ARTS | CULTURE | EVENTS
Spring 2017 | Vol 5 No 2
“Hinkel Lake” by Seth Hill
fluent Spring 2017 | Vol 5 No 2
Nancy McKeithen editor & publisher Sheila Kelly Vertino associate editor Kathryn Burns visual arts editor Zachary Davis fiction editor Todd Coyle music editor Contributing Writers Amy Mathews Amos, Catherine Baldau, Paula Pennell, Keron Psillas, Ed Zahniser Contributing Photographers Benita Keller, Curt Mason, Mark Muse, Judy Olsen, Keron Psillas, Carl Schultz, Sterling “Rip” Smith, Hali Taylor Submissions For information on submitting unsolicited fiction, nonfiction, plays and poetry, please see the website: www.fluent-magazine.com/submissions Please submit arts news to email@example.com Fluent Magazine is published quarterly and distributed via email. Available online at www.fluentmagazine.org. To Subscribe www.fluentmagazine.org/subscribe All rights reserved. No portion of this publication may be duplicated or reprinted without permission from the publisher. © 2017 Fluent Magazine, LLC
CONTRIBUTORS Catherine Baldau is a writer and editor. As Publications Specialist for the Harpers Ferry Historical Association, she has edited and designed numerous books, including the award-winning Harpers Ferry Under Fire: A Border Town In The American Civil War. 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 print and online publications, such as Carve, The First Line, Drunk Monkeys and numerous volumes of the Anthology Of Appalachian Writers. He is the Fiction Editor of Fluent. Paula Pennell, having developed technical proposals for over 20 years, enjoys the contrast of writing about creative people and their art. An artist herself, Paula works with hot glass and keeps bees at her home in Monrovia, MD. Keron Psillas is a photographer, writer, instructor and mentor, with an extensive background in the print and publishing industry. She has three books published: Meditation for Two and The Alchemy of Lightness, both with longtime collaborator, Mestre Dominique Barbier, and Loss and Beauty. Find her work and writing at www.keronpsillas.com and www.lossandbeauty.com. Sheila Vertino is returning to her roots as a freelance writer and journalist, after a career as a magazine editor-in-chief and book and research publisher. Based in Shepherdstown, she describes herself as a culturally curious word nerd. Ed Zahniser is a retired career bureaucrat and co-founder of the Shepherdstown (wv) Good News Paper. His poetry has appeared in over 150 literary venues in the U.S. and U.K.; seven anthologies; five books, five chapbooks, and three gallery shows of poetry as works on walls. He contributes to Fluent, WV Observer, Adirondack Almanack blog. His recent book of poems is At The End of The Self-Help Rope, Slowread Books, 2016.
THE COVER IMAGE “Hinkel Lake” by Seth Hill. See pages 8–18 for more of his work.
2 | fluent
Photography | Keron Psillas
spring 17 Seth Hill | Painting Paintings
Showing Up Moving On | Art Students of Shepherd
Fiction | “Risotto” by Jon Anderson
Poetry | Lyn Lifshin
Ed:Cetera | Long-dead Chinese Poet Makes It Big Here
Coda | “Tunnel Vision” by Sonja Evanisko
fluent | 3
Loss and Beauty: Creating Solace in a Land of Infinite Sorrow BY KERON PSILLAS
LAST SUMMER, while teaching at the Pacific Northwest Art School, I was asked a great question. After giving a presentation about my project, Loss and Beauty, the work and my path to bringing it to where it is now, I was asked, “What was the most difficult thing you had to overcome during this six-year journey?” I quieted myself for a moment and then let loose the word that floated up—fear. In 2010 I made my first trip to Germany and the Czech Republic. At that time there was not a plan to tour World War II sites….it just unfolded that way. Even in the towns with no distinguishable WWII historic interest, there were small but poignant indicators of a tragedy that defies description. In Celle, I discovered brass blocks that replaced paving stones in the sidewalks called Stolpersteine (stumbling blocks). These brass markers, the project of an artist named Gunter Demnig, hold the name of a person that had lived on that street and was victimized by the Nazis during the war. These stumbling blocks are just one example of how people have created remembrances. And they showed me, a white anglo-saxon Protestant from West Virginia, that it was possible to engage the conversation of The Holocaust authentically. The experience of visiting Bergen-Belsen was unsettling. There was a modern, stark, nearly sterile museum, information center, library and bookstore. In an exhibition in the visitors center I made a photograph of a painting, of railroad tracks. It was the image that spoke to me from all the paintings hanging. And then, upon leaving the museum, a clearing opened in a 4 | fluent
beautiful birch forest cloaked in autumnal glory. I was unprepared for this. I walked through the meadows, saw traces of foundations being consumed by stands of slender birch trees, and came upon mounds of earth with markers telling how many bodies, approximately, were entombed in these small hills. Here and there were placed other markers, each covered with small stones, honoring a particular person or community. But the overall impression was of a gently rolling wide meadow. And except for the wind in the leaves of the birches, silence. No shouting, no sirens, no barking of dogs or pain-filled wailing. Later, while editing photos from the day, in an effort to generate an understanding of how a place so beautiful could hold so much suffering, I layered a photo of the birch trees over the image of the painting of the railroad tracks. This gave me some peace, a small step toward reconciliation of what was with what is. As I ventured deeper into eastern Germany, and then into the Czech Republic, I was sinking into quiet, unspeakably sad reflection. Prague was a swirl of confusion for me. I could not appreciate its antiquity or artistic heritage. Prague had always been a center of intellectual, musical, literary and artistic activity. All I could see was a tiny u
Right: “An image from an attic dwelling in Terezin overlays an image from Birkenau. The tower’s menacing presence stands as the perfect metaphor for the ever-present dread of transport looming over residents of Terezin.”—From Loss and Beauty.
