Saturday, 15 May 2021

Arts & Life

Kwame Dawes. Courtesy photo.


Only 0.03 per­cent of us end up doing jury duty each year. But we all car­ry an aware­ness that it can be us next.

Accord­ing to casi​no​.org a quar­ter of Amer­i­can adults serve on jury duty at least once in their life­time. Kath­leen McClung’s poem reminds us of the cost of such duty.

The poem appears in her 2020 chap­book, “A Juror Must Fold In On Herself.”

The Forewoman Speaks
By Kathleen McClung

Among us twelve, just three have raised a child.
We’re mostly gray and promise to be fair
and wonder if the prosecutor smiled
to greet or warn, or both. We go nowhere
for weeks. We’re stiff and silent in these rows,
our faces stony though we ache to cry,
delete that damn surveillance video
(Exhibit A) that shows a girl, six, die,
night, crosswalk, SUV. And in the end,
our verdict signed and dated, read aloud,
we will resume routine—go meet a friend
for lunch on Harrison, admire a cloud
above the bridge, ten thousand cars an hour,
some backseats full of kids.


American Life in Poetry does not accept unsolicited manuscripts. It is made possible by The Poetry Foundation, publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. Poem copyright ©2020 by Kathleen McClung, “The Forewoman Speaks” from A Juror Must Fold In On Herself, (Rattle Foundation, 2020). Poem reprinted by permission of Kathleen McClung and the publisher. Introduction copyright © 2021 by The Poetry Foundation.

Kwame Dawes. Courtesy photo.

Pat Emile, who served as assistant editor to American Life in Poetry for over a decade, was described by past editor, Ted Kooser, as the “Jill-Of-All-Trades for this column.”

I was fortunate enough to enjoy her sensitive ear for the rightly tuned poem, and her generosity as a liaison with poets, publishers and our collaborating periodicals, as a necessary component of the training for my tenure.

It all makes sense, as Pat Emile is, herself, a poet of fine taste, lovely insight and, as evidenced in this poem (from column 580), “They Dance Through Granelli’s”, a poet with a remarkable eye for sensual detail. T

hank you, Pat, for all you have done for American Life in Poetry, and for your gift of delightful verse. Her poem is a fit way to start this exciting re-launch of ALiP!

They Dance Through Granelli’s
By Pat Emile

He finds her near the stack
of green plastic baskets waiting to be filled
and circles her waist with his left arm,
entwines her fingers in his, pulls her toward him, Muzak from the ceiling shedding a flashy Salsa, and as they begin to move, she lets
her head fall back, fine hair swinging
a beat behind as they follow
their own music—a waltz—past the peaches bursting with ripeness in their wicker baskets,
the prawns curled into each other
behind cold glass, a woman in a turquoise sari,
her dark eyes averted. They twirl twice
before the imported cheeses, fresh mozzarella
in its milky liquid, goat cheese sent down
from some green mountain, then glide past
ranks of breads, seeds spread across brown crusts, bottles of red wine nested together on their sides. He reaches behind her, slides a bouquet
of cut flowers from a galvanized bucket, tosses
a twenty to the teenaged boy leaning
on the wooden counter, and they whirl
out the door, the blue sky a sudden surprise.


American Life in Poetry does not accept unsolicited manuscripts. It is made possible by The Poetry Foundation, publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. Poem copyright ©2016 by Pat Hemphill Emile, “They Dance Through Granelli's.” Poem reprinted by permission of Pat Hemphill Emile.

Kwame Dawes. Courtesy photo.

Award-winning poet, author, and editor Kwame Dawes, PhD, has published his first weekly column as American Life in Poetry editor, in partnership with the Poetry Foundation and University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and relaunches a new and engaging website to connect people to poetry through interests, geography, and representation.

Dawes carries the column forward after founding editor and curator, Ted Kooser, retired after 15 years as project creator and editor.

The first poem featured is “They Dance Through Granelli's” by Pat Emile — an homage to the recently retired editorial assistant of the project for 15 years.

Dawes seeks to maintain, and expand the original vision for the column by continuing to reach readers through local news media outlets, as well as subscribers to the newsletter that publishes weekly on Mondays.

