Fluent Fall 2014

Page 1


Fall 2014 | Vol 3 No 1

Embracing Ambiguity An Interview with James Kline American Conservation Film Festival 2014 The Dance Between Conservation & Art Trash Dance Art From Above: The World as Seen by SkyTtruth Bodices for Goddesses Eyes, Ears & Soul Steve Kemp Poetry Frank X Walker Fiction Zachary Davis Ed:Cetera Post-Individualism: A Tentative Manifesto Coda Yard Art “Untitled” by James Kline


Fall 2014

Embracing Ambiguity An Interview with James Kline

American Conservation Film Festival ACFF 2014

The Dance Between Conservation & Art Trash Dance

Art From Above: The World as Seen by SkyTruth

Bodices for Goddesses The Exhibit

2 | fluent

Letter From the Editor Art & Purpose

Ears, Eyes & Soul Steve Kemp

Poetry Frank X Walker

Fiction Zachary Davis

Ed:Cetera The Clear and Present Danger of‌

Coda Yard Art

fluent | 3

C O N T R I B U T O R S AMY MATHEWS AMOS has worked at the interface of environmental science and public policy for 25 years as an analyst, advocate, consultant and now writer. Her writing has appeared in The Washington Post, Pacific Standard, Blue Ridge Press and elsewhere. She serves on the Boards of the American Conservation Film Festival and Marine Conservation Institute. Follow her on Twitter: @AmyMatAm TODD COYLE is a journeyman musician who has performed in and around the Eastern Panhandle of WV and around the country for over 30 years. He has worked in folk, blues, pop, jazz and country bands as a guitarist, bassist, singer, producer and sound man. ZACH DAVIS is an award-winning writer whose work has appeared in numerous publications in print and online, such as Carve, The First Line, Bartleby Snopes, Drunk Monkeys and numerous volumes of the Anthology of Appalachian Writers. He is the Fiction Editor of Fluent Magazine.

sand dunes, bays, and other coastal scenes caught his attention. MARK MUSE is a photographer and printmaker. He photographs mostly landscapes.

Fall 2014 | Vol 3 No 1 Nancy McKeithen Editor & Publisher

CARL SCHULTZ has lived in Harpers Ferry since 1995, having moved to WV from Bethesda, MD. He has been doing photography for about 10 years, primarily in black and white film. But now, forced by technological change, he has begun, belatedly, to move into digital.

Sheila Kelly Vertino Associate Editor

HALI TAYLOR is a portrait photographer from Shepherdstown, WV. Her book On the Wall is a selection of the portraits she has made of people in and around the area.

Amy Mathews Amos, Ed Zahniser

SHEILA VERTINO is returning to her roots as a freelance writer and journalist, after a career as a magazine editor-inchief and book and research publisher. Based in Shepherdstown, she describes herself as a culturally curious word nerd.

CURT MASON of Summit Point, WV, is a native Southern Californian whose love of photography germinated almost 35 years ago while working as an oceanographer on the Outer Banks, where

ED ZAHNISER’s poems have appeared in 5 books, 5 chapbooks, 10 anthologies, and over 150 magazines and other venues. He is co-editor of In Good Company, an anthology of area poets celebrating Shepherdstown’s 250th anniversary.

A D V E R T I Z E R S Over the Mountain Studio Tour Mark Muse Photographs

9 9


Capture Marketing The Bridge Gallery

Cheryl L. Serra Managing Editor Kathryn Burns Visual Arts Editor Zachary Davis Fiction Editor Tom Donlon Poetry Editor Todd Coyle Music Editor Contributing Writers Contributing Photographers Curt Mason, Mark Muse, Carl Schultz, Hali Taylor Submissions For information on submitting unsolicited fiction, nonfiction, plays and poetry, please see the website: www.fluent-magazine.com/submissions. Please submit events and arts news to events@fluent-magazine.com. Fluent Magazine is published quarterly and distributed via email. It is available online at www.fluent-magazine.com. To subscribe www.fluent-magazine.com/subscribe All rights reserved. No portion of this publication may be duplicated or reprinted without permission from the publisher. © 2014 Fluent Magazine

11 61 Jefferson County, WV is a Certified Arts Community.

Missed an Issue? Summer 2014 Subscribe! Fluent Magazine

Art & Purpose “What is the purpose of art?” is a question we often ask artists during an interview for the magazine. It’s seems particularly relevant to this issue of fluent. You’ll find answers to it in features on the American Conservation Film Festival (acff), SkyTruth and the “Bodices for Goddesses” project — all of which have ties to purposeful endeavors. If you’re passionate about a specific conservation issue — climate change, clean water or endangered species, for example — you’re likely to find it covered in the line-up of this year’s acff, in five venues around Shepherdstown. The four-day weekend of films, workshops, discussions, speakers, awards and wrap parties begins on October 30th. The SkyTruth team keeps an eye — literally — on conservation and ecosystems as well, monitoring the environment and man-made impacts on it through satellite imagery. By showing what’s wrong with the planet they sometimes show an incongruous kind of beauty in images that resemble abstract art. “Bodices for Goddesses” is both recognition of October as Breast Cancer Month and tribute to those whose lives have been touched by the disease. As complement to an annual summer fundraiser in Shepherdstown, the collection of sculptures — painted, crocheted, wrapped, fabricated, constructed and crafted — is now on exhibit at Hagerstown Community College’s Kepler Gallery through October 30th. All art. Each with purpose: to enlighten and inspire.

Pink-lit Shepherdstown, dressed for Identity Crisis 2014, an annual fundraiser for breast cancer.

Nancy McKeithen Editor & Publisher

PHOTO Mark Muse Photographs

fluent | 5


Being Steve Kemp BY TODD COYLE

With an appreciation of history, a classy sensibility and a deep well of chops, Steve Kemp is the perfect example of simple perfection, of what a guitar player can become when he stays true to the past and open to the moment. A must-see for local aspiring players, Steve carries with him a wealth of knowledge and a style like no other. fluent What are your earliest memories of the

guitar? First band? Early inspirations? Where did the obsession begin?

sk As a boy I had a record of “Tom Dooley” by The Kingston Trio, and like most folk music the guitar was prominent in the mix and really caught my ear. Though that style wouldn’t figure heavily into my musical future it certainly put me on the path. I listened to that record until it was scratched, worn and unplayable. My first guitar was a Sears Cortez, which I nicked from my brother. It was such a piece of junk I had to play it flat on my lap using my thumb to fret notes… which may explain my later fascination with slide guitar and various tunings. When Rock & Roll found me, it wasn’t long before I had my first electric guitar — an Imperial — and yes, another piece of junk. But the process of discovery had begun and musical friendships were being forged while trying to decode and play music new to our young ears. The Beatles, Rolling Stones and Yardbirds had our attention for certain, but I began listening to more R&B / Roots / Blues music and became interested in its origins while trying to emulate its performers. This would have been around the time I was 16 or 17 years old, and at that point my musical curiosity became an obsession that continues to this day. Two of my earliest influences were Steve Cropper from the Stax record stable and Mike Bloomfield from Paul Butterfield’s band and Electric Flag. Before long I was completely taken by blues from the 1920s and 30s and listening to Skip James, Bill Broonzy, Charlie Patton, John Hurt and Fred McDowell. fluent World War II has played a big role in your

life. How did it affect your music? What’s the story behind “Supine Sue?”

sk I’m blessed to be in a great band with wonderful

musicians. The Wilson Brothers (formerly Cloud9) have been together for 3 or 4 years. We really enjoy playing material that is not just danceable but challenging to perform and varied in style. John Sharrer (keyboards) and I played in Love Machine for years and formed the new band with Sean Dennison (bass) and Paul Wilson (drums). I’ve got some side projects coming along as well with players from other bands, and there’s always a tune or two in the works. Several years ago, I got an old banjo and taught myself to play claw-hammer style, which is nicely adaptable to traditional songs and various tunings. For me it comes down to “busy hence happy.” fluent Tell us about your slide technique: What

sk That my Father was a pilot in the war I think

provided a foundation for my lifelong pursuit of things historic, which of course included traditional music forms, so it’s been a good fit all along. His reticence to discuss wartime experiences added to the mystery and fed my imagination with images and notions that would later inform some of my tunes. Air crews would name their planes and often paint images of pin-up girls on the nose, and “Supine Sue” was one of those gals. The name in this case conveyed the image perfectly. Also, I had been reading some letters that my father had written home during his time overseas so I used some of those elements as well. That plus a bit of imagination and the tune “Supine Sue” was born. I still enjoy playing that one. fluent Tell us about your latest project. What’s SK

up to these days?