graveyard that held the remains and tombs of tens of thousands of people from 6 centuries. This graveyard is one of just a handful of Jewish cemeteries that survived desecration in World War II. Unable to photograph successfully, I decided to drive out to Terezin (known as Theresienstadt during World War II). Once again, as in Bergen-Belsen, I was confronted by a different reality than I had imagined. But instead of lacking structures or edifices, the town of Terezin IS the concentration camp and it is still there. All of it. In fact, it is a town that sits, in my opinion, uneasily,
“…creating beauty can offer a light to dispel the darkness, if only for a brief time.” on top a mountain of memory, of suffering and the inescapable intention of cruelty and destruction. I was so disoriented by the living, breathing fact of this community that I had to leave the town and come back, looking again at the one small map of the town that gave the only indication of its former existence. And then I walked into the small museum and saw the artwork of the children that inhabited Terezin for that short time. Hundreds and hundreds of drawings, poems, little songs and paintings told a story of loss that no monument could conjure. The memory of my time in Terezin grew stronger as the time away grew longer. As is my habit, I dove into reading, watching documentaries and movies, all in an effort to deepen my understanding of this place and time. The discovery of The Girls of Room 28, by Hannelore Brenner, was pivotal. Her stories about fourteen survivors, young girls, kindled the desire I had to return and make images that would speak to what was destroyed by hate. But the act of creating those images was also, for me, a way to honor their spirit and teaching. The Girls recall joy and happiness and laughter, often in the midst of the creative act; drawing, painting, making some poetry or acting in a 6 | fluent
play and attending recitals. These are memories that sustain them today as the creative acts did during their imprisonment and torture. In November of 2011, I made my way back there, arriving on the day when exactly 70 years earlier, the first inhabitants were transported to Terezin. I thought “what a fitting beginning.” Photographing that week, with intention, was nearly as difficult as my first visit there a year earlier. Ice and hoarfrost covered everything. The town was brooding and gray. The one warm spot was the hotel dining room, with my daily bowl of borscht and friendly but halting conversation with the young waiter. At the end of the week I decided to drive to Auschwitz-Birkenau. It was my thought that I should honor the victims that were transported from Terezin to their final destination by following the same route. Seven hundred kilometers later, in a fog and darkness that swallowed even the light of the street lamps, I arrived in Oswiecim (Auschwitz). The next morning I was alone in the camp at Auschwitz, the most visited Holocaust site in the world. For several hours I walked in the cold and silence. I marveled at the small size of a site that holds such huge connotations of evil in our history and memory. I was not afraid, but I was aware of the power of such cruel and shamelessly monstrous intent. The following day I drove the short distance to Birkenau to encounter hatred on a completely different scale. The vastness that is Birkenau dwarfs the Auschwitz camp. This was more “familiar” to me in my imagination. The size of the horror had some relation to the size of the camp. Again, I walked and photographed, still completely alone. Perhaps it was the cold or time of year. Hours later, as I was leaving, a group of high-school-aged students arrived. Too boisterous, too loud, too plugged in to smart phones and ipods. I was angry at what I perceived was their disrespect. My ability to photograph meaningfully was over by that time and I drove the entire way back to Prague and boarded a plane that night. Several weeks later, while editing my photos, the idea came to me, as it had a year earlier in Bergen-
Belsen, to layer my images together to illustrate the conversation that I perceived between Prague, Terezin and Auschwitz. I believe it is a conversation that continues to this day. It is one of searching, one of fear, and one of sadness, but ultimately one that illustrates the power of beauty/ love to overcome darkness and evil. I found beauty among the loss and devastation. But the beauty arose from this suffering. It also arose from my own suffering and incomprehension. But in the moments when I was working, I was comforted and inhabited a different energy. Must we suffer to experience beauty? NO. But that does not mean that we can’t be aware that creating beauty can offer a light to dispel the darkness, if only for a brief time. I returned six more times to the Czech Republic and Poland. Each time it grew more difficult to begin the journey. I knew the darkness that awaited. My final visit to photograph for the project coincided with the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. A fitting bookend. Without remembrance and the endeavor to create some sliver of understanding for each rising generation, we risk losing the ultimate victory…to ensure that it never happens again.
Back to last summer on Whidbey Island The fear I spoke of that day in the classroom was fierce. Almost strong enough to prevent me from doing my work. My greatest fear was that I would offend someone, a survivor, or child or grandchild of a victim. That is why I spent a year immersing myself in the literature and biographies of the Holocaust before trying. I was seeking a way in from a place that was as far removed as to be in another Universe. A childhood and most of a lifetime in rural West Virginia has its own struggles, but nothing, I thought, that enabled me to take up this subject. In the end I learned that the seeking heart that grew in that child’s body on her farm in West Virginia was all that was needed to create Loss and Beauty. I was also afraid of the constant disapproval from family and friends. They didn’t want me to inhabit the darkness that they imagined I would encounter.
