Fredericksburg Literary & Art Review Volume 4, Issue 1 Spring 2016
JOHNNY JOHNSON * STEVE WATKINS * CAROLYN GOODRIDGE * GARY BARNES JOELLE CATHLEEN * GOVINDA GIRI PRERANA * TIM SNYDER * BRIAN R. McENANY FRAME DESIGNS GALLERY * Wm MASON II VIOLIN * NEW CITY ARTS INITIATIVE * TELL
FLAR logo by Elizabeth Seaver 2013 Cover Art by featured artist Johnny Johnson, Variations on a Landscape
EDITOR in CHIEF A.E. Bayne PUBLISHER Fredericksburg Literary and Art Review LITERARY PANEL
Mary Becelia Todd Drake James Noll
Courtenay Jones Christopher Limbrick Khirstie Smith CONTACT
firstname.lastname@example.org Fredericskburg Literary and Art Review @FredLitReview
Spring 2016 Panel Members MARY BECELIA has lived and worked in the Fredericksburg area for over twenty years. She has written as a freelancer for The Front Porch, The Free-Lance Star, and currently for Fredericksburg Parent and Family Magazine. She is working on her first novel and fills her remaining time with family, friends, organic gardening and occasional travel.
TODD DRAKE has lived in Fredericksburg for over thirty years with his ever growing family. He is cofounder of Insight Meditation Community of Fredericksburg where he teaches meditation and gives talks on dharma practice. He is an avid reader of poetry and fiction, and recently rediscovered his passion for the craft of writing.
JAMES NOLL has worked as a sandwich maker, a yogurt dispenser, a day care provider, a video store clerk, a day care provider (again), a summer camp counselor, a waiter, a prep cook, a sandwich maker (again), a line cook, a security guard, a line cook (again), a waiter (again), a bartender, a librarian, and a teacher. Somewhere in there he played drums in punk rock bands, recorded several albums, and wrote dozens of short stories and a handful of novels. Visit him online at jamesnoll.net.
COURTENAY JONES holds a BFA from Virginia Commonwealth University in Painting and Printmaking and has spent her adult life supporting and collecting art and inspiring her childrenâ€™s creativity. She is currently working with mixed media and Polaroid film.
KHIRSTIE SMITH is a recent graduate of the University of Mary Washington with a BFA in Studio Art. She specializes in alternative screen printing processes, fiber and textiles, ceramics, and graphic design. She is interested in ambiguity and stream of consciousness with themes of industrial vs. organic. Her work is a compulsory need.
CHRISTOPHER LIMBRICK is a fine art photographer and abstract expressionist painter. His artwork is inspired by the natural environment and created by utilizing natureâ€™s color palette. He creates by incorporating a human feeling of a particular moment as he explores the natural elements of the earth. While observing the interplay of its masculine and feminine characteristics, he bears witness to the inherent dependence of nature to capture its contrasts. A common spiritual theme joins together his body of work that has been exhibited locally in Fredericksburg, Virginia and in New York City, New York. His work is often included in both regional and national juried exhibitions. Christopher resides in Richmond, VA, but spends as much time as possible in the Eastern Mountains and the American Southwest where he is most inspired. www.christopherthomaslimbrick.com
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Dear Lovers of a Luscious World, These have been exciting times here at Fredericksburg Literary and Art Review. Readers gushed over our fall 2015 edition and praised it for its addition of art and its new online and print-on-demand options. With submissions up by 59 percent and additional feature artist and writers in this volume, I’d say our little Review is headed places. We’ve gained supporters and followers from around the world, which will help us reach our goals of sharing local art and writing from Fredericksburg with a wider audience and creating a platform for critacally reviewed submissions from around the globe. My editorial goal for this edition was to question each fearture writer and artist about their approaches to research as it influenced their work. In addition to questions of inspiration and practice, I was curious about how writers and artists approach their work through traditional research techniques and experiential methods. My hypothesis was that both would take place simultaneously in most cases, but the range of answers was revealing and expansive. Another new development for FLAR is the addition of a page honoring our sponsors. Since we are an independently published review, we rely upon donations to help offset promotional costs. You’ll see a listing of all our supporters for this spring issue on the following pages. We couldn’t succeed without you, our sponsors, readers, and contributors. Finally, I’d like to thank my panel members who worked tirelessly to complete the selections for this issue. With the quality and increase of the literary and art submissions, they had a difficult time choosing these selections from among so many worthy samples. Thank you, panels, for making it possible for us to publish this critically reviewed edition. Enjoy this expanded issue of FLAR, which is virtually spilling over with inspiration. Go forth, create, and spread something beautiful, emotional or meaningful in this world. We’ll see you in fall 2016.
A.E. BAYNE is a writer, visual artist, and educator living in Fredericksburg, Virginia. You can find her monthly in Fredericksburg Front Porch Magazine and other regional periodicals. Her photography has been featured in two shows: Plastic Fantastic with E.C. Barker and A.E. Bayne (2013) and The Contemporary Henna Designs of Shirley Donahue with Photography by A.E. Bayne (2014). She is the editor in chief and publisher of Fredericksburg Literary and Art Review. Visit her virtually at aebayne.com, and on Facebook and Twitter.
By donating to Fredericksburg Literary and Art Review, our supporters are making it possible for us to continue promoting the literary and visual arts in and beyond Fredericksburg. Our submissions were up by fifty percent in both literature and visual arts for this edition, due in part to outreach and promotional efforts. These efforts cost money. Our donors’ contributions show that they place a value on independent publishing and the process of critical review. Thank you, each and every one, for helping us make this endeavor possible. ~ A.E. Bayne
Joseph Buehler * David and Collette Caprara * Anita Holle Christie Pennington * Josie Stevenson * Woodie Walker * Sally Zakaryia
Membership Donors Emily Barker * Mary Becelia * Lori Izykowski Seth Jani * Cam Kurer * Connie Lester Bob McNichols * Michelle Sanders * Heidi Seaborn
Sustaining Donors Downtown Writing and Press Letterpress printed cards and posters using metal, wood, and polymer Forage Studio, 208 William Street, Fredericksburg, VA 22401 Online: downtownwritingandpress.com
Read It “Cover -to-Cover”
@Front Porch Fredericksburg Magazine
Born in Germany, Ruth Golden’s first trip was across the Atlantic at the tender age of six weeks. She’s been traveling ever since, photographing as much as she can along the way. Photography is her way of recording the passage of time and occasionally happening upon a perfectly exquisite shot. She is also a potter, classic car buff, writer of prose and poetry, knitter, and blogger writing about her year living and sailing on her sailboat, Nalani (ruthontherun.blogspot.com). A wife, mother of three, and grandmother of three, her life is filled with chubby fingers, soft downy hair, and drool. She also advocates for live music through House About Tonight Productions. You may find her photography on Facebook at RG Photography and Width = 10.991 Photoart, and at local photo shows where she has been awarded a few ribbons in her time. Height= 1.984 Border=3pt.
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Joan Critz Limbrick Visionary Painter, Potter, Poet and Author www.joanlimbrick.com
A retired economist and statistician, Saeed Ordoubadi is now a fine art photographer and an enthusiastic traveler, as well a beginner painter. He loves to capture people's expressions and emotions, the beauty of nature and the unique characters of old places. He has had several exhibitions in local galleries and libraries, including a well-received collection of his work on Cuba, covering its people, places and arts. His latest exhibition, Going Home: A Bitter-Sweet Taste of an Ancient Land will be open from May 14 to June 4, 2016 at the Backdoor Gallery (4500 Plank Road, Fredericksburg, VA 22407; (540) 786-4455). The opening reception is on Saturday May 14 from 5:00 to 7:00 PM. Saeed can be reached at SaeedOrdoubadi@gmail.com.
MANAGING YOUR DOCTOR By Dr. Patrick Neustatter
The Smart Patient’s Guide to Getting Effective, Affordable Healthcare
Visit managingyourdoctor.com or follow us on Facebook. Order the book on Amazon. Thea Verdak is British/German. She writes minimalist poetry and is keen to convey her interest in nature and the way we are connected to it. One of her poems, which was highlighted locally, was inspired by the history in the Fredericksburg area. She worked at The Nasdaq Stock Market, Inc. and was founder of the Rappahannock Humane Society. Thea is the author of The Barn Teacher. She has recently completed “Sleepy Jenny,” which is an illustrated poem, to be published shortly. Thea is currently writing short stories, reads profusely, is an avid walker and prefers the outdoors. She has travelled extensively, including a professional trip to Russia. Follow her on Twitter @TheaVerdak.
Serving the Fredericksburg Area Music Community We have all of your bowed instrument needs covered! Sales - Rentals - Repairs - Accessories 540-645-7499
509-1 Jackson St, Fredericksburg, VA 22401 email@example.com www.wmmasonviolinshop.com FIND US ON FACEBOOK!
YOGA FOUNDATION of FREDERICKSBURG
Do Yoga and Do Good for the Community Affordable, nonprofit studio classes supporting free outreach yoga in the Fredericksburg area. 1403 Franklin St., Fredericksburg, VA 22401 Learn more at www.yogafredericksburgva.com
Congratulations on the production of this issue and we look forward to seeing many more in the future! Wishing all of you much success with the magazine. Anne and Todd Zeter, Albuquerque, New Mexico
2016 FLAR Donors
Featured Profiles Johnny Johnson / Painter & Educator
Fredericksburg, Virginia Page 21 Faith, Love & Artistry - Johnny Johnson shares insights from his career spanning six decades as an artist and educator in the Fredericksburg area, including insight into his three signature themes in painting: the spiritual and family, social commentary, and abstract landscapes.
Govinda Giri Prerana / Writer & Poet
Manassas, Virginia Page 38 Finding Home - Renowned Nepali writer and poet finds his voice here in America through universal themes of place and home.
Frame Designs Gallery / Local Business & Arts
Fredericksburg, Virginia Page 53 Frame Aesthetics - Local business and art gallery poised to celebrate thiry years of framing and shows with mother / daughter partners giving framing advice and a little history, too.
Steve Watkins / Author
Fredericksburg, Virginia Page 71 Fiction through a Journalistic Lense - Local award-winning novelist releases his latest book for young adults just in time for summer break. Here, he discusses research, things that sometimes go unwritten, and the current climate of publishing. He also dishes about his latest book, Great Falls.
New City Arts Initiative / Gallery & Residency Programs
Charlottesville, Virginia Page 83 In Support of Artists - Community leader in arts promotion connects artists with their clientele and engages them in programs with the wider community. With Alyssa Phoebus Mumtaz and Tobiah Mundt, 2015 - 2016 Artists in Residence
Carolyn Goodridge / Encaustic Painter
Colonial Beach, Virginia Page 101 Natureâ€™s Gift - The celebrated encaustic artist discusses connecting to the world of the senses, synesthesia, and her intimate relationship with nature as seen through her paintings.
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Featured Profiles Soji / Gary Barnes / Poet & Photographer
Fredericksburg, Virginia Page 123 The Art of Brevity - In Memoriam - Haiku poet and photographer Soji shared his joy of the form and decades worth of knowledge with the world through his online site, Haiku Poet’s Hut.
Joelle Cathleen / Painter
Fredericksburg, Virginia Page 149 Key to a Memory - Local artist offers the “key to a memory” with stark, vibrant paintings that invite viewers to intimately participate in her personal perspective while still envisioning their own.
TELL Fredericksburg / Local Monthly Storytelling Event
Fredericksburg, Virginia Page 169 The Art of Storytelling - Maura Wilson Schneider gives the history of Fredericksburg’s monthly live storytelling event, a venture that has become part of her personal story afer its six year run.
Tim Snyder / Photographer
Fredericksburg, Virginia Page 185 Shower Logic - Snyder has built a reputation of consistent, high quality artwork and professional photography. His latest work reflects a new vision of experimentation, abstraction, and playing with contrasts.
Wm Mason Violin Shop / Local Business & Music
Fredericksburg, Virginia Page 195 The Art of Craftsmanship - Local violin maker expands workshop to accomodate growing music rentals and hand crafted, Made in Fredericksburg violins.
Brian R. McEnany / Author
Vienna, Virginia Page 211 The Art of Research - This Virginia author and West Point grad shares a decade of research to bring us voices from the past in his nonfiction novel, For Brotherhood & Duty, winner of the 2015 NYMAS/ Eugene Feit Award in Civil War Studies.
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A.E. Bayne / Photograph Shirley Donahue/ Henna Pamela Mann / Model Connie Lester / Watercolor
In the Spirit of Collaboration
In spring of 2013, accomplished henna artist Shirley Donahue and I began a collaborative endeavor with six women to capture natural poses featuring personal artistic expressions in henna that Shirley and our models co-designed. A year and a half later our efforts culminated in a well received photography show in downtown Fredericksburg at Skin+Touch Therapy. The photo to the left is of model Pamela Mann, who worked with Shirley to create a design that would honor her body after trauma and scarring. I captured this photo of Pamela during our photography shoot. It was one of many on display that fall, two others of which can be seen on the next two pages with model Christy Escher and Janelle Kennedy. Each design took many hours to complete, with Janelle’s sugar skull taking over six hours for Shirley to finish. Cut to spring of 2016, when painter Connie Lester asked if she could work with Pamela’s image in watercolor. Having admired Connie’s talent, I was honored that she wanted to transform one of my photos, but I was not surprised. The image is transcendent. Shirley’s talent and thoughtful attention to Pamela’s artistic vision allowed Pamela to appreciate the beauty of her healing body. With my camera, I offered her the freedom of space in which to express her newfound appreciation. I feel fortunate to have captured it.
Panel Writers and Artists
A.E. Bayne / Photograph Shirley Donahue/ Henna Christy Escher / Model
A.E. Bayne / Photograph Shirley Donahue/ Henna Janelle Kennedy/ Model
LAND OF FIRE AND FROZEN FOOD By Mary Becelia In June of 1974, when I was eight, my family boarded a plane and left Virginia for the remote and exotic Arctic Circle. We were bound for Reykjavik, Iceland, and a whole new life. But once we arrived, instead of being enthralled by the midnight sun, the puffins, the lunar landscapes, or any other features of this beautiful land, I was instead enraptured by the worst of that era’s American “cuisine.” Prior to our departure for Iceland, what we would eat there wasn’t on my mind. I was more concerned with the basics: shelter and school. My father’s employer, the State Department, provided us with booklets that described our home-to-be. From reading these, and liberal use of my imagination, I came up with some interesting ideas of where and how we would live, complete with snow-covered tundra, large tents made of animal skins, and lots of reindeer. Large sleds were in the picture as well; the reindeer would pull me in a sleigh to a log cabin schoolhouse. In short, I was convinced that my new life was going to be Little House in the Prairie, Gone Arctic. I soon learned better. We landed at the naval base airport in Keflavik on a cold day (the days are always cold in Iceland, even in June), a few short hours after departing a steamy Virginia summer. There was not a reindeer to be seen, nor any log cabins. Instead, an embassy representative, Mary Jane, was there to greet us and drive us in her car to Reykjavik. She was tall and angular, with an outgoing personality, vivid red lipstick and artificially dark hair that belied her 50+ status. She took us to her studio apartment and jollied our jet-lagged selves through the rest of the evening. When it was time to eat, Mary Jane introduced my little sister, Susan, and me to the wonder of TV dinners. “Girls!” she hollered with unnecessary volume from her kitchenette, which was removed from the living area by only a few feet. We scampered to the counter that doubled as a table. “Eat up!” She helped us pull the hot foil off the aluminum trays and handed us each a fork and napkin. Susan and I glanced at each other with barely repressed glee, then at the aluminum trays in front of us. My mouth watered at the sight: two pieces of crispy fried chicken
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and a serving of creamy mashed potatoes awaiting our forks. This was nothing like the meals our mother generally served. Moving to Iceland was already a great thing! The fact that I had to travel to a new continent to experience the joy of my first TV dinner was a testament to my mother’s fanatical loyalty to that great tradition of the 70s’ dinner table: the casserole. Clearly, there was no need to make cooking easier for yourself or consuming dinner more agreeable for your kids when you had plenty of cream of mushroom soup and cans of tuna fish for the combining and serving. Tuna casserole and its cousins: salmon loaf, hamburger pie, hamburger stroganoff, chicken a la king and chicken broccoli casserole continued to make regular appearances on our dinner table for the next decade or so, but those delicious CTVs (as Susan and I nicknamed them) were allowed a showcase special when our parents went to diplomatic functions and a sitter was left in charge. A few weeks after that dinner at Mary Jane’s apartment, I discovered another rare delicacy that my mother had heretofore kept hidden from me: a brand of freezer treats with the improbable name of Otter Pops. I don’t think I’d ever had a freezer pop prior to this. I’d enjoyed the occasional Popsicle, and was vaguely familiar with the Good Humor Man from the two or three times I was allowed to sample his wares. But Otter Pops were in a new category of frozen yumminess. They came in boxes decorated with whimsical cartoon otters and inside were the actual pops, plastic tubes containing artificially flavored and colored sugar-ice. When I spotted them one day at the naval base commissary, I knew they had to be delish. How I persuaded my mother to purchase them is a good question, but I did and found them to be the perfect finale to a chicken TV dinner. Actually, they made the perfect finale to just about any meal. There were many wonders in Iceland that I still remember and may write about some day: the wooly sheep and Icelandic horses roaming free in the countryside, salmon leaping up waterfalls, geysers, swimming in geothermal pools surrounded by snow, the evil witch Grylla and her elvish sons, the Yule Lads… But the Otter Pops, oh, the Otter Pops !
Khirstie Smith Watercolor silkscreen monoprint Camera obscura photograph 5
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Christopher Limbrick Photograph
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If I Never Leave this Place Christopher Limbrick Photograph
Khirstie Smith Watercolor silkscreen monoprint Camera obscura photograph
Raleigh's Prep from the novel,
By James Noll
A Knife in the Back
Topher, Zorn, and Gertrude (whose real name is Kenneth) are sent to Raleigh's Prep after a prank that goes terribly wrong. During their first few weeks, they discover a body of a student mangled on one of the playing fields. They have decided that their are werewolves in the woods surrounding the school, and decide to investigate . . .
was incensed by the challenge. All evening long he struggled with the absurdity of what Crews told him and the desire to prove him wrong. Finally, when he could take it no longer, he stood up from behind his desk and said, “Dammit! I’ll not be made a fool of. Grab your gear, boys. We’re going werewolf hunting.” Zorn, who was reading The Awakening for English class, had not expected such an outburst. Nor did he expect the codpiece Topher threw at him. He welcomed the diversion, though. He thought Edna a weak, pathetic little woman, and the sooner he could get away from her, the better. Even if it took gallivanting around with a metal contraption clasped up his, to his . . . around his waist. “Why a codpiece?” Topher lowered his voice and growled, “Incubi.” Zorn stared at it. “Should I wear it in front or in back?” “What do you think?” Topher tossed an iron collar at Gertrude, who was trying to complete his Historical Math Analysis homework for his Historical Math Analysis class. He had no idea how or why learning nautical navigation would benefit him in the future, as he thought sailors a rather surly and unapproachable lot, known more for their salty language, high seas sexual desperation, and questionable career choices than anything else, and the sooner he could get away from thoughts of buggery the better. Even if it took gallivanting around with a piece of iron clasped to his, around his . . . hopefully Topher intended to clasp it around his neck. “Why an iron collar?” “Vampires” Gertrude put the collar down on his desk and decisively pushed it away. “Look, Gertrude,” Topher said. “We’re not going werewolf hunting so much per se, in a manner of speaking, as such, in and of itself, if you know what I mean.” Gertrude shook his head. “I don’t.”
“What I mean is, we’re going to summon a liderc.” “What’s a liderc?” “A liderc is a Romanian werewolf hunter.” “Oh! So a knight?” Topher bobbed his head from side to side. “Not really. More like a witch.” “Mother made me promise not to get caught up in any of your schemes.” “What about if it’s a witch that can only do our bidding?” “A zombie witch,” Zorn offered. “Yes,” Topher said. “And no. More like a golem zombie, well no, that’s redundant. Gertrude, are you in or not?” Gertrude studied the metal collar. Then his eyes fell on his textbook, the laboriously titled Bloated Flesh and Lost Compass: History’s Greatest Maritime Nautical Disasters. He wanted to say no. He wanted to pick up that silly book and study. He heard his mother’s voice, admonishing him to stay out of trouble, to stay away from “that boy.” But he couldn’t. He just couldn’t. What Topher was proposing was just too exciting. Topher’s propositions were always much more exciting than anything Gertrude originally set out to do. Going to a movie? Let’s blow up frogs in the creek instead. Reading your favorite book? Let’s throw rocks at cars from an overpass. Practicing the oboe? Let’s look at these magazines I found in the woods. Okay, okay, okay. Zorn had already snapped the codpiece around his waist and turned it around to guard his backside. He was checking it out in the mirror. “Well?” Topher asked. Gertrude sighed and grabbed the iron collar. “Okay. I’m in.” The path snaked through the woods, leading the boys deep into the heart of Chainwrought Forest. Topher had no idea where he was going. He chose it because it looked like it had been used before. The bare limbs of the trees enmeshed overhead, creating a thick, knotty web that creaked in the
Panel Writers and Artists
wind. Outside the forest, the moon shone bright and full; inside it barely penetrated the canopy. Topher pulled a broadsword out to clear away a tangleof creepers and thorns that seemed to purposefully block his way. He sliced through for a couple of feet, but they reformed behind him. He hacked at a knot the size of his head. “Magical prickers! I’d move quick if I were you.” “Where’d you get that sword?” Gertrude asked. “I found it in the basement.” “You found a sword in the basement?” “Where do you think I got your collar?” “Where in the basement?” “I don’t know. Someone just left them out, so I took them.” He pulled up his shirt, revealing his own codpiece and a mace, which he’d tucked into his belt. “And these!” “Did you find anything we could use?” “No, of course not. Well, maybe. Okay, yes. But I’m not giving them to you.” “Why not me?” “You? Please.” They followed him as close as they could, pinching the vines and thorns between their fingers, trying to move them aside,but they scratched and bit and tore their furs. Gertrude was actually glad for the collar, though it rubbed his skin raw. At least it protected his neck. No telling what kind of poison magical prickers contained. The vine, no doubt, carried some kind of toxic oil. They’d all be covered in calamine lotion before the week was out. If they survived this. He sneezed. His belly was in knots. He began to chant the refrain that defined his life with Topher: thiswasabadidea, thiswasabadidea. On top of everything else, the wood was stuffy and humid, and it smelled like a trunk filled with old raincoats and apple cores. “Cat urine,” Zorn announced. Topher shot him a glance over his shoulder. “What?” “It smells like cat urine in here.” “Oh.” “Why did you look at me like that?” Topher shrugged. “I thought you said something else.” Zorn pondered this a moment. He brushed away a spider’s web. “What else could I have said?” “Never mind. Listen to me, you two. We have entered the belly of the beast, to use a cliché. Acta non verba, as they say. Be mindful of all noises and smells. Ahab himself could not be more vigilant.” “Are we in any particular immediate danger?” Gertrude asked. “Are you kidding? When have I not put us in danger?” “Good point.” “No need to freak out yet. I’ve never been here before.” “What?” “No need to worry. Crews is a ninny. Have we seen anything weird yet? Tonight,” he added, cutting Gertrude off. “The only thing that’s attacked me at Raleigh’s so far was a titmouse out on the Badugby fields. And that ass, Brimstone. And a few other boys on our first day. And Zorn, but that was purely sexual and he was sleepwalking.”
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“It was not sexual!” “Please, Zorn. You grabbed my nethers.” “I have strange dreams.” “About my nethers?” “Not all the time. That one was about submarines,” Zorn said. “Or middle school.” “I was attacked by a squirrel just last week,” Gertrude said. “They’re the natural enemies of simians. Ever since that baboon bit me at the National Zoo, I’ve been targeted by a variety of rodents. Especially Family Sciuridae.” “Wait, did it bite you?” Topher asked. “The squirrel? On the contrary. I smashed it in the face and sent it crashing into the bushes. The beast will think twice before it startles a Hughes again.” “A regular Francis Macomber,” Zorn said. “Who’s he?” “Never mind.” Topher snorted. Gertrude worried his fingers. “Tell me.” “He’s a fictional character in a Hemingway short story,” Zorn explained. “Oh? Big game hunter?” “Of a sort. He runs from a lion, then his wife blows his head off.” “It’s a shame, Gertrude,” Topher said before his friend could respond. “That you were not bitten by that squirrel. We could have used your rabies-infested blood to summon an even more frightful liderc. Or a succubus. Whatever we can manage.” The more they walked, the darker it grew. Gertrude started to wheeze. He withdrew his inhaler from his pocket and triggered a blast. “The pollen count in here must be phenomenal,” he said.“I can hardly breathe.” “It could be all of the fur,” Topher said. “Werewolves are terribly negligent groomers.” He raised his fist and stopped in his tracks. Zorn ran into him, of course, and then Gertrude (who was looking up at the trees) ran into Zorn. “Careful, you oafs,” Topher said. He pointed at a wall of thorns about ten feet in front of them. Dim light flickered behind it, a pale, icy fire. Garbled voices and strangled grunts wafted through the air. “This looks like a hant haunt.” “A hant haunt.” “A hant haunt.” “What’s a hant haunt?” “A haunt for hants.” Zorn pondered this. “You have experience with hant haunts?” “This one reminds me of the hant haunt outside the old Bill family manse. Oh how I loved our bi-annual hant haunt hunts. William Bill the Trembler once suffered the molestation of fourteen succubae during one. It’s how he earned his nickname.” Topher crept forward to the wall of thorns, Zorn and Gertrude right behind, and carefully drew aside a few branches.
“How about that,” he whispered. “Crews was right.” “He was?” “Yep. There are four werewolves in there and only three vampires. That I can see. It’ll be a blood bath. Ready lads?” “Are you serious?” Zorn asked. “My asthma,” Gertrude said. With an earsplitting ululation, Topher crashed into the wall, rebounded once, then shoved his way through, cursing the whole time. “Avaunt ye knaves!” they heard him cry, followed by anguished yelps and guttural snarls. Zorn and Gertrude paused, mouths slightly ajar. “Er–” Zorn said. “Zorn! Gertrude!” Topher cried. “Damn your hides!” Gertrude stepped aside and gestured elaborately at the wall. “After you,” he said. Zorn cursed under his breath, then picked his way through the wall, like a cat walking in molasses. The first thing he saw when he reached the other side was an afghan rug with teeth flying in his direction. It hit him square in the chest, bounced off with a yelp, and landed at his feet, unconscious. “Don’t just stand there, Zorn! Fight!” Zorn pointed at the rug on the ground. “Shall I throw this?” Throw it! Stab it! Do something to it!” Gertrude stepped daintily into the clearing. “Hello,” he sang. Topher was surrounded by afghan rugs larger than the one that attacked Zorn. His broadsword lay out of reach, but he still had his mace, which he used to strike at them repeatedly, causing minimal damage. One lunged forward and clamped onto his codpiece. “Ha ha!” he cried, and brained it. “He seems to having a devil of a time,” Gertrude observed. A bat fluttered into his face. “Oooh, a bat.” It bothered his eyes, dodging his frantic swats, before transforming into a vampire in a grand puff of smoke. He cried, “A sucker!” and then it lunged for his neck. There was a clinking sound as fangs met the metal collar. Gertrude laughed. “Topher, it works!” he cried, and the two stumbled backwards into the shadows. Zorn bent over the thing at his feet and stroked his chin. Was there a specific way one should pick up a werewolf? He didn’t want to strain anything, and he didn’t want to touch . . . anything. He knew that he should lift with his legs, not his back, but where would he put his hands? And what if he brushed up against, or rub, or handle in any way, the thing’s thing? “Zorn!” Topher yelled. He ducked. A wolf flew over his shoulder. “All right, all right,” Zorn said. He scooped the beast up and held it over his head. It was much heavier than he anticipated, and he hadn’t stretched properly. His arms shook and he took a deep, gulping breath, then launched it into the air, leaning in to the throw with all of his strength. It spun once and collided with
a mass of its fellows, sending them flying into the thorn wall. One hit Topher, knocking him to the ground where his head struck a stump and knocked him unconcious. Zorn put his hand to his mouth. “Oops.” He turned his attention to Gertrude, whose attacker labored under the delusion that its fangs could puncture metal. Before he could offer his services, he was struck from behind by an unknown force and driven face first into the ground. There was a brief moment when all was still. Then his pants were shucked violently, and something assailed his reverse codpiece with extreme force, driving his pelvis into the earth. There was another pause, and then the strikes were renewed, each one with mounting intensity and greater frustration. “Good Lord!” he wailed. Topher moaned. He shook his head and opened his eyes. Something wet and pungent lay next to him. A wolf’s snout! The rest of it lay out in a great mound of muscle and nappy fur. It opened its eyes. They were dark and yellow and run through with red veins. A deep growl rumbled from its chest. Its foul breath blew Topher’s hair back from his forehead. He scrambled backwards, trying to ignore the pain in his skull, and was relieved to find that he had been able to hold on to his mace. The beast gathered its legs beneath its body and launched itself with a growl. Topher shut his eyes and swung blindly before him, swung as hard as he could. He connected, heard the wolf yelp, and his shoulder popped, and pain flared through his arm. The beast flew past him and crashed into a tree, its head crushed. Topher fell to his knees, his shoulder hanging at an odd angle. He looked around the clearing, and his heart sank. Zorn was trapped beneath some invisible weight, his pelvis shoved repeatedly into the ground. Gertrude struggled with a vampire, its fangs still clinking against his neck collar. He swayed. He was hit from behind and sent sprawling to the ground. His shoulder popped back in and he cried out. “Stay down!” somebody yelled. He tried to get up but a boot stomped on his back. “I said, stay down.” And then, for the second time that night, something struck his head and knocked him out.
Panel Writers and Artists
When We Listen to the World... By Todd Drake
Very often the flow of our thoughts
distracts us from giving someone our full attention. We take the present moment for granted. Our minds are awash with words and images and emotions that recreate the past and predict the future. We listen to a friend, a family member, or a stranger from within this dream-like cloud. We nod our heads in agreement, missing words, gestures, and inflections of voice that might pull us deeper into the story, into the mystery and marvel of someone else’s life. On the other hand, if we are listening closely to this person, we usually have formed a judgment and are more concerned with the advice we want to give; so we cut him or her off and offer our opinion, wanted or not. Or we simply relate their words to our own lives and refocus attention to our story—far more important and interesting than the world around us. But is our singular story really more important than anyone else’s story? Is what we have to say or think so important that the world stops for us and listens to us as if we were the ground of all being? We certainly would like to think so. Our story is, in part, our sense of self, our support and protection in a very large and frightening world. It fuels us with purpose and meaning, and functions as a guide along the path of our lives. And it works quite well for us when we are mindful of its power and the effect it can have on the world. Unfortunately, a problem arises when we become attached to our story to the exclusion of others. For this reason, it’s important to remember that there are six billion or so other minds like ourselves working in very much the same manner—regardless of intelligence or culture or socio-economic standing. Our inherent worth binds us more than our sense of separateness: intelligence, race, culture, politics, economics, philosophy, religion, and gender pale in comparison to body, thought, feeling, perception, and consciousness. In these five aggregates of human existence, we are all the same.
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How do we look beyond our sense of self-importance, and self-absorption, to the needs of others and, ultimately, to our true needs and the needs of the life cycle that gave birth to us and empowered us to the point that we have such a profound influence upon it? A step in that direction can be through the art of mindful listening. If we listen without judging, through compassionate attention, we come to a deeper understanding that others have the same wants and needs, that their stories are really no different from our own, that they suffer in ways similar to us. Through mindful listening we learn to listen to ourselves and begin to discern our true nature and what it is we need to be happy. Through mindful listening we learn that “the vibrations of air that come from our mouths” hold the magic of imagery and can affect our world with great pain or great joy. Through listening on the deepest level, from a place of quiet attention, we learn to become mindful with our words. Once we have become a witness to others, as well as ourselves—even this earth, for that matter—we come to see that our bodies, thoughts, feelings, perceptions, and consciousness are continually changing, that life around us moves in a ceaseless, harmonic flux. We learn to truly see that nothing lasts, and for this reason all of our stories are equally important because of the tenuous hold we have on existence. With this understanding, we come to an acceptance of how things truly are. We bow to those with whom we share this life. We learn to suffer with them and understand their suffering, regardless of intelligence, race, culture, politics, economics, philosophy, religion, and gender. When we listen to the world, we truly listen to ourselves.
WHIPPOORWILL The night you died a whippoorwill sang, calling to us from across the lake. We listened to it in silence from your darkened room. After a while you began to cry, telling me to close the window. You did not want to hear the whippoorwill’s song. You did not want to hear the voice calling you across the lake. So I shut the window and sat back down at your bedside. You were quiet for some time, your breath whistling a song of its own. In the darkness your hand fluttered about the sheets like a frightened bird. “I can still hear it calling to me,” you said. “Move the bed, move the bed from the window.” I told you the bed was too big to move alone. And so you cried some more, begging me to do the impossible. I took your hand in my own, wanting to comfort the frightened bird. “I can no longer hear the whippoorwill,” I said. “There is nothing calling to you.” But you did not hear me. Your breath was barely a whisper. It whispered itself to sleep. Sitting with you in the darkness, I did not want to be alone. So I opened the window, letting the night rush in. I stood there for a while, saying goodbye as the whippoorwill’s song carried you across the lake. ~ Todd Drake
Panel Writers and Artists
If I Never Leave this Place Christopher Limbrick Photograph
Bourbon and Ice Sue Henderson Watercolor
Simple Azaleas I walked solemnly, hazed in work and perfection until I turned the corner and saw the azalea bushes spent with spring's bright fingers, green, bursting and lush. They seemed to almost insist I stop. Pause breathe, if just for a second. So I stood right beside them and inhaled, deep and unfamiliar, turned to look at their pink blossoms, which almost said out loud: Go ahead, exhale, this is eternal.
Three by Valerie Westmark
To the Man
To the Man (Part II)
He always asks for a poem, wants to be shaped into words until he becomes nothing but magnificent, after all that is what he has always been.
When I die, I want you to find these words, search the drawers and coffee cups, pull them out and reconstruct.
So I breathe sentences and weave flowers for ferns and pine cones, strip alters and adorn roses, set shrines or memorials or perhaps commas of sheer delight. I line hallways with candles, hope to catch his spirit in flame, or hope or something close to shimmering. But the words and him, in him, are always moving, reacting to each other, so one can never live without the other
Put them together in ways you've never heard, in sentences I always meant to say, commas that were uttered too frequently or in all the wrong places. Rearrange the letters until the spelling is right, until I goes before E or after you. Don't erase, not even the ones you know or think I meant. Every word counts, was intended for just this: to love you in all the many ways of my finite mind.
and the minute I write him down, he's new.
FLAR / Spring 2016 / Volume 4, Issue 1
Oceans By Peregrine Hayward
urning the burner beneath the teakettle off you pause, look at the cup. It’s been there for months. You have to wash it, to put it away, to fling it into the woods and watch as it shatters into shards of memory. You have to do something with it. You can’t keep it there forever. But you want to. You want to so badly. The faint coffee stains, the tracks left by dried droplets, are the last remnants of him left unchanged. They are all that is left, all you have left. You hate it. Hate what thinking of him drags you inexorably back to; not his smile, or his strong arms, or how you felt when he lay next to you. No. None of that. You remember blood. Warm and coppery, running through your fingers like water from a tap, that you couldn’t stem, oh god how you’d tried to stem it. It had been like holding back an ocean; a vastness of life yet to be lived. You knew that if you had just been able to hold it in, keep the sea within his veins, you knew that he could still traverse that ocean, would still traverse that ocean. You knew that he would travel it with you, your seas running together, the union of distant waves becoming one. It had all run out, pooling around you, the tide of his heart. The tide coming in, drowning you, an inevitability that could be halted by neither man nor god. In the swelling depths, he had left you. Left you an island of grief. Left you an island of grief in a sea of blood. If you recount the time you spent there, knees bent, head bowed, you remember one thought with clarity: this felt biblical. The sea of blood, the misbegotten woman. A sinner, kneeling in the stilled tide, begging repentance for her actions, for her failings, for her failures. And the priest of Death handing her a goblet of silver and a goblet of wood, one filled with the blood of Christ, one with the blood of the mere mortal she had clasped to her in sin and dreamt of in love. And the sinner, the harlot, the island of grief, had seen that there was no difference between the oceans that had filled their veins, no difference between them in death. And the priest of Death had told her to drink deeply of the blood of the redeemer, the humble, the lamb, to drink and in doing so wash away all of her transgressions. But the sinner had cast aside the goblet of wood and mercy, and drank of the silver, drank of the lust and the love and the hope for damnation, drank as a woman drowning who yearns for the death that fills her lungs. She wished only to hold her lover inside her once again, to drown in the ocean of him, to burn with him in Hell rather than rejoice alone in Heaven. The priest of Death, knowing
FLAR / Spring 2016 / Volume 4, Issue 1
why she did this, knowing her hope, her utmost transgression, cursed her to remain forever, condemned by her sin to life eternal, allowed neither damnation nor salvation. And the sinner wept, alone. In that moment, you would have chosen to join him in still ness. To let your oceans become one as he’d always promised they would. You’d wanted to lie beside him forever, to sleep and dream of rest. Instead, you called the police and explained in broken sentences what had happened. When the officers had knocked and then pounded and then kicked open the door, you were still kneeling in his blood. You told them all you remembered. The woman, yes, a woman, the woman who had had a knife that looked like a sliver of moonlit snow, who had walked into your home and stabbed him and stabbed him and stabbed him and then left and even as she was stabbing him you were screaming and trying to make her stop and he was screaming and slowly dying and she said nothing and then she left and then you were by him and all he did was stare at you and whisper why and you did not know and you tried to stop the bleeding but you could not just like you had been unable to stop the woman because she had killed him and you had done nothing but kneel in the ocean of his life. They had asked you what she looked like, the woman. You had told them that you did not remember, that she had walked in and you had seen that she was a woman and then you had seen she was holding a knife and all you had been able to watch was the knife as it shone a beacon of death and then the knife had broken his skin and all you were able to do was scream and try to force the knife away but you could not and when she had left you did not watch her because you were watching him and trying oh god trying to make the bleeding stop. They had asked if you were sure you remembered nothing of what she looked like, and you scraped your mind for flashes of recollection, glimpsed beyond the knife or the screaming. Muddled, you recounted the best you could. Dark hair your first impression a pale hand clutching the blade wide eyes met as you tried to stop her from lowering her pale hand and the knife silver beneath the crimson into him again and again and again lips bright with stain matching the knife not the silver but the blood smiling serenely eyes cold dark a dress glimpsed as she had been kneeling killing him and you had been kneeling struggling to stop her. They had nodded, the one with kind eyes had rested a hand on your shoulder and told you that it was alright, that an ambulance was on its way to take you to the hospital, to help you, and that you were most likely in shock right now. You had told him that you were afraid that she would kill you that she had killed him and you couldn’t stop it so how could you stop her if she was going to kill you. He had told you that they would make sure you were alright. At the hospital, the woman with the white coat and severe bun had said the kind-eyed officer was correct, and you had gone into shock. She had said that you had to stay a little while for observation, to make sure you weren’t at risk of accidentally harming yourself. You knew she didn’t think it would be accidental. You didn’t find it necessary to clarify that if you were going to kill yourself, you would have done it when you had been there, drowning in his life, kneeling in his eternities. You didn’t want to die alone, without him. You knew that it would be an empty death, borne indirectly from the woman and the knife of silver and the wide eyes, and you refused to give her the satisfaction.
The doctor, the woman in the white coat and severe hair, had talked to you often about what had happened. You think it was supposed to help you process, and if she asked, you said that it did. You knew that was what she wanted to hear, she was like the officer with the kind eyes, trying to ensure your sanity in a world of madness. In your mind, sequestered in the dark recesses where you had been drowned by the tide, her questions, her endless recounting brought only terror and helplessness and anger at yourself and the woman and him. It was not fair of you to think that way, and you knew, but nothing was fair when he was dead and you were afraid. All you had wanted was to go home; to sequester yourself in the room you had once shared with him when he was there, to live like a hermit, breathing in the faint scent of him that remained on the sheets. You did not want to stay in the hospital, in the clinically sterile rooms where countless people had slept and hoped and feared and died. You did not want to keep talking to the doctor, you were so tired of it. After what had felt like a lifetime but was only a few weeks, she had said you were mentally sound enough, said you could go home. You did not feel sound enough, you felt as though you wore a façade, a mask that refused to let you weep. Walking into the house you had shared with him, you didn’t expect the utter sense of emptiness that clung to everything. No, you did, but you were not prepared. The floors had been cleaned by a hired crew, scrubbed and bleached and worked deep into the grain until there was no mark left. Still you knew, knew where he had fallen and where you had kneeled and where she had left. It was all in your mind. It is in your mind. It always will be. You are alone now, staring at an empty mug. You hold it, feel the cool ceramic beneath your fingers, place your lips upon the rim where his lips once rested, a final kiss. You turn to fill it, to drink of him one last time, and see the woman. The mug slips from your fingers, shatters. You do not care, not actively. You grab a knife, walk forward. She has one too. Moonlight on snow. The knife doesn’t look like that; the promise it holds does. You stop, and so does she. You stare at each other, separated by a wooden door frame and a seemingly insurmountable distance. You are afraid. You are terrified. You remember kneeling as she stared at you, eyes cold, eyes dark and dead. When you remember that, you remember his life slipping past useless hands, lips unable to voice what he wished to ask. When you remember that, you are furious. “Why? Why did you kill him? Why?” She stares at you. Her cheeks are hollow, beneath her eyes is exhaustion, her hair hangs lank and unwashed. “He was never going to leave his wife for me like he promised. She told me so. Told me they were buying a house together far away, that he planned to abandon me like trash.” You shake your head, disbelieving, refusing. “No. He wouldn’t…all he cared about…he loved me.” She laughs, bitter. “He didn’t love me. Deal with it. I know I did.” You scream then. “You killed him.” Raise your knife. Lunge. She steps aside. Raises her knife.
Steps forward. Catches you. Draws the line of reflection along your left wrist. You stumble back, and so does she. You stare at your wrist, and so does she. You ignore the ocean that spills from you. “How did you get in?” She mocks you, swaying along. “I’ve always been here.” It’s difficult to think. “Why…why did you kill him?” “I said this already. I was little more than a whore to him. A distraction. He was leaving and he was going to leave me, all to stay with that prude he married straight out of high school. Poor me. All alone either way.” You shake your head, she mocks you, taunting. You grit your teeth. Stumble forward quickly enough. You both stare at her wrist. Catch her on her left, mirroring you.
She laughs. “An eye for an eye. That at least was in the bible.” You stare at your wrists, see twin wounds, realize you’re seeing double. “How…h-…how’d you know that?” “I’ve read the bible…” She reminds you of that monster, the cat that ate people. The Sphynx, always telling riddles. “I have too…” “Yeah. I know.” You sway. Is she swaying too? “Why…why…w-why…” You can’t remember. “Why did you kill him?” “Because I hated him. Because I wanted him to die. Because I was tired of his sneering smiles and constricting arms and because I finally realized that he only lay next to me because he didn’t get enough from his goddamn wife.” “That’s not true!” You drop the knife. Leap. Reach out, to hurt her like she hurt him. You don’t care if she kills you. She killed him. Left him to die in his blood, all he could ask was why. Your fists connect. The glass shatters. You know why. Gleaming, shining, fall. You kneel down, the glass slices your knees. You don’t care. You kneel, the sinner facing the goblets. The sinner understood. You stare at the silvered shards, deep in your hands. You stare at the twin slices in your wrists. As they color the ground and the glass red, you understand. Kneeling in the shattered mirror, you laugh until you cry. The sinner chose wrong. You lay in your bed of glass and feel the water of your unspent eternities wash over you. The sinner gets her rest at last.
FLAR / Spring 2016 / Volume 4, Issue 1
One senses the pine and cherry consenting to their conversion, petitioning the god of utility, and the maple succumbing. How a drawer’s wooden pulls yield to each hand, simple not rough—rococo rebuffed. A turned post bench or chair plainly suited for the human form to settle and wait for the second coming.
By Ruth Ann Allaire
~ Joseph Dorazio
My grandmother and grandfather had different opinions when it came to blueberries. Grandma liked “low bush” berries. We sat on the sandy hillside and picked the berries into small metal pails. The berry bushes were mixed with sweet fern plants. I liked to pinch the fern plants and smell the fragrance from their leaves. I also liked to eat blueberries. “Eat one only after you pick five,” she said. I hoped she wasn’t counting. I figured a two to one balance was good.Bob white quail ran through the bushes. I learned to call them from Grandma. “Bob white,” she whistled.
Hipsters I dislodged my husband a few years ago Too many details to tell My hip was tender Where he’d lived. The doctors said I’d heal. And I did. Surprisingly Quickly. My dislocated husband called today A slip of the tongue - he called me ‘hon’. My hip can once more heft its old load, Wiggles at the chance to dance Cheek to cheek. And I knows Everything’s going To be all right. ~ Iseult Healy
FLAR / Spring 2016 / Volume 4, Issue 1
“Bob white,” I echoed. Grandma was also a Republican, whatever that meant. Grandpa said that was because she was always counting everything. However, Grandpa liked “high bush” berries. These bushes hung their berries in great clumps over the edge of the lake. Grandpa would take me in the flat bottom row boat to scoop the bunches of berries into big pails. The whole bunch not just one at a time. I smooshed handfuls of berries into my mouth until the juice ran down my chin. Grandpa never said a word. When we got back to the picnic table, Grandma, who had made egg salad sandwiches and was pouring glasses of lemonade, looked at me and shook her head. “Democrats have no sense of what’s right or wrong for a child. Life is not just one giant blueberry patch where you can eat until you are full.”
Patti Frasier Oil
Faith, Love & Artistry The Work of Johnny Johnson Johnny Johnson has the reputation of being a stellar educator and a dynamic and prolific artist with a career that spans six decades. From his earliest days in Fredericksburg when he moved here to become Walker-Grant High School’s first state-certified art teacher, Johnson has mentored and been a champion for the arts and art education for both young students and adults. During a retrospective of Johnson’s work at LibertyTown Arts Workshop in 2007, artists Dan Finnegan and Kathleen Walsh recognized Johnson as “a leader in social issues, long committed to finding common ground between black and white communitties.” They found him notable for being the ‘first black man’ in several area institutions and organizations, including the first African American to teach at Mary Washington College (now UMW) and the first member of the Fredericksburg Jaycees (with Gilbert Coleman), saying “He brought grace, good humor, and commmon sense to the table. We have been touched by his presence and courage. We have learned from him. He has become one of the most beloved men in our community.” Finnegan and Walsh also recognized the remarkable affection his former students hold for him. Johnson, himself, revealed during this interview that two of his most cherished awards are his “Teacher of the Year” award from 1977, when he was the first art teacher in Virginia to receive the award, and the Unsung Virginian award. Johnson has built his life and career here in Fredericksburg, Virginia with his wife, Jean, their two grown sons, Shelton and John Patrick, and five grandchildren. This interview highlights the intersection of faith, family and artistry in Johnson’s work.
FLAR / Spring 2016 / Volume 4, Issue 1
Photo by Saeed Ordoubadi
You taught children and young adults for many years. How has arts education changed since you were in school? Do you think sutdents today are more attuned to visual imagery? Are they more artistic in that sense? Well, I grew up in small town Henderson, North Carolina. We didn’t have an arts program, and my white counterparts - this was during segregation times - didn’t have art taught to them either. So, it wasn’t a matter of discrimination in that way, it’s just that Henderson saw art as a frill more than something where the kids would be culturally enhanced. The studies I have looked at indicate that art actually helps with some of the other courses in elementary school. I know I had students who really found themselves in art - minority students, Caucasian students, any ethnic group, - because it was something that they did and something that was reinforced. The goal of art education is not just to prepare artists, because less than two percent will go into art as a vocation, but 100 percent will be consumers.
