Archives for posts with tag: painting

klimt hygeia
Pharmacist
by Joan McNerney

She thought of herself as a
modern alchemist. Fluent
in an arcane language
about the composition of so
many minute capsules.

The rest of the store could
be in a gas station or bargain
store. Filled with candies,
lipsticks, other frivolous items.

If you simply had a cough, syrup
could be found on aisle three.
Her area was sacred to patients,
those with serious ailments.

Filling prescriptions navigating
insurance companies, seeking
authorizations. Always aware of
side effects, multiple drug reactions,
possible allergic problems.

Austere yet approachable,
she dispensed heroic potions
from her prized domain
as chemical priestess.

IMAGE: University of Vienna ceiling paintings (Medicine), detail showing Hygeia, goddess of health, by Gustav Klimt (c. 1900-1907).

NOTE: In Greek as well as Roman mythology, Hygeia was one of the Asclepiadae—the sons and daughters of the god of medicine, Asclepius, and his wife Epione. Hygeia was the goddess/personification of health, cleanliness, and hygiene.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Quite a while ago I decided to write about people at work. Particularly during the pandemic, we should be grateful to these essential workers.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Joan McNerney’s poetry is found in many literary magazines, such as Seven Circle Press, Dinner with the Muse, Poet Warriors, Blueline, and Halcyon Days, as well as in four Bright Hills Press anthologies, several editions of the  Poppy Road Review, and numerous Spectrum Publications. She has four Best of the Net nominations. Her latest title, The Muse In Miniature, is available on Amazon.com and Cyberwit.net.

UPS by Joselyn Miller
Ode to My UPS Guy
by Rick Lupert

He rings the doorbell with purpose.
Not like the food delivery people who
you hardly get a ding out of.

His ding is fast but purposeful—
and the dong . . . well when that thing
comes along, it’s like

the Roman Empire is back.
He won’t take any gifts. I’ve offered
water, soda, candy, fruit even.

But this isn’t Halloween for him.
New iPhone season is coming and
he needs to stay in shape.

We used to talk all the time
for about eight seconds a shot.
He’d say things like

sending packages to yourself again?
and I’ve got your cat litter for you.
He’d respond to the funniest thing

I could think to tell him without missing
a beat. But since the plague descended
by the time I open the door

his knees, bursting out of
the brown shorts of his people
are already back in the van.

This is how it will be until
they find something to inject into us
that will make it all go away.

Until then he brings us
everything we can imagine
like a masked savior.

A package of coffee came today
which will, literally, keep me alive.
And yesterday he brought me

a book of poetry from Japan.
Not the one I wrote, but one
packaged by the hands of

a woman in a kimono
flown across the Pacific and
entrusted to my guy.

He laid it on the porch and rang the bell.
I set it aside for three days to avoid
any unwelcome visitors.

What more could I need?
Whatever it may be, I know
he’ll risk his life to bring it to me.

United in his service—
This is but a parcel
of my gratitude.

PAINTING: Essential Worker — Parcel Delivery Driver by Joselyn Miller, available for sale at saatchiart.com. Artist’s statement:  “I felt drawn to paint a series of portraits to honor those out there doing what needs to be done during quarantine. One hundred percent of my proceeds will be donated to aid those most adversely impacted by the COVID pandemic. I used a variety of bright colors to render the portrait, bringing an uplifting vibe to the serious nature of the subject matter.”

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I love my UPS guy. (Platonically.) He’s doing work which I’ve always appreciated, but now regard as essential. He and all of our prime movers are doing work which is literally keeping as safe behind our masks and closed doors.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Rick Lupert has been involved with L.A. poetry since 1990. He is the recipient of the 2014 Beyond Baroque Literary Arts Center Distinguished Service Award and was a co-director of the Valley Contemporary Poets for two years. He created the Poetry Super Highway  and hosted the weekly Cobalt Cafe reading for almost 21 years. His first spoken word album Rick Lupert Live and Dead, featuring 25 studio and live tracks, was released in March 2016. He’s authored 25 collections of poetry, including The Toyko-Van Nuys Express (Ain’t Got No Press, August 2020), Hunka Hunka Howdy, Beautiful Mistakes, and God Wrestler: A Poem for Every Torah Portion, and edited the anthologies Ekphrastia Gone Wild,  A Poet’s Siddur, A Poet’s Haggadah, and the noir anthology The Night Goes on All Night. He also writes and draws (with Brendan Constantine) the daily web comic Cat and Banana and writes the Jewish Poetry column “From the Lupertverse” for Jewish Journal. He is regularly featured at venues all over the world. Follow him on Facebook.  