And I was afraid of failure. The process I went through is another story, but let me say that the fear of failure as well as the actual fact of failure time and again was always present. It never left me in the entire six years. I have beloved mentors who were never convinced the images were “right” or “good enough.” They were certainly not convinced that the decision to composite the photographs was correct. But their resistance made the images better. It made me better. It made me stay with the project longer than I ever imagined I would and go deeper into learning and seeking to project myself into that time and place. After the class where I said that fear was my greatest obstacle, I taught again the next week. I took my Photography of Intent class on a field trip across the Puget Sound. In a favorite writers shop and bookstore, I discovered a postcard to give to all of my students on our last day. It says, simply, “when we stop worrying, we can begin creating.” When I find these little messages, the synchronicity of affirmation, I know well they are meant for me as much as anyone else. But you see, that’s because we are each other’s mirrors. In fear, in trust, in beauty and ugliness, in the light and expansion of creativity and the darkness of shutting down into contraction and destroying by harboring hate. We each have the power to choose what we reflect. The Girls of Room 28 were able to choose creativity and love and laughter, and mirror it for their friends, just often enough to sustain them. What would our world look like if we choose the light and expansion and energy of creating in the face of every bit of darkness we encounter? fluent
Keron Psillas is a photographer, writer, instructor and mentor, with an extensive background in the print and publishing industry. She has three books published: Meditation for Two and The Alchemy of Lightness, both with longtime collaborator, Mestre Dominique Barbier, and Loss and Beauty. Find her work and writing at www.keronpsillas.com and www.lossandbeauty. com. This is the first of Keron’s quarterly photography column in Fluent. fluent | 7
Hill PAINTING PAINTINGS
learned a long time ago that great artists can paint anything: They can paint the figure, they can paint landscapes, they can paint abstract,” says Seth Hill. “I’m fine painting landscapes. I can accept that.” There’s a sense that he is, perhaps, more comfortable with painter than artist. “It’s probably more of an accident, really,” he says of becoming a painter. He liked to draw as a kid and took art classes in high school, where he did a few oil paintings and watercolors. But after graduation he earned an Associate degree in Wildlife Management that led him to an internship at a fish hatchery in Texas, where his interest in painting kept surfacing: “I was always thinking it’d be nice to go out and do a painting because it’s so pretty down there.” Back in West Virginia, and thinking he needed a four-year degree in something, Hill went to Fairmont State for his Bachelor’s in graphic / fine art. His choice was pure serendipity. u
“Norwood Park – Nutter Fort, West Virginia” 8 | fluent
fluent | 9
Three influential professors there—John Clovis, Lynn Boggess and Diana Bland, all renowned artists— encouraged him to paint what he wanted to paint, landscapes. Hill recalls that “in most schools, they won’t let you paint landscapes; they want conceptual paintings.” Toward the end of the time he was painting with Boggess, Hill was painting more with watercolor than acrylic; Boggess suggested that he paint in oils. His
reasoning, says Hill, was that if you put up a serious watercolor against a serious oil painting, the oil painting is always going to be stronger. “Actually, it’s more natural for me to paint watercolor than oil,” Hill says. “Oil is a struggle.” Nonetheless, he followed the advice to paint with oil, even though he’d almost prefer acrylic because of the ease, because it dries quickly. His signature impasto style
Below left: Hinkle Lake–Bridgeport, West Virginia. Right: “March Snow.”
10 | fluent
can mean lengthy drying times for his paintings. “But I just haven’t had success making acrylics look good,” he explains.
Plein-Air Painting: The Challenges and Hazards In general, it’s a whole lot of work, says Hill. “It’s so much easier to sit inside and paint from a photograph, but I can do a better painting if I go outside.
“I spend way more time looking for a place to paint than I ever do painting it.” Hill practices what Gloucester, Maine, painter Charles Movalli—one of his favorite painters—said about finding a location to paint: “If you catch something out of the corner of your eye, that’s what you want to paint.” Where he finds a place to park his car—and whether someone is going to chase him off the u
fluent | 11
property—also often dictate what he paints. “I’ve learned how to talk to people and apologize right off the bat. Normally they’re not gonna get too mad…and they’ll let me paint.” The experience keeps him humble. “To have people yelling out their window that you’re not Monet, that keeps you grounded.” He’s never had any beer bottles thrown at him, “but I’ve heard of it happening.” Some people stop just to watch him paint, some get out of their car to talk, some ask, “Why are you painting.” He asks himself the same question. “When I’ve got the canvas in front of me and I’m painting, I enjoy that part. And I enjoy looking for places to paint, frustrating as that can be. But if I couldn’t paint another painting ever, I would be okay. It’s not like I love, love to paint. I enjoy painting.” And he doesn’t mind talking while he paints. From experience, though, Hill knows that, good comment or bad comment, the conversation will change the outcome of the painting. He dismisses a common assumption: that plein-air painting is a romantic thing to do. “No,” he says, stretching out the word for emphasis. “I was in my car parked on the road the other day, thinking a car was going to hit me, and I was sitting there trying to scratch out a painting!”
A Matter of Time Hill paints quickly, sometimes a 30- x 40-inch painting in a couple of hours. Another day, five paintings. “But really, I’m just putting shapes together, and I’ve got three or four colors and white….I’m not trying to paint a building or paint a tree,” he explains. “And I have to think about this all the time I’m painting—trying to paint shapes. Putting blocks of color down beside each other, and making forms with the color.” Despite the hundreds and hundreds, maybe thousands, of paintings Hill has done, he still struggles. “I struggle to stay loose and just u Wisconsin. 12 | fluent
fluent | 13
paint, because if I get too tight or use too little brush… you kill them if you overwork them.” He doesn’t paint every day, and doesn’t want to. “I think it would become work,” he says. He also doesn’t like to paint in the spring very much “when everything gets that light green and it’s often overcast,”preferring other seasons; late summer for example. “It’s dry, and everything is a little clearer, especially in September,
when it gets real crisp,” he says. And he likes painting when the light is low, most times. “But it’s very difficult, because you have to paint real fast or real small.” Painting large intrigues him. “I’d like to do a 6-foot by 6-foot,” he says, and considers the challenge of transporting a canvas that size and storing it. He would also like to paint the figure but says he probably won’t. “I’m not that great at it,” he says, being candid.
