Sunday, April 17, 2016

Mini-Review: The Sound of the Sundial

Reading is an indulgence for me. The few pages I'm able to read in the evening before I fall asleep are a treasure.

I recently finished reading The Sound of the Sundial, by Hana Andronikova. It was translated from the Czech by David Short, and edited & adapted by Rachel Miranda Feingold.

I had the pleasure of meeting Feingold when she was in Berlin last year. She gushed about the talents of Andronikova, whose novel won the 2002 Magnesia Litera Award in the category of Best New Discovery. Andronikova died of cancer in 2011 at the age of 44.

The novel is focused on the love story between a German-Czech engineer and his Jewish wife. It weaves and leaps from Zlín, through Calcutta, Prague, Auschwitz, and the United States.

Told in a compelling manner -- from a variety of viewpoints often dislocated in time -- The Sound of the Sundial is an incredible and heartbreaking story. This first-ever English translation was published by Plamen Press, a new publishing house based in Washington, DC. Read an excerpt from the novel on the publisher's website.

You can also read Denton Loving's long-form review of the novel at The Collagist.

Monday, April 04, 2016

Before You Post That Quote, Do This!

This morning, I saw someone post a lovely quote on Facebook. It was one of those images with the quote in a fancy script, perfect for sharing on social media.

Unfortunately, it was missing one important thing: attribution.

It's not that I doubted that the person posting the phrase could have written it herself. But I did doubt it, and so I looked up the quote.

Sure enough, I found dozens of other social media-ready images with the quote, attributing it to the correct person -- Ariana Dancu.

Ariana Dancu is a poet who has quotes from her poems available for sale on Etsy products. The Etsy shop where her words are available notes that "This text is the intellectual property of Ariana Dancu. Any infringement or use, in part or in whole, will incur legal consequences and action and will be pursued to the full extent of the law..."

Social media has made it very easy to share the inspirational words of others. For that I am thankful. However, as a writer myself, I am constantly frustrated to see people posting ever-so-shareable images featuring unattributed words of authors.

Before you share a great graphic/quote you saw online, do this: Make sure it's got an attribution. It's only fair to the author that they be credited with their own words. If the graphic/quote does not have an attribution, then find one that does, and share it instead.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Becoming the Solution You Need

When I regularly taught an online poetry workshop, one of the exercises I assigned encouraged students to craft a poem that used the cross-cutting technique typically found in films. I desperately wanted to find a themed reading to go along with the assignment. I searched. And then I searched some more. I asked other poets.

Then I realized that I would need to write the article myself. I found examples of the method I was talking about, which didn't really "exist" as a method for creating a poem. It was just a poetic device that could be found in poems but didn't have a name in the literary world, only in the film industry.

I asked the poets who used the technique if I could cite excerpts of their poems as examples in an article. When the article was written, I spent more than a year sending it out first to one literary magazine, waiting, and then sending it out again when it was rejected. After waiting for about four months to hear from The Writer, I sent an inquiry. Although I did not hear back immediately, I waited another month and a half, and then I sent another query. I really thought it would be a perfect fit with them.

Two weeks later, the editor responded. She wanted to use my article as one of the features in their upcoming National Poetry Month issue.

I am thrilled that the issue has now hit the newsstands...

Mine is the article listed on the cover as "Build texture in poems with film techniques".

If you ever find yourself disappointed that you can't find an article to use for a workshop you're leading, or for a presentation you want to give to a client, maybe it's your destiny to write that article.

Friday, March 04, 2016

Still Poem-ing After All These Years

Most of the creative writing I wrote in my 20s and 30s was poetry and poetry-related. Since becoming an independent consultant, I've had to switch my focus to more lucrative writing so that we can pay the rent. However, I do have many poems that I still submit to journals, and I have a second full-length collection that is starting to make the rounds with a select handful of editors.

2015 was a quiet year for getting my own poems published, but I was happy to have an appearance in Birmingham Poetry Review. I also served as editor for the very fabulous (if I do say so myself) poetry anthology -- My Cruel Invention, which was published by Meerkat Press in December 2015. (Check out the sidebar on the right for more info!)

2016 is looking pretty good so far, with poems forthcoming in Gargoyle and The Broadkill Review. Just yesterday, my poem "Acrostic: Dolores" appeared in the new constraint-themed issue of The Ilanot Review, a great online publication that I've been following for years.

I also have a feature article about poetry forthcoming in the April 2016 issue of The Writer. I have not abandoned poetry!

While I don't focus on crafting new poems at the moment (I've got a middle-grade novel I'm working on!), lines for poems do occasionally happen.

I don't know if I'll write a poem draft this year, but it's still there in my heart, and on my reading table.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

To the König Galerie in St. Agnes

I've been wanting to get back to the König Galerie in St. Agnes for several months. The last exhibit I went to, back in September 2015, didn't make good use of the space in my opinion, so I wanted to experience an exhibition that took advantage of the building's soaring ceilings.

But let me back up one moment and give you a little background on the Galerie. König Galerie was founded by Johann König in 2002, and currently represents 30 international, emerging and established artists. The program’s focus is on interdisciplinary, concept-oriented and space-based approaches in a variety of media including sculpture, video, sound, painting, printmaking, photography and performance.The primary location for the Galerie is in Mitte, Berlin, but that location is currently being renovated and is set to reopen in May 2016.

In May 2015, König Galerie opened a second location inside the Brutalist building that was once the St. Agnes Church in Berlin's Kreuzberg neighborhood. From the outside, the building is as stoic and imposing as one would expect a Brutalist church to be. The inside is just as imposing, but with the purpose of showcasing large works of art, it could never be called stoic.

There are two levels of works on display in the Galerie, both of which feature temporary exhibitions. The two main exhibitions happening right now are "Kiki Kogelnick: Works from 1962-1968" and "Tatiana Trouvé: From Alexandrinenstrasse to the Unnamed Path."

The works of Kiki Kogelnick, featured in the lower level St. Agnes Chapel space, are vibrant and energetic. The Chapel exhibitions at the Galerie tend to be small and very focused. Hence, the limited time span of the works featured by Kiki Kogelnick.

The upper level, the St. Agnes Nave, is the main attraction. Last year's exhibit by Camille Henrot, titled The Pale Fox, was not the best use of the sweeping interior of the Nave. In fact, once you stepped inside the manufactured "room" used to display Henrot's works, you could've just as well been inside any four-white-walled gallery space in the world.

While the show was well-received, I felt that the venue was not the most appropriate space in which to showcase it. Thus, I had to return to see the Tatiana Trouvé exhibition. Trouvé's works made excellent use of the open space, even taking advantage of the soaring ceilings, from which were suspended some of her pieces.

I appreciated the space allotted for each of the larger works, which consisted of furniture pieces and textiles painted in such a way that the graphics came together as a single work.

The details sewn into the textiles were fascinating, and I made sure to get some close-up photos.

...and even closer still...

I'm hoping the König Galerie sticks around in this space even after its downtown location reopens. I missed out on visiting the Praxes Center for Contemporary Art, which was at St. Agnes up until early-2015.

König Galerie at St. Agnes is an amazing space in which to experience art. And, to entice you further, it's also open to the public for free.