Author photo by Alexis Rhone Fancher

licensed lyrna
Siena, Tuscany, Italy
by Leslie Sittner

afternoon cocktails at an outdoor Campo café
we look out on the familiar Piazza del Campo
historic focal center of Siena
soft in shape and conical in elevation
a most spectacular medieval square
no costumed jousts, ceremonies, pageants today
the medieval Palio three-lap horse race is next week
reminiscing, refreshed, rested, we wander up to

the medieval Duomo di Siena above the Campo
Italian Gothic black and white marble jailbird stripes
wrap the façade and adjacent Romanesque campanile
while Venetian mosaics and Pisano sculpture
join in the adornment frenzy
needlelike spires reach to the heavens for hope, forgiveness, love
three dominant central arched doorways
welcome all in need

inside, clusters of striped columns soar to the saints
elaborate mosaics embroider all pavement
sitting side-by-side in a proximal pew
ignoring the surrounding tourist hordes
we gaze up speechless at the Pisano pulpit
eight-sided carved marble bowl supported by nine columns
sculpted in animals, Bible stories, The virtues, Allegories

tightly holding hands, we wipe away the holy water of our tears

PHOTO: Duomo di Siena, Siena, Tuscany, Italy, by Lyrna1, used by permission.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Siena Cathedral (Duomo di Siena) was designed and completed between 1215 and 1264. The exterior and interior are constructed of white and greenish-black marble in alternating stripes, with the addition of red marble on the façade. Black and white are the symbolic colors of Siena, linked to black and white horses of the legendary city’s founders, Senius and Aschius. The finest artists of the time — Nicola and Giovanni Pisano, Donatello, Pinturicchio, Lorenzo Ghiberti, and Bernini — completed works in the cathedral. (Source: Wikipedia)

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NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: In 2015, I took my daughter to Italy for a Tuscany Yoga Tour to celebrate reaching our birthdays of 40 and 70. I had lived in Italy with her father for two years before she was born. She had been here before with a college friend and later with her husband-to-be. After morning yoga at the rustic farmhouse, Antico Borgo di Tignano, we went on a day trip to Siena. In the Duomo, she shared her reasons for leaving her husband of 10 years. I shared that during a trip to Italy with her father, I decided it was time to leave him when we returned home. I can’t help think Italy might be a marital jinx.

PHOTO: Interior columns and altar area, Duomo di Siena, Siena, Tuscany, Italy, by Peter K. Burian, used by permission.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Leslie Sittner’s print works are available in The Apple Tree by Third Age Press (2016-17-18-19-21), Adirondack Life Magazine, BraVa anthology, and read on NPR. Online poems and prose reside at unearthed, Silver Birch Press, 101Words, 50 Word Challenge, 50 Word Stories, Epic Protest Poems, and Adirondack Center for Writing. A collection of essays about European travels with her ex-husband in the late 1960s awaits publishing. Leslie is currently editing the memoir written by her ancient dog and compiling her own book of haiku with photographs.

licensed ben krut
Wounded Eurydice
by Jennifer Finstrom

     “At least I have the flowers of myself,
     and my thoughts, no god
     can take that;”
          “Eurydice,” H.D.

