Archives for posts with tag: Films

faith-reardon

Martin Scorsese‘s celebrated new film Silence, based on Shūsaku Endō’s 1966 novel is an intense journey about the nature of faith — and what people will do when their beliefs are threatened. The film and book take place in 17th century Japan, where converts to Roman Catholicism are persecuted by those in power — and face life-or-death decisions about whether to keep or abandon their faith.

In Faith Stripped to Its Essence (ACTA Publications, September 2016), Patrick T. Reardon has written a guide that, in his introduction, he calls a “pilgrimage through the discordant voices of faith in Endō’s novel.” Reardon’s 111-page book features brief, reader-friendly chapters that break down the subject matter of Endō’s complex novel into thought-provoking, accessible material.  Questions for individual reflection or group discussion appear at the end of each chapter.

Reardon’s book is an essential addition to the canon of writing — both fiction and nonfiction —  that endeavors to bridge differences among religious groups and focus on the significant questions that all believers need to address. “What are we required to do because of our faith?” Reardon writes. “What does it mean to believe?”

If you plan to see Scorsese’s film — or if you’ve already seen it — Faith Stripped to Its Essence will enhance and deepen your viewing experience of Silence, and provide material for reflection for years to come.

Find Faith Stripped to Its Essence by Patrick T. Reardon at Amazon.com. This beautiful volume also makes an impressive gift — for the modest price of $12.95.

raising arizona
The Lottery
by April Salzano

Lined up, ready to go to Grandma’s
for their weekly visit to a home with functioning
appliances and constant utility service,
one of the four would be
chosen to ride on the back of Dad’s
Harley. Why did their mother
subject them to this—
to breathe more freely in the car
that traveled a different route to the same place
with three bickering children instead of four?
To surrender one child to the father,
to see if they loved each other
when they got there?

Each avoided eye contact,
not wanting to be picked, and still
with the flick of a finger,
the quick pronunciation of a name,
one would have to strap on a helmet
and ride, careful to hold onto
Dad’s beltloops and not
grip the fat squeezing over his jeans.

She chose the middle child that Sunday.
She was changing a diaper, holding
the baby’s ankles in one hand and couldn’t
see the girl’s eyes pleading,
No, not me, I rode last week.

The father looked at the choice
as a burden. He wanted
to drive fast and free,
to forget he had children.
For a glorious fifteen highway minutes,
to forget that not remembering is impossible,
that plastic sneakers melt on tailpipes
and careless laces stick in spokes.

The girl didn’t know
before she straddled the leather seat
that her helmet wasn’t fastened properly,
that the wind would lift it,
or that her father would stop
and punch it back on her head.
She only feared that her fingers would slip
from the loops, and the wind would tear
her from her father’s back.

PHOTO: Lone Biker of the Apocalypse and Nathan, Jr., in the 1987 Coen Brothers film Raising Arizona.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Though not on a bicycle, learning to be a good passenger seemed a kind of acceptance into the private world my father inhabited, which always seemed to me to be a place where he could pretend to be someone else.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: April Salzano is the co-editor at Kind of a Hurricane Press and is currently working on a memoir about raising a child with autism, as well as several collections of poetry. Her work has been twice nominated for a Pushcart Award and has appeared in journals such as The Camel Saloon, Centrifugal Eye, Deadsnakes, Visceral Uterus, Salome, Poetry Quarterly, Writing Tomorrow and Rattle. Her chapbook,The Girl of My Dreams, is available from Dancing Girl Press. Her poetry collection Future Perfect is forthcoming from Pink Girl Ink. More of her work can be read at aprilsalzano.blogspot.com

Clifton
by Clifton Snider

Growing up,
I hated my first name.
Who else was named Clifton?
It was a name apart, a name
for someone like me,
last-to-be-chosen
(football or baseball),
the boy who played violin,
an instrument girls excelled on,
a name confused with
“Clifford,” clumsy
with its double f’s,
a name I hated worse than my own.

In high school I worked
as bus boy at
Clifton’s Cafeteria,
a reason to like my name.
I’d whip out my
driver’s license to prove
to customers who I was.

I discovered Clifton Webb
in vintage movies on TV.
Perfect hair & mustache,
always proper, exquisite
suit & tie, a gentleman I assumed
was British with his eloquent
diction, covertly gay,
of course, as was I at the time,
a hero going down on the Titanic,
a comfort to his young son
he’d hitherto been estranged from,
down but not defeated —
a role model for a young queer
who did not yet own
his own exquisite self.