tunings? Who you learned it from. sk I first became interested in slide guitar after hearing Ry Cooder’s first album, on which he covered Willie Johnson’s “Dark is the Night and Cold the Ground,” so I located a Library of Congress recording of the original and it just stopped me cold. It’s still the most haunting piece of music I know Among all the slide players I studied, Tampa Red (Hudson Whittaker) quickly became and remained my focus for years. He played and recorded with many artists, including Ma Rainey and Frankie Jaxon while also performing with his own band, The Hokum Boys. His playing was very accurate and tasteful so I emulated his technique while adding my own notions along the way. For years I played slide guitar in only an A or G tuning form, but in recent years have begun to enjoy E tuning. This is in no small part influenced by listening to Derek Trucks, whose technique, tone, execution and imagination surpass anything I’ve heard prior. Check him out, you won’t be disappointed. fluent Your top five favorite musicians. Who are

they and why? sk This is a difficult question as my favorite musicians change from time to time, and if asked on a different day the list would change. Here are five that consistently stay in rotation near the top. Derek Trucks: See my answer to the above question. Though I could fill pages with an appreciation of this guy, I’ll let stand my above comment. Mike Bloomfield: His unique sound and ability were so developed at such an early age. Sadly, he also died u fluent | 7

at an early age though thankfully leaving a wealth of recorded treasures…a vault I still visit often. Freddie King: What a powerhouse! There’s nothing more fun than putting on one of his records because it always brings a smile. The way he would bend and shake notes was so unique. It really caught my ear, and I still use his style and phrasing all the time. Bert Jansch: A Scottish guitarist whose 1971 album “Rosemary Lane” had profound effect on my acoustic playing and writing. His use of tunings and string bends, coupled with great traditional song settings and a uniquely subtle voice, provide inspiration every time I give him a listen. Charley Patton: A guitarist/singer from Mississippi who performed around the south in the late 1920s and early 1930s, he combined so many styles of music and made them all his own but is known as a blues guitarist. My favorite Patton tune is “Tom Rushen Blues,” which tells a story of misadventure around the Dockery Plantation where he lived and worked. He was a real showman with a strong gravelly voice and was a hit at dances and parties because he could always be heard above the din…this of course without the aid of powered sound equipment. Also (I know this is number six), I can’t fail to mention Richard Thompson, founding member of Fairport Convention and pioneer in applying traditional music styles to the electric guitar. fluent You’ve played in many types of bands. What’s your perfect band setup? And if you could pick anyone dead or alive to be in it…who? sk I like the four piece format…keyboards, bass, drums and guitar, so my current band, The Wilson Brothers, is a dream given its collective talent and ability to read one another onstage and get along offstage. At the end of the night, it’s a joy instead of a struggle, so everyone is happy. I can’t imagine asking for more. fluent Do you listen to new music? Anyone out

there that excites you? sk “The Goat Rodeo Sessions” featuring Yo-Yo-Ma, Stuart Duncan, Edgar Meyer and Chris Thile. Aiofe O’Donovan’s latest release, “Fossils.” Note: She is also featured on “Here And Heaven” from the above-mentioned sessions. 8 | fluent

fluent You’re known for being a good carpenter.

Besides playing, you also work on your instruments. Is there a spiritual connection to the wood? What’s the one thing a beginning player should learn about a guitar? sk I’ve been fascinated with woodworking all my life and spend lots of time maintaining, tweaking and sometimes repairing my instruments. Each has a unique tonal personality owing to the tone-woods used in the construction. Pick-ups and amplifiers certainly add their own color to an electric guitar’s tone but the woods play a significant role. The construction of guitars both acoustic and electric is such a thing of precision and beauty. fluent Derek and the Dominos, Layla…what does the album, band and song mean to you? sk That album represented the perfect distillation of all musical elements I sought at the time, and still do… instrumental prowess, impassioned songwriting and vocals, recorded in an unstifled, not over-produced manner. I had been a fan of Delaney & Bonnie, so it was natural to follow the evolution of the Dominos from that point. I don’t think they were together more than a year but they sure left an indelible legacy. Listening to the record still suits me just fine. And all the songs have actual endings…none of that slow fade nonsense. fluent Who is your favorite historical figure and why? sk Winston Churchill, because for all his foibles, fail-

ures and eccentricities he seemed to unify an almost defeated Britain in 1940 and persuade Roosevelt to involve the United States in a war that would have had a very different outcome otherwise. I never tire of reading books by or about him and there are endless volumes awaiting. fluent You are an artist in other mediums besides

music. Tell us a little about your other artistic endeavors. sk I’ve always enjoyed drawing and for years worked in pen & ink in a very tight format. Most of those pieces have gotten away from me over the years but I’ve a few left hiding about. In the last five or so years, I have enjoyed painting with oils and find the process quite meditative and relaxing, which was not always the case working in ink. It will remain an enjoyable aside at best, and I have no plans to alienate friends and family by bestowing my paintings as gifts. fluent

Mark Muse – Photographs Fine Art Photography and Printmaking • Portfolio Printing Printing for Exhibition Color and Black&White High Quality Art Reproduction

[\ muse@markmusephotographs.com markmusephotographs.com

the new f word

Arts | Culture | Events fluent-magazine.com | free online subscription

fluent | 9


stay connected on the fluent website read current & past issues find gallery exhibit information access calls for artists, contest & competition info & audition listings get details on arts & culture events submit your own arts/ cultural event find arts classes read arts news subscribe advertise submit work contact us <updated daily>

n in every issue Artist Features Interviews


Ears, Eyes & Soul Poetry Fiction Ed:Cetera Coda

10 | fluent

Are you ready?

The holidays will be here before you know it. Potential Customers will be looking for you.

Will they find you? Do you have a Mobile Site? Is your Website optimized for the Mobile User? Do you offer Mobile Coupons or Rewards? Does your business rank high in a Google Search? Give us a call, CAPTURE Digital Agency can help!


Nearly of consumers say they won’t return to a website if it doesn’t load properly and read easily on their mobile devices. (The Social Media hat)

70% of mobile searches lead to

action within one hour versus one month for PC search users. (Mobile Marketer)

Capture Digital agency

(302) 703-9115 cAptureDigitAlAgency.com

A DigitAl Development, mArketing & ADvertising Agency WitH 25 yeArs oF eXperience mArketing strAtegy, optimizeD Websites, mobile sites, Apps, ppc ADvertising, DigitAl coupons, responsive emAil, +++

embracing ambiguity


ames Kline knew what he wanted to do was paint, but the trip from desire to doing took him to the other side of the world. Growing up in small Keedysville, Maryland, he wasn’t discouraged from pursuing art, but neither was he encouraged. After graduating from the McDonogh School near Baltimore, he headed to Dickinson College in Pennsylvania with thoughts of becoming a French teacher. But there was Vietnam, and so he enlisted in the Navy. He was sent to Brunswick, Maine instead. Two years in the service later and still wanting to paint, he knew it was time to do something about it, when chance stepped in. A friend offered him an apartment with a place to paint on a Greek island. Kline sold his brand-new MG, a rug and a chair to finance his trip, and on his birthday in May that year, he stepped off a plane in Athens and onto a boat for Kythera, in the southern part of the Gulf, between the Peloponnese and Crete. He calls it one of the smartest decisions of his life. The apartment turned out to be a barn — with a bed, cold running water, no electricity, rats and a store nearby. “I loved it!” he laughs. It also gave him a place to paint with no distractions. “I painted

12 | fluent

every day — mostly landscapes and portraits — to see if this was the right thing for me.” He stayed in Greece for nine months, and when he returned home he knew he needed to find an art school. Life, however, intervened and it was two years later when he entered the prestigious Art Students League of New York — the League. “It was wacky as it could be,” he says. “Finally, I felt like I belonged, even though I was older than the other students.” Unlike an academic art school, the League is more studio-style atelier with small classes and no tests, where the learning often comes more through conversation than instruction, where students sign up to study with a particular artist. Kline chose painter Julian Levi, and studied anatomical drawing with Robert Beverly Hale. “I learned the ‘about’ of art more than the ‘howto,’ ” he says, “like the language of the arts, and the ambiguity in it.” At the League his painting, still representational, became less tightly structured, as Levi pushed Kline to experiment, once even calling him a “hopeless romantic. He wanted me to spread my wings, and he was right,” says Kline. Having spent three years there, Kline was contemplating not staying a fourth when he applied u

AN INTERVIEW WITH JAMES KLINE by Nancy McKeithen photographs by Hali Taylor fluent | 13

for — and won, to his surprise — one of the League’s two Edward G. McDowell Traveling Scholarships awarded that year, 1978. And so he traveled for a year throughout Western Europe, visiting and studying paintings at the places on his must-see list — the National Gallery of London, the Louvre, the Prado, the Uffizi and most of Venice. When he returned to NYC, Kline had a show at the Art Students League. Lawrence Campbell, long-time publicist for the League and editor of ArtNews, wrote about it: “James Kline paints landscapes that have the quietness and mood of still life. They evoke the evening.” Not one to exploit his connections, Kline didn’t market Campbell’s quote or his years of study with Levi and Hale. He did start banging on gallery doors and was accepted by the Baumgartner Gallery, on R Street, just off Dupont Circle in D.C., which represented him through four years and three shows. Kline paints every day. “You don’t wait for inspiration, you paint. And you build up a sort of momentum, like an athlete, and you get in shape and the stuff comes,” he says. “And it feeds itself — one painting feeds off another.” Kline believes he doesn’t see his paintings the way most people do. “Because they’re u

14 | fluent


representational-based, that’s the hook — people connect with what they recognize.” Which explains a tendency to often “see” things in his more ambiguous work — a path, a tree, a house. He points to a large painting. “That thing was never intended to be anything specific,” he says. “When you’re struggling with a painting, you have a tendency to fall back on what you know you can do, and the more realistic that is....I wanted to go another direction.” It’s something he fights against. “Basically, I’m teaching myself to paint all the time.” Lately, he thinks, the realism may have been a straitjacket for him, that it “restricted my freedom to go after...these inexplicable essences that are in the center of them all.” He wonders aloud if that sounds pompous. Kline paints in oils generally, in acrylic occasionally. His process of painting has changed a lot over time, he says, noting that he was never one to sit down and “plan” a painting. “Sometimes I’ll just make a mess, like a Rorschach, and then I’ll work out from there.” Kline continues to define his style — when asked — as representational-realist or -based, “but it can wobble in and out of that, in many directions.” Explaining it is a different matter. “The closest I can say is, you’re u

16 | fluent


kind of reaching for a world that is parallel to reality, because even a realist painting is not real — it’s paint on canvas.” Putting into words what he puts into his paintings is difficult. Perhaps that’s why many of his paintings are untitled. And, it’s fine with him if you see different things in his paintings each time you look at them. In fact, he hopes you do. “They’re not specific,” he says. “There should be room for traveling around inside the painting.” Kline is, after all, quite comfortable with ambiguity in art. fluent


