World Gone Zoom
Notes from the American Epicenter
by David Belmont
Acclaimed essayist and musician, David Belmont takes us on a poetic journey through life under lockdown in New York City during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic and the few months following, replete with political commentary, philosophical musings and musical references.
About the Author
David Belmont is a mixed media artist and community organizer living in New York City. He writes memoir, short fiction and poetry, as well as instrumental music. His work has appeared in The Poeming Pigeon, Wildflower Muse and FishFood Magazine. He is currently co-music director of the Castillo Theatre. He has been a professional musician for 50 years. His publicly available recorded output since 1999 can be found on Spotify, iTunes and Amazon.
Early Praise for World Gone Zoom:
David Belmont is a man of many talents—musician, ballot access expert, postmodern philosopher, wise guy. In recent years, David began writing fiction. Yet the Coronavirus brought out the poet in him, and he brings out a mixture of emotions, ponderings and sardonic aphorisms that help us take a new look at what we’ve just been through.
In World Gone Zoom, we experience the pandemic from the viewpoint of someone who is uncompromised and dedicated not to truth-telling but to life-exposing. Part Ferlinghetti, part Rock ‘n Roll, David’s poetry is meant to be read out loud, almost sung. His observations will sting, bite, hypnotize and make you laugh all at the same time. It’s the kind of laughter that makes you uncomfortable, as it should. In Zoom he brings the music with him and hits some much needed dissonant notes.
—Caroline Donnola, chair, Creative Writing Department, UX at the All-Stars Project
Who would have thought that Dylan, Lennon, Marley, Morrison, Ochs, Byrne and Donovan could have presaged a world gone zoom? That’s the lyrical genius of New York City artist, David Belmont, who riffs off these legendary poets to conjure up a “New York tough” pandemic life—sequestered and blandly hunkered down. With simple, stark—and often very funny—imagery, David invites you into a NYC “struggling in place,” with no way home. Enjoy, savor, and smile at our human predicament.
—Janet Wootten, SVP, Rubenstein Communications
World Gone Zoom, David Belmont’s powerful reflection of the COVID world is like looking down a microscope into our transmuted lives under virus and when he strikes a personal note in “Harry Grimes” and “The Corner Store” our humanity is deeply touched. The powerful “Americans in Conversation” also has a simplicity that evokes the deteriorating heartbeat of the country. And Belmont’s pointed distilling of observance and emotion into notes, like his musical references, are both consumable and long lasting; his rhythms urging you to pick up drums and beat to the pulse of the city. As the directness of his words construct a range of emotions, World Gone Zoom, a must read, carries us along Belmont’s four-month roadmap of the shifting COVID world.
—Marc Maislen, director, New Visions Arts
David Belmont takes us on a surprisingly heart-warming and heart-wrenching journey through the 2020 pandemic in his book of poems. Throwbacks to other times, other genres, a cacophony of emotions and memories (recent and long past) fill the pages in his sparse and thoughtful verse. World Gone Zoom captures and expresses thoughts/feelings/reflections that we all may have but gives them the light of day with both poetic dexterity and musical sensibility (and history) making it a true gift to read.
—Cathy Salit, author, Performance Breakthrough
america has gone/ from red and blue/ to black and blue David Belmont says, and he’s right. World Gone Zoom is a collection of true tales about living in New York City during the time it acquired the name “epicenter.” World Gone Zoom is up-to-date and comes with a soundtrack. Listen to it. Glisten with it. Someday it will be history. We hope.
—Gary Phillips, Poet Laureate of Carrboro, North Carolina
With heart aflame and the eyes of a hawk, musician and writer David Belmont swoops— masked—through New York City in pandemic lockdown, picking up strands of hope, fear and wry humor, and plaiting them into what he calls a poetic diary of the times. World Gone Zoom: Notes from the American Epicenter is Belmont’s debut poetry collection. With its steady beat and soaring riffs, there’s not a word out of place.
We scratch/ our heads/ wearing gloves, Belmont writes in “How Long Blues,” as he observes the sudden changes overtaking his city during the spring and summer of 2020. Worldwide revolution, New York politics and economic dislocation are the big topics in World Gone Zoom; cherry blossoms raining on police cars and neighbors/ washing their/ paper bags/ with bleach among the smaller flourishes.
—Nan K. Chase, author, Lost Restaurants of Asheville
Poetry is the ideal form for a diary of the pandemic. Belmont voices the uncertainty of each day, the complexity of our lives upended and illuminated by the inescapable impact of the virus. His question: What follows pause? Play? Fast forward? Rewind? In Belmont’s poetry—all of the above. Don’t look here for a linear story of a pandemic—or even a moment’s thoughts—and you will find a little humor, a little philosophy and plenty of politics. Ordinary people of the world unite—you have nothing to lose and a world to rebuild.
—Christine Helm, faculty, East Side Institute
David Belmont’s writing beautifully captures the nuances of this unique time—the sights, sounds and emotions that we will crave to revisit, process and reflect upon. The subject at hand is dark and heavy but David’s writing, filled with sensitivity, is somehow light and refreshingly witty. I found my eyes dancing down the page, wanting to read more despite that we are still amongst these challenging times. Generations to come will beg for details and we can return to David’s poignant words to honor a time that, for better or for worse, has shaped our history.
—Liz Carlson, founder, Common Point Acupuncture
David Belmont has written a collection of poems with a rock n roll heart, but with bebop wit. The rocker roots are obvious in the epigrams that set up most of the poems, along with pop-up allusions throughout (i hope we’ve stabbed it/with our steely knives). Those legacy linkages are followed by arena choruses that are as fresh as newly sprayed graffiti: coronavirus on tour, social distancing on fluid parade. But what I found especially arousing in Belmont’s latest work is an edginess in cadence and tonality that is like some Dizzy Gillespie solos. (A cool cat like Lenny Bruce maybe, but more spare.) These jab at you (sports stadiums/ now empty foxholes), unbalance you (the lord of the flies/ family book club), and open your ears to alternative ways of keeping time (get tested/ quantify/ uncertainty). World Gone Zoom performs the pandemic with a musicality that reverberates with both rock and jazz.
—Don Rubin, Professor Emeritus, Communication, Education, & Linguistics, University of Georgia