PHOTOS: (Left) Actor Clifton Webb, 1940s; (right) the author.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: “Clifton” was written expressly for the Silver Birch Press SAME NAME project. The prompt gave me an opportunity to reflect on why I had disliked my first name and how and why I came to embrace it. Much of that process came through my early identification with the characters Clifton Webb played on screen in a few movies I’d seen on TV. I suppose much of this was intuitive, and I make it explicit in the poem. The process of coming to terms with my name had much to do with my accepting myself for who I am. Clifton Webb helped in that process though, of course, it was far more complicated than just my identification with him as a fellow gay man.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Clifton Snider is the internationally celebrated author of 10 books of poetry, including Moonman: New and Selected Poems, and four novels: Loud Whisper, Bare Roots, Wrestling with Angels: A Tale of Two Brothers, and The Plymouth Papers. He has published hundreds of poems, fiction, reviews, and scholarly articles utilizing Jungian and Queer Theories. He pioneered gay and lesbian literary studies at California State University, Long Beach. His work has been translated into Arabic, French, Russian, and Spanish.

jc 1950
Me and Joan Crawford
by Joan Colby

It wasn’t her birth name. The studio
Thought Joan more modern than Lucille.
An era of modernity: bobbed hair,
Cigarettes, speakeasies. Father
Loved her Charleston in “Our Dancing Daughters”
Her rolled stockings, red lips.
I hope he wished me the wildness
To dance on tables in a smoky lounge.
Not the later padded shoulders
Of a dominatrix who whipped
Her kids with wire coat hangers
And stared big-eyed in horror flicks.

PHOTO: Actress Joan Crawford, around 1950.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Joan Colby has published widely in journals such as Poetry, Atlanta Review, South Dakota Review,etc. Awards include two Illinois Arts Council Literary Awards, an Illinois Arts Council Fellowship in Literature. She has published 16 books including Selected Poems from FutureCycle Press which received the 2013 FutureCycle Prize and Ribcage from Glass Lyre Press which has been awarded the 2015 Kithara Book Prize.Colby is also a senior editor of FutureCycle Press and an associate editor of Kentucky Review.

bernadette1
Namesake
by Jennifer Lagier

Jennifer Jones exuded piety,
visited a secret, sacred grotto,
innocently trysted with a higher power,
accepted prophetic messages
in the Song of Bernadette.

Despite decades of imposed Catholicism,
I never felt the gentle hand of god,
received angelic direction or was blessed
by preferment, descending grace.

Her role in Love Is a Many Splendored Thing,
resulted in award nominations.
Illicit passion ended with a broken heart,
bliss aborted, aftermath bittersweet.

Like my namesake,
I burned through marriages,
squandered opportunities,
watched myself wither
as empty years passed.

PHOTO: Jennifer Jones as Bernadette Soubirous in The Song of Bernadette (1943).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I’ve been intrigued by Jennifer Jones since seeing her in the two movies referenced in my poem. This submission call gave me an excuse to research her life.

Lagier

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jennifer Lagier has published 10 books of poetry and internationally in a variety of literary magazines and anthologies. Her latest book, Where We Grew Upwas just issued by FutureCycle Press. She taught with California Poets in the Schools, co-edits the Homestead Review,maintains web sites for Homestead Review, Monterey Poetry Review, Ping Pong Literary Journal, misfitmagazine and helps coordinate monthly Monterey Bay Poetry Consortium Second Sunday readings. Visit her at jlagier.net.

AUTHOR PHOTO: Jennifer Lagier and her dog, Stanley, in Cambria California. Taken by Oliver Fellguth.

caronSittner_1
Leslie as Leslie with a Pixie Cut
by Leslie Sittner

She is Franco-American. Exotic.
I, plain old American.

She is a gamine, a waif, a sylph.
I, sturdy, full, solid.

She learns ballet and to sing.
I, tap dance and sing in church.

She is a film actress and dancer.
I, a kid in middle school.

Her mother prepares her for performing.
Mine, for me to have Caron’s pixie haircut.

Her pixie cut is perfect. Her shaggy bangs smooth and flat.
Mine, cowlicks and curls.

She continues to be in the public eye, appearing with various hairstyles.
I, continue. Delighted to have once tried one of hers.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: The photo at right is me in junior high school with that darn pixie cut. That’s what it was called at the time. My mother adored Leslie Caron (pictured at left in the early 1960s) and was obsessed with that haircut. Since I had the cowlicks in my bangs, she would wet them down, straighten them out, clip a band of tissues to my forehead to keep them flat and a make me sleep on my back so I wouldn’t disturb the corrective set-up. I adored my mother so I really didn’t mind. The system kept the cowlicks at bay but, alas, could not correct the sideways curling.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Leslie Sittner, born in 1945 in upstate New York, is a new Creative nonfiction writer just finding her voice. While Leslie Caron published her autobiography, Thank Heaven, in 2010, Leslie S. is still working on remembering things. And oddly enough, their current hairstyles are often quite similar.