So art education will teach them to know determine what they like. That’s it. I remember when the Fredericksburg Center for the Creative Arts [FCCA] was the Fredericksburg Gallery of Modern Art, and I remember Mary Washington [College] would bring in famous artwork almost every year. They’d pull work out of New York and other places. They had a gentleman who was just a super artist over there, and he and some other influential people would set this up. Even though the college didn’t have any black students when I first came here, we could go over there to see an exhibit. I would look forward to this exhibit and I would take my students to it. It sounds like a great way to expose them to art. Right. I would have my students have a signed permission slip, “I will allow my son/daughter to go to any local exhibits during the school year.” I kept them in the file cabinet. We drove our cars to the exhibits at the college. Virginia was also one of the few states that had an art mobile sponsored by the art museum down in Richmond [VMFA]. They would pull art and drive it around on a bus going to different places around the state. Sometimes they’d park down by the FCCA and stay four days. It was fantastic. Then other times they’d park at the Park and Shop [Eagle Village]. That was just a hop, skip and a jump. One year, we had some of Francisco Goya’s etchings come on the bus. The Disasters of War - Goya did a series of etchings based on his disdain of war, like the one called Execution on the Third of May. That was exposure! One of the things that’s been consistently revealed when I’ve interviewed young people is that, as a group, they seem to have this openness with their work - a very sharing culture. They say, “See what you can do with this. I’ll take your piece and see what I can do with it.” See, now that gets them out of the box. Kids now are get-
ting art much earlier. They are so good with computers that some of them are excellent at combining graphic arts with the fine arts. But you know, the group of adults that I work with at the community center each Thursday, they have gone beyond what the books say about us old folk. They seem to be uninhibited. A lot of things I provide for them to do are things I enjoy - the texture, using mixed media. Believe it or not, I’m eighty, most are in their mid-seventies and the youngest is probably around fifty. Everything I ask them to try, they try. I’m very happy with them. How long have they been with you? Some of them have been with me fifteen years. Most of them have been a minimum of seven or eight. I first started at the community center in the early ninties, and I am so pleased with what they do. We have an exhibit in the library every January. There are usually around 70 pieces of work from twenty-some artists. Many of your own pieces of artwork deal with the subject of faith. Would you talk about your inspiration for them? Well, I’m a believer, and I have done several pieces called I Surrender . I will continue to make those. The best religious painting I think I’ve done was bought by the dean of Nyack College, and I wish I had that painting. It was Christ on the cross. Honestly, my son, John Patrick, said, “Dad, you shouldn’t have sold that painting.” Then there are some religious themes in my paintings. One, called Faith, shows a mother praying. The faith she has goes down to the child, because the mother has faith in God and the child has faith in the mother. I painted it for a religious art festival at St. George’s [Episocopal Church] over forty years ago. Another, called The Gift, showed the birth of the messiah. Two ministers out of Richmond bought that. I’d like to know how that’s fairing after forty years.
I’ll tell you where you can see some. I did some religious paintings, and I was doing something for a group at Christ Lutheran Church. Somebody passed away, and these paintings were found in his home. The person left enough money to frame them beautifully and they are in the vestibule over there. I was surprised and pleased, because I had no idea that they were going to do this. When you are painting these faith-based paintings, what do they evoke in you? What are you tapping into? I have always had strong feelings. People at my church say I’m a cry-baby. I’m deeply moved by music. It could be sacred music, or it could be the blues. The feelings that I get when I do the religious paintings are based primarily on what I remember as a child seeing people and hearing people testify, hearing people thank the Lord for things that didn’t seem like they were supposed to happen, things that that they were surprised had happened. We only had a small church in Henderson, and we didn’t have a whole lot of song books, so people sang the songs that they knew. That’s what I heard all the time. All of the black kids went to Henderson Institute, which was a boarding school started by white Presbyterians in 1891. Our building was an old library and chemistry lab. It’s on the National Historic Registry now. Our music teacher, Ms. Abbott, was from Julliard. She’s in her late eighties now, and I called her a few years ago and thanked her for bringing culture to our school.
I fell in love with spirituals at Virginia State College in Petersburg where we had a full choir. The music department was one of the best on the campus, and even though it was a state supported school, the program was rigorous. We couldn’t miss more than three practices of Sunday morning worship, or we’d get into trouble. I see musicians in many of the pieces you have hanging here at your studio. You seem to have connected with the spirit of music throughout your career.
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Oh, yes. I’ve always liked jazz, especially after I entered college, and I love the blues, blues singers, trumpet players, guitar players, all of it. I have a painting that has never been shown in Fredericksburg called Soul Session. It’s inspired by the idea of the Second Line from down in New Orleans; they play the funerals and parades, celebrations. I had seen a Saturday morning a documentary on New Orleans, but I had never been there, though I have been there since. I went to Preservation Hall jazz, and they wouldn’t allow me to use my sketch pad, but they said I could take photographs, which I couldn’t understand. The finished painting is about forty-five years old and heavy because I used masonite. I textured it with sand and sawdust. You notice there are some abstract parts to it, too, with the arms and the trumpet that’s missing parts. Going back to your Ms. Abbott, though, what a gift to have a teacher coming out of Julliard! That seems unusual to have a teacher train at a prestigious school and come back to teach at a small high school? That’s what I couldn’t understand. A black person finishing Julliard at that time, probably with a B.S. degree, could get a job teaching in a small college. She said that she wanted the experience of working with black children. We had some very good teachers in Henderson. In fact, the teacher that caused me to go into art - although there were no jobs available for art teachers in small Henderson - was my homeroom teacher, Mrs. Avent, who was a biology teacher from Greensboro. While everyone else was saying I wouldn’t be able to find a job, she told me, “You will not be happy doing anything else.” I said I wanted to be a good teacher and a good artist. I guess I was young and stupid. And you ended up better for it, right? Right! Mrs. Avent, God rest her soul. She was right, because I enjoy painting as much now as I did forty years ago.
And not many can say that! That’s right. I grew up with my mother who was a dropout from school. Her father died when she was 14 and her mother died when she was ten, so she had to go to work. She was a Christian and taught me so much. Like the subjects who inspired your paintings of people? She is the inspiration behind paintings like that. She would tell me sometimes, “You know, when I’m on the job,” - she was a domestic - “sometimes I just stop in the middle of doing something and just thank God for such and such.” Her sister, who was also a domestic, was working for very wealthy people in Greenwich, Connecticut and sent her some money when she thought things were dire. My dad worked the textile mills, but his checks were very minimal. During the war, my parents farmed us out to my mother’s brother, and that’s when I got my baptism of fire in terms of working. Getting up at five o’clock in the morning, flue cured tobacco. I bought my first bicycle, the only one I ever got, after I planted an acre of cotton for Uncle George. I learned to plow. I learned to prime tobacco. When you planted the tobacco, the first plowing you had to hoe the tobacco so when you plowed, the dirt wouldn’t get on it. On a given day, he couldn’t take my cousins and me, because you can’t have all those people in the row with the mule. It would be my time to go. I was short enough to stoop and grab. Hard labor! Oh, yeah! Helen, my sister, and I went out to be kept by them for a little over two years. There was no more sleeping late in the summer time. We were, let’s see, I was born in ‘36, so when we went out there I was about seven or eight.
How do you think your experiences as a young person, working hard and living in an era of segregation, have influenced your work today? I think it shows most in my social commentaries. I sense that we’re living in a time when there is a sentiment to restrict or do away with some of rights that we’ve had since the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts. As an African American artist, I felt, not pressured, but obliged to paint some things that were social in nature. In terms of justice, early on a lot of my paintings were social in nature. In fact, when I would show my work, I would have a combination of social commentaries and sweet, sentimental things. As issues of equality began to get better, so to speak, I continued making social commentaries.
Grandfather’s Love, a piece I did in 2011, is one where I try to highlight African Americans that are not PhDs, but share a lot of wisdom with the younger generation. I never knew either one of my grandfathers, but the way I love my grandchildren, I’m sure they loved me; I sense that they did. Another called Sage Advice respresents that old man or woman in the community who might split two verbs in the same sentence, but still was a sweetheart and had a lot of wisdom, a lot of advice. I remember a lady in my hometown who called me over to her house when I was graduating from high school and said, “Now you just keep your hands in God’s hands,” and I think she gave me fifty cents because that’s all she had. She cared enough to want to do that. I try to highlight these figures through the symbolism in these types of paintings. I’m very sentimental. Subjects like that come up. What comes to mind when you are working on your abstract landscapes? Oh, just a lot of fun. I deal with texture and color. So, walk me through the process. Usually my abstracts are far from using the local color. You
are not going to find the same color in the environment; you might find some leaves in the fall, but that’s not going to be a typical landscape. They have the elements of color and texture, and often I have to do a number of refinements, because the color needs to be dispersed in a different way. Generally speaking, you can make a commentary with something abstract. It depends on how abstracted the subject is, the presentation of the visual statement. Some of my figure paintings have abstract elements. How do you know when it’s finished? You would ask a questions like that! You’re not supposed to ask that, Amy. Some of the paintings that I’ve done, I have taken them off the wall twenty years later and touch them up. I like all the texture in these. I’m crazy about using texture. Why do you like texture, do you think? I don’t know. Someone once said I should be a sculptor. Have you ever tried? No more than the snow woman that was in the Free LanceStar about forty-five years ago. Then I was criticized for doing a naked woman. I didn’t want to mess it up by putting clothes on it. If you looked at it from the standpoint of being naked, there were no nipples, just a figure. Free Lance-Star shot it. The doctor up on the corner thought my anatomy was great, but a lot of people thought driving by that it was a bit much. That was your one attempt at sculpting? Yes. And the FLS shot it. That’s pretty good. Do you think this area is conservative that way about nude art? No. Let me tell you what I think has happened. I’ll give you an example of some of the backlash. Several years ago the Women’s Club had an exhibit at the community center. 29
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They’ve had that every year for a couple of decades. It was rather conservative in terms of what was chosen to be in the exhibit. Someone had a nude. It wasn’t anything erotic, just a well-done nude. When the man came to judge the show, and that painting that was set aside. It won an award, but then some people wanted to ban nudes. Because of that, some artists never came back to the show. I can tell you this, there are so many more artists than there were when I first came here. You could count the practicing artists, not including the college, on two hands back then. I think you still have some people who are very conservative about art, but by in large, because of the influx of new people, it’s opened up a lot. You can go to LibertyTown and see nudes. Bill Harris does a lot of them. I don’t think people give him a whole lot of flak. Some of the people who were most conservative about such things have gone on to rest. You must have seen broad changes in the city as a longtime resident. What are some of the most profound in terms of social climate and art edcuation? Well, when I first came here in the late sixties it was still segregated. I was asked to go to Mary Washington College by the powers that be to teach an art education course. You had art majors and some of them got their degrees in art, but they were also certified to teach. Jobs weren’t that easy because you had art in the high school, but you didn’t have anybody in the elementary school. In Fredericksburg you had art, and when I came here to teach art I had one high school art class at Walker Grant. I taught students in the lower grades, but it was not in an organized way, only when there was some availability. Even at the high school, in order for me to teach the high school class, the students had to go to another teacher for math and something else. Then I would go into the classroom of a teacher who said, “Well, Johnny, I always want you to come in and help give my children a hand.” So I would go in, bring some supplies, and teach. It was better than over in Spotsylvania at the time, where you might have had one art teacher going to three or four different schools.
Some people say when John F. Kennedy became president it did so much, culturally speaking, to raise the level of arts awareness, because it was important to him and his wife. I began to see more interest in the arts around the seventies. Today, Fredericksburg has grown population-wise. It’s nestled into two of the fastest growing counties in Virginia, Stafford and Spotsylvania. Today, you might have an art teacher only on certain days, but you have an art program, which is great progress. I judged the art exhibit for Fredericksburg, Spotsylvania and Stafford, and I was blown away. The work that many of these children do is amazing - throughout Fredericksburg, Stafford, Spotsylvania and King George - I mean it’s just outstanding. Some of them will go on to become art majors. Did your experiences as a teacher also inspire you to paint social commentary pieces after working in a segregated climate? Yes, I’ll tell you. Even today, I think about the young people I have and do mentor. I was recently reading about Fanny Lou Hammer in Mississippi during the fifties or sixties. She was a high school drop out, but her family - her mother had 20 children - lived on a plantation. Fanny Lou Hammer went in to exercise her right to vote and the man asked her to interpret something in the Mississippi constitution and then stamped denied on her application. So, you didn’t have any blacks voting there. You had no black election clerks in the South. The owner of the plantation where her family lived kicked her off. If you worked for somebody you couldn’t go against their will, so to speak. If you did, you had to do it secretly, and with this system the way it was, it was difficult for people to do this. These are people I admire. My club at church is giving a black history program, and many of the black kids know very little about African American history. I have a young lady who is interested in drama, and she is going to portray Fanny Lou Hammer. Many of the kids today say, “Oh, I wouldn’t have done
that. I wouldn’t have drunk water out of a fountain for colored people.” You would do that. You had to. So it sounds as if there were a number of influences for your social commentary pieces. Yes, and in terms of social commentary, some of my paintings will be obvious, while some will be subtle in nature. I used to get criticism from some of the undergrad students at Howard University about not making my social commentaries very plain, and I said, well, why is it that you don’t want black people to look at something and decide whether it has some meaning relative to the subject? Why can’t they do that rather than just have everything simple so that even a four or five year old can tell you what it means? I like to raise the level for everybody. I like to make them think about it. Why did he do it that way? Usually in my pieces called Man’s Constant Struggle, I have to get somebody to model doing something, pulling something that looks physical, but the struggle is really with society or with unfair labor practices. My dad was the inspiration for these, because in the late 1940s he did not get the same amount of money working at the textile mill as his white counterpart did doing the same things. Yet, when he went to the supermarket he had to pay the same price that his white counterpart paid. You follow me? People work and they’re laboring, and just because it’s not obvious to the audience doesn’t mean it won’t reveal itself to them. I’m not going to bow to that thinking; I’m going to leave it just like I have it. I understand what the Howard students were saying, but I’ve never wanted to condescend to people. I believe they will get the message as it relates to them. Even if they didn’t finish high school. These students had skepticism. I did a painting called The Skeptics. I painted faces and tried to make them filled with skepticism. When I talked about them in presentations, I would say that skepticism can be very good. You don’t have to be gullible and accept everything that comes down
the pike, especially, for instance, with politicians who only come into black neighborhoods during election years. You see? But if skepticism keeps you from taking on something that is very positive in the long run, it’s not so good. You encourage active dialogue with your audience with these social commentaries. Always. I feel an obligation to have that dialogue. Here’s an example. I have a painting at home called I’ve Been There and I’m Tired. It’s inspired by the people who have done all the right things. They’ve got the education; they’ve got a job; they volunteer and do all these things, but they are still discriminated against, mainly because of their race. Then someone from, say, a civil rights organization comes through town and gives a spiel about what they ought to be doing, and they reply, “Man, I’ve been there and I’m tired.” Now, I figure that you do not do all that you can do until you are unable to do it. You can’t pay dues and have ten or fifteen years in good health and not commit yourself to helping someone else. That’s what I feel. I feel there’s a moral obligation to continue to help people until you take your dying breath. A lot of people feel that way. I was impressed by the lady shown recently who was 107 and she met Obama. She had on her apron and she was volunteering. She’s been doing it for years. A lot of people have told me, “Well Johnny, you’ve paid your dues.” I say no, your dues are not paid until you die, really, I just believe that there is some good that people can be doing. Even if it’s getting on the phone and talking to someone who is shut in. Even if you can’t walk, you can talk to someone. People would be surprised how much that means, that another human being cares. Have you found yourself wanting to paint more of these commentaries in today’s social and politcal climate?
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It does make me very apprehensive. My grandchildren were probably brought up to love everybody and not be suspicious of people. Now I’m sensing that they might be correcting themselves when we discuss how we relate to everybody. The eldest one is twenty-three, next is twenty, two sixteen year-olds and one is eight years old. Certainly, the eight year-old is very happy with life and probably she hasn’t been taught to look out for certain people. This teaching of love, it’s part of our faith. I run into teenagers at church, and when we bring up the subject they say, “You mean to tell me I have to love everybody!” I say yes, you should love based on what we believe, but they say, “Mr. Johnson, is it alright to love somebody, but just don’t like them?” I say yes. I think most people are like that. Loving someone means something much broader than liking them. The late Mrs. Francis Armstrong said, “Johnny, I can’t understand you. You seem to care for everybody.” I said, well why not. I just don’t believe in having luggage. If I hated white people, or Hispanic people or Jews, it means that I have to struggle every time I have to interact with people from those groups. That’s an added burden. Why can’t I just deal with these people the way I deal with others? You follow what I’m saying? Why can’t I make those decisions as I get to know the person? Besides music, faith, and social commentary, your paintings also seem to evoke familial bonds, like your paitings of grandfathers and mothers. From what you’ve mentioned of your own family, I would imagine you have a certain image or images in mind when you paint families. I’ve always wanted to express something about family. I’m thinking about love, and I have included people and have tried to include imagines of mothers of all ethnicities in my work. I feel very sure that the love the white mother gives
to her baby is similar to the love that the black mother, the Jewish mother, the Muslim mother, and so forth, give to their babies. You can’t say this person loves better than that person based on their race. That baby is something else. So, it’s rare that you don’t find something related to mother and child in things that I’ve sketched. You’re a prolific painter. You have a lot of work out there, and I know quite a few people who have your work hanging on their walls. It must be like sending your children out into the world. What happens, after I’m gone, there’s not going to be a mad dash to get Johnny Johnson’s work, because so many people have them. I’ve painted over 5,000 pieces. Someone once said, “Well, you charge less than a lot of artists.” First of all, I didn’t choose my customers, but I’ve always wanted to make sure black people could purchase the work. I’ve come up with all kinds of ways over the years to give discounts to anyone who loves a painting, but can’t afford it. I’ve even given them away in extreme circumstances. Someone will say they love it and they can’t afford it, and I say well, when did you get married? Ten years ago? Well, this is wedding present. I think your philosophy and my philosophy line up really well. FLAR is a not-for-profit venture and I host it online free of charge to my audience. I love art and writing, always have, and I want to help people promote their work and have their voices heard. A lady up in Reston once told Jean, “You know, he’s never going to have anything.” It depends on what you’re wanting to have, I suppose. That’s right. Jean’s been very good about that. She knows how I am, though she does have a little bit of trouble understanding how I can get so much joy out of my abstract work. I started abstracts because I like to experiment with mediums and subjects and so forth. It’s just a lot of fun for
me. You may say, “Well, you’re just a big overgrown immature boy,” but I have a lot of fun with my work. Jean thinks I’m working too hard, but I tell her it’s non-stressful. It’s frustrating when I don’t get the results that I like, but it’s a non-stressful type of frustration. You’ve had some health issues over the past couple of years that have made it difficult to work. That must have been so frustrating for someone who enjoys his work as you do. Yes, back issues made it hard to work in 2013 and 2015. I was rushed to the hospital on Christmas Day of 2014 with a disc that was out of place. I didn’t want surgery, so I had an epidural at the hospital and spent seven or eight days at Health South for rehab. I had to rest it most of 2015 to get back into shape. Painting is hard on the back. How long of a period of time are you able to work now? Typiclally a few hours. I’ll go out to my studio in the morning and try straightening up and see what I want to do. I have a stack of things I’ve started that would probably take less than half an hour to complete, just small paintings. I don’t because of the logistics of pulling them out. Yesterday I started putting things that are similar in size together, interesting little things, very colorful. Some can be social commentaires, and some just plain paintings I wanted to experiment with in terms of color. And now that you are on the mend, what’s next for you? I’m a featured artist in an exhibit at Art First in June (2016) called Homage to Okra & More. There will definitely be a few social commentaries in the show.
Three by ................................. Fading into Transluscency Reaching for something knowing it may never exist while others have a thousand hands to hold. I am filled with an enormous sense of well-being. While others are filled with stolen kisses and pretty lies. Just because __________(insert name name of person)hates him/herself, does not mean pouring more of your love will fix him/her, you only walk away emptier. My body may be a temple but I am the one whom it is devoted, do not presume to tell me how I may decorate and use my altar when you are reaching for someone else right through me. Blood ends and blood begins. Blood ends and light begins. We are broken dams. We are goddamn broken with these hands. I will stand in the afternoon light until I turn translucent just so you can finally reach through me for those thousand hands that tried to break my temple. When I come undone notice me in the back of your head as a keepsake, as the one that turned translucent just so you could reach through me, as my blood ends remember my temple – my devastating beautiful alter.
The Problem of Hands The problem of hands and how to fill them is the problem of cigarettes and paint. Words dance as he calls her baby but hands - hands are violent, those Xanax-ed Memphis hands. Her softness for wayward strangers has made her nothing less than a halfway house for aching souls. So when he opens his mouth and calls her ‘baby’ understand that she is not your next victim in a laundry list of broken girls. You think she doesn’t know you? People like you? People with mouths for hands. She’s got skin like topsoil and your teeth could never take root. So when you go looking to make a plaything of a sunburst, you better look for someone with less fire than her. Because softness or no, she will eat you alive with those dancing words. Her words dance with the devil. That boy with dark hair and soft lips told her that the ocean and girls have nothing in common. But she told him that both would murder you before they saved you. She has salt water hands to rip apart seaweed ribs and sand dollar kisses for you to find between sheets. There is no part of her that doesn’t scream emotional riptide, and yet they’re always lying by her reaching shores, close enough to wreck—so many shipwrecks. They say saltwater tastes like blood and she had to agree. There is no part of this sick sick sickness that doesn’t rattle every nerve in your body so why do you stay? She knows he’s no good, yet she kept on collecting sea shells, pieces of him, pieces of him, taken away on sun kissed skin. And that’s the very problem of hands they work like feet, always one step ahead with a cigarette in one hand and with paint a million shades of blood in the other.
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..............................Katie Linder Catalysts You left your mark on me, soft finger trails like old scars, the indents from your lips like phantom pains, and nobody asks but they know why I like my knuckles purple, why my eyes always look bruised under my perfect eyeliner and laughter. I never keep still enough for a closer look, always going 250 mph, making up for the fact I have to live twice as hard to outpace the parts of me that are still soft and weak for your voice. If I outdistance them maybe they’ll give up and I’ll find myself oceans away, cities away, in bars where no one looks like you, in countries where no one can pronounce your name so no one would ever say it. I gave myself two weeks of mental rehab but didn’t expect the emptiness I would feel once the flood waters had run dry. Loving you was like a cancer, and I didn’t think I could ever cut or burn or poison you out. I’ll start by swirling my fingers across the waters of your passing and accepting you were here. I figure I’m never going to get those parts of myself back, so I just grew new ones. Fun fact: every cell in your body is replaced after seven years. Did you know that? I just got impatient. I never realized how much of me you took with you, because this entire body feels updated, started over from cell one. I have the kind of the stubbornness that breaks bones (mostly my own), but ghosts can’t be fought, so I guess running it is. You were every memory my heart wanted to make, but my brain has edited you out,erased your presence until all that’s left are just untouched pancakes in an empty kitchen, just dawn light spilling over comforters piled only to one side. Just blankets left on the beach for the moon to dissolve, just songs I skip past as I drive home alone. I always said I wasn’t a romantic but we both knew that was a lie. I was looking for oceans to drown in and have spent most my life finding boys in the rain, getting drenched but never pulled down and under, you came like a riptide, the bottom of the ocean is cold and I don’t have a map, no one taught me how to breathe. You, you were searching for kindness like raindrops in a desert but when the oasis came, you never touched it, nothing could convince you it wasn’t a mirage. Catalysts aren’t changed by the things they come into contact with. And they aren’t affected by the explosions they create. By that definition, I’d want to call you one. But I couldn’t make up the way your fingertips cling at mine every time I go. “Just give me one year,” you’d whispered to the ceiling, and another time over the phone, “It feels like parts of me are dying” because I wasn’t there and I’d never be there, because the next week you told me “There’s somebody else, I hope you understand.”
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Three by Travis Truax
I have floated its line. I have held to its shore. I have burdened my life with its love. There is no answer to a river’s pull or our reprise, only a gradual knowing, and more and more bends.
The Mission Range
Imagine having an A-frame at the foothills of the Mission Range, gathering legends from the big mountains to send in long letters home. Stories about winter and snow-blind walks and borrowed light, bunch-grass buried by the bison’s stride. Wolves wading the deep meadow snow. An old piano by a dumpster in Dixon.
Somewhere in Alabama last winter I saw spanish moss hanging dead over the slow dribble of a cold river that cut back and forth beneath the grey road. This was almost Florida and far from snow. The hot springs, the swamps and snakebirds, soon took the landscape back into their green hands and rubbed the truck-stops grey. Remnants of roads to threadbare towns began to promise peanuts, cypress groves, and lunch beneath winter-cracked palms. Outside Montgomery there was a cemetery. Some cars quit there to see the South’s reunion with itself. And then, past Wakulla when I hit the beach, I heard the Gulf remember every thick river and green spring that had found its end there in the sand. I heard the tireless caches of movement rest, finally closed off and caught.
The Mission Range is dotted with desire like this. Moonlight between pines and a summer freeze. Echoes must walk years, my grandpa said, before they find a home. And I believe my grandpa, like I believe the mountains.
Its black shimmer darkens celebrated fishing spots, decorates the sycamores, and tells me where I’m from. It ferries through the years my father’s Sunday smile and my mother’s yes to marriage. 1985. Summer. It all seems ancient. Virginia. Fall. Where have I been? The Shenandoah slips north past places I once called home, tangling itself with the muddy banks of age:
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Edge of Morning Dick Evans Acrylic
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Govinda Giri Prerana Poet of Nepal
Govinda Giri Prerana, born in 1958 at Tekkar Bhansari, Makwanpur, Nepal is a renowned poet, lyricist, novelist and storywriter. He made his debut in writing in 1977 with the publication of his story “Kinara”. He now has six story collections to his credit: Suteko Samudra,
Antaraal, Yatra Ananta, Ghorahi Sunya Kilometer, Chhadke Tilahari and Gantayvya Ganabahal, and four novels: Utkhanan, Pakhanda Parva, Antim Khadal, and Matra Ek Raat. His collections of poems include Phoolharu Kehi ta Bola, Swapnakatha Jaari Chha, Achanak Ekcdin, Rajmargaka Sundariharoo, and Dui Dashakka Aawajharoo. He has also published three collections of travel essays entitled Phero, Tistako Kinarai Kinar, and Goodbye America, while his collections of essays are two: Paulibulu and Dui Dashakka Chintanharu. His fame as a critic rests in his book Telko Dhoop while his collection of satirical essays Prajatantrako Kafal Pakyo Hajur showcases his satirical qualities. He has also edited a number of compilations which include Hem Hamalka Kavita, Basanta Shresthaka Kavita, Dhruva Thapaka Kavita ra Geet, Murari Adhikarika Katha, Dhruvachandraka Ekaunna Katha, Ghadiharooko Deshma Samaya Khojdai and Kehi Parakh Kadika. He has also tried his hand at translation. His translations that have appeared in publication are Ikedaka Kavita ra Nibandha and Japani Sahityako Samchhipta Jhalak. He has also contributed a number of stories to various collections, periodicals and journals.
Govinda Giri Prerana lived, worked and wrote in Nepal until moving to the United States in 2004. Like many first generation immigrants, Prerana faces challenges due to the transitions to his new home, and he remembers fondly the familiar festivals and routines of his birth country. Prerana left behind an established reputation as a writer of all genres. Students studied him and wrote their thesis papers about his writing. His work has been anthologized numerous times throughout Nepal. Prerana’s is steadily developing a reputation as a writer here in the States beginning with his permanent residency papers citing him as a professional writer. With translations in the works for a novel and a book of poetry, Prerana hopes to break into the literary world here in the U.S. as he did back in Nepal. Here, he talks about the immigrant’s experience, lost worlds and culture, and universal themes in his poetry. He shares three poems: “The Return Ticket,” “Gantok 98,” and “Mother.”
With your varied experience in writing from different genres, I wonder if you choose the genre first, or do you think about your topic and then pick the genre that topic will fit? For instance, say you wanted to write something about war, do you chose your genre first, or do you say, “I’m going to write a poem about this” and then write it? How does that come to you as a writer?
Actually, when I started writing, I read a lot. Not only in one field, like poetry, novels, essays, drama; I read everything. When I started writing, basically I started writing with poems. And really, most people start with poems, because when they are young they have to write something. But, after writing poetry and reciting poetry, and reading a lot, I found that I can write stories also, so I started writing stories. I can write essays or one-act plays. I have done that also. I think when anything comes up in my mind, it automatically goes to whether it should be story or poetry or essay, whatever. The subject takes its own form; I do not decide. The subject and theme and all these things decide.
I wondered, because I think some people approach it from the other direction sometimes, and maybe both directions at different times, but for me, as a writer, it’s usually the way you’ve expressed; the topic drives the type of written expression needed.
Govinda Giri Prerana
It may be that one of the reasons is if you read a lot, that helps you to choose what you are going to write. For instance, if you want to write only poetry, then you read only poetry, then your mind is certainly diverted in poetry only. If you read a lot of different varieties, then you have that in your mind. What is this and how can it be done? Have you ever chosen and topic and decided to write it as a poem and then written the same topic into another genre as well, kind of as an experiment?
Sometimes it happens. For example, I had a poem Typist Girl, there was a typewriter, right? Now it is computer. When I started my job in Nepal, there used to be typists and I wanted to write a story on typists, what did they do all day and all these things. Later, I wrote a poem about this. Sometimes this happens. I wondered also about, since you are well known in Nepal, where do you see your role as a writer in Nepal? Where do writers fall into the realm of promoters of culture or bringing the country forward thinking? How doe they play a role there?
Actually, writers are the dreamers. They dream a lot [more] than ordinary people. They bring new ideas and new thinking to the public through writing. In Nepal, also, I believe most of the writers are guides for society, because they can think differently than a politician or ordinary people. I would like to mention specifically one poet’s name, Gopal Prasad Rimal. He’s a very important modern poet of Nepal. He wrote only limited poems, and later his mind was unbalanced, but what he wrote - one poem is still the guideline for all the Nepalese people, “That Day Will Come.” I can paraphrase for you: It will come… it is like a conversation… When? It will come after the rain, after all these things gone, one day that will come. He has written like that. He was referencing all the bad things happening in the country and all the Nepalese people chanted together, “One day it will come,” and that day came, same poem. It’s a touchstone, a reference for people in Nepal? They reference that poem and know it.
country of the different part joining to Nepal, and Kumal Gudwal and many parts that is in India now were parts of Nepal at that time. Nepalese people came up to Tista River at that time, and there was a sword and a knife to fight, and they cleaned their swords in this river. Those are all things that were in my mind, and at that point in my travelogue, and it falls to me to write it that way. I wondered if it was a reference to Nepal, but I wondered looking at your other two poems and reading them from an outside perspective, the first one “The Return Ticket” I felt like it could be a metaphor for a person who couldn’t reach the people they wanted to reach or were absent or gone from the world in some way, maybe even mentally. Is it more literal? Is it a metaphor?
Actually, it’s a poem of the immigrant in this country. First generation immigrants face a lot of problems and many things going on in their minds and body. The next generation, they’ve heard everything. For example, I came from Nepal. A lot of my feelings are in Nepal. I think about Nepal, but I am living here. Most of the people think, “One day I will go back to Nepal,” because our first generation has a double standard. For example, there is Christmas, right? Kids are happy to celebrate Christmas, but first generation people like me enjoy our Nepalese festival Dashain or Tihar, not Christmas. Those are two different things going on simultaneously, and whenever there is a big festival in Nepal, I want to participate. When something is going to happen in Nepal, I want to go, but I cannot go. That is the reality of the first generation. My subject matter is reflective of that. “The Return Ticket” is symbolic. I want to go. They cannot go because their are many problems to address here that they cannot go and take time to have fun. Many people have not gone for ten or fifteen years. They have a pain inside, saying, “I did not get a return ticket.” It’s not money or a ticket, but a symbol. Coming from a different perspective, I was able to take from it the feeling of absence, of not being able to be present with the people you wanted to be present with, but I didn’t know the background.
Even though they don’t know the name of the poet, they say, “One day, that will come.”
It’s a matter of culture. That culture attracts, but they cannot participate. They cannot go.
I thought about your poems and had a chance to read them, and I wanted to ask you about each one. I want to ask about “Gantok 98” first.
The poem, “Mother,” is it about your life?
It’s the capital city of Sikkim. Sikkim was an independent country, but in our lifetime it became a part of India. There is no longer a country Sikkim. There was a king and parliament, and parliament decided to merge with India. I went over there in few years back, and the Chief Minister of Sikkim Sikk is also a poet. I have met him and I have a very good relationship with him. I saw that in front of the parliament building there still flies the flag of the independent Sikkim country. That spoke to me and I wrote this poem. The line that stood out to me was, “Free flag of a dead nation…” I wondered …
Dead, yes, but it was still alive. That paused my heart. There’s one more thing I have not written in that poem. I went over there and wrote a travelogue and mentioned in that travelogue about Sikkim . There is a river that is a very famous over there, Tista. Once in history, Nepal was winning the small
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It’s autobiographical. In October - November there’s a very big festival of sister and brothers in Nepal, we say Bhai Tika; it is a celebration. The first day is for crow, second day dog, third day cow, fourth day ox, and fifth day brother and sister. We do a light festival during this time. There are a lot of nicknames for this festival, but since I have not been there for three years I have not received a tika from my sister. So, I went over there last November and after 50 years I stood in that house were I was born. It was very emotional. When I was seven years old, we migrated from that house to another city. I had never been to that house since. I remembered the picture of the house, which we left when I was seven. So, this is a poem about you reflecting on your mother. Again, I’m telling you what I got from my perspective so you can tell me what you were thinking when you wrote it. To me, it seemed like you were saying the mother took the burden from the son, did all the hard work, and then the son is left knowing he would never have to do that work.
This was a tribute to my mother, and I felt she did so much for me in that small village. I came all the way from there to this great country America. I am in this country, but I cannot show her where I am because she is no more. She died about fifteen years ago, and my feeling is that if I could show her where I am she could feel happy. How do you think your poems are universal as well as being unique to Nepal?
people. It was tremendously successful, people loved it, and later it made a film. It was also very popular. The method was traditional. He went over there, lived over there. He saw the characters and all their personalities, and he chose some to write in a work of fiction. This was the experimental way. In this era, we should think of this from the mental side also. How can those characters be modernized and fit in this time. That is the mental part.
These are only three poems that were selected by my translator. “The Return Ticket” is the story of the old generation, the first immigrants. It can fit not only those immigrating to America, but in many countries. If they go, they cannot go back.
So you believe in using a little bit of both. Do you ever do any academic research?
I remember one time I read a travelogue. A delegate from the Nepalese government went to Norway. Very few people in Norway know Nepalese people because it’s very remote and there was no easy access for many years, and when that delegate went to Norway he had taken some gifts and wrapped them with Nepali newspaper. By chance, he happened to meet one Nepali guy married to a Norwegian who had never been back to Nepal for many many years. The man asked the delegate, “If you don’t mind, can you give me that piece of newspaper, because there is a language in Nepali I can read.” It was so emotional. Tears came from my eyes. It was nothing for the delegate, but the man wanted that wrapper for himself for the connection to language and culture, and how much he missed the country. Same thing in this poem also, any people who are away from Nepal feel they cannot go home.
Well, you have the hands-on research and the advantage of being there.
And the one about your mother?
Mom is always a universal thing, because every person has had a mother. Mothers are the person we have in this world. Every person anywhere, they want to remember their mother. They will feel the same. Maybe some slightly different way, but when they read “Mother” they will think of their mother. What do you see as universal in “Gantok 98”?
In this world, many countries are lost. People loose their country, their flag. Still, they have language. If we keep our language alive, maybe one day we will get our nation. Politically, what is right, what is wrong, that is their feeling. It is not ours, but what outcomes come, that is directly related with us, right? For example, “the flag of a dead nation,” that is the marvelous line in that poem, because the nation is already dead, but there is still a live flag. There is still history, the culture, and the people’s love of their former country. There are a lot of countries that have been captured by another country. I feel like the symbols of our cultures and things that have come to pass were the universal themes of that poem. You could even apply it to things in your own life that have passed if you didn’t want to take it literally, but that still represent what you were at one point and you still have that inside of you. It sounds like history and research play some role in your ideas for your written work. What types of research do you usually do before starting a piece?
Actually, I believe a medium path. We should not give up the traditional way. For example, there was a writer who went to the riverside to live for two or three months. He picked some characters from that village, and later he wrote about those
I have traveled a lot in my country and outside also, and I have plenty of landscape in my mind.
For example, I wrote a short story. The editor and two of my friends didn’t believe it was fiction because I went to one of the ancient places of Nepal. I had visited Nepalese ruler Shah’s original Palace Nuwakot, this was an ancient palace. I lived there for a week, and I have all the landscape and buildings in my mind, the river, in my writing it became like a picture. The picture was real, but the characters were my imagination. When everything looks natural, the characters looked natural, too.
You are a part of the Fredericksburg Region - Katmandu Valley Sister City Coalition. What do you see coming out of the pairing between Fredericksburg Region and Katmandu Valley? Do you see a cultural exchange?
In my mind, my concept of Sister City is definitely about exchange. In Nepal, there are a lot of problems and basic needs that are not readily available, but they can be available. Katmandu is a historical city. There are many municipal preserved places. There are temples, cultures, carvings and all those things that are listed and UNESCO preserved. Those things can relate with the people of Fredericksburg. They can see the ancient Nepalese pictured in those arts and cultures. If Nepalese people get a chance to see Fredericksburg, they will see how great countries and cities are established. There is a system that has been established that is strong here. On the other hand, in Nepal, there is no system or stability, but there is a real culture. If you do not preserve it, that will be collapsed forever. If these two can collaborate together, they will learn from each other. As a writer, and knowing other writers as Nepal, how do you see your role as a writer in that connection? What do you hope to contribute?
I believe everything is fast moving these days, but as a writer, my dream is to exchange writers. A few writers who go to Katmandu, leave the city to visit the hills and write something about the people. Those writings will be translated into Nepali showing what an American writer wrote about Nepal. They will learn and Nepalese writers will be translated into English and they will know what Nepalese writers thought about this. That may be the best thing to exchange, because as a writer I cannot do anything but bring my expertise to it.
~ Govinda Giri Prerana 2016
Govinda Giri Prerana
The Return Ticket By Govinda Giri Prerana Translation: Mahesh Paudyal I stand on line to purchase a return ticket. I have no idea how long the queue is to my front it’s never-ending to my back it’s even longer to my eyes nothing but incessant line appears I stand on line to purchase a return ticket. It’s uncertain whether the counter is yet to open or the defaulters breached the lines and bought all the tickets or the rioters out of their hooliganism forced the sale to stop It has been hours the line doesn’t progress an inch; I cast my gaze far and wide with newer entries the line grows longer each moment yet the line doesn’t move; it makes no progress at all. While still on the line Sankranti1 came and slipped away Dashain came and went its way and so did Tihar festival; Akshyata2 in coloured curd went dry on the plates itself there was news, tears in my parents’ eyes went dry in the same way; my sisters’ eyes that awaited my return with a velvet garland in hand for me too have gone fatigued; there’s news : she raised her hood and looked along the away with eyes wide open for quite long even after sunset; yet, for want of a travel ticket I had to forgo Shrawan Sankranti, Dashai-Tihar and everything else. 1 the first day of a Nepali month, considered an auspicious day 2 votive rice-seeds in colour, put by enders on the forehead of the juniors as mark of blessing
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And then, Maghé Sankranti3 came around in the air and passed; tubers of yam and chaku-in-ghee4 hung up in the eyes as ripples of reminiscence. While still in line Chaité Dashain5 too came and sneaked away. Oh, it the whole life going to wane while I’m still on line? Where are the sellers of the return ticket? Just a while ago I saw a jet plane landing, but then, it flew away again. Perhaps the lucky ones found place it in, and flew off. But now, no jet appears anywhere in the sky nor is any of them landing on earth the airport has turned quite desolate by why doesn’t the queue progress? Why don’t I receive a return ticket? I have enough cash in hand my passport is with me and have an identity-card too why am I, still deprived of a return ticket? There’s no way out of this never-ending line; how long am I doomed to remain here? The legs are tired and so is the mind; eyes have gone dry. O, why don’t you give me a ticket to return to my homeland? Come on; do quick I am in bad need of the ticket; I need it today itself now itself. I am in a queue to purchase my return ticket. 3 The first day of the month of Magh, celebrated as a festival 4 a hard candy bar, domestically prepared in Nepal with sugar molasses and dry fruits 5 First day in the month of Chiatra, also a festival
Govinda Giri Prerana
Gantok 98 By Govinda Giri Prerana Translation: Mahesh Paudyal
Mother By Govinda Giri Prerana Translation: Mahesh Paudyal
Tista croons its antique cadence some distance away is the bridge of Rani Pool billing out a folk number in tune Hanumantok is preparing to stoop for a lovely sweet kiss but seemingly oblivious of all these— Gantok has just awoken from half slumber.
Here’s a chilling instance of buhartan —torture, a daughter-in-law is subjected to at the hands of women at her in-laws’ home. The daughter-in-law, ready to deliver any moment goes out to gather fodder fills her basket with utter difficulty gathers turfs, added to the burden inside the belly is the load of grass on the back a surge of perspirations drips down the earlobes the load of sweats from the back flow down, towards her petticoat the feet are bare; there’s no slippers It’s Tekkar Bhansari—some three hours’ drive from the capital and three ages removed from luxury and amenities The pang of a neel-kada spine stuck in the feet pain from inside the belly the anxiety of half-sleep the anxiety whether the child will be born alright memory of those born and departed love for those born and survived o, what will happen to her now! Worries knock her down aground. With torrents of perspiration dripping down as she reaches the front-yard right in the middle of it she is driven by labor pain so acute that it drives her half-dead; intact is the burden on the back and so is the one inside as she throws the fodder load on the edge of the porch crushing with her feet the fading sights
A chilly wind slashing like the blow of a sharp rapier steals through the windows of buildings strewn all over the hills like bunches of hybrid fruits; None knows whence the wind has bumped from— from the Kanchanjungha or Nathula or else, from Chhango. On the slope across the gorge Rumtek Gumba squats inside armed security line silently like a dormant volcano awaiting for the seventeenth Karmapa In front of Tasiling flutters the free flag of a dead nation. I long to offer the flag a drop of tear and long to add
That moment right at that moment she happens to throw on the yard the nine-month old burden from the belly; a commotion ensues all over the house and before it sneaks into the neighborhood she hears emanating from an impenetrable forest of pain a juvenile voice of the newborn!
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That child—emanating that faint cry was none but I; away from those hills that vouchsafed by first cry I am today ascending the heights of my dreams amid commotions in America; the mother that bore the load on her back perhaps survives faintly in the firmament of memory yes, once in the firmament, once away from the earth off to a world beyond reach and beyond the eyes she thrives in memory; mere memory Mother! My mother who gave me eyes to look at the world is, henceforth, nowhere to be found.
Staircase in the Tower of London Anita Holle Glue Transfer / Mixed Media
The Work of Wolves
By A.S. Coomer
“Just don’t even bother,” he told me, lines etching his wizened face. “There’s no money in it. Sure, your friends will buy a few copies but that’ll be it. No one else will ever read it.” I was too stunned to even nod, to pander to his biting cynicism. The man had a novel out, he must know, I thought. “There’s no market. It’s pointless,” he said. “Don’t even worry about it.” He left it there. Just like that. This threw me. I guess I was used to the success stories. The underdog coming from nowhere, being of no great lineage, no real literary stock to speak of, and still making it, still fighting the “Good Fight.” I was so used to the silver lining that when it wasn’t there the absence was all I could notice. “Well,” I muttered. The circle moved, milled then settled in and it started. A few local poets and musicians did what happens at small open mics and within an hour and a half it was over and the writer picked up the diatribe, right where he’d left it. “Sure, you’ll sell a few copies to your friends but don’t think that anybody else will ever read it,” he said, “because they won’t. No one will care.” He laughed, a sharp bark with a shaking of his head. I pictured the man’s mother opening her mailbox and sighing with harried motherly annoyance at the haphazardly wrapped, book-sized package waiting for her in there. “Somebody cared enough to put your book out,” I said, hoping to steer the conversation in another direction. No dice. “A friend put it out. Paid for the ISBN number and did the thing on CreateSpace,” he said. “That’s really,” I said, the term vanity press popping up in my head and nearly spilling out of my mouth, “cool.” “Yeah, your friends will buy a few copies but that’ll be the end of it.” He scooped up the crumbs of the cookie and dropped them onto the empty, wrinkled cellophane wrapper then balled it all up in his fist.
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“And nice,” I added, ingratitude striding around in my head like a swaying drunk unable to find a vacant seat in the church house basement AA meeting. The writer’s fist stopped moving, shook, then rested on the scuffed coffee shop table. “Next week, boys,” the old musician, the leader of this particular open mic, was telling the people as they stepped out into the burgeoning night. “Next week, Steve,” each replied. The musician sipped from the travel mug of rum then stepped outside to smoke. I watched him through the dirty windows as the writer kept at it. I fell into a bit of a stupor, a trance or something. Not quite a daydream or anything pleasant. Somewhere in between really listening and just letting the tired hamster off the wheel for a spell. I watched the little red orb intensify with each of the musician’s drags. It was a speck then it was slow flash then a speck again. It seemed to grow as darkness settled in; a constellation blinking into life in the Old West End of Toledo, Ohio. It seemed like the only real light around. I’m not sure what all the writer told me. He could’ve dropped some serious insights into the writing life, the creative pursuit of perfection or, at least, the silencing of the mind and the hum and clack of the keyboard. The Tao of the Written Word. The Poetic Dao. The unspoken mechanism of the silent art or, maybe, something more akin to Bradbury’s The Zen of Writing. The negativity could’ve been the preface, the warning sign at the gate--Abandon hope, all ye who enter here--intended to steer the sheep away from the wolves’ work. He could’ve really helped me but I wasn’t listening. Not really. I came back to the table and the man, sitting with a cancer he didn’t know he had, a silent, slow-turning knife buried somewhere deep in his middle, with dazed and tired eyes. I took stock and sighed. I knew I’d keep writing. I knew it for the curse it was, the slow, hollowing burn, but I assured myself that I would not let my ashes sting the eyes of the ones that came after.
35 mm film Photograph
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Sean Woodard Oil on Wood
enemies. What I would do to them. I would kill and mutilate them, drink their blood, suck the marrow out of their bones and then devil their souls. “Who?” you ask. Why people of the everyday. A boss, coworker, acquaintance, relative, someone who got to the microwave in the pantry before me, another from 30 years ago who’d ridiculed my political views, a kid in the old neighborhood who bullied me: Everyone, even the dead. Mom and Dad aren’t spared, especially Mom.
Monkeydemon By Frank Diamond
Monkeydemon is the reason I stand on this bridge above a manmade lake in the middle of which sits a man-made island. It is 10:30 on New Years Eve. Anticipatory bangs, pops, and shouts stumble in the pitched distance. I parked in a cutoff in fog-laden brush. No cars passed as I carried my package the 20 yards or so. Not that I expect anyone at this particular time on this particular night to be out in this part of town, but I am careful nonetheless. The little motor at my feet hums softly as it inflates a raft, which I’d bought at a sporting goods store two days ago and which fits neatly in a container about as big as a suitcase. And this rope-ladder with hooks? Got it online. I am not the Mission Impossible type, let’s be clear. Expect no derring-do or gunplay; I, Shope (as in hope, not shop), am as normal as a man can be who sees voices and hears visions. I am you, my make-pretend captured audience of one. You know my cravings, desires, dreams, goals, my to-ings, and fro-ings, stagnant days and sheltered nights. I slouch toward late middle age. I don’t do paths of glory. I hang on. When my Jenny died I prayed for strength and I became strong. I prayed for acceptance, and I accepted. I prayed that I would see her again in heaven, and while I do not presume, I believe that Jenny waits for me. So, Christian pillars held, up to a point. However, I soon rediscovered that their foundation rests upon a pre-Christian world. For as I prayed, Monkeydemon watched from the shadows. Silent, at first, but that didn’t last long, not with him. Before my final “amen,” Monkeydemon would screech and howl and jump and scream and pound his chest. He and I are not one, but we’re way too close. Monkey see, monkey do. Monkeydemon would tell memory-ghosts off, cursing, spitting, shaking fists and throwing shit. Really, though, it would be me in the morning silence drinking tea before going to work, thinking about people I know and have known. Darrington County Park closes at dusk. The gates are locked and though it’s never been acknowledged officially, I know that cameras dot the roads, walkways, and trails but not, I bet, the lake, and certainly not this part of the water, which, after all, sits just outside the boundary. This is the only way in that avoids detection, and I need to get in. I will free myself of raging hatred, and stop pissing poison into the universe. I do not possess a physical list, but there are
But it’s all Monkeydemon, because then I’d meet the ones in the here and now in real life. Have a nice chat with my boss, give my brother a lift to get his car from the shop and think: “What the hell was all that angry drama about, anyway?” Early on in our marriage Jenny taught me, “People are holy.” And the sight of the “enemy” always breaks the fever. It’s not him. It’s not her. It’s me. It’s Monkeydemon. And the ghosts? People from my past, dead or living, who I will never see again? Well, they just fade. Monkeydemon shuffles off on his knuckles, and even after all these years I hope that’s the exit. But he never goes far. Because just like that, the whiff of memory or give-and-take of a discussion makes him rage and shake his fist once more. Do I always need to win? Is it as simple as damning pride? Some mornings I catch my reflection unawares (at least I think I’m in there somewhere). That face. Contorted, twisted, my tongue jabbing about as if chasing a lizard’s hiss. I scare myself as I scar myself and Monkeydemon howls. Jenny couldn’t help, not like she wanted to, other than to sometimes say, “Are you listening to me, Shope, or are you having a fight with someone in your head?” That very nearly brought me back. Nearly. I couldn’t free myself from the loop, sentenced to entertain the same self-defeating mantras. I can’t think my way out of this since it is the thought process itself that has been corrupted. My consciousness needs an airing out, but how? Jenny once put her hand upon my shoulder, blessing me. “You need to stop, Shope.” The raft kisses water with a slight splash, not much louder than the fish jumping in the fog. I use my flashlight sparingly. I don’t want to alert anybody who may be around, even though I bet no one is around. People have plans: boozed-up parties, watching old movies, and—bless those good parents—first nights teaming with fun and games, but without a trace of alcohol, although probably one of the better secret games is “Hide the Flask.” And, of course, sex. Did you know that the most common birthday is October 5? Do the math. I secure the hooks onto the concrete, lower the ladder. Now, I am a man who keeps reasonably fit, but I am too old for this bullshit. I lift myself over the guardrail like someone might cross a barricade. I toe about for the rung meant for me, the angle that works best, and swing around. “Damn!” The rope-ladder wriggles; nearly shakes me off. I never learned to swim, but I am more afraid of freezing to death than drowning if I hit the water. Though Achilles emerged nearly invulnerable, I won’t make that bet. I wait until the contractions ease.
