Feb 132011
 

After some grueling work, the film finally has a release date.  There will be a premiere event at Siena College on February 26th, 2011, at 7PM.  Screened before the film will be a short movie by my brother.

Without further ado, here’s the new, longer trailer, which includes some story bits.  Don’t mind the parts that look a tad garbled; it’s what happens when you try to smush a widescreen HD film into the tiny Youtube box.  Enjoy.

YouTube Preview Image

All music is original:

“Alamenë” – Jennifer Wicks

“Riverflow” – Dizzi Dulcimer

“Battle for the Silmaril” – Philip Hartshorn

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Feb 112011
 




























Here’s a splendid, gritty Texas “Childhood” essay from Brad Green in Denton. You all know what Denton, TX, is like because Brad also contributed a gorgeous “What it’s like living here” essay in December. Brad Green is a prolific author and editor, a uniquely rich, harsh, dry and despairing voice on NC, and he’s about to be a father again as dg types these words.

dg

Childhood

By Brad Green

 

Sloth and Envy

When I was twelve, I had the world’s meanest boil on my ass. Picture the swollen eye of a pissed-off bull, Aztec red and glaring. I’d run my palm with wonder over the furuncle’s tender heat and trace the rising, tight flesh to a pale tip that when brushed made my arms stiffen and toes clench. The day that boil popped was one of the worst of my life.

Hours were spent face down on my bed while the attic fan in our small elbow of a house droned, culling the scent of honeysuckle through my bedroom window. Those bushes were my favorite place in the world at that time. They’d inched up through the clay-cobbled dirt around our trailer in Argyle, Texas, and as they unfurled in the sun, I retreated to their shadow. That crosswork thatch of limbs laid sun-dappled shade under my window and I’d sit on the cool, damp earth, full of breath and light.

Butterflies flooded the air around the vines. The honeysuckle attracted clouds of them, each a fluttering thumbsmear of color. Flying in and around the bushes, the butterflies landed on my arms, tickled paths across my scalp. There was an immediacy to that experience that lifted one beyond the gravity of the skin.

But of course, my hidebound father tolerated none of that woolgathering. One day he thumped his Bible down on my bedside table, opened to Job, his mophandle finger stabbing at the verse. “Unlike him, I believe you done something wrong,” he said. Then he flicked his finger against the back of my thigh near the boil and I bucked on the bed. “You think about what sins brought this upon you.”

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Feb 102011
 


Portrait and Poem Painting” (1961), by Larry Rivers and Frank O’Hara, Image courtesy of Tibor de Nagy Gallery, New York.

As a writer, I often turn to art for inspiration.  Flipping through the pages of a Paul Klee book, I can get lost in swirls of color, rigid lines, blocks of symmetry or irregularity and find myself at the exact literary abstraction I was looking for in my writing.  Turns out, I’m not alone.

Beginning in the 1950s the Tibor de Nagy Gallery served as a unique artistic salon where many New York School poets and abstract expressionist painters looked to each other for inspiration.  Poets such as Frank O’Hara, Kenneth Koch and John Ashbery hung out with painters Larry Rivers, Helen Frankenthaler and Willem de Kooning, sharing an artistic fellowship and an aesthetic style that often resulted in collaborative poem paintings.  These paintings offered a unique blend of visual and lyrical artistic passion.  The Tibor de Nagy Gallery in New York is currently featuring the exhibit: Painters and Poets.  The New Yorker art critic Peter Schjeldahl disusses the exhibit in the article, “Artists and Writers: New York Mashups” (January 31, 2011).  Schjeldahl says the show is primarily dominated by literary material—collaborative imagery, books and ephemera.

“The typical New York School collaboration is a carefully nonsensical interplay of visual and verbal vernaculars, as infection and as frustrating as a lively party overheard through a wall. (You had to be there. You almost are.)”—Peter Schjeldahl

Schjeldahl has an audio slideshow featuring a few poem painting collaborations and an excerpt from John Ashbery’s “And Ut Pictura Poesis Is Her Name.” The New York Times also has an article describing the Tibor de Nagy salon’s early years entitled, “When Art Dallied with Poetry on 53rd Street.” You can see the poem painting collaboration between painter Larry Rivers and poet Kenneth Koch, entitled “In Bed,” (1982, mixed media).  The gorgeously designed Poets & Painters catalog features the collaborations and can be ordered through the mail directly from the Tibor de Nagy Gallery.

There are many poets and visual artists collaborating today.  The Academy of American Poets website regularly features poetry and art collaborations. In addition, Saturnalia Press has published a series of books on artists/poet collaborations.  They’re really more poetry pairings, not poetry paintings, but nonetheless, I found them affecting.  I especially enjoyed Stigmata Errata Etcetera by poet Bill Knott and artist Star Black, as well as Midnights by poet Jane Miller and artist Beverly Pepper.