James Kline Exhibit A solo exhibit of paintings by James Kline November 8–30 Opening reception: Saturday, November 8, 5–8 pm The Bridge Gallery & Framing 8566 Shepherdstown Pike Shepherdstown, WV 25443 bridgegalleryandframing.com • 304.876.2300


fluent | 19


October 30– November 2


At ACFF, we like to think of each year as a journey. We start the year soliciting great conservation films from around the world. As spring rolls around we begin screening the dozens of submissions we receive, choosing the best and regretfully passing on those that don’t quite fit. In the summer we reach out to filmmakers and other speakers to enhance our program. And in the fall we pull off a remarkable four-day event with conservation films and discussion throughout Shepherdstown. The 2014 festival is a bit of a journey all its own. Films like America’s Amazon and the Battle for Turkey Creek reveal sides of the South most of us have never seen before. The Meaning of Wild and DamNation take us out West to explore America’s untamed wilderness and perhaps overly-tamed rivers. We cross the world’s oceans in Maidentrip, climb mountains in Africa in Snows of the Nile and rediscover an extinct Australian species in Sticky. We See complete schedule of films, page 30. LOCATION KEY BCLS Byrd Center for Legislative Studies NCTC National Conservation Training Center OH Shepherdstown Opera House RH Reynolds Hall 20 | fluent

even travel back in time, to when passenger pigeons blocked out the sky in From Billions to None. But of course there’s no place like home, and Invasive fills us in on the voracious snakeheads now lurking in the Potomac. No need for plane tickets. Just come to the 12th American Conservation Film Festival October 30–November 2. You can find the full schedule at conservationfilm.org. Some highlights of the 2014 American Conservation Film Festival:

AMERICA’S AMAZON, 58 min Filmmakers: Lynn Rabren, Ben Raines The Mobile-Tensaw Delta is the most bio-diverse area in North America. This film provides a visually stunning look at the region, covering everything from the ancient climatic forces that shaped its evolution to its remarkable biological richness to current issues putting increased pressure on its fragile ecosystems. 6:45 pm Thursday BCLS, Block 1, followed by Q&A with Ben Raines photo America’s Amazon

BIG MEN, 99 min — Filmmaker: Rachel Boynton — Big Men takes us on a journey deep into the African oil industry in Nigeria and Ghana, delivering an exposé on the ambition, corruption and greed of oil companies. This film profiles citizens of Ghana and Nigeria whose lives are held hostage as corporations try to maximize profits and exploit the natural resources. 8:45 pm Friday, OH, Block 5 photo Big Men

COME HELL OR HIGH WATER: THE BATTLE FOR TURKEY CREEK, 56 min Filmmaker: Leah Mahan This film follows the journey of Derrick Evans, a Boston teacher who moves home to coastal Mississippi when the graves of his ancestors are bulldozed to make way for the sprawling city of Gulfport. Over the course of a decade, Derrick and his neighbors stand up to powerful corporate interests and politicians and face Hurricane Katrina and the BP oil disaster in their struggle for self-determination and environmental justice. 7:00 pm Saturday, RH, Block 12 DAM NATION, 94 min — Filmmakers: Ben Knight, Travis Rummel, Matt Stoecker — Dam removal has gone beyond the Monkey Wrench Gang and gone mainstream. Where obsolete dams come down, rivers bound back to life, giving salmon and other fish the right to return to spawning grounds. DamNation’s majestic cinematography moves through rivers and landscapes altered by dams. It also captures

a metamorphosis in values, from conquest of the natural world to knowing ourselves as part of nature. 8:30 pm Saturday, RH, Block 12 photo Ben Knight

22 | fluent

LOCATION KEY BCLS Byrd Center for Legislative Studies EMPTYING THE SKIES, 75 min Filmmaker: Douglas Kass, Roger Kass Songbird populations have been drastically declining for several decades, and a number of species face extinction. Based on Jonathan Franzen’s article in The New Yorker, Emptying the Skies chronicles the rampant poaching of migratory songbirds in southern Europe. This film follows an intrepid group of bird-lovers who risk their lives waging a secret war against poachers and the illegal trapping of songbirds. 1:30 pm Saturday, NCTC – Byrd, Block 7

NCTC National Conservation Training Center OH Shepherdstown Opera House RH Reynolds Hall

GROUND OPERATIONS: BATTLEFIELDS TO FARMFIELDS, 40 min Filmmakers: Dulanie Ellis, Raymond Singer Ground Operations: Battlefields to Farmfields champions combat vets who are rebuilding their own lives as organic farmers & ranchers and revitalizing their communities with access to local, affordable, fresh, healthy food. These heroes blow the lid off stereotypes and you’ll be rooting for them all the way to your farmers market. 5:30 pm Sunday, BCLS, Block 17, followed by Q&A

photo Emptying the Skies/©-thierry-nicaise

FROM BILLIONS TO NONE, 57 min — Filmmaker: David Mrazek, Joel Greenberg — From Billions to None reveals how the passenger pigeon, once numbering in the billions in North America, was hunted to extinction in a matter of decades. On September 1, 1914, Martha, the last passenger pigeon in captivity, died in the Cincinnati Zoo, marking the centenary of the extinction. 8:15 pm Thursday, BCLS, Block 1, with Awards Presentation and Q&A with David Blockstein, Joel Greenberg and David Mrazek, and 4:24 pm Sunday, OH, Block 16 Photo From Billions to None

photo Growing Cities

GROWING CITIES, 58 min — Filmmaker: Dan Susman — Growing Cities is an inspiring new film about urban farming in America. It follows gardeners and everyday people who are transforming their communities one vacant lot, beehive, and rooftop farm at a time. Along the way, viewers discover urban agriculture is about a whole lot more than simply good food. 4:30 pm Sunday, BCLS, Block 17

INVASIVE, 9 min Filmmakers: Ethan Oser, Gabriel Felder, Paul Blake The Northern Snakehead is a monster and has invaded the Potomac River, but Maryland and Virginia have very different ways of dealing with this invasive species. Do we leave them be or eat them until they are all gone? [S] 7:00 pm Friday, BCLS, Block 4 followed by Q&A with Ethan Oser photo Invasive

24 | fluent

ISLAND OF LEMURS: MADAGASCAR, 39 min Filmmakers: David Douglas, Drew Fellman Morgan Freeman narrates the incredible adventures of nature’s greatest explorers — lemurs. Originally an IMAX 3D release, this family-friendly film takes audiences on a spectacular journey to the remote and wondrous world of Madagascar, where lemurs arrived millions of years ago as castaways. They’ve since evolved into hundreds of diverse species, but are now highly endangered. 12:00 pm Saturday, NCTC–Family, Block 7, followed by Q&A discussion with primatologist Mireya Mayor photo Island of Lemurs: Madagascar

photo Love in the Tetons

LOVE IN THE TETONS, 9 min Filmmakers: Amy Marquis, Dana Romanoff Fifteen years ago, Juan Martinez stepped off a bus in Grand Teton and saw the stars for the first time in his life. This debut film in the NPX series reveals the journey that led Juan to the Tetons, his wife and his renewed vision of the American Dream. 5:05 pm Saturday NCTC–Byrd, Block 9 and 2:45 pm Sunday, OH, Block 15

LOVE THY NATURE, 75 min — Filmmaker: Sylvie Rokab — Narrated by Liam Neeson —  Love Thy Nature takes viewers on an awe-inspiring cinematic journey into the beauty and intimacy of our relationship with the natural world. Neeson is the voice of “Sapiens” — our collective humankind — who faces possible death due to the severity of Earth’s environmental crisis. Inspired by experts’ insights, Sapiens awakens to the realization that a renewed connection with nature holds the key to a highly advanced new era in human evolution. 9:00 pm Saturday, OH, Block 11

LOCATION KEY BCLS Byrd Center for Legislative Studies NCTC National Conservation Training Center OH Shepherdstown Opera House RH Reynolds Hall

fluent | 25

MAPPING THE BLUE, 29 min — Filmmaker: Alison Barrat In 2012 the Cook Islands announced the largest Marine Park on Earth. In stunning 4K imagery this film tells the story of how Kevin Iro, founder of the park, and his team use a high-tech GIS system to designate multi-use areas inside the pristine park. 1:40 pm Saturday, OH, Block 6 followed by Q&A with Alison Barrat

26 | fluent

photo Living Oceans Foundation

photo First Run Features

MAIDENTRIP, 82 min — Filmmakers: Laura Dekker, Jillian Schlesinger Fourteen-year-old Laura Dekker sets out, camera in hand, on a two-year voyage in pursuit of her dream to be the youngest person ever to sail around the world alone. In the wake of a year-long battle with Dutch authorities, and global media scrutiny, Laura finds herself far from land, family and unwanted attention, exploring the world in search of freedom and adventure. 8:00 pm Thursday, OH, Block 2

SEARCH FOR THE BIG SEVEN, 26 min Filmmaker: Francois Odendaal Five youngsters set off on a wild adventure in the vast Addo Elephant National Park, the only place in the world where the Big Seven are found. Close encounters with magnificent beasts teach them more about themselves and our role as custodians of a small blue planet. 1:30 pm Saturday, NCTC – Family, Block 8

SCHOOL’S OUT, 36 min Filmmakers: Lisa Molomot, Rona Richter No classroom for these school children: This film takes us to a kindergarten in Switzerland where children ages 4 to 7 spend every day outside in the forest. The film follows the children, educators and parents through one school year and looks at an educational structure that embraces environment and exploration. 2:15 pm Saturday NCTC – Family, Block 8 and 2:15 pm Sunday, BCLS Block 13

photo Snows of the Nile

SNOWS OF THE NILE, 20 min — Filmmakers: Nate Dappen, Neil Loin — Uganda’s Rwenzori Mountains rise 5000m from the heart of Africa. At their summits, are some of Earth’s only equatorial glaciers. Snows of the Nile follows two scientist/photographers on an expedition to retrace the steps of the Duke of Abruzzi’s legendary 1906 expedition and re-capture the famous glacier photographs taken by Vittorio Sella in order to visualize the impacts of a century of climate change. 7:15 pm Thursday, OH, Block 2, followed by Q&A with Nate Dappen

photo School’s Out

RETURN TO THE TEPUIS, 10 min Filmmaker: Jenny Nichols “I hear the most beautiful sound in the world,” says Dr. Bruce Means referring to the call of a toad that he and his expedition team travelled to the tops of the Tepuis of South America to find. In this short film, the team braves the elements and Means’ first time repels into crevices in search of the elusive pebble toad. 7:00 pm Thursday, OH, Block 2

photo Sticky

STICKY, 20 min Filmmaker: Jilli Rose Exiled from the tropical paradise where they evolved, a handful of remarkable stick insects clung to life on a single, windswept bush on the world’s tallest sea stack for 80 years. Now they’re back from the brink of extinction, but when can they go home? Sticky tells a wonderfully positive Australian conservation success story, celebrating the persistence of life, the adventure and passion embedded in science, and the little creatures underfoot. 12:55 pm Saturday, OH, Block 6 and 2:55 pm Sunday, OH, Block 15