Wyatt1ayala 2
Juana Receives News of Summer Rain
For Juana of Aragon and Castile (1479-1555)
by Abigail Wyatt

They tell me sweet rain comes at last
to cool my prison walls, falls slant-wise,
like the words of those who came
with eyes downcast but afterwards
grew fearless with the going on of time.
I am happy for it -– the rain, I mean -–
for the doing away of this drought.
If they would but conclude me too
I might take ship for home.

They tell me there are trees beyond
the desert of my door — though I
have not heard birds at prayer
since your last uttered cry.
And where is that plump fledgling
that once prattled in your tongue,
and hung about my skirts and neck
to woo me from my dark?

They tell me now that bird has flown
to soar and sing elsewhere.
I would that I might follow her
to perch amongst lush leaves.
There I would speak that hymn
of praise that glorifies your grace;
and so make sweet confession,
finding sanity in peace.

They tell me that I may not write;
nor may I speak, nor can I sing —
though I am free to play, or pray,
or sanctify a seam or hem.
My needle is my crucifix:
I stitch the cross I bleed.
I would that I might sew a shroud
and I, not you, be dead.

They tell me that my mind has gone
and I am shut away. They say it is
their kindness since I cannot be their queen.
Less kindness, though, than madness
if true madness taints my blood;
but blood it was first spoke me mad
and cosseted my loss to keep
me in that chaos that would
pitch me from my throne.

They tell me I must make my peace
and offer up my soul
to Him who took you from me
who was then my lord of life.
They instruct me in my madness
and the pattern of my days:
to them I say hold fast your tongue
for here a soft rain falls.

PHOTO: (Left) Abigail Wyatt as Juana “La Loca” of Aragon and Castile, the character played by Pilar Lopez de Ayala in Mad Love (2001). This photo was shot in 1983 at East Tilbury in Essex, U.K.. The photographer was my then-husband. Ironically enough, given Juana’s lifelong passion for the womanizing Felipe El Hermoso, it was shortly after this picture was taken that I learned of my husband’s longstanding affair with a woman I thought of as a friend.(Right) Pilar Lopez de Ayala in Mad Love (2001).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: It is many years now since I first came across Juana’s haunting and tragic story. Over time, my fascination with the passionate beauty who came to be known as La Loca has continued to grow, perhaps to the point of becoming an obsession. In this poem, which is one of a number in which she features, I have imagined myself towards the end of her long life, more than half of which was spent in close confinement, addressing her dead husband whom she continued to love passionately in spite of his treachery in matters both personal and political. In the second and third stanzas she laments the loss of her youngest daughter who for a time shared her imprisonment. She then goes on the detail the constraints placed on her. For a woman of her temperament, her intelligence, and, indeed, her superior education, these must have been as onerous as the fact of incarceration itself. Nevertheless, Juana was raised and educated by The Catholic Monarchs, Isabella and Ferdinand, so there is some reason to think that she sought and found consolation in her faith. It is certain that, like her sister, Katherine of Aragon, she was taught to believe that royalty and service were her twin destinies. I like to think that, at the end, despite her many betrayals by those who should have loved her, she could still raise herself to her full height and show the bearing and manner of a queen.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Abigail Wyatt was born and raised in Essex but now lives in Cornwall, U.K.. Since 2007, examples of her writings — mainly in the form of poetry and short and flash fiction — have appeared in more than 100 magazines, journals, and anthologies. This is something she continues to see as a rather wonderful blessing. A Pushcart nominee for Still Life, her poem about American artist Georgia O’Keefe, Abigail was recently honoured by the inclusion of her work in WAVEHUB: new poetry from Cornwall (2014). Since the editor of this anthology, poet and playwright,Dr. Alan M. Kent, is one of Cornwall’s foremost literary figures, to an Essex girl born and bred it means a very great deal to have been thus included.

Seizure
by James Penha

Dead Poets Society
appalls me. I would
be one of Keating’s
Welton colleagues, not
so tight-assed as most
but one who can take
the man for a beer
on a late Friday afternoon
early in his tenure
and warn him that passion
is the greatest of gifts
for a teacher, but
like literary theory
or atomic energy,
not a force to disseminate
with abandon. I recount
my first year in the classroom,
when a student took my fervor
for “She’s Leaving Home”
as a pass to run away
from his . . . when on a
field trip, another offered
me a joint with an inviting
Teach? Our power
to shock and awe,
I tell John, is profound;
if we invade their lives
outside the halls, we must
do so with delicacy
for although teaching is not open-heart
surgery, John, it is.

And after the boy kills himself,
I argue against firing Keating,
but hear from John no qualms
no doubts no responsibility for a fire
he kindled. “So this must be the day,”
I say, “from which you turn away.”