The Art Institute opened again on July 30,
and that makes you want to take the 147
bus downtown and stand outside watching
people go in but not yet entering yourself.
Over the past year, this is the place you’ve
come for first dates, for other dates,
immediately after a man you liked text-
message broke up with you, and you
don’t need to go inside to feel again
the heavy door opening, to walk past
the gift shop, take your membership
card out of your purse and show it to
the attendant before climbing the stairs,
your hand on the smooth rail, and then
the slow drifting from gallery to gallery,
through Medieval and Renaissance Art,
Arms and Armor, back around to European
Painting and Sculpture where you find
Corot’s Wounded Eurydice in Gallery 224,
snake-bit, contemplative, moments before
her death. This place is your only church,
and one day soon you’ll be sitting on the steps
outside, the many ghosts of your past selves
moving in and out of the doors, caught like
Eurydice in their own frozen moments,
unable to take back anything that’s happened,
but not seeing what waits beyond it either.

PHOTO: The Art Institute of Chicago by Ben Krut, used by permission.

corot wounded eurydice
NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Almost exactly one year ago, I began a collection of ekphrastic poems about dating in my fifties. The direction the poems are taking is shifting in recent days amid the climate of uncertainty, but I’m still making progress.

IMAGE: Wounded Eurydice by Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot (1868/1870), Henry Field Memorial Collection, The Art Institute of Chicago.

EDITOR’S NOTE: In Greek mythology, Eurydice was the wife of Orpheus, who tried to bring her back from the dead with his enchanting music. (Source: Wikipedia.)

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jen Finstrom is both part-time faculty and staff at DePaul University. She was the poetry editor of Eclectica Magazine for 13 years, and recent publications include Dime Show Review, Gingerbread House Literary Magazine, Rust + Moth, Stirring, and Thimble Literary Magazine. Her work also appears in Ides: A Collection of Poetry Chapbooks and several other Silver Birch Press anthologies.

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Giverny
by Chris Precise

I was a guest in Claude Monet’s home for a dewy day. It was a beautiful oasis, tucked away in the countryside behind dripping wisteria and giggling daffodils. A woman in one of his paintings called to me in the study. She held a parasol and stood at the crest of a hill’s rolling wave of endless green, rising above it as though weightless. I almost reached my hand out to her to pull me through the canvas into the frame mounted on the wall. I imagined myself closing my eyes and dissipating into the hues of the paint to become the strokes of the brush, where I would play a larger role in the grand scheme without worrying about someone getting too close to find detail in me that I could not find in myself.

The Woman with a Parasol allures me still. On the days where I wish to melt into the background, I can see her featureless face blending into the vast blue sky behind her, telling me to come with her. Instead, I roll over in my bed and lose count of the bountiful brushstrokes that make up my body without knowing where one ends and another begins.

Light yielded itself upon Giverny as the time came to depart for home. While the countryside faded into the background, the woman in the canvas did too. Her perpetual motion up close became suspended in time as the distance between us increased on my return to Paris, and the mirage of our likeness evaporated. I am not the touches of frozen oil slowly achromatizing as the years counted themselves. I am my own Impressionist canvas, speckled with the soft colors of my survival and bearing light for harvest. I am here.

PHOTO: Water garden at Claude Monet’s home and garden in Giverny, France, by Gilles Bizet, used by permission.

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NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: The theory of les touches in Impressionist period art, the touches of the brush on the canvas, fascinated me, the visible strokes created through the mastery of Monet, Renoir, Degas. They bent light at the whim of their brushstrokes, gods birthing new universes I so desperately wished to be a part of. Lately, I have been trying to find a sense of self: a facet of identity or defining memory that will ground me into a sense of who I am. Until that day, which may come tomorrow or 50 years from tomorrow, I will be satisfied with the process of making my own oil paint touches as I construct an image of my being.

IMAGE: “Woman with a Parasol” by Claude Monet (1886).

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Chris Precise is a Black nonbinary scholar-writer-activist in the making. Hailing from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and a current student at Swarthmore College, they study Black diasporas around the globe and enjoy reading Black feminist and DuBoisian theory. Much of their narrative and creative nonfiction writing rests tucked away in tattered Moleskine journals, but they aspire to soon share more of themself and their stories with the world. For more, visit preciselychris.carrd.co.

pueblo-mural
Before the Levee Comes Down
by Kyle Laws

Murals stretch up in the afternoon sun
and what’s reflected back into the river
are primary colors painted on the levee
by those who dangled by ropes from the top:
reds, yellows, and blues.

