Another Death Bed by Jasmine Nicole Maldonado Dillavou
A review by Chris Bullock
Another Death Bed (but this one is more comfortable, and the sheets just came out of the dryer)
During my time “studying” in China, I learned to see art not as much a hustle and grind, but rather as way of being. While taking an introductory Mandarin class, most classmates said they were pursuing business and politics, which only elicited a nod from the teacher, a middle-aged guy from Shanghai. When I said I enjoyed art, he gave a pause and a grin, then said an artist is blessed because an artist is never bored. From others there I got the same impression, a few said they wanted to be friends with an artist because an artist thinks differently than most, offering refreshing if unpredictable conversation. I had a local Chinese musician buddy who offered me drugs, guns, and often spoke his mind. When I said I was studying education, he interrupted me to say “Chris, you are not teacher. You a fucking artist.”
Artists, poets, and other rabble often share with us the process of discovering themselves and the world, and Another Death Bed by Jasmine Nicole Maldonado Dillavou, or Jasmine, offers that insight of a sitting in her brain as life unfolds. She rummages through the closet for an old stackable chair and offers us a seat in her mind, and she points out things which are as new to her as to you. You might expect to read a few pieces and set the book down, but time has suddenly passed and you have finished the book and wondering if there is something you missed. These are notes in the head of a creative, and as she puts it “a moment of pause with things that matter.”
I had first made her acquaintance upon returning from China to Colorado Springs, and attending a monthly discussion salon put on by Non Book Club Book Club. I had lived in the Springs and never found it repressive or backwards, rather I had come upon the same inspiration that has made it attractive to artists since the Broadmoor School. It was a bohemian life, piecing together rent how I could, playing concerts, going on tour, attending poetry readings, wandering art galleries and alley ways. In contrast to Denver, where quite a few were on hustle and grind mode and unwilling to open up for fear you might plagiarize and profit, in the Springs I found a tight knit and relaxed misfit milieu wherein just seeing differently made you different. Similar to my time in China. Fucking artists.
A few things had changed since my time away, however. All these creative students and faculty from UCCS were not only putting on events, but also inviting you out to see it. Living downtown, meeting up just to chat about what we are up to. Trying out unusual ideas, without even a business plan or a merchandise table. It is true what Denver diehards might say, the Springs could be boring, but it also encouraged you to do something to fill the boredom, even if as in her case, “riding a Lime Scooter the wrong way down Bijou Street with a big black hat on.”
This collection is the writer discovering her mind as it emerges, and sharing it with you. An invitation to sit in her head on an extra chair pulled from the storage closet, a place which is rough around the edges and unaccustomed to guests, but will make do if you show up. A peek into Tejon Street bars, rubbing elbows with the most normal people imaginable, as an artist with other oddballs making things happen in warehouses, restaurants, bookstores, parking lots, on the street, wherever there is an emptiness screaming to be borrowed and occupied temporarily. Art for art’s sake, after which the observer can’t point out any details but just feels like something invisible has changed.
One moment it is “the girl whose thighs don’t touch leaves the bathroom in front of me at the punk show” and the next is finding graffiti in the bar that says “I want to be dead with my dad”. One moment it is living your Boricua being and all the cultural weight and expectations, the next you are really just an artist and you are your “own greatest fear,” writing down your mind as you uncover it. Even after the tour is done, I am still in the chair on a dusty studio floor, and one of the legs of the chair is off-balance. But instead of complaining about it, I just rock a little, for art’s sake.
To grab a seat of your own, you can pick up the book in Colorado Springs at True North Art Gallery, Garfield Gallery, or Westside Stories. Or you can contact her on IG @jasminrunswithscissors or Jasminedillavou.com and if you are feeling extra boring, try Amazon.
About the Reviewer
Tall City (Chris Bullock) was born and got bigger on Long Island, New York. He did a few things then moved to Colorado Springs after trying to study in Paris. He did a few things there too, then moved to Denver, where he went back to school for foreign language. A couple of years on scholarship in China, and he is back in Denver.