Below left and right: Clarksburg, West Virginia. Top right: Columbus. Ohio.
14 | fluent
On Inspiration Hill seems to be inspired by the act of painting. “I just start painting, and then I start painting some more.” There are his favorite painters: Charles Movalli, who he calls a “painter’s painter”; Tom Hughes, and major artists: Andrew Wyeth, John Singer Sargent, Winslow Homer. Wyeth, he says, “made ugly pretty.” Hill says
that’s pretty much what he’s trying to do: paint a powerful painting and not worry about it being pretty. “If you paint something powerful, pretty will come.” For Hill, that includes giving people a different way of looking at something they are used to seeing another way. For now, Hill is looking forward to going out West again this summer. He went a few years ago and painted two or three paintings a day. Inspired. u
fluent | 15
At Deagan Lake, Bridgeport, WV “I had a brush, but I didn’t have a palette, so I couldn’t mix any colors. I just started squirting paint on the canvas with the tubes. Every once in a while, I look at this painting and think ‘that’s not a bad direction to go with them.’ I think you can have more than one style.”
u 16 | fluent
fluent | 17
Seth Hill has been represented by The Bridge Gallery in Shepherdstown, WV, since 2011. For information: bridgegalleryandframing.com / 304.876.2300. Hill’s work will be featured in an exhibit at Unstable Arts at Gallery on Madison, 9 S. Madison, Middleburg, VA. The exhibit runs June 2–25. Artist’s reception June 10, 4–8 pm. For information: galleryonmadison.com / firstname.lastname@example.org / 540.687.4797. Currently, Hill’s work is on exhibit at Buxton & Landstreet Gallery & Studios, 571 Douglas Road, Thomas, WV, now through Labor Day. The gallery is open Thursday–Tuesday, 11 am–6 pm. For more information: 304.657.4572. sethhillart.com / email@example.com / 304.641.2757 Right: Grafton, West Virginia
the new f word arts | culture | events
Mark Muse – Photographs Fine Art Photography and Printmaking • Portfolio Printing Printing for Exhibition Color and Black&White High Quality Art Reproduction
[\ firstname.lastname@example.org markmusephotographs.com
18 | fluent
MISSED AN ISSUE OF FLUENT?
click on any cover to read the issue.
Next Issue: September — 2017 —
fluent | 19
hey happen each year, the annual Capstone Exhibits in the Depart-
ment of Contemporary Art and Theater at Shepherd University in Shepherdstown, West Virginia. While the dates and names change
each year, the rules don’t. The exhibit is both a rite [right] of passage and a
ticket to the future for graduating art students. For each, it’s one day and one exhibit that distill four years of life as an art student—learning art, making art, talking about art. Forty Shepherd students received a Bachelor of Fine Arts at Shepherd’s Graduation in May. Meet six (their images right, clockwise from top left): painter Caliph Greene, graphic designer Shane Harris, graphic designer / sculptor Acadia Kandora, graphic designer Molly Langland, painter Andrea Siles-Loayza and photographer Steven Welti. u
20 | fluent
fluent | 21
GREENE What is your major at Shepherd? Fine Arts with concentrations in painting and drawing.
Whatâ€™s next? With a BFA in painting/drawing and a new and more refined form of critical thinkingâ€Śto continue creating my own work and applying this new knowledge to solving problems in as many different ways as possible; to not only gain a mastery in crafting by hand, but also to build experience in digital art-making. Career paths I would choose include freelance work, Illustration, gallery direction and education. I aim to use my work as a way to bring people together and convey a connection we all share, and as a means of self-reflection. What makes your art uniquely yours? I explore organic abstraction while forcefully addressing the disruptive conversation between nature and the structural conventions of mankind. Through plant life, construction sites, and storms, I interpret various degrees of transformative growth. I invite nature to co-author each painting by allowing rain and chance to dictate the forms of each biomorphic shape. A sense of relentless discord is found in my materials, ranging from household products to oil paints, gesso, salt, liquid dyes and threads. I attempt to blend the boundaries of 2d and 3d art by combining draft sketches, collage and sculpture. What drives your passion as an artist? I am driven by a moment when a wooden birdhouse was dangling from a small tree behind my home in a violent summer thunderstorm. Within this chaotic situation of winds sweeping belongings across the road and lightning in blackened skies, I saw this birdhouse as a symbol of structure and sanctuary. I am passionate about the catharsis found within natural occurrences and what it can tell us about ourselves. Discovering the silver lining of a chaotic situation will always be refreshingly exciting for me. email Caliphgreeneartist@gmail.com website www.behance.net/caliphgreeddc0 22 | fluent
Left: “Apeiron #1.” Above: “Nature Loves to Hide #2.” fluent | 23
What is your major at Shepherd? Graphic Design with a focus in hand lettering and typographic design. Whatâ€™s next? I will be moving to Richmond, Virginia, and focusing on growing my freelance clientele. I would like to land some jobs involving larger pieces, such as wall murals/lettering, in the essence of old industrial advertising.