“This column is rooted in the everyday, the broad sense of Americanness that eschews elitism and that embraces a democratic sense of lives that make sense to a vast cross section of the population,” Dawes said. “I welcome readers who can engage in a wide section of American life, can find poetry that speaks to various aspects of American existence, and that somehow embraces the full range of this America.”

Along with a completely refreshed visual statement, the website features increased browsing and discovery capabilities, new photography, and an increased social media presence. Front and center allows users the ability to browse past columns by theme and region.

“The site allows for readers to dig deeper into what they may see in the newsletter or on social media,” Dawes said. “We want readers to stay on the site for awhile and get comfortable with poetry, or to find new ways to engage with poems whether that’s through a love of sports or geography.”

Dawes hopes new readers will connect with American Life in Poetry by finding columns that are approachable and speak to their interests, particularly for new poetry readers.

With over 60 different themes that can be combined while searching, users can find a poem that speaks to gardening and unrequited love from the archive which includes more than 800 poems.

Dawes is the author of 22 books of poetry and numerous other books of fiction, criticism, and essays. His collection, “Nebraska” was published in 2020.

He is George W. Holmes University Professor of English, Glenna Luschei Editor of Prairie Schooner at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and also teaches the Pacific MFA Program.

He is director of the African Poetry Book Fund and Artistic Director of the Calabash International Literary Festival. Dawes is a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.

His awards include an Emmy, Nation­al Press Club Joan Frieden­berg Award for Online Jour­nal­ism, the For­ward Poet­ry Prize, the Mus­grave Sil­ver Medal for con­tri­bu­tion to the Arts in Jamaica, the Governor’s Award for ser­vice to the arts in South Car­oli­na, a Guggen­heim Fel­low­ship and the Wind­ham Camp­bell Prize for Poet­ry. In 2009 he was induct­ed into the South Car­oli­na Acad­e­my of Authors.

The Poetry Foundation, publisher of Poetry magazine, is an independent literary organization committed to a vigorous presence for poetry in American culture. It exists to discover and celebrate the best poetry and to place it before the largest possible audience. The Poetry Foundation seeks to be a leader in shaping a receptive climate for poetry by developing new audiences, creating new avenues for delivery, and encouraging new kinds of poetry through innovative literary prizes and programs.



‘BOSS LEVEL’ TV MOVIE ON HULU

The first question one may have about “Boss Level,” not knowing the videogame lexicon, is the meaning of the title and its relevance to the wild action that unfolds in a continuous cycle of repetitive battles.

The phrase “boss level” is the highest level of difficulty in a fighting videogame, the ultimate challenge for any gamer. I would have had no idea of this unless director Joe Carnahan, who knows plenty about delivering violent action, explained the meaning.

If you’ve seen Carnahan’s explosive “Smokin’ Aces,” where bounty hunters, thugs-for-hire, deadly vixens and double-crossing mobsters are determined to fulfill a contract hit on a mob informant, you may have a good idea of what’s in store for the target in “Boss Level.”

Mix in the formula of “Groundhog Day” with a heavy dose of Carnahan’s most outrageous action sequences, and the result is what ex-soldier Roy Pulver (Frank Grillo) experiences every day in his time-loop nightmare.

Living in a spacious loft, Roy wakes up each morning dodging a machete-wielding assassin and the hail of bullets from a machine-gunner hovering outside his building in a helicopter. Sometimes an escape requires jumping out of his multi-story building.

Having no fear of death, Roy survives for another day, and the only thing that seems to matter is whether he can ever live past 12:47 p.m. on any given day. That appears to be the magic threshold to get to the boss level.

Depending on how Roy reacts to daily attacks, he finds refuge in an underground bar run by the wisecracking Jake (Ken Jeong), where he proceeds to get hammered while listening to an annoying security expert that he refers to as “Dave the pantload.”

As a former Delta Force operative, Roy may have been battle-hardened by his service, but it’s nothing like enduring daily slaughter by assassins in different ways, such as being shot, blown up, or decapitated. He takes it all in stride with self-deprecating, profane humor.