TRASH DANCE, 68 min Filmmaker: Andrew Garrison Choreographer Allison Orr finds beauty and grace in garbage trucks, and in the unseen men and women who pick up our trash. Filmmaker Andrew Garrison follows Orr as she rides along with Austin sanitation workers on their daily routes to observe and later convince them to perform a most unlikely spectacle. On an abandoned airport runway, two dozen trash collectors and their trucks deliver — for one night only — a stunningly beautiful and moving performance, in front of an audience of thousands. 7:00 pm Saturday, OH, Block 11, followed by Award Presentation and Skype Q&A with Andrew Garrison and 5:30 pm Sunday, OH, Block 16

“Glass calm sunset in Fords Terror - Tracy Arm Fords Terror Wilderness,” photo Justin DeShields

THE MEANING OF WILD, 30 min — Filmmaker: Ben Hamilton — The Meaning of Wild takes viewers on a journey through one of our nation’s wildest landscapes, the Tongass National Forest of Alaska. The film follows wildlife cameraman Ben Hamilton as he travels by boat, plane, kayak and foot to share the true value of wilderness. 3:15 Saturday, NCTC, Block 9 and 2:12 Sunday, OH, Block 15

LOCATION KEY BCLS Byrd Center for Legislative Studies NCTC National Conservation Training Center OH Shepherdstown Opera House RH Reynolds Hall

UNACCEPTABLE LEVELS, 90 min Filmmaker: Ed Brown On average, all of us have over 232 industrial chemicals floating around in our bodies, and the research is showing that this is now a huge reason for concern. From health care to regulations, we explore every angle of this issue to provide others with the big picture so people can make up their own minds to determine what is acceptable in their own lives. 4:40 pm Saturday, OH, Block 10

photo “Muddy Boots,” ML Lincoln

WRENCHED, 93 min Filmmaker: ML Lincoln Wrenched captures the passing of the monkey wrench from the pioneers of eco-activism to the new generation which will carry Edward Abbey’s legacy into the 21st century. The fight continues to sustain the last bastion of the American wilderness — the spirit of the West. [some profanity] 6:30 pm Friday, NCTC – Byrd, Block 3 fluent

WE ARE THE LAND, 14 min — Filmmakers: Drew Heskett, Lauren Lindberg, Ryan Westra — Amidst national controversy surrounding the potential dangers of hydraulic fracturing, or ‘fracking,’ environmental activist Pauline Matt stands alone to protect her native homeland — the Blackfeet Reservation of northern Montana. [S] 8:00 pm Saturday, RH, Block 12, with Student Film Award Presentation, and 4:00 pm Sunday, OH, Block 16

photo We Are the Land

fluent | 29



BLOCK 1: BYRD CENTER FOR LEGISLATIVE STUDIES 6:45 America’s Amazon, followed by Q&A with Ben Raines 8:15 Broadcast Award Presentation for From Billions to None, followed by Q&A with David Blockstein, Joel Greenberg and David Mrazek

BLOCK 6: OPERA HOUSE 12:30 Well Fished [S] 12:55 Sticky 1:15 Earth, Water, Woman 1:40 Mapping the Blue, followed by Q&A with Alison Barrat 2:30 The Last Ocean

BLOCK 2: OPERA HOUSE 7:00 Return to the Tepuis 7:15 Snows of the Nile, followed by Q&A with Nate Dappen 8:00 Maidentrip Opening Night Gathering at domestic restaurant 117 East German Street (Cash Bar) 10:00 – midnight

FRIDAY, OCTOBER 31 BLOCK 3: NCTC BYRD AUDITORIUM FREE OF CHARGE 6:30 Wrenched (WARNING: Some profanity) BLOCK 4: BYRD CENTER FOR LEGISLATIVE STUDIES 7:00 Invasive [S] followed by Q&A with Ethan Oser 7:30 Nokhoi Zeekh: In Search of Wolverine 7:40 The Race to Save Pennsylvania’s Bats 8:15 The Phantom Wolves of Sun Valley BLOCK 5: OPERA HOUSE 8:45 Big Men Green Carpet Costume Party at domestic restaurant (Cash Bar) 10:00 – midnight

BLOCK 7: NCTC BYRD AUDITORIUM FREE OF CHARGE 12:00 Island of Lemurs: Madagascar, followed by a Q&A with Mireya Mayor 1:30 Emptying the Skies BLOCK 8: NCTC FAMILY THEATER FREE OF CHARGE 1:30 Search for the Big Seven 2:00 America’s Wilderness: Dinosaurs in the Desert—Petrified Forest Wilderness 2:06 The Green Ninja: Styrofoam Man [S] 2:15 School’s Out 3:00 A Penguin’s Life in the City 3:03 Crazy Monster Frog BLOCK 9: NCTC BYRD AUDITORIUM FREE OF CHARGE 3:00 America’s Wilderness: We Remember—A History of the Saguero 3:10 America’s Wilderness: North Cascades Wilderness— Experience the Awesome 3:15 The Meaning of Wild 4:15 Aerial America: Wilderness 5:05 Love in the Tetons, followed by Q&A with Juan Martinez and Vanessa Torres BLOCK 10: OPERA HOUSE 4:00 Postcards from Climate Change—Postcard from Asheville 4:10 Postcards from Climate Change—Postcard from the Rockaways followed by Q&A with Melissa Thompson 4:40 Unacceptable Levels

30 | fluent

continued BLOCK 11: OPERA HOUSE 7:00 Trash Dance, followed by Green Fire Award Presentation and Skype Q&A with Andrew Garrison 9:00 Love Thy Nature BLOCK 12: REYNOLDS HALL 7:00 Come Hell or High Water: The Battle for Turkey Creek 8:00 Student Award Presentation for We Are the Land [S] 8:30 DamNation Saturday Night Wrap Party at the Blue Moon Café (Cash Bar) 10:00 – midnight Sponsored by Fallon Insurance and Younis Orthodontics

SHEPHERDSTOWN LOCATIONS Byrd Center for Legislative Studies (BCLS) 213 North King Street on Shepherd University Campus Opera House (OH) 131 West German Street NCTC Byrd Auditorium (NCTC-Byrd) 698 Conservation Way – Main Building domestic restaurant 117 East German Street

SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 2 BLOCK 13: BYRD CENTER FOR LEGISLATIVE STUDIES Join us for this DOUBLE BLOCK of Community Interest Films 12:00 Ticked Off: The Mystery of Lyme Disease 1:00 The New Green Giants 2:15 School’s Out 3:00 The Hailey Community Climate Challenge BLOCK 14: OPERA HOUSE 12:00 PSA: What does it take to restore the Chesapeake Bay 12:08 From the Field: American Black Duck 12:15 Passion for Pike 12:45 Carpe Diem: A Fishy Tale BLOCK 15: OPERA HOUSE 2:00 America’s Wilderness: Dinosaurs in the Desert—Petrified Forest Wilderness 2:12 The Meaning of Wild 2:45 Love in the Tetons 2:55 Sticky BLOCK 16: OPERA HOUSE 2014 Award-Winning Films 4:00 We Are the Land [S] 4:24 From Billions to None 5:30 Trash Dance BLOCK 17: BYRD CENTER FOR LEGISLATIVE STUDIES 4:30 Growing Cities 5:30 Ground Operations: Battlefields to Farmfields, followed by a Q&A

NCTC FAMILY THEATER (NCTC-Family) 698 Conservation Way–151 Instructional West Building REYNOLDS HALL (RH) 109 North King Street on Shepherd University Campus Blue Moon Café 200 East High Street (Corner of Princess & High streets)

For additional information: www.conservationfilm.org

fluent | 31

THE DANCE BETWEEN RIGHT FROM THE START, I was captivated by this film. Choreographer Allison Orr’s (right) enthusiasm was infectious, her vision unique, and her personality irresistible. Filmmaker Andrew Garrison introduces her to us by asking the ultimate question; namely, what’s this all about? It’s two days before her big show — the show in which the nervous staff and big trucks and impressive equipment of Austin’s trash department will perform a sort of mechanized dance before an overflow crowd in a vast parking area on a rainy summer night. The film is called Trash Dance, and it’s the Green Fire Award winner at this fall’s American Conservation Film Festival (ACFF) in Shepherdstown. u

Choreographer Allison Orr’s unique vision led to a sold-out performance by workers and equipment from the Austin, Texas trash department.


photo Amitava Sarkar. Courtesy of Forklift Danceworks



fluent | 33

Allison doesn’t immediately anwer that question, and so throughout the film we’re left to ponder it on our own. On the surface, one could say it’s about appreciation: Appreciating the hard work that goes into collecting the unfathomable amount of garbage a city like Austin, Texas generates each week. One might also say it’s about awareness: Forcing people to think about the unthinkable volume of waste they generate every day. A conservationist (like me) might be searching for those markers in a film submitted to a conservation film festival, particularly when she sits on the selection committee for that festival (as I do). But to be honest, those markers aren’t there. In fact, while working shifts with the collection crews to understand their work and help shape her vision for the dance, Allison asks trash collector Charles Ledbetter if he ever gets depressed on the job, seeing all the stuff that people throw away. Charles bluntly answers no, because all that garbage keeps him in a job. Enough said. In this single scene, Andrew quickly

dispenses with the trite perspective that a largely liberal white audience might expect, and moves on to what the project — and the film — is really all about.