And as the river flows east the blend of primary
becomes secondary: red and yellow become orange,
yellow and blue become green. This is the function
of levee—creation of color as river moves over stones.

Where the river eddies, in the swirl where kayaks
hope not to tangle, are remnants of last night’s party:
barbecued pork rinds mingled with burnt twigs.

Underfoot is a crush of rock that is trail. My boots,
thick-soled, can scale the opposite bank. I can pull
myself up by saplings that know there is water,
that have roots enough to get me to a place

where I can see the murals, not in reflection,
but as if atop the horse Lady Godiva strides
that’s next to the rendition of Joan of Arc.

Even with the smell of algae, I want to drink
of the river, submerge myself hidden in a cluster
of trees, know that as I arch my back to rinse hair
of debris, green will trickle into my mouth.

I stumble down the wooded bank, take off boots
and orange-ringed socks, watch paintings for what
could be the last time while feet whiten cold and
stiff in the river from a slip of rock that extends
into the Arkansas on its way to Kansas.

Previously published in Turtle Island Quarterly and in Ride the Pink Horse (Stubborn Mule Press, 2019).

PHOTO: Mural on levee along the Arkansas River in Pueblo, Colorado. Started in the late 1970s as isolated patches of graffiti, the sprawling mural grew to become almost two miles long and 58 feet tall.  (cpr.org).

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NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: The levee along the Arkansas River through Pueblo, Colorado, built for flood control, featured the longest outdoor mural in the world. In 2014, the top layer was taken off for repairs and the height shortened. All the paintings were lost except for a small section that contained ashes of the artist, Judith Pierce.   

PHOTO:  The levee in Pueblo, Colorado, after the top layer was removed, before what remained was resurfaced. Photo by Allison Kipple, used with permission. For more about the mural, visit cpr.org.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Kyle Laws is based out of Steel City Art Works in Pueblo, Colorado, where she directs Line/Circle: Women Poets in Performance. Her collections include Ride the Pink Horse (Stubborn Mule Press, 2019), Faces of Fishing Creek (Middle Creek Publishing, 2018), This Town: Poems of Correspondence with Jared Smith (Liquid Light Press, 2017), So Bright to Blind (Five Oaks Press, 2015), and Wildwood (Lummox Press, 2014). With eight nominations for a Pushcart Prize, her poems and essays have appeared in magazines and anthologies in the U.S., U.K., Canada, and Germany. She is editor and publisher of Casa de Cinco Hermanas Press. Find her on Facebook.

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Old life adieu
by Mark Andrew Heathcote

When I was 9 yrs old, we moved house, upped sticks
Leaving the city for the countryside
I was brought along like the candlesticks
Unwanted baggage, I was petrified.

With nervous excitement I said goodbye —
“Old life” and welcomed a new beginning.
I’m going to climb huge oak trees and pry —
Into nests, my insides were now grinning.

With heart pumping, jumping out of my vest
I’ll chase brown butterflies and dragonflies
And like Huckleberry Finn I’ll digest
The stars the streams the forest as it sighs.

Wasn’t this going to be an Adventure—?
On arrival, it was my dreams come true
No parents or dumb teachers could censor
Old life adieu — off to the fields I flew.

IMAGE: “Dew Drenched Forest [England]” by John Everett Millais (1890).

HEATHCOTE

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR/
FIRST-PERSON BIO: 

Well, I was born in Withington, Manchester, one of three children; I was the eldest and the only boy. We lived in a three-bed terrace house with no bathroom or indoor toilet. I lived there until the age of nine and was a quiet and unhappy child, but that changed when the family moved to the countryside, where I then had the freedom to explore nature at first-hand. I spent much of my free time climbing trees and swimming in lakes and rivers, making rope swings, stuff like that. I was looked on as a kind of Tarzan figure, that’s how all other kids saw me. I was never academic and was years behind all the other children at school. I struggled badly in high school and didn’t learn a great deal. I left school at age 16, taking dead-end jobs on local farms and then in factories. I left home at age 17 —  by then, there had been a messy divorce and relationships weren’t good all round and haven’t improved all that much since. So I moved back to Manchester, where I’m still residing now and have done ever since. I’m a father of five and for the past 14 years I’ve be employed as a learning disability support worker. I write a lot of poetry in my free time and enjoy music and gardening.

