Please join Synkroniciti in welcoming poet Robert L. Dean, Jr. We were so glad to meet him at our February Zoom gathering and pleased to have him submit poetry and bring along his wonderful collaborator, photographer Jason Baldinger. Curiosity features three of their introspective ekphrastic pairings, “Heaven from Here” and “Hinton, West Virginia;” “Subject to” and “Weirton, West Virginia;” and “Smile You Are” and “Bellevue, Ohio.” Dean’s incisive poetry digs into Baldinger’s Midwestern scenes, bringing out nuances and imagining possible scenarios. There’s humor and nostalgia and more than a little surrealistic absurdity. “Heaven from Here” chuffs rhythmically like the train in the town mural, “the drum-drum heartbeat of shako-plumed youth celebrating whatever it is we used to celebrate, lamp-post flags waving.” Asking us where we have been and which way we will turn, or did turn, Dean uses memory to make “now” more of a process and less of an instant. Time slows down…and coughs. In “Subject to,” a scene of urban industrial decay becomes a poke at the modern appetite for intrusive data–“We use Linotype, teletype, genotype, stereotype. And, for a nominal fee, we’ll archetype.” In the final pairing, “Smile You Are” uses a shop skeleton to contemplate existence and what comes next. “Godzillas of the afterlife, we lurch on, screeching like bad brakes towards the Promised Land Buffet.” You might not associate humor or existential pondering with the Midwest, where manufacturing has left behind all sorts of weird and arcane things, but these photos and poems will open your eyes and tickle your funny bone.
Experience Robert L. Dean’s delightfully snarky poetry in the upcoming “Curiosity” issue, now available for pre-order here: https://synkroniciti.com/the-magazine/purchase-individual-issues/. The issue drops on June 1st, online only.
Robert L. Dean, Jr. is the author of Pulp (Finishing Line Press, 2022); The Aerialist Will not be Performing: ekphrastic poems and short fictions to the art of Steven Schroeder (Turning Plow Press, 2020); and At the Lake with Heisenberg (Spartan Press, 2018). A Pushcart and Best of the Net nominee, his work has appeared in Mocking Heart Review; October Hill Magazine; Flint Hills Review; I-70 Review; Chiron Review; The Ekphrastic Review; Sheila-Na-Gig online; Shot Glass; Illya’s Honey; Red River Review; KYSO Flash; MacQueen’s Quinterly; Thorny Locust; River City Poetry; Suisun Valley Review; and Waco WordFest Anthology 2022.
Studying music composition with Dr. Walter Mays at Wichita State University before going on the road as a bass player, conductor, and arranger, Dean was a professional musician for 30 years. He played with Jesse Lopez, Bo Didley, Frank Sinatra Jr., Vic Damone, Jim Stafford, Kenny Rankin, B. W. Stevenson, and the Dallas Jazz Orchestra, also putting in a stint with the house band at the Fairmont Hotel Venetian Room in Dallas.
He worked 20 years for The Dallas Morning News. A member of The Writers Place, Dean lives in Augusta, Kansas, along with a universe of books, CDs, LPs, and a couple dozen hats.