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I thank the goddess Styx who, understand now, doesn’t replace my Christian God. She is to me what Aristotle was to Saint Thomas Aquinas, one of the lights before the Light of the World who can still be put to good use. For I did indeed pray for acceptance and eventually accepted, but only in a theological sense that points out the difference between matter and spirit.
“I’m blasting my shotgun right over the top of my asshole neighbor’s roof. See what he thinks about that.”
The phrase from the hymn plays on: “My soul is longing.”Longing. Longing, I tell you. I never realized just how much spiritual real estate a longing soul occupies. In the middle of the night, I listen to the moan of a passing train. “She’s dead and gone.” “She’d want you to be happy.” “People need you in the here and now.” “Move on!” “Time heals!” All the clichés smolder like remnants of a forest fire after longing sweeps through. A soul longing moves more mountains than the faith of saints. I accepted Jenny’s death, yes, even as I wondered if I could somehow pull it out in the fifth quarter.
“Venison by the River Styx.”
I ease myself onto the raft, wobbling to my seat like a wedding guest gone over the limit. Fog shrouds my vision as I feel my way to the seat. While the rocking settles, I take short, sharp breaths. Phew! It’s a few degrees above freezing, but there’s no ice. I place the oars in their holders, get them acquainted with the water and begin rowing, in zigzags at first but eventually I grab some rhythm.
“Pellets?” “They land in Darrington Park. Nobody there that time of night except for deer.”
On the television, a goddess stands on the bow, while shadowy figures row in the background. She’s holding a beer— Charon Porter. Now, I dwell in my head and overlook the obvious, but this is the only time I ever see this ad. And my bar mates are not the sort of guys you’d expect would casually mention Styx though, less I be accused of stereotyping, you don’t expect Styx to come up in conversation with anyone. So, yes, I can be a bit dense, but even I realize that someone somewhere sends me a signal. Now, I smoothly pace my way to the island. The raft comes with headlights that cut through the caul only a bit, but I know where I am going. I’m getting good at this, I think, though my hands no doubt will tell a different story tomorrow. A firework winks on the horizon, the hooting and cheering becomes more persistent.
I’d been set on finding the real River Styx, like archeologists every seven years or so trek after Noah’s Ark, or Troy, or Peking Man. Oh yes, I’d thought of true adventuring, the kind where you leave home and loved ones and maybe turn up some years later bearded, burned, and brittle and irrevocably altered by coming aface of things you’d never sought to find, like the Copper Scroll, or keys to the Secret City of Paititi, or a cache of Fabergé Eggs.
I don’t know if I can bring Jenny back with me, back to the living. I don’t know if it’s my time to stay with her and rest with the dead. What I’ll probably find is a few wet pathways leading to campsites teenagers set up, even though fire in Darrington is supposed to be confined to the brick barbecue grills on the mainland. Maybe, just maybe, I will discover what drives Monkeydemon off for good. What did Jenny tell me?
My research (and, admittedly, an innate tendency to stay put) made me conclude that I don’t actually need to find the River Styx. That’s buried beneath mounds of history somewhere in Greece or Rome. Some archeological X-ray might one day pinpoint it, dry in the shadowy earth, looking like one of those spider webs astronomers point to when making the case that there might once have been life on Mars. I don’t have to find the original. The goddess can bless any body of water. Cross it, and see your lost loved one. I search not for the river, but for the blessing.
Visualize a pair of scissors snipping an audiotape, ending the destructively circuitous thoughts that anyone who’d ever been obsessed about anything knows too well. But that had never worked for me. I admitted as much during one of those endless days before she died.
That is what I am thinking one night not long ago. I am that fellow at the end of the bar at the Colonial Tavern, a cozy with history dating back to 1703. The regulars on this particular Saturday watch college football and I look at the screen because it’s rude to ogle the barmaid. I am just another regular guy interested in regular guy things.
“No tapes about losing the house. No tapes about getting fired. No tapes about me. No tapes. You’re a strong man, Shope.”
“Believe this shit?” the man beside me asks. There’s been an interception or sack or something that irritates him. He and his friend are about my age. His buddy dwells on other things. “New Year’s?” “My cousin a few houses away—his son keeps upping the ante. This time three live bands. I’ll stop for a beer, maybe two. Usually, I’m in bed by midnight.”
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“Don’t let those tapes play when I’m gone,” she warns. “You’re not going anywhere!”
“You’re the strong one.” “Cancer doesn’t think so.” “Who uses tapes anymore?” I ask. “Right.” She collapses into the morphine again. “What I do imagine,” I say, “ is that the thoughts are looped on a disc. And I push the disc away, as if it’s on a basket on a river. The loop is still going, because nothing can stop it. Only, now the loop loops outside of my consciousness.
Sounds crazy, doesn’t it?”
I cry. Of course. It’s her! Here again! She was dead, and now she’s alive! She sits in front of the fire like she used to sit while binge-watching TV. And, of course, she looks like she did 35 years ago when we first met. Why would she want to look like that pitiful lump toward the end? Jenny! Again! Unruly brown hair, and eyes that twinkle with mischief and curiosity.
She’s dozing. “I guess it is crazy,” I decide. Her reply is weak, but startles me nonetheless. “Zen.” Once while rowing I think I see Monkeydemon, sitting in the back. Looking shy, scratching his head, mugging. Jenny would have thought he’s cute, but she didn’t know him like I do. I look away, look back, and he’s gone. “Mirage,” I say to the darkness, but of course he’s a mirage. He’s a mirage every time he appears. Now, the raft slides onto the pebbled shore. As I step onto land a chilling wind slices me. I stand for a full two minutes or so just shaking and groaning. I zip my coat up until the hood opening is as big as a pair of goggles. As the shuddering subsides, I hear calls; not distant celebrations, but animals in the nearby woods. I know nothing out there can maul and eat me; this isn’t Africa, after all. Still, I reach down with gloved hands and place a few rocks in my pocket. There’s a main path that I’d pinpointed while pretending to be bird watching in the park. It cuts in two this island, which, I suddenly realize, must have a name. The park rangers probably tagged it, or some cartographer long ago laboring over dusty outlines. Humans name things. I walk straight through, from one side to another and then take another path that leads me from top to bottom. I don’t rush, training the flashlight on my next step. The fog is not as firmly entrenched as it had been on the lake. The place is shaped like a rectangle whose angles have been smushed. My wanderings last about a half hour or so and I note places where smaller paths lead into brush more closely packed. My next go-around, I decide, I’ll follow one of them. And then, and then, and then…. What surprises me is that I am not surprised. I am not startled. Acceptance works my veins like laborers’ exhaustion, and I’m all right with the light that floods the clearing. Oh, I so wish that there is more to my revelation than that. A burning bush. A roll of thunder. A division of the earth. No, it’s a light brightening like one of those overheads whose vibrancy can be controlled.
“I knew you’d come looking, Shope!” Her mirth; I’d almostforgotten how it makes everything right. I unzip my hood, and her smile morphs into concern. When I walk over, I kneel, bury my head in her stomach and continue weeping, shaking. Jenny strokes my hair and says, “Oh Shope. It’s going to be all right. We’re going to be all right.” “Am I good husband?” “No, Shope. You’re the worst husband who ever lived! Don’t be ridiculous. Here,” she holds out an empty wine glass, “refill and, for God’s sake, boyo, get yourself a beer.” Oh, yes, there’s a refrigerator. Our side-by-side recliner, coffee table, mantle. I don’t think as I settle next to her about how otherworldly this is. I accept. Otherworldly is what I’m after. I wish I’d thought about bringing a tape recorder or video camera, because we talk about regular everyday things, we catch up, and I know a lot of the words will be lost. Not the feeling, though. Not the joy of being with my Jenny again. I reach over, hold her hand. Her grip tightens. “What was that?” Jenny always heard noises in the middle of the night and sometimes I’d investigate and sometimes I blame the house settling. It took forever for that damn house to settle. This isn’t the house, though, and there’s definitely something moving just beyond the circle of light. “Be careful, Shope. Don’t want to lose you again.” The veins in my temples pulse as I walk from my chair toward the enveloping dark. I did not come prepared, but would a gun have mattered? Can I fight shadows? I can sure as hell try. I reach in my pocket for one of the stones. Though I have never been more awake in my life, when that howl explodes—a mix of animal and earthmover—it’s as if a cymbal is crashed against my ear. The sound punches me, nearly knocking me over. I swing about. Monkeydemon leaps from the brush on the other side of the circle and charges Jenny. I run to intercept, but stumble. “Shit!”
I grew up in a neighborhood where fathers told sons to hold it in. I was never good at stoicism, though. In fact, with all the shit Jenny went through I found out that I am damn crybaby.
I don’t even remember throwing the rock. I must have done so like a baseball shortstop reaches back and flings while in mid-dive. Clunk ! Right on the side of his head, nearly in the eye.
So when I approach and I see Jenny on that island in Darrington Park as a new year bears down upon us, of course
“Hell!” I need a direct hit. If it had been in the eye that
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might have been the end of it. Monkeydemon stops, screams, throws his fists in the air, brings them down upon his chest. Drumity ! Drumity ! Drumity ! By now I’ve managed to half-run, half-crawl over between him and Jenny. Monkeydemon bares his teeth, charges once more. “Shope!” Jenny screams. I forget that I am basically a quiet man. All the noise and chatter happens inside. So when I scream, “No!” it comes from a place even deeper and wider than where dwell Monkeydemon and the other malevolent shadows. It echoes down through ancestors, the mad ones, the hunters, the alphas. They scream through me, though it doesn’t stop Monkeydemon’s charge. He lunges. I brandish my arms to take him on, but he flies higher, soaring over me and Jenny, landing behind our seats. I pivot in time to see his legs—horizontal pistons—fling him back into the shadows. I faint. Only for a moment and I do not totally lose consciousness, but I do hit the ground. Jenny’s there. She brushes me, as she eases me to my feet and leads me back to my bearings. The fog has lifted even more and New Year’s Eve noise rolls closer. “Victory dance, Shope!”
By this time we are back in our recliner, watching the fire, listening to the celebratory gatherings beyond the park. I remember: “Some guy’s going to fire a shotgun.” “Be here now,” Jenny says. “We need shelter.” She pats my hand. “Go ahead, Shope. There’s a down tree over there, you can slide beneath it.” I stay put. Pellets? Really? What are the chances? I say, “So keeping myself from killing someone, or cursing someone out, or scaring the shit out of them: That’s some sort of moral victory?” “And the victory isn’t complete until the prayer. You have to pray for the object of your hatred, Shope. Then you’ve won.” “Because I don’t go psycho?” “Because you’ve kept it in. And little by little Monkeydemon will realize that you can’t be beaten. He’ll give up. Celebrate little victories, Shope!”
From the houses beyond the lake and trees comes the countdown. “….three, two, one!”
“You beat Monkeydemon! Dance!”
Though I believe in endings, here my story simply tops.
I stick my arms out like Frankenstein’s monster, shuffle a bit.
I’ve had enough landings for one tale. Do I return to he living? Do I bring Jenny with me? Do I fall in the lake and emerge invulnerable to grief? Do I stay in the other realm? Do park rangers the next day puzzle over the rope-ladder on the bridge and the blown over raft on the island? Do they find my shotgun-pellet-ridden body? Do I become a local legend? A ghost story? “What in the world was he doing in the park on New Year’s Eve?” Do I now speak from the other side? Or do I sit at the Colonial Tavern pretending to watch another football game? Am I just one of those crazies full of quiet fury who make things up?
“We’ll work on that,” Jenny says. “He attacked because of me.” “What?” “This anger. This rage.” “You drove it back, Shope,” Jenny says. “And when you drive it back, you need to congratulate yourself and then say a prayer for whoever was the target. This should not depress you, Shope! It should uplift you! You won!”
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Wouldn’t you like to know?
Ceremony Hydrangeas in bright blue globes guard the graveyard steps. Somewhere beyond that long gray wall a ceremony for the dead is underway, and the only sense I have of it are warbled words off in the distance, barely audible. What they mean I cannot fathom, can only guess as I pass by, and death deserves more than a guess. The chanted quavers, strangely arresting, invite me to approach their source, but I cannot stay â€” there is much to do, places to go, and I must move past this place of faint hypnotic sounds, move on to those sights of patterned life I know so well, know without guessing, safe, lustrously reassuring and waiting like dreams. Some other time I will return to understand those words.
Two by Peter Scacco Leonids Eyes gazing, filled with the myths of immense constellations swirling around November skies, awaiting a swarm of flares across the black vault of night an expectation never met. These sudden, slashing skate marks, minutes apart, tell of truths that pass in the blink of an eye from brilliance to memory like all the days from our youth, peripheral, fleeting statements passing unobtrusively, not in flamboyant fireworks that glitter down on us as dreams, but in a slow procession of delicate glimmerings unfolding with indifference and consuming tedium, measured out unevenly over the span of a lifetime.
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One of the reasons I was interested in talking with you both was a conversation I had with Cheryl after she had framed a photo for me. She took such meticulous care in talking with me about the matting that would look best with the photo I brought in, and I started thinking about the artistry of framing as an art form all its own. Cheryl, as a person who looks at a lot of art, what are the first things you look at when you look for as the the pieces come in for framing?
Cheryl: Well, I always ask the customer if they have a preconceived idea. Often we deviate from that, but I start from there. Sometimes they’ll tell me, “My room is this, my couch is this, and this is what I want.” I try to find a nice marriage between what works for the artwork and what works in the house and setting. Usually, I will say, anywhere the art looks good, the framing should look good, too, because they works together.
For the past thiry years, artist Cheryl Bosch (ceebs) and her mother, Dorothy Meyers, have owned and operated Frame Designs Gallery, offering personal service and custom work to their clients. The two have been business partners for so long that they finish each other’s sentences and convivially volley details about their origin story. They’ve framed everything from fine art, to butter knives, to turkey butts, and they’ve rolled with the punches of being business owners in an ever shifting economic climate. Here they discuss the art of framing and the challenges of owning a small business through thick and thin times, speaking to their desire to live an artful life. 53
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When I look at a piece of art, I look at the overall color of it, the lightness, the darkness. If there’s a prominent color, that one tends to be the top mat, if it even gets a mat. The top mat is a color that is very abundant in the piece, and the bottom mat is an accent color. We show just a little bit of that. Often pieces will have many choices of accent colors. Sometimes we choose the color based on what the customer likes the best; sometimes we choose based on the subject of the art. We want to bring the eye into that prominence. Most works of art on paper will get mats and canvasses do not. I’ll assess that when matting is involved. Almost like when you’re composing your artwork and you develope the focus in your piece, you want to play off the focal point in the picture.
Cheryl: Yes, exactly, this can be achieved with color and style choices of the mat and frame.
With so many differnt types and styles of frames, what are your thoughts about choosing a frame for the artwork that comes into the gallery?
Cheryl: First, I get a sense of the style of the art, if it’s contemporary antique, traditional, and if it is formal or casual, for example. Also, I like to ask the customer what kind of setting it will be in. Some people have an extremely contemporary style, while others want to go traditional. Often we will find a bridge between the two. If they bring in abstract or contemporary piece of artwork, but they say their house is very traditional, we can often find a frame that will look good on the art, but will tie in with the setting.
How does that work?
Cheryl: A lot of it has to do with the shape of the frame and the finish – shiny vs. mat, metallic vs. wood. Another thing we need to know is if there are space limitations. Dot: I was going to suggest that you oft times will tell them about things that you could do to the whole framing of the piece to add to it, like painted bevels or drawing lines on the mat to accent objects. Sometimes, adding some detail to the matting will bring out the artwork itself.
Dot: Occasionally, people will bring in artwork in old frames. We’ll try to encourage them to use the old frames because some of them are quite beautiful. People think they have to update by taking off the old frame and putting on a new one. That’s fine, their choice.
Cheryl: There are places that still make frames with the ornate plaster moulding and things of that nature. We do not. Dot: Mainly for museums…
Cheryl: Because we’re custom framers, we can can specialize the framing for people.
Cheryl: Right, those are thousands of dollars.
Dot: We also have the computerized mat cutter, so we can cut customized shapes into the matting to give them an extra something special for that particular piece.
Cheryl: I believe you are asking me if I have studied frames the way an art historian studies art. I have, but mainly contemporary frames and things that are current. Current frames and ideas that go with them.
Cheryl: Before the computerized mat cutter we could also cut specialty shapes, but because of the time involved to hand cut the mats they were cost-prohibitive. The machine opens up options to do a lot more at an affordable rate. I’m wondering about the frames in terms of historical value and artistry. In your research of framing, what are some of the things that you’ve found inspiring from historical reference. Some are quite valuable from an historical perspective I would imagine.
Cheryl: The historically valuable frames have an age to them and a precise style. I studied the history of picture frames why studying for my CPF. Styles like Rococco or Paladian are just not used that much in todays framing. I admire and respect the craftsmanship of those intricate styles though. When museums choose a frame for an antique fine art masterpiece, they also like to choose a frame that was built around that same time. Those can be as expensive as some pieces of artwork. We don’t deal with those. Dot: Our frames are all contemporarily made, newer frames, but we get frames that people bring in that are fashioned after the older frames. Cheryl: Usually they are reproductions frames. It is very rare to see an authentic period frame.
Do you have any favorite frames from history?
Dot: Over thiry years in the business has given you experience in that also. Cheryl: I’ve also taken some classes over the years through my CPF (Certified Picture Framer) certification. The thing is I love a lot of different kinds of frames, and even if I say I don’t like a frame now, on the right piece of art I’m going to love it. So, that’s a hard question to answer. It’s something I hadn’t considered until I started thinking about framing for some of my pictures, because it wasn’t a part of my world and I didn’t consider the process. What about pieces that have come through that you have really loved working on?
Dot: There have been thousands.
Cheryl: Yes, so many; so how do I narrow it down? The best reactions are when a customer picks up is when they get emotional and you know that piece will be treasured in their home. Sometimes the simplest things are the most cherished to a customer. For example: your grandmothers christening gown, concert tickets and photos, your child’s handprints. Then there are the unusual things like a signed guitar, a king size quilt, sand dollars, lace fans, just to name a few. The list is extensive and it is what makes this job interesting.
Frame Designs Gallery
Dot: We had one go out of here this morning that you talked about.
There is another job I’m working on that is full of problem solving. It involves this artifact, a clay piece.
Cheryl: It was this piece of leather that was shaped as if it just came off of a calf, because it was that size. It had printed on it a map. The man who picked it up was in the military, an older gentleman, and he said, “Oh, that was from my service days when I was in Africa.”
Dot: Who knows how old it is, but it’s from Mexico or South America.
Dot: These are things that people pick up along their travels. Cheryl: Those are the best, you know? The object might not be monetarily valuable, but the memories and sentiment... Dot: Oh, yeah. They’re priceless. She did a beautiful job on the matting and installation of the piece. It had to be sewed down through the leather. And it wasnt’ easy to do. Cheryl: You asked about research a second ago. In this case the skin came to us and it had been in a footlocker for decades, so it was all folded up and wrinkled. Yuck. Because it was leather and not paper, I hadn’t had the experience of framing such a piece. I sought the help of Baker’s Shoe Repair, and they told me how to stretch it and smooth it. It was a tremendous help and it worked perfectly.
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Cheryl: I had to plan a way for it to sit in the frame. It was the hardest thing to get it to sit flat because the back is all caddywampus. That’s part of what intrigued me to talk with you all, because there are those things you have to do as a framer that are pure artistry, too, the behind the scenes touches that make it look the way it does when we see it presented. Cheryl: There are many things that the customer would have no idea what I’d done to create the presentation. For instance, I framed a guitar, and unless you’re going to see the supports - which would be ugly - you have to do something behind the scenes. I cut out the shape in layers of foam core so the guitar could be nestled safely and would be immobile. So you’re researching every piece that comes in to find out how best to frame it. Cheryl: For the unusual things that I haven’t worked on yet.
Thirty years, I’ve worked on a lot of different artwork and artifacts. Dot: Oh, my yes! As an artists, do you feel like you are usually pulling from that interior toolbox? Saying I did this this time, and I can use this same concept here? Cheryl: Yes, and keeping up on adhesives and materials, tools and equipment. All the latest… Dot: The manufactures of the products we use in our framing are always coming up with new products that need to be tried and tested. Cheryl had an emergency call a couple of months ago. They called her before the store opened - emailed her at home. A framing emergency? Cheryl: It was; it was definitely a framing emergency. Dot: Well, it seems that the customers had traveled by airplane with this piece of artwork, and when they landed it was all jumbled up. It was full of origami cranes - 1001 of them in this shadowbox frame. The cranes had slipped and some came apart. They brought it to Cheryl at 10:30 that morning and they needed it that afternoon. Cheryl: They were giving it as a gift at a wedding Was that an example of poor prior framing? Cheryl: Well, it probably would not have had a problem if it had not been banged around in transit. Maybe they could have secured it better. Thankfully, they were already strung on strings, so I just attached fishing line to those strings and… Dot: ...put them back together again. I would have looked at it and wondered how in the world to even start. Cheryl: But what are you going to say, “No, I’m not going to do that.” You know, that’s what it’s all about, helping people. Dot: She’s had some very unusual pieces… Cheryl: Oh, God. Turkey butt, doorknobs, circuit boards. Turkey butt? Cheryl: Turkey butt with all the tail feathers. It had already been to the taxidermist, thankfully. I wouldn’t know what to do with it if it hadn’t been. They made it stable, and we just made a shadow box for it. Dot: Shadowboxes...yes, a lot of unusual things. Cheryl: Tons. Christening gowns with pictures of people’s grandmothers. Dot: And flags. We’ve had many old flags, and some have been in disrepair. Cheryl: Sometimes we fold them. Sometimes they’re more of a
banner. We’ve done old silk Japanese flags from WWII. We did a map that somebody made on an old deer skin. They rode their horse around the Virginia area and drew on this deer skin. It was from the 1700s. Can you imagine? It sounds like you get to touch a lot of historical objects.
Dot: Oh, yeah.
Cheryl: We do. That must be one of the most rewarding things of being a framer all the different stories behind the objects.
Cheryl: That, and making our customers cry when they pick it up. Happy tears. Dot: Yes, we’ve made them cry.
Things that people would pay money to have professionally framed are going to be important things.
Cheryl: And often they are family treasures. A lot of times we say let us put a pocket on the back and you write up a story about what this means to your family. Also a well framed piece of art is like the perfect furniture for a room. It completes the look. Dot: Because it will be passed down to the next generation and they’ll know why their grandma framed this thing. Cheryl: We have an order for a butter knife. It looks like an ordinary butter knife, but it had been in the family for four generations and it meant a lot to the customer. We’re going to do that one in a double sided frame. There’ll be an interior window and it will be suspended on fishing line with a little mat around it. It will still be small, but they can turn it over and see the back of the knife. Dot: A lot of times we’ll do that because the back side is important also. We will frame it so they can see the front and the back. Those are the kinds of decisions I was thinking about when we first started talking. When things come in, you’re trying to guide your customer. They might not have thought of that.
Cheryl: That is what we try to do, guide them. We just gently suggest, “Have you thought about this…” rather than, “This is how you should do this…” That’s where your experience comes into play.
Dot: Right. Take the knife. The back might not be that beautiful, but it’s a memory. Sometimes, we’ll take a photo of it and put it in the pocket on the frame. Sometimes there are things written on the back. With your business in this area, I guess you would see many old items come through.
Dot: So many, absolutely. Current works?
Cheryl: I have about ten items for a customer, old newspaper clippings - scraps that are disintegrating. We have to loosen them up and unfold them carefully. Our mats will be cut out with different shapes to accommodate them.
Frame Designs Gallery
Dot: The customer wants them all framed up so she can hang them on the wall and look at them. I guess you have a certain kind of glass that will protect something like that.
I’d like to hear a bit about how you came to being as a business. I know you are coming up on thiry years as business partners, and it seems that with many businesses struggling to remain solvent, you all have made a go of it. What is your secret?
Dot: We suggest that on most all of the artwork.
Dot: The shop was here for seven years before we bought it from the previous owner
Cheryl: An ultraviolet filtering is the key there to keep it from fading.
Cheryl: And that’s changed over the decades. It used to be it was cost prohibitive to use the ultra violet filtering. Dot: It’s come down in price and it’s been more affordable and recommended by everybody, because some of those older pieces will fade terribly. Cheryl: Even indoor lighting will fade a piece, not just sunlight. Dot: We’re also selling museum glass, which is even more expensive. We have customers who have come to like it. It’s good, very protective. Cheryl: Both museum glass and ultra violet glass are protective, but the museum glass almost just disappears. It doesn’t have as much reflection. It’s a beautiful glass, especially if you have a shadow box with a dark background, the museum glass makes it look like you don’t have glass. Dot: It disappears. What’s the cost difference.
Cheryl: About five times the price. We do use it several times a month. Dot: We have to keep it in stock.
Cheryl: It will be 30 years in November.
Cheryl: It was Frame Designs. I thought, what a strange name. I didn’t know if I liked that name. It’s kind of grown on me over the years. It’s yours now.
Dot: At that time that we bought the store, I had just lost my first husband and Cheryl was teaching school in Baltimore. Cheryl: When my dad died in January, I put in my resignation. Dot: She had had framing experience from working at another framing shop in our hometown, and as an artists you have to know how to frame, because you have to show it. Cheryl: I worked for a Ben Franklin in the framing department for a while, too. Dot: She knew more about the framing part of the business. I was not an artist, nor was I a framer. I was a teacher of mathematics; therefore, the mathematical part of the business I could understand. I could balance a checkbook and write the checks. Cheryl: She still does the books, thank God! Dot: So now I can do them at home, or she can do them here. When we first bought the business we had the ledgers and the credit card machines that duplicated receipts. Cheryl: You had to mail the copy to the credit card company. Big difference. We had a Tandy 1000 computer. Dot: So, there we were. She was without a job, single. I was a widow, no job. We thought what are we going to do with the rest of our lives? She said, “Well I’d really like to have my own frame shop / art gallery.” Cheryl: (laughing) I thought you first said, “I’d really like to have my own business.” Dot: (laughing) Well, I don’t know if I said that. I thought you were the one who said that… anyway, it doesn’t matter. Cheryl: My uncle, her brother, had an art gallery and frame shop.
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Dot: My mother and father had an art gallery. They turned their home in to an art gallery in their town. My brother turned his home into an art gallery. He was a silversmith. He makes all our silver jewelry that we wear. Anyway, we decided to look into the business idea and later that night we were looking in the Free Lance-Star [newspaper]. It said Frame Shop for Sale. We looked at it and liked it... Perfect!
Cheryl: I didn’t think the name was so great at first. Dot: Yeah, she didn’t like it, but Frame Designs, well. Did you keep it because it already had a customer base?
Cheryl: Yes, exactly.
D: We made arrangements, I think in September. I went to Europe in October and we said if it was still for sale when I got back we would look into it. So, November 6th. Cheryl: Yeah, we were scared to death. It was like, if we screw up … Dot: But at that point in time, Cheryl, both of us were young enough. I was in my fifties, you were in your twenties, and we were young enough that if it didn’t work out we could get another job somewhere. Might as well try.
Cheryl: The first ten years are the scariest. It’s always a roller coaster. We had fat times and lean times. Dot: Well, and when the housing market dropped in 2008, the bottom dropped out of everything. We rely on new houses, because that’s when people want to decorate. Cheryl: Our yearly income was cut in half, as was my salary, so… And it’s climbed back up?
Cheryl: Yes, progressively, steadily. Not to make it spiritual, but I think things happen because they’re meant to. Around that time while I’m thinking how am I going to make it, one of my full time employees chose to quit. With her went her health insurance and her salary. I didn’t have to fire her. She had another place to go and it was a better opportunity for her. Within that same year, a friend of mine needed a place to live for her and her daughter, so they came to live with me and paid me rent. You know? I was able to get by on a much smaller salary. One thing led to another. Timing.
Cheryl: Is everything. Any last bits of wisdom about framing?
Cheryl: Framing should always be the supporting actor, not the star of the show. It can do so much to enhance your art. It can make a difference, night and day.
Cheryl: It has. It’s amazing that it’s been so many years.
Dot: Every piece you put on your wall is a memory. It’s a history of you. Every time you look at that piece of artwork it brings back a memory, and the frame gives that memory structure.
Dot: We’ve had our ups and downs, bumps in the road, but overall...
Cheryl: Art and framing enhance your life. They take a house from being cold and sterile to being a home.
Dot: If it doesn’t work out okay. And it has.
Frame Designs Gallery
ceebs, a nickname lovingly given to Cheryl Bosch by her sister over 30
years ago, is an artist and co-owner of Frame Designs Gallery. Bosch likes signing her work with an unobtrusive, non-gendered, one-word name, saying, “After all, the work is not about me, but about itself - about its evolved state.” Bosch says when she starts a piece of work in any media, she does so for several reasons. Sometimes the subject touches her, or the colors might inspire her, or she might simply find it challenging. She explains, “Over the years, my professors have told me the content of the art is the most important aspect. In this I must declare my outright rebellion. Perhaps it is a sign that I have a long way to go as an artist, but the motivating force in my art is the process. I am not trying to impose an ideal on my viewer. I do not make political statements. I simply want or need to experience the artistic process, whether it is in the soft, silky, strokes of a pastel or the delicate whisper of graphite on paper. The act of drawing or painting has the ability to consume me - mind, body, and soul. The exploration is limitless.” Bosch says she’s been on a journey of discovery with her artwork since she first put paint to canvas. She attempts to show us the simple beauty that lies all around us, to have us stop “stop and realize the loveliness of a street lamp, the sensuality of a smile or the curve of an elbow.” Bosch’s work deals with angles, cropping, and zooming in or out to look at realistic things in a fresh way. She take liberties with color, size, and perspective because sometimes the subject cries out for enhancement. Bosch muses, “If we all stopped to look at the beauty in our everyday lives, we might just find our bliss.” Bosch’s fiber works are relatively new and exciting. She says she loves playing what if, “What if I use this fiber in this way? What if I felt this longer than normal and carve into it? What if I use resists or objects to create the shape? The possibilities are endless. Whether I am painting or working with fibers it is the act of creating that I love.”
ceebs can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Frame Designs Gallery
S U S A N S T A M M E V A N S
Born and reared in Albuquerque, Susan Stamm Evans is a third generation New Mexican. She was born in 1952. It was while doing her undergraduate studies at the University of New Mexico that she fell in love with sculpting in clay. After she received her BA in ’75, she moved to Milwaukee, Wisconsin for her graduate work, receiving her MA in ceramic sculpture in ‘78. Her first solo exhibition was immediately after graduate school. At the time, she became well known for her small, 7” to 10”, delicate porcelains of women in unassuming, yet emotionally charged, poses. The work then, as now, was quiet and introspective. Evans and her husband Dick, an artist as well, lived in Milwaukee for 15 years. In 1990, they returned to the Southwest, drawn back by the landscape, the light, and their family. Today their home and studios are located in the foothills outside Santa Fe. In 1995, Evans began making sculptures to be cast in bronze. The medium quickly led to new opportunities for scale and mood. The figures became larger and increasingly fragmented and simplified. She found that sometimes all that was necessary to express the desired emotion was the head and a hint of the body, instead of full figures. Later the focus was narrowed to only a portion of the face, revealing no more than a captured breath or sigh. The concept of private, yet universal, emotions is at the core of Evans’ work. She depicts subtle gestures to evocatively draw in the viewer, to suggest a narrative. Each piece conveys a feeling of a personal singular moment that is universally familiar. At that moment of engagement is the overture, offering the latitude for personal interpretation. Evans’ ambit is figurative. The scale, texture, and focus of the imagery has changed from series to series, but the essence of her work is always an intimate glimpse into simply being human, an expression of quiet moments. After years of creating solitary figures, she now often incorporates two figures. Her oeuvre explores the tender connections, and sometimes the distances, between two people. Evans has had over 15 One Person Exhibitions and her sculptures have been in over 40 Group and Invitational Exhibitions throughout the country. Exhibition highlights include the Museum of Albuquerque, New Mexico; Milwaukee Art Museum, Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Wustum Museum, Racine, Wisconsin; Tory Folliard Gallery, Milwaukee, Wisconsin; and the Selby Fleetwood Gallery, Santa Fe, New Mexico. Her work can be found in permanent public collections in Wisconsin, New Mexico, Texas, and Oklahoma and in private collections in Australia, Switzerland, Germany, Iceland, China, Jordan, and throughout the US. Her sculpture has been featured in over 20 publications, including ArtLA magazine, Santa Fean and Ceramics Monthly. Six galleries located in the U.S., Canada, and China represent Evans.
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Threads 5 Bronze
Susan Stamm Evans Bronze
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Susan Stamm Evans 64
Spiritually Challenged After a ten-day Zen retreat where not one word can squeeze past her lips my friend can only say, “Amazing.” I just wonder why she wanted to bury all those thoughts.
Two by Zack Rogow
With a language faster than words the born-agains in the dorm room next to mine woke me at dawn with their glossolalia. I thought, They really need to get laid. I visit Chartres Cathedral. The sculpture breathes, the stained glass is like candies of light. But the arches only stretch the emptiness for me. Faith just seems like an excuse for a potluck, or for not learning how to dance. Isn’t religion like the United Nations? Everyone agrees on the principles and everyone ignores them. The saints on their Corinthian columns in the Sinai and Sahara, the robed bodhisattvas lotusing on Himalayan ledges— their eyes don’t look down from my walls. But when a fist of cells roots into Deena’s womb and the chemo shaves her black tresses, I think about her warm cackle; her Isabelle and Harry, just eleven and four; and her work phone calls, all for others, and I hear myself say: “Please, God…”
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Dwellings In the sophomore apartment muraled with wildly colored parrots we penned phone numbers on the kitchen wall. Poems dripped down the halls. One day the ceiling avalanched my roommate’s empty bed. Where is he now and the ones who shared the house on Asylum Street, headquarters for a whole tribe of drag queens. I had a brass bed missing some columns and wrote my first poems there about my own waste land. In the flat on Park Street where hearses unloaded next door, the former tenants decided to stay on with a dog named Boris who wore a red bandanna and tripped with his owner. We harvested the grapes that laced the fence till they translated into a cloud of fruitflies in the fridge. My first place alone the sunsets simmered on the Hudson. The kitchen was a hotplate. I could hear the man I shared a bathroom with weeping each time his kids and ex left. In the apartment near Avenue A I raced the cockroaches for my dinner. The kitchen came equipped with a bathtub. My brand new stereo was kidnapped. After the gun mugging, I fled
to the pad in San Francisco that looked out on Angel Island, My roommate Fran and I cruised the discos Where Sylvester vespered. Gay and straight boogied together a few years before the tsunami called aids. One night after dancing till two Fran and I stood in the hallway outside our two bedrooms. “Your place or mine?” she asked. At the commune in Brooklyn two house members were no longer speaking: “Would you ask Sharon to pass me the salt,” said the man who once had caressed her. Another roommate moved from our house right to a ward in Bellevue. The kids didn’t know who their fathers were. Then the married house with linoleum like a Seurat painting viewed too close, the perfect three-bedroom, except for a broken swing set. From outside, you could see a chimney but the fireplace was buried inside a wall. And now the house with shades of green, inside and out, and a garage packed to the ceiling with all the other houses. Maybe this time a different ending.
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The Sound of 1:00 a.m. I live in the suburbs, Where the trappings of an Ancient Midwest City Threaten to turn into country. The city is just far enough away That stars come out at night, But not close enough to keep Tractors and ATVs off the roads. Fifteen years ago this city was all I knew. As I near thirty, I find that not much has changed. The cops still set speed traps near the highways, And everyone acts like they don’t know you at the local Giant Eagle. I'm reminded of the times my high school friends and I Driving home on this muggy evening, Used to tell our parents we were just Going to each other's houses, And in reality took turns Jumping our cars over this giant bump In the road at speeds of over 90mph Near the railroad tracks at 1:00am. Sometimes we'd pack ten kids Into the back of one of our vans And make for the drive-in to watch The entire double feature as an excuse to stay out late. Afterward, in ritual, we’d get Taco Bell or McDonald's And go over our stories in between bites of food One more time just to make sure our parents all got The exact same run of bullshit. We used to smoke grass And dance to the sounds Of crickets and bullfrogs at the Nature preserve just outside Of town.
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We’d stop and we’d say, “Listen to how beautiful The world can sound when you Lend an ear in the right direction.” We didn’t really say that, But that’s what we meant. Now life is in a hurry. I primarily meet other peoples’ quotas, Making just enough money To stay two steps behind. I realize I no longer hear the crickets; The bullfrogs are so distant in my memory, Even total recall falls short Of jogging the right synapses. I still live in my hometown, The roads are still very confused; A little bit of country this way, And a little bit of Rock N Roll the other. The police still set their speed traps, And I'm worried about getting caught in one, Because my front headlight is out And I have to be up in the morning. My 5:00am wake up calls Don’t allow for Taco Bell testaments anymore. But I know the crickets and bullfrogs are still out there. That’s why I stayed up late tonight, Because I haven’t heard 1:00am in a while. ~ Chad Lutz
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Tribut to Heinrich Heine Hagen Klennert Photograph
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S T E V E W A T K I N S 71
Photo by Dana Romanoff
The banner across Steve Watkins’ website reads “Author, Yoga Teacher, Tree Planter.” I’ve only ever known Watkins to be nonchalant about his success with publishing, though his obvious pleasure in writing and teaching is apparent when he has the opportunity to talk about his process. A retired professor of journalism and creative writing from the University of Mary Washington, Watkins writes prolifically, publishing young adult novels every couple of years through Candlewick Press and Scholastic Inc. He continues to write journalistic pieces from time to time, as well, often inspiring the next big idea for a new novel. Here, we talk about the intersection of research and creativity, the influence of personal life on the narrative, and how some things may always be left unwritten.
I know that you research your novels and have a background in research through your work as a professor of journalism at UMW, and I’ve read some of the things you’ve written for the paper, but you’ve written your whole life journalistically, right?
Oh, yeah. I started in high school by writing and editing an underground newspaper.
As a writer, when you get an idea for your novels, how do you view research? They certainly seem rooted journalistic ideas inspired by the mediaand the news, but then do you go out and do the research and the foot work? Great Falls is your latest book. Did you get the idea from the series you did for the Free Lance-Star on PTSD?
Yeah, I’d done a series and a tremendous amount of research about a Marine family who experienced multiple deployments and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and what they call Secondary PTSD that the family was struggling with. It was intense and an almost disastrous experience for them. It’s all too common, especially in this area. I could tell a certain kind of story journalistically. I could report their story, which was very important, and actually I was very pleased because they were able to use that series to springboard Jason Haag, who has now become a national spokesperson for service dogs. He’s been hired by the American Humane Society. His dog Axel was Service Dog of the Year. He’s [Haag] gone all over the country promoting care of service dogs and op
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portunities for veterans to have service dogsto help them cope. He’s been on national t.v. and magazines. That was gratifying to see. Great Falls came out of your work with him? Yeah, there was some other stuff going on, but a lot of it was people reading the series and contacting him wanting him to do interviews on CNN and other places. He’s done his own work now to develop that, and that’s just key, very important for him to get the word out about the efficacy of service dogs. I think it’s given him a lot of purpose in life. He’s still dealing with PTSD and needs that service dog, but it gives him purpose that he didn’t have especially having to leave the Marines. I also knew there was more story I wanted to tell there, so writing a novel, having done all that research, I had some ideas about a novel about two brothers, one having been deployed and a much younger brother who is still a high school student. I’m writing for a young adult audience; however, I think this novel could be compelling for adult readers as well. A lot of literature labeled as young adult today would also be intriguing to adults. The literature itself stands up.
Yeah, I think that one of the downsides of marketing for young adults is any good young adult novel that I’ve ever read - and I’ve read tons of them - was a good novel, and hopefully mine fit that description as well. [YA novels] happen to focus on younger protagonists, but novels marketed for adults do the same thing.
Is there something that you keep in mind when writing for young adults, or are you just telling a story about a young adult? Are you thinking I need to write in a particular voice, or I have to tap into my experience with my kids and watching them grow up?
For me it’s whether there’s a good story there to tell. My first book was a book of nonfiction, investigative reporting. There was a good story and the way to tell it was as a journalistic, nonfiction work. The way to tell this other story is through fiction, and of course noting which publisher’s paying what kind of money for which type of writing is a big factor. Really, it starts with the story: interesting characters, compelling situation, some sort of central conflict and off we go. There’s not a whole lot of difference in writing for a young adult audience in terms of the conventions of that kind of writing than there is for adults. You may be looking over your shoulder a little bit more if you’re writing sex scenes. Are you in the head of the teenager trying to tap into that thought process? It can be a tumultuous time of life, so I’m wondering if you tap into that, or are you strictly telling the story?
No, I think you very much have to get inside the head of that character. Young readers especially want to be able to identify with a protagonist/narrator, whereas an adult reader might buy into more intellectualized work where there’s more of an authorial voice telling the story, like a Tolstoy magisterial storytelling voice that younger readers are less interested in because they want to be able to identify with the protagonist.
So, I do have to get into the head of those characters, which can be interesting. For two of my novels the narrators were sixteen year old girls. Honestly, though, I didn’t find it any more challenging than writing from the points of view of the adolescent boys or young men that I’ve used. Well, and you’ve helped to raise daughters.
Yeah, although that was more of a humbling experience, kind of daily reminder of how little I know about people, girls, teenagers, and parenting. Going back to the research question, you tend to do quite a lot of research for your novels.
Well, some novels do require a lot of research. With this Ghosts of War series, a middle-grade series for Scholastic, I had to do a ton of historical research, both large and small. For one book, I had to know all about the war in North Africa, but I also had to know what kind of uniforms they wore. I had to know what a medic’s kit looked like and what would be in it, and oh, yeah, they didn’t have penicillin at the beginning of the war. Only in ’45 did it become available more broadly. You see? You’ve done four of those for Scholastic?
I’ve done four, yes. Two came out last year and sold half a million copies - kind of crazy numbers - and two came out this spring, numbers three and four. Great Falls comes out this spring, too, for Candlewick. I just sold another stand-alone book to Scholastic which is another middle grade novel.
NEW RELEASE: APRIL 26, 2016
One brother home from war. The other desperate to save him. A gripping journey together to the river’s end. Shane has always worshiped his big brother, Jeremy. But three tours in Iraq and Afghanistan have taken their toll, and the easy-go-lucky brother Shane knew has been replaced by a surly drunk who carries his loaded 9mm with him everywhere and lives in the basement because he can’t face life with his wife and two small children. When Jeremy shows up after Shane’s football game and offers to take him to the family cabin overnight, Shane goes along — both to get away from a humiliation on the field and to keep an eye on Jeremy, who’s AWOL from his job at Quantico and seems to have a shorter fuse than ever. But as the camping trip turns into a days-long canoe trip down the Shenandoah and Potomac Rivers, Shane realizes he’s in way over his head — and has no idea how to persuade Jeremy to return home and get the help he needs before it’s too late. In a novel at once gripping and heartbreaking, Steve Watkins offers a stark exploration of the unseen injuries left by war. (2016, Candlewick Press)
Heart-wrenching and real, Juvie tells the story of two sisters grappling with accountability, sacrifice — and who will be there to help you after you take the fall. Sadie Windas has always been the responsible one — she’s
the star player on her AAU basketball team, she gets good grades, she dates a cute soccer player, and she tries to help out at home. Not like her older sister, Carla, who leaves her three-year-old daughter, Lulu, with Aunt Sadie while she parties and gets high. But when both sisters are caught up in a drug deal — wrong place, wrong time — it falls to Sadie to confess to a crime she didn’t commit to keep Carla out of jail and Lulu out of foster care. Sadie is supposed to get off with a slap on the wrist, but somehow, impossibly, gets sentenced to six months in juvie. As life as Sadie knew it disappears beyond the stark bars of her cell, her anger — at her ex-boyfriend, at Carla, and at herself — fills the empty space left behind. Can Sadie forgive Carla for getting her mixed up in this mess? Can Carla straighten herself out to make a better life for Lulu, and for all of them? Can Sadie survive her time in juvie with her spirit intact? (2013 Candlewick Press) The historical novels have required a lot of research. The contemporary, young adult novels have required their own level of research. For example goats and goat husbandry figured prominently in What Comes After. I went out to friends’ houses who had goats and milked their goats and gathered their goat stories. My kids would come home and there’s Daddy watching a video on the computer about difficult goat births and all this disgusting viscera going on and I’m talking about KY jelly and long gloves and stuff like that. On Great Falls, the characters end up taking a canoe trip down the north fork of the Shenandoah, and I don’t want to give the plot away, but it’s a long canoe trip where a lot of things happen over a few days. I spent hours reading about canoeing and the different passages where you could canoe. You can follow the river with Google maps. I was following every inch of that river and the confluence of the different rivers, getting close-ups of the topography. At the same time, I had to know a lot about military weapons and terminology, and even with that I had a retired Marine friend read the manuscript to tell me about various things. Then, of course, my editor and publisher read the manuscript. As a writer of realistic fiction, you just fear that you’re going to screw up an authenticating detail, because if you do people will recognize it and it hurts the effectiveness and legitimacy of the book. Then there’s the research hole you kind of fall into. You’re interested in this arcane stuff, and you fall into the rabbit hole of learning way more about fill-in-theblank than you need. You can go on and on and on about hand grenades, when they changed over from the pineapple-skinned hand grenades to smooth hand grenades and why and what the theory was behind the pineapple structure … way more than you need for the book. 73
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Have you always been interested in history in general? Is that why you gravitate to these topics?
More interested in context, if you will, sometimes history for history’s sake, but more for the historical context for the stories that I’m telling, whether contemporary or historical. In answering any question about anybody, you want to know who are their family? Where did they come from? What were the influences on their lives that made them the person they are? Same thing about a place. What made a place a place? And that leads you into historical research.
I have a sort of unique perspective on you because I’ve interviewed you a few times, have seen you speak on a number of occassions, and I’ve known you for years. We’ve talked before about Down Sand Mountain being semiautobiographical, and you have all these pieces in your books that come from your life. Like in Juvie, you said your work in researching that book led you to work with the girls at the regional juvenile detention center by bringing a yoga classes to them. So I’m wondering where that personal aspect of your life comes into the writing to converge with the research, or does it? Do you feel like it does? It seems from an outsiders perspective that it does, but do you see it that way?
Everything you do when you’re writing informs the writing and is informed by the writing. If I’m writing something and you and I are chatting at a cocktail party, I’m probably going to start talking about my research until you’re bored and go find somebody else to talk to. There he goes again about.. Hand grenades, ugh!
Hand grenades! God, go blow up already...
Every book’s a little bit different in that regard. Certainly Down Sand Mountain was a very autobiographical novel. I don’t feel like I’m writing my life in these books, but when you’re writing you’re … one of my old writing teachers, Janet Burroway - who’s still writing, a wonderful writer - she talked about that. When you’re writing, you’re a sponge. Everything is material or potential material that could show up in some manner, shape or form in this book, whether it’s some contemporary news item or some weird event that’s happened. For example, in Juvie, there had been a terrible situation in the news where a young girl murdered her mother and was texting with her boyfriend while it was going on. That, or a version of that character, shows up in Juvie, and not capriciously, but I wanted to make that novel real. I didn’t want to sugar coat or romanticize being in juvie. There needed to be some characters in Juvie who were so far beyond the pale that even the kids in juvie were leery of them. Right, because that’s real life.
Right, and at the same time I wanted to reflect the clear psychological damage that must have already been there, and so I wasn’t writing this character exactly, but I certainly drew from that.
When Steve was 22, he took a trip to India to visit a friend. He was in an accident wherein he nearly lost his life. To exacerbate the emergency, he was in a remote area and was left alone while his friend sought help. He spent a week in an Indian hospital before being able to return to the United States, after which he remained in critical condition for some time due to the severity of his wounds and the limited treatement available while he was in India.
