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Nicholas Birns teaches modern and contemporary literature at the Center for Applied Liberal Arts, School of Professional Studies, New York University. His articles have appeared in Exemplaria, Angelaki, Victorian Studies, and MLQ. His latest book is The Hyperlocal in Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century Literary Space (Lexington, 2019).He teaches a Bob Dylan course regularly and contributed to Dylan At 80, coedited by Constantine Sandis and Gary Browning.

Mark DeStephano is Chairman and Professor of the Department of Modern and Classical Languages and Literatures, and Director and Professor of the Asian Studies Program at Saint Peter’s University in Jersey City, New Jersey, U.S.A.  He earned his Bachelor’s degree in Spanish and Philosophy from Fordham University, four Master’s degrees in Theology from Regis College of the University of Toronto, and his Master’s and doctoral degrees in Romance Languages and Literatures from Harvard University.  His research focuses on medieval European literatures and on issues of race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and identity in Asian and Latino cultures.

Christine Hand Jones is an Assistant Professor of English at Dallas Baptist University, where she teaches Writing, Literature, and Songwriting courses. She is interested in the intersections of music and literature, and her recent work has focused on Bob Dylan, The Band, and Paul Simon. She has a PhD in literary studies from the University of Texas at Dallas, which she earned largely by writing about the music and lyrics of Bob Dylan. When she’s not in the classroom, she performs her original soulful folk-rock music around the Dallas/Fort Worth area. Her most recent album, The Book of the World, features sweet, bluesey vocals over vintage folk-rock instrumentation. The songs celebrate the everyday inspiration found in coffee cups and bluebonnet fields, imagining all creation as a book of revelation.

Graley Herren is a Professor of English at Xavier University in Cincinnati. He is the author of Dreams and Dialogues in Dylan’s Time Out of Mind (Anthem Press, 2021), The Self-Reflexive Art of Don DeLillo (Bloomsbury, 2019), Samuel Beckett’s Plays on Film and Television (Palgrave Macmillan, 2010), and numerous articles on various modern artists. He also edited five volumes of the Text & Presentation book series for McFarland, and he is an executive board member for the annual Comparative Drama Conference.

Dave Junker is Associate Professor of Instruction and Director of the Honors Program in the Moody College of Communications at the University of Texas at Austin. He earned his master’s degree in Afro-American Studies and his doctorate in English from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He is also an active musician and an independent recording artist.

Thomas M. Kitts, Professor of English at St. John’s University, is the author of books on Ray Davies, John Fogerty, and, forthcoming, Richie Furay. With Nick Baxter-Moore, he edited the Routledge Companion to Popular Music and Humor, and with Gary Burns, he edits Popular Music and Society and Rock Music Studies. He also chairs the music area for the Popular Culture Association.

Thomas G. Palaima, Robert M. Armstrong Professor of Classics at University of Texas, Austin and a MacArthur fellow, has long thought and taught about evil, suffering, and injustice in human societies, ancient and modern. In 1963-’68, Bob Dylan and James Brown changed his life. He has written over five hundred commentaries, reviews, book chapters, feature pieces, and poems on what human beings do with their lives. These have appeared in such venues as the Times Higher Education, Michigan War Studies Review, Arion, Athenaeum Review, The Texas Observer, the Los Angeles Times, and commondreams.org.

Christopher Rollason: M.A. in English, Trinity College, Cambridge. Doctorate in English, University of York. Author of numerous published articles, lectures and conference papers on Bob Dylan, and of the book Read Books, Repeat Quotations: The Literary Bob Dylan (2021). Attended international Dylan conferences held in Caen (France), 2005 and Tulsa (Oklahoma), 2019.

Nathan Schmidt is currently pursuing a PhD in American literature at Indiana University, Bloomington. His work has appeared in the Walt Whitman Quarterly Review and the Indiana University blog Conversations in Science, and he is a contributing editor for the website Gamers with Glasses. Dylan and the Beats originally inspired him to pursue a career in English. He has played the guitar since he was nine years old.

​​Evan Sennett is a graduate student at Indiana University specializing in American literature. His interests include American Transcendentalism as well as twentieth century Kentucky authors like Wendell Berry and Harlan Hubbard. He also has a background in filmmaking. His various projects have screened in over 100 film festivals around the world.

