Tim ReisertThe ClearingIn a small bookstore in Flagstaff, Arizona, I picked up an old edition of Edgar LeeMasters’ Spoon River Anthology and read it cover to cover when my wife and I returnedto Tempe, where we lived several years ago. Though I read it on the back porch of ourhouse looking out to a grapefruit tree and an alley-way full of oleander, the volume tookme back to my upbringing in the Midwest and a semester of American literature featuringselections of Spoon River. I had at the timeRead More
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In a small bookstore in Flagstaff, Arizona, I picked up an old edition of Edgar Lee
Masters’ Spoon River Anthology and read it cover to cover when my wife and I returned
to Tempe, where we lived several years ago. Though I read it on the back porch of our
house looking out to a grapefruit tree and an alley-way full of oleander, the volume took
me back to my upbringing in the Midwest and a semester of American literature featuring
selections of Spoon River. I had at the time been familiar with Richard Buckner’s The
Hill, one of the best works in my opinion connected to Spoon River Anthology. Worth
noting as well is a Caedmon LP of recitations led by Julie Harris, a recording featuring
voices of Milwaukee residents lending their voices to the Spoon River epitaphs.
Much of my lyrical content of The Clearing begins with my readings, usually casual, of
Edgar Lee Masters’ Spoon River Anthology, mostly a curiosity of his turn of phrase.
During a recent summer, I rode by ten-speed bicycle the country roads near Reily, Ohio.
I had in hand a Holga camera and was struck by the horizon throughout this region of
southwestern Ohio. I compiled the images from this area and, after Rachel teaching me
how to develop film, printed five cyanotypes. I included lines to make a poem titled “The
The two instances – reading Masters’ poetry and photographing in Reilly -- have come
together in the album The Clearing. My method of recording is sparse—at home, with
what equipment I have or can borrow. When I listen back to what I have recorded, I try
for the essence of the song, even with tape warble or a guitar that’s tough to persuade to
stay in tune.
Cincinnati, Ohio, 2015