PHOTO: (Left) Portrait of the poet as a young high school teacher in Astoria, New York. Photo by John Azrak; fiery colorization and photoshopping by Jared Moore. (Right) Robin Williams as John Keating in Dead Poets Society (1989).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Even decades after Dead Poets Society was released, many of my own students and a surprising number of colleagues saw Robin Williams’ John Keating as the ideal secondary school teacher, iconically enlivening the words of verse and demanding that his charges seize the day and “Break out! Break out! Now is the time!” I have always hated the movie because although there is much to appreciate in Keating’s pedagogical style, the substance of his mission, the manner in which he imposes himself into the complex lives of young people, is horribly careless. Oh, he does say with a line that is rather unremembered by viewers, “There’s a time for daring and there’s a time for caution, and a wise man understands which is called for.” But when the results of his poetic turns turn tragic, Keating never asks himself if he had been wise or dreadfully, dreadfully foolish.

We’re Oakies and Proud
by Sylvia Riojas Vaughn

We Joads swung
into California
to pick fruit, cotton.
I’m bone tired,
no time for tears.
The local folks
don’t care for us,
but I have a family
to feed, one pregnant.
Unholy red dust clouds
buried our crops,
our pastures.
Blinding, suffocating -−
a peek into our graves.
The bank took our farm.
We packed pots,
pans, blankets
into our old truck.
The old folks,
my son Tom,
and the rest of us
squeezed in,
close as kernels
on a corncob.
Before we left,
I laid my earbobs
against my cheeks,
admired them
in the mirror.
I remembered the dance
when my husband,
daring to dip me low, said,
By golly, Mrs. Joad,
you’re stronger
than any diamond.
My smile faded
under the weight
of the unknown.

PHOTOS: (left) the author Plano, Texas, about 11 years ago; (right) Jane Darwell in The Grapes of Wrath (1940).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Ma Joad has been a symbol of strength and optimism for me ever since I read The Grapes of Wrath and saw the movie. Jane Darwell, who played Ma Joad in the movie, will always be the face of Ma Joad for me. Strong, loving, no-nonsense, not even hunger could strip her of her humanity and goodwill. I wanted to capture the intimate moment in the movie when she said goodbye to her home, burning small treasures and pocketing others in her apron, including some shiny earrings.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Sylvia Riojas Vaughn lives in Plano, Texas. Both her parents were children during the Great Depression, and she grew up listening to their tales of hardship and the will to survive. Her poems have appeared in The Great Gatsby Anthology, Silver Birch Press; Triadæ, Lifting the Sky: Southwestern Haiku & Haiga, Texas Poetry Calendar, HOUSEBOAT, Red River Review, The Applicant, Diálogo, Label Me Latina/o, Somos en escrito: The Latino literary online magazine, Desde Hong Kong: Poets in conversation with Octavio Paz, and numerous other anthologies and journals. She has been selected as a Houston Poetry Fest Juried Poet three times. A Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominee, she belongs to the Dallas Poets Community.

If I Were a James Bond Villain
by J.K. Shawhan

I would have better clothes, a
Chanel suit & Italian loafers.

My hands & lips would be scarred
by some terrible explosion, a
furious childhood trauma.
My parents divorced.
My girlfriend dumped me
for some author or artist or
other nonsense like that. Why

would she leave me? Naturally,
I don’t understand. I’m rich. Desire
for her love turns into desire to kill.
The world. An agent. All the agents.

I would be given the chance to destroy
007. He stumbles, he falls, he
does go to work drunk, & I
could end him with one bullet—

but, if I were a James Bond villain,
I would suddenly gain a taste for tea.
My goons would knock him unconscious.
Without stabbing him dead, they tie
his back to the chair. Set the tea party up.

Wait for Bond to wake. Gift him with
the evil spiel. I hate you, you will die,
I will terminate your family, la la la. . . .

After tea, leave him in the dark.
Alone with his empty cup and finger sandwiches.

If I were a James Bond villain.

PHOTOS: (left) The author; (right) Oddjob, henchman in Goldfinger (1959).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: While I was enrolled in poetry workshops at Bradley, I worked on a chapbook of poems related to artwork, plays, movies, and books. I love reading the original James Bond novels, and after a long time of contemplation, I penned a poem putting me in these novels as a classic James Bond villain.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: J.K. Shawhan studied business and writing at Illinois Central College and Bradley University. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Bradley University’s Broadside: Writers and Artists, the University of California, Riverside’s Mosaic Art & Literary Journal, Eunoia Review,  Wordgathering, and Silver Birch Press’s My Sweet Words Series. J.K. is an editor and founder of The Basil O’ Flaherty, a literary arts website. The first issue will come out in March 2016. You can read her comedy blog funnyzombieblog.blogspot.com or follow her on Twitter  @JKShawhan or @bo_flaherty.