Christopher Star is professor of classics at Middlebury College. His most recent book is Apocalypse and Golden Age: The End of the World in Greek and Roman Thought (Johns Hopkins University Press 2021).

Joe Whang is an artist and illustrator born in Seoul, Korea. He has a BFA in Illustration and an AAS degree in Graphic Design from Parsons School of Design. His paintings and illustrations have gained recognition from such prestigious organizations as the World Illustration Awards in the U.K., Applied Arts in Canada, American Illustration, 3×3 Magazine, Creative Quarterly, and the Society of Illustrators New York. His work has been shown in exhibitions in the U.K., South Korea, and the Philippines, and he is currently a member artist at b.j. spoke gallery in Huntington, NY.

Don’t Look Now: Reading Aloud to Ghosts

By Thomas G. Palaima, University of Texas

 

“You ever seen a ghost? No
But you have heard of them.”

 

The blind side, they say,

is what hits you by surprise.

 

It can drive you

to your knees,

tap your shoulder,

caress you gently.

 

The sudden smell

of smoke

upon the air.

 

Milk

poured on cereal.

 

Water

on the soil

in a flower pot.

 

Cream

poured on coffee

in your coffee cup.

 

A place of one’s own,

they say, too.

 

How was that

on the blind side?

And when?

And just that?

 

Sometimes the blind side

is a mirror.

 

Or conjures up a phrase

from Bob Dylan.

 

“You give something up

for everything you gain.”

 

Sometimes the blind side

is not there.

 

Never was.

 

How can you take

precautions against

what never was?

 

“So pay for your ticket

and don’t complain.”

 

A ticket delivered

from the blind side

can have exorbitant

handling fees.

 

It can admit you

to the blind side

in the mirror.

 

To see the father

fallen short.

 

The lover

confused

by love.

 

The person

placing belief in

what is

no more.

 

And maybe

never was.

 

In others.

 

In oneself.

 

A deep breath

is calming, they say.

 

It takes

the blind side

into the spirit

inside.

 

Like light tendrils

of cream

spreading through

strong hot coffee.

 

Like water

disappearing

in darkening

soil.

 

Like milk

that makes cereal

float

or sink.

 

Like the caress

that had

no meaning.

 

The touch

that called

attention

to nothing

apparent.

 

The force

of a

sledge hammer

upon

a

spike.

 

A whispering

scent

of

smoke.

 

What’s that?

 

Don’t look.

 

But you

already

have.

 

And you’re

“left looking

just like

a ghost.”

Larry Campbell and Teresa Williams, acclaimed Americana musicians, are a powerhouse of vocal and instrumental virtuosity. Their performing partnership was molded during ten years of recording and touring with Levon Helm, iconic drummer and voice of The Band. The couple’s two albums, 2015’s Larry Campbell and Teresa Williams and 2017’s Contraband Love opened doors and ears as they toured with Jackson Browne, Emmylou Harris, and John Prine. Mojo dubbed the pair “The first couple of Americana,” and American Songwriter wrote: “[Larry and Teresa] have created a unique sound inspired by the past, that is spirited, stirring and timeless.”

Michael Hacker is the creator of A Bob Dylan Primer, a fifteen-episode podcast dedicated to Dylan’s life and work (www.abobdylanprimer.com).  He is a writer, photographer, and filmmaker, raised and currently living in Los Angeles with long stints in San Francisco, Livingston, Montana, and Vienna. At present, Michael works mostly in television producing documentary content for a wide variety of providers.  He’s seen Dylan in concert many times, starting with the 1974 tour and including The Last Waltz, the “gospel” shows in 1979, and the last night of Dylan’s run at the Beacon Theater in NYC in December 2019.

Bob Keyes writes about arts and culture for the Portland Press Herald and Maine Sunday Telegram. He’s written about Bob Dylan since the early days of the Never Ending Tour and presented a paper about Dylan’s visual language at the World of Bob Dylan Symposium in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in 2019. He received an inaugural Rabkin Prize for Visual Arts Journalism in 2017 in recognition of his essential voice in the regional arts conversation and is currently working on a book about the artist Robert Indiana.