I also wrote a note to ask you about the failed memoir about your near death experience. I had heard you reference that experience, but it wasn’t until you gave the talk about it that I realized how truly near death it was. Do you feel like that event made you want to focus on certain things in your life?
As a compensitory kind of thing?
Well, more than that. Do you think having a near-death experience made you focus on certain things like social just issues?
I don’t think so. I was always focused on people on the margins of society, telling stories that aren’t getting told. I think that near-death experience, several near-death experiences really, effects you in a way that… I mean, I was in the hospital for a long time. My body was ravaged and I was never young again. I had just turned 22. I kind of overnight turned into an old man, or certainly someone who felt older. A broken body is a broken body. You can rehab and rehab and rehab, but scars are scars, and certain things… you lose all your naivete when you go through something like that, but I think people go through things like that all the time. It could be losing a parent, things that may not seem profound to me from my lived experience are going to be hugely profound to others. I think those events effect you in all kinds of ways, and effect what I do as a writer. I know it certainly made me keenly aware of the difficulties of the memoir, as I said in my talk. My friend who saved my life visited me recently - he and I have always stayed close friends - and for some reason we were talking about 40 years ago in India, and I was asking him some questions after giving the talk about not being able to write about this. I tried writing about it some more, sort of plunged into it…
A Best YA Book 2012, Bank Street College
A gripping portrait of a teen’s struggles through grief and abuse and the miraculous power of animals to heal us. A gripping portrait
of a teen’s struggles through grief and abuse - and the miraculous power of animals to heal us. After her veterinarian dad dies, sixteen-year-old Iris Wight must leave her beloved Maine to live on a North Carolina farm with her hardbitten aunt and a cousin she barely knows. Iris, a vegetarian and animal lover, immediately clashes with Aunt Sue, who mistreats the livestock, spends Iris’s small inheritance, and thinks nothing of striking Iris for the smallest offense. Things come to a head when Iris sets two young goats free to save them from slaughter, and an enraged Aunt Sue orders her brutish son, Book, to beat Iris senseless - a horrific act that lands Book and his mother in jail. Sent to live with an offbeat foster family and their "dooking" ferrets, Iris must find a way to take care of the animals back at the farm, even if it means confronting Aunt Sue. Powerful and deeply moving, this compelling novel affirms the redemptive power of animals and the resilience of the human spirit. (2011, Candlewick Press)
2009 Winner, Golden Kite Award for Fiction In a tale full of humor and poignancy, a sheltered twelve-year-old boy comes of age in a small Florida mining town amid the changing mores of the 1960s. It's 1966 and Dewey Turner is determined to start the
school year right. No more being the brunt of every joke. No more "Deweyitis." But after he stains his face with shoe polish trying to mimic the popular Shoeshine Boy at the minstrel show, he begins seventh grade on an even lower rung, earning the nickname Sambo and being barred from the "whites only" bathroom. The only person willing to talk to him, besides his older brother, Wayne, is fellow outsider Darla Turkel, who wears her hair like Shirley Temple and sings and dances like her, too. Through their friendship, Dewey gains awareness of issues bigger than himself and bigger than his small town of Sand Mountain: issues like race and segregation, the reality of the Vietnam War, abuse, sexuality, and even death and grieving. Written in a riveting, authentic voice, at times light-hearted and humorous and at others devastating and lonely, this deeply affecting story will stay with readers long after the book is closed. (2008, Candlewick Press) Was he able to articulate the differences?
Some of them, and some of them I’m sure were because I was just so in shock that even things that happened before the accident had gotten distorted in my memory. I had a vivid memory of spending the night in a stone floor cave with this sadhu in a loin cloth and a small fire, and I had no cushion under me, dozing off and waking up, and the sadhu was maintaining silence and was just there. I wondered where David was during this time. I asked him, “Where were you when I was in that cave with that guy?” He goes, “There was no cave. I was there, too. There was a stone slab where we slept, but no cave.” I was like, “No, I can visualize it.” But no cave. So this experience you had, you’re finding there are differences?
Well, or maybe David’s memory is wrong; although, he lived in that area for two years, so I trust his memory a little more than mine. He was a little more lucid than I was. It’s not like everything was wrong, but things were degrees off. It was right, but it was wrong.
So, as far as personal experiences you feel like everyone who writes is infusing some of that into their writing without even thinking about it?
Oh, yeah. And I don’t care which genre you’re writing in, it’s going to happen.
I feel like our world is very visual now, and I like to ask writers and artists how they think writing will change over the next few years. Do you think people are reading as many novels? Do you think they will change formats to meet that visual place where people are? The latest Merriam-Webster word of the year was an emoji, 75
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so I’m just wondering, with it being your profession, do you see yourself responding to that at all?
A couple of things that are happening in the publishing world, as far as I understand it, everyone was certain that Kindles and eBooks were going to be the wave of the future, and when the technology first appeared there was a spike in people using it. Those numbers, as a percentage, have flatlined and are decreasing. That can mean a couple of things: one, people like traditional books, which is largely what I think it means; and two, there’s a continuing interest in other venues. The number one entertainment modality, if you look at sort of traditional ones, are video games. There’s a lot of narrative in video games.
A lot of narrative. It puts the visual and narrative together and lets you craft your own version of the narrative, and I can understand how all that is very appealing in a number of different ways, for young people especially. Kind of like the rise of graphic novels?
Certainly, there’s the visual element to that, and film and t.v.. Look at all the stuff online that’s a lot shorter. The gloom and doom perspective in terms of traditional paperback books is people want all the bells and whistles, shorter attention spans, needing the visual and the stimulation, inability to focus to read a book. Honestly, I’ve never been interested in graphic novels. They’re hard to read. I loved comic books as a kid, but now they seem so simplistic. When I read, I want to let my mind go where it’s going to go. Do you see that, though? I don’t really see it as much as it is said to exist. For instance, my students at school will read a book.
They can coexist. There will be a significant number of people who fall prey to technologically enhanced reading having shorter attention spans, and that’s certainly going to happen, and it is happening, and that’s discouraging. Sometimes it seems like it’s just time. People don’t have time to read today.
It seems to me that people still read a lot of books. People write a lot of books; I’m getting paid to write books. People still seem to be reading. It may be a smaller percentage of the population, but the population is getting bigger, so very high numbers of people are still reading books. I think books and stories are where ideas [for entertainment] are coming from. A lot of video games are coming from comic books and fantasy novels.
Finally, where do you see the intersection of art and literature? Do you have a favorite art form that inspires your writing?
You know, that’s a good question. I’m not really a visual person. I don’t write lushly descriptive novels. I certainly include plenty of description, but my strengths are more plot and dialogue. It doesn’t mean I can’t describe things, but it’s not my forte, so I probably do less of it and am less accomplished at doing that than other writers, and I’m always in awe of those writers and their ability to do that. So, my visual aesthetic is not as developed. You know, I like what I like. As a newspaper editor I used to do layout and design, so I have some experience with graphic design, but nothing compared to what people are doing today. ~ Steve Watkins 2016
GHOSTS OF WAR series for SCHOLASTIC: Watkins’ series for
Scholastic Inc. is written with younger readers in mind. The premise: magic, a trio of intrepid adventurers, paranormal activity, and time travel to some of the most notorious battles of past wars. If you have a young history lover in your midst who enjoys a series, these books will hook them from page one. (2015, 2016, Scholastic Inc.)
Visit Steve Watkins online at his website: stevewatkinsbooks.com
Read interviews, book reviews, articles, and much more.
L Y N E T T E L. R E E D Floricultured 77
FLAR / Spring 2016 / Volume 4, Issue 1
IN HER WORDS: I find that describing how my fiber sculptures come to be is not easy. They are made with natural elements such as wood, shells, silk, wool and porcupine quills but are never of an actual plant or object found in nature. I begin all of my sculptures with the selection of handspun wools which are used for the coiling but from there the process can take many different directions. At times the color directs the final shape of the piece but often it is a step by step process that unfolds as I go along and select the embellishments that will be used. Hand dyed silk plays a major role in most of my sculptures in the form of leaves or some make believe bloom. I selected a natural brown for the base of "Jupiter's Lily" as I knew that I wanted the emphasis to be on the shape of the vessel and the blooms that would adorn it. It stands almost 3 feet tall and is still one of my largest and most favorite pieces. "Floricultured" was driven more by the vertical strength of the wood branch. Simple vertical flowering pods hang from the branch that also hosts dark and dangerous Devils Claw. The last piece "There be Kelpies Here" was actually inspired by the shells and pearls that are sewn down the side of the base. These shells were collected on a grey and rainy day on the shores of Ireland. The colors in the wool reflect how that day felt to me and the mystery of looking into the grey, swirling water, wondering what might dwell below.
There be Kelpies Here
Lynettte L. Reed
The Boy with a Turban By Juptej Singh I get asked the same questions so many times, if I was a website, my FAQ section would be packed with questions like: What’s that thing on your head? Are you a boy or a girl? Is that a tomato? Is that a ball? How come you get to wear a `hat in school? Is it, like, a disease? And my favorite: Wait, so you’re not a terrorist or anything, right? The reason that’s my favorite is because I get to have a little fun with that. I like to tell people I’m trying to stay on the down low, so if they could be quite, that’d be nice. If they’re freaked out or just rude, I’ll let them go. However, if they realize it was a joke and what they said was really wrong, I end up explaining myself. No, by the way, I am not a terrorist. I’m just a regular kid, going to a regular school, in a regular county who just happens to be Sikh. No, that’s not a typo, and no that does not mean I have germs and viruses coursing through my body every second. Sikhism is the name of my religion which started in India. I, however, started in Pennsylvania, not in India. (Another FAQ) One thing I don’t understand is how hard it is for people to know that the brown guy with a turban is from America. Here’s usually how that conversation goes.
Person: Where are you from? Me: Pennsylvania P: No, where are you actually from, lol? M: Easton, Pennsylvania. P: Don’t lie to me, you’re from India, okay bye! M:...*Facepalm*
It’s as if you’re allowed to be Indian and what not, but once you have a single resemblance of ancient tribal headwear, you cannot be American. It is simply impossible. What do we believe in? Well, simply put, we believe in One God (Or Ik Onkar) who we call Waheguru. Wahe means great, and Guru mean teacher or the one that brings you from the darkness to light. Our religion mainly focuses on serving others and standing up for your own and others rights. Women are just as good as men, and no race or
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religion is superior to another. Class and wealth has no value when it comes to the actual person, and every person should be treated equally. It started in 1469 with a man called Guru Nanak Dev Ji. You might notice that the Guru part is the same. We have Ten Gurus who were our teachers here on Earth, but only one Waheguru who is our god. The gurus were not gods, but spiritually divine people who showed us the way. I’ve been through stuff with my turban, but I don’t think it would go to the point where I could call them struggles. If you want to read about that, I suggest reading Bullying of Sikh American Children: Through The Eyes of a Sikh American High School Student. I think of it as ignorance showing where ignorance lies, and it lies everywhere. Let me walk you through what I’ve went through around my different ages and how I reacted: Preschool through 2nd Grade - We were kids then. It was basically all fun and games. The thing about kids is that they haven’t been taught to hate. All we knew then was love. Because of that, all that happened to me was kids asking about my turban. You’d think I would react accordingly, but no. I would completely freak out and thought they were trying to insult me in some way. I didn’t have many friends then.
2nd Grade through 4th Grade - This was when some kids started teasing me about it. I joined the boy scouts, but they’re very, very Christian, so eventually I was kicked out. Apparently they have Sikh scouts, though. Also, I remember one time, I think it was in 3rd grade, some kid actually pulled it off and stared in shock as he realized the question they had all been asking. The thing on my head, underneath that turban was….HAIR! The greatest reveal of the century! I mean, in some ways it was because as you saw earlier, people thought it was a tomato, so… The kid got suspended. 5th Grade through Beginning of 7th Grade - I was really self conscious about myself in these times. I cared a whole lot of what people thought of me and I tried to be one of the cool kids. This is when it went from teasing to just straight up being a jerk, and sadly I thought we were just playing around.
Mid 7th Grade through the Present - Now, I don’t really care
what people think. Sure, I get mad if people make fun of it, but that’s because I know the true value behind wearing it, other than just “religious”. Now, despite my turban, I’m a great debater, the editor of the school newspaper, have writing as a passion, have amazing friends who are willing to back me up, and hope to join the movie industry one day. However, what is my reason for wearing it? Well, it’s to give us a sense of identity. It’s so if there is ever a need for a sacrifice of our religion to protect someone else’s or anything of the sort, they can easily pick us out from a crowd of millions. So you can easily look at me and my turban and think, that guy is a Sikh. My turban makes me who I am, and I’m pretty proud of it. The reason why I’m writing this article is because recent events have triggered something in me that makes me want to fight for myself. You know who I’m talking about. Donald Trump. Yes, the guy who wants to throw me out of my own country - the guy who disrespects and makes fun of Muslims, Mexicans, the Chinese, Sikhs, and women. He is also the guy running for president. He says that all Muslims are terrorists and that statement has re-triggered hate crimes against Sikhs and Muslims alike, even though they’ve actually been happening since 9/11. I’m not saying “Don’t attack us! It’s them, it’s them!” I’m saying why attack anyone at all. If you knew these religions and knew the facts and figures, you would know the “Islamic terrorists” are actually Islam extremists. Extremists, as in extreme; as in taking statements or anything else way too far and shoving it down people’s throats, literally. These people are just here to make the world a super crappy place, and you’re helping them by doing hate crimes and making uneducated guesses at who’s dangerous and who’s not. The real problem with our society is that we don’t know anything about anything unless we’re comfortable or familiar with the situation. Imagine if people beat up white people because, hey, news flash, those guys who bombed the Boston Marathon, shot up the schools and churches, and beat up innocent people for looking like a terrorist (whatever that means) were all white. Don’t ruin the lives of other people. Stay educated. Just another boy with a turban, Juptej Singh
Photo by A.E. Bayne
FLAR / Spring 2016 / Volume 4, Issue 1
By Cathy Warner
The sand near the shoreline heats one’s bare feet with its crust, but walk firmly enough, and that thin layer gives way to cool moist grains between the toes. At age thirteen, everything can be reduced to this phenomenon—surfaces and appearances: crisp, smooth, clean—and then they yield, give way to something deeper, and it comes as surprise, this hidden interior life of everything. Inside me, too, lives something hidden, already wounded, already gasping and grasping for others to make it whole. What I know but don’t realize I know about survival is to bury my emptiness deep, keep it covered, protected like the sand crabs burrowed at the water line, found only by careful reading of the bubbles left as waves retreat, and a willingness to plunge one’s hands deep, more often forming wet puddles than finding the creature crouched in its shell. Atop school and homework and chores, I heap on activities like choir, track, drill team, gymnastics, and hanging out at Tastee Freeze with my army of friends once our afterschool practices end. We live by dares and jokes, alternate between acting like silly six-year-olds, and learning to French kiss, leaning into our shaking nervous partners of the moment, feeling our stomachs coil as tongues explore cavernous mouths and we grow warm, the first currents of longing, tugging us inside our bodies, as if we could escape our acne and amorphous angst by diving past another’s lips, through their throats, and worm our way into their hearts, hibernating there, letting that four-chambered cocoon shelter us for minutes or hours until we emerge, like moths turned monarchs, named and known. In eighth grade, though I have known him since we were in kindergarten, I am newly in love with Danny Campbell, our student body president—with my idea of him at any rate: the way he quips in class, making everyone laugh as we memorize the periodic table of elements and the Linnaean taxonomy of formaldehyde-preserved specimens. He is smart, funny with his physical antics and self-deprecating jokes, and cute. So, in the manner in which these things are done, I tell my best friend that I like Danny and she tells his best friend who tells Danny. Then Danny relays a message to my best friend through his best friend and I find myself waiting by my locker one afternoon after marching band practice for Danny to walk me home, which he does, three days in a row. The first day, I push my ten-speed bike up Bullet Hill while we walk. The second day I wake up early and walk to school, and Danny and I amble home afterward, side-by-side in the drizzle, avoiding sidewalk cracks, while he keeps up a running
FLAR / Spring 2016 / Volume 4, Issue 1
commentary of banter and jokes. He lifts a hand to his mouth as if gripping a microphone and croons part of Neal Sedaka’s “Laughter in the Rain.” We both titter and I blush. The third afternoon it is sixty-five degrees and sunny, not unusual for a January day in Southern California. We are mostly quiet, and he reaches for my hand as we cross the street from campus to my subdivision, and up the incline to my house on South Shore Drive. Instead of parting awkwardly at my walkway, we walk to my porch. We sit next to one another and he reaches for my hand again. His fingers are smooth and soft. Mine are callused from twirling on the uneven bars. We talk until the weak winter sun dips behind trees and the porch is shadowed. Danny is no longer Danny the life of the party, Danny the clown. He sounds thoughtful, considered, grownup. It is Danny the unmasked who sits with me on the concrete slab looking onto the square patch of lawn with its juniper border, clammy hand in mine. He tells me something real and true about himself, and in that moment it’s as if his feet have punched through hot sand crust, exposing a secret hope, a hidden ambition, and I don’t want to see it. I don’t want to hear it. “You’re different than I thought,” I tell him in reply. “You’re so serious.” “Is that bad?” he asks. “It’s not what I expected,” I answer and Danny becomes the first in a string of boys who will tempt me with their public selves to hide myself in the ring of their arms, the warmth of their mouths. And when I do, they will feel safe and will risk setting aside the persona that protects them from ridicule and rejection from people exactly like me who cannot bear to see them as real, or needy, or something other than the image I project upon them. It will take me years to realize that I am terrified to see their vulnerability, because it will necessarily reflect and magnify my own broken and shoddily mended self, as if they are glittering glaring mirrors. When I finally learn to see my true character without requiring someone else to deflect or mend it, I will feel remorse for the way I treated those boys. I will want to track them down, to say I’m sorry, but I will tell myself it was decades ago, lifetimes ago, that any pain—along with my name—has been long forgotten by those I hurt, though I remember them clearly: Danny, Jeff, Kurt, David, Roger, Mark, Rick. I apologize in my usual cowardly way, on the page to anonymous readers. Danny kisses me for the first and last time that sunny winter afternoon. Then he says goodbye and pads across the concrete to the street. I watch him, his head down, hands tucked into the pockets of his jeans, kicking a pebble with his worn Keds, until he disappears from sight behind parked cars. I turn toward my empty house, the taste of his kiss lingering in my mouth, salty and sad.
Two by Jada Yee
Eat just enough to keep breathing, but may the other half of this defiance alert the darkness of mind to the fire of its second life.
May I raise these shouting knuckles,
Just like pieces on a board game, we respect and defend our seating chart.
may the mirror be kept soft with limited glances so that the careless first half can drunkenly determine how worthy I deserve to feel.
Hard to tell if it’s the chandelier or just its shadow that is hovering closer; the curled tentacle arms, stretching toward our bowed heads; a second ceiling, blooming before us, and, we welcome it with relief. We take our time sipping from our glasses, hoping for a pot to shift in the kitchen sink, for a neighbor’s dog to bark, or for an ambulance siren to scream past, just so we can clear our throats or take a breath without being noticed. Life is sitting comfortably, without conflict, without discussion, …without.
This curling paw of leaf is starving for right answers, wonders how malnourished it needs to be before something more whole is able to push it from a rooftop. Then finally, I will fall without escape, I’ll fall toward suffocation as the ground convinces gravity to speed.
A toast will be made to our continued health and happiness; a resolution meant for forgetful hearts.
FLAR / Spring 2016 / Volume 4, Issue 1
New City Arts Initiative Charlottesville, Virginia New City Arts Initiative of Charlottesville, Virginia’s opened in September of 2015, but its roots run deep in C’ville’s arts community. The group has been an active nonprofit since 2009 and has maintained a gallery at the public WVTF Radio IQ station since 2010, and they offered a residency program for a number of years at The Haven, a downtown shelter for the homeless. The Haven residency program gave free studio space to artists, who in turn worked with Haven guests. Executive Director, Maureen Brondyke (left) says that a series of serendipitous events led to New City’s move to the new space. “Our partnership with The Haven evolved into a new program, and simultaneously a bunch of downtown galleries closed, creating a need in the community for more art galleries.”
Photo by Maggie Stein
Brondyke says that First Fridays, and galleries in general, work like vineyards; a heavier concentration of them in one area is helpful to all involved.
Unlike the gallery at WVTF, which requires an appointment for viewings, New City Arts Initiative’s Welcome Gallery has open hours during the week. The site features local artists, Charlottesville alumni artists (those that have lived there and now live elsewhere), and local curators. Brondyke explains, “A curator can apply for an exhibit featuring work from outside of Charlottesville as long as the curator is local.” New City’s Artist in Residence program is divided into two, five month segments, wherein the gallery provides a free space for selected artists to work where visitors interact with them and learn about their process. Their 2015 - 2016 residency program received 40 local applications, of which they could choose two. Resident artists are required to live in Charlottesville during the residency. An applicant may move to the city for the months of the residency and apply, though housing is not provided. Resident artists agree to participate in an artist exchange and hold an exhibit of their work at one of New City’s galleries, providing the artists with connections in the community. Brondyke says, “From our former work with our residency program at The Haven, we realized that the sort of community that artists formed by having co-workers or a counterpart was really important to them. So, even though the space is small, we wanted to give it to two artists. Our two, five-month segments are in line with traditional residencies. That amount of time allows artists to have a specific project they’re working towards and the time and space to do it. The artists are also integrated into the other programs, and hopefully they meet other artists through the process.” 83
FLAR / Spring 2016 / Volume 4, Issue 1
Photo by Maggie Stein
Artists in Residence for 2015 - 2016 are Alyssa Phoebus Mumtaz and Tobiah Mundt, featured in the following pages.
Kaki Dimock, illustrator and watercolor artist, and printmaker Josef Beery of the Virginia Art of the Book Center held a collaborative show called Deepsea Collaborations at the Welcome Gallery that ran through the early spring. (artwork to the left)
Brondyke says the gallery has had an impact, at least from the data collected from visitors and sales. Since they opened in September, they’ve had over 2,000 visitors and made around $46,000 in sales for artists, and the community has come out in support of the venture. Brondyke says, “Part of our mission is to support local artists and really help them make a living in Charlottesville, so we take a low commission in order to expose their work to new audiences and actually allow them to support themselves through it.”
In April, the Welcome Garllery featured a show currated by Charlottesville artist, Victoria Williams called Would, featuring artists Sarah Hughes, Travis Robertson, Leif Low-Beer, and Merijn Hos. Alyssa Phoebus Mumtaz exhibited her work in Stations at the WVTF Radio IQ gallery in April 2016.
New City Arts Initiative is currently accepting applications for 2016 - 2017 residencies and exhibitions at the Welcome Gallery. Applications may be found at newcityarts.org and are due by June 1, 2016. Follow them on Facebook and Instagram.
The featured artist at the Welcome Gallery for May 2016 is Hannah Barefoot with her show Flower, Til Death Do We Part.
New City Arts Initiative logo was designed by Greg Breeding of The Journey Group. All photos used with permission of New City Arts Initiative, Alyssa Phoebus Mumtaz, and Tobiah Mundt.
Photo by Ian Nichols
Featured at New City Arts WVTF Radio IQ gallery for May 2016 is Annie Temmink with her show Hat Shapes. (artwork to the left)
New City Arts Initiative
Alyssa Phoebus Mumtaz 2015-2016 New City Artist in Residence Photo by Maegan Moore
Beginning with a BA from Yale University in 2004, followed by an MFA from Columbia University in 2008, Alyssa Phoebus Mumtaz has sought process and practice while working with fibers and textiles, especially silks. Mumtaz’s extensive experience through residencies spanning a thirteen year period has had her traversing the globe from the east to west coast of the United States, to Spain, to Ireland and India. She currently teaches art at the University of Virginia. Of her travel and practice around the world, Mumtaz says, “The experiential part for me is sitting in the workshop with the weavers, seeing them in action, talking to their families, ruminating on what I learn there, and also coming back home to find other parallels that relate to it. This unfolds over time. I have that contact with artisans practicing ancient techniques, and the more I learn and connect the dots, even after the experience, the more it will continue to live in my practice.”
On residencies: “On a basic level, having these residency opportunities are encouragement that makes you feel like, okay, I’m on the right track because there are people who are helping me to produce my work and who are giving me opportunities to travel. The travel has been very valuable to my practice. More importantly, and more qualitatively, every single one of these opportunities has left me with some kind of materials that I can take with me after the experience. So, for instance when I did the fellowship residency in New York at Dieu Donné, I had the opportunity to make hand made paper on a very large scale, and I had the assistance and guidance of a master papermaker. After that experience I knew a lot more about paper and had a deeper understanding of what you could do with paper and more of an appreciation for it.” On research: “I don’t really consider my research to be academic in nature, but I do think an artist should know about the materials they use, especially when they use materials that come from a particular practice or culture, or even a specific history like the history of papermaking or the history of letterpress printmaking. It’s important to immerse yourself in it and know what is implied by colors and symbols, to know the technique’s prehistory. This has manifested recently for me in my research in hand-woven silk. I was always attracted to hand woven silk, but then I started thinking about it seriously, about where it comes from and how it’s made. This dove-tailed with other interests I have of India. So the last residency trip was really about trying to learn more about that craft, but also to try to meet weavers who make it and to get a sense of what their life is like and what their practice is today and so on. Research always leads you in directions that are unanticipated.” On color: “When I do use color, it’s always very intentional. The piece still has an austerity to it, but I’m starting to branch out into thinking about color a bit more visibly, and a lot of my color combinations, like turqoiuse and pink or saffron yellow and indego blue, come from things that I have learned about traditional art. I love indigo, but I also love natural silks that haven’t been dyed, just the natural fiber expressing itself. In my recent work, you see a lot of indigo and a blonde linen beige color. The saffron and indigo is a combination you see in Indian painting that’s symbolic of Radha and Krishna, Krishna being an important Hindu god and Radha being his consort. They’re very potent in that respect; they’re also very rich, natural colors. The indigo for me is really the most significant in that it’s almost black, but it still has a hue, kind of a rich blue like the night’s sky. It’s a color that occurs in a lot of sacred traditions, both in textiles, but also in book arts. The combination of gold and blue is also something I’m very attracted to, because it appears in so many traditional contexts from paintings of the Virgin Mary in her blue robes, to the blue Koran, to Buddhist manuscripts. That extremely rich combination with blue and gold is one that people have always responded to, so I see my work in a quiet way as being in dialogue with a tradition of using those colors and pigments.” On New City Arts: “New City has been a wonderful experience, and I’m so grateful that they were willing to try this out with me. I’m the first artist in this new residency. They’ve had past residency programs that have been very successful, but this was a new kind of initiative. When they opened the Welcome Gallery, which is their first truly dedicated and independent gallery space here in Charlottesville, they decided to try the artists residency here as a shared space. While working here, I continued a project I’m working on called Travelers, which involves paper collage cutouts that are mounted onto the silk. When I first got here, I finished one I’d been working on as I traveled through different countries. It’s the largest one I’ve ever made, twice the size of the others. It went in a slightly more abstract direction, but because it’s large in scale it has a different physical presence. Having the large studio space at New City has allowed me to explore that and to make something that’s a little more monumental, while still working with a textile/tapestry. New City has allowed me to make connections in the community, as well. I have been here in Charlottesville for about three years, but I hadn’t met many people in the community because my life had been focused more on the university (UVA) where I teach, but now I feel like I know a lot more people and I’ve had some really interesting conversations and met some really wonderful people in the arts community here in Charlottesville.”
FLAR / Spring 2016 / Volume 4, Issue 1
New City Arts Initiative
FLAR / Spring 2016 / Volume 4, Issue 1
Tobiah Mundt 2015-2016 New City Artist in Residence On the technique: “It’s called needle felting, which involves sculpting wool with a barbed needle. I start with raw wool and use a needle that has barbs on its edges that catch the microscopic barbs in the wool. The more you poke, the firmer, more compacted the wool gets. Sometimes, I use wires inside so they are poseable. I make little colored hearts and place them inside most of my guys. Often, I will repurpose work - cut heads off bodies and reuse them. You just take more wool and connect it onto something else, simply poke it in. Once it’s entirely felted, you can’t take it apart. It’s also easy to carve once it’s felted hard. I’m trying to work bigger and bigger. It’s really not that difficult to do something larger, because once you have felted the shell the hardest part is holding it together as you start. Once it’s felted on the outside, you stuff the inside with trash wool. Sometimes I fill with buckwheat, rocks, marbles, etc. I use wet felting as well as needle felting for my larger works. For wet feling, you use hot, soapy water to felt the wool instead of the needle. I also created this technique that combines wet felting and papier-mâché. I call it wool mâché. It’s a quick way to get a hard, large body without as much felting. My work is never done until it’s sold.” On sculpting: “I am self-taught. I didn’t know I could sculpt until I took the time to try it while staying with my mother in the hospital. I wanted to sculpt a fox, and it turned out well. So I bought 20 pounds of wool and started sculpting more things. The wool is very forgiving. If you can imagine something, you can sculpt it with the wool. It’s an amazing process.” On research: “I experiment and I’ve come up with techniques that work for me. I try not to read about needle felting or to look at other needle felting, because I want to come up with my own technique. I use things I learn from old projects to inform new projects. I did a bat a few years ago where I took apart an umbrella to make the bat wings. Now I’m working on wings for another creature and I can pull from that.” On inspiration: “I work with emotion. I try to find the emotion in the wool that reflects my feelings. My work is very personal, so whatever I’m going through at the time comes out in my work. These faces are expressions of emotions. I have insomnia, and a lot of these guys I’ll make at 3 a.m.. Many of them reflect how I feel at that time. Some of them are more whimsical. I have two kids, and when they’re playing around me I sculpt what I see them doing. I keep working on noses. I’ve spent a lot of time studying faces and heads. “ “My current piece is a giant buffalo head. I do a lot of trail running, and I was running on the RTF here. I swear I saw a buffalo. When I was telling my running partners they all said it was impossible, there were no buffalo in Charlottesville and I probably saw an escaped cow. So, the image stuck with me for a month, and I kept thinking about this thing I saw, so I had to make him. Similarly, when I was 18 I was driving home and I saw a white owl in the middle of the city of Houston. So, I took that as my spirit animal at 18. Maybe the buffalo is my spirit animal at my current age. When he’s done, he’ll have a white owl connected to him - it’s 18 year-old me and almost 40 year-old me.”
Photo by Maegan Moore
“In early 2006 my mom was diagnosed with cancer. The same day I found out, I quit my job as an architect at a Design-Build firm in the Washington DC area. A few weeks later I moved to Houston to help care for her. I quickly realized that I was not built to sit in waiting rooms and hospitals with nothing to do with my hands. So I looked online for a fox pattern that I could hand sew during all the waiting. I found a picture of a needle felted fox and was so taken by the beauty of the wool and the description of the process that I ordered pounds of wool and a bunch of needles and began sculpting. I made a fox first…then I made creatures. Big and small, angry and stressed, happy and sad. Lonely creatures. A few months after I started sculpting I took a trip back to DC for a few weeks. When I came home and walked into my studio space, I was taken aback by all that I had created and I realized what is obvious now, that I was putting my emotions into my creatures. The wool took over my life and here I am nine years later still sculpting. My needle felted sculptures have been poked tens of thous ands of times, compacting the wool into its final form. I find that this meticulous repetitious process informs my work, allowing me to enter an almost hypnotic state where I can tap into my own emotions and of those around me. It is always the case that after hours of poking wool, my work has evolved into shapes and stories I hadn't initially envisioned. These creatures, made from raw wool combined with natural and manmade objects, convey and illicit emotion in frozen moments of change and evolution. Currently my work captures and encases my own fears and anxieties in sculpted form by exploring different methods of textile art. I combine sculpted wool with macramé and weaving techniques and incorporate unconventional objects such as local found quartz and smoke.”
New City Arts Initiative
Barren Hope t r i c k l e s onto pink sticks with blue l i n e s. Eggs crack sizzle in the pan as the whites turn opaque and the yolks harden. Two minutes stretch into infinite motherhoods. Children with liquid genders melt into my touch. Blonde pigtails transform when they reach their apex, brunette cowlick barrels back down in a shower of giggles and pleas to go higher. My blue lines never come in pairs, empty window gapes at me. I burn the eggs. Blood in the toilet a testament the hope and the pink stick and the eggs all wasted.
~ Gabby Gilliam
FLAR / Spring 2016 / Volume 4, Issue 1
Voices Inside My Head Connie Lester Watercolor
FLAR 1/ Spring 2016 / Volume 4, Issue
Bucket Brigade Connie Lester Watercolor
A stretch of River Road
My Brotherâ€™s Road By Drew Gallagher
near the park entrance where the boarded up bungalow used to be reminded Ryan of Ireland. He traveled to Ireland for a month-long vacation before he was supposed to enter a creative writing PhD program. He had decided that the Ireland trip was an idyllic beginning, a pivotal moment from which a career would blossom, and the formative experience that he would cite repeatedly in future interviews. Heâ€™d practice the words, his answers crafted to include significant landmarks, forming them into erudition with thoughtful pauses until it became perfect. It was to be the impetus for all that he would accomplish in his storied career as a man of letters. On the way to the departures at the Limerick airport he envisioned his futureâ€™s triumphant return, free to travel and work as he desired. The road he remembered was just north of the village of Pallaskenry, a country road that inevitably finds its way onto the covers of AAA brochures for Ireland, lined with sun-bleached stone walls and painted sheep. A two-mile stretch of this road struck Ryan differently. He was driving alone on his way to a wedding of a recently met acquaintance as the afternoon was beginning to grow long, the sun turning the fields and trees radiant green--one blurred sea of emerald. In that moment, remarkable in its clarity, he thought of life gaily and without reservation. He promised himself that he would get married in Ireland on a day such as this, at that precise moment of the sun, which gave him a comforting assurance that he would never be married. The road continued to wind through the fields and subtle rises of the countryside with only small arrow-shaped signs breaking up the occasional intersections leading to towns that Ryan imagined only differed in name. The land gradually began to climb and led, quite unexpectedly, into a small forest that enveloped the road for a few miles. The tall trees were set like toy soldiers of a child. The sun, so bright moments before, was now almost completely filtered by the canopy of leaves that formed above the road. The result was a stunning series of beams that stretched uninterrupted through the branches to the shaded ground below. And as Ryan drove on, the beams danced across the dashboard, and he wondered if any of it was real. Every time he drove beneath the trees on that stretch of road into Fredericksburg he was reminded of Ireland and the promises that his life once held. A section of thin evergreens, out of place among the gnarled mulberries that peppered the north bank, shrouded the crumbling drainage ditches with their branches and made an imperfect tunnel. On most days, Ireland was a distant and romanticized memorysince the sunlight on River Road was usually scattered unlike the true beams that he had found outside
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of Pallaskenry. Today, however, the beams were close. As the clock flickered to 7:14 he noticed that the tunnel was darker and the light patterns more pronounced. He held his hands above the steering wheel and watched the shadows pass beneath them and was glad for that moment. He wondered if his brother, who traveled this road early every morning, had ever noticed it. Partially because he had never been inclined to get up at seven o’clock to monitor his brother’s exhausting training ritual and also because watching his brother by himself on the Rappahannock River did not seem to hold much excitement, he had never watched Tripper row. After all, he had seen his brother use the stationary rowing machine at home and figured that the catch, pull, and release were probably pretty similar. The obvious importance of water was easily glossed over in the face of another 45 minutes of sleep. When he asked Tripper once if anything interesting ever happened while he was training Tripper said that he would occasionally get dumped in the river if he crabbed on a pull, but those times were rare and his hour on the river each morning was pretty uninteresting and not very worthy of spectators. Tripper said that he doubted anyone had ever watched him train for more than two minutes—the time he estimated it took their dog to piss. In adolescence they had hated each other for simply being dissimilar. The two-year separation in ages had not been enough to tamp down jealousies in the classroom or on the ballfield. They had grown apart to a point where they barely spoke until Tripper had his accident. The glider he was piloting plunged straight down into the runway and hit with such force that the bones in both of his ankles shot through the backs of his legs. (The first people to reach him amid the wreckage found him in delirium shouting: “I screwed the pooch!” A line he was somehow recalling from the movie “The Right Stuff.”) Legs were fused to feet in the myriad of surgeries that followed. At that point, resenting Tripper for making the All-County Baseball team finally seemed petty. Ryan left for college and their relationship, freshly healed by the breaking of his brother, became an afterthought. Then Tripper needed a place to stay after college and Ryan had an extra room in his townhouse and they were together again. Not necessarily making up for missed time because they were both busy enough now that time was limited to a few hours in the evenings while Tripper sorted out what was next in his life.
hear back from his brother by the end of the day or the position would be offered to another. So Ryan got in his car and drove to the river. The months with Tripper had been good. Though they had never talked about the accident directly or the lasting effect it had had on his life, it was clear in Tripper’s slight limp when he got up from the couch to get a beer from the fridge. Or when he wobbled to and from the river to the storage shed where he kept his scull, maintaining a necessary balance to keep both boat and rower from falling back into the water or dropping the boat onto Sophia Street. Ryan would miss Tripper and figured he would be leaving very soon. He looked up and saw that Tripper had pulled back into view. Ryan watched him closely this time. His chest and head moving forward from the waist, as if to gently kiss the scull, and then falling backward as if what he had seen scared him. The arms mimicking each other perfectly in cadence with the steady rhythm of the oars. His legs seemed to be tethered to the scull, but were constantly bending and then, with effort, straightening a fraction behind the torso’s total thrust backward. Forward and then back with a visible release of breath. Air in, head down, and pulling away as the boat moved in measured increments up the river. Painful breaths exhaled with a low, quick wail escaped through the nose. Everything tearing at once and still almost whole as the scull moved behind riverside bushes again. Maybe they would have a couple of nights together before he left, but Tripper would soon have to find a place to live in Philly and transition into his new life. Find somewhere in Philly to keep his rowing scull. Along Boathouse Row if possible. The Schuylkill replacing the Rappahannock in his daily routine. There wasn’t going to be time for nostalgia, or apologies. As Ryan turned from the river he could still hear Tripper behind him--the soft blending of oars in water that sounded like someone’s breathing while asleep. More distant now and masked with each car that passed on the nearby street. But it was there and he didn’t need to turn around. His brother, one final time, and Ryan thought of the shafts of light that morning and hoped that his brother had seen them.
Tripper had been accepted to Penn for grad school, but even with student loans his personal obligation was going to be substantial. He was hoping to get a call from a professor any day now about a longshot TA position that would make grad school doable. The professor’s call had come that morning, just after Tripper had left for the river. The professor told Ryan that he needed to FLAR / Spring 2016 / Volume 4, Issue 1 94
Three by ...................................... A word What is good, this word I use over and over again for supper, for the dog, for a piece of a poem. Is it the moment when the beast (some semblance of beast) turns on his heels, mid-stride all foam and desire all beckon and go in deep, seamless winter to return to my side as though, unthinkingly, I were worth a kind of commitment. Or is it in the below, below cold, mute sky, cold as brass cold as an instrument this time we, dog and I, take as ours. Hours in the woods that could go on forever but don’t are cut instead like a piece from a pie a good pie the best pie. What a chance. And we found them only inches outside the city gates, these good woods these scurry and pine puddle and fall as when my dog, borrowing trouble, went head down headlong (it was the very center of winter) and came up dripping, soaked and frozen shot out of that pond like a firework set off by a drunk off course, scrambling back to me, all foam and desire even though I didn’t call to him came to me as though I were good, as though I could save him from his moments of unmitigated self.
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Shackleton’s Crew In the photograph the men are all in harnesses straining forward like cliffs to haul boats over the ice. Three months alone in the lunar cold of the south shackled to the pack ice floes dirty clothes, dying slowly in the fumes of the few stoves they had, the ice hanging around inside like weighted ghosts. Hull and hold packed full of pack ice— but they survived! Moon blue, marooned like runaway slaves and pirates on elephant island among the sea elephants and the jackass penguins by the quest to be the first to touch the end of the last place on earth.
........................Genevieve Payne Insomnia “She’d find a body of water,
or a mirror, on which to dwell.” Elizabeth Bishop I want to be a mirror in the moon the boat you find yourself in, now, unexpectedly this channel you choose to head down, dusk dark headlong into the red-wing black birds and herons the tall grasses and birds of rot, the sulfur of spring. Dusk dark you travel in and the gray dog of a charcoal night. I want to be the night bird you choose to call to, the mass of land you’re headed toward, singular silhouette broke from the rest, wrested from the main. I want - and then the phone rings - and I am in a kitchen at a table I know is not yours in a room empty of you occupying a town perhaps you’ve never even been to like the water and the body I want to show you but only as the headlamp you take with you, early winter brown dog at your hip, night around your ankles like a coat. I would take even the soles of the boots you wear, I would be even the branches of the trees like old lady bones, gesturing to you. It’s not pride I want, but to be an August for you, a march too, a quarter of a century or more a phone ringing, here or anywhere in a kitchen, city or town. I want to be the sound your voice answers to.
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Two by Sarah Rehfeldt
Let’s be something like snow melting… petals slipping from their branches into water, form and gold returned to mystery and light – released again – yes, as wings must always be.
Nocturne I’ve been sitting up at night again with the moon, slipped between the still wet grass and darkness gazing skyward into the unlit deep. Silence is a blanket, the mystery that surrounds us. Many things arrive on their own away from the light, many thoughts that go unanswered during the day. I look at the sky – the deepening of color, the blue and gray and white releasing echoes of the tide… If only I could wrap the moon in darkness.
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Ora Xu Watercolor
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Isla Negra’s Faraway Friend
Three by Timothy Dodd
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On separate continents we trek together, eat week-old bread atop darkened rocks, erosion’s crevices hiding at ocean’s edge. Greyish-blue clouds stop planes and ships, our eyes on the crests of Pacific waves rising from invisible forces, pushed up by stingray, sponge, and squid. We crash with them in cold spells as white foam crawls into tiny inlets and boulder gaps, forgotten by sea mothers and their gods. Unseen or trampled, we filter over barnacled stones, and inside our shells we hear only crashing. Night comes and we can’t sleep, but we pass each other with an eye of endangered plovers, their black rings around our throats, a wild-sounding call that might be an old fairy tale to warm or warn us. We found each other as tide came in, water smashing the shore, a fury for our swirling dust. But when I greeted you, called out over the water, we knew both of us come from mountains, not precious seas. We come from baked bread and quiet climbs, sour yogurt and goat whiskers, isolated flutes where ancient rocks walk to the sky, where we’ll meet on well-earned smiles.
A Late Summer
They see it now---thirty years after my drumming---as I pound pole into earth for their backyard bird feeder. Come little wings, they say, the more color the better, giggling at a goldfinch hanging upside down. Squeeze out all the feed
Outside our tiny cabin, in duskâ€™s light snow, Father gave me a green orange, and I, its peel to pigs and seeds to soil, as he smiled under his warped brim.
you can, for our season is a day. They hear it now, speak a bit, this language of birds and a son carried by wind and mountain air. They see those words are lost song if dissected, massacred if manipulated. To make maps of stone and grass, spell in seeds, I could not convey in twittering youth, raw energy of the message falling hard on fox and cat. But now it is said, during autumn vacation visit brief, in the mere sound of hammer hitting metal. Two tired bodies, their planting long done, see each chirp as miracle, a current of own offspring. And the digging into the earth, lawn tear, disorganizing the dirt---once sin and castigation---grant belief and elder thrill. For the seasons wander, and winter lifts more than the wings of departing birds.
But coins came later, in quartered concepts and contrived conversations. A wedding, said constable, called me queen for a day. For my son, Christmas citrus cried daring crime, desiring plastic blue balls and black little wheels to spin across cold linoleum. For grandson, Fischer-Price and Matchbox carried cheap farce on digital planets. Video games left, video games right, he stared. And now an orange is just a fresh squeeze to mix with chiles and cumin, margaritas and tropical marinades, as I try to recall the taste of the gift, the skin of the giving hand, the fields and forests surrounding all I swallowed, where I picked apart slices in the winter white---all covered today by lines and numbers and well-managed tar; my sweet fruit abandoned on distant hillsides.
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Encaustic Painting Nature’s Gift
The Art of Carolyn Goodridge
I met Carolyn Goodridge through a show I was helping to organize this past March at the UUFF Gallery in Fredericksburg, Virginia. Goodridge’s connection to a world beyond is embodied in the metaphysical pieces she creates. Her abstract encaustic works captivated our committee, and I wanted to know more about the technique and her personal vision for the medium. Drawing inspriation from both spiritualism and science, Goodridge’s paintings can be viewed locally at JarrettThor Gallery in Colonial Beach, Virginia and during the month of May in the show Art Impact USA, Transcending Boundaries at the Tri-Mission Art Gallery, Embassy of the United States of America in Rome, Italy. What drew you to beeswax and encaustic when you were researching a medium for these particular paintings?
Well, it was probably how the different beeswaxes are refined. For instance, I might want to use an unrefined, unbleached beeswax and would research the effects of raw pigments. Then I would research the pigments themselves - which ones worked well with this media as opposed to acrylics, etc. With your work in different materials for the encaustic pieces you create, do you find you have to do a lot of research into what will work, or do you allow the experience to guide you as you go?
Oh, yeah, sure. I bought a book a book called The Art of Encaustic Painting, by Joanne Mattera, and it was that that helped me learn to paint with encaustic and has taught me everything that I know and have been doing, about 80% of it. Another thing that has helped has been community with other artists who are risk-takers. We talk and compare notes, not necessarily just encaustic, but any other materials, and we try out each other’s stuff. Things like that. That’s like 20% of my research, but the rest is strictly encaustic that I’ve learned from that book. It’s kind of a bible for me because that’s what I refer to whenever I get stuck with something, any kind of recipe for mixed medium. I’ve bought other books for encaustic. There are titles like Encaustic Workshop I, II, and III, but they bring all kinds of other mixed media that you can embed into the paintings. I’m more of a purist, as I enjoy working with just the encaustic, but sometimes I do branch out and just for fun really. What are some of the challenges of working with the beeswax?
I think there’s only one challenge for me, and that is controlling where the wax travels when you are using the heat gun. The more I’ve used it, over ten years now, the better I’ve become at controlling it; however, when I introduce something new like epoxy resins or rice paper, or anything that’s not the beeswax, or when I want the beeswax to be the main material my challenge is how to incorporate it well and still control where the wax goes now that it’s not going on just one thing like it does when I’m using a wood panel or glass. Now it’s going on paper, it’s going on something else. Once I use the heat gun to melt it… you have to melt the wax again and again - that’s what encaustic means: burn in again. The edges create different forms, especially if it’s pigmented, now you’ve got a different shape and maybe you didn’t
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want that shape. Or if you did and there it is, you have to heat it again with an adjoining image and your previous image has changed. The challenge is controlling the imagery and shapes. Like I said, I’ve done it so long I’m pretty good at it now, and I challenge myself by bringing in other things to see if I can still create the imagery I have in mind and want to create with the heat gun. It’s like using the force of the air to paint. It’s not just the wax, but the force of that air coming from the heat gun. I love that process. It seems like that would resonate with your Buddhist practice, too, bringing in the elements and paying close attention to how they work together.
Yes, you have to be extremely mindful when you do this. You can’t be asleep. You can’t be thinking about tomorrow or yesterday. You spoke in your talk about your artistic practice being driven by synesthesia, bringing your visions to life from the sounds that you can see and the aural experiences you are having and then trying to translate them to a visual product so people can experience the same thing. Would you talk about that a little more?
I experience it through vibration. When I see colors, I can feel them and the closest of the five senses, it’s not really my eyes, but also my ears. It bypasses my ears even, so it’s even my skin. I feel it all over, inside and outside. So, when I’m painting, I can feel what’s right and what’s wrong; what’s harmonious and disharmonious. I can sense what needs to happen. So, it’s not just my eyes. I’ve painted before with my eyes closed even not recently - but often when I was in school. I just find it very helpful to know and accept the fact that all of my senses want to create, not just my eyes or ears. I don’t taste it, that’s one thing I don’t do, but most everywhere else I do feel it. Like an intense connection to your paintings as you’re creating them. I know that sometimes people have specific synesthesia, but your’s sounds more integrated.
Yes, that’s a good word for it.
I’m also interested in your application of science and mysticism or spiritual practice, another topic you worked into your talk. How does science inform your art?
