Beck Turns Poetry into Experience That Heals
Sentinel & Enterprise staff
FITCHBURG -- Local artist, poet and community-leader Jerry Beck believes poetry saved his life.
For his entire childhood, Beck struggled in school with a rare dyslexic disorder that shifted words into incoherent sentences. His experience was painful as he was labeled dumb by students and teachers alike.
He soon gravitated toward visual arts as a refuge and compensatory strategy to survive school.
After dropping out of college, Beck was diagnosed correctly and entered a special program to assist him to read and write. Beck fell in love with poetry’s visual, creative, eclectic, experimental and transformative power.
“It was a profoundly healing experience after a lifelong trauma of bullying, fighting and hiding,” he said.
He went back to college and got a bachelor’s degree in fine arts from Florida State University and an master’s degree in fine arts from Tufts University-Museum School of Fine Arts.
The same year he founded The Revolving Museum in 12 abandoned railroad cars which is now recognized as one of the pioneer public art organizations in New England.
His recent endeavor “ONTO UMM...” is a book of three-line poems and photographs of his poems in public spaces. The glossy-cover 91 page book was printed by A Star Publications and can be found on Amazon as well as many other book locations. It is edited, arranged, and introduced by well-known art critic Josephine Fatima Martins.
“I decided to respond to the world of tweets, Instagrams, text messages, memes and political slogans. For the past four years I have created hundreds of short poems that respond to the personal, social, ecological, and political. I shared them with a few friends who pushed me to get them out into the world. Now I have a published book, web site, T-shirt business, and a grant from the Massachusetts Cultural Council for me to collaborate with Fitchburg’s Sizer School student so they can create their own short poems that will be displayed in public spaces and through social media. It doesn’t get better than this,” said Beck.
″‘Onto Umm...’ suggests an unfinished thought. Beck’s poems are the seeds of everything. These offbeat 3-line poems were originally created to be presented in unusual public places: painted on walls, printed on street signs, flowing on the tail banner of an airplane, or displayed on a moving vehicle. It was inspiring to collaborate with Jerry on this surrealistic and philosophical book of word art,” said book editor and art critic Josephine Fatima Martins.
“Genius sees in the everyday what most of us don’t. Genius perceives relationship and potential in unexpected fresh combination to birth great art, science, and humor. Part Zen poetry, part Matrix, Jerry Beck’s poetry book, ‘Onto Umm...’ reconfigures its readers’ minds in ways that make us sit up, smile, laugh, and think,” said Rebecca Hoffberger, founder/director of the American Visionary Art Museum.
Beck will have a reading from 7-8 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 3 at Revolving Museum 1067 Main St., Fitchburg.