Autumn 2020 Newsletter

Dear Friends,

With summer now behind us, I hope this greeting finds you in a place of warmth and comfort. As November is the month of my birth, I thought it a good time to write the autumn newsletter. I don’t generally make a big deal out of birthdays, but I do take it as a time to reflect. This has been a CRAZY year for all of us, in so many ways; the most obvious being the virus that has changed just about every aspect of life as we knew it. The current world-wide toll is nearly 1,300,000 human beings who have died- humans who each had their own life story, desires and emotions. And for each one of them, there are countless family members and friends who loved them, and who are now grieving that loss. It’s hard to wrap my mind around the magnitude of that collective heartbreak, and it makes me keenly aware of all I have to be grateful for.

For the most part, I have tried to take advantage of this Great Pause to work on the things I find most fulfilling: writing and music. Though I began working on the website in November of 2019, Blood’s Call was officially launched in April 2020. So far, it’s been such a rewarding experience. Hearing from those who have commented on my story has been very affirming, and I thank you for reaching out. It has also been eye opening, humbling, and inspiring to read and hear the personal stories of contributing writers and podcast guests. I’m touched by the grace and bravery of each story told.

My next step is big and scary. I am currently taking a break from my story of finding my father to work on other writing projects, and will soon begin submitting to contests and literary journals that pay. My ultimate goal is to earn a living 100% from my art, which is difficult to do in a culture that doesn’t value art as a legitimate profession, but not impossible. For those of you who have donated to Blood’s Call, or who have purchased my music, I hope you know how grateful I am. And even if you’re only able to support with words, I hear you and love you. You’re fighting the good fight.

This summer, for the first time, I submitted a piece to an unpaid writing contest and won. Though it was only a small, locally run contest, it was a validation that I could do something terrifying: submit my work to people who would judge it, and gave me the courage to continue. My current projects are an essay I’m working on about my grandmother’s death, and I finally began the novel I’ve been planning for years. I have no idea what it will turn into, but I’m already excited by the pathways that are opening in my psyche. I’m also working on a few new songs that will be available to Patreon supporters once they’re recorded, along with snippets of my writing in progress. Never fear though, I will return to the story of my father, and in the mean time, stay tuned for some great writing by contributing authors on Blood’s Call, as well as some great podcast interviews.

Sending my love to all, and wishing each of you good health and safety.

Sincerely,

J.R. Rivero Kinsey, a.k.a Rebeca

Review of Jesse Blake Rundle’s New Album, Radishes and Flowers

It’s not often I’m compelled to listen to a body of music more than once in a sitting, at least not outside the realm of my favorites. But that’s exactly what happened with the album “Radishes and Flowers” by Jesse Blake Rundle, released this month.

The album is described as a song cycle inspired by Wallace Stevens’s Harmonium; the book of poetry that was companion to Rundle during the years of his mother’s illness and untimely death.

To be clear, this is not a depressing album. It is beautiful, joyous even, but also with a depth that causes one to pause, and listen deeply.

My favorite song in the cycle, “Nuances”, from the poem “Nuances of a Theme by Williams”, begins… “It’s a strange courage you give me ancient star”.

Though stargazing has always been one of my greatest pleasures, I didn’t notice the words at first. It was the music that drew me in. The song is stunning. With quiet drum, sparse, ringing guitar notes, and a hint of woodwind, it evokes perfectly, the quiet magnificence of solitary awe. Rundle’s clear and unpretentious voice enters, reaches out, fades, with effortless precision, in perfect sync with the emotion of each word.

In contrast, the galloping rhythm of the song “Life is Motion”, with western style guitar and ringing vocals, is an unbridled and vivid summoning of joy.

On his album page, Rundle writes, “Over the years, the poems seeped into the way I think, the way I see.” This can be felt in the music. His vocals flow with the syllables and cadence of each song and the complex compositions never feel overdone or distracting. Everything is in service to the poems.

The final song on the album, “To the Roaring Wind”, is also the final poem in the book.

What syllable are you seeking,

Vocalissimus,

In the distances of sleep?

Speak it.

Rundle carries the poem’s plea with an unfaltering voice and music that feels reverent. It made me cry.

This album arose from a difficult reality. “It is hard to look death in the face,” Rundle says. It’s sad that such jewels are so often the product of intense grief, but also beautiful. And it’s exactly this kind of beauty the album brings forth. Bravo.

*The full album can be listened to HERE for free, but if you like it, please, please purchase it. Now, more than ever, it’s important to support those who devote their lives to creating the art we all consume every day! All proceeds are being donated to MusiCares in support of musical artists out of work due to Covid-19.