I find that I sometimes have ideas or notions running through
Music of the Flower Encaustic on wood my mind, and sometimes it’s a difficult process for me to translate the information that I receive into spoken language. I found that the theoretical and quantum physicists are the closest ones who speak the language I want to convey. Not the math part of it, but the theory part of it. I also found that to be true for the ancient rishis and yogis, the masters and so forth. What they talk about, I feel like I knew it already. I understand it totally, and so I use science as a proxy language. I’m attracted to their language so I can use it to convey what I feel or what I sense. That’s how I use science, because I can read and understand it; I can feel it and see it and experience it. It’s not just saying, “Oh, that’s cool.” I feel it. I think I was at the National Air and Space Museum, and I went to one of the movies where it talked about how we’re made of stardust or the same elements that are in the stars, (continued on page 105)
About the Painting: Goodridge says, “Interestingly, my Zen Buddhist name is “JiHwa,” Korean for Wisdom Flower. The earliest memories of my home in Trinidad are of music and colorful flowers. Or are these memories actually of the moment of being born, the moment of the big bang even? Through Edward Maryon's Marcotone Sound Color Theory I’ve learned that all colors have corresponding tones. Through synesthesia, I hear and feel the resonance of color as sound, subtle vibration.”
“Our world is made up of vibrating strings. The Mind of
God is music resonating in eleven dimensions throughout hyperspace!” ~ Dr. Michio Kaku, Co-founder of the String Theory
Yang Mills Fields of Subatomic Particals Encaustic on wood 103
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Tunnel Vision I
Encaustic and ultrachrome ink photography on rice paper on wood About the Paitings: Goodridge explains, “The photography was taken from a video I shot while passing through the Light Tunnel walkway between East and West Wings of the Smithsonian National Gallery of Art. It’s a magical experience. Wormholes connect parallel universes. Perhaps it could be similar to going through a wormhole at light speed!”
“It’s mind boggling to me that there are fields which govern the interaction of all subatomic particles (Yang-Mills fields.) The microcosm and macrocosm of life’s forces of nature appear the same to me…from nebulae to microbe.”
we’ve been created from that. I feel the truth of it. Even when Dr. Michio Kaku says, “The mind of God is music resonating throughout the eleven dimensions of hyperspace,” I feel the truth of that so overwhelmingly, it’s like oh, someboday knows. I use some of their language in the titling of my pieces, like morphogenesis, or hyperspace, or parallels, things like that...String Theory. Also, when I’m painting, I’ll use my titles, no matter what they are, to help me focus on whe I’m actually painting, because I don’t believe in just painting out of nowhere just to see where things take me. There’s so much out there and, for me, I have to control my mind in that way. Not every artists feels that way, but I do. I’m more successful when I have a focus, so I come up with the titles before I paint. There are a variety of artists and everybody’s approach is going to be different, but is there some element you believe that everybody experiences? For instance, in your art view it’s that connection to the universe, to the spiritual and scientific. Going back to that passion you’ve described, yours coming from this synesthetic experience that you have, do you think every artist has some kind of connection like that when they’re creating art, maybe not the same as yours, but something like it?
I would say every artist has a connection with something that’s not seen, at least I can say that about abstract artists. People who paint primarily photorealism and things like that, for me that’s not dipping into the unknown or unseen, that’s just dipping into representation, so if you’re an excellent draftsman you can do very well with that. I also did that very early on and I found it was too confining, so I broke out while in school with the permission of my professor - because I felt like I had to ask at the time, may I paint abstract too? After I learned about the abstract expressionists and so forth. He said, “Go ahead,” and that’s all I needed to hear. That, for me, is more of a creative endeavor than the representational art. For the artists that are expressing things that are not seen, I would have to say that they probably are connecting with something beyond themselves.
I’m working on a piece, I guess it would be considered representational with a bit of abstraction to it, and I find that I become totally immersed in it when I’m working on it, to the point where I know I need to block off large swaths of time to work on it. I’ll start working on it and eight or ten hours later looking up, saying “Where did the day go?” It’s an immersive, exhausting experience, but highly
(continued on page 109 )
About the Painting: Goodridge says, “By painting on large glass panels this work balances Eastern with Western values of permanence, grandeur, symmetry, and perfection. This piece exhibits a magnificent harmony between Eastern and Western aesthetics. Wabi Sabi’s imperfect aesthetic sensibility finds beauty with impermanent natural, organic forms. The innovation here is a holistic combination of both aesthetics, capturing the flow of nature’s organic dynamism using a medley of media. Attempting to contrast, not only between organic and geometrical shapes, but also with smooth and rough texture, as well as dull and shiny reflective surfaces. The idea that something is there, may cause you to look for it and perhaps to create it, realize it. Aha! 105
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Encaustic on greenhouse glass (Diptych)
About the Painting: Goodridge explains, â€œMy intention is to inspire fellow seekers interested in the spiritual side of science. Scientific language is now catching up with and giving credence to the teachings of the ancient spiritual masters and rishis. Perhaps meaningful, even enlightening dialogue and self-reflection among scientists, clergy, Zen and yoga students can be engaged. By viewing these paintings, may all who struggle to attain enlightenment in the world beyond quantum particle physics actualize your true selves!â€?
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An Interval of Zen Cosmos and Dewdrops Encaustic on greenhouse grade glass (Diptych)
Morphogenisis of the Blue Wave Particle Encaustic on wood rewarding. I think most people that work on pieces that absorb them like that do connect with something. I feel like when I’m working on this piece that something is inspiring me in some way, more so than other things I’ve worked on.
Yes, you lose time. It disappears. That’s the connection I’m mentioned. Well, your paintings are absolutely stunning.
Are there any final thoughts you want to share about encaustic?
Well, I suppose I want to explain why beeswax at all. I really feel that nature produces so much that we can use. It takes so god-awful number like ten million flowers to make one pound of beeswax, so I’m very mindful of how I use it, not to waste it, because that’s their work, not just mine. I”m using their work. It’s like people who go to cut down trees to make wood. You know, we need it, but you sort of have to honor the trees, too, before you cut them down. When I use the wax, I really feel connected with nature in general. Some visitors to the gallery say, “I can smell the wax.” It’s an organic experience and medium. It’s nature’s gift.
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About the Painting: Goodridge says, “I believe one’s thoughts create resonance, which creates form, which creates our world. Morphogenesis is the biological process that causes an organism to develop its shape. Rupert Sheldrake, an English biochemist, is known for his theory of morphic resonance. Sheldrake proposes that the process of morphic resonance leads to stable morphic field.
THE LAWS OF PROBABILITY By Olivia Dupuy
She wore a red dress
too, and the fabric seemed to take up the whole room, absorbing all the light and shining like the waxy apples at the grocery store we vowed never to eat again. There seemed to be carpets of it, that red silk, and yet not enough because too much of Rachel’s white shoulders and collarbone were bare. The dress spilled over her wardrobe for a week before the dance and every night as I headed to the bathroom to take a shower I caught sight of my sister pinning it against her body like she was a paper doll waiting to be made into a human. She wore my flannel pajama pants, and I watched the checked blue of them covered by the folds upon folds of red. I said nothing about it, even after we bought the lipstick she wanted and I carried it home in a black and white bag. It’s just one tube, James, I tried to tell myself, one little tube of oil and dye. It’s nothing to the packs you bought for your own collection. And then I had to decide that lipstick tubes must be like coffins, because the smaller they are the heavier they seem. Rachel offered to carry it, but I worried that if I let her it would make things look too final, a nail in the coffin lid, so I said no. She said she was surprised I didn't already have the thing, with my whole big collection and all. The ones I already had didn't match her dress exactly. Oh, it doesn't have to match exactly. And makeup is so expensive. Maybe I had an expensive sister. She thought that was funny. What a horrible thing to say! She didn’t understand. Rachel was expensive, but not expensive like the money spent on polishing a ruby to cut into pieces. Rachel was the sapphire bracelet, blue as my pajama bottoms, classic and timeless. She drifted from thrift shop shelf to thrift shop shelf until a lucky browser not only found her but saw her. Usually that lucky browser was a jewel enthusiast, or some kindof wise expert; someone who cared about history and not just beauty. He was someone who wondered about that thin scratch on the side instead of just fussing with it. Rachel’s was no such person. He was lipstick. Every time I saw him I wanted to ask if he wore contacts, because I don’t think people can have eyes that hazel. They were like a weird lollipop I unwrapped in second grade on Valentine’s Day: Green Apple, dipped in caramel. Sweet and putty-soft on the outside, something much harder and sour on the inside. I told Rachel and she replied that that’s what made the lollipop special and wasn’t that the lollipop you begged mom to buy more of?
Everything was happening much too fast: I had a distinct sense of losing something important. Rachel and I still spent the same amount of time together, still listened to music together, still did our homework at the same kitchen table, and yet she wasn’t there with me. She floated away with the help of a soundtrack from that movie her date loved, it’s a great movie James, you should see it-She had the help of a hairstylist but I insisted on doing her makeup. Because maybe if I did her makeup everything would slow down again. Mom tried to convince her to get a professional (“no offense, James, but I want her to get an expert’s opinion”) but Rachel took my side and refused to go to a counter. After all, I had already bought the red lipstick that matched her dress. Perfectly. According to the laws of probability something had to go wrong; it had to. The dance would be cancelled or I’d use the wrong makeup or her hairstylist would mess up or her date would change his mind, I prayed to God he changed his mind because Rachel was too much of my sister for bare shoulders or red lipstick or this mascara or that eyeliner, but I still let her go out with bare shoulders and red lipstick and this mascara and that eyeliner because why hasn’t something gone wrong yet– Jewel collectors. While I stroked wings on the corners of her eyes I half-joked for her to stay away from bad men but forgot to tell her that bad men look like nice men and sometimes bad men wear red ties and bring you wrist corsages in white. I felt like Rachel’s father as I brought her downstairs, her arm clutching mine because she should have practiced walking in those shoes. I don’t want to be a father because now I know what it’s like to surrender someone you love to a stranger at an altar, to hand over the white boutonnière like it’s a flag. I took their picture. He had a perfect smile, and perfect smiles are dangerous smiles because it takes practice to be perfect. Mom didn’t notice, wouldn’t notice, told him what a charming boy he was, he smiled– Rachel smiled as she pulled me aside, and I can’t describe her in that moment. She was Rachel, the world’s largest larger than life sister there was, and whoever said you should let go of things you love was an idiot-- I’m that idiot. She took my hand and pressed a lipstick stain to my cheek, pressed what I didn’t know was a promise to my heart. And it turned out that probability had pulled through after all.
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Two by Lauren Scharhag I Scream, You Scream A rumor got started one summer That the ice cream man was a murderer. So whenever we heard the bell, We hid in the crawlspace under the porch Peeking out between trellis diamonds, Our hands full of splinters, knees in the dirt. The fear we were taught piled up on The fear we were born with: Parents, monsters, strangers, the dark We grow up pretending those fears somehow fade, That we are better than the creatures Who live in the motion of flight Trading nightlights and hiding places for Pepper spray in our purses, a .38 under the seat. I wonder what the ice cream man mustâ€™ve thought At the end of every run on those hot days, Returning to his garage with cases still full Of Bomb Pops and Big Top Cones slowly going To freezer burn.
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Medicine Wheel I drove out to meet you on Apache ground. That first night, I awoke to a circle of restless spirits. “Don’t worry,” you said. “They’re only the ghosts of the creatures Slain by the Killer of Enemies. They can’t hurt you. They’re just shadows, and the Killer of Enemies Is the sun.” By the light of the Killer Sun, we went to town And browsed pawnshops, which go hand-in-hand With reservation casinos. You bought me a fetish necklace, Horses of turquoise and bone galloping under my hair From nape to sternum, and back again. The horse, you told me, is a great healer. I wonder who will heal your gelding, George, Piebald and gentle, but too old for the saddle. He has to keep to his pen now because the back forty Is all stone and prairie dog burrows, A broken leg waiting to happen. You showed me the sinkhole Spilling over with car parts and old mattresses, A place for firing rifles at beer cans, The land too low for planting windmills, But not for drill rigs. When the next quake strikes, I’ll be four hundred miles away. I’ll still feel it, shaken from my sleep As if the Enemies have been loosed again, Their coming hailed not by a horn blow But by a coyote’s howl. On our way to the Holy City, A buffalo lumbered out into the middle of the road. We turned off the engine and waited, The shade of the pinyon pines darkening the windshield. On the hills, the windmills turned ceaselessly, Stolid and eternal. We climbed the Wichita Mountains together And beheld the city, where the faithful gather To witness Christ’s long trek re-enacted again And ever again That the world could wound a god so, (As only the world could)
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Maddie Huddle Charcoal and Ink on Wood
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Going the Distance Today I drove by the house where we first lived with the orange poppies in the garden that loosened their fists at sunrise and the pipe-cleaner purple blooms of the Mexican sage. At night we sprung up the bedroom shade to see the curves of the hills polished by moonlight. My girls were so unsettled by your sudden presence I had to put them to sleep in our bed and when they dropped off I snuck out to join you on a mattress we threw onto the floor in the back hallway by the utility sink and even so we thought we were the luckiest creatures on this planet. And look at us now, two boxers in the fifteenth roundâ€” puffy-eyed, split-lipped, stuck in a clench. Neither of us can knock the other out, but neither wants to throw in the towel. ~ Zack Rogow
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Two by Sugar Toby
Boxing My Father In this dream it was my father I was boxing he died young but there in the ring we were the same age the crowd was electrified as I beat him up pretty good believe me he had it coming and they seemed to know it when he hit the canvas it was chaos through the madness and cheering I was led from the ring
A Different Boat Perhaps if things were something else I would be on a lake in the chu mountains in a boat made of magnolia wood but here and now make other demands so I sit in my apartment in Brooklyn the moon outside imagining a boat made of magnolia wood
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I donâ€™t think there was a man or a woman watching who didnâ€™t want to knock their own father around some at least in a dream anyway
Bruises I need to thank the dog that bit my hand and made me bleed across the shelter's table, then floor, then sink, because he reminded me to be mindful, to watch where my hands are, what they do, reminded me this body is not a machination simply ticking through each day like the shears still buzzing abandoned on the table while iodine stains skin, but something that requires attention, needs time to heal, both from the damage we see and what we can't – the bruises that arise much later, violet and ochre where teeth didn't break skin. Once, a friend told me a story about her cousin who wrecked his car but didn’t have any pain, only a black seat belt band temporarily tattooed across his chest, so he went about his life for the next few hours before just dropping dead, everything inside him hemorrhaging blood. If we’re not aware, we might walk around dying because we don’t realize how badly we hurt.
Two by Michael Kellichner Bar Magic
-The Lounge, Gimhae, South Korea Another whiskey neat to grease the brain’s tumblers while one bartender presses two foam balls into a pretty girl’s hand, and when she opens it, five roll across the plastic, neon-lighted bar, past the patrons perched on too-high chairs, laughing too loud and too much. The small tricks keep us close. One more comfort beyond shared language in a country where English is a broken mirror. Through the foggy window, winter cold calls, more real than the overhead heater dispensing wave after wave of summer. My glass feels heavy with the name I want to call everyone, but the faces don’t match up, the cadences, the accents. Now the bartender has cards. Sleight of hand makes them appear between empty fingers. Illusions, we know, but we still believe they rise from nothing and nowhere.
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Christopher Owen Nelson
Christopher Owen Nelson says that through his work he explores his own personal relationship with a variety of subjects with which he has developed an important bond. He spends a majority of his time outdoors, particularly in a few areas where he likes to fish and walk his dogs. Neslon says, “I’m never in a hurry when I am there and I allow my mind to wander far away. The environment puts me in a state of meditation, which for me is normal, but now suddenly I am beginning to notice life. I am awake. I am listening. Absorbing information from the water and the trees in such a way that it makes me feel connected and attached. My growing familiarity with every minute detail challenges me to appreciate these sanctuaries as relatives, rather than places I simply walk through or drive past. For instance, I try to address the spiritual and emotional impact that a particular tree has had on me by trying to understand its life, and by studying its characteristics and changes throughout the seasons, all the time asking myself, ‘How are we are connected?’” Nelson’s goal is to continuously analyze this connectivity in an attempt to convey the possibilities that lie within the nurturing of a human’s relationship with his surroundings.
Carved and painted cast acrylic
Carved and painted cast acrylic
Carved and painted cast acrylic Christopher Owen Nelson 119
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SIMULACRA The sexy 31-year-old Brazilian model in the hairspray ad on the window of Mehmet’s Delux Coiffure wears a stainless-steel belt engraved “Virgin,” confirming to passersby on Kadi Pasha Street what they’d suspected all along. That Baudrillard was right, but their sacks of mulch in the spring and apples in September make their shoulders weary— and all seasons their children weep for ice cream and attention, making Alessandra Ambrosio and her sex life an afterthought. But it’s them whose hair grows a half-inch every month, it’s them who lie to their office-mates about just about everything: how much they love their spouses, their spouses’ parents, and yogurt. It’s them who feign hunger during Ramazan, walnut brownies in tinfoil hidden in their desks. In my fantasies I go naked and planless down Kadi Pasha Street, searching for Alessandra but Mehmet’s remodeled and she’s gone, replaced by a gray-haired woman whose gaze suggests that we’re not ready— not quite yet— to face the truth.
Two by Carl Boon CITY GIRL, SUMMER Seven tramcars pass in twenty minutes, each bearing Danish tourists, factory workers, boys with fliers. From the bench she watches in Tanca sandals, unwilling to move from her rhombus of shade. It's better here than the fifth floor there where her mother hangs bed sheets on the balcony, sick of the sun and the boys tossing crayons from above. Her nails are black, her wrists alive to what's coming—nothing, or a man who remembers her name from a note she passed in a bar, numbers and a pink heart. They'll have, if he comes, caramel lattes at the Roma Cafe in Gülhane, then smoke the nargile until her mother calls her back home to serve the neighbors tea, cheese, and sun-dried tomatoes, quietly.
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Cities on Fire
Summers Bohenstiel Mixed Media
SOJI says: I discovered haiku in 1972 in a book that I found, The Four Seasons - and that’s basically what haiku was about for the Japanese, about the seasons - but it was more than that. The practitioners understood that. Haiku was brought to America after WWII by a gentleman named R.K. Blythe. He wrote four books about Japanese culture and poetry, specifically about haiku with samples and so on. That book is what I’ve used as my guide for writing haiku; the reason I love it is that you can say so much in this 5-7-5 format. Then it turns out when it migrated to America even that format diminished when they reduced the number of syllables, which in Japanese is onji. In Japan, they were doing it as a game - the court and poets in Japan. Usually they would go around the room, everybody sitting around with saki – it was a gentleman’s game (the women wrote poetry, but not haiku) and they had to maintain onji or it was considered less than good haiku or hokku. So it was a bunch of guys getting together challenging each other to fit their concepts of the four seasons into these syllables or sounds? Right. It had to maintain a format of 5-7-5. It came to America and started spreading around the world, and there was a lot of misinterpretations of Blythe’s books, where people trying to maintain that format would really mess it up, so they made up their own rules.
Ten Thousand Moons
Soji (Gary Barnes) spent the better part of the past five decades writing, researching, and sharing his enthusiasm for Japanese poetry, specifically haiku, haiga, and tanka. His online poetry site, Haiku Poet’s Hut, has reached over one million people around the world and was cited by National Geographic as a resource for haiku. Gary died on March 12, 2016, but his enthusiasm for life, art and poetry endure. Soji’s Haiku Poet’s Hut will remain active online through the efforts of friends and family.
Why were they making up their own rules? They were trying to be teachers, which Basho became. I kept hearing his name. [Basho] wrote a lot of good poetry, so I started to emulate him. His [haiku] are a mix of philosophy and what he was saying through it. He became, in Japan, practically a saint, the hallmark of haiku for the Japanese. Everybody wanted to be him. Then in the ‘20s, a poet named Shiki challenged that way of Basho. Basho made several pilgrimages up and down the islands, so Basho’s students would come to him, and one of them even built him a house called Basho’s Hut. He grew a banana tree by it. It became a symbol of good luck and of Basho. I have a website (Haiku Poet’s Hut - since 1996) that has had over a million visitors in less than ten years. When I first started reading haiku and would tell people about it, they’d look at me with this blank stare; they didn’t have a clue. I figured I was probably one of the few Americans who knew about haiku. It turned out when I got online there were a whole lot of people out there who love it, and they’re all over the world. They get together and have contests sitting around a table, except the table is all the way around the world. And you’ve participated in these and won some awards? I have. I won first place in one, third in another, sixth in one. These are in Japanese competitions. I told one of my mentors that I was going to create pages dedicated to Basho and his work on my site. In fact, it’s been featured in a National Geographic as a resource. I feel pretty good about that. Talk a little bit about how you got into adding photography to your haiku. Well, I love photography, too. I just have a general interest. That’s what intrigued me about haiku at first. It’s about nature and how it interacts and how we interact with it. There’re probably a hundred sites out there that have his [Basho’s] most famous haiku: The frog jumps
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In the pond Splash
That was a sort of breakthrough for the Japanese and Basho. There was a book by a college professor that was teaching at Stanford called Basho and His Interpreters. I bought the book - a textbook for him - and found out that all these things that you’re being told out there about haiku aren’t necessarily so. The Japanese didn’t think so, and he didn’t think so... with the rules – that turn out not to be such rules as guidelines. You mean the changes that people here in America made to the haiku form? That, and this guy here, Beilenson, he was a publisher and interpreter. That’s how I started looking at haiku. What we are reading in English is an interpretation, it’s not a translation. What we’re reading would mean nothing as a straight translation. You mean it loses something in the translation? Yeah. Quite a bit. Because they had different meanings for different words and characters.
one, Beilenson, all 5-7-5. The guy who started it, brought it to America so to speak, is somewhere in between. People use his poetry he translated as rules. Do you think he meant for it to be used that way? I think they picked that up because it suited their style. And that freedom attracted you? It was interesting from the get-go for me. loved it from the beginning.
Now, I know you traveled a lot as a young man, so did you get interested in haiku because you had an interest in Japanese culture in general, or did you see the form and it drew you in? A little bit of both. I’ve been to Japan three times, because I was in the Navy, and then I was on the Glomar Challenger, a research drill ship. That was in ’72. I had been there and it was a beautiful country…
So they’re going to have a different level of understanding when they see that character than we would in the translation of that character. Right. Exactly. If that’s the case, do you feel that somebody like yourself writing haiku from an American perspective in the English form is more closely authentic to the original spirit of haiku, because you’re not trying to translate from one language to another? You don’t have to translate somebody’s meaning or nuances, instead using your own understanding of English. Probably. If you’re not born and raised in a language, you get different meanings from it, and one of the poems I translated from Basho is my interpretation. Basho is talking about sunlight through new leaves, and the interpreter is talking about how solemn it is. That’s his choice. He uses the word solemn? Yeah, and I translated it as ethereal. It’s not a heavy thing; it’s a beautiful thing. So, the Japanese character that the other person translated as solemn could also be translated as ethereal? Yes. You thought, knowing Basho, he meant ethereal. That’s fascinating. Just the idea that writing in your own language allows you to infuse your own meaning and connotation to the words you use… Yes. I did several poems like that and got challenged when I said I interpreted them in this way. There is a page on my site that takes three interpreters… one is very strict about the number of syllables and minimizes to get the most meaning out of the least number of syllables. The other
It sounds like study, learning, and research were all integral to your understanding of haiku. How has the research changed the way you’ve written; or how has your writing grown from your research? When I first got online, I found this Shiki group, and they were saying Shiki was better than Basho, but Basho really developed the form. The haiku Basho was writing was their starter haiku. It became what preceded tanka poetry. That was my introduction to haiku, and I’ve done a lot with it. The research has made you change your form, how? I started bending the rules a little more, based on what I was reading about the masters, specifically Basho, because when you pull out your Basho card people back off. When I said I had interpreted his poem, a lady that lives in Japan and writes haiku over there, about a poet whom she considers to be their saint of haiku, she said, “Where’d you get this translation?” I said, “I didn’t translate, I interpreted.” She gave a whole list of samples. I had a lot of people cheering me on for that one, because you can’t translate another language word for word as a work. I found that to be true in just about everything. Kind of like that classic example of the number of words Alaskans have for snow... And the Japanese have that for the moon. If they say moon, it’s a full moon. Depending on the season what moon it is. There are different characters for different moons? I believe they so. The autumn solstice is “the moon.” If they just say “the moon,” that’s the one they’re talking about. If they start hanging tags on it it’s something else.
Having been there, could you see how this form arose there because of the four seasons? I know it has a reputation of being very beautiful. Yes. One of the rules is that you have to write your haiku where you are and while the thing is happening. Well, one of Basho’s very famous poems is about being alone on an autumn road. You know it’s getting dark, it’s getting cold, and he’s out there by himself – you’d think he was right there, but he’s sitting in an inn in Osaka. He’s not there. He’s doing all this from memory. People would criticize you if a haiku you wrote sounded like it was from memory and not an immediate thing. They would turn away your haiku for publication. But he had them fooled? Yeah (laughs). I’m talking about today, in this country, they’re using all these rules they’ve made up. Jane Reiko - she was kind of a mentor for me - wanted to help someone learn about haiku, so she encouraged and mentored me online. I really took this stuff seriously.
How would you suggest people might get started with haiku? Does it have to be about nature? No. In fact, I was appalled when I got into this Shiki group and that’s a place where everyone who submits a poem gets to vote on which one is best, which is a hard thing to do when you are voting on someone’s poem besides your own. That’s what we did. The first one that won was about a lady getting a divorce. Then I started watching them a little closer and it was done a lot. Is that a modern version of haiku? They didn’t do that when they first started the form, right? Right, but someone wrote Haiku People and started writing love poems in that form. There’s an interpreter, Kenneth Rexroth, who wrote 100 Poems from the Japanese. He doesn’t see much of haiku, but you learn a lot about reading those poems, the hows and whys and so on. I’ve done a couple of those with the photos, because art is a favorite thing in my life. Any avenue I can find to express that is good. I really enjoy doing that, too. In fact, I became one
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of very few people who were starting down that road with photography. Some purists would object to that. Well, I know if Basho was living today, he’d have a camera. On his treks north and so on, he would have his camera with him. I think art naturally inspires and expands with the new technologies that come out. It would be ridiculous to leave it in the past. Michael Dylan Welch has a haiku site and runs contests and was the judge in several of the contests that we did. This one group that was interested in the photo haiku got together and did that. We’d have exercises. We’d set up the rules. You had to use some part of the previous haiku picture in your haiku picture to make it fit. You mean take part of a line or photograph and use it in yours. Right - line, photograph, or painting, whatever you want - you would take a bunch of parts and make it one picture. This called haiga. I choose to call this haiga because I worked or started from scratch and made these pictures. For instance, I had this photo of a rose that I’d taken, and the guy who had preceeded me in line had taken a picture of the space shuttle, so...
Floating across My field of vision This single rose
So you took part of his image and incorporated it in yours with your haiku. Yes. And some I made from scratch that are more abstract. There are several tricks in Photoshop that you can use. I created many of these and learned how to use tools and what they would do to the picture.
Here’s one that won first place in a haiku contest:
T-ball The centerfielder Chases butterflies
I couldn’t figure out how they did this [winning contests], and they were talking about kids and pets, and warm fuzzies; those would get you first place. This one was about my son. I still want to know more about what people can do to get started. Should they be thinking about where they are in the moment? I don’t think that matters as much anymore. So you could just sit down and write about anything? No, not really, not if you’re dealing with serious haiku. I love this genre, and I think it started out when I was a kid. I grew up in Kansas and I had to write a paragraph about anything I wanted about Kansas history. I wrote not more than three lines, but I got a B on that. The teacher’s comment was “brief and to the point.” I thought, alright, this is the ticket. Now I know. I stepped into that too, when I was in California. I transferred from Germany as a civilian to Pasadena. I decided I would take a few courses there at Pasadena City College. I told the counselor I wanted to take an art course. He said, “I’ve got drafting 101.” I said I wanted art and he wanted to know what was the difference. I thought, I’m talking to the wrong guy. I ended up in an art appreciation class, and again, with an assignment by the teacher. She wanted three or four pages. I made my assignment the impact of cartoons on real life, and I got a B on that, my first college paper. I’m going, wow, so this is
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how you do it. Each page had about three cartoons on it. She said, most students can’t write under 500 words well. I thought, I can do that all day long. I’ve got a whole page on Haiku Poet’s Hut of nearly 100 websites, places you can send your haiku for consideration and to get published, and so on. That’s a good place for people to get started? Yes. Did you ever write other forms of poetry? Oh, yeah, because I was born in ’38, I used to tell people I was too old to be a hippie and to young to be a beatnick, so I was at this awkward age. It was shortly after working at the department store where I found my first haiku book, I got on this research ship and they had a bunch of college students and marine techs on there, and they were all a bunch of hippies. I started hanging with them, and that’s when I started to write. I was reading different poets, being exposed to different poets. I’ve even found a book of haiku, Book of Haikus is the title of it, by Jack Kerouac. I knew that he wrote a couple in one of his books, but I didn’t know he wrote a whole book of it. That was something else. I felt good about that one.
It’s funny what you find sometimes when you’re not looking. I found something one time in a used bookstore, it was a book that had authors from the ‘50s through ‘60s, most were contemporary of that time. The writers chose their own favorite piece of writing that they had written, and it was curious because the pieces they chose were not the ones for which they were best known, and each author wrote about why they chose it. Yes, funny what you find... In fact, that’s kind of what I was leaning toward before I found haiku...the beat poets. It’s a whole different ballgame, but you have a lot of leeway for trying new things with any poetry form. In fact, I was putting mine out there online and it didn’t matter to me if someone wanted to copy mine, fine. That just said, “Good job. I like this”. There was a site of some other haiku poets that I knew, these Russians. They would take the poems and have their own little contest asking what does this mean? What does it mean to us; how would we say this differently? It turned out I had about 200 poems on their site. I thought, “Wow, people complain about this when they are putting you out there.” I guess if if I was being published by Shambhala, and I started finding my work not accredited to me...but they’re putting my name on it and
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giving me credit, and it’s just how they are interpreting it. You’ve written hundreds of them, and they’re showing what it means to them. It makes you write differently. Almost like they’re studying you. Yeah, and so I had no problem with it. Haiku poetry is not a big deal in the rest of the world. In our group, it’s a big deal, but we’re never going to get rich doing this. We’re never going to be renown for doing it. You use the internet a lot to exchange these views with people. I think that’s an interesting aspect of your practice as well, because you’re getting that feedback from different cultures saying this means this to us. Yes, and on the introduction on the front of my site I say I’m just putting this out there. I’m not claiming it’s any better. If anyone sees this and comes to love haiku as much as I do, it’s mission accomplished. You do it because you love it. Absolutely! It has to be that.
~ Soji, January 2016
UNCAGED It’s a summer night and the mice are restless. Their noise drives me crazy. The cage is in the kitchen but all doors are open: we need air. Mice are active at night, like hamsters or guinea pigs… I’m used to some rumpus: it almost conceals my sleep. But tonight they are outrageous. I can’t help bursting: “What’s wrong with the beasts?” My child’s voice echoes from his room (our house is a fistful): “They are making love, mom.” I hold my breath for a minute then I start laughing, struck by a surreal vision: “Do you mean these are bedsprings squeaking?” That’s exactly the noise… though it must be produced otherwise. Suddenly I remember field trips, cheap hotels, flimsy drywalls and everlasting love symphonies. I don’t think my son pictures anything of the kind, but he insists with firmness in his tone: “They are having sex, mom”. I smile. Though I missed any warning sign, a week later babies are born. I am stunned both by the increase of my kitchen’s population (five miniature toys sucking from reclined, contented, triumphing mama) and my child’s premonition. Nothing I can do, but watch. I feed the couple as usual: mommy will take care of the kids. Nothing to do but watch, and that’s how I notice. I almost step on it, and it’s me now squeaking and squealing: one of the newly born is out of the cage. Passing through the bars, of course, is no feat: the thing isn’t thicker than my finger. It progresses across the kitchen floor, heading opposite to where the cage is. Heading nowhere, in fact: I doubt it has the faintest sense of directions. It must be blind still. But it advances – oh wonder - in a perfect straight line, without hesitation. They came in a rainbow of shades, dark brown to snow white. Maybe this one is hazel, or gray, some in-between nuance. Its appearance doesn’t impress me, its speed does… I mean its incredible slowness. The mouse moves as a slug: much slower, in fact. Still its pace is regular, constant, as if an alien force, a steady invisible hand, were pushing it.
by Toti O’Brien It is getting away: this baby is sick – weak – malformed. It won’t steal milk from its healthy bros. It is not meant to live and it knows… I’m aware of such hardwired behaviors. I was told that mom gives the signals, in fact: she refuses to feed the unfit one, she shrugs it, pushes it away. I cannot confirm. All I see is baby on the go, dragging its tiny paws as if lifting stones for a pyramid, sliding forwards one inch per hour or less. Three times: for in spite of common sense I keep bringing it back, placing it kind of casually in the bunch. Don’t ask why: I know it’s a lost cause and not my freaking business. I know it’s hopeless. When I see it engaged once more in its personal Odyssey, I understand I should let destiny take its course. Still I can’t fathom why baby keeps moving, with an effort clearly beyond imagination, for it hasn’t sucked a drop since birth. Why doesn’t it lie in a corner? Where is it bound? The only possible “where” is “away”. Why is away so powerful, so far? Does it have to scamp out of mom’s sight? Perhaps. Many animals hide when they sense death coming. Instinct tells them. Instinct talks to baby mouse: just born but not quite. Just born yet a million of years old, heavy loaded with pain, rejection, exile. Instinct whispers the whole litany in its quasi-invisible ears. Meekly, baby grabs and shoulders its cross… here, on my kitchen floor. I am not ready. I’m not sure I can witness this. Let me step into another room, think of something else. I don’t know when and where it vanishes: I can’t find the corpse. I have left the door to the patio wide open. The grass is very tall in my kerchief of a garden: summer hasn’t withered it yet. It smells pungent, alive: to a mouse it smells like a forest. Baby mice have a strong olfactory system, even those who will not survive. Their sense of smell guides them. I have left the garden door open, mouse.
My mind isn’t fast either at grasping the meaning of this. Is the mouse lost? It isn’t. Blind or not, its sense of smell is quite strong: it knows where mom and the rest of the gang are.
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An Embarassment of Riches
Biography of a Morning
The mind-numbing everydayness of
Lines under my eyes in the morning like accordion creases. Get out my wallet to slip the sun in among my unsmiling bills. I do not salute the infancy of day though I greet it with a Colgate mouth.
Each hour— More than I can bear. Every phase a Fucking eternity. Yet still I fear,
The garden in the dawn is bleeding with color and the birds are singing in their tongues a type of Greek lingo that sounds like indecent English (a paddle to that bird! For they squander the morning as well.) I will pour coffee for them.
Sunk in this mess, I’d wake Time-traveled to the future Realizing that Those years Were worth more Than all the salt on the earth and Gold in heaven. Much like the sweet, sun-kissed curls of your downy hair. ~ Jenna Villforth Veazey
Pajamas are my uniform of choice and some days the rinse of my hair grease is my shower. I skip my makeup and breakfast though I’m hungry and round and pregnant as the Earth appears. ~ Amanda Tumminaro
Adelaide I look down and see her hands. Mother has her eyes and my sister her coloring. I stand in front of the mirror and search for her in my own features, but do not find her. My senses call up the smell of cigarette smoke mixed with Shalimar, a throaty giggle and dark brown, sparkling, gypsy eyes. Outside the repeated slap of my own dark-haired daughter’s jump rope, recalls the rhythmic snap of cards on the kitchen table during endless games of solitaire. Rum and coke. Fancy chocolates. Red Gladiolas. Sun hardened skin. Time softened heart. ~ Lynette L. Reed
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Mother Window Gazing Donna Hopkins Photograph
FLAR / Spring 2016 / Volume 4, Issue 1
As a photographer, I’ve always believed that pictures capture a moment in time and hold it up for everyone to see. Pictures document, record and tell stories. I’ve embraced the old adage a picture is worth a thousand words. I envision photographs as windows into the soul, giving the viewer glimpses of the tenderness, the joy, and the sorrow of the subjects. But now I wonder if pictures really do reveal the truth. Are photographs telling or are they a façade behind which to hide? Does having one’s picture made merely afford an opportunity to reflect the most perfect version of ourselves, the one we would like others to see? My mother has dementia. Like a picture left out in the sun too long, her memory has faded and her focus is blurred. She wanders at night, searching for a home she left long ago. I made the heartbreaking decision to move her to a long-term care facility when it became impossible to keep her safe in her own home. Now I find myself rifling through boxes of old photos on sleepless nights. In picture after picture, there she stands, a smile on her face, holding me as a baby. She looks so happy, as though I am her greatest gift. And yet this story, that appears so loving, is filled with pain. I am not only grieving the loss of my mother. I am mourning the ways she was a casualty of the dysfunction of her family. I am mourning the fact that as her daughter I was not capable of healing my mother from her pain. No matter how hard I tried to be good, I was never good enough. Enmeshed in generations of codependency, my mother’s desire to have her own needs met limited her ability to see and love me and do what was best for me. Back to the box of old photos, I shuffle pictures one after the other, searching for some insight as to the hurt just below the surface. I wonder again how this smiling woman could be the same one who belittled and blamed and criticized. And then I realize why these pictures resonate with me. They were taken by my father and I can see what he saw and feel what he felt. His love protected me. Maybe, like me, his favorite pictures were made in a moment when his heart broke. Perhaps photographs are more than simple reflections. Maybe pictures are meant to illuminate the human condition and move us to action. I can heal myself through acceptance, forgiveness, and compassion. And like a beautifully composed picture, I seek to leave nothing within the frame that does not matter and take nothing away that does. I will grow and nurture a picture of love. ~ Donna Hopkins
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Steampunked Colored pencil
A native of Memphis, Tennessee, Stacey Smithâ€™s works are a practice in color and are reminiscent of the inner fantasy life and playfulness of childhood. As a child Smith collected dolls, but she was often frustrated with what she saw as a lack of imagination employed in their design. She took to desgining them herself on paper. Smithâ€™s fairy illustrations are her way of realizing all that was in her imagination when she was a child. She creates her vibrant fantasy illustrations by applying colored pencil in heavy layers on hot press watercolor paper, giving the drawings a painted effect. Each piece is large and takes over 70 hours to complete using this method. Smith enjoys the control the pencils afford her, saying it suits her hyper-analytical way of thinking.
FLAR / Spring 2016 / Volume 4, Issue 1
Stacey Smith Colored pencil
The Night Café After Van Gogh
You get as many as five, six barfights a night in here. Sulphurous halos of light bristle from the crusty ceiling, every glass is empty as a freshlydug grave, a cluster of flies lap up a stillwarm spillage of beer: the stars’ winking cartography cannot be seen from here. It’s like a painting. One in which you are dangerously outlined, in the corner. You dream of wheat fields, of vased sunflowers in the holy grip of fire. Thundercloud and olive tree, cypress and mulberry, are brushstroked into meadows of thrashing flare. You lived in cold storage, your studio an oubliette of drying canvases, ragged brush and palette, a decrepit Bible. The paradise of colour loomed large. Your bed was a casket of delirium. Hours of lamplit obsession saw the moon dribble through the window, the flames spread slowly. Last night, however, the billiard table was left alone. The girl slouching on your lap whispered a hex against the room’s despair, her beauty bending your monkish spine, her lips’ raw colour scheme pressed warmly to yours. It needs to be said, storms rarely inflict themselves on communes such as here. At its worst, the wind is stiff as the lips of the statues flanking the church doorway. But if oil on canvas was all your working day required, then the worst would be over for the red walls, the gelled blues and greens, the blurred stars, the wheatfields without heroic end, the search for painterly salvation. How many nights have you taken on with whiskey in here, beneath the light’s sulphurous orb, with the billiard table still goldenly untouched, and the masterwork still unachieved? ~ Daniel Wade
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Commas I think, as a poet, I am overly fond, of commas. When I write prose, all my editing friends take them out. "That's a comma splice," they say, twenty-odd times per page. Maybe, as a poet, I pause more. Maybe, I love their little tadpole of darkness, hugging my words. ~ Sasha Kasoff
The Half-Truth of a Bronze Medalist By Matt Muilenburg I overtook many of the runners who had bested me for the majority of my first and only 5K, finally passing those I’d earlier pegged for participation ribbons—old-timers mummified in a thousand sweatbands, preteens plugged up with acne, professors in spandex and librarians in sports bras, classmates, teammates, even my girlfriend at the time, a former high school track star. With most of them in my rearview, I hooked the final bend and saw the finish line bouncing in the wind like a flabby limbo stick. So I charged. Later, I proudly accepted the trophy (Third Place, 17-18 Men’s Division), grinning as I showed it to my girlfriend, who finished outside of the top three in her division. On our way to the parking lot, I snagged one of the results sheets. Dozens upon dozens of names and times littered each division, my girlfriend’s in particular bogged down by syllables. Then I found 17-18 Men’s and saw that only four names resided there, mine closer to the bottom than the top. That, in truth, is the part of the story I usually leave out.
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HYPOTHESIS TEST A truck backs, beeping, bed upending, dumps three cubic yards of gravel then the killdeer feigns a broken wing, the predator is led astray, truncated cones of styrofoam, white cups, swirl up and lodge in chinks of chain link fence then those not part of any final answer are let go. Were any bone a crazy bone, you'd be amenable to sleepwalk off your concrete block into the mist of mental health, of gravity and magnetism, counterclockwise spin, and had your oceans and your atmospheres among them one red sunset, they would turn to you and you'd know what to do.
Three by Heikki Huotari BUCKET
TIME RELEASE We were once a tag team, shared a brain, and one of us would vie with intermittent pleasure, one with endless pain. Now anything that can be carried can be carried on the head – the bale of cardboard or the washtub filled with fruit or, if you want someone to want to marry you, a book. And it's the morphine. It's the ill-adjusted time release. And in each Christmas stocking, clippers – now the cats can trim each others' claws. The trouble loving loving you is if I use you for flotation, fall asleep and lose my grip, you drift away.
One partition is induced by an equivalence relation, then another, pink-striped petals fall, and when they're scalable and can be added, you can call them vectors, although technically they don't exist except in orbit, outer space. I can't change color yet – my camouflage consists of covering my own eyes. So, chameleon on paisley, having hot cognition, peace-abiding passionately, Where's your alibi? I ask and Turing-testing you, I'm vigorously shaking your ghost limb, the pain that goes away, and standing on the not-a-step, I see the other ladder and three stooges from the East bear gifts of violence disguised as humor, semiprecious metals in their hair, and while I slept you dressed me. Pink striped petals fall and at the bottom of the page the print gets small.
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The Honeymoon Is Over The sign on the side of the road read furniture, kayak, wedding dress, Saturday 9-12, no early birds. I sat there gripping the steering wheel, wanting--but not wanting--the light to change. That night while my husband slept, I crept out to the living room and lay on the couch and watched the moonlight glow on the frayed carpet. Then I closed my eyes and dreamed I was in a wedding gown, paddling in a kayak down a lazy river whileoverstuffed armchairs and modular sofas and tallboys and lowboys bobbed by. Suddenly I lost my paddle. The water churned white. My heart beat fast as the rapids as the kayak spun toward the cliff. When I woke, Niagara Falls still pounded in my ears.
Two by Rita Ciresi Stroke My mother and I have nothing to say to one another. And yet she turns to me over the hot stove, eyes beady and sweat balled on her brow. Her head cocks like a chicken about to cluck and out jerk words in a language I do not understand. But I listen closely, because I long to know why it's always been so garbled between us.
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CONTACT Unliking that forced selfie that was just for 100 likes worth of glances. Missing the weight of their head as they rested it on your shoulder. Backspacing your last simple “how are you?”, afraid of being left with “Read 9:32.” Not wearing your necklace that matches theirs, even under your shirt. Changing the “delete texts” setting to “30 Days” instead of “Forever.” Seeing the rare spotlight in their eyes focus on someone else. Erasing all of those photos that hardly hold memory anymore. Brushing past them in the hall, knowing it’s the only touch you’ll get. Spending time just staring at the gray silhouette of their contact photo. Not remembering what their real laugh sounded like. Learning more about them from Instagram than from them. Forgetting the way their arms felt around you when you needed it most. Realizing there’s no texts because you haven’t spoken in “30 Days.” Losing touch. ~ Isabel Nguyen
OVERLOOKING THE LAKE (After SU TUNG PO) It is December by the lake. Clouds hang in the air, as if expecting an explanation for this brutal season. Icy waves batter the shore. Blood moves slowly in my hardening veins, as gulls glide through the air, reminders of better days. I’ve grown old in ignorance. But bitter memories are useless. Stars, what do you know? Savants in their purple robes write erudite books, while gazing at the sea, seeking for answers in the dregs of a cup of tea. ~George Freek
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Collioure, France Beyond the Pyrenees’ utmost foothill where the offhand tide eases the sand’s bristle, a fullscale wooden cross is left with little choice but to face the sea Beside it, a meek chapel for lost sailers its shade groping the rocks below, the lanterns’ chained, golden fume presiding over a cosy dusk, scratched mosaics of graffiti marring its wall and doorway, the crease of its shale arch crowned with a bell’s hush. O Collioure, pebbly haven of grapevine and lemon tree, where young girls bask in deck chairs along the hot riverside, limbs anointed by Mediterranean heat, July’s luminous freckles pulsing on the tide, a yacht’s nimble wake ruffling the reefs, and no rip tide bailing into a crystal maelstrom; just the water, clear and cardinal as a lagoon, the miraculous vista, snorkellers and windsurfers ready to test the fathoms. ~ Daniel Wade
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A Towering Lady William C. Crawford Digital Photograph
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Three by Jeffrey Warzecha Sunday, The Quiet Hours My father stands at the counter’s edge, bending over the stovetop. His t-shirt, white as the cold, empty shell of an egg; bright as stars just faded from the sky. Bacon sizzle-pops like small fireworks, grease-rhythm of morning alarm cooking. He sips the approaching air, cooks sunrise in his skillet.
FLAR / Spring 2016 / Volume 4, Issue 1
While emptying the last of the oranges from the fridge I find one bruised at the top, or maybe bottom because in life it’s often difficult to know which way’s up. I examine the others to see if they’re also rotten, but discern only this one, which otherwise appears ripe and roughly circular, is tainted. A touch has shaded its peel, and rotted its juice into the sour ache we bear after losing something sweet. Instead of tossing it in the trash, I remove a knife and slice a prick above the bruise to peel back skin, reveal the citrus sun, ideal and resplendent beneath, a gift that whispers more’s learned from peeling than simply looking.
The Snow That Hit the Heartland Christmas 2009 Also broke through truck bed-linings, galloped down dirt driveways, uprooted mailboxes & bent street signs, lifted farm equipment parked in fields of dead husks. The snow fired up slowly, like engines on frozen midwest mornings, arrived with dead wind that surged when it spoke to children watching in upstairs bedrooms, howled stories of islands that never see snow, never shiver below frozen white blankets. It urged them to rush out with makeshift sleds of hand-nailed wood & iron, pretend there were hills to slide. The flakes began sprinkling roofs, ornamented gutters & shingles, then decided the time was right & poised on thick cloud edges to jump at once, dented landscape like hurled stones.
The Only Proof
Two by Joanne Emery
The trees stand in a line along the path, Initials roughly carved into smooth skin. I wonder who’d dare do a thing like that, To set their names for all eternity, Onto the living fabric of a tree.
Every Bend Walking on the towpath in early April, I concentrate of my feet Following patterns of footprints In the mix of frost and mud.
The deer watch from the ridgeline through the woods, While lovers stare into each other’s eyes,
I stop on the bank of the canal To watch the wild asparagus, Purple heads and straight backs, They ignore the beauty of their reflections.
In all innocence like numbers set in stone. But now where have all the lovers gone?
I was born in April and this day, This walk along the towpath, A present to myself, The smell of moss and rich earth.
They’ve faded like the leaves, the clouds, and tears.
I walk along the winding path, Kicking up clumps of mud and gravel At every bend, the woods Hold out another wondrous view.
The trees, the only proof that they were here.
A tick-tick, ticking in the trees, The wind rubs a dry, brown leaf Against the smooth gray skin of an elm tree, Persistently keeping time. A new green snake darts out Suddenly from under thick bushes, Swiftly sliding through the leaves – On his back, a yellow ribbon.
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Man on Shore Richard Vyse India Ink and Watercolor
FLAR / Spring 2016 / Volume 4, Issue 1
passage between two rises and down to the water past Pasquale's and Doll's Antiquities I was younger when I started this younger kissing Tara's lips but I had to come again, to the edge of the water and blindly stare into the dark all intention West, not seeing a damn thing past the harbor's lights, nor discerning a simple meaning from the vessel's passage 'neath the raised bridge I see with my Father's eyes when I look West like this not into the face of my own son but his I'll take my walking medicine with me back up between rises and fill my lungs with that magic blue West Coast air the constellations wheeling, the conductors at the station calling each time out I'm older and reminded how young I was.
Two by Jim Trainer
oxbloods 'neath the cuff Emmarella behind the counter at Satsume hair in a beehive and hips banging into walls sipping an Americano with my high and tight, tailor-mades and button down, oxbloods 'neath the cuff the confidence of age comes direct from the realization I don't regret anything I've done only wish I did it more which explains why I'm here, at the counter sipping coffee in Bywater, Emmarella subtly daring me not to look at her, zydeco music on the stereo the hummingbird ringing of the bell and what passes for a breeze coming in behind each customer it's not lost on me that it's a wash the world roils and grapples for the one thing that won't save it-but I've even no use for despair youth or justice nor any kind of conquest except taking her dare, nothing wrong in Crescent City this town and me we been dead before the world and I're getting old, the word is ending, I let it go.