Trash Dance inspires the best in people by illuminating others’ art. He follows Allison and the crew through the months leading up to the performance as she scopes how the department’s different divisions — recycling, litter abatement, trash collection, yard waste and dead animal removal — operate, and the interests and talents of the people who operate them. What emerges isn’t sadness, but pride. Pride in providing needed city services. Pride in rising at 2:30 am when everyone else is asleep, putting in a hard day’s work, and handling

Don Anderson makes his crane dance during rehearsal.

34 | fluent

photo Andrew Garrison

photo Andrew Garrison

Performers take their bows with choreographer Allison Orr.

tasks that others couldn’t hack. Pride in kids and families and working a second job to make ends meet. A wise and warm choreographer, Allison recognizes the individual talents each worker brings to the project and integrates them into the show. Orange Jefferson is a master harmonica player, Anthony Phillips a competitive roller break-dancer, Don Anderson a truck rodeo winner (yes, there is such a thing) and Ivory Jackson a hip-hop composer. In on-camera interviews, the largely African-American and Latino workers share their multi-faceted lives beyond trash, and the reasons why they decided to donate so much of their precious time to the crazy white lady’s project. We meet the individuals behind the garbage collectors. So why is Trash Dance an award winner at a conservation film festival? Because it’s a great film and because it inspires. Trash Dance the film is a masterful metaphor for Trash Dance the performance. The cinematography is often a dance in itself: When a crew is cleaning up after a crowded street festival, Andrew sets their efficiently coordinated movements to music, as perfectly timed as the receptacle one worker expertly sends skittering through traffic to the disposal truck across the street. But more broadly, Allison reveals at the end of the film what her project is all about: Namely, providing people the opportunity to show themselves — in a very personal way — to folks

they may never see again, and for people who don’t even know each other to leave feeling more connected through a shared experience. And that’s exactly what Andrew Garrison accomplished with his film. He allows us to connect with the crew as individuals, not just trash collectors, despite our geographic or socioeconomic differences. ACFF’s mission is to promote outstanding film and the arts to educate and inspire people to become engaged in conservation. Saving the world doesn’t happen without the vision to see what’s possible and the inspiration to overcome the inevitable obstacles. And it doesn’t happen unless we all recognize our shared experience on Earth. Trash Dance inspires the best in people by illuminating others’ art. For that reason, it’s one of the highlights of the 2014 festival. Oh yeah — and it reminds us to reduce, recycle and reuse, too. fluent See Trash Dance at ACFF: Saturday, 7 pm, Opera House, Shepherdstown, WV, Trash Dance, followed by Green Fire Award Presentation and Skype Q&A with filmmaker Andrew Garrison Sunday, 5:30 pm, Opera House fluent | 35



36 | fluent



erving as a watchdog for the Big Blue Marble is the mission of Shepherdstown-based SkyTruth. To track human-caused changes to landscapes and ecosystems around the world, SkyTruth

daily scans free satellite imagery from USGS, NASA and occasionally

from the European Space Agency, among other sources of imagery and data. “Whether the issue is flaring in Nigeria, coal mining in Appalachia,

If you can see it, you can change it. —SkyTruth

drilling in Pennsylvania, deforestation in Siberia or uncontrolled fishing on the high seas, SkyTruth is watching,” explains David Manthos, Communications Director. “And we’re trying to make it easier for everyone to watch the special places they care about.” A single pixel in these images can represent an area the size of a baseball diamond. “So looking at a Landsat image is not like looking at your house in Google Earth,” laughs Manthos. But with the right tools and information, SkyTruth and their dedicated volunteers (called skytruthers) pore over imagery, looking for a tiny gray dot or sludge-filled pond that can indicate man-made impacts on the environment. “A lot of what we do is not artistic, not pretty,” says Manthos. “More often than not, we’re showing what’s wrong.” And yet, as the images here attest, the Big Blue Marble is indeed home to a beauty very rare. u

Iceland Volcano (left): Lava flows from the angry pink gash in this Landsat 8 image of Iceland’s Bárðarbunga Volcano. fluent | 37

The earth’s a Big Blue Marble When you see it from out there The sun and moon declare Our beauty’s very rare Theme song from “Big Blue Marble,” PBS series, 1974–1983

Visit SkyTruth’s website & Facebook page

Hurricane Isaac (below): That whirling tempest caused severe petrochemical and fossil fuel pollution when Hurricane Isaac hit the coastal cities around the Gulf of Mexico (seen here as splashy white clusters). SkyTruth monitors these storms, notes Manthos, because “We believe this is a particularly important issue as pressure is building to expand offshore oil and gas development to new coastlines, including hurricane-prone regions of the Eastern Seaboard like Virginia and North Carolina.” BP Oil Spill (top right): Sun glint reflecting on the water’s surface in images like this helped SkyTruth to correctly estimate the extent of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, originally under-reported by BP. Center-Pivot Irrigation (right, bottom): Often visible on cross-country flights, these curious circle patterns in Haskell County, Kansas are made by center-pivot irrigation systems, each revolving around a well that taps the aquifer beneath, potentially depleting it. “You could do a calculation if you knew how much area of this image is being irrigated,” explains Manthos, “and you would know roughly on a day-by-day basis, how much water they are drawing down.” u

fluent | 39

Fish Pens: Appearing as geometric fingers reaching into China’s North Bohai Sea, fish pens and other man-made reservoirs for aquaculture and salt-collection reveal “a human impact on Earth that is very visible when you view it from space,� says Manthos. In other coastland areas, mangrove forests have been removed and replaced with these pens, eliminating a natural buffer against tsunamis and storm surge. u

40 | fluent

fluent | 41

42 | fluent

Cloud Cover (left): Composite view of world cloud cover shows clear skies (blue) over desert areas, cloudy (red) over the rainforests and places in the ocean where storms typically develop. Landsat Map (left, bottom): Looking somewhat like a wooden pallet upcycle project, “This is our regular view of the Earth,” says Manthos about this composite image of the Lower 48 states stitched together from the first year of Landsat 8 captures. Ice Mosaic (below): These ice islands — some larger than Manhattan — occupied the Kara Sea only a month before a drilling rig arrived to probe for oil in Russia’s territorial waters. “What is so worrying about drilling in the Arctic? Aside from the unforgiving weather that can tear a 28,000-ton drill rig from its support vessels and drive it ashore, there are no technologies proven to clean up spilled oil from the ice that covers the region most of the year,” warns Manthos. fluent


By Nancy McKeithen n Photographs by Mark Muse


he seed of an idea was for local artists to paint mannequin torsos and place them in merchant windows around the small town of Shepherdstown, WV, to complement an annual summer fundraiser for breast cancer. Then, artist Cynthia Fraula-Hahn took it personally — literally. Fraula-Hahn wanted “to make women who had battled breast cancer feel special and beautiful.” So instead of painting impersonal styrofoam models, she created sculptures of real women and men — some breast cancer survivors, some with a mastectomy, different ages, different body types — by “wrapping” their torsos with plaster-embedded gauze. The result was eight unique plaster casts, which she shared with other artists to adorn. Collectively, they became the “Bodices for Goddesses” project. Paint, however, wasn’t the only medium used. Some sculptures were embellished with fabric, paper, pearls and lettering. Together, FraulaHahn and project co-organizer Bernardine Somers of Morgan Academy contacted area artists inspired by the project, who in turn created bodices—from yarn, metal, stone, porcelain and wood. Upcycle artist Roselyn Mendez created her bodice from recycled materials and scrap metal, including a vintage serving tray, a colander and steamer basket, and can lids, all held together with rivets and machine screws. Now, the thirteen bodices—previously on exhibit in Shepherdstown storefronts, including Mellow Moods, Bistro 112, Steppin ’Out, Now & Then, Plum, The Good Shop and The Rug Store — are traveling to Hagerstown, MD for an exhibit in the Kepler Gallery at Hagerstown Community College. Fraula-Hahn would like to do more wrappings, and allows herself to dream: “I can see fifty of them. I can see a hundred…exhibits in different locations…even a national tour.” For her, “Bodices for Goddesses” is a personal journey as well. A very dear friend now fighting and living with breast cancer inspired the project, which has also “given back” to Fraula-Hahn. “When I moved here five years ago, after the untimely and unnecessary death of my husband, I was broken,” she tells. “This project has inspired me and restored my passion in the studio.”

