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Mark Belair’s collection of poetry, Walk With Me (Parallel Press 2012), is welcoming, intimate, companionable, observational. The collection, grouped into eight sections with headings like “Walk with me – into the country of the past” and “Walk with me – in a New York minute” provides a framework that groups the poems in broad categories—the past, love, troubles, etc.—which are approached, within the group, from various angles. The diverse groupings examine the many walks we take together, through different times and places.
The poetic voice is relaxed, plainspoken, and conversational. The reader finds, underlying the collection’s variety, a common theme: how things—and how we—change; change in the course of crises, but also change in the course of our ordinary lives. The poems try to tease out our hidden moments of inner shift, either in perception or emotion. Walk With Me is rife with themes connected with change: gains and losses; memory and the pull of the past; love and transcendence; growth and perception; birth and death.
Mark Belair is a drummer and percussionist based in New York City. A graduate of the New England Conservatory of Music, he has recorded with jazz greats Bill Evans and Joe Lovano and performed with the New York Philharmonic and the Boston Symphony Orchestra. He was the drummer in the original off-Broadway production of Little Shop of Horrors and the percussionist in the Broadway production of Les Miserables.
His poems have appeared in numerous journals, including Atlanta Review, Fulcrum, Harvard Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, Poet Lore, The South Carolina Review, The Texas Review and The Sun. He has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize, and his diary of the week of 9/11 appeared, during that crisis, in The Guardian. For further information, visit www.markbelair.com.
Two reviews of Walk With Me appeared in Verse Wisconsin Issue 109 (2012):
The proud oak tree’s gaunt
center stands stripped of leaves
while its outer fringes retain a rounded rim
of yellow glory that shakes in the autumn wind
like a flamenco dancer, devastated by love, arms raised
to snap her castanets, her billowy blouse sleeves