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America, American I am from the prairies, mesquite, buttes, mesas and arroyos, the sun and the coastal sunsets over the Pacific Ocean. From the mountains of light, the tall Sierras, green and snow capped, waterfalls cascading over the sheer cliffs, rock strewn streams, trees ancient as prehistory. From the tall women and men who came west on horseback, in covered wagons, walking,fleeing from the past of a hundred years and more of slavery and war, looking for freedom and opportunity. From the punished souls of these women and men, many oppressed, but with hope, positive eyes and hearts to the future, for us, who came after. I am from the earth they trekked, the rivers they crossed, the homesteaders holding visions of a better life, the vision always of another mountain further west, until the shining waters of the sea finally stopping their voyage, eyes upon the horizon, always changing. The vision, whether herding cattle, chasing coyotes, building fence lines, putting up a windmill, or working for pennies, the strength of your spirit, never giving up, keep the vision America. I am an American, a Westerner, where there is soundlessness, yet our magnificent, roaring Mother Nature rules, the exhilarating wind flowing over the vast desert reaches of our beautiful homeland, America, my heart sings for thee. Grit, richness of flora and fauna, life and death in the extreme. Being a Westerner, means always being challenged by your genetics to build, to change, explore, savor your efforts and treasure those on your trek. The beloved family, steadfast friends, horses, mules, oxen, out on those endless prairies, the deserts, mountain highs, working to survive, as a team, lives intertwined. Western hospitality is love your neighbors, come on in out of the cold, shut the door, have a warm bowl of chili beans and cornbread, we are all Americans. Western logic fine tuned, strong and practical; no matter from what direction ya'll come, we may need each other some dark night when the coyotes howl. ~Georgia Lee Strentz
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Dawn Whitmore Photograph
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Fredericksburg artist Joelle Cathleen has steadily honed the style and versatility of her craft over the years since completing her formal studies at the Univeristy of Mary Washington. Though discouraged by others throughout her life against pursuing art in lieu of a career with more stability, Joelle Cathleen trusted her instincts with fidelity. Today, her entreprenuereal spirit and motivation to continually challenge herself and learn new techniques have helped her build a reputation as a painter and collaborator among other artists. Whether commissioned online or purchased straight off the walls of popular local restaurants like the Sunken Well or La Petite au Berge, Joelle Cathleen’s paintings draw emotion and reaction from patrons and viewers wherever they are shown. You mentioned vulnerability in your artist’s statement and equate trees to a symbol of vulnerability. When you paint them are you expressing your own vulnerability?
You’re referring to my description of bare trees being naked, and there I was making a comparison to figure drawing. I grew up in rural areas in Calvert and Anne Arundel County, Md., so I couldn’t just go down the street and pick up a friend to go play ball with; I spent a lot of time by myself. I studied art at the University of Mary Washington and was doing a lot of figure drawing and such - that was my first crack at painting, doing figure drawings. It wasn’t something I was really comfortable doing, but I’m glad I got the study and training for it because it influenced the way I drew trees later. As a kid, the trees were my friends. I would venture out into the woods behind our property, walk the trails, take chalk and find withering trees to draw designs on the trunks and branches, in a sense to make them feel better by giving back some lost color. Then I’d sign my name, move on, and seek out another who needed my help. Today, people say, “Why do you draw dead trees?” For me, it’s the beauty of the trees and my memories of looking up, leaning against the tree, looking at all the branches intertwined and feeling protected from the canopy above. That was just magical; that and the realization that every tree had it’s own “personality “ and I was getting to know them all. Sure trees might look the same when covered with leaves, but take away the dressing, and that’s where you can see the history of the tree. The knurls, the scars, the broken branches, the life within or the life that was. When I first started painting, trees were my inspiration because they were most familiar, but slowly they became an extension of me. So then I started focusing on landscapes, too, and I substituted the tree for myself. It became a process. I would ask, “ If I could be anywhere right now, where would that be? “ and I would paint it. I also put the trees into landscapes that represented how I felt at the time, like a stormy scene if I was feeling unsure or excited, or a water scene if I was feeling relaxed and content. So it goes a lot deeper than dead trees.
Yeah, that was just the process for me. Later, I started putting birds into the paintings to represent my family. My siblings and I were birds, and I began to forgo the trees and paint barns instead. I was culminating all of my memories.
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There’s always symbolism - no matter whether you’re a writer or a painter - there’s always a driving force be hind why you create. Poetry and painting are similar, because you have this need to get it out, but you don’t necessarily want to share it with everybody. Those that can recognize the tone of the poem or painting and know you as an artist, will get to know your work. That’s kind of like me giving somebody the key. Once you get to know me, then you get a vibe as to why I painted that scene. It seems that you allow people to come to your paintings on their own, as well. You said it was a key to opening a memory.
I’ve been to shows and galleries with friends where, for me, being an artist and being in someone else’s room of art, I like to hear what people say. If I’m around my work I feel like anything I hear when I’m there will be loaded because people are usually trying to be nice, even when sincere. Whenever I see other people’s work or get to hear other people talk, and I hear, “Oh, I don’t like that.” When someone’s with me, and they say, “I don’t like that painting,” I want to know why. Is it the color? There’s a reason why people don’t like certain colors. Is it the object? It could be something as simple as you don’t like birds and the painting has birds in it. For me it’s like an experiment. I like to ask those questions, because when I’m not around I want YOU to ask yourself why. Why are you drawn to that? You get to know a little bit about yourself that way. Art does that to you. Take the artist Francis Bacon; I can recognize his work off the bat. When I first saw his work in school I instantly disliked it. It was frightening to me, scary. It’s very dark.
Yes. He’ll have someone in a chair, very painterly and quaint, and the person’s face will be covered in blood, and grossly distorted. So I have to ask myself, Why is that disturbing to me? Of course, he is a famous artist and people would pay millions of dollars for his work today. For me, I know why I don’t like it. I don’t like horror films. I don’t like blood, gore, anything like that. But I’m still kind of attracted to it because, it makes me react. But you’re questioning yourself about why you are attracted to it. Why do I hate it? I have this visceral reaction to it because I don’t like it, but I want to see it because I don’t like it. Right?
Do the barns represent something to you like the trees? Do they represent home?
Recently, I’ve been painting barns. When I lived in Calvert County, we had tobacco barns on our property. If it was raining that was another play area for me. If I couldn’t go in the woods, I’d be in the barns. Everything I paint today, especially the landscape scenes, bring comfort to me. When I paint stormy skies it’s because I enjoy storms. My stormy paintings are more positive. I get excited when I see that little bit of grey and green coming across the sky and the purple, that contrast of color and that color pop. A lot of people tell me my storm painting are sad paintings. That’s their interpretation. Maybe they’re afraid of storms, or when it rains they get depressed. For me, I’m like, “Yay, it’s going to rain!” I am sharing a piece of myself with every painting, whether it’s a part of my childhood, dreams and nightmares, expectations, hopes, fears, lust, love, disappointment - I’m always feeling something when I’m painting,
FLAR / Spring 2016 / Volume 4, Issue 1
Photo by Stephen Collins
and sometimes I do want to share a certain emotion, but if you don’t get it I’m not going to force it on you. That’s that vulnerability part, because I know what I’m painting about or I know why that barn or scene means something to me, and I wonder if anyone else is going to get that. Maybe a handful of people will, so that feeling of vulnerability is there. I do know that hundreds of people who are going to see it aren’t going to get it, so it’s still kind of a safety thing. They come to it with their own experience of the barn or the color.
Right, but every once in a while someone does cross over to my side, and they’re like, “That reminds me of this” or “I feel this,” and I think oh, there it is. I connected with somebody. In addition to your paintings, you’ve also posted videos of the resin fish you do, and wonder what that process is like.
My “ Kaptive Koi.” I just had people asking how I did those, so I made a technique video so people can understand how they’re actually made . The reason I started (continued on page 156)
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LAVENDER HILL Acrylic
SC Paddle Acrylic
on the fish is because I saw someone else share a video of Japanese Art Techniques where they were painting these amazing fish using resin and paint- and thought it looked cool. I had never seen anything like that before and I wanted to see if I could succeed at it. Whenever I’ve been painting a lot I do get this need to do something else creative, but not with a canvas . Painting is definitely my first love, but I also have a need to experiment and learn and create. You never stop learning when you are an artist. The resin fish are a long process. You have to wait one full day for each layer of resin to dry, because you are pretty much building the fish in 3D. It took ten days to do one little fish in a box, and I basically thought to keep it for myself. Then someone wanted to know how much I was selling them for, and they really wanted me to sell it to them. So I did. I made 8 more for a show and they sold as well. So today, I always make sure I have some “Kaptive Koi” for shows so people can see them and I can talk about the process. is definitely my first love, but I also have a need to experiment and learn and create. With the fish you had to research the technique, and I imagine you research other techniques for your paintings as well. How much research do you have to put in before starting a project?
I could say for me, my research would be trial and error. It’s a physical type of research. For example with the fish, the very first one I did went so smoothly. The process was easy, even though it’s tedious, it turned out great. I thought, I’m going to do hundreds of these. I did a few commissions, smaller ones, and those were beautiful too. My third round of doing them I did a couple for my mom, and something happened. I got all these teeny-tiny bubbles, maybe dust got in there and it had some kind of chemical reaction. It was cold and I let the resin cure in a cold spot instead of in warmth. My research from that was to ask why did my resin do this? Bubbles in resin, dust in resin… I realized I needed to let them cure in a warm, dust-free spot. The first time I did it was in summer and I didn’t have to worry about it. Then I was trying to do them in December in a cold garage and it didn’t work out. I wanted to do a whole set of them for the show at Amy’s Cafe, and only 4 out of 9 made it. Half-way through they were beautiful, but when I started with another layer my resin didn’t cure. Why? That’s where the research will come in every time I make a mistake or something is not going my way. It sounds almost like scientific research.
Yes, yes. Trial and error, testing things off. There’s also happy mistakes. Mistakes I have made in the resin. One happened recently where it looks like beer foam right over top of the fish. It’s hardened in there so I can’t do anything with it. If I ever wanted to use that technique, I know not to mix up my resin that well and not pop all the bubbles before. When I originally started, I wondered how I could put air bubbles in resin. I did some research to find out how to do it, and couldn’t find anything. So I tried taking a straw and blowing a bubble in, but that didn’t work. Now I know, don’t mix the resin very well. You’ve been working as an artists for years, and you are finally able to support yourself with it and your job at Colonial Tavern. What were the challenges in claiming art as your career?
I didn’t really dive into art when I graduated. The same people who were telling me I wouldn’t do anything with it while I was
studying started asking me to paint for them. When I took a job bartending at Colonial Tavern in Fredericksburg - a job I love, by the way - I was good friends with the owners of Sunken Well Tavern. They knew me as an artist. We used to work together up in Stafford, so they asked if I had anything they could put up on their new restaurant walls. It was really the Sunken Well owners that put me on the path to showing my work publicly. From there, people were buying my art off the walls. It was a very good feeling. That’s pretty much how it started, and I gained confidence little by little, year by year. It’s been about 12 years. After showing my work for a couple years at the Sunken Well, I applied at LibertyTown and decided it was time to immerse myself in art and be around other artists, find new inspiration in that world. And I thoroughly enjoyed my year at LibertyTown. Sunken Well gave me a start, and then LibertyTown took it to another level. Today, I’m fortunate to have the opportunity to have my original paintings hanging at La Petite au Berge in Fredericksburg, and I’m excited to show my work in the studio window at Freebird Gallery on Caroline Street during the month of May. ~ Joelle Cathleen Gilbert, 2016
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Three by Kersten Christianson
Through the bramble into the salmonberry patch. Past the pink bloom, the smattering of new trifoliates. Before the bare stalk of winter arrives: sharp thorn, skin-splitting. Sun plays on foliage. Shadows fidget. Fat berries dangle from the branch. Press their juicy ripeness onto this page.
Rain Down the Mountain We will miss him. Always had a smile on his face and a story to tell. I. City building official and photographer In Fishermenâ€™s Eye Gallery hangs a photo, stretched canvas: Sitka rooftops viewed through a second-story window, awash in pelting rain. Rust and gray; waxwing and herring gull. II. City building official and pie taster At the Backdoor CafĂŠ tucked behind the bookstore, Bernadette-who-loves-children serves organic jo, pumpkin pie. He buys a slice for breakfast, chats with our kindergartener as she hands back his change. III. City building official and missing When the bodies of the brothers are found, his wife stands at the edge of instability. In garden gloves, she readies to knuckle down; move the mountain by hand.
Seven slides buckle the mountain in frenzied rain; crack, grumble, flicker.
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Pat St. Pierre Digital Photograph
On a Sandbank in Willow Creek They Find Your Body Were you fisherman traveler chasing a summer run of pink salmon?
Did you follow the vapor trails patterning the sky?
Did you tumble in head first, or collapse into a short slide from cutbank to stream?
Silt against bone, as you wandered the riverâ€™s edge,
What journey have you taken in the year youâ€™ve been gone?
tributaries, the slippery grass-thickened patches, bluffing
Did you drift in the current, jostled from one braided stream to another?
of firm ground hidden, were you suddenly made buoyant?
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Orchids Were His Friends
Elizabeth W. Seaver Mixed Media / Acrylic and Paper on Linen
MY MOM AND LUDWIG AT SAKS 5TH AVENUE i
Music drips from the dropped ceiling of the vestibule at Saks 5th Avenue: familiar quarter notes, half notes, condolence notes. I lick them from the air as they drift by like the snowflakes falling outside, savoring the sweet bite of distance, ruthless in my ears, roaring from the sustain pedal, whispering from the damp pedal. ii
Shutting the swallowed measures in memory's tomb, where ancient arachnids spin the treble clef, I climb to the D string and rest my feet on the tail of a sixteenth note. iii
Beethoven's Pathetique, Sonata No. 8 tiptoes, then gallops and swings. Under the baby grand, drenched in Saturday afternoon gold, my seven year old self watches it pluck its own strings, not knowing each chord freed from beneath my mother's spidery fingers would seep into my skin and make itself my home. ~Elizabeth W. Seaver
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BELATED INSTRUCTIONS FOR A HELMSMAN
I glimpsed the face of youth last Thursday. Her beauty smote my eyes, sun sparks glinting on rippled water. I looked instead at her ear. She lingered in the doorway, all politeness. Trapped, I smelled her downy fluff freshness, heard musical laughter through full lips, past teeth white as rocks thrown up near my feet by a river on a journey elsewhere.
Are you a lost sailor, becalmed on mercury seas, limping home, sails tattered, anchor ripped away in some wild autumn tumult?
She said her name again, stuck out her hand. I shook its velvet confidence and reminded her we'd met. Why does this remind me of a photograph in a box from 1963, my bare feet jammed in red rain boots, one toe turned towards the other, hands twisted, crumpling the soft brown grocery bag I wear--a costume.
Mast down in the water, be fearless. Explore submerged caverns, those murky rooms against which you have rolled a stone. Claim them all. Shoo out the spiny lobsters or eels you find there. Create a home in the shadowy dark which drifts between midnight and cool green. Life lies in the balance between the proper heel and capsizing. Not this or that, black or white, sails or oars, but in the spaces between, in the curl of the wave, underwater, suspended in the dark, and on it, embraced by the sun. ~Elizabeth W. Seaver
Even then I made something from discarded nothings and looked out at the world with anxious eyes. ~Elizabeth W. Seaver
Skulls and Flowers Sean Woodard Digital Art
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The Lovesong By Camille Isadora Smith
She thought his birthmark looked like an angel tried to kiss him and missed and I thought it looked like a birthmark. My grandmother believes that angels have wings and that psychics predict and that all dogs go to heaven when my cousin almost died on the side of the road she told me he had an angel on his shoulder and that I had one too Draining coffee from a ceramic mug and at the bottom of the cup are the words I love you. Every day he asks about the manuscript and reminds me to eat. The worst thing you can say to me is nevermind and the worst thing you can do to me is forget. “We work better as friends” is a euphemism for I wouldn’t fuck you unless we were drunk. I'm still under 21. When my angel checks her GPS the first route is to the emergency room. There's a manila folder in the passenger’s seat with an outdated insurance card that only works in California. In the glovebox is an unpaid parking ticket. It's my mother’s car because mine has the faulty engine and when you turn the ignition the gasoline burns like an oil fire. In the backseat I am a satellite falling out of orbit and breaking apart in the atmosphere. My pieces will sink to the bottom of the sea. I’ve come to notice that we feel the most alive when death becomes a possibility and you said that we are impossible. Human beings love games and rules so that they can win them and break them.
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I collect words from your lips and rearrange them like refrigerator magnets. You can make beauty out of predestined words and phrases. There is magic in every I love you. We say it once for every star in the sky and dream that they will never die. I wanted to be drunk with love holding a glass half-filled with orange juice turned cloudy amber from the liquor in your eyes but all I carry are sobriety chips. I fell in love with you the way someone does for the first time, hoping it would be the last. In the ER someone is watching Chopped while someone else is weeping. You were in the air when I sent the text just under the first layer of atmosphere surrounded by clouds instead of falling satellites and dying stars. â€œWe work better as friendsâ€? is a euphemism for I don't want to lose you like the others. When stars explode they scatter atoms across the universe so other stars can be born and I'd like to think that means they never really died. I'd rather fall out of love than fall into indifference. I think my angel kissed him but missed because she wants him to remember.
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Roddyâ€™s Hands Sylvia DeVoss Photo Art
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Light Teasing the door open a crack, winter hours, With light sharp as a broken cup, Sinking. Night’s approaching water Under the weight of salt, from the eyes, The eyes’ sea, a darkness. You remember: More loved for the memory of love. Let us perform an exorcism: unearthing childhood, Past lovers, the vacuum running, birds cresting, A plane’s dim blue shadow. There is change—the ratio of your body, of mine Measured in light, in salt. Worth something. Aching, substantial, in counts and measures. The day ahead a string of glass beads. The birds have come to rest, as you will, will, Will it. There are mountains to climb between now And morning, even if you don’t stir. If there is time, we can watch the crescent moon Taut as a string, framed between two branches. It seeks to elevate itself, to become more than stone, As we do, loving the light for what it hides. ~ Meghan Sterling
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Sean Woodard Pencil on Paper
Little Red Bugs By Natalie C. Page
Before my father got a government job and packed up the family to settle outside of D.C., my brother and I were born in Pennsylvania. He and I were eighteen months apart. We never got along. My mother swore it was because we were born so close, convinced our personalities would have settled together more neatly had I been born later. In Pennsylvania, every town that isn’t a tourist destination is a small town. The trees and rolling hills were monotonous. Going somewhere would take longer than it really did; as if the repetitive rise and fall of the land kept you from your destination. As children, there was no place for us to go besides the McDonald’s anyways. It was easier to stay home where we could watch the cows across the street. Their large doll-eyes would stare back at us while chewing their cud, expressionless and dumb. The bus ride home took hours. In the winter, it would already be dark once we got home. In spring and summer, my father barred us from the house to play outside until we exhausted ourselves. In the wilderness of our backyard, we were no longer warring siblings. He was Batman, and I was Robin. Or he was the menacing knight, complete with a stick sword and horse, and I was the wicked villain for whom he must vanquish. I played my part well. No knight or samurai or comic book hero could destroy me without a few limbs missing or, at the very least, a few purplish bruises. After school let out, most of our days were spent outside. When the thrilling newness of summer had worn off, and we grew weary of the heat, we’d escape under the carport attached to our cheese-box house. By August the green weeds that fought out of the cinderblocks turned brown and wilted. The tall grasses on the wild edge of our property turned brittle. We swatted away fewer mosquitos. And the cinderblocks that anchored our carport blossomed a fresh, red carpet. The carpet was hundreds of little red bugs. They were tiny, minuscule creatures. My brother loved the infinite amount. I loved their color. The red was so bright it didn’t seem natural. The red was polarizing and unnatural. They coated the cinderblocks of our carport and traversed the concrete in circles. They wove in and out of the stone cracks, with no other purpose than to capture our attention. Sometimes we would isolate them, forming our hands into tiny cages. They bumped into our fleshy walls, dazed by the sudden obstruction. We’d sit for a long time watching them. Eventually, either my brother or I would reach out with our pudgy fingers and smear them against the hard surface. First he, then I, then anarchy erupted as we both mutilated the tiny population. We dictated who lived and who died. The fattest bugs made the brightest and largest smears against the pallid concrete. Smaller ones would leave a comical little splat. No bug seemed more worthy of life than the bug next to it. They all seemed to have no reason for existence other than to be subjects of a four-year-old’s damnation. There was no wars, no enemies, no rivalries, just our absolute choice of life or death, something we could agree on.
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Schneider says she wasn’t tuned into downtown when she started, so she sent an email to places where she thought the event might be a match. The only person who responded was Paul Cymrot at Riverby Books. Schneider and Cymrot were acquaintances through her visits to the bookshop, and Cymrot was opening a second store in Fredericksburg, Read All Over. Cymrot showed Schneider around the new space, including the upstairs area, which he thought would be a perfect spot for TELL. After that, Schneider’s plan fell in place. Schneider was surprised by the ease of pulling the event together. She says, “I don’t know if Fredericksburg is unique in this way but people were so supportive and interested. I called on a couple of people who want to tell a story and just spread the word. I stocked the first show with friends, many coming from out of town. TELL spread by word of mouth and it built from there. For me, it was really cool to see how you can have an idea, say you want to see it happen and do a little work to make it come together.”
In 2010, Maura Wilson Schneider was
newly wed and living in Spotsylvania with thoughts of moving to a larger city. She had begun to listen to nonfiction storytelling shows like The Moth and This American Life, and she felt compelled to seek a place to try it out for herself. At that time, Fredericksburg’s arts scene was getting its footing and she couldn’t find a venue that spoke to her interest. Like many a great idea, Schneider started one herself. She says, “I think that’s a thing about people in general, and this place is probably not unique in that sense. We often are unhappy where we are, so we think we’d be happier if we changed things. I realized I could just do it here. I could just create that space here in Fredericksburg.” 169
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Schneider says professional storyteller Megan Hicks was involved at the beginning stages of TELL’s development before moving out of town. Hicks even tried to organize a workshop to help tellers develop their stories before getting onstage. Schneider says it was Hicks’ sound advice that helped her advance the event. TELL has been running for six years now, moving venues when Read All Over closed (Riverby Books remains a mainstay on Caroline Street downtown). It’s current home is at LibertyTown Arts Workshop, where it takes place the second Saturday of each month at 8 p.m. Storytellers should sign up ahead of time, but when the show runs short Schneider does open the
floor to spontaneous tellers. She explains, “If the energy feels like people would tell and we’ve run short, we’ll open the mic. I’m the most impressed by people who do that, just come up and tell their story. I think that’s a certain type of person who thinks they can do it and tells a great story. Sometimes overthinking the story, or over-planning it, can cause it to be a little overwrought. The spontaneous stories are usually fantastic.” Tellers generally have eight minutes to tell their stories with a two minute grace period before Schneider gives them the “wrap it up” signal. She says, “I don’t like being that person, because I hate to interrupt people’s flow, to be the enforcer. I do think it’s important, though, because you have to have that challenge of tightening your story.”
many good storytellers that perform at TELL and some are unexpected surprises, too.” Schneider says, “I will say this about telling, it is the most loving and generous, supportive audience you can imagine. Everyone is there because they want to be there. They want you to feel comfortable while telling your story. It’s just people. There are definitely people who come to TELL who are at a professional level or who start telling and you’re blown away, but everyone has a story and something to say.”
There are some storytellers that show up consistently and regale the audience with their tales. Schneider says, “Jay Anderson has told a lot. He has amazing stories. He’s a good example of someone with whom I’ve found a connection through story telling. We’re friends on Facebook, and we don’t agree on everything, but I love him because I know all these silly, beautiful, crazy, scary things that have happened to him. It’s very powerful.” Schneider mentions Seth Casana as a consistent teller, showing up almost monthly from the very first show at Read All Over. She says Michael Lewis almost always has a quotable line in his stories and she admires his word craft. Schneider also notes that professional storytellers Les Schaffer and Judith Onesty frequently drive up from Richmond to tell their stories. The creative partners perform fictional tales together in Richmond and beyond. The question is daunting, however, and Schneider says, “There are so
Maura Wilson Schneider
Alex Ramos, spontaneous teller
Zach Santulli, returning teller and tech guru
I was hearing all these stories and I was thinking about my boyfriend, heâ€™s at Basic right now, and I was like I want to tell my story, too. My heart started beating really fast. I thought, do I want to do this, or do I not want to do this? I told my friends, I kind of want to do this. After I got up there it was really easy.
What I love about coming to TELL is hearing stories about regular local folks, not professionals for the most part, and theyâ€™re just really true and honest, sometimes really raw. Not always super refined or over practiced. Everybody has one great story they can tell is what I heard someone say.
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I guess I just really like the event. I believe in it and like being a contributor rather than just be a consumer; I like to be a producer as well.
Lee Criscoulo, returning teller
Ralph Gordon, returning teller
I love it. It’s so charming. I’ve been coming off and on for almost as long as it’s been going on. It’s really fun. I’m glad there are enough people telling stories and attending to keep it going. It’s kind of like The Moth, but it’s people you know. It’s tricky because it’s a small town and if you’re telling a story about someone you have to be careful not to give away details that will reveal who they are.
I’m a singer/songwriter, so I’m up on stage. Telling a story is a different thing. It’s simpatico, but it’s a string of thought that has to move along. The thing of it is, all the stories in my mind are such a vivid picture and it’s always in motion. I’ve got ten thousand images of all these things, so when I get up there it’s like they all come alive a little bit more. It’s not hard to mess up, but at the same time, you have to keep the image going. Then you see the laughter on people’s faces when you’re telling them and they reflect back at you some of the things you’re trying to say.
I feel nervous at first, but I get less nervous as I go on. Maura keeps asking me to come back and tell stories and I feel like I should. For the crush story I told tonight, I feel like no matter how embarrassing or stupid my crush story is, everyone can relate to having a crush. Everybody can be sympathetic to that story because it’s a universally humorous thing.
When you’re sitting in the audience watching people tell and watching the people around it, you get the other side of it.
Metamorphosis XII Gail Factor oil on linen canvas
WHY I DIG MOTHERS DAY THE MOST By Jeanne Sutton
With or without gardens, mothers plant seeds.
Of all the days
set aside for annual family celebration, I prize Mother’s Day most, because the accompanying rituals are – pun intended – deep rooted. With a father in traveling sales, and a home making mother disinterested in “yard work,” I grew up green thumbless in Delaware, not many miles above the Mason Dixon line. Flowerbeds and rose gardens? Not mother’s thing, though she admired our neighbors’. Indoors, an unkillable philodendron occupied one corner of the living room. A potted poinsettia joined it at Christmas; a potted lily at Easter.
Given all this, she was bound to mature into a master gardener, right? Nope. Adolescence interfered with vegetables on her plate, let alone in the garden. One Mother’s Day, she painted a brilliantly yellow close-up of a squash blossom, from a photo I took before picking and serving them stuffed with sausage. Anything to interest her in something other than the pizza and potato chips I couldn’t grow. Gardening wasn’t her thing anymore, though she posed senior year with the bird-deterring plastic owl I’d purchased. That wasn’t my entire strategy for the corn; I also mixed fish scraps into the planting holes I’d dug.
The year I turned teenager, I gave her a dish garden for Mother’s Day. She removed each pink carnation as soon as it browned, gave the left-behind begonia daily water. Who knew it would dissolve the plant into slimy, blackened stumps? Not me. Too busy with high school and college and teaching English in the state capital, Dover, where I met the man I married.
She went to a college as far above the Mason Dixon line as you can get stateside, and stayed there post grad. Our nest emptied. My husband and I realized how far apart we’d grown. We got an amicable-enough divorce. We both attended our daughter’s wedding to a young man from southern New Jersey. I saw them settled into a one-bedroom apartment there. The patio barely accommodated a bistro table and chairs; interest in houseplants resembled my mother’s. She’d passed away a few years back. With my father remarried and retired to Arizona, I decided to relocate far enough south of the Mason-Dixon line to revel in growing things I’d never been able to try, let alone succeed with.
We moved one state over when our daughter was born, a year after the first Earth Day. Standing in the backyard of our first house, I imagined a swing set gracing the 50 x 50 foot square of unshaded grass and weeds. Flowerbeds? Why not? Promise myself a rose garden? Sure. But in the first full flush of motherhood, I was wild to give this infant girl the best of everything. She’d filled a hole in my life I didn’t know was there; I’d fill her tummy with - vegetables. March was coming in like a lion when I went to the local hardware store for a spade. There was a rack of seed packets; a clerk suggested peas and lettuce now, beans and tomatoes when it really warmed up. My spade and I dug it the most: from that first fragile peavine, reaching for the string trellis I’d cobbled together, I was just as hooked. The Seventies lacked Internet, so I reached too, for books, magazines, seed catalogs. Just when I could tell its shoots from sprouting weeds, rabbits harvested the lettuce. I went back to the store for chicken wire; planted bean and tomato seeds inside my makeshift fence. Not long after, the first pea harvest happened. Watching my daughter fingerpaint her mother-grown puree on her high chair tray was a thrill I couldn’t wait to duplicate with other crops. I saved Organic Gardening copies. I got into composting when it was as odd in my neighborhood as practicing yoga. And I proudly photographed my toddler squatting beside a row of pepper plants, eating a red one like an apple. For a few more years, she helped me garden. When it got tiresome, she’d carry paper and markers into a teepee of bamboo poles we lashed together in honor of a favorite line in a Little Golden book: “All day long we went and went, in and out of the butterbean tent.” She’d sit there Indian style, drawing what she saw, not caring if the leaves were big enough for shade.
I cried when I sold my house near the ocean in Florida; I’d cried harder on the flights back from the Garden State. The first was to greet my newborn granddaughter. A year later, when I flew north again to greet my newborn grandson, house hunting was already underway. Within months, they sent photos of the small town gingerbread Victorian they’d found. Some of its big back yard was already picket fenced. It wasn’t long before I made the inevitable choice to sell mine and move back north. My first visit to their new home brought an incredible surprise, one I never anticipated. Inside that picket fence was – yes! – a garden! The grandchildren are twelve and eleven now. Their mother teaches middle school visual arts. On Mother’s Days, we pick the first peas, along with the fragile, delicious lettuces and other early greens, so rarely found outside of a farmer’s market. A few chive heads snipped here, some lemon thyme leaves clipped there, and it’s time to set up the teepee for the butterbean tent. The Golden Book’s long gone, but every year my daughter finds a new polebean variety to plant. Grand finale highlight? She hauls the bucket of fish her husband gives her, instead of carnations or candy, to the chocolate-loam bed she’s chosen for this season’s corn crop. Because she’s an artist, she plants in rows that undulate, gently. We lay the fish the way she does, head to tail, because that’s
how they’d move through water in the natural world.
No wonder we like to call nature “mother.”
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I Am I am from old brick covered in moss From stone upon stone that soar to the sky From water, trickling, trailing, travelling From ferns, fens, fellowship, and lambs From puddings, puddles, and ponies From little roads, big meadows, and sparrows in thatch From such lovely, I did hatch ~ Thea Verdak
I love you under my breath
[fissuring] Between two high notes The song gives a crack Long enough To allow me to enter Like a fish jumping back Into the night water Both the fish and I leave no Trace behind us, and the world Remains undisturbed as we swim Deeper and deeper in blue silence Upon my return, I find the music Still going on, while the fish has Disappeared into the unknown ~ Yuan Changming
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like music from another room hoping you'll catch the melody and realize only a few words can fit the rhythm listen closely and you'll know everything about me ~ Kate LaDew
The Astonishing Balance of Love Bill Wolak Digital Collage
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The ringmaster who sits across the desk from you has spent a lifetime turning hopes into hyperboles.
No matter who you are, one and all, in this circus, you’ll learn to swallow the fire, we’ll send the tigers into the ring Each day, you will lose some skin.
It is just part of the fantasy It is just part of this glorious opportunity Not everyone is asked, you see.
by Josh Schlachter
We only take the best performers Come here, little girl, lost boy, runaway, minority
I was that girl.
Days and days that make you forget what day it is, the numbness of never-ending midnights, bruises that attach to your skin like bug bites, birthmarks, purple that won’t rub off, no matter how hard I try.
His smoke and mirrors left me unable to escape the fun house. Now, when I look at my reflection, my body, a distorted image, I do not feel like myself.
They will promise you can see the world with fast-paced feet, laces untied, without elders to guide you --
and then they lock the door. Little girl, lost boy. There is the circus tent. There is saying goodbye to your mother and your brother.
This is not just their invitation. This year, another 22 million lives will be forced into slavery, coerced into the control of an industry that fuels our own economy.
America, we must learn that hashtags cannot erase barcodes
Slavery cannot be erased from our history But until it takes our daughters, our sisters, our brothers, are you going to be the one to do something?
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The Leaning Tower of Purina Descending a Staircase David Lovegrove Acrylic and Colored Pencil
Taylor Palacino Photograph
FLAR / Spring 2016 / Volume 4, Issue 1
I Know Why the Black Bird Sings Spring hardly bares reflection, trickling neatly into the casual comfort of summer. The gentle prick of sunshine one day erupts across the sensory palate in starbursts tapering into the muted fairy dance of firefly gardens. The warm press of summer lifts. Come, autumn. My soul thrills at the murmer of dark nights and full moons; it quickens at the sound of rustling leaves and a creaking gate startled by the sweeping apparitions of cool air, clammy with the scent of rain and wet mulch.
As the seasons tilt
down into decay, my soul rises to the roar of starlings on the empty branches, defiant of the coming cold and present darkness, writhing wild and irrepressible in the fading light. ~ Scarlet Martin
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The “I” turns to the alphabet and history Assault (verb): from Latin “Saltus,” meaning, a leap. The word derives from the visual action of someone jumping out, or onto another body.
Bears, Grizzly Two young women were attacked by two different grizzly bears in two different locations at Glacier National Park on the night of August 13, 1967. These were the first bear attacks since the park opened in 1910. After these two women were killed, people suspected that menstrual blood attracted the bears, but scientists do not support this claim.
Cunt (noun): [vulgar slang] a woman’s genitals. “Cunt” is arguably the most offensive word in the English language.
Death “It is better to die in defending one’s virtue than to live having lost it without a struggle.” Spencer W. Kimball, twelfth president of the LDS church.
Education Under 30% of sexual assaults are committed by a stranger; however, often this “man hiding in the bushes” is pictured when discussing assaults.
Fundamentalists, Mormons Warren Jeffs, the former prophet of the FLDS church believed that a man must have at least three wives in order to be allowed into heaven. The belief that practicing polygamy was based on early LDS church leaders, such as Joseph Smith and Brigham Young. Jeffs forbade his congregation from wearing red, as that color was reserved for Jesus Christ’s second coming.
Gal (noun): [slang] girl. Originally noted as vulgarism in 1795; was normalized by the 19th century.
Hymenorrhaphy In many cultures, an intact hymen is considered valuable as it is a sign of virginity. Before marriage, many women undergo this surgery, hymenorrhaphy, a restoration of their hymen, for this reason.
Individual Means “indivisible,” typically describing any numerically singular thing, but sometimes meaning “a person.” Statistics are created by gathering information from individuals, and collectivizing their experiences. Last summer I had to tell a consensus collector that I was assaulted in my apartment on the night of February 13/morning of February 14 by my best friend’s boyfriend’s friend’s roommate, who I met an hour before.
Jeffs, Warren A woman Jeffs had threatened to kill (if she did not marry his 86 year old father at the age of 19) escaped from the compound after seven years of sexual abuse and assisted the federal government by testifying against Jeffs. She wore a red dress in the court room that showed her arms and the lower half of her legs.
Kenophobia Fear of voids or empty spaces.
Lost, chastity “Once given or taken or stolen [chastity] can never be regained. Even in forced contact... If she has not cooperated and contributed to the foul deed, she is of course in the more favorable position.” Spencer W. Kimball.
Maroon (noun): A rich red. (verb): To be left alone, abandoned.
Nozel Point, Utah Home to Robert Smithson’s signature earthwork sculpture, The Spiral Jetty. In an essay about the sculpture he wrote that the color red is “the most joyful and dreadful thing in the physical universe; it is the fiercest note, it is the highest light.” The Spiral Jetty is placed on the saltiest part of the Great Salt Lake, on soil made dark red by bacteria and algae.
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By Millie Tullis Of the Lord “For in the hand of the Lord there is a cup, and the wine is red; it is full of mixture; and he pouter out of the same: but the dregs thereof, all the wicked of the earth shall wring them out, and drink hem.” Psalms 75:8.
Pussy (noun): A box a dick comes in (Urban dictionary, 2002).
Quail (noun): A migratory bird traditionally bred to hunt. The name was based after the bird’s cry. (noun): [slang] meaning “young attractive woman” first recorded 1859.
Red, color In Russian the word for “red,” krasnaya, is almost indistinguishable from the Russian word for “beautiful,” krasĭnyi.
Slut (noun): A woman who enjoys sex in a degree shamefully excessive (definition recorded in 1966). (noun): Woman with the morals of a man (Urban dictionary, 2003).
Toronto Police Constable Michael Sanguinetti addressed female college students: “Women should avoid dressing like sluts in order to not be victimized.”
Ultraviolent Term originated from A Clockwork Orange. As in, “That was a real kick and good for laughs and lashings of the old ultraviolent.” In the film, this quote occurs before Alex and his friends break into stranger’s homes to molest women. At one point in the film, Alex has sex with a writhing woman while his friend holds her husband down. As he thrusts, he lightly sings the lyrics to the 1929 classic, “Singin’ in the Rain.”
Valentine’s Day Contemporarily held on February 14, this holiday is a celebration of love and affection; particularly romantic love. It is based on a holiday dating back to ancient Rome, named “Lupercalia.” The holiday lasted three days, and on the third day, men dressed in the skins of sacrificed animals and ran through the city streets, striking women with stones and pieces of animal skin, as they believed this practice increased fertility.
Woolridge Grant, Elizabeth A pop artist better known by her stage name, Lana Del Rey. Her two completed albums, Born to Die in 2012 and Ultraviolence in 2014, have been incredibly popular among adolescents.
X A rating only used from 1968-1990 to mark a film as being too sexual explicit or violent. Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange received not only a “X” rating, but was banned in the UK after British prosecutors began citing “copy-cat” instances of murder and sexual assaults among adolescents. One of which included teenage boys singing “Singing In The Rain,” while they sexually assaulted a female classmate. The director defended the film, publicly stating, “people cannot be made to do things which are at odds with their natures.”
Yin The negative principle in Chinese philosophy, representing the female equivalent to “Yang.” While Yang symbolizes male genitals, sunlight, and life, yin represents female, shadow, and night.
Zarathustra, Thus Spoke “There is more wisdom in your body than in your deepest philosophy.”
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MILLINERY My mother loved hats and wore them faithfully throughout her life even when hats became unfashionable, a vestige of antiquated rules and vanquished demeanor. In old photographs, her hats add more than a splash of splendor— wild creations bedecked with plumage, sculptured ones with mysterious veils worn during the 40’s, before and after the war, but always hats in a grand style only she could carry: the same hats on someone else, her daughter, for example, simply looked foolish, an affectation, a comic absurdity, something of a laughable sport. Wandering through antique stores or second hand clothing emporiums I notice the hats, note how few of the customers could wear them. Sometimes, buried in a back room on a long neglected shelf, I find one she could have worn and think of her sitting before her dressing table on a night going out, father proud as she put on her hat before they walk out the door, swirling in the perfumed possibilities of pleasure and romance.
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No one lives romantic in that sense any longer—the kiss at the door perfunctory, ambition a more bankable virtue. I still remember my first kiss, wonder about that woman’s life and how things turned out though my own is more than I can manage. Meditatively focused, I pick through a shelf of hats, some still in elegant boxes adorned with ribbons and bows. I find one with white feathers, resplendent, fiery-white plumes, and remember the story, how the Snowy Egret was hunted unmercifully, almost to extinction, feathers so desirable they were worth many times their weight in gold: I think of their long black beaks melding to yellow-gold around the eye, a small fish pinched, struggling in the beak as the bird plundered along the salt marsh. What was once desirable is forbidden, illegal to possess, though every year hunters kill them in their migratory haunts. I wonder if my mother would have worn a hat or evening dress sporting these feathers, fashion and style trumping the loss. Perhaps she would have celebrated their fleeting beauty, knowing we are all moving toward some indefinable casting-off— love, beauty, everything turning to a crystal residue in a cut glass bottle that once held a favorite perfume or an old memory buried in a careless pile of veils and plumes.
THE CARPENTER’S LAMENT
Two by Dale Ritterbusch
A woman’s shoe, circa 1870, and the curve of her calf rising out of that shoe but no more of her leg are drawn on the sheathing— wide, smooth boards beneath worn cedar clapboards—drawn by a carpenter who had thoughts and desires other than just crafting this old Victorian, a venerable but neglected Queen Anne: gingerbread, fretwork, rotting beneath so many layers of paint, milk paint, lead based paint, modern oil and latex, paints of so many colors, most not appropriate to the age; so underneath everything is something to be discovered—original colors, drawings pornographic to the times, the high button shoe, that woman’s leg, its delicate and perfect contours, the fleshy curve of the calf, a synecdoche of pleasure outlasting even my imagination as I wonder about her knee and how much further I might go, just a kiss of the knee and how much longer it might take to unlace that shoe, the hook fumbled in my hand as I arrest the curve that outlasts generations of carpenters and lovers, our aesthetic meditations lost in the long unlacing, that lifting of the skirt above her knee.
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T I M
rimarily known for his real
estate, skateboarding, portraiture, and landscape photography, Tim Snyder explores abstraction and contrast, highlighting creative conceptual art that represents a different direction for the artist. Snyder’s new work speaks to a playful spirit captured through a design of trial and error, impulse-driven
ativity, all inspired by a kind of “shower logic.” Snyder explains, “You know when you’re standing in the shower and all
S N Y D E R
kinds of ideas come to you, but you ignore them. I stopped ignoring them. I made the point of following through with the ideas I was having. Now, if I think of something I can possibly try with my camera, I do it that day. The shots have been more creative and allow an openness to interpretation instead of the documentation-style shots I’ve done in the past, and the contrast of colors and shapes inspire me to try new techniques.” To capture these abstract shots, Snyder’s enterprising energy leads him to experiment with unconventional materials. His dreamy, cloud-like photos are born of ingenuity with a fish tank and a turkey baster. He says, “I went to the Goodwill and bought a tank for ten bucks. I had two people pouring paint while one person shot white paint through it with the turkey baster as I was shooting the photo. It was a team effort and it took forever to get it all together, but once we finished and I snapped the first photo I was in awe.” Snyder’s iconic portrait Lauren that FLAR published in the fall 2015 issue was created using acrylic paints and Elmer’s glue. Snyder describes the shot: “We painted her entire face with acrylic paint. I thought about using milk, but it was too thin, so we poured Elmer’s glue over her head. I couldn’t believe she let me do it. She was in the shower for a long time getting it out of her hair!” Another photo invites us to create our own story and depicts an overturned shopping cart with balloons spilling out onto a parking lot. Snyder explains, “My friend Ethan and I pushed the cart behind a dollar store and took that shot. It was ridiculous. There we were, two grown men fumbling around with all these balloons. This lady ran over one of the balloons in her car and gave us the dirtiest look.” Like the shots described here, the body of photos in Snyder’s new exhibit are the culmination of planning, collaboration, and a willingness to experiment with the unlimited resource of his imagination.
Tim Snyder 2016
Tim Snyder 2016
Tim Snyder 2016
Tim Snyder 2014
Tim Snyder 2016
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Tim Snyder 2015
THE CAT LADY AT 1722 STRAWFLOWER by Olivia Dupuy
Gina Trudeau lived across the street and
a little to the left from me, but no one ever called her Gina Trudeau. They didn’t call her Gina either, or Gigi, or even Mrs. Trudeau. They called her the Cat Lady, or more often Grandma G, because she seemed to do all those grandma-y things that we often see our own grandparents doing. Like owning two cats and gardening stargazer lilies and running charities. A lot of the kids in the neighborhood, including me, laughed at her behind her back. We called her the Cat Lady because that seemed immature and childish enough for us to get away with, and the nickname stuck in our family too even though she seemed to like me and even asked me to watch over her cats for ten dollars a day when she left to visit one of her grandsons in Bakersfield. She’s lonely, my mother tried to convince my father as he laughed at the pointless topics she often came over to our house to discuss. Stocks. Politics. Didn’t you read the article in the newspaper yesterday? There was an interesting piece on the Aquarium of the Pacific. It wasn’t just topics she brought: tidy piles of comic clippings from the funnies section for me, spare Tupperware for my mother, and the weather report cut from the newspaper for my father cluttered our coffeetable before winding up in the trash. It was stupid, I said, to accept them if we were going to throw it away. My mother told me again that Grandma G was lonely and just wanted to feel like she was helping, so who was she to refuse her that? It seemed rather unkind to me, to keep on fooling her like that, but I didn’t argue. She’s a product of the Great Depression and we should be nice, my mother would say, and I was old enough to know what that was and what it meant. Sometimes I thought about it during the vacations when I poured dry food into two little glass bowls in her tiny kitchen (the cats were named Nickels and Nadia and the only times I ever saw them were in the window right before I rang the doorbell).
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The Cat Lady did have a beautiful garden though. Daffodils and fruit trees and honeysuckle and mysterious dark vines all over her house with mysterious purple buds. The backyard was overrun with clover and tomato plants, and the side yard was a patchwork of hydrangeas and asters. Oftentimes I thought that all of these couldn’t possibly be in bloom all year, all the time, but the Cat Lady worked some kind of magic over her yard.
pair of earrings and a wooden, flowered cross on the side of a road.
And even though I absolutely refused to track my bicycle treads over her mushrooms in the front garden no matter how much my friends asked me to, the Cat Lady was still nothing more than the Cat Lady until I found the letter in her coat pocket.
My mother looked back at my panicked face, splotchy like cherry vanilla ice cream, but still nodded and told her that she would send her over in a minute or two to receive instructions because I was busy doing laundry at the moment, apparently.
It had been one of those stupid California days where the weather didn’t want to make up its mind, so when the Cat Lady came over to our house it had been freezing and she had worn a long brown coat, but when she left it was warm so it remained draped over the leather couch until my mom yelled at me to clean up and I found it, like a petulant child, slumped against the cushions. I thought it was a blanket at first, but when the letter fluttered out of a pocket like a little white flag I knew it wasn’t. And I knew it wasn’t ours, and neither was that letter, but when I saw Dear Gina Trudeau right at the top I couldn’t help myself. Because no one around here would call the Cat Lady Gina Trudeau and no one around here would send a letter either.
As soon as the door closed she sent me away to the bathroom to wash my swollen face with cold water before I could go across the street and a little to the left.
I shouldn’t have read it. But I did. And afterwards I started crying so much that my mother forgot to get mad at me and treat me to a lecture on privacy, and instead had to sit me on her lap for an explanation like I was five and had just dropped my ice cream in the street. She told me the storybook version, the Grandma G’s daughter, whose name was Kitty, was married to a very bad man, so Kitty hurt him really badly version. But it didn’t matter because I had the whole PARENTAL ADVISORY: EXPLICIT CONTENT version from the letter where it said things like kill and trial and the death of your granddaughter, Nicole Trudeau, was also unfortunate, but we know for a fact the car crash was purely accidental-A pair of gold loopy earrings was all that I remembered of Nicole, even though she had been my babysitter. And on my mother’s lap I cried because that was all I remembered, and I thought that someone who had died while going across the street and a little to the right to come and watch over me deserved a little more than a
But then I had to stop crying because the doorbell rang and it was the Cat Lady and I’m sorry, I think I left my coat at your house, and also do you think your daughter could watch my cats for me? I’m going to Bakersfield and will be gone Wednesday and Thursday.
But when I did, and when I rang the doorbell and her cats disappeared from the front window, I couldn’t help but think of that letter. It hung in the air of the house, like dust that you couldn’t see because none of the lights were on. But while Grandma G explained the two tablespoons of wet food for Nadia, one for Nickels, I looked right into her eyes and thought I wonder if old ladies can read minds. Can you hear me right now? Can you hear me thinking about your daughter in jail and your dead granddaughter who used to be my babysitter? Can you hear me thinking about your dead son-in-law? But apparently Grandma G’s magic only extended to her garden, because she just kept on explaining about the litter box and how if I wanted to see the cats I would have to go upstairs to her room and look under the bed because that’s probably where they were. I laughed because it seemed like a joke but politely declined. But when she left and the next day when I came to feed the cats and it seemed more invasive to stand in her empty house with nothing but the beating of the grandfather clock’s heart to count time, I crept up the stairs and peered under the bed where, soon enough, two pairs of abalone eyes stared back at me. A calico and a black and white. I forgot which one was which. Nadia. Nickels. Nicole. Kitty. I tested their names out to the dusty silence and it seemed to thicken, or tense, as if it made the very air uncomfortable to hear the words spoken out loud.
