Central Park: Rhapsody and Oasis
by Eve J. Blohm
BookVenture Publishing

"Horse and carriages stand outside the park, waiting for passengers. The lone sparrow steals oats from a horse as everyone has to eat."

New York City, with its towering jungle of iron and glass buildings, has been the subject of countless books, paintings, and films. Yet most denizens and even visitors to the Big Apple would probably agree that its heart and soul is not found in the rush of Madison Square Garden, the glitz of Fifth Avenue, or the over-the-top spectacle of Broadway, but in that long rectangle of green space known as Central Park. It is here that the author chooses to observe the city's inhabitants, both flora and fauna, and then capture them for all time in words. Penned with a penchant for realism over gaudiness, her poetry and prose chronicle the ordinary magic of daily life in one of the most visited and beloved places in the city.

Blohm, winner of the National Association of Professional Women's 2013/2014 Professional Woman of the Year award in leadership literature and art, has an artist's eye for detail, a trait that comes across clearly in her writing. She is also the champion of the commonplace, finding beauty in the average rather than the exceptional. In keeping with this, her subjects seem to rarely be caught in the act of doing something momentous or struggling with some crippling inner turmoil. Instead, she may write a poem featuring a bare-chested man sitting on a bench playing a loud radio or sunbathers sitting on the grass listening to bird songs and the music of the carousel. Other pieces star squirrels or birds in their constant quest for food, carriage horses trotting by with their passengers, or the plight of trees and flowers in the changing weather and seasons. In some ways, Blohm's visions are reminiscent of what one would see if viewing a location recorded by a webcam—slices of unscripted life that pass in and out of view.

This is not to say that the author's work lacks emotion. Rather, people and situations the reader is supposed to care about are subtly touched upon, revealed by a spare comment or brief description that doesn't overpower but still manages to engage the heart. For example, Blohm may describe a person she sees feeding the squirrels as a "lonely old man." An even better illustration of this technique is found in the last stanza of "Twigs and Brown Leaves":

An old woman stands
Holding a cup, unsure
Of her new role in an
Ever-increasing army
Of the new homeless

Another intriguing aspect of Blohm's book is the sense that we have been invited to see a collection under construction. Many writers have been known to create different versions of their work in order to determine which wording or format is the most effective in getting their point across. Ernest Hemingway was reputed to sometimes write a single sentence fourteen different ways before deciding on the one he preferred. Tennessee Williams supposedly took this concept even further by first exploring a theme in a poem, fleshing it out further in a short story, and finally transforming his original idea into a novel. It has even been said he could reverse the process. In Blohm's case, she has sometimes included different versions of the same poem or prose piece in her collection. This results in her work coming across a bit like an artist's notebook filled with a progression of character sketches. It fosters a sense of intimacy with the work, a feeling of being privy to the stages of its creation. The author doesn't attempt to tell the whole story of New York City; it focuses instead on a location where its citizens are at their most unguarded, at least emotionally. As such, it offers a valuable, insider's view of where its people go to play and unwind.

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