“In conjunction with IDENTITY CRISIS 2014 — an annual summer fundraiser in the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia for the fight against breast cancer — these sculptures were created to raise awareness of Breast Cancer Awareness of Cumberland Valley [BCA-CV], a unique charity that helps women who are dealing with breast cancer. What makes this nonprofit unique is that everything they do is free to any woman who walks through their door. Women of Shepherdstown volunteered to model for this project. We honor them and thank them for their support for a magnificent cause.” — Cynthia Fraula-Hahn

Bodices for Goddesses Exhibit October 5–30 (sponsored by BCA-CV) M–F 8 am–9 pm, Sat–Sun 9 am–5 pm Kepler Gallery, 11512 Kepler Drive Hagerstown Community College

left “This sculpture, ‘Ascension,’ is of a friend who had a mastectomy and partial reconstruction. She said modeling for this project

gave her a sense of community….She used the word ‘ascension’ about her journey and that became the title. I wanted this piece to represent her beauty and bravery. Feathers turning into birds struck me as an image that would honor her. The yellow represents the third chakra, which involves energy, vitality, desire and power.” — Cynthia Fraula-Hahn fluent | 45

right “This is the first sculpture that

I painted in this project. My friend is lovely inside and outside, and so I chose to represent her with irises. They represent faith, hope, wisdom and courage.” below left “This sculpture, like my

friend who modeled for it, is bursting with life and color. The Tiger Lily symbolizes courage and compassion, according to the Buddhists.” below right “I asked my friend who had breast cancer and a single mastectomy 20 years ago about beauty in the natural world that appealed to her. She mentioned the Blue Heron, which according to North American Native tradition represents self-determination and self-reliance, the ability to progress and evolve—the perfect image to use to honor my brave friend.” — Cynthia Farula-Hahn

46 | fluent

“Cherry blossoms are a symbol of life and well being. The Japanese celebrate the cherry tree as a bringer of good fortune.” — Kathryn Bragg-Stella

below “I created something out of nothing. This is one of

below “I wanted to let women know that ‘The Possiblities are

those things women are good at. Often, they are mothers with very limited incomes and very little time...and breast cancer. Still, they are able to facilitate the things that ‘adorn’ our lives. Beauty, color and magic come leaping out of their hearts and into the worlds of the ones they love without spending a dime or an eternity. They firmly believe in miracles.” — Annie Wisecarver

Endless’ through tattooing to reconnect them with their bodies after breast cancer. Tattooing gives me that opportunity…while empowering them to take back control of how they want their bodies to be seen.” www.skinartistryink.com and www.tantrictattoo.com. — Tina Marie, Tattoo Artist

right “‘Reconstruction Venus’ was

inspired by a number of cancer survivors and their determination to fight the disease. This piece is carved from Sweet Gum, a very hard, dense wood. “With this work, I want to assure women who are struggling with the aftermath of surgery that true beauty does not come from the shape or form of your body but rather the beauty of your soul. It is who you are that makes you beautiful, not what you look like.” — Greg McNabb

48 | fluent

above “I am enamored with the art forms from centuries ago…the Greeks and Romans…the movement and inspired

poses. My vision seems to come from archetypes—defenders and prophets, things that are timeless. Sitting atop a piece of limestone, this work shows the female torso almost bursting with robust roundness, her generous nature, heart and soul barely contained.” — Joan Bontempo

fluent | 49

right “As I painted the plaster cast, I thought of the

sufferers, and their iron bravery. I thought of Wagner’s operatic goddesses in their breastplates, which led to the title ‘Bodices for Goddesses.’ But a goddess in a breastplate is more than a warrior in armor. I did not want to do warrior armor alone. I wanted to do gentle, feminine, decorative armor. Grace as well as valor. The women in my family were my guide.” — Neal Delano Martineau below left “ ‘The Mastectomy Venus’ is my tribute

to my grandmother, who worked for the Manhattan Project during WWII, in the secret city of Oak Ridge, TN. Her job operating a calutron separated uranium for the creation of the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. She died of breast cancer in 1977, brought on as direct result of her exposure to radiation during her time at Oak Ridge.” — Emily Vaughn below right “Big hearts, interlocking and

interweaving, is my interpretation of this man who had breast cancer. After meeting him, I realized the image that kept coming to mind was his big heart.” — Cynthia Fraula-Hahn

Above “My bodice is constructed of upcycled and scrap metal joined together with rivets and machine screws. I am very passionate about utilizing materials that people often throw away or overlook and giving them new life as a useful or beautiful object. While I was working on the bodice, I was thinking about people’s battles with cancer and the amazing strength that it takes to become a warrior, to fight for your life. I have lost friends and family to cancer but I have also seen friends fight and survive. The bodice is a sort of battledress, a suit of armor. Part of the process of creating this was a prayer for a friend who was fighting.” — Roselyn Mendez fluent | 51


Frank X Walker is a Full Professor in the Department of English and the African American and Africana Studies Program at the University of Kentucky, and the founding editor of the journal Pluck! His sixth collection of poetry, Turn Me Loose: The Unghosting of Medgar Evers, won the 2014 NAACP Image Award for best poetry collection. The current Poet Laureate of Kentucky, Walker was voted one of the most creative professors in the south and is a founding member of the Affrilachian Poets and creator of the word Affrilachia. Teaching New Poets to Hunt For the AP’s, Chris, April, McKinley & Shauna I invited them along hoped they’d like the chase, knew they’d recognize the scent of irony, indecision, and isolation in their own back yards, knew they’d hunt down their private thoughts, obsessions, and unspoken fears one by one. I believed they could survive in the wild would build warm fires and shelter from their own childhood memories, would pull ribs from their own breasts and forge new weapons and tools I showed them how to track game down wind, how to not get burned from the fire in their lungs after wringing a wild thing’s neck with their bare hands, how to always eat the liver first, to hold the quivering heart in their hands until the last beat I proposed that we display the carcasses and pelts here in our common space, that we not judge each other’s efforts but only be inspired by the body counts by the ritual of spilling blood every day Now, I look at them and nod my head with approval, proud to have encouraged the slaying of such beautiful ugly things well before they hunted us down and tried to kill us first 52 | fluent

Another Thing I Like About You

One-Third of 180 Grams of Lead

you point and instruct, but not like in your classrooms full of eager young scholars who sit anxious and hungry for the knowledge you plow them up with, but like a mother giraffe demonstrating how to choose the best leaves, how to tip toe lips and tongue around thorns

Both of them were history, even before one pulled the trigger, before I rocketed through the smoking barrel hidden in the honeysuckle before I tore through a man’s back, shattered

you lean back and smile like he is yours too wrapping him in a warmth extended only to the lucky few who have fed at your breast you wade into his thick boy crust, faux indifference, suppressed enthusiasm, muted affection and wait patiently until a smile escapes until his arms and eyes open up announcing the soft bubbly middle he is learning to hide, to disguise under cocked baseball caps in two years he could be Emmett Till today, in this fantasy, he is just our son

his family, a window, and tore through an inner wall before I bounced off a refrigerator and a coffeepot before I landed at my destined point in history —next to a watermelon. What was cruel was the irony not the melon, not the man falling in slow motion, but the man squinting through the cross hairs reducing the justice system to a small circle, praying that he not miss, then sending me to deliver a message as if the woman screaming in the dark or the children crying at her feet could ever believe a bullet was small enough to hate.

In 1963, the NAACP’s first field secretary in the South, Medgar Evers, was gunned down in his driveway in Jackson, Mississippi, by Byron de la Beckwith, a member of the local White Citizen’s Council. Evers, a WWII vet, had also been assigned to investigate the lynching of 14-yearold Emmitt Till. Evers’ widow, Myrlie, and De La Beckwith’s wives, Willie and Thelma, are mentioned in the poems included here — Ed.

Monarchy for the princes at 2nd Street School They glare at me with their nostrils flaring then avert their gaze when I don’t wilt. They puff out boney chests spread their shoulders like lizards in the wild needing to scare off a would be predator, but I step even closer let them feel my presence, let them measure themselves against all the space I claim. In the blink of an eye I tell them I am a man, black that I recognize their bullshit, smelled it on their breaths as soon as I walked into the room. There are no other black men in this space, so they have filled it with faux braggadocio fueled by the smell of their own piss, have laid claim to the space by default. The teachers, all young and white and undertrained, fear them, fear their hair, their clothes, their music, their shoes, their body language; fear any and everything that smells like confrontation, simmers like unmedicate-able rebellion and looks like the 6 o’clock news. But I am not trading in fear. I am only afraid

that they have been in captivity so long they won’t recognize my scent. I pace back ‘n forth and show my teeth. I lean in like alpha males do. I need them to understand that we are from the same pack and I am here to show them what they will look like when their manes grow in. For ninety minutes I become the father they never had. I am the chorus standing behind their mothers, even the ones who are white, insisting that they listen, to me, the women who gave birth to them, their teachers, everyone responsible for their futures, —lest they have none. I am the disciplinary promising consequences for their unacceptable behavior, pushback for their initial disrespect, hell to pay for their indifference, remedies for short attention spans, directions and road maps for their yet unrealized dreams but only because I love them. I love their potential. I love their wide-eyed promise. I love their well-masked fears. I say all of this without ever opening my mouth, with a gentle hand on every shoulder, with serious eyes and a don’t-test-me smile every time I arrive any place with a room full of cubs and I am the only lion.

Sorority Meeting Myrlie Evers speaks to Willie and Thelma de la Beckwith My faith urges me to love you. My stomach begs me to not. All I know is that day made us sisters, somehow. After long nervous nights and trials on end we are bound together in this unholy sorority of misery. I think about you every time I run my hands across the echoes in the hollows of my sheets. They seem loudest just before I wake. I open my eyes every morning half expecting Medgar to be there, then I think about you and your eyes always snatch me back. Your eyes won’t let me forget. We are sorority sisters now with a gut wrenching country ballad for a sweetheart song, tired funeral and courtroom clothes for colors and secrets we will take to our graves. I was forced to sleep night after night after night with a ghost. You chose to sleep with a killer. We all pledged our love, crossed our hearts and swallowed oaths before being initiated with a bullet.