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Feb 102011
 


Here is a thoughtful and lucid essay on digital publishing and the decline of the book (what IanColford calls “a near perfect” piece of technology). Ian is a Canadian short story writer who happens to be a librarian at Dalhousie University next door to the University of King’s College in Halifax where my son Jacob goes to school. Ian is the author of a short story collection, Evidence, published in 2008 and shortlisted for the Danuta Gleed, Raddall Atlantic Fiction, and ReLit awards. A month ago NC published his short story “Laurianne’s Choice.”

The Author and the eBook

By Ian Colford

 

We know that eBooks pose huge challenges for publishers, booksellers, librarians, readers. Electronic books render fundamental concepts obsolete. Try to imagine, for instance, how phrases such as “print run” and “out of print” could be applied to eBooks. How do you calculate the number of copies sold of an eBook? eBooks will never hit the used book market…or will they? Can an eBook be remaindered? And, if a library has purchased the first edition of a text in eBook format, what happens to that edition when the second edition comes along? In some fields of study, it can be unhelpful to keep old information around when new information has been produced that supersedes or discredits it. How do you “deselect” an eBook?

It’s probably fair to say that eBooks—as an inevitable byproduct of the internet—have revolutionized pedagogy: that is, the way information is accessed, absorbed, and processed into knowledge. Before digitization, a book had to be read cover to cover in order for the reader to be certain that he or she wasn’t missing something. But with eBooks key phrases and concepts can be searched and specific pages targeted for reading. The rest of the book can be safely ignored. Some vendors have even begun breaking books down into component parts and marketing individual chapters. The root concept of bookness is changing before our eyes. With all these advances in technology, is something being gained or lost? Readers of eBooks, who are saving time by avoiding irrelevant passages, are also less apt to serendipitously happen across surprising or unexpected bits of illumination lurking in unlikely places. Searchable eBooks take chance out of the equation. There is no reason to browse. Readers are not going to visit pages that don’t match their search criteria because they know beyond any doubt that those pages will not yield the information they’re looking for.

Much has been written about the eBook and its impact on students and casual readers, on academic and public library collections. But what of the author? Other than providing raw text that the publisher edits, formats, and then markets, does the author have any role to play once his or her eBook has been published?

With regard to this issue I enjoy a dual perspective, being both a librarian and an author. My book of short fiction was published in 2008. I’ll admit that it is inexpressibly satisfying to watch someone walk away carrying a signed copy of your book, presumably with the intention of either giving it as a gift or sitting down with it in a comfortable chair and delving into its pages.

This brings us—predictably enough—to the book as tangible object. My ideas on this topic are neither new nor particularly unique, but I will put them down here as a preface to what I really want to say.

Authors and their books have been inextricably linked for centuries, a pairing—much like mother and child—that’s as unavoidable as it is unconditional. Authors write books, watch them go through the editorial process (not without trepidation), and breathe a sigh of relief when they finally make it into the hands of readers, hopefully intact. The words, the story, the ideas contained between the covers of a book reflect directly back upon the author—they are the tools the author uses to express him- or herself and to show us something of what it means to be human, in precisely the same way that an artist uses paint and a dancer uses movement. Stories and ideas issue from the author and reveal aspects of the author as a human being; and yet, strangely enough, by giving expression to these stories and ideas and sending them out there for others to read and critique, the author also cuts himself off from them.

This is because the book, once it is sprung upon the world, assumes an independent existence that has nothing do to with the author. In ways that are simultaneously reassuring and frightening, a book takes on a life of its own and moves beyond the author’s sphere of influence. Once the book is in the hands of a reader, it belongs to the reader, not the author. The reader is a free agent who can make whatever he or she wishes of the words and ideas found within its pages. There is no need for the reader to know or care anything about the author in order to gain insight or enjoyment from, or be puzzled, confused, or irritated by, an author’s work. In fact, I’ll go so far as to say that with regard to the act of reading, the author is a needless and irrelevant distraction.

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Feb 092011
 

Here are three achingly poignant yet transgressive poems from my old friend Karen Mulhallen, yes, dear friend, extraordinary woman-of-letters, poet, Blake scholar, and publisher and editor of the amazing Toronto-based literary magazine Descant (this summer’s issue marks the magazine’s 40th anniversary). Karen has published close to a dozen books of poems, the latest, her selected poems entitled Acquainted With Absence, published in 2009, was edited and introduced by dg (see poems from that book published earlier on NC). These new poems are from Karen’s forthcoming collection, The Pillow Books (forthcoming 2011 with Black Moss Press).

dg

February/Raise High The Red Lantern

He is coming. Raise it high
My red lantern burns in the bright light of day
disappearing in the glare of the sun.

in the evening the lantern of the Other Wife
bursts through the darkness.
Her light more brilliant than any other lantern.

I am the Daylight Wife.
Take my light.

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