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Poetry Friday: The Noir Edition

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Jesse Sensibar
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Flagstaff-based poet and tow truck driver Jesse Sensibar has a new book of poetry out. It’s an updated edition of his previously released 2018 collection, Blood in the Asphalt: Prayers from the Highway. The Noir Edition has new essays, poems and photographs. Sensibar is fascinated with roadside shrines, which he sees a lot of while he’s out working on Arizona roadways. He often stops at the sites to write. In this week’s installment of Poetry Friday, Jesse Sensibar talks about the difficulties of being a poet in the world right now, and he reads from his new collection of work.

JS: My name is Jesse Sensibar. I’m a sometimes poet and sometimes wrecker driver working out of Flagstaff, Arizona.

In these days of COVID, I really don’t know how else to reach you except like this. There are no poetry readings, no open book stores. It’s tough.

So, anyway…welcome to the Noir Edition of Blood in the Asphalt: Prayers from the Highway.

Life moves at breakneck speed, like a freight car on the singing rails carrying the legend of Bozo Texino. Or an old Butterfly Hood Kenworth wrecker highballing and rolling heavy with souls on that black ribbon of life and death we call the highway, past mile marker signs and the roadside shrines to the lost. It’s these things I document because they don’t last, just like us, beauty fading into loss like the dust in the ink of the RIP’s behind the names at the back of this book.

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Credit Tolsun Publishing
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So here I’ve tried to document a little more of that, the love and the loss, the vengeance and forgiveness. The words and talismans we hold close as our breaking hearts run out and run dry, that we are left with is the blood on the asphalt. Remember us every time you pass a dusty fading shrine on the side of the highway or the image of Bozo Texino grease penciled on a rusted railcar. We are all only dust and legend. I’ve tried to save just a little of that. Enjoy. 

(Music: Bass Walker)

Poetry Friday is produced by KNAU's Gillian Ferris. If you have an idea for a segment, drop her an email at Gillian.Ferris@nau.edu. 

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Gillian came to KNAU in 2001 as a freelance reporter. Her first story won an Arizona Associated Press Award. Since then, Gillian has won more than a dozen Edward R. Murrow Awards for feature reporting, writing, editing and documentary work. She served as KNAU’s local Morning Edition anchor for many years before becoming News Director and Managing editor in 2013. When she’s not working, Gillian likes to spend time in the natural world with her dog, Gertie. She is an avid hiker, skier, swimmer, and reader.