“Sorority Meeting” and “One-Third of 180 Grams of Lead” are from Turn Me Loose: The Unghosting of Medgar Evers (University of Georgia Press). The others poems are unpublished. fluent | 53


What’s Inside You BY ZACHARY DAVIS


T WAS EMBARRASSING not to remember the names of the people who came in to check on him every day, but the old man did his best to fake it. The faces and names of the duty nurses and orderlies were sometimes familiar, and he thought that if he tried hard enough, those parts of his memory that had become dark could, perhaps, be illumined once more. But, even when they spoke of things he remembered, he could not fit these people into his memories. It was like looking at a puzzle with missing pieces—what he couldn’t see of the picture was made all the more conspicuous by what he could. More than anything nowadays, it was smell that reliably brought memories to him. Even the smallest whiff of a familiar scent would bring to mind things once fully committed to memory, associations made a lifetime ago that had, unlike other things, sustained their connections. The old man had for years after the divorce proclaimed “Ain’t nothing joined on this earth that won’t split apart, eventually.” He was proved wrong by the persistence of smells and the immediate proliferation of memories they were indissolubly bonded with. He was, as much as he was able, delighted with this discovery, and when he was aware of himself, he made sure to offer a small prayer of thanks. The old man sat in a ratty chair worn from years of use. The cushion bore wounds that revealed its soiled and decrepit interior. It never ceased to amaze the old man when he saw the exposed cushion — for each successive time was like the first discovery for him — that what was inside could be so damaged and corrupt while the chair itself remained comfortable. Nevertheless, the chair’s insides were its concern, not his. The

54 | fluent

chair was near the window, where he liked it most, as it offered a view outside his room. Through the open window, born by a late Spring wind, came the scent of freshly mown grass. This was a smell he had treasured and loathed in equal measure. The joyous side of himself remembered the fun he had at play in the grass, not even caring that rolling in it left angry red streaks on his skin that itched for hours afterward. The practical part of himself, though, remembered the labor involved in producing that scent. Every blade of grass needed to be cut — his father could always tell when he’d skipped a patch — and if it wasn’t done to his father’s specifications, there would be correction. The process of correction was twofold: first, there would be a long, evenly delivered speech about what had been done wrong, followed by a description of the necessary action that would soon take place to ensure it was never done again. The old man’s father was angry by nature, a fact he acknowledged about himself. To keep from exploding when angry, the old man’s father gave long-winded speeches that stifled his rage. The old man would eventually come to think of these speeches as sermons. After the sermon came the second part of correction, which was punishment, usually with an open hand or belt, depending on the severity of the behavior needing correction. Occasionally, the belt buckle was used. If he cared to search his wearying and aged body, the old man was certain he could find the imprints left behind by his father’s belt buckles. The scars had long ago faded, but if he were to run his hand over certain locations, he would be able to feel the damage done to the bones underneath

the skin, just out of sight. If he cared to go further, he could remember having to clean up his own blood after these corrections because, as his father said, “What’s inside you, boy, is yours to tend to.” Now, decades removed from correction and his father, the old man chose to focus on the joyous side of the association with the smell of fresh cut grass rather than the practical. At his age, the old man assured himself, he had earned the respite. It would do him no good to dwell on scars: the chair’s, his own, or anyone else’s. “Mr. Moler?” a voice said, shattering his connection to the past. He turned his head and saw the duty nurse standing in the doorway of his room. “How are you feeling today?” she asked. Things to say came to mind, but he was distressed to realize none of them was appropriate. Most of his thoughts centered on the nurse’s race. This, however, wasn’t what he wanted to talk to her about. The old man wanted to tell the duty nurse about the grass, about how it made him feel to be carried into the past on the back of such a heavenly aroma. Though he scoured his brain to find them, the old man did not have the words. “Grass,” he said, finally. It was more an exhale than a vocalization, and the effort brought on a great headache, leaving him confused and feeling oddly drained. “That’s right, Mr. Moler. They’re cuttin’ the grass ’fore the rain starts. Smells nice, don’t it?” The old man stared at the nurse, trying to get his mouth to form a response. His lips quivered, and he narrowed his eyes in concentration. The right words were not coming, but it was just a matter of pushing through until they did. The strain turned the old man’s face red, and his body started shaking. “It’s alright, Mr. Moler,” the duty nurse said as she made her way over to the old man. “Calm down, now.

No reason to get worked up. We can figure it out, you and me. We always do. You want to try the board?” The duty nurse pointed to a small dry erase board streaked with black and blue leavings from partly erased previous sessions. The old man shook his head violently. “Alright, then. There the rain is — look like they got done mowing just in time, too. You going to be ok, Mr. Moler?” the duty nurse said as she went to close the window. The smell of damp earth rushed toward him — desperate to make it into the room before the window came down — and with it came the memory of his daughter as she stood on the bank of the river. Her face was clear in his mind, since she had his eyes and nose. The girl’s name, though, was lost to him. Something that began, he thought, with a D or a B. He knew that trying to conjure it up was an exercise in futility, so he allowed himself to be born away by the memory of the 3 days he spent trying to teach his daughter how to fish in the Shenandoah. He had often spent his own childhood days along and within that river, and when she was born, his daughter had accompanied him on his redoubled visits. He loved the Shenandoah, the pride of the area, rich in life and history, and he had meant to instill as keen an affection for it in his daughter as his father had instilled in him. It had been, truth be told, a difficult task to see to completion with a daughter. Though they could be made to enjoy the river, he thought, little girls could never be made tough enough to truly love it. It was simply beyond their construction. The river made demands of you that it expected you to fulfill, and his daughter was simply not up to the task, he reasoned. When he told her to find a worm, her fingers searched over the river-soaked earth delicately, trying to locate the perfect specimen. He appreciated her commitment to perfection even as he told her not to take too long deciding on a worm. Finally, she picked u fluent | 55

one up from the ground and held it out to him, her hands carrying the rich, earthy smell of wet soil. It smelled like life to him. She smiled as she held the worm as high as her arms could stretch toward her father and declared “His name’s Tommy, daddy.” “Is that so?” “Yessir, he’s a good worm.” “Well, we’ll see about that,” he’d said, taking the worm from her hands and threading its head and midsection through his hook, leaving it curled over on itself, a wriggling coil desperately seeking a way to free itself from impalement. His daughter’s screams were unseemly, which was regrettable, as it spoiled the mood for the rest of that first day. The subsequent two days confirmed his daughter’s lack of heart and interest in learning how to fish, but nevertheless he made her go with him to the river every day, he made her find a worm and bait her own hooks, and he made her cast off into the swiftly running water. He wanted to teach her the proper way to kill and gut a fish, but in 3 days on the water, neither of them had caught a

“Shenandoah Twilight” by Curt Mason

56 | fluent

thing. Each day he would show her something new and valuable, and when she was unappreciative, he corrected her. She sniffled loudly the entire time, and though she refused to ever go down to the river with him again (sometimes becoming violently ill when he was particularly insistent), the old man was glad he had tried. Sometimes the most valuable lessons in life were the hardest to learn, after all. The old man sighed, exhausted, and turned his head away from the window. He felt like lying down, but the bed was too far away. He stared down at his feet, trying to decide if they would be able to do their duty. He tried lifting them. The left foot jostled a bit and eventually freed itself from the ground. The right foot did nothing at all. Horrified, the old man tried to call for help, but all that came out was inarticulate moaning. “Mr. Moler, you alright?” the duty nurse said, which infuriated the old man. How could she ask that question? She obviously had no idea of the gravity of the situation. He yelled at her, trying to make his point amidst an unintended stream of slurs and curses.

“What did we say yesterday, Mr. Moler? Kenny? Listen to me, now. You act nice, you get treated nice. I know you want the bed, but you need to act decent bout it, or we’re gonna have a problem, ok?” The old man stopped raging. He didn’t remember having this discussion yesterday. He did not, in fact, remember yesterday at all. Lost in thought, he allowed himself to be guided into bed by the duty nurse. She laid him down, leaning in close to puff up his pillow so that it cradled his head. When she pulled back and left the room, the smell of her perfume remained hovering in the air for a moment before drifting down all around the old man and settling in like early morning fog. His daughter had always worn too much perfume when she got older — the old man could kick himself for not realizing sooner what this meant. It was not the cause, of course, but merely a symptom. The cause was being a woman, and his daughter had tried to be one way too fast. He’d corrected her, but it never seemed to take. When his wife came to him one day and announced their daughter was with child, the old man had exploded. It was cowardly to get her mother to do her dirty, shameful work. This was the reason, ultimately, that the marriage failed. It wasn’t the drink and it wasn’t the correction (both of which he’d found it impossible to go through marriage without), it was her willingness to indulge their daughter’s natural proclivity for wrongdoing. He kicked the door down when he entered his daughter’s bedroom, enraged that she had been brazen enough to lock it after so many years of leaving it open for him. “What the hell is going on?” he’d said, using her name that began with a D or a B. “Did...did you hurt mom?” He was taken by surprise at her impudence in asking after her mother, and the old man broke the rules his own father had set — he started correction without first delivering a sermon. “You answer when I speak! Is this how you was raised, to lie down for any worthless sumbitch that winks at you?” He punctuated each successive question with a blow, leaving her bruised in ways that were not always visible.

Later, when he drove his daughter to Charleston, neither of them spoke. When they got to the clinic, he made her go in by herself. After all, he thought as he sat waiting in the truck with the windows rolled down, a cool summer breeze gliding across his face, what’s inside you is yours to tend to. All that was a lifetime ago, it seemed, and time and frailty now held sway over his memory. He thought he may have found out who the father had been, and he was fairly sure his wife had filed for divorce shortly after the trip to Charleston, but he was not positive. As he lay in the hospital bed, he felt even these memories begin to fade, gradually becoming hazy and indistinct. The old man remained physically inert, trying to remember how he got here. There was a memory of a funeral, but he could not remember whose. There was a memory of his daughter (whose name began with a D or B) and her husband driving their pickup truck to somewhere he’d never been as he screamed from the backseat that he was being kidnapped, not thinking until later how odd it was that the kidnappers would bring his old chair along with him, too. There were only pieces of memory, no complete pictures. There was a great pain at the back of the old man’s head as he tried to fill in the blank spaces. His vision began to blur, and the old man — tired from his labors — welcomed this harbinger of sleep. He began to pray, but his exhaustion was so total that the words made no sense. He felt sick, and he wanted more than anything to sleep, to end his discomfort. His headache flared, and it felt as if lightning had struck his brain. The old man closed his eyes tightly and tried to embrace the feeling sweeping over him. When he woke up, though, he wouldn’t tell the nurse about the pain. What was inside him was his to tend to. He curled up and shivered uncontrollably, a wriggling coil desperately seeking a way to free itself, just as Debbie’s worm had. That was it — her name was Debbie, and when she gave him the worm, it had smelled of damp earth, and life. Now, though, there came to his nostrils an unfamiliar scent — heavy and insistent, and not at all of this earth. fluent

fluent | 57


The Clear and Present Danger of William Butler Yeats for the Adolescent Male Mind BY ED ZAHNISER

