Fifty years ago today, Bill Landon woke to his first birthday as a father. Today, on what would have been his 79th birthday, I offer two posts in honor of my Dad…A man who can never be summed up in a Blog. Nor can he be summed up in a color.
But for me, his color will always be deep blue: the blue of depth, of truth, and of infinity.
A blue truer, deeper and more infinite than the blue he had his VW van custom painted in the ’70s–but close.
To the end, when he wore a blue shirt, his glacial blue eyes would gleam as if a piece of sunlight was hiding behind them.
This summer I published my first volume of poetry, Blue Transparent Face.
Whereas the contents are poems dating from 1996 to 2015, the cover was an entirely new creation, representing the alchemical culmination of the time and experiences from which those poems are reportage. I was as pleased with the cover as with the poetry within. Of course it evokes the satisfaction of a vision realized, but, since I could not have done it alone, it represents the love imbued in the endeavor by each of its contributors, who gave so generously of their time and talent. So, while I am proud of this creation, it embodies for me a bigger beauty that defines and illuminates us all, celebrated not just in the book’s title but in its very existence.
I post this today, because my father was one of those contributors, and today is his 79th birthday (although he stopped counting in 2011). He lives on in his photos, one of which is featured in the book’s cover. That photo has been altered from the original by my dear friend Steve Finkelstein, who painstakingly realized my vision. And then his image was set in the cover by my gracious publishing pal, Brian Alexander. And none of these efforts would have happened without the inspiration of the evocative title phrase, which many may also recognize from a Neil Finn song, “Wherever You Are.”
The vision descended into my chamber of imagination nearly fully formed. Reflection on the roster of potential titles collected over years yielded nothing that felt current or alive. So I simply went quiet, opened and asked…hardly expecting same-day service. But it really wasn’t long before that phrase, and all that it invokes for me, answered, accompanied by my father’s image, which loomed a bit like a new crescent moon hanging magnified on the horizon, somehow infused with the sublime face of the Divine, in diaphanous, luminous blue.
So I count Love itself among the contributors, as well as the benefactors; for Love begets Love, and Beauty begets Beauty. And we give and receive these always. It is what we are made of.
As Steve and I worked on this image, many alternates–equally and uniquely stirring–emerged. When I glimpsed them all together on my screen, I would feel a bath of…something transcendent; it’s hard to articulate, but I felt so…blessed.
Below I display some of those alternate images, as well as my father’s original. I also include another striking piece. Only days after the book was published, I read at a poetry reading. The first person to order the book was a gentleman, now a friend, who heard me read. The cover image was strangely familiar to him. Once he beheld it, he sought out an item at home, which he says he’s had for years, which he guessed was now for me.
When he presented it to me, I was touched at first just by the gesture and the beauty of the piece itself. Then I realized the significance. Not only does the glaze pattern call up the cover image of the book, the corona of colors on it seem to also pick up the peacock feather theme featured deliberately on the back cover.
And the Blue Transparent Face smiled, from every corner of the universe.
(These images may be used only by permission.)