The power of poetry is conveyed when the message resonates with the reader. Enraptured in a piece, making you feel that you’re a part of it, Glass City Blues transports the reader to a place of nostalgia.
With Nathan Elias’ chapbook, readers are taken close-to-home, through compelling reflections on Toledo and vivid descriptions of places in time. Elias, a Toledo native now living in Florida, opens up to the reader with heartfelt writing.
Close to home
While still living in Toledo in 2009-10, Elias began writing the personal, nostalgic poems that would later appear in the Glass City Blues collection. He then moved to Los Angeles to pursue his passion for fiction writing, his preferred medium since early on, and earned his MFA in Creative Writing from Antioch University Los Angeles. Soon after, however, his love for poetry was revived while attending workshops and readings with his wife in 2016.
“There is an old adage, ‘write what you know’,” explains Elias. “What did I know? I knew Toledo; I knew Los Angeles; I knew the pain of loss; I knew love; I knew getting in trouble when I was young; I knew filmmaking; I knew acting; I knew music.”
Love, passion, rediscovery and sorrow are themes you can expect when reading the three-part chapbook. Readers can truly appreciate the raw energy in the pieces, with lines like “In a city made of mirrors / I saw nothing but infinite misery” —from ‘Ghost of a Toledo Girl’— or within the energetic descriptions of live music in ‘Blind Alto Midnight,’ paying homage to the late local jazz artist Clifford Murphy.
Elias explains that writing feels good and he enjoys the work, but admits “the poems ‘Cutter’s Remorse’ and ‘Body Work’ were difficult for me to share with people, and still are.” That vulnerability heightens the meaning of these poems. Sharing something so deep and personal exposes the reality. It’s genuine. Elias proves that his vulnerability, along with his imagination, tells a story through these poems.
The first section, ‘Glass City Blues’ is comprised of reflections on Elias’ pastimes in Toledo, along with other poems written from the perspectives of others he knew. These poems in particular are visual, recalling specific landmarks and areas around town, making them easy for locals to relate to.
Part two of the book features a new view for readers–– made up of mixed media art. Elias describes, “On many levels, Glass City Blues draws connections between the body and geography. The mixed-media collages are more visual explorations of both of these themes.”
The third section, ‘With Love from Los Angeles’ explores more feelings of love, the troubles within relationships, and the rebuilding of those relationships.
“I’ve always loved Toledo. It’s my home, where I was born and raised,” says Elias. “The Glass City will always be a part of my identity.”
Glass City Blues includes poems that are honest, and correlate to the blues, exploring a wide range of emotions with every word. More than a poetry book, the book is an experience — riding along River Road on a motorcycle, eating breakfast at a North Toledo bar, travelling the canals in Venice, California and venturing through the Black Swamp— exploring, along the way, how Toledo has also shaped you and the person you’ve become.