Poet William Butler Yeats wrote his own epitaph: Cast a cold eye On life, on death, Horseman, pass by! I have no idea what his three lines mean, beyond what they say. Sounds like he wants Death to just continue on his horsemanly way. No such luck. When you die you don’t just get a new Prius and keep going. I suppose those words have a different ring when incised in a headstone. Although he was Irish and Dublin-born, Yeats lived in London. His headstone was in France at first, because of World War II. Later they dug him up and moved him and his headstone to Drumcliffe Church, Drumcliffe near Benbulben in County Sligo, Ireland. Yeats died in 1939, but he posed a clear and present danger to my adolescent mind well into the 1960s. Yeats wrote another poem, just twice the length of his epitaph, “A Deep-sworn Vow.” Its word-music mesmerized me much like Nancy Clarke had in the third grade. Yeats’ vow conjures love, like when after the third grade Nancy moved away: Voom, gone, vanished; over. This was a special smarmy love, unrequited love, like rough-cut dark marmalade, sweet and sour. You could imagine such love coating your tongue, even, until you thought through the figure of speech. Love like a wine hinting of sweet and bitter to assault your taste buds all at once. I was confused but definitely buzzed, a bit deafened: I don’t remember puppy love whimpering in the background. I remember the wine I didn’t taste. 58 | fluent

Nothing so endures as the aura of an undeclared love. Even to say that hazards swooning. “Horseman, pass by!” Remember, this is third grade. I’m not about to let Nancy Clarke — or anyone — know I’m in love with her. We neither had then nor have now any actual history. It’s easy to love that which has no history. In high school I discovered Yeats’ deep-sworn vow poem. My father owned a variorum edition of Yeats’ poetry. The book printed the final version of his poems as last published in his lifetime. It also gave word or line variations Yeats had made over the history of his poems’ publications and printings in Yeats’ lifetime. The variorum edition made me a witness to fascinating, fastidious, extreme, and excruciating but enthralling literary nitpicking. You could imagine watching one word-change balloon into a life-change for the poet. A revised line might catapult Yeats — or me — into mid-life crisis, a state not yet invented. On TV back then, deodorant ads were just broaching smelly armpits: In the mature male and the mature female…but with artwork not real armpits with hair. No Miley Cyrus. No Beyonce. But if Nancy Clarke knocked my socks off, just listen to what meeting 23-year-old Maud Gonne, in 1889, English heiress and ardent Irish nationalist, did to poor Yeats, 18 months her senior. Yeats later reflected how “…it seems to me that she [Gonne] brought into my life those days — for as yet I saw only what lay upon the surface — the middle of the tint, a sound as of a Burmese gong, an over-powering tumult that had yet many pleasant secondary notes.” Sounds like a major poet auditioning to write wine labels: the middle of the tint…as of a Burmese gong, an

PHOTO George Grantham Bain Collection, Library of Congress

“…she [Gonne] brought into my life those days — for as yet I saw only what lay upon the surface — the middle of the tint, a sound as of a Burmese gong, an over-powering tumult that had yet many pleasant secondary notes.” Maud Gonne MacBride

over-powering tumult…yet many pleasant secondary notes. You’d raise your wine glass to that. You could only improve that by maybe substituting “…a Burmese bong.” To place the meeting of Yeats and Gonne in American context, 1889 was the year of Pennsylvania’s deadly Johnstown Flood. (It inspired poetry, too, mostly downer doggerel not puppy-love chow.) Between 1889 and 1901 Yeats proposed to Gonne three times. To his horror — think Nancy Clarke moves away in third grade — in 1903 Gonne married an Irish nationalist Army officer. Yeats was horrified. Worse, Gonne converted to Catholicism, which Yeats despised. Both Gonne’s friends and Yeats’ friends predicted the marriage was doomed. It lasted until 1904. In the meantime, 1896 and 1897, Yeats had an affair with Olivia Shakespeare. This may sound like literary incest, and, would lead to more literary incest. Not until 1908

did Yeats and Gonne actually have sex. About that event, event not an affair, Yeats apparently said —  apparently, because Yeats’ comment was reported only later by one of his later lovers — “The long years of fidelity rewarded at last.” Sadly, I never got to write that truthfully about Nancy Clarke. This was third grade, in the early 1950s: No one was twerking, dry-humping or exposing a female breast on network TV. The Smothers Brothers were in Junior High School. Comedian Lenny Bruce was in court on obscenity charges, but people smoked cigarettes on TV and in movies. On theater screens cigarettes looked bigger than John Wayne joints in the 1936 anti-pot movie “Reefer Madness.” Truth be told, in the third grade I wasn’t sure whether I was supposed to hit Nancy Clarke or to try to kiss her. You didn’t lose your virginity by middle school then. You were lucky to find your virginity by high school. But I would scout around to see if I could glimpse Nancy when our class did duck-and-cover drill under our desks. Yeats couldn’t parley his 1908 one-night stand with Gonne into an affair. In fact, Gonne soon was extolling Yeats about the virtues — for art’s sake — of abstaining from sex. Who knows? You could try giving it up for Lent. Yeats later felt that “…the tragedy of sexual intercourse is the perpetual virginity of the soul.” As an epitaph, Horseman or no Horseman, that would grab your attention. Perhaps to write Gonne out of his psyche, twenty years later Yeats characterized her as: She who had brought great Hector down And put all Troy to wreck. Gonne didn’t choose that as her epitaph. Maybe she thought it was more about Yeats’ self-image. The clear and present danger of Yeats for the adolescent male lurks within Yeats’ poem “A Deep-sworn Vow”: u fluent | 59

A Deep-sworn Vow Others because you did not keep That deep-sworn vow have been friends of mine; Yet always when I look death in the face, When I clamber to the heights of sleep, Or when I grow excited with wine, Suddenly I meet your face. Had I read that in the third grade, well, I don’t know. Maybe I’d still be in reform school. It’s the relentless pile-up of one-syllable words like mile upon mile of abandoned vehicles in Atlanta, Georgia after two-inches of snow. Or like Homer’s “wine dark sea,” or Sappho’s “wine dark moon.” Of the poem’s fortythree words only five have two syllables. One has three syllables. Imagine: Beowulf sword-fights with Aristotle and Epictetus. Blunt sword thrusts in Anglo-Saxon versus circumspect paryings in Latin and Greek. No contest. Beowulf slays them both, like Cyrano de Bergerac taunting in rhymed poetry “À la fin de l’envoi, je touche!” — roughly, “at the end of the concluding stanza, I strike you with my sword.” Another thing: Whenever Yeats used the adverb always it seemed to have for him the ring of metaphysics, transcendence, the occult, otherworldliness. “Yet always when I look death in the face.” For the adolescent male mind that exerts a pull not unlike the pull of warm asphalt for Florida blacksnakes at sundown. Unfortunately, blacksnakes cross roads perpendicular to the flow of traffic. Roads get so slick with road-killed blacksnakes that cars skid into the ditch. Then came Julie. Senior high school. An artist. By then I was stoked on Yeats, Dylan Thomas and Gerard Manley Hopkins. Yeats, maybe not, but Thomas and Hopkins are poets you can’t help imitate, but that’s all you can do, imitate. You might as well try to find the Holy Grail in a hall of infinite mirrors. Julie was Nancy Clarke redux with the difference that we actually had conversations. One day we were at Ren’s house listening to Donovan trying to catch the wind on Ren’s stereo. Julie was eating an orange. I was overcome with metaphysics, transcendence, the

60 | fluent

occult, and otherworldliness. The poem spilled out like three pounds of marbles from a burst plastic bag: To Julie Eating an Orange Always because I’ve seen your fingers tool away the acrid rind of winter fruit I’ve wanted you to stay. And always because I’ve seen … That’s all I remember. It was an echo not a choice. Psychologically I was sprawled on the warm asphalt of adolescent interiority perpendicular to traffic. I was among the miles of abandoned vehicles stranded overnight in two inches of Georgia snow. Julie moved away like Nancy Clarke had, but Julie got married and moved to Wyoming and became a regionally known artist. I was like “Maud. Gone!” Her leaving hung on me like residual teenage angst — until I learned that, at any given time, more passengers are airborne passengers over the United States than live in of Wyoming. Why that flipped the switch on my arrested development, I don’t know. I gave up Yeats for Lent. It took, and it stuck. My aunt, a social work supervisor in Philadelphia, suggested that at the end of adolescence the brain is more fully developed. It was a relief to know she thought my brain, however undeveloped, might have been involved. The later “literary incest” (see above) was this: In 1909, William Butler Yeats introduced his former lover Olivia Shakespeare to the expatriate American poet Ezra Pound. Like Mrs. Brown, Mrs. Shakespeare had a lovely daughter, Dorothy Shakespeare. She probably didn’t know it, but when Pound proposed to her and she accepted, he had already been turned down by two other women and the father of a third woman had refused to allow his daughter to marry Pound. Dorothy and Ezra had a son they named Omar Shakespeare Pound. Yeats, Pound, Shakespeare, Omar…how can that not be literary incest, even if in names only? fluent

The Bridge Fine Art & Framing Gallery

“Abstractions” • Through October 25 • Featuring art by Fran Skiles, Joe Mayer, Don Black, Evan Boggess, Joan Keith, Colleen Clapp, Thom Davis & 10 more artists

8566 Shepherdstown Pike, Shepherdstown WV 25443 • 304.876.2300 Fine Art, Ceramics, Photography & Custom Framing

things you’ll find on the fluent website all free, all the time the magazine: current & past issues to read and download gallery exhibit information calls for artists / contest info / audition listings arts & culture events listings arts class listings arts news how to subscribe, how to advertise, how to submit work, how to contact us <updated daily>

fluent | 61


Yard Art

Photo by Carl Schultz

fluent | 62

Issuu converts static files into: digital portfolios, online yearbooks, online catalogs, digital photo albums and more. Sign up and create your flipbook.