What makes your art uniquely yours? I feel my work is unique in that anyone with a computer has access to thousands of fonts, and because of that the human touch on lettering has been lost. My work places the focus on the hand-done letterforms, instead of them being supplementary to the design. What drives your passion as an artist? Iâ€™m driven by the lettering artists of the past, especially around the turn of the century, and their almost unbelievable skill and craftsmanship.
Instagram shane.m.harris website shaneharrisdesign.com Clockwise from top left: Horse In The Forest design in process. Horse In The Forest full logo. Dog Creek Farm logo design in process. Full Dog Creek Farm logo. MaidenHair Ferments full logo. MaidenHair Ferments jar.
24 | fluent
fluent | 25
What’s your major at Shepherd? I’m an art major with duel concentrations in Graphic Design and Sculpture, though lately I’ve been focusing on printmaking. What’s next? This summer I am traveling to Finland as a teaching assistant for a metal casting course at the University of the Arts Helsinki taught by my sculpture professor, Christian Benefiel. Afterward, I’m going to take some time off school and try to get an internship or artist residency at a print shop, with the hope of attending graduate school in pursuit of an MFA in Printmaking or Interdisciplinary Studio Arts. I would like to continue to exhibit my work as a studio artist. With my recent experience as a teaching assistant, I’ve become interested in teaching college art courses. I would like to eventually create a series of installations with my printed pieces that create an environment for the viewer to explore. What makes your art uniquely yours? My process, which has an interdisciplinary approach. I have a strong background in both graphic design and sculpture. Even though I’m mostly making prints, I use my skillsets from these two other mediums to create the plates for my images. I use my design skills to digitally finalize my compositions and my sculpture knowledge to fabricate my plates. I figured out how to combine elements from my three favorite mediums into a singular process. What drives your passion as an artist? The desire to experiment and try new things. I like to push myself to produce work that is challenging though process and concept. My current series is about blurring the line between the natural and the manufactured worlds, which is a little bit unusual since they are usually perceived as opposites. website acadiakandora.com Right: “Configuring the Colony.“ 26 | fluent
What’s your major at Shepherd? I’m a Fine Arts major with a concentration in Graphic Design. What’s next? Currently, I’m working as a graphic designer in Martinsburg, WV. After graduation I plan on moving to Frederick, MD, and expanding my career and knowledge through new opportunities. Eventually, the plan is to have my own design business. I’ve always wanted to learn printmaking, but I never was able to take a class during my time at Shepherd. I imagine myself exploring this further after graduation. What makes your art uniquely yours? What set’s my work apart is probably my love of traditional media, which I use quite often throughout my digital work. I love painting with watercolors and acrylics as well as creating mixed-media pieces. What drives your passion as an artist? The process of starting from nothing except a thought or a feeling and the evolution as a piece comes together. It helps me understand the world I live in, sometimes revealing insight I couldn’t put into words before. I also love seeing how others respond to the work that I create.
email@example.com mollylanglanddesign.net Top right The project was to design a brochure program for the Shepherdstown Visitor’s Center, located in Shepherdstown, WV, for tourists visiting the area. The brochure features four main sections: explore, dine, shop, stay. Right Event branding, social media campaign, book layout and promotional materials for Shepherd University’s annual art and literature magazine, Sans Merci.
28 | fluent
fluent | 29
ANDREA SILES-LOAYZA What is your major at Shepherd? Fine Arts, with a concentration in Painting. What’s next? My career goals right now are to pursue a master’s degree in illustration and to illustrate graphic novels and comic books. I have always wanted to try my hand at metal working and welding. I’m not much of a sculptor, but the whole process of making a mold and casting it in bronze or iron is really exciting to me. What makes your art uniquely yours? My style is characterized by flowing line work and keeping a certain fluidity with my paint application. What drives your passion as an artist? I find my drive to make art usually comes from nature and the artists I look up to. I am inspired by the ocean and its inhabitants, mainly sharks. I find them to be beautiful and fascinating, and when I read about their population decline it really gives me the incentive to make my work. email firstname.lastname@example.org Below: “Zebra shark” Right: “Ocean white tip deep”
30 | fluent
fluent | 31
WELTI What is your major at Shepherd? I majored in Photography/Computer Imagery.
What’s next? Now that I’ve received my Bachelor of Fine Arts degree, I plan to use what I learned about creativity in my wildlife photography and earn a Masters degree in Wildlife Conservation. I would like to reach further into the techniques of landscape photography and post-processing techniques. I think diving into a new technique to process images would open a whole new realm to advance my creativity and boundaries of what art is and how I can push myself to keep making new work. What makes your art uniquely yours? I use vibrant colors and contrast to emphasize the movement in my work. What drives your passion as an artist? My love for the environment drives me to be an artist. I like the idea that nature is always moving. I capture and abstract the constant movement of my subjects, which allows me to see something that would’ve never been seen without the use of photography.
email email@example.com swelti17.wixsite.com/weltiphotography Right “Escape Your Mind.”
32 | fluent
fluent | 33
Mushroom Risotto byJon Anderson
Jon Anderson has been working for several decades on the development challenges in Africa, much of that time in Mali. He is committed to helping the voiceless find expression, and promoting under-
represented views, including through writing. His stories have appeared in Unhinged, Fluent and District Lit.
