New Authors: Tyler Blanski
Tuesday night, I met my former writing professor and mentor at the Coffee Grounds in Falcon Heights. I enjoyed the scent of fresh espresso, the echo of chairs being scrapped against the hardwood floor, the empty stage where, only 6 months before, I had read from. It feels like forever ago.
But it wasn’t only the reminiscing that brought me back to this cafe with Professor Hougen. It was Tyler Blanski’s book party for his recent publishing of Mud & Poetry — Love, Sex, and the Sacred. I am very grateful that Hougen, knowing my love for writing and discussions about sexuality, invited me to the reading.
You can see a video about Tyler Blanski and his book at www.mudandpoetry.com. The book is about Blanski’s journey toward understanding Sex and Romance through new eyes. A section he read from his book states the reason he decided to be celibate for a season:
What distinguishes celibacy from singleness is intentionality. I wanted to be single for God. I don’t want to merely stumble through a series of haphazard relationships. To smash the god of A Great Love, I needed to completely close the door, even if just for a time, on even the possibility of romance. As long as romance remained a possibility, the carrot dangled. And so I took a vow of celibacy for one year.
I was scared. I sometimes panicked just thinking about it. But I had to do it. I saw no alternative.
Hearing that section only may make it seem like Blanski is anti-sex, or anti-relationships, but if you talk with him, you’d find that he is quite the opposite. He thinks sex and love and marriage are amazing. “It was a vow of celibacy with a view toward marriage. Unless the lifeblood of Jesus courses through my veins, my love is not much more than noise, like the clanging sound of misshapen cymbals or of bad rock music.”
Blanski is a very young and blessed author. He told us that he actually did all of the soliciting himself and had over 30 rejections before being accepted by Fresh Air Books. He also said he rewrote the book 4 times, and when we asked if he’s working on any other books, he said, “I actually have 5 I’m working on. I learned that I can’t put all my eggs in one basket. I did that with this one. There were a lot of tears.” I commend his persistence.
As the book is prose, seemingly a mixture of memoir and doctrine, Blanski only read a few sections of Mud & Poetry. My favorite reading he did was from Chapter 5, a little excerpt about him and his buddies debating theology:
Bryce, a Roman Catholic, tells me that the Catholic Church gave me the Bible, and begins drawing up logical, historical arguments in the vocabulary of Thomas Aquinas, his voice cracking and warbling the more excited he gets. I announce that I’m going to smash Bible verses over Bryce’s head.
I’m thumbing through the New Testimant. Peter has pizza all over his face. He shouts from a love seat that Bryce is full of shit. Bryce retorts that Peter is full of pizza.
Stephen the Philistine’s opinion is that we’re all a bunch of overly educated virgins: ‘None of you knows what the hell you’re talking about,’ he yells. And just before we all pounce on Stephen, the door-bell rings. It’s Dr. Breyers.’
It’s passages like this that make me excited to read the book. Believe me, as soon as I have finished it, I will post a review. Until then, check out Blanski’s website and, if you’re wanting to read the book yourself, you can buy it on Amazon!