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The Last Muse
by Jacqueline Kirkpatrick

Pablo met Jacqueline when she was 27 and he was 72.
Though Picasso was known for having many mistresses, he only      married two women.
Jacqueline was the second.
In their 20-year relationship he created more than 400 paintings of her.

Down Chris’ right arm is my nickname, “Que.”
On the inside of Jon’s right arm is “Jack” in a heart.
He also has the sign of Cancer (my astrological sign) on his back.
He also has the date of our anniversary on his inner left arm.
Though he later covered it, Robert had the sign of Cancer on his      sternum.

An ex once wrote a song for me. It was simply titled, “I’m F-ing Your      Girlfriend.”
Another ex wrote a song about my name. It was called “Jacky.”

He called to tell me he felt like he was dying and that I had to come over to help him. I skipped class. I rushed over. He was kneeling in only a
t-shirt over the Bible opened in the middle. He had painted my face on one side and a bloody fetus on the other. He apologized, wiping acrylic paint down my arms, and told me that he couldn’t live without me.
I forget who I am.
I often look at myself through the eyes of those who look at me.
I don’t know where I am.
I don’t know how I got here.

And then they come
And I have purpose.
And then they leave
And I am alone.

IMAGE: “Jacqueline with Flowers” by Pablo Picasso (1954).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I was named after Jackie O. but I never identified with her or even considered her as someone I’d ever relate to. At 13 I watched a special about Pablo Picasso, and I was introduced to the woman who inspired hundreds of his works — Jacqueline Roque. Since that documentary, I have had an obsession with the woman who became, but, more importantly, stayed Picasso’s muse until his death. To have that power to inspire is quiet a beautiful, striking thing.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jacqueline Kirkpatrick is a MFA graduate from The College of Saint Rose in Albany, New York. She has recently published in Creative NonfictionThought Catalog, and The Rumpus. Follow her on Twitter @thebeatenpoet or at Jacquelinekirkpatrick.com.

bathing-woman miro
Same Name — Sort Of
Joan Miró and Me
by Joan Leotta

As a child
when introduced to Miró’s work,
I thought he was a woman.
After all, his name was Joan.
My name.
I did not reckon with the Catalan
spelling of the Spanish, “Juan.”
As an adult, learning of
my mistake
invoked laughter and a study
of Miró at various DC museums.
I felt a bond with this
Catalan nationalist artist
through our almost-same names.

On a recent mother-daughter
jaunt to Turkey
my daughter booked for us—
writing, as always,
Joan Leotta, as her travel mate.
When we arrived at the hotel,
obviously mother and daughter,
our hotelier was visibly embarrassed.
“We made up a double bed,”
he mumbled.
We laughed at the mistake.
It’s ok, Mom and I can share,” she told him.
I agreed.
By the time we reached our room,
I realized what had happened.
Miro had taken his revenge!
On seeing the name, Joan
The hotelier,
More a fan of art than U.S. spelling,
The clerk had thought me, male!
Jennie and I chuckled.
Miró had taken his time,
but the great artist, so thinly related to me by name,
surely now was enjoying the last laugh!

IMAGE: “Bathing Woman” by Joan Miró (1925).

Jennie and Joan Leotta in Ephesus, Turkey, 2015

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I thought and thought about famous folks with my name. Sadly, I do not feel much of a connection with my patron saint — I have not been toasted for any cause. I was not named for Joan Crawford. Then I recalled that for sooooo many years, even after learning Spanish, I had thought Miro to be a woman! Not a fan of abstracts, I did not bother to investigate very much — for many years. It was not until I lived in Washington, DC, and visited several exhibitions of his work that I realized his spelling was the Catalan version of the Spanish “Juan” and that his most abstract works were a form of social protest. So, I came not only to know about him, but to love and appreciate his work — all because of our “shared” same name. And, truth be told, this past spring in Istanbul, I did truly wonder if the great artist was “tweaking me” for all the years I had thought him to be a woman.