34 | fluent
Directions: Heat the chicken broth in a saucepan and keep warm over low heat. Dice the onion and garlic. Good knives are essential, like the ones he gave me for our 4th anniversary. They were beautiful. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large skillet over medium heat and add the diced onion and garlic. Sauté, stirring until translucent, about 6 minutes. Add the fresh mushrooms, herbs and butter. For our fresh vegetables, we would go to the farmers’ market at Nottaway on Saturday mornings. Sauté for 3 to 5 minutes until lightly browned, season with salt and pepper. Reconstitute the dried porcini mushrooms in 1 cup of warm chicken broth and add. The way the dried mushrooms come back to life when reconstituted is like a small miracle. We never used them before, but I like what they add to the recipe, these days. Sauté 2 minutes then remove from heat and set aside. With remaining oil, coat a saucepan on medium high. To prevent the grains from sticking, add the rice and stir until the rice is coated and opaque, about 1 minute. This is a key step. Stir in the wine and cook until it is nearly all evaporated. For the wine, we would open a bottle of Chardonnay, use a 1/2 cup, and slowly drink the rest. With a ladle, add 1/2 cup of the warm broth and cook, stirring, until the rice has absorbed the liquid. Add the remaining broth, a little at a time. Continue to cook and stir, allowing the rice to absorb the broth fully before adding more. While I stirred, he would sometimes stand behind me, his fingers lightly touching, his breath on my neck. The risotto should be firm and creamy, not soft and pulpy. Transfer the mushrooms to the rice mixture. Stir in Parmesan cheese (or Romano, he liked Romano), and cook briefly until melted. Risotto can be a bit drab; I would sometimes add a bit of fresh parsley for some color. Ingredients: 2 cups chicken broth, low sodium (for his high blood pressure) 1 tablespoon olive oil 1/4 onion, diced (he preferred purple onions) 1 garlic clove, minced 1/4 pound fresh Portobello and crimini mushrooms, sliced 1 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped 1 tablespoon butter 1/4 ounce dried porcini mushrooms, cleaned (optional) 1/2 cup Arborio rice 1 bottle dry white wine (use 1/2 cup for cooking) 1/2 cup fresh Parmesan cheese (or Romano), grated Fresh Italian parsley, for garnish, (optional) Salt and pepper Serves: 1
Bold. New. Theater. JULY 7 â€“ 30. SHEPHERDSTOWN, WV. 800/999.CATF
CATF.org fluent | 35
huge bed, just my outline in it. The dreams pulled into poerms, dark apples, a red maple collapsing with rain.
in this one they seem to be grabbing fistfuls of green, their arms, wild flowers. They like where thye are
Things in me like blind mice running into each other.
Afterwards it doesn’t change. You lean into your self near the window, the sea at your neck. I’m lying on the other side of the room watching your face grey, wondering when to kill birds that crash into the glass and lie there, how hurt some thing can be and still survive.
36 | fluent
Near the ocean they lie down in each other’s hair not needing any roof for shelter it’s hard to remember when it was us
At the End of the Pond I stop to call to the mares. It’s beginning to get dark. It seems summer just began but slate fills the sky, earlier each evening. The sound of horses skims the wter. I can hear their breath before they move thru the trees. They move calmly toward me, apples and carrots and then their nibbling like velvet curled over teeth. They are careful of fingers and skin. Some nights I dream my arms around their manes moving into lavender shadows. Their eyes glitter, reflecting stars.
Lyn Lifshin has published over 130 books and chapbooks, and her work is included in major anthologies of women writers. Lifshin’s poems have appeared in a majority of poetry and literary magazines in the U.S., and she has given more than 700 readings across the country. Lifshin also taught poetry and prose writing at universities, and has been poet in residence at the University of Rochester, Antioch and Colorado Mountain College. A recipient of the Jack Kerouac Award, she lives and writes in Fairfax, Virginia.
My Mother Used to Comb My Hair rub my back, told me if I couldn’t sleep any time of the night to call her in Vermont. Or from the next room she’d come to soothe or sing years after I was a child, bring me ice cream. Now I’m sitting at the foot of the bed where she’s my baby, a child who’ll only wither, baby of snow, shrinking faster in my arms and hands the closer I hold her
That Month My Mother Begged To Wait With Her in the Dark under the blood red dogwood, berries crinkly as skin. My mother whose bed I’d curl into the whole year I was six, woke up dreaming of fire, doesn’t want to be alone. Between the car and the house, shorterthan the hallway to her blue room where Otter Creek Falls licked the window. She holds onto the doll , the Lindberg doll I smashed in a tantrum. My mother who’d take subways at night all thru Brooklyn is afraid in the driveway of Apple Tree. Don’t leave me she cries like a child begging for water she’ll never drink
Three Days Before My Mother’s Birthday I run into a young woman almost staggering across the street. I’m surprised to see it’s someone I know. She seems pale. Then I see she’s lugging a cat carrier, and when I ask if the cat is ok, she says no, a tumor. Seventeen years old. I think of my own cat, just as old, how she has been drinking so much water, and how this past year’s been a gift, after the vet said a year ago she was dying. A reprieve, an extra four seasons. I think how, when she doesn’t eat, I’m afraid, how it reminds me of my mother’s last months. I shopped wildly for treats, something that might tempt my mother as chocolate no longer could. I bought her Popsicles in exotic flavors—blueberry, mango, apricot—but still she kept shrinking until we no longer weighed her. All winter, coaxed and spoiled, my cat thrived, too heavy to jump up on the bed. Now, with the air conditioning on, she chooses a chair where it’s warm and some days seems to be slipping from me as my mother did, no longer worrying about me when I drove home from the mountains or caring what I ate or where. On her good days my mother and I sat in the jade light outdoors, and I brought her watermelon, and strawberries and cream, two of the few things she still longed for. Today I opened extra cans of food for my cat, and she ate a bit, but she feels lighter. When I brought my mother to my house, I knew how her visit would end but not how we’d get there, and I wanted to feel as if each day, however it went, was a gift: I wanted to feel grateful, but those last weeks she was like a kite whose string I’d lost hold of, getting smaller and smaller
“On The Night The Most Handsome Poet Walked Out of The Schenectady Community College Reading Alcove” is from All The Poets Who Have Touched Me, Living And Dead. All True, Especially The Lies from World Parade Books 2011. www.lynlifshin.com.