Matthew Lipson is an independent scholar from Montreal, Canada. His graduate studies focused on Dylan’s performance of age from Time Out of Mind (1997) to Tempest (2012) and Dylan’s twenty-first century role as elder statesman of traditional American genres. His future work will examine this topic from the perspective of Dylan’s roles in television commercials. Lipson is currently based in Toronto, where he curates and manages music for a range of brands.

Quentin Miller is Professor of English at Suffolk University in Boston where he teaches courses on contemporary American literature, including one on Dylan and the Beat generation. He is the author or editor of a dozen books, most recently Understanding John Edgar Wideman (UP of South Carolina, 2018), James Baldwin in Context (Cambridge UP, 2019), and The Compact Bedford Introduction to Literature (Palgrave/MacMillan, 2020).

Thomas G. Palaima, Robert M. Armstrong Professor of Classics at University of Texas at Austin and a MacArthur fellow, has long thought and taught about evil, suffering, and injustice in human societies, ancient and modern. In 1963–68, Bob Dylan and James Brown changed his life. He has written over 500 commentaries, reviews, book chapters, feature pieces, and poems on what human beings do with their lives. These have appeared in such venues as the Times Higher EducationMichigan War Studies Review, Arion, Athenaeum Review, The Texas Observer, the Los Angeles Times, and commondreams.org.

Tommy Shea teaches in the MFA program at Bay Path University in Longmeadow, Massachusetts. He was an award-winning columnist for The Republican in Springfield. He co-authored Dingers: The 101 Most Important Homers in Baseball History. He’s been a Bob Dylan fan since 1974.

John Radosta teaches high school English in Milton, Massachusetts. He is the co-author, with Keith Nainby, of Bob Dylan in Performance: Song, Stage, and Screen. A board member of the New England chapter of the Mystery Writers of America, he has also, under a pseudonym, published a noir novel and many crime stories. He lives in Boston with his wife, son, and rescue dog.

Walter Raubicheck is a professor of English at Pace University in New York, where he teaches American Literature, film, and college composition. He is the co-author of Scripting Hitchcock (2011) and co-editor of Hitchcock’s Rereleased Films (1991), both with Walter Srebnick. He also edited Hitchcock and the Cold War (2019). He has published essays on British crime fiction authors including Arthur Conan Doyle, Dorothy Sayers, and G. K. Chesterton, as well as essays on American authors such as F. Scott Fitzgerald, T. S. Eliot, and Dashiell Hammett.

Visions of Desolation: Cleveland 1965 Austin 2012

POEM BY Thomas G. Palaima

Ecce homunculus.

This new blank document
could remain blank
for all I care
to reveal or conceal.

Ask me.
I ain’t sayin’.
Coax me.
My lips are sealed.

I could turn myself inside out.
My soul could slowly spin about.

Spin? Turn? Rotate? Whirl?
Like a chicken on a spit?
Like coffee in a microwave?
Like a top? A dervish? A compact disc?
A vinyl record from my youth?

What would you like me to play?

The needle in the groove works
its wonder in high fidelity,
but faithful to the max to what?

The songs from cheap speakers,
two-bit, sentimental,
still sound good to me.

But who cares?

If I stood naked, who would hear?

My dried voice
is more than quiet
and less than meaningless.

Not a whimper.

“Peanuts, here, four bags for a quarter.”

“Buy your rags from Daddy Wags!”

A naïve young
Roman Catholic boy,
Lithuanian-Polish,
thirteen going on ten,
by way of the CTS
(Cleveland Transit System)
Number 35
—“Trowbridge next!” —
after eighteen miles
and fifty minutes
of fading storefronts
run-down bars
reading the same
soon-to-vanish
lexicon of Polish,
Czech, Hungarian,
Irish, Croatian
and now Puerto Rican
names,
steps off
at Lorain Avenue
and 25th Street,
walks from the West Side Market
five blighted city blocks
to the red-brick Jesuit high school,
and sits among other boys,
among, but not with.

What was that shell,
what kind of envelope
kept him sound,
and soundless?

Move, move, move,
you splendid little machine.

Not quite a robot.

What did Eliot really know
about the butt ends of days?

Who can count
the butt ends
of the ways
that life can play
blind man’s bluff
with your soul,
and for keeps?

There isn’t even any key chain.