PHOTO: The author (left) and daughter Jennie in May 2015 during their mother-daughter trip to Turkey.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Joan Leotta has been playing with words since childhood. Joan recently completed a month as one of Tupelo Press’s 30/30 poets. She has published or has work forthcoming in Red Wolf, A Quiet Courage, Eastern Iowa Review, Silver Birch Press, and Postcard Poems and Prose. Joan also performs folklore and one-woman shows on historic figures. She lives in Calabash, North Carolina, where she walks the beach with husband Joe. She collects shells, pressed pennies, and memories.  Visit her at joanleotta.wordpress.com and on Facebook.

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A Great Passive Thrust of Creativity (Dream Poem #8)
by Joanie Hieger Fritz Zosike

Someone once told me that I look exactly like
Saskia von Ulenbarch. She lived in the 1600s
Rembrandt married and painted her despite snubs
From her family; a sordid tale of money and lust

Few understand as the years advance how it is
Our species relies less upon written and spoken
Language. We must learn to be somehow more
Responsible about what we say, and to whom

Why do we drive the long way around to get home?
I argue with a director over singing with a non-singer
In the catacombs we struggle to meet dreadful quotas
We snap and snarl. Upstairs we make angelic theatre

I go through a daily cycle of work then throw myself
At last, exhausted, in even greater abandon, onstage
Following a visit from a dead friend in a blue sweater
I get deserted in the Bronx at an institutional hotel

There are mirrors in the bathroom stalls; doors don’t close
I’m given a dungeon-like room with a spongy mattress
’40s decor, dusty, tatty, sweet. I unwind on the Hudson
Visit a penthouse with my therapist to see his panorama

Back home in Manhattan, cockroaches besiege my apartment
My sub-letter fills my kitchen with an inch-deep coat of water
The floor becomes an electrified grid; roaches the size of rats
And rats as big as dogs sizzle, scream and die. Silence.

I strain to maintain balance while yearning to be subsumed
Forbidden spoons watch casually from an adjacent room
I swim sideways through a sewer in a death and life struggle
Emerge with a sense of things being—well, not so bad

Gazing through plate-glass windows overlooking a luculent
Forest, I see a homicidal killer posing as a plainclothes cop
His lovemaking bears an uncanny likeness to grooming
Water rituals set me afloat without maritime coordinates

I climb a mountain to seek relief; wind induces astral travel
In the stratosphere, people decide to don their parachutes
In dichromatic grief they wail over the great Julian Beck,
Dressed in a modest burial suit. He holds a single blue rose

A ripe friend in an old age home flirts brazenly with
A buxom nurse. He promises to pay for my pandemic
Dental work. Why has he taken such a prurient interest in
My mouth? He likes what I say and wants to keep it clean

A little girl in an oxygen tent, incontinent, soiled but clad
Richly, apologizes as we lower her fever to clean her up
Who is this child? She looks like Saskia von Ulenbarch
Dead at age 29, manipulating Rembrandt from her grave

I look at the child-Saskia closely. She does look like me
My guides tell me I am being squeezed back into my body
Before I’ve quite returned, I dream of an erstwhile lover
Standing in the doorway laughing, seductive, confident

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Joanie Hieger Fritz Zosike is a writer, actor, singer, director, activist, and caregiver. Joanie’s writing appears in At the Edge, clockwise.wordpress.com, Daily Jewish Forward, Dissident Voice, International Worker, Maintenant, NYArts, Silver Birch Summer Anthology, The Great Gatsby Anthology, IDES: A Collection of Poetry Chapbooks, and Womannews. Her most recent play, RelationShifts, was read at Dixon Place and TheaterLab in New York City. Her poetry collection, An Alphabet of Love, is to be published by Barncott Press (London). Joanie is a veteran member of the legendary Living Theater, actor/director with the dada/surrealist theater company DADAnewyork, and co-founder/co-director of Action Racket Theatre. She lives on the Lower East Side of Manhattan and Manchester, New Jersey.