On The Night The Most Handsome Poet Walked Out of The Schenectady Community College Reading Alone headed up State Street it was June, still light. Alone. I couldn’t believe it. The last raspberry light over the old downtown buildings. I watched him pass Proctor’s, the only lit up building, past boarded up cafés. I could not believe there was not a flotilla of women behind him. I had not written a poem yet, I was afraid to ask him to auto graph the book I clutched. Alone. After all the women he left in tears. Sometimes sent yellow roses to. Sometimes mourned on the page. Alone. The most handsome. Even years later I could never tell him it was like seeing a Bugatti, a Lamborghini somehow in the living room to see him just leaving alone, strolling thru the town empty as a De Chirico painting while I stood with my mother in front of the bookstore that no longer is, held my breath
The Black Silk Skirt Falling as if it was her, something in her leaving, stepping out of her last skin, chrysalis about to be free as the grackles she watched those last days. This dream on the eve of my mother’s birthday, there was something in the sound of her skirt falling, a pool blacker than midnight nothing was reflected in. Then the whoosh, the wind of where she was and then wasn’t. These days of rain, as if to wash her away. Still, like the water fall outside our apartment window, she tumbles like a river, so loud and close to me I forget she isn’t
fluent | 37
Long-dead Chinese Poet Makes It Big Here In memoriam Burton Watson (June 1925–April 2017) BY ED ZAHNISER
How can you tell when a poet makes it big in America? Robert Frost was invited to read his poetry—and because of glare at the lectern, he ended up having to recite some of it from memory—at the inauguration of President John F. Kennedy in January 1961. But that’s of modest account compared to what Chinese poet Han Shan has achieved. Popular manga writer Sean Michael Wilson teamed up with artist Akiko Shimojima and translator J. P. Seaton to produce a 2015 graphic novel, Cold Mountain: The Legend of Han Shan and Shih Te, the Original Dharma Bums. Han Shan means Cold Mountain in Chinese. The poet lived during China’s Tang Dynasty period (618–908 C.E). Oh, then you mean Han Shan made it big in America mainly as a member of the Dead Poets Society? Not really. Many students of Chinese poetry think the poets of the Tang Dynasty era were the greatest of the greats, Han Shan among them. This was a long time ago, of course, and time has obscured, complicated, and obfuscated the life story of Han Shan. Shih Te was his sidekick and also a poet. The duo was reputed to show up occasionally in a monastery near the Tien Tai mountain range, where they lived in a cave. They might help in the monastery kitchen—or hang out there—in exchange for food. Han Shan has become the name of the poet and the mountain where he lived and a state of mind, to boot. American Poet Gary Snyder translated a small group of the Han Shan poems in his book Riprap & Cold Mountain Poems published by the Four Seasons Foundation in San Francisco in 1965. In 1962 translator Burton Watson had published Cold Mountain: 100 Poems by the T’ang poet Han-Shan with Columbia University Press.
38 | fluent
The “Original Dharma Bums” in the graphic novel’s subtitle harks back to Snyder’s 1965 book of Han Shan translations and to Jack Kerouac’s novels. In Buddhism the Triple Gem or Three Jewels are the Buddha, the Dharma or teachings of the Buddha, and the Sangha or community that follows the teachings. Gary Snyder was early accounted as a “Beat generation poet” after the Beatnik movement that evolved in the 1950s, with sweatshirts, bongo drums and berets. In his 1958 novel The Dharma Bums, Kerouac— labeled the “King of the Beats,” a label he quickly grew to despise— modeled the character
“Han Shan” by Yan Hui, late 13th-century Chinese painter. Tokyo National Museum.
