Songs from a Voice
Baron Wormser’s eighteenth book is a genre-bending novel that explores creativity through poetry, prose, American music history, and the unique voice of protagonist Abe Runyan. Wormser’s novel is a master class on writing that explicates and engages the vast circumstances of an imagination.
No one can speak for Bob Dylan except Bob Dylan. Fiction, however, has other thoughts and in Songs from a Voice, Being the Recollections, Stanzas and Observations of Abe Runyan, Song Writer and Performer Baron Wormser has created a narrator who offers a first-person take on the years that begin in the spaces of the upper Midwest and wind up in the streets of Greenwich Village. As a parallel figure, Abe puts forward a chain of circumstances, influences and predilections that lead the reader into the mystery of where one era-changing artist came from. The story that is told by Abe is not a shadow dance with facts but an evocation of what went into the making of a musical soul, right down to the quatrains that he writes as part of his tale and as lyrical notes to himself. As a novel, Songs from a Voice is a homage, investigation, sly nod and, ultimately, an affirmation of the strength of one man’s imagination.
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This lyrical and dramatic meditation on popular music, culture, and individuality in post-World War II America could be titled Chronicles, Volume Two: a Bob Dylan Story by Baron Wormser and nobody would blink. Abe Runyan, an invented character, is an amazing narrator; it’s as if Greil Marcus, Bob Dylan, Baron Wormser, and an assortment of Delta blues musicians gathered together, had a few drinks, and told the collective story of who we are and how we got here, of imagination and mortality and all the tunes that keep us going when haunted by the endless highways and ticking clocks in America. It’s a wonderful novel, a tour de force that’s as penetrating and powerful as any of Bob Dylan’s best songs.
—Alan Davis, co-editor of Visiting Bob: Poems Inspired by the Life and Work of Bob Dylan
About the Author
Baron Wormser is the author of nine books of poetry, a poetry chapbook, and is the co-author of two books about teaching poetry. His memoir, The Road Washes Out in Spring, is an account of finding poetry while living off the grid for over two decades in Maine. His fiction includes a book of short stories and two novels. His essay collection Legends of the Slow Explosion includes essays that appeared in Best American Essays 2014 and 2018. He teaches in the Fairfield University MFA program and is the Founding Director of Frost Place Conference on Poetry and Teaching in Franconia, New Hampshire. He has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. Wormser served as poet laureate of Maine from 2000 to 2005 and received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from the University of Maine at Augusta in 2005. Learn more at baronwormser.com.