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Servi We ha
For the past eight years, Bill and Elaine Mason have poured resources both physical and monetary into the development of Wm Mason II Violin Shop. Bill, a violin maker, and Elaine, a retired graphic artist, are committed members of the community who are working to make fine, handcrafted instruments for musicians. They have expanded their shop this spring to accommodate a new workshop that will allow them to mass produce Made in Fredericksburg violins out of all-American wood, and with an ever increasing supply of rental instruments, the couple seeks collaborative partners to help struggling school music programs to repair their current instruments and to inspire young players to stick with their musical training. Bill describes the new workshop space as one were three to five people will be producing violins five days a week. They are building more shelving to house their already large array of rental instruments that usually go out to area public schools. He and Elaine are going big with these expansion ideas, creating a space that will allow them to grow into their dream.
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The space will also be used to accommodate school repairs for basses and cellos. Bill has constructed five bow re-hairing jigs to accommodate repairs for public school bows and help them care for their instruments. Bill and Elaine are also in the process of looking for funding to help public schools offset the cost of those repairs. She says, “The schools are lacking when it comes to getting repair work done for their instruments, so we want to talk to different organizations around town to see if we can come up with a slush fund for the schools to dip into to cover costs. In the past, we’ve offered a couple of schools every year a $500 credit toward repair. We shift it every year to a different school, so one school doesn’t get all of it. Basically, they’ll send us repairs and we’ll say we can do this and this and this. They always ask if we can get away with not doing something because it’s not in their budget. If we can get this fund up and running they could get the full treatment.”Bill says they hope to pull in public support for the fund and possibly get other music shops in town involved.
Above (left to right): Elaine Smith-Mason shows her hand crafted jewelry inspired by parts from violins; Christina Wan carves a scroll into a violin she is making; Bill Mason holds his signature varnish used at the shop. Below: The new workshop at Wm Mason II Violin Shop
Wm Mason Violin II Violin Shop 196
Bill and Elaine are already involved in musical outreach through the Strings without Borders program, which is essentially a lending library. People may donate instruments or money, and the Masons donate their time and Bill’s abilities. Students may check the instruments out for a year on an individual basis when they can’t afford them. Other future plans include summer workshops for kids to show them how to take care of their violins, how to tune them, how to address their pegs, etc.. Bill says, “Kids bring their violins to us when their bridge falls off or when they’re out of tune. We could have workshops to teach the kids how to do these easy fixes at home.” Elaine adds, “We also want to hold a summer camp where kids would get a violin in the white and they could paint, stain or decoupage it. These violins come in the parts that are glued together and then painted, stained, etc. Maybe by next summer.” Bill describes Fredericksburg as one of the fastest growing areas in the country because of D.C., the Pentagon, and Dahlgren all offering stable the government jobs. He ntoes, “Economic Development
speculates that within five to ten years it’s going to double or triple population here. With that comes culture and kids interested in playing. We’ve seen a huge amount of kids getting involved and playing music. I hear a lot of people saying classical music is dead, well I don’t think so in this town.” Bill, who is on the board of the Philharmonic at the University of Mary Washington, says there are many improvements that could be made to attract young people to Fredericksburg to persue music. He notes that the university has a fantastic music program, but many don’t know about it. He says, “Not very many kids know there’s a music program at the college, and Dr. Bartram is a wonderful orchestra director over there. They’ll leave town for the University of Maryland or the Conservatory at Shannandoah. The thing is, we need to keep them here. We need to keep their talent here. We need to keep their money here, their business here. We don’t need to be sending it out of town. There’s a disconnect. Kids are going out of town for college and they’re not playing with Itzhak Perlman or Joshua Bell.”
Wm Mason’s recital space dedicated to rehearsals, concerts and presentations.
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Bill refers to the concert series in the fall of 2015 and spring of 2016 that the university sponsored, wherein students in the music program had the opportunity to hear and play with the two classical master musicians. Elaine believes Fredericskburg is rich with music overall, though, noting, “But you’ve also got the Rappahannock Youth Symphony, Rappahannock Pops, and Fame. All of these programs are training kids, too. There are all kinds of programs out there with younger teachers making it really exciting and the kids think it’s cool.” Bill says, “Yes, but now you have to keep the momentum going in the teen years. When I went to violin making school, you had the sudents who came in every day on time and they were passionate about it. Then you’d have students who came in just as passionate about it in the beginning, but after about a month or so they’d find out it’s work. Instead of five days a week, they’re coming in three days a week, then two days a week. You can’t make a violin or play an instrument unless that momentum is continually moving forward.” Elaine adds, “It’s like going to the gym.” Elaine says that another change that has increased interest in the shop has been their procurement of a few choice, high end instruments. In previous years, the shop didn’t normally deal in high end pieces, but with expansion brings opportuinty. She says, “I had a very high end French cello come in for consignment and it was gone in two months. We have a really high end cello downstairs. It needs some work and someone is going to consign it. I’m going to be inviting cello teachers and players in to look at it to show that this is also what we’re carrying now.” Bill agrees, saying, “That’s what will make people get in their cars and come see what we have. And once we get the recital hall going, we’ll start off having receptions followed by a chamber music show or a lecture, and we’ll have some of the higher end instruments displayed at that time.”
Immediate plans will bring master maker Joe Thrift to the shop for a two week makers workshop June 13th through the 24th. Thrift studied at the Newark School of Violin Making in London under some of the biggest names in the violin world. Bill sees this as an economic boon for Fredericksburg, saying, “We’re inviting makers from all over the country. On the weekend between the two weeks we’re going to get on the train to D.C. to look at the Strads, and the Amatis and Guarneris, so that’s going to be really wonderful. We’re inviting the makers who come to the workshop to bring their spouses, so they may enjoy Fredericksburg and the tourism here, to really make it a destination for those two weeks, not just for violin making, but for their families, too.” Register by the first week in June if interested.
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Violin Shop Tours Old world tradition meets the modern world at Wm Mason II Violin Shop. Take a step back in time to learn about the tradition that has been passed on for centuries. Some of the same methods developed by the old master makers like Stradivari and Guarneri, are still used today. We perform every aspect of making, restoration and repair. Each beautiful instrument that bears our name is created by hand, from initial drawing to the enal layer of varnish (which we make too)! We have two fully trained violin makers working in the shop, which is located in the historic Farmers Creamery building.
509-1 Jackson St., Fredericksburg, Va 22401 540-645-7498 www.wmmasonviolinshop.com email@example.com Find us on Facebook
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Metamorphosis .................................................. By Susan B. Apel Only months after China opened its borders to individual travelers I was there, riding hard seat and trading with Chinese women as they stood at each rail stop in the countryside, passing bargained-for food through the train windows. Shortly after, I went to Nagasaki, stayed in a ryokan and felt acutely American and apologetic at the Atomic Bomb Museum. I once checked into the most luxurious hotel in Ubud, without running water or electricity, a guide with a lantern to whisk you home after dinner. France consumed part of a sabbatical. For all of that travel that spanned the axis from glamor (Paris) to earthiness (a cot for rent in the dressing room of an old Chinese theater), the most pivotal journey of my life is found in the screen shot below that shows the route from my childhood home on Pittsburgh’s North Side to the Carnegie Library at Woods Run.
I had been practicing my name in cursive. I had the same feeling that I remember from my adult attempts at the LSAT and the bar exam: my entire future depends on this. I bent over the paper with that low-headed stance and the concentration of children drawing for their lives; I breathed heavily through my mouth with the exertion. I wrote my name, the pencil dragging with excessive friction. My dad approached the information desk again, me in one hand, the paper in the other.
When I envision the scene, I fast-forward to the end. It was as if a hand had come down from heaven in cinematic fashion, backlit and slo-mo, hovering just within my line of vision. I was four years old. My brother had already started school, bringing home the new technology of its day—a first-grade reader. I would sneak it when he was done with his homework. Our home was devoid of books; later there would be a set of encyclopedias bought from the supermarket, volume by volume, with every two weeks’ worth of groceries, but for now, maybe a stray Reader’s Digest on some days. Noticing my penchant for reading, my father discovered a neighborhood branch of the local library. Word –from where is anyone’s guess--had permeated our little Insulbricked home that a world of books was free for the borrowing. All that was required was a library card. One day my father and I took off for Woods Run in a borrowed car.
I looked up. My father was bending down, his palm passing by my face with something between his finger and thumb. His hand fumbled to find my tiny one, half-hidden in the sleeve of my coat. In it, he placed a single quarter. Gesturing toward the librarian, he urged me, “Give this to her.” We went back to the car, my left hand in his enormous, quarter-delivering one, and my right hand gripping a brand-new library card, disappointing only in its sterile beige color.
My memories are firstly visual, and from the vantage point of a four-year old: shelves of books at eye level and more shelves towering above, maybe even up to the sky, the plain wool skirt of the librarian talking with my father, my head sometimes craned upward toward him until my neck hurt. He was unaccustomed to libraries, found the information desk with me by his side. “She’d like a library card,” he said, pointing at my head.
And I read. Everything. Some years later, a kindlier librarian released me from the confines of the children’s room and told me I could check out books from the adult section. My father groaned as my options then grew exponentially, although you’d think that he would have appreciated having an adult-sized chair in which to wait with his own sort of impatient grace.
I did not see the librarian turn to look down at me. I heard her voice, dismissive. “We don’t have an age limit, but unfortunately, in order to get a library card, she would need to be able to sign her name.” Business completed, she turned to another patron. My father, taking a step to the side to catch the librarian’s eye: “Oh, she can sign her name.” Librarian, the softest of sighs, but still audible, handed over some scrap paper and a pencil. Indulge yourselves, she said but not out loud. My dad took me to a library table and seated me on a heavy wooden chair.
The librarian, both vanquished and maybe a trifle amused, me triumphant. “Okay then,” she said, her words traveling over my head and directly into my father’s eyes, “that will be 25 cents.” I had no idea, and no money. Did I even get a weekly allowance then, and if so, was it more than a dime?
There followed weekly trips to the library. My father would sit as patiently as he could, which is to say, barely, his bulky frame dwarfing one of the tiny chairs in the children’s section. I perused my embarrassment of riches, slowly selecting the limit of three books for the week. “My kid’s a reader,” my dad would tell people, in the same tone of voice that I imagined others used when speaking of their child as a musical prodigy.
Years later, long into my adulthood, a small mystery—long dormant--began to peck at my memory. Why had my dad and I always ended up at the Woods Run branch of the Carnegie Library rather than at the larger, central and practically equidistant one on Federal Street? Images emerged, of our pulling over to the curb, me in the passenger seat clutching books, watching my dad as he got out of the car and crossed in front of the windshield. His silhouette as he entered a brightly lit shop. And then I got it—there was a liquor store at the corner of Woods Run and Brighton Road. Dad, in the borrowed car, killing two birds. . .one for him, one for me.
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Fairytale Lost Fake plastic faces bend underneath the press of my small thumbs. Prone on the brown-stained white carpet, Ken is on his knees, arms outstretched holding a cheerio ring. My ears echo with the choir of screaming, but it is not the joyous affirmation of true love’s triumph that should have played out in my innocent eight-year-old mind. The dragon guarding my princess’ castle is rough-knuckled, crusted with blood and stinging from the weight of my mother’s satin-shift skin. Nails like thorns jutting out from poisonous roses rip at unbending concrete walls. A thud echoes outside the closed fortress of my room. My locked door becomes a buttress gate, anxiously, my eyes dart to the dark cavern space underneath my bright pink bed. I could burrow under it, escape down into Wonderland, where the Queen of Hearts would chase me. “Off with her head!” My mother has no prince; she’s still sleeping in her coffin built by evil witches called “stepfather.” He’s lodged apples of doubt and self-loathing so far down her throat that it’s settled as an unyielding boulder in her heart. Aladdin’s not knocking on the balcony of our bare necessities apartment, a palace of blood-stained walls and closets with towering boxes of guns— No one is coming to show us the world. Our home is the den of forty thieves and each hit my mother feels steals a bit of her spirit from this monstrous Jafar forging chains of gold out of a man who should have been Charming. Crying, I drop my Barbie, covering my ears. Slowly, she topples, right on top of Ken, The cheerio ring knocked from his pleading hands. ~ Jordanna Conn
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Brood Cheat Born an elfin changelingstrangeling fairy child, give tat – steal tit, I was laid a cuckoo egg, a fair trade for a shattered chick. (The robin’s brood would not have fit.) The Other Child’s parents grieve to see my shining opal tears, my shredding velvet blistered rash of iron burns. They fear my spinning constellations’ twitch, my seeming’s quick-as-silver switch: from spitting fetch-child to bitch-wild, witch-smiled unknowable daughter, a fledgling born of yolk and slaughter. Does fondness thrum in the robin’s breast for the parasite astride its nest? Could I be something... secondbest? Do I mistake a hard-eyed softness? Don’t they wrap my burns in compress, tend my wounds though they iridesce? And if they go to the Fair Folk’s land to find and steal the Other back, is it only tit for tat? Must you trade me one for one? Or might you keep your fairy daughter as you could not your fleshly son? I am no child, no more, no longer; the Other Child is et and gone. Through leaden blood and hollow ribs, my aether heart beats, drumming on. Dear father, mother of the Other, I am still more flight than fighter, but iron’s got communionsavor – a sacred, acrid, bloody flavor – and mortifies my searing sins. And there’s a pair of hopeful hints between the lines that crease your faces – printed bold in hidden spaces:
Two by Madison Seaver Cold Earl Grey I am drinking last night’s Earl Grey cold, the gentle aroma of bergamot floating over tannin’s low hum like mist hanging damp and pale, the water’s laundry taken up from the lakebed and pinned to dry and I am just wakeful enough to keep my precarious grip on the mug, my lifeline, but just asleep enough to close my sand-gritted eyes and see this reservoir where I spent my summers from eight to thirteen on the edge of dawn, its depths hidden by a gauzy veil of slumber unpierced by bergamot sunlight – and sometimes in that delicate peace you’d see a counselor paddle in from the reservoir, to dock, and you’d wish desperately to take a kayak out into that tranquil, liminal un-place and who can say when or if or how you’d come back and the wish would sit tannin-bitter on the tip of your tongue like a promise you make with no intent to keep
one, a cuckoo love for cuckool-aid; two, our weaving pride in nest remade.
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Study of Two
Anita Holle Lithograph with Mixed Media
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Two by Sarah BrownWeitzman FALL LEAVES When they might curl directly to brown instead they turn scarlet, orange or yellow as flowers. What benefit is such beauty to birds or bugs or a rainbow to a rabbit but, oh, to us, to us.
ATTIC TOY STORY There wasn’t as much dust as I’d expected after four decades. Spotless in the original see-through box the chubby unnamed real-hair doll that was just for show under the tree. The two Phoebes, I soiled and shabby, II an exact replacement I never played still like new. Jiminy Cricket, his umbrella and left foot dangling, the elastic string slackened by time. Nearby, Lambie, nose rubbed bare from sticky kisses, soft as real. Although I’d delayed over-long the formal putting away, the ceremonial propping up and tucking in, finally, sick with guilt, I sent them into exile knowing fully only now what was put away with them.
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Most Earthlike Planet So Far Too Radioactive to Support Life —Google News
Singed crust, the sins of rock around a red sun, barren like Mars plus heat & fire— that other Earth is a mean drunk who opens his door to curse because he heard our feet on the gravel road. Why does it hurt so much to think a place we’d long to see but couldn’t wouldn’t welcome us anyway? Somewhere the god of interstellar marbles rattles his bag of them, drops our Earth like a cat’s-eye into the lot as if to say, Now you know you are not alone in the universe, & still you are alone, these planets two strangers side-by-side on a train, silent, each staring at his iPhone, one reading news of the world, the other playing a videogame about burning down & blowing up another world that’s otherwise the same. ~ Ace Boggess
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Tiny planet pulses waxing in its motherâ€™s sun satellite with ambition circling at the tip of its radius vector as if
And Again by Marie-AndrĂŠe Auclair
tethered by an umbilical cord capsulate passenger in transit, in orbit tube-fed night blood bone marrow devours swells
* Sated breaks loose as if free falling into a broader orbit trumpets
curbed into orbit along the line that Clotho spins spins spins and sister planets trace trajectories that tell of time on a different scale on clear nights earthshine glows on the waxing moon
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Trying to be a Buddhist Although not trying might be more Buddhisty. It is Buddhist-lite, really, small book Pema Chödrönly— sending loving kindness out like some benevolent godling, making up, maybe? eventually? for thoughts less than loving and meditating somewhat daily, downward gazing, shifting eyes from wood floor grain suddenly so interesting, identifying thinking and outward breath focusing, waiting for that millisecond of palm-cupped calm.
~ Kim Baer
View from my Kitchen Window
One night years ago after Bec and I went to sleep you switched the heads of the clay figurines we had made that day.
a cardinal, showy red on the branch of a bare tree sits like an idol –
On discovering them the next morning we laughed and laughed, their proportions so brilliantly skewed. When we confronted you you seemed so proud of your mischief. In that moment I traveled back in time: you are a school girl laughing with your friends in the dormitory after lights out. In that moment I understood you as never before. ~ Lisa Lowry
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how I envy the plumage, the hollowness of bones the easy lift from its perch
~ Lisa Stice
Hospital Living I want my shoes back, pointy-toed scarlet To dance on mosaics, I want to stand up without a draft slivered To the bottom of top, my eye worn from drawing on a stranger at dawn. My name is not cut up in sections these days, in full it's Blue smudged on the wall with a star, sometimes red underline. This could be my time. I'm easy chair charming, a dent in the mattress, That's a print to be found, a magnificent actress, You know you can swallow, encore, Oh No! Spit! And they own my remains, fact they own my todays, in their Witchly smooth claws. I want to play ball on a lawn in my past. My heart has a plan. My sheets aren't my own, I'm a space in the line up, Billed beneath conducting hands, my parts high strung Puppets and inner arm scratched with silky milk serving, It froze me in time, snuck me past the back door but my Slowing will begs to taste one more bottle of red, Though still I'm not dead. And I sink in a spiral and hear crying horses, see through a mist, Pour myself over ledges, folding and spooling, I'm cake Mix, a soup tied in suture, their stitched Campbell container, my Fingers as wings not twitching or light, I'm so flat but the world is at risk from My side, I giggle in veins and whiten my eyeballs. And this means I still breathe. It's flickering tea time and my tongue is so present, just Sip it, they say. My execution was poor so I've stayed for a day, Maybe more, they don't know so whilst clinging, I want. I want churchbells and Cookies, ten more trips to the bookies, team songs on the beach and then Sex on a gurney, a lover to burn me, It don't stop till it stops. ~ Tessa Foley
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How to Hold a Heart
Instructions to my cardiac surgeon Weighing in at ten ounces, the heart feels unexpectedly heavy. You could palm it, but donâ€™t as it is slippery with blood and the surprise that it pulses, even later, as you lay it in a stainless steel basin to die. So best to use two hands. Hook your cupped palms together, linking the pinkies, to create a basket cradling the dislodged beating heart. What will you do as it bleeds out? Turn your back, ready the not-so-new new heart as the nurse whisks away the old to the bin. Or do you blink your eyes closed long enough for inhale, exhale. Long enough to consider me as your hand unfurls, fingers graze my shoulder, assess my condition: neither dead nor alive, heartless. Free from the expectation to love, to be that perfect someone, that one and only.
~ Heidi Seaborn
FLAR / Spring 2016 / Volume 4, Issue 1
When did my future become my past? 30 years ago I thought I’d like to be an astronaut, More to the point, I thought I’d be …or grasped the possibility, in defiance of all probability… that maybe someday I would play some screaming, searing melody upon a brightly lighted stage with a hundred thousand cheering me. But none of that was meant to be. The world was not my oyster then, though now I harken back to when I had my youth and all that power that “hope” and “not yet” lend the hour ... that never rushing, endless hour… But I didn’t have the steering wheel within my grasp, nor an even keel. I wandered as I wondered then and stumbled staggered towards when… ...and that hour passed. Oh, Lord it goes and where to only God might know, and I find myself in the swirling snow, Forty, now…still miles to go. miles to walk through the swirling snow, that blurs my sight, buries all in white, obscures all of the wish I might. I wonder if this turned out right?
~ Tom Conway
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The battles of the Civil War, and specific to
our area those of Fredericksburg and Chancelorsville, are well-documented historical events, studied for over a century by historians and armchair war enthusiasts alike. However, rarely are these stories written with such a deep appreciation for the human story as they are in Brian R. McEnany’s For Brotherhood and Duty (2015, Kentucky University Press), recent winner of the 2015 NYMAS/Eugene Feit Award in Civil War Studies. With a heavy reliance on primary source documentation from the archives at West Point, military records from the National Archives and documentation and interviews with experts at area battlefields, McEnany crafts a book that is both historically accurate and highly engaging. Written in two parts, For Brotherhood and Duty follows West Point’s graduating class of 1862 as they end their training at the academy and enter the Civil War. McEnany gives voice to the stories of twelve of the twenty
eight cadets who graduated and four of their ex-classmates who had resigned from West Point to become part of the Confederate army. He uses the handwritten letters of Cadet Tully McCrea of Ohio, a prolific writer, to set the scenes of life and war that play out on the battlefield. McCrea’s descriptions infuse even factual evidence that McEnany plied from the pages of archival history with an element of humanity:
After dark on December 10, several of Eagan’s classmates moved forward to Stafford Heights. Their gunners wrapped cloths around the trace chains to deaden any sounds during movement. Finally the officers quietly passed the word. The horses snorted great clouds of steam into the night air as they pulled the heavy cannons down the icy roads through two inches of fresh snow. The four artillery group commanders led their batteries into positions along the heights above the river. By 11 p.m. four miles of Stafford Heights were lined with 147 cannons. (McEnany, 161) McEnany writes For Brotherhood and Duty chronologically, so each change of year during the war had him visiting different battlefields to talk with experts about the battles. While in the Fredericksburg region, McEnany sought local historian Frank O’Reilly for information about the battles of Fredericksburg (December of 1862) and Chancellorsville (April of 1863), while delving into each site’s archive of primary and secondary source materials. Of his research, McEnany says, “I’m a firm believer that you don’t understand the history unless you walk the battlefields. The official reports on both the Union and Confederate sides are written in Victorian language, and none of them ever said that they retreated or that they lost the battle. After about a year in the war, the people became taskmasters at understanding the tactical advantages of certain features of the terrain. For instance, you can’t see the battlefield in Fredericksburg because the development completely covers the fields in front of Marye’s Heights. I found that going up on top of the hill looking back down you get a better understanding of it.” McEnany graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1962, and it was his own class’ reunion that inspired him to research the young men that graduated one hundred years prior during such a pivotal time in U.S. history. As a retired lieutenant colonel and research analyst, McEnany offers a uniquely adept perspective of these young men’s experiences during battle. Oringinally published in Front Porch Magazine, May 2016, by A.E. Bayne.
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For Brotherhood & Duty The Civil War History of the West Point Class of 1862
Winner of 2015 NYMAS / Eugene Feit Award in Civil War Studies During your research for For Brotherhood & Duty, how much time did you spend in Fredericksburg? Other than visiting the battlefields, I spent time in Fredericksburg trying to pin down exactly where a couple of people from the the class of 1862 were in the December 1862 battle, and then I went west to Chancellorsville for the April 1863 battle. I talked to the rangers, then over to Chatham house where I talked to Frank O’Reilly, the head ranger over there who has written some very good books about the Battle of Fredericksburg. I had a chance to look through some of the files at Chatham. I was doing this as part of the research as I was going through it. I built the book chronologically, so each year as the war changed I was hitting different battle fields and talking to them about it. Obviously, for a book like this you have do a lot of traditional book and resource research, but you were also doing research on foot, yes? Yes. I’m a firm believer that you don’t understand war history unless you walk the battlefield. The official reports on both Union and Confederate sides are written in Victorian language, and neither of them ever said they retreated or lost the battle. After a year in the war, people became task masters at understanding the tactical significance of certain features of the terrain. When you walk the battle field and read the histories, you understand more about how these people were actually located on the field.
The military records are, for the most part, held in the National Archives in Washington, so I hit those. You can go through and look, and as long as you know what unit people were assigned to you can find more information about them and other people who were assigned to that unit. I used Google Books, because a lot of the histories and memoirs of people were up there, even some of them that were full books as opposed to little snippets. I found little bits and pieces that I could track down about certain pieces. I’d look for timeframes and where cadets had been involved, and that gave me a little more background about the particular battle. Library of Congress had information about records, and I also used census material to pin down information about the families of cadets and where they went after the war. What I tried
You can’t see the battlefields in Fredericksburg, because the development completely covers the fields in front of Marye’s Heights, so it makes a difference. This is where the cemetery is in town. How to do it, I found out, was to go on top of the hill and look back down so you get a better understanding. You must have accessed an enormous number of resources to complete this novel. Where did you look? The archives at West Point have the records of the cadets. I worked with Suzanne Christoff up there who is the Associate Director of Special Collections at the archives. She and several of her staff led me to this record and that record, so I spent several days working with research about the cadets and about their life at West Point and finding out what other books I would need.
Brian McEnany gives a presentation dressed in Union Army uniform.
Brian R. McEnany
in the 1960s by a woman named Catherine Crary, and she had tracked the letters, but she hadn’t gone through the entire war period. I was able to get the tail end of the war. Tully was prolific in that he would write to his cousin back in Ohio and he’d talk about what transpired at West Point in a week. It took about a week for a letter to cycle back. He’d send something on Sunday night, and by the time Friday or Saturday came around he would have an answer back from his cousin. They were relatively close to the railroads while at West Point, so the letters made good time. That was not necessarily true during the war. He tried to keep up the writing during the war, but because they were moving so often the letters didn’t get quite caught up to him. He’d get batches of them and sit down and write back about something that took place a month ago. With the cadets out fighting the same war, there must have been times when they met in battle. Does part of the book concentrate on the conflict within the cadets when they had to fight against each other? Yes, there were places where they did have to interact with one another. The book is written in two parts: one about West Point, and the other about the war. During the war, I followed stories for 12 of the 28 that graduated and four of their ex-classmates who had resigned to be part of the Confederate Army, and I did find places where they were on the same battle field together. Did they know they were facing off against each other?
Daguerreotype of Tully McCrea, Urbana, Ohio
to do with the book was not only to tell the story by bits and pieces, but I have included bios on each of the cadets. I use the census and the military records to talk about the individuals from the time that they were cadets all the way through the time when they passed away. Plus, I have listed in in the book my own assessments of where they were, where I was able to track them down, and some of the things that came up during the war in terms of issues that I had heard through other historians about battles. You must have been absorbed with these cadets’ lives. You probably feel like you know them inside and out. It took me ten years to go through all the records and write the book. This class graduated 100 years before my class at West Point, so I had an interest in trying to figure out what it was like, and it was a project that I did for one of my reunions at West Point. I started finding stories about individuals who I thought was a group of extraordinary young men, so I dug into it. One of the members of the class is a fellow by the name of Tully McCrea who is the main character in here, and what I’ve done is to use his memories because he was a prolific letter writer. I had access to those through the archives at West Point. There was a also a book called Dear Belle written back
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Maybe by knowing what unit was on the other side. At Gettysburg Longstreet’s corp was there, James Dearing from Lynchburg was the battalion commander for the artillery in Pickett’s division. Another classmate, Joseph Blount, was in his battallion. On the opposite side, right in the angle of the artillery fire was Tully McCrea and John Eagan. So, there was an interaction. I’m sure that Mackenzie interacted with Dearing later, because Dearing took over a Confederate cavalry brigade in W.H.F. Lee’s division down around Petersburg. Dearing was sort of the savior of Petersburg in June of 1864. After Grant crossed the James River, there was an initial push to get into the fortifications in Petersburg and they were pushed back by old men and young boys, and Dearing’s guns were there to help them do that. He came charging in. Dearing married a planter’s daughter in Petersburg, but did not last through the war. He was mortally wounded at High Bridge and came back and passed away in Lynchburg about the 24th of April 1865. He was in the hospital after the surrender took place with Lee. Mackenzie was ordered to take the surrender at Lynchburg, so when he took his cavalry division into town found out Dearing was in the hospital, he made sure guards are posted and that Dearing has an Appomatox surrender document and that he’s taken care of. He was not there when Dearing passed away, as he’d been ordered back to Richmond. So there are those types of interactions that took place.
Your research stemmed from a special reunion, right? This was for the 35th reunion of my class, and I developed this talk about the class of 1862 for them. We had a mini-reunion down in New Orleans in May of last year and I was able to pitch the book to them. I’ve been out giving lectures about the class since the book was published. You are a West Point grad and you were in the service during Vietnam. As you were researching these cadets, what were you thinking? Did you see simliarities? The strongest correlation was between life as a cadet during the Civil War and what I went through as a cadet 100 years later. The punishments were not that much different. The pay was not that much different. You’d get demerits for all kinds of things. I was on one of the athletic teams and not required to walk the area. I would sit confinement while others would have to be in dress uniform walking back and forth across central area. That kind of thing. They had actual prison time; they would court martial cadets, but there was lot of similarities, the kinds of things they tried to do to beat the system, we tried to do the same thing. Well, there’s that line, always trying to find it. Did you have similar feelings about being in service? Not quite, because service time now is so significantly different from their experience. When you’re in combat, 90 percent of your time is absolutely dreary and monotonous, and you have one percent of the time when you’re feeling absolute stark terror. I was in Vietnam. Things were very different, but one thing that was similar was the idea that first reports from the field are always wrong, because their is so much uncertainty about what actually takes place that it takes a bit to figure it out. You could look at today’s politics and say it’s like first reports from a campaign. First reports about polls are always wrong, and it’s all about confusion and uncertainty. In warfare they call it the fog of war. Napoleon used to figure out where the key point was on the battlefield. He would watch one particular area and would figure out where the battle was going to go. He would make corrections to it. He had days, sometimes weeks to do that. Nowadays, you have social media where it’s almost instantaneous. I don’t know how much is right and how much is wrong, it’s just all up there. The time periods are completely different, but another similarity between my experience and theirs was with mail. It took a while before mail got to me in Vietnam. Same thing here outside of Stafford County and whatnot, waiting for mail to come through. You understand the trials of waiting for news from home. Mail call goes up and everyone gets a letter except you. Has your military experience and career primed you for research like you did for this book?
Well, I’ve always done research. My graduate degree is in operation research, and I was always involved with very detailed, data driven kinds of things during my career. Being an OR Analyst, you are very familiar with digging through it, and I was very familiar with military operations, so that came easy.
Map: West Point circa 1863
How about some tips for aspiring researchers? It depends. You can write fiction or you can write nonfiction. If you want to write fiction, you have to have an idea to get started. Then you need to have good background. If you want to do historical fiction, you have to immerse yourself in the history of that time. There’s a lot of reading and digging, looking at pictures, talking to people about what it was like in 1860 or whatever era you are researching, etc.. With nonfiction, there’s a lot of stuff out there that you can read and include in your writing, but the difference is you are talking about things that actually took place. You can expand on that with additional research, and that’s what I did. A challenge for me was that there were no books written about this particular class of 1862. That’s one of the things I quickly found out. That’s when I decided to write a book about the Class of 1862.
Brian R. McEnany
Image courtesy of R Alexander Fine Arts - Peachtree Corners, Georgia; photo edits, Joelle Cathleen
MARK YALE HARRIS
Sweet Whispers (Left) Bronze
Image courtesy of CANYON Fine Art - Santa Fe, New Mexico; photo edits, Joelle Cathleen
Mark Yale Harris was born in Buffalo, New York and spent hours as a child in his own artistic world. He was honored with awards and scholarships for his art, but was encouraged to pursue a more conventional career. As such, he received a B.S.S. in 1961 from Ohio State University, and embarked upon a successful career in real estate and hotel development. Never abandoning his first love, he sold his company in 1996 to fulfill his dream of creating art full-time. Although he had over a half-century of life experience, Harris was a novice at his craft. The artist chose a mentor whom he had long admired to assist with honing his burgeoning artistic skills, sculptor Bill Prokopiof (Aleut, 1944-1999). Prokopiof and sculptor Doug Hyde (Nez Perce) took Harris under their wings and generously shared their immense knowledge, talent, and vision. Today, Harris’s sculpture has been included in 80+ solo, museum and international exhibitions. 100+ publications have featured his sculpture in the past 10 years. Three books have been published dedicated entirely to the important works created thus far in Harris’s career. Permanent public collections, include: Hilton Hotels; Booth Western Art Museum - Cartersville, GA; Herman Memorial Hospital - Houston, TX; State of New Mexico; Four Seasons Hotel - Chicago, IL; and City of Roanoke, Virginia. Exhibitions include: Royal Academy of Art – London, UK; Marin MOCA, Marin, CA; Open Air Museum - Ube, Japan; and the Frederick Remington Museum – Ogdensburg, NY.
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Memoir of a Dead Woman Back in the 70’s, before I passed on,
I had a chance to meet Delvin Fiskwell and form a very close, very personal relationship with this great writer. At the time, he was suffering from acute alcohol poisoning and I had just been diagnosed with metastic breast cancer. Given a choice between the two modes of passing, I think Delvin had it all over me. I mean, up to a point, alcohol poisoning is a choice. You can stop anytime you want and if you stay dry long enough, you are cured. Unfortunately, Delvin never made it that far. After the publication of his magnum opus, “Oh Jesus, Give Me Break,” he took the proceeds and went on a non-stop, worldwide bender. He started out at the Ringtail Inn in Peoria, Illinois, and drank himself silly until they threw him out in the street. He lay in a sodden heap all night. In the morning, he picked himself up, hitched to the airport and bought a first class ticket to Madrid. The other passengers avoided him because he stank to high heaven, but Delvin wasn’t the kind of guy that cared about what any one else thought. He just kept hammering Wolford’s Bourbon on the rocks until the plane set down wheels in the Spanish Capital. That was his choice. Breast cancer, I discovered, gives you very few choices. I was taking a shower, getting all hot and sudsy and feeling good about my body and how great I looked, when all of sudden it was like, “what’s that?” A soft little jujube under my skin, about three quarters of an inch toward the bottom of my right nipple. Not big enough to do any real harm and still soft enough to be a part of me. Right away my mind went to the “it can’t be place,” but I knew I was going to have to see a doctor pretty quick. I also had a pretty good idea what he would tell me. It’s not like I did anything to deserve cancer. Maybe the milk my folks gave me as a kid had PCBs or the cornfield we lived next to up until I was 12 was covered with some kind of carcinogenic weed killer, but those weren’t my choices. Neither was any genetic susceptibly I may have shared with my late Aunt Martha. Fiskwell, meanwhile, was consciously drinking himself to death. When I met him, he was already halfway to the point where all he wanted was to get into some one’s pants, preferably a woman’s, but I suspect by then he wasn’t too choosy. He was just back from Madrid having stopped over in London, Paris, Athens, Moscow, Bangkok, Delhi, Perth, Tokyo, San Francisco and Honolulu. He knew where the best saloons were in every city and if I hadn’t just been given my diagnosis, I never would have looked twice at the disease-ridden mess sitting at end of the bar. He was living up in the hills above Tarrytown, a town near the Hudson River that was little more than a Main Street lined with four or five identical dives. I was still in shock from my conversation with the doctor and drinking as much vodka as quickly as I could. I was wondering how to spend, what looked like my last eight months of sentient life, when I noticed this pair of raggedy red-rimmed eyes staring at me out of the darkness.
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Imagine a bear in the pit of his cave. Imagine that this bear has been hibernating and has had nothing to eat all winter. Now imagine that you are a fat sheep grazing on some new grass growing in the spring sunshine at the opening of the cave while fresh breezes waft your meaty scent into the bear’s nostrils. Delvin sniffed the air and it must have smelled good because his pisshole eyes opened wide and then closed, like he was having sly thoughts. “Buy you a drink…?” He got up from the end of the bar where he was sitting, and joined me by the window. He motioned to the bartender toward my open glass with a grimy nicotine stained finger. “Put on it on my tab,” he said. “So what’s your deal?” “I’m dying,” I said, having not yet learned how to shield the people around me from my pain. “That’s funny, he said. “Me too.” It wasn’t until we’d spent the next week or so together that I found out that he was a famous guy and blah, blah, blah. And I have to tell you, the sex, what there was of it, wasn’t all that spectacular. We went to this little motel that specialized in one-night stands that was within walking, or in our case, stumbling distance. First thing, I made him take a shower. They had five channels on the TV and they all played pornography, which I have to say, didn’t really interest me much. When Delvin came out of the bathroom, he had water running off the grey hairs of his chest and was wearing a big cream-colored towel around his waist. He looked like a hairy wet egg. Of course, we had a drink. Then we had another. Then I took off my blouse and panties and left my bra on. I don’t know, why but I didn’t want to confront my little friend hiding by my nipple just then. Delvin didn’t want to confront anything, or couldn’t, so we went to sleep. He lay his big damp hairy head on my chest and started breathing and pretty soon I was breathing in time with him and pretty soon after that we were both snoring. I wish I could say that being with Delvin was so wonderful that he made me forget about my problem, but that would be a big fat lie. Anyone who’s spent anytime with a dedicated drunk would call me out on it. The first thing he did was wreck my car. I didn’t care; I was dying. He also accidently set fire to my house. Likewise, didn’t care, not a big problem for me. And did I mention that the sex was all but non-existent? So what did the guy do that was so special? First of all, he didn’t hassle me about my cancer. He knew about it but he was so self-involved, it didn’t seem to impact him at all. Which was great as far as I was concerned. But the one thing he did that was really wonderful, was he could come out with these words. The first time it happened, it just blew me away. We were sitting there on the patio at the back of his house—a nice house by the way—kind of big ram-shackled mess of dingy white clapboard with black shutters set back from the road and shaded by big oak trees. We’d split like a bottle of whiskey and it wasn’t even two o ‘clock in the afternoon yet. The sun was shining and his big head suddenly lifted up and he roared at the sky. “Ah, happiness courts the light, so we deem the
By Brian Wright world is gay; but misery hides aloof, so we deem that misery there is none.” “What?” Where the hell did that come from? But he had slumped back in his chair and seemed about to go into a coma.I was like wow. I thought about what he’d said, and it seemed like he’d nailed something about me, us, who we were and where we were going. I so wanted the light and the sun and that moment to last forever and yet I knew in my heart of hearts it couldn’t. And by speaking what little truly there was, he was making it better. You see, we after that, we didn’t have to hide anything from each other. I said, “Thank you you drunken bastard,” and he smiled back at me from his sleep. He straightened up—and I’ll never forget it—because he made this elegant little cavelier bow with his head, and said simply, “you are welcome.” He pushed himself erect and waddled up to the house. When he came back, he had a little baggie of weed and some rolling papers. That’s the way it went. We drank, got high, had a little sex and sat around his big house. I was interested in the quote he shouted so he got me into reading stuff, which is really stupid if you only have a little time left, but why not? What are you supposed to do? Jump out of airplanes. Get into race cars? Travel? I suppose you could do any of those things, but sitting around and reading Bartelby, isn’t half bad either. At least, I was taking something to the grave with me. In some way, I figured “thought” was actually more tangible than any of those bullshit made-up-for-you experiences. Especially when you’re reading someone like Melville. It’s like having a conversation of with God who, don’t get me wrong, is a nonexistent player in this bleak little drama. For as long as I could see straight, I read like a fiend. Only the good stuff though, and that’s all Delvin had. The book cases in his house were piled high with Faulkner, Borges, Eliot, (George and TS), Ursula K Leguin, Raymond Carver, Anais Nin, Balzac. Tolstoy, Fitzgerald, William Shakespeare... It made my head spin because there was all this greatness lying around like garbage, and I was running out of time to read it all. It really hurt to think that, so I redoubled my efforts. Pretty soon I always had a book in my hand - at dinner, waking, breakfast, the toilet, the bath - you get my point. I was sitting in the back yard, reading of course, and there was this robin with me, intermintently singing from an anemic hedge before jumping down and pulling worms out of the lawn. The hedge, to song, then back to the lawn for more worms. That’s all he was doing, but frankly, it looked pretty good to me. I had a worn little leather bound book of the sonnets and I was also sipping some okay whiskey. Delvin was up in the house and I came to this:
So shalt thou feed on death, that feeds on men, And death once dead, there’s no more dying then.
What the fuck, I thought. It was like Shakespeare reached out over 400 years and tweaked me by the jujube in my breast. A real twisty, and hard. I called up to the house where Delvin was sleeping it off. “Hey, you big asshole, come here for a minute.” I saw him poke his shaggy head out the window, duck back inside and in a little while he came shambling out with a glass of ice. He filled it up from the bottle and took a gulp that was big enough to dribble down his beard and spill onto his shirt. “What?” “What do you think of this?” I asked pointing to the passage. “Doesn’t matter.” “Doesn’t matter?” “Doesn’t matter a rat’s ass what I think. The only thing that matters is what you think.” “Is that a cop out?” “I don’t know, is it? Because I think you already know what it means.” The motherfucker was good. I mean he was the guy who wrote “Oh Jesus, Give Me Break,” so you know he didn’t come down with yesterday’s rain. I was the one who was copping out, was his point. I didn’t have to ask him what it meant and I shouldn’t have bothered waking him up. I’d been feeding on my own death the way that damn robin was feeding on the worms. I’d accepted it and was going off meekly to slaughter, drowning myself in alcohol, weed and words. What I needed to do, was go after the cancer; get it cut out of me. Remove both my breasts if I had to and take any poison that would put it down. Yeah, my life was going to be suffering from that point on, and for as long or as short as it lasted, but once you see the truth—thank you Mr. Shakespeare—there was no going back. “You’re an alcoholic,” I told Delvin, right then and there. “Yeah, I know” he said, “but I don’t care.” “But it’s gong to kill you.” “And cancer’s going to kill you.” “But I can fight it.” “You can fight it all you want. I’ll be there for you, but I doubt in the end fighting is going to do either one of us any good. Do you want another drink?” I thought about it and held out my glass. And that’s pretty much it. Today I am breastless, no ovaries and am the worst looking bald headed living skeleton you have ever seen. The doctors say I don’t have much time left and the time I have is marked by one wave of intense pain after another. On the scale of 1-10 that they ask me to rate it by, it’s like a gazillion. They gave me a pad and paper so I can write when I have the strength—not very often or well—and Delvin stops by every day, when he remembers. Sometimes we just sit and drink and look out the window. There’s not much to see, a parking lot, some cars, a tree and wires linking the telephone poles. Sometimes we can’t even do that. But for now, that’s all I got and it’s enough.
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A Super Blood Moon Birthday (9/27/2015)
Two by Linda Lerner
everyone waited to see the blood moon that evening
a coincidence that it falls on your birthday a new age mystic neighbor threw out with something I didn’t catch made me think of Halley’s comet appearing at Mark Twain’s birth and going out with him his knowing it would… tonight everyone was looking up at the sky, holding up cell phones & cameras…I heard that a man across the street was using a wide angle lens and wondered how much more he’d see anticipation grew a red sliver of moon clouds covered over faster than it would have taken him to serve up those two words I waited to come with the scrambled eggs home fries and coffee that morning when it didn’t I expected to ride out my day on a super moon catch it like a falling star right out of a 50’s song into our cyber version
well, the world didn’t end
someone said afterwards and laughed another one of those omens, he joked only it wasn’t: a coincidence just magnified what need partially eclipsed.
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Find a spot and don’t take your eyes off it I’m having breakfast in a local cafe a baby seated in a hi chair a few tables down watches his mother leave him to get some utensils keeps looking at her as she stops to talk to someone, never takes his eyes off her until she returns to him
Instructions From a Ballet Teacher
any spot the instructor says… I stare past him, balancing on one leg then the other, weaker one injured in a childhood accident my eyes focused decades past my father’s what I cost him my mother’s not in our family someone else’s, no, this isn’t exactly what we’ve looking for those love you but…voices swirling around. …and I’m turning around
to keep your balance, he says, not fall off the earth, keep feeling a man’s love after it outlasted his life how everything keeps changing that baby, or maybe another five or six years older is pushing vegetables around on his plate around his mother’s exasperation around what he’s becoming turning around what I didn’t become and what I did, how passionately I once felt about everything, wars I protested that single Sept day everything changed turning around injustice, around prejudice turned around by laws and around an idea about changing in mid life forcing its way up thru concerns about paying a con Ed bill, around a flower growing up thru a crack in a dust strewn sidewalk outside this café, where I’ve been sitting all morning with a cup of coffee mulling over the way things are and aren’t how what I choose to keep from falling off the earth keeps changing
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Mama Vallone’s The men will bet this evening gathered behind the coal miner’s first restaurant, with their green dollars. Two birds—one squat and lithe, the second large and square. The blue collar manager of alley entertainments dirty with sweat. The men sway and swear. The women on these farms rise before dawn. Windows sparkle from inside, with humidity, flesh, lamps, and frying eggs. Bacon comes straight from heaven to grease the talk of weather. Another goat’s born in the barn— no need to rotate this one inside its mother’s womb. The first one’s shoulder lodged, leg stuck in a flamingo pose. Apart from the in-fighting things turn out. Daughters never lecture their mothers, and sons sweeten with age. When they leave, no other country adopts the boy to kill him with its war.
~ Judith Skillman
Palmyra, Syria, 2009 Don’t make it say what it can’t. A toppled row Of columns, ochre, bone and streaky raw-scrape red, Righted and replaced in the long colonnade And blown this year to shards and fragments An ocean and half-decade away— But make it speak. Since you had that experience, Went there and laughed with strangers And photographed what isn’t Anymore. Tell them, temples, tell them, stone The empty, hard blue sky was larger framed By an unroofed secrecy. That there was kindness In Palmyra, a free ride back from the desert On a trinket-seller’s grunting bike. How hostel Staff and café waiters chatted with us, praised A country I thought they must abhor. Say, fragments, How we stayed up late listening to parties throb In the village. That I’m sorry I made them a backdrop Tapestry. I photographed their children: a young girl Dragged her brother to the curb, thrilled and posing Like a star—dashed ice cream from his chin. Rickshaw Kilim-draped behind her, smiling in bright pink. Don’t say what happened to them, columns I went There for. We showed her our pictures. She shook Her head: another, then another, getting the perfect Shot she never saw again. Don’t make her tell What we don’t know for certain happened To her, dark-haired in bedazzled flats, bossy, in the six Years since. Melted ice cream white against her arm.
~ Alex MacConochie
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Crossing the Liffey at Midnight The river was black, smelled like excrement. I looked for signs of Bloom out walking, a widening gyre In the sky. What I saw was a kid smoking, pointing a metal pipe at my knee … I walked for hours, stood in a mews, and heard a Dylan song. At dawn, gulls cried and dove the slow dark water, dove it again.
~ William Miller
JEFF AND JERRY WITH THE TRAVEL AGENT They agree to go somewhere vastly different from Oshkosh. Once they arrive, they can tear up Identities like used tickets. Jerry says that if he were a cat with nine lives, one would be a flat-out time-wasting, crumply bum. Jeff says he’d shimmy up to pick coconuts though he dislikes their taste— how fun to challenge a tree, a large knife downing a cluster. The travel agent heaps up options. After two hours they decide not to decide. Probably another summer spent lugging home soil bags from Lowe’s, getting both cars inspected, inertia like a humid night on the porch, no one talking.