Japhy Ryder on a very thinly disguised Gary Snyder. In 1956, Snyder had traveled to Japan on the freighter Sappa Creek to study Zen Buddhism in a monastery in Kyoto. He had been interested in Asian poets since his time at Reed College in Portland, Oregon and then at the University of California at Berkeley from 1953 to 1956. Snyder spent most of the next 12 years in Japan. In 1969 New Directions published a book of his essays Earth House Hold: Technical Notes and Queries to Fellow Dharma Revolutionaries. It became a seminal work on ecology and tribalism among the so-called counterculture that would create “the Seventies” era. It included his journal from his two remote summers as a fire look out atop Crater Peak and then Sourdough Mountain in today’s North Cascades National Park in Washington State. In 1956, Kerouac was a fire lookout on nearby and equally remote Desolation Peak for 65 days. It was Kerouac’s last sustained stretch of sobriety, and the experience figures in his novels Desolation Angels and The Dharma Bums. Among Snyder’s poems from the North Cascades experience is “Mid-August at Sourdough Mountain Lookout,” which ends:
I cannot remember things I once read A few friends, but they are in cities. Drinking cold snow-water from a tin cup Looking down for miles Through high still air. It has the aural flavor and the restraint of a Han Shan poem in translation. Here, for example, is J. P. Seaton’s Han Shan poem nine, included in the graphic novel:
People ask about the cold mountain way: plain roads don’t get through to Cold Mountain. Middle of the summer and the ice still hasn’t melted. Sunrise, and the mist would blind a hidden dragon. So, how could a man like me get here? My heart is not the same as yours, dear sir . . . If your heart were like mine, you’d be here already. And here is Gary Snyder’s translation of the same poem:
Men ask the way to Cold Mountain Cold Mountain: there’s no through trail. In summer, ice doesn’t melt The rising sun blurs in swirling fog. How did I make it? My heart’s not the same as yours. If your heart were like mine You’d get it and be right here. To my ear, Seaton’s translations pay too much court to the syntactical accretions of written English. On the other hand, Burton Watson, a bona fide scholar of Chinese and of Tang and Sung dynasties poetry, comments that Snyder, whose translations he clearly admires, evinces a Han Shan with less technical finesse than the poet possessed. Compare Burton Watson’s translation of the poem:
People ask the way to Cold Mountain. Cold Mountain? There is no road that goes through. Even in summer the ice doesn’t melt; Though the sun comes out, the fog is blinding. How can you hope to get there by aping me? Your heart and mine are not alike. If your heart were the same as mine, Then you could journey to the very center! The Han Shan corpus is written from a poetic stance of —if not actually—looking back on one’s life and former values. So it’s good that millennials and other younger folk now have ready access to such a work in a favored contemporary genre, the graphic novel. To have otherwise distant road signs available for reading close-up is a long-term asset. I discovered Han Shan when I was a penurious college sophomore, devouring Watson’s book of 100 translations while standing up in the Maryland Book Exchange. The body of work in six or more translations has been part of the fabric of my life ever since. My first book of poems was a rewrite of the Han Shan material in an Adirondack Mountains setting in upstate New York. At my 70th birthday party I was seated next to a fellow I had not met before, the guest of a friend of mine. While talking with folks seated to my right, u
fluent | 39
my left ear—despite some impairment—heard the fellow “. . . wonder what a sixth-century Chinese poet would think of that?” At the first pause in our conversations, I turned and asked him “You mean Han Shan?” “Yes,” Marc Chimes replied. Turns out Marc studied in Taiwan during his college ventures and knows far more about Chinese poetry—and specifically the Sung and Tang dynasties—than I ever will. When, subsequently, I discovered the Cold Mountain graphic novel on the new-arrivals shelf at Shepherd University’s Scarborough Library, I brought it to Marc’s attention. On reading it, Marc was not much impressed by the book’s overall presentation and treatment of Han Shan and his poetry. But he agreed that it was amazing that Han Shan would suddenly be accessible to a new generation in their favored format. In fact, the scholars think that if there was the actual poet Han Shan, the Cold Mountain corpus is the work of many hands over a period of time. It would not, in that tradition, be unthinkable to attribute one’s work to an esteemed name and corpus. James P. Lenfestey, poet, essayist, academic, and former advertising executive, thought there was an
actual poet Han Shan and that his cave domicile must exist. After he retired from teaching, Lenfestey got in touch with Han Shan translator Red Pine, aka Bill Porter. They decided it would be grand to go to China, hook up there with translator Burton Watson, get a guide and driver, and look for the cave. Lenfestey’s 2014 book Seeking the Cave: A Pilgrimage To Cold Mountain, recounts their trip. The trio does find the cave and even eats a meal prepared there by a gregarious contemporary female hermit. Lenfestey finds himself and his writer-self through the great journey with Red Pine and Watson. Unfortunately, he does not describe the cave at any length—possibly encouraging the rest of us Han Shan acolytes to make our own journey seeking the cave. Ironically, Han Shan is not nearly so popular in his home country of China as he is in Japan, and perhaps here in America. Lenfestey describes Han Shan as “the older brother America never had.” But that “older brother” has a double fistful of translators here, a travel memoir seeking his cave, and a graphic novel about his life and work. How many native-born American poets boast such a résumé? fluent
The Bridge Fine Art & Framing Gallery “Women in Art” Exhibit, June 3–June 30 Painting – Photography– Sculpture – Ceramics • Opening Reception Saturday, June 3, 5–7:30 pm
8566 Shepherdstown Pike, Shepherdstown WV 25443 • 304.876.2300 Fine Art, Ceramics, Photography & Custom Framing
40 | fluent
The underpass that connects the east and west campuses of Shepherd University is being enhanced and transformed, from a convenience into an experience. Before the painting could start, contractors had to sandblast the walls of the underpass to remove a clear graffiti coating, then re-prime and paint them with a base coat. Days of work just to start this public art project! Design-oriented and abstract rather than classic and representational, the work is a 3-D space, rather than a static flat-wall mural. The overall theme is nature- and West Virginia-inspired—rolling mountain vistas, chimney swifts, wind turbines, rhododendron forms, trees—overall advocating for the beauty and protection of the environment. The positive benefits of public art are many: It personalizes spaces. It represents a community that is forward-thinking, one that embraces and celebrates art and culture. Successful public art evokes meaning in the public realm while retaining high artistic quality; it provides visual interest along a pathway; and it encourages walking.—Sonja Evanisko