Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Jeremiah, Ohio

Enjoyed hearing the poet Adam Sol read excerpts from the book and also enjoyed hearing responses of others in the audience as they reacted to the work. Listening to the poet read inspired me to revisit the static words on the page.

A novel in poetry form. A road story. Two guys on a road trip. One definitely crazy. Or is that holy? Or holy-insane?

In the Old Testament the Book of Jeremiah is the story of a prophet's Lamentations. Warning against idolatry and predicting destruction, he goes unheeded. Taunted and put into jail, Jeremiah witnesses the "destruction of everything he knew, the exile of the Jewish elite to Babylonia and the fleeing of the remainder to Egypt."

The poet resurrects Jeremiah to present day and transplants him into the American heartland. He and his skeptic disciple, Bruce, travel together to the Ground Zero site of the World Trade Centre destruction. Jeremiah arriving too late to save the sinners. Also ending up in jail, deserted by his followers.

Echoes of Midnight Cowboy: "Jeremiah's preachings on the bus/ weren't loud enough to cause any disturbance / but just after we hit the Turnpike/ he started to shiver and /vomit on his shirt."

Not an easy read. Bruce ends up more than skeptical - he calls 911 to say "that my old friend has lost his mind/ and I'm worried," severing their relationship and putting Jeremiah into more official custody. Is he protecting his friend or silencing Lamentations?

The story is as much about Bruce as it is Jeremiah. Bruce as Everyman. Is he changed by the journey? Are we?

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