~ Kenneth Pobo
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By MK Miller
Zach wrote three days ago
from his sabbatical, so she goes toy browsing for Christmas ideas, a welcome distraction. It is a Saturday afternoon—the discount store too crowded for a Type A introvert. It is mid-October. All is well here. Studying, writing, continuing my meditation practice. Thought of you. He addresses her as Dearest. His message shouldn’t make her pulse thrill; she shouldn’t keep it in her inbox where the sight of his name is a frisson of joy. The toys are purpler than she recalls from her childhood. Pink proliferated then. As did gender-neutral orange and brown. Even plastic action figures are electronically-synched with the internet, which wasn’t around until she was in high school. Everything is smart: interacting on a level nothing in her toy box did. Not Simon, not Uno and scented Strawberry Shortcake, not yard-sale Teddy Ruxpin that repeated the same story. Z’s message did not mention: exes— she knows one lives a five-minute subway ride from the retreat center where he is taking his sabbatical, a query about who she is spending time with in his absence, missing his two young nieces in their hometown. She finds an end-cap with Spirograph, Snoopy Sno-Cone Makers, See-N-Say, and Fashion Plates, three small shelves of retro toys refashioned for Gen Xers on a nostalgia fit, like herself. She enjoys the Etch-a-Sketch, whirring the white crank wheels, both elated and deflated that she is no better at constructing on the gray-on-gray screen. Her elder niece will enjoy the ballerina skirt with the glittery tulle that she plunks into her clown-red basket. She makes a note to mail it by the end of November. In purple, which C repeatedly answers on Skype is her favorite. The tulle skirt reminds her of the one Zach’s niece wore last spring at the reading. Z introduced his niece, the family’s youngest poet. The seven-year-old’s eyes never left her notebook page. Z’s face softened with pride and embarrassment as the girl faltered for a minute, scanning the audience for her father. Z paternally whispered something in her ear off-mike, and his niece nodded and continued. In the back row she’d chosen to see if he’d come over
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to say hello (he did, briefly, before greeting the crowd), she’d wanted to climb into that moment onstage with them. To whisper reassurance that would only be reassurance to her: You are mine; my family. I claim you. There was no room for such blatant egotism, for such residual narcissistic hope, so she’d tried clapping and smiling her ardor. She zips past the giant plastic ponies redesigned in taller, skinnier forms with wider doe eyes. Ditto with the puzzles in one hundred pieces. He’s just lonely, she reminds herself. That’s why he wrote. This present fever for Z will abate. It’s better to consider her nieces, who will always be hers, than to sit at home alone on her Saturday wondering about the numerous thrills (and exes) Z might be slipping out to meet in the city. Z introduced her the night of the reading as my good friend. His deer-in-headlights expression and his hand at the small of her back feathered warmth through her shirt before he’d stepped away. Why do you keep stepping back from me? That night, she’d clapped double-time with the crowd as his niece left the stage in her tulle and sneakers, as her father—Z’s brother— wrapped her in his bear arms. It was Z’s arms she wanted to make a congratulatory nest with her own, wanted to stand on tippy-toes to whisper Look at you. See how kind you still are. See how you are as I see you. See what, even with abiding affection, you will not let us share. She looks into her clown-red basket. She decides there is yet time for the purple ballet skirt, and besides: the lucky grandma who lives down the street—not her mother who also has the hard knot of half a country between herself and her grand babies—likely purchased one for C already anyway. Soon Zach will stop popping into her thoughts four or five times daily. He’ll cross her mind once or twice a week, less maybe. She’ll relax back into their perpetual holding pattern with delicious daily distractions—her job, her writing, fuzzy plans for a hopeful future. Returning her basket she decides she will move Z’s message to a folder where she won’t see it each time she loads her inbox. I’ll find something— someone— else.
The Chapel Most crash test ratings are only accurate at thirty miles per hour and when we collide we are well above the speed limit. We’re doing what we said we wouldn’t do but it’s the end of the year and we think it’s symbolic. I try to find the defroster after you’re gone to keep the windows from fogging. You and I could never quite figure it out. From the driver’s seat I tell her this car is for religious purposes only. It’s a joke, but I grew up without a denomination and in our bodies I found something faithful. Holy psalms made of sweaty palms and prayers gleaned from soiled sheets. We don’t worry if it’s a mistake out loud, instead we worry that we are revving the engine but never shifting into second gear. She drives a manual and it’s one of those endearing things that makes me wonder if she’s lost in time. We know we’re moving backwards but falling behind is so much easier than falling forward. The Vatican changes their dogmas every once in a thousand years. I’d like to think we’re somewhat more willing to adapt.
~ Camille Isadora Smith
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Water Street Studio: Not By the Book Show When we conceived of the show we not only wanted to feature the book as art, but to expand the viewers idea of what a book could be. The invited artists explored the whole range of what we hoped for: books with content, blank books, altered books and books focusing on technique. Book materials include paper, wood, polymer, leather, paper clay, and fiber. Many of the artists used original writings, poetry and illustration as inspiration, and best of all the books represent the unique style of each artist. ~ Lynette R. Read, Elizabeth W. Seaver, & Susan Carter Morgan KERRY MCALEER - KEELER
Kerry McAleer-Keeler is currently Program Head of the MA in Art and the Book and Associate Professor at the George Washington University, Corcoran School of the Arts and Design, Washington, DC. She holds a MFA degree with a concentration in Printmaking. Kerry is an artist who wishes to tell a story. To her, work is created to bring a spectator into the world of the artist's imagination - where the viewer can participate and relate to the narration depicted in her book objects. McAleer-Keeler enjoys making tangible, permanent objects; items that are not so easy to toss away in a consumer driven society. She employs traditional book making materials and methods in both conventional and non-traditional ways. Preserving the medium and pushing the boundaries of the book form is always a focus for the artist.
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When I started these books it became an obsession. I spent days locked in my studio writing and printing, tearing and folding. Months of grief bubbled to the surface and released themselves into every fiber of every page. It was maddening and overwhelming and broke down everything within myself. These books became my last interaction with someone whose passing left a void in my being. They became my last conversation, my last argument, my last embrace.
SUSAN CARTER MORGAN
I've always been fascinated by how the design elements of typography and white space can tell a story. Once I started learning to set type, I knew I wanted to create and letterpress print a book of my original poetry.
Tide is an accordion book of four poems dealing with grief and loss. Much like the tide recedes and then returns, so do these basic life elements. Writing, I discovered, helps heal wounds and helps mend those empty spaces.
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STEPHANIE WOOLSEY Lest We Forget and The Twelve Disciples - Ever
since earliest childhood I have treasured books and have been an avid reader. After noticing the number of books destined for the dump following used book sales at local libraries, repurposing the books and thereby honoring them in art pieces, was a very natural transition for me. I am very often inspired by the titles of the books and/or the contents. Working with found objects and recycling worn and discarded objects is a main focus for my artistic expressions. Finding beauty in the old and cast aside is of major importance to all of my work.
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ELIZABETH SEAVER Fundamentals - I have been interest-
ed in the sculptural possibility in the book arts. Using The Instant Spelling Dictionary, an existing book, I removed the covers and shaped the pages into a squash. Stories grow from the pages of the book on strings with seeds at their ends. The fruit of story is to inspire, so I made small scrolls which may be unrolled and written on by anyone who wishes to. I hope they do.
ELIZABETH SEAVER First Elegy - For this show, I wanted to put books together in ways I
have never done before. I also wanted content in my books since I usually make them blank for others to use. First Elegy is the title of a poem I wrote after the death of my father. It is the first accordion style form I've made. I created every element of it with purpose. Papa was an Episcopal priest, so the cover is hand-dyed in green, the color of the season of growth in the church year. The button comes from a jacket that belonged to his grandfather. The tie is like the cincture he wore over his alb. As you readÂ the book, you'll find other things that remind me of him. Creating a book from the poem I had written was a healing experience for me. I felt as if he sat down and kept me company as I made it.
Fly Fishing on the Rappahannock - Returning to some of my favorite
themes in my art, birds and collage, I created this sculptural and interactive book to celebrate those loves. The story is in your reaction, or in your memories, or in reading what is revealed in collaged strips from an existing (but rapidly disappearing) book called Game Birds of North America. The fish is a book as well. This book honors, with humor, the mighty waterway that runs through our city.
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LYNETTE L. REED Our House started as a flat Victorian
style book cover but as I added layer upon layer I realized it was taking on the appearance of some of the old houses I remembered from my grandparents days. I dug through old family photos and copied those onto silk which then became the windows of a pictorial glance of my familial past.
The Owl and the Pussy Cat has al-
ways been one of my favorite children's poems with all its nonsensical verse. The idea to build a vehicle to house the illustrated book came after pondering what a "pea green boat" would actually look like. Everything except the mast, wire holding the sail and ribbon holding the book, is made of paper.
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LYNETTE L. REED Betsy Ross is missing (and her stripes have run amok) came about after having a strange dream about Betsy Ross - perhaps brought on by too much news coverage of our political mess. I altered a book titled "The History of the United States" by cutting into the layers of pages. This process is much harder than it looks and made me just a bit crazy so what was going to be a dignified adventure for Betsy became my agitated adventure for both of us.
Both of my books engage the three guiding passions of my life and work: poetry, nature, and handcraft. With Soundings, I explored an ancient poetic form, haiku, to express my connection to the Blue Ridge hillside I call home; and with Reverie, I explored a new medium, printing on an iron handpress, to deepen my connection with traditional letterpress printing techniques and bring them into my present collaboration with the work of Emily Dickinson.
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TERRY PITZEL Coffee Time I adore folded books.
I took an online class with a wonderful group of women. We made nothing but folded books for 6 months. I made my books with no thought of ever showing them to anyone. This little book is one of those books. Each of the coffee cups were created and drawn by me, off the cuff and for pure fun. I use coffee cups in my art often. The practice of drinking coffee with friends is a form of “breaking bread” a sharing with friends and a time to explore new ideas. I hope this fun book expresses itself in that light.
Journey An altered book is a form of mixed
media artwork that changes a book from its original form into a different form, altering its appearance and/ or its meaning. I used a golden child’s book to create this textured journal. This journal is made to be used as a place to write and store ephemera; (like movie or concert tickets, love letters, or to just write and store personal notes or poems). This book is used to keep special things. It has tuck spots, pockets and clips to keep and to store your personal ephemera.
BARBARA DEAL Something Old, New, Borrowed, and Blue in my Dresser Scarf and The Garden in My Kitchen Window - Ya know what? I put down my paint brush
when I bought that bamboo flute. Enough of messy; I want clean hands, pure music. Gimme dat needle. So I returned to the arts of my ancestors. Quickly enough, I discovered, almost literally, the art of my ancestors now resides in local thrift stores. I began mindlessly and heartfully collecing pieces, those that struck my fanciful, broad color palette. There followed 2 years, 4 quilts, including a cut up and rearranged wedding dress; a compilation of true ancestral embroidery, ribbon and art; a t-shirt quilt; and a thank-you quilt to a friend. I started picking up stuff from thrift stores. I found a kitchen curtain and some lace and some other curtains, and some embroidered pieces and a dresser scarf. Things sat around. Months. Then one day, “Hmmm,” I said, "I can fold this into a book.” First the kitchen curtain. "Oh, buttons. Oh, purple thread and free motion stitching. Oh, fabric paint - I can drizzle that. “That little white dresser scarf with the dainty flowers. I will just fold that. Too pristine to drizzle on. Just sit with it." These remind me of weddings. About 8 months ago, Water Street Studio put out word of their book show. And here I am, all because of that flute.
ELIZABETH WOODFORD Sunprint Journals - As long as I can remember I have been in love with books. I have created
my own very simple books since I was a child. When I discovered Art Journals and hand crafted books using found objects/textiles and old books, I knew that I would delve deeply into exploring this medium of artistic expression. My inspirations come from nature: gardens, the sea, and my family background which has always revolved around these two areas. I am a collage artist and will not hesitate to mix all sorts of media to achieve the layers of texture that I love. These two books illustrated two of the many ways that I use textiles in my exploration of book arts.
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MELISSA TERLIZZI Hiding Places - I wanted to make a very special book; one that incorporated a few of
my favorite things, and had a surprise hidden inside the pages. I decided on a woodland theme with a fallen log, a big-eyed road, ferns and mushrooms. After I finished layering on all the various elements, I realized I'd gotten carried away--the cover was much too thick to lie flat if I bound it like a traditional book, so I attached the front cover to the back with a leather cord. This allows the cover to swing open to reveal the pages and a beetle that's "burrowed" inside. I would love it if someone filled the pages with poetry--even better if they wrote in a circle, starting every page at the hole and winding around!
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INDEX OF ARTISTS AND WRITERS
Index of Artists
BOHENSTIEL, Summers Briefly, my lyrics & music can be found on Amazon, BOHENSTIEL including all original songs and compositions. Art cards are available on noeldesigninterp.com
CRAWFORD, William C. is a writer & photographer living in Winston-Salem, NC. He was a a combat photojournalist in Vietnam. He later enjoyed a long career in social work. Crawdaddy also taught at UNC Chapel Hill. He photographs the trite, trivial, and the mundane. Crawford developed the forensic foraging technique of photography with his colleague, Sydney lensman, Jim Provencher.
DeVOSS, Sylvia is fascinated by the natural beauty of the world and all its inhabitants. She uses her own photography as the foundation for her pieces. She then uses a digital format to create layers of texture and color. She uses bold colors and high contrast in her work as well as a high level of emotion so the people seeing it feel their own emotions deep inside of them. Sylvia grew up in Waynesboro and Richmond Virginia where she currently lives with her beautiful daughter, twin granddaughters and her rescue pup! She is grateful. Visit her online at sylviadevoss.com EVANS, Dick I seldom begin a painting with any particular image in mind. I often start by simply loading a brush with a color of paint that appeals to me at that time and making a stroke on the canvas or panel surface. As I react to the form of that stroke, the way it divides the canvas, the weight of the stroke, the emotional impact, I lay down the next stroke, either in the same color or in a different color. The entire painting evolves in that manner, in a series of reactions to the previous collection of actions. Now, I will say that I do love the New Mexico landscape. I will say also that I love to look at just about any landscape or cityscape or room interior or the food on my plate! That is what I do. All that information is continually filed away, sometimes only reappearing years later. I often don’t even remember a particular inspiration when I am painting. Rather, I would like for the viewer to experience an increased awareness or way of seeing, perhaps it could be called visual vocabulary, through seeing my work. Hopefully that increase will lead to heightened emotional and intellectual richness for the viewer. FACTOR, Gail Gail Factor was committed to the painting process for more than five decades. She has a BFA from the University of Southern California magna cum laude; an awarded fellowship in Fine Arts from Yale University; and independent studies in art and architecture throughout Europe. Over the past two decades Factor had been creating and residing in Santa Fe, New Mexico. During which time she attended master courses with Wolf Kahn (b. 1927, German-born American) and Wayne Thiebaud (b. 1920, American) at the Santa Fe Institute of Fine Arts. Factor’s work has been exhibited in prestigious galleries and museums throughout the United States.
FRASIER, Patti is a self-taught impressionistic oil painter from Fredericksburg, Virginia. She specializes in still life, landscape, and pet portraits. Her style is representational with a strong sense of abstraction. She is inspired by the beauty of nature and enjoys plein air painting in the surrounding Fredericksburg area. She strives for a sense of drama, bold brushstrokes and exciting, unexpected use of color. She believes paintings should be like a poem—just enough to tell the story. Her work is strongly influenced by three Northern Virginia teachers: Trisha Adams, Kurt Schwartz and Linda Hendrickson. She sells her paintings in and around Fredericksburg and through the fine art website, DailyPaintWorks.com. Her online gallery can be found at pattifrasier.com.
HENDERSON, Sue is a photographer and artist who uses multiple creative outlets to inspire her art. She is a regular contributor to regional media, an active supporter of all art forms and a member of the Fredericksburg Arts Commission. He most recent work is abstract as she explores textures in water media. Sue’s work can be seen a focusbyhenderson.com .
HOLLE, Anita’s diversity of observation leads to unforeseen interpretations and conclusions in a presentation. Holle’s academic backgrounds are University of Florida, American University, and the Corcoran School of Art, Virginia Commonwealth University; all of which culminate in a BLS degree in studio art from the University of Mary Washington.
HOPKINS, Donna (see Index of Writers) picmeupphotos.blogspot.com/
HUDDLE, Maddie is a fine artist, illustrator, and designer from Fredericksburg, Virginia. Graduated from VCU’s Communication Arts department, her work transforms the familiar into the fragmented, inviting viewers to both reevaluate their perceptions of fine art as well as their perceptions of the people around them. A small selection of her pieces can be viewed at PONSHOP Art Studio and Gallery..
KLENNERT, Hagen was born in 1962 and grew up in East Berlin and Moscow. He taught and worked as a stage painter through 1984. In 1985, Klennert escaped from East Germany, settling in the Ruhr Area, and in 1986 he started freelance work as an artist in Hamburg, where he published his first book illustrations and solo exhibitions. In 1991, he returned to Berlin. He has been working on poster and print media designs, animations, and projections since 1995. His work falls into the context of increasingly creative areas, theater and music among them. He has worked for Volksbühne Berlin, Bonn Opera, Maison des Arts Paris, Theater Aachen, European Centre for the Arts Dresden-Hellerau, Ensemble Modern Frankfurt/Main. Today, he lives and works in Berlin. Visit him online at hagenklennert.de
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Index of Artists 2 89 91 178
LESTER, Connie began painting in 2007 while living in Fredericksburg. She is primarily self-taught and works in acrylic, oil, and most recently watercolor. She lives outside Richmond with her husband Craig. LOVEGROVE, David works by studying the natural and human-madeworld around him, making sketches or taking photographs of what he has seen. He rarely sketch or take pictures of things that are beautiful or polished; many of his objects and places are worn, broken, or they are being constructed ordeconstructed. Lovegrove generates more finished pieces from those sources. The finished pieces often become metaphors for larger and more important ideas about the world. He depicts the formal and abstract qualities of objects and places, but also makes them represent something that is important to him. He is influeced by modern artists Kurt Schwitters, Charles Sheeler, Gordon Matta-Clark, ClaesOldenburg, Richard Diebenkorn, and the general history of architecture and photography.
MOHME, Teresa is a retired Navy veteran originally from Illinois who now resides in Virginia. During her naval areer, she became interested in photography. Although no longer an avid amateur photographer, she maintains n extensive library of landscape and nature photographs from around the world and the United States.
PALACINO, Taylor will soon graduate from William and Mary with an array of diverse interests, but art has always been one constant in her life as a student. She enjoys a variety of mediums, but photography speaks a great deal to her because of how easy it is to capture a moment and then share it with others.
SEAVER, Elizabeth W. wanted to be an artist almost from the time she could say the words. All these many years later, she feels very grateful to have two studios, both in downtown Fredericksburg, Virginia, where the population at large supports the vibrant artist community with encouragement and support, even artists whose whimsy often gets the better of her. View more of her work at byelizabeth. com. ST. PIERRE, Pat is a freelance writer for both adults and children and have published poetry, fiction, and nonfiction online and in print magazines. Her third poetry book, Full Circle, was published by Kelsay Books. Her adult writing can be found in many places: Silver Boomer Books, Nana , A Long Story Short, Feathered Flounder, Fiction 365, Hearth Magazine, Mountain Tales Press, etc. St. Pierre is also a freelance photographer whose photos have been on covers and within print magazines and online ezines. Some publications are: Gravel, Sediments, Indiana Voice, Ken *Again, Front Porch Review, Our Day’s Encounter, etc. Visit her blog at pstpierre.wordpress.com. VYSE, Richard Internationally collected artist Richard Vyse has shown at galleries are n New York and Hawaii. He has studied at the School of Visual Arts in New York City and taught at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn. His art has been featured in the Art of Man (issue #19), Noisy Rain (Winter 2015) and Assaracus (January 2016). His art is in the Leslie+Lohman museum in New York City. Visit - manartbyvyse.blogspot.com WHITMORE, Dawn describes herself as a unique individual - the square peg who refuses to fit into a ‘circle’ world. She loves her camera, coffee, Capitals, and Christ. As an introverted personality, being behind the scenes has always been a good fit for her. In 2011, great change entered her life through illness. Photography became a blessing as doctor appointments filled the calendar. The local Fredericksburg area, rich with history and beauty, would be her focus. Photography would become her full-time profession in 2013, since which time her work has been shown from Pennsylvania to Virginia, with a duo show in 2015 in the oldest gallery in Fredericksburg. Visit her online at dewphotographyva.com or on Twitter @Dew_Photography
WOLAK, Bill is a poet who lives in New Jersey and teaches creative writing at William Paterson University. He has just published his thirteenth collection of poetry entitled Love Opens the Hands: New and Selected Love Poems with Nirala Press.
47 162 167
WOODARD, Sean is a graphic designer, illustrator and fine artist currently working out of Richmond Va. He’s been a professional artist for over 15 years and is a graduate of VCU’s Illustration program where he also attended the Illustration Academy. He has worked in the Fredericksburg area painting murals, portraits, teaching and doing graphic design and illustration. Woodard has an eclectic style that changes often. He enjoys learning and trying new mediums. When Woodard is not working or playing with his kids, he enjoys surfing, skateboarding, ice hockey and punk rock music.
XU, Ora is a New York based Chinese illustrator. She had lived in Beijing for the first 18 years in her life and came to America for higher education. Because of her background, her works are influenced by Aisan culture and American culture. They are humble but also powerful. Her works are identified for high contrast of light and dark, wild range of colors and unconventional perspectives. Although topics varied, she extremely likes to put animal characters in her art works. Her piece “The Magician” was awarded the “Humorous -2D Painting” in the juried show, Animal House, at Sacramento Fine Arts Center, California. Her “Self Portrait 01” was exhibited in the Small Art Exhibition at Arts Illiana Gallery, Indiana. A few of her other works have been exhibited in School of Visual Arts, and were featured in the daily newsletter and magazine, Visual Opinion. Although she is still an undergraduate student, she has started to find her voice in her professional field. She is always passionate about exploring and showing her talent to the outside world.
Index of Artists
Index of Writers 23
ALLAIRE, Ruth Ann , an 83-year-old retired college biology professor, has been writing poetry most of her adult life. She is a healing cheraga in the Sufi Order International. She is a Reiki Master and an avid genealogist. Her work has been published in The Prairie Poet, the Northern Virginia Review, and the Fredericksburg Literary and Art Review among others. Ruth Ann is married to an Egyptian. Together they explore differences in cultures and building relationships with people of various faiths. Just recently published Winter in a River Beach Town is her first chapbook. APEL, Susan B. Susan’s personal essays and creative nonfiction have appeared in Vine Leaves Literary Journal, Best of Vine Leaves 2015, the cultural journal, Rhizomes, Siren Literary Magazine, The Woven Tale Press, Image Magazine, Dartmouth Medicine, InTravel , and ShriverReport.org. Her latest work, “On Not Teaching in the Fall,” was recently published in the autumn issue of The Vignette Review. She is a professor of law at Vermont Law School and has served on the faculty of Dartmouth Medical School. She lives in Lebanon, NH. AUCLAIR, Marie-Andrée Over the past few years, Marie-Andrée Auclair’s poems have appeared in several magazines, such as In/Words Magazine, Bywords, The Steel Chisel, filling Station, First Literary Review-East, The Northern Cardinal Review and The Maynard, as well as Structo Magazine and, forthcoming, at Contemporary Verse 2. Her first chapbook, Contrails, was released by In/Words Magazine and Press in 2013. She earned a Certificate in Creative Writing (University of Toronto Continuing Studies, December 2014). She lives in Ottawa Canada and is working on her next chapbook.
BAER, Kim is a former news reporter, current freelance writer, living in Fredericksburg with her husband and two children.
BOGGESS, Ace is the author of two books of poetry: The Prisoners (Brick Road Poetry Press, 2014) and The Beautiful Girl Whose Wish Was Not Fulfilled (Highwire Press, 2003). His novel, A Song Without a Melody, is forthcoming from Hyperborea Publishing. His writing has appeared in Harvard Review, Mid-American Review, RATTLE, River Styx, North Dakota Quarterly and many other journals. He lives in Charleston, West Virginia.
BOON, Carl lives and works in Istanbul, Turkey. His poems appear in dozens of magazines, most recently Neat, Jet Fuel Review, Blast Furnace, and the Kentucky Review.
CHANGMING, Yuan grew up in rural China, began to learn English at 19, and published monographs on translation before moving to Canada. With a PhD in English, Yuan currently edits Poetry Pacific with Allen Yuan in Vancouver, and has poetry appearing in Best Canadian Poetry, BestNewPoemsOnline, Threepenny Review and 1109 others across 37 countries. Find Yuan online at poetrypacific.blogspot.ca and yuanspoetry.blogspot.ca/ .
CHRISTIANSON, Kersten is a raven-watching, moon-gazing, high school English-teaching Alaskan. Currently she is pursuing her MFA in Creative Writing/Poetry through University of Alaska Anchorage. Her poetry has appeared in Cirque, Tidal Echoes, Alaska Women Speak, and We’Moon. CIRESI, Rita is the author of four novels—Bring Back My Body to Me, Blue Italian, Pink Slip, and Remind Me Again Why I Married You—and two short-story collections, Sometimes I Dream in Italian and Mother Rocket. She directs the creative writing program at the University of South Florida and serves on the faculty of Bay Path University's online MFA program in creative nonfiction. Visit her website at www.ritaciresi.com
COOMER, A.S. is a writer. He likes cats, books & comics. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in issues of Red Fez, Dead
CONN, Jordanna is a senior pursuing a degree in Historical Studies at Stockton University in New Jersey. She loves reading, writing, and dreaming of traveling around the world digging up ancient ruins and buried pasts.
Mule School of Southern Literature, Blotterature, Literary Orphans Journal, The Quill, Flash Fiction Magazine, Oxford Magazine, The Poets Without Limits, The Broadkill Review, Foliate Oak Literary Magazine, Thirteen Myna Birds, 101 Words, Intrinsick Magazine and Serving House Journal, among others. You can find him at ascoomer.wordpress.com.
CONWAY, Tom currently works as a 7th grade English teacher in Spotsylvania County, Virginia. He spends a lot of time encouraging students to take their writing seriously and to look for an audience, while he himself carries around a flash drive containing thousands of pages of journals, stories, poems, and other bits of flotsam that have never been published. Conway believes it’s time for him to give his students a real reason to take him seriously.
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DIAMOND, Frank lives in Langhorne, Pennsylvania, and has had 30 years writing and editing experience for newspapers, magazines, and television, and is currently the managing editor of Managed Care Magazine. His poem, “Labor Day,” was recently nominated for a 2015 Pushcart Prize Award. He has released a novel, The Pilgrim Soul, and a short story collection, Damage Control, and he has had hundreds of articles and columns published in outlets including the Philadelphia Inquirer, Philadelphia Daily News and the Philadelphia Bulletin. Diamond’s short stories have appeared in Innisfree, Kola: A Black Literary Magazine, Dialogual, the Madras Mag, Reverential Magazine, Empty Sink Publishing, and the Zodiac Review. His poetry has been published in Philadelphia Stories, Fox Chase Review, Deltona Howl, Artifact Nouveau, Black Bottom Review, and Feile-Festa. Diamond wrote the Bloom’s Guide for The Handmaid’s Tale. DODD, Timothy B. is from Mink Shoals, WV. His poetry has appeared in The Roanoke Review, William & Mary Review, Big River Poetry Review, Crannog, Two Thirds North, and elsewhere. He is currently in the MFA program at the University of Texas El Paso.
DORAZIO, Joseph is a prize-winning poet whose poems have appeared widely in print and online. The author of four volumes of verse, Dorazio’s latest collection, No Small Effort, has just been released by Aldrich Press. Visit him online at josephdorazio.com
DUPUY, Olivia is a freshman in the Creative Writing program at Orange County School of the Arts in Santa Ana, California. She enjoys photography and reading contemporary literature.
EMERY, Joanne has worked in education for more than three decades as a classroom teacher, learning specialist, and curriculum coordinator. She has a B.A. in English from Douglass College, a Master’s degree in Creative Arts Education from Rutgers University, and has done extensive doctoral work at the University of Pennsylvania in Reading, Writing, and Literacy. Last year, she was selected as a member of the Advisory Board at Rutgers University Center for Literacy. Joanne has given numerous workshops, the most recent at the National Coalition of Girl Schools, the New Jersey Council on Social Studies, and the Association of Constructivist Teaching at Kean University. She is a published poet and writer, as well as an accomplished artist. Joanne was an original member of Judy Chicago’s Birth Project, and her quilt is on permanent exhibit at the Albuquerque Museum of Art and History. She has exhibited her award winning photography throughout the United States including the Salamugundi Gallery in New York City and the San Diego Art Institute. Joanne enjoys ice-skating, martial arts, hiking, and traveling extensively throughout the United States and Canada. FREEK, George is a poet/playwright living in Belvidere, IL. His poetry has recently appeared in Off Course Literary Journal, Limestone, The Lake, and The Rockhurst Review. His plays are published by Playscripts, Inc., Lazy Bee Scripts, and Off The Wall Plays. FOLEY, Tessa is a 37-year-old writer and an administrator at the University of Portsmouth where she formerly gained her Master’s degree in Creative Writing. In 2013, she won the Live Canon International Poetry Competition judged by Glyn Maxwell under whose tutelage she attended a poetry class in London last year. She has since been published in magazines such as Antiphon and Star & Crescent and was listed as a finalist in the Poetry Rivals competition. She is currently working on a novel about alcoholism, studying for a qualification in counselling and has recently become a member of mensa. She originally comes from Flitwick, a tiny town in Bedfordshire. Visit her online at tessafoley.com GALLAGHER, Drew Mr. Gallagher has been a long-time book critic for The Free Lance-Star newspaper and was the book critic for Rappahannock Magazine until that publication ceased to exist. (Hopefully not because of Mr. Gallagher’s contributions.) Prior publications include “Kumquat Meringue”, “USA Today”, and Parade Magazine. His literary agent is local attorney Jeannie Dahnk who graciously agreed to work on a percentage basis after quite a few glasses of wine. GILLIAM, Gabby graduated from Mary Washington College with a degree in English. She now lives in Maryland with her husband and four year old son, who is a constant source of inspiration. HAYWARD, Peregrine Like her namesakes (the falcon and the hobbit), Peregrine Hayward specializes in arriving unexpectedly and packing maximum kinetic energy into a deceptively small size. Currently a sophomore in high school, she writes, reads, and paints watercolors of space. Recognizing that the world is full of opportunity, she desires to study Pathology en route to becoming a Specialist in the Astronaut program. Also recognizing that life is not a straight line, she will follow paths as they arise, knowing destinations can change. She can be reached at Peregrine.Writes@gmail.com or via telepathy on the usual hailing frequencies.
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HEALY, Iseult Living in the wild west of Ireland in County Sligo, Iseult is at home in the land of Yeats, her home being but a stone’s throw from The Lake Isle of Innisfree. Iseult’s formal training came through the Royal Irish Academy in Speech and Drama, Dublin and the London College of Drama, London. She has had her own drama school as well as teaching in schools, and has also been an adjudicator and examiner for the Irish Board of Speech & Drama. Along her travels she has also acted and written screenplays but says poetry is her first love. In her own words: I suffer from logophilia and there is no known cure. Happily!
HOPKINS, Donna is a photographer who sometimes writes, mostly to figure things out. She takes pictures aimed at telling stories that matter, focusing on vulnerability and connection over technical accuracy. Donna is naturally curious. Her guiding words are wander and wonder. She finds adventure right outside her own door and many of her best photographs are often made just because she turned off the main road. She is in the midst of a great transformation from a people-pleasing southern girl to a strong and courageous southern woman. Visit her online at donnamhopkins.com .
HUOTARI, Heikki is a retired professor of mathematics. In a past century, he attended a one-room country school and spent summers on a forest-fire lookout tower. His poems have appeared in journals such as Poetry Northwest and Crazyhorse. A chapbook is forthcoming from Finishing Line Press.
KASSOFF, Sasha Sasha Kasoff’s poetry can be found in two self-published books and many anthologies, magazines, and other literary presses all over the world. She is currently earning her MA in Creative Writing at Oxford Brookes University in England. Look for her author pages on Goodreads, Facebook, and at SashaWrites.com
KELLICHNER, Michael is a poet and writer from Pennsylvania who spends most of his time living and teaching in South Korea. Other work of his can be found in Trigger Warning: Short Fiction with Pictures, Black Denim Lit, and Farrago’s Wainscot.
LaDEW, Kate is a graduate from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro with a BA in Studio Art.
LERNER, Linda ’s collection, Yes, the Ducks Were Real, was published by NYQ Books (Feb. 2015) as was her previous full length collection, Takes Guts and Years Sometimes. A chapbook of poems inspired by nursery rhymes, illustrated by Donna Kerness, Ding Dong the Bell Pussy in the Well was published by Lummox Press, Feb. 2014. She’s been nominated twice for a Pushcart Prize. In 1995 she and Andrew Gettler began Poets on the Line, (http://www.echony.com/~poets) the first poetry anthology on the Net for which she received two grants. She can be heard reading on http://www.poetryvlog.com
LINDER, Katie is Memphis made and Memphis raised. She has made it a point to strive for her goals, nothing less than her grandest dreams. One of Katie’s dreams is to make a change in urban communities. Another is to start an organization for troubled teens to have a place to call their safe haven when they are lacking love. Growing up in an urban area has shaped her character. This experience gave her a deep love for community. Katie wants the next generation to live in the gray matter and never just be black or white. As for now, 16 year-old Katie Linder is taking strides in making her imagination become her reality by establishing herself as a freelance writer. Katie’s ambition is her greatest weaponry.
LOWRY, Lisa A. is a PhD candidate in Public Policy and Public Administration at The George Washington University. She is currently working on her dissertation which focuses on creative aging in senior centers. Her research interests include the intersection of creativity, the arts, urban planning and public policy. When she in not working on her dissertation, you can find her playing on the static trapeze at TSNY DC or Upspring Studios. She continues to search for innovative ways to combine her artistic and academic interests.
LUTZ, Chad W. was born in Akron, Ohio, in 1986 and was raised in the neighboring suburb of Stow. A 2008 graduate of Kent State University’s English program, his writing has been featured in Diverse Voices Quarterly, Kind of a Hurricane Press, Haunted Waters Press, and Sheepshead Review. Chad still balls hard in his hometown of Stow and currently works in North Canton writing content for an online job resource site. He also manages an online magazine called AltOhio.com. Chad runs competitively and won the Lake Wobegon Marathon in May 2015, setting the course record by nearly three minutes in a time of 2:33:59. He aspires to qualify for the Olympic Trials.
MacCONOCHIE, Alex is a native of Norfolk, Virginia, and is currently pursuing a graduate degree in English Literature at Boston University. His work has recently appeared in The McNeese Review, The Kentucky Review, and Vilas Avenue.
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MILLER, MK has two degrees, a diverse shoe collection, and endless curiosity. She has written about a wide array of topics--including the cultural significance of go-go boots and authentic communication tips. Her creative endeavors include black-andwhite photography and editing a novel. Her fiction and essays have appeared most recently in Thick Jam, Revolution House, Verdad Magazine, Tawdry Bawdry, the Shifts Anthology, and Tiny Buddha. She has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. MARTIN, Scarlet graduated from Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas, with a Bachelor of Arts in English, creative writing. Her work has most recently appeared in issues of Kindred, Scintilla, and Flare. Although she loves to explore new horizons abroad, her heart is always happiest under Texas skies.
MUILENBURG, Matt teaches writing at the University of Dubuque. His prose has been featured in Superstition Review, Southern Humanities Review, New Plains Review, South85 Journal, and others. A graduate of the Wichita State MFA program, Matt lives in Iowa near the Field of Dreams. NGUYEN, Isabel has been published by The America Library of Poetry in a poetry compilation titled, Eloquence. She enjoys reading classic novels and traditional poetry. She is currently a freshman attending the Orange County School of the Arts for Creative Writing. O’BRIEN, Toti O’Brien’s work has appeared in Rose Red Review, CultureCult, Bird’s Thumb and Literary Orphans, among other journals and anthologies. More about her can be found at totihan.net/writer.html
PAGE, Natalie C. grew up in Stafford, VA. She would frequently visit downtown Fred as a teenager, browsing the numerous antique stores for vintage hats and old photographs. After graduating from Brooke Point High School, Natalie attended Christopher Newport University where she obtained her BA of English with a concentration in writing and a minor in literature. Currently, she lives in Newport News, VA with her husband and two dogs.
PAYNE, Genevieve Payne’s work has previously appeared in several print and online journals, including Stolen Island, Indianola Review and Chagrin River Review. Her work is forthcoming in Blueline. She lives in Maine with her dog, George Emerson.
POBO, Kenneth has a new book out from Urban Farmhouse Press called Booking Rooms in the Kuiper Belt. His work appears in: Mudfish, Nimrod, Indiana Review, Rappahannock Review, Hawaii Review, and elsewhere. His Twitter is: @ KenPobo.
REED, Lynette R. is a visual artist and part-time writer of micro-stories and poetry. She has had an ongoing love affair with words spoken and written, sung, shouted and whispered. Words are often where her inspiration to create a piece of art begins and in return the art becomes the story I tell. Find her artwork at bylynettereed.com
REHFELDT, Sarah lives with her family in western Washington where she is a writer, artist, and photographer. Her poems have appeared in Appalachia, Weber – The Contemporary West, Presence, An International Journal of Spiritual Direction, and Kaleidoscope Magazine. Her work has been nominated for a Pushcart prize in poetry. Sarah is the author of Somewhere South of Pegasus, a collection of image poems. It can be purchased through her photography web pages at pbase.com/ candanceski RITTERBUSCH, Dale is the author of Lessons Learned: Poetry of the Vietnam War and Its Aftermath and Far From the Temple of Heaven. He is a Professor of English at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater and twice served as Distinguished Visiting Professor at the United States Air Force Academy. ROGOW, Zack is the author, editor, or translator of twenty books or plays. His eighth book of poems, Talking with the Radio: poems inspired by jazz and popular music, was published in 2015 by Kattywompus Press. He is also writing a series of plays about authors, incorporating their writing into the action. The most recent of these, Colette Uncensored, had its first staged reading at the Millennium Stage of the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC, in February 2015 and will run at The Marsh in San Francisco in spring 2016. His blog is called Advice for Writers. Currently he teaches in the low-residency MFA in writing program at the University of Alaska Anchorage and serves as poetry editor of Catamaran Literary Reader. Visit him online at zackrogow.com SCHLACHTER, Josh is a freshman at the Orange County School of The Arts, where he studies Creative Writing. He is also a composer who hopes to one day score for film. When he was nine years old, he hiked Half Dome in Yosemite. You can visit his website at joshschlachter.com.
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SCACCO, Peter L. is the author of the illustrated poetry chapbooks The Gray Days, Along a Path, A Quiet Place, and Chiaroscuro. His poems and woodcuts have been featured in numerous publications in print and online. A lover of all things Japanese and French, he has lived and worked in New York, Paris, Tokyo, and Brussels. Since 1995, he has resided in Austin, Texas, pursuing his interests in the arts, history, bonsai, and astronomy. Examples of Scacco’s artwork can be seen at scaccowoodcuts.com.
SEABORN, Heidi In her teens and twenties, Seaborn wrote, published, won contests and gave extensive readings of her poetry. Then life got in the way. After three decades, four marriages, three kids, 27 moves and a successful business career, she started writing again late last year with the advantage life’s experiences. Now living in Seattle, Seaborn is currently benefiting from the mentorship of David Wagoner and the wonderful community of the Richard Hugo House.
SEAVER, Elizabeth W. earned a BA from Smith College in Government, so it stands to reason that she chooses to spend her days painting in her art studio and early mornings and evenings scribbling stories and poems. Besides the natural world, she most likes to write about the lines which connect us and the spaces between us. Her poetry has been published in two issues of the Haunted Waters Press Magazine, From the Depths.
SEAVER, Madison is a recent UMW graduate and a longtime resident of Fredericksburg. Her best work comes out of metaphors left to simmer overnight and forgotten until time to do dishes, and she spends much of her time standing over poems, watching for them to boil.
SCHARHAG, Lauren is the author of Under Julia, The Ice Dragon, The Winter Prince and West Side Girl & Other Poems, and the co-author of The Order of the Four Sons series. Her work has appeared most recently in A World of Terror anthology, The SNReview, The Rockhurst Review, Infectus, and Glass: A Journal of Poetry. She is the recipient of the Gerard Manley Hopkins Award for poetry and a fellowship from Rockhurst University for fiction. Currently, she lives in Kansas City with her husband and three cats. Visit her online at http://www.laurenscharhag.blogspot.com/
SINGH, Juptej is a thirteen year old kid with a voice to be heard. He’s the editor of The TMS Times, his school newspaper, and is also on their debate team and participates in the Writing Center. He wrote “The Boy with a Turban” after the Writing Center coordinator told them to write something based on personal things (struggles/stories). He thought it would be a perfect time to educate others about whohe really is and what his community is all about. At the time of writing this he was hit with a surge of racism, so he decided to address that issue as well. He hopes you enjoyed and got a little something out of it. SKILLMAN, Judith Skillman’s recent book is House of Burnt Offerings, Pleasure Boat Studio. Her work has appeared in Cimarron Review, J Journal, Shenandoah, Tampa Review, Prairie Schooner, FIELD, The Iowa Review, Poetry, and elsewhere. Awards include an Eric Mathieu King Fund grant from the Academy of American Poets. Visit judithskillman.com SMITH, Camille Isadora is a writer and actor based in Chicago. She is currently attending Columbia College Chicago for a degree in theater and poetry. She has written for Theatre Unbound’s 24 Hour Play Festival, and collaborated in Kiosk Theatre’s premier production You and I: VERSE at the 2015 Minnesota Fringe Festival. This spring, her work will be featured in Columbia’s Manifest Urban Arts Festival (Two Chairs and a Lightbulb Playwriting Series.) camilleisadorasmith.wordpress.com STERLING, Meghan is a writer and writing teacher who lives in Asheville, North Carolina with her husband and cat. Sterling’s work has been featured or is forthcoming in Red Paint Hill, Cahoodaloodaling, Entropy, Chagrin River Review, Cladesong, Enclave, Clementine Poetry Journal, the Chronogram and others. Visit her online at meghansterling.com. STICE, Lisa Lisa Stice received a BA in English literature from Mesa State College (now Colorado Mesa University) and an MFA in creative writing and literary arts from the University of Alaska Anchorage. She taught high school for ten years and is now a military wife who lives in North Carolina with her husband, daughter and dog. Her full-length poetry collection, Uniform, is forthcoming with Aldrich Press. You can find out more about her and her publications at lisastice.wordpress.com and facebook.com/LisaSticePoet. SUTTON, Jeanne Books and writing have shaped her life, working and otherwise. A book business retiree after 20 years with Borders and Barnes & Noble, Sutton has kept a journal for five decades and counting. She founded the ghostwriting and freelance service, WordsWorth, in Philadelphia in the 1980’s; was copy chief at an ad agency there; and a National Magazine Award nominee for her article “Lifer” in Philadelphia magazine. Her first novel, Blood Sisters (2002), was historical fiction and focused on doomed Queen Marie Antoinette and the Princess who remained her friend to the end. The Kindle edition now available via Amazon is re-titled Antoinette. Sutton is currently seeking representation for her new novel, Beau & Eros, women’s fiction inspired by – let’s just say an interesting life. A published poet and spoken word supporter, she is also active in local theater, and continues to welcome “granny nanny” duty.Though she’s never lived in the Fredericksburg area, it does lie in the same gardening zone as Tuckerton, the southern New Jersey town where she now lives, writes, reads – and gardens.
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STRENTZ, Georgia Lee is an nternationally published writer, columnist, and poet, teacher, California girl, boater, outdoor enthusiast, reader, humanist, and animal advocate. Visit her on Twitter at @GStrentz TOBEY, Sugar was born in Coney Island, Brooklyn in 1962 and received a BFA from School of Visual Arts in Manhattan in 1984. He is currently employed as the owner / director of Painting Restoration in New York. The company specializes in the conservation of modern and contemporary works of art. He lives, writes, and draws pictures in Manhattan’s lower east side. TRAINER, Jim Trainer’s work has appeared in Raw Paw 6: Alien, The Waggle, Philadelphia Stories, Divergent Magazine, Anthology Philly, A Series of Moments and PoetryInk. The release of September coincides with the founding of Yellow Lark Press. Trainer lives in Austin, Texas where he serves as curator of Going For The Throat, a weekly publication of cynicism, outrage, correspondence and romance. Please visit jimtrainer.net for more information. TRUAX, Travis earned his bachelor’s degree in English from Southeastern Oklahoma State University in 2010. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Flyover Country, The Marathon Literary Review, Quarterly West, and The Meadow. After college, he spent several years working in various national parks out west. He currently lives in Bozeman, Montana.
TULLIS, Millie is a student of English and Philosophy at Utah State University. In 2016 she won the Elizabeth R. Curry Poetry Prize.
TUMMINARO, Amanda lives in Illinois with her family. Her poetry has appeared in Hot Metal Bridge, Squawk Back, Digital Papercut, Oddball Magazine and Freshwater, among others. She has also been nominated for a Best of the Net award in 2015 for her poem “Scenes at Puget Sound”.
VEAZEY, Jenna Villforth has made her home in rural Virginia with her family, a stray cat, a mess of chickens, bees and three large dogs. She is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. Her poetry has been in the Fredericksburg Literary and Arts Review and her poems for children have appeared in Baby Bug Magazine and Highlights Hello. You can find her on her blog, stirringsandstories.wordpress.com.
VERDAK, Thea is a British/German who writes minimalist poetry and is keen to convey her interest in nature and the way we are connected to it. She has travelled extensively, including a professional trip to Russia. She worked at The Nasdaq Stock Market, Inc. and was founder of the Rappahannock Humane Society. Thea is the author of The Barn Teacher. She has recently completed Sleepy Jenny, an illustrated poem, to be published shortly. She is currently writing short stories, reads profusely, is an avid walker, and prefers the outdoors. Follow her on Twitter @TheaVerdak.
WADE, Daniel is a poet and author from Dublin, in the Republic of Ireland. He is a graduate of Dún Laoghaire Institute of Art, Design and Technology, where he studied English and Journalism. His poetry has been published in Optic, Limerick Revival, Wordlegs (e-publication), The Stony Thursday Book (ed. Paddy Bushe), HeadSpace Magazine, the Seven Towers 2014 Census, the Bray Arts Journal, The Sea (charity anthology in aid of the RNLI), Sixteen Magazine (e-publication), The Bogman’s Cannon, Iodine Poetry Journal and the Hennessey New Irish Writers’ page of the Irish Times. He has also featured as a guest on Dublin South FM’s Rhyme and Reason poetry program, as well as on Near FM’s Writer’s Block. In June 2015, his radio drama, The Outer Darkness, was broadcast on Dublin South FM. A prolific performer, he has also read his work at various festivals, including the Electric Picnic, Body and Soul, Noeliefest and the West Belfast Festival. In March 2016, his first play for theatre The Collector was staged as a rehearsed reading in the New Theatre. Visit him online at danielwadeauthor.com
WARNER, Cathy is a writer, editor, occasional blogger, realtor, and home renovator in Puget Sound. She earned an MFA in Creative Writing from Seattle Pacific University, and her short stories and essays have appeared in dozens of print journals and online venues including a Best American Essays nomination from Under the Sun, and a Pushcart Prize nomination from So To Speak. Her first book of poetry, Burnt Offerings, was published in 2014 (eLectio). Find her at cathywarner.com, on her blog, This or Something Better, on Twitter @cathyjwarner or Facebook.
WARZECHA, Jeffrey is the recipient of the Leslie Leeds Poetry Prize awarded by The Connecticut Review, earned an MFA from Lesley University and has recent work in The Connecticut Review, The Suisun Valley Review, and elsewhere online and in print. WEITZMAN, Sarah Brown, a Pushcart Prize nominee, has been widely published in hundreds of journals and anthologies including The North American Review, Miramar, New Ohio Review, Thema, Rattle, Mid-American Review, Poet Lore, The Bellingham Review, Ekphrasis, Spillway and more. She received a Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. A departure from poetry, her fourth book Herman and the Ice Witch is a children’s novel published by Main Street Rag.
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WESTERMARK, Valerie began to explore poetry in 7th grade English and has not been able to untangle herself from it yet. When you meet her, you’ll find she’s quick to say thank you, always stops for the sunset and spends too much time with the people she loves. Her poetry has been published in numerous journals and she is the current recipient of the Door Is Ajar Award for 2016.
WRIGHT, Brian lives in Ireland with his wife and two sleepy pit bulls who were rescued from a dog pound. All four moved to Ireland from New York about six months ago. Brian was an advertising executive, but found the purposeful deceit and long hours disheartening. He walked out of what had become a trap and hasn’t looked back. He and his wife bought a stone schoolhouse in the farm country of County Leitrim. The house was built in 1891 and was where the Irish patriot and martyr Sean McDermott received his early education. Brian writes about things that interest him that he can craft into coherent stories. His work can be seen in Three Penny Review, Intrinsic(k), Clockwise Cat, Scarlet Leaf and Jelly Bucket.
YEE, Jada For Jada Yee, early mornings are the ideal time to chip away at tireless thoughts. It’s a time to regain a sense of purpose. It’s amazing how quickly potential can disappear when one works in retail. Let’s just say, writing helps restore that dignity. Jada’s work can be found in Crack the Spine, Poydras Review, Mad Swirl, Tipsy Lit, Underground Books (The Kitchen Poet), The Write Place At The Write Time and Vine Leaves Literary Journal.
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FLAR / Spring 2016 / Volume 4, Issue 1
Visit us online at: fredericksburgwriters.com Fredericskburg Literary and Art Review FredLitReview
Submissions for the Fall 2016 edition of Fredericksburg Literary and Art Review will open on August 1, 2016. Visit our website for submission guidelines and instructions. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org .
F EST IVAL Coming September 24, 2016 in Downtown Fredericksburg, VIrginia Calling all writers, publishers, bookbinders, letterpress artists and designers of stationery products! Contact email@example.com for more information. Follow us for all the latest updates and developments: Fredericksburg Independent Book Festival @FredBKFest
FLAR is an independently published literary and art magazine located in Fredericksburg, Virginia.