Unraveling the mystery of the time loop leads to the discovery of a connection to his ex-wife, Dr. Jemma Wells (Naomi Watts), a brilliant scientist employed by Colonel Clive Ventor (Mel Gibson).

As an unwitting part of Ventor’s plan to use a powerful machine called the Osiris Spindle, Roy is targeted by Ventor’s security chief (Will Sasso) with an army of killers that include a redneck with a harpoon, an Irish little person fond of explosives and the German twins.

The best and most memorable of all assassins is Guan Yin (Selina Lo), a sword-wielding ninja with the running gag of uttering the catchphrase “I am Guan Yin, and Guan Yin has done this” every time after beheading Roy.

While the supporting players are good, including Michelle Yeoh’s Chinese champion sword-fighter who trains Roy to defeat Guan Yin, it’s Frank Grillo’s tough guy, with his sarcasm and weary cynicism, who carries the day.

“Boss Level” may be one of the best entertainments to reflect our pandemic times. With lockdowns and avenues of fun mostly closed, it often feels like we are trapped in a terrible time loop of repeating the same daily routines. At least “Boss Level” offers a cool diversion.

HBO CABLE TV PREVIEW

HBO’s two-hour documentary film “Tina,” which will also be available to stream on HBO Max, is a revealing and intimate look at the life and career of musical icon Tina Turner, charting her improbable rise to early fame, along with her personal and professional struggles.

Insightful interviews with Tina herself were conducted in her hometown of Zurich, Switzerland (she became a Swiss citizen in 2013), and with those closest to her. Also featured is a wealth of never-before-seen archival footage.

“Tina” draws to an emotional conclusion with Tina Turner taking a bow at the opening night of the Broadway musical about her life, a fitting swan song for a talented artist who courageously spoke truth about domestic abuse at the hands of Ike Turner.

After a long absence from an HBO production, Kate Winslet stars in the limited series “Mare of Easttown” as Mare Sheehan, a small-town Pennsylvania detective who investigates a local murder as life crumbles around her.

That “Mare of Easttown” explores the dark side of a close community may explain why Winslet, during the winter press tour, said that being Mare Sheehan was “like one of the biggest challenges I think I’ve ever been slapped with. And she’s nothing like me.”

Jean Smart also stars as Helen, Mare’s mother; Julianne Nicholson as Lori Ross, Mare’s best friend since childhood; and Evan Peters as the county detective called in to assist with Mare’s investigation.

In the new drama series “The Nevers,” Victorian London is rocked by a supernatural event which gives certain people – mostly women – abnormal abilities, all of whom belong to a new underclass in grave danger.

It falls to mysterious, quick-fisted widow Amalia True (Laura Donnelly) and young inventor Penance Adair (Ann Skelly) to protect and shelter the gifted people from brutal forces determined to annihilate their kind.

Tim Riley writes film and television reviews for Lake County News.



‘COMING 2 AMERICA’ RATED PG-13 ON AMAZON PRIME VIDEO

Making a sequel to a beloved comedy more than three decades later is challenging. Will it be something completely fresh or a rehash of many rhetorical devices that were so endearing the first time around?

For “Coming 2 America,” an Amazon Prime Video original movie that is a semi-sequel to 1988’s “Coming to America,” starring Eddie Murphy as an African prince from the fictional country of Zamunda, it might be a little of both, depending on one’s estimation of its originality.

One thing that might be indisputable, despite any critical divide over the film’s appeal, is that the extravagant costumes, designed by Ruth E. Carter (Oscar winner for “Black Panther” fashion), certainly bring a spectacular look to this production.

Over 30 years ago Eddie Murphy’s young, pampered Prince Akeem traveled undercover to New York City’s borough of Queens to find an independent woman to be his bride rather than accept an arranged marriage.

Still with the love of his life, Lisa (Shari Headley, reprising the role), Prince Akeem has three strong-willed daughters, the oldest one Meeka (KiKi Layne) having spent her life preparing to be the heir to the throne even if royal decree requires a male to takeover.

Enter Wesley Snipes as General Izzi, leader of the rival nation of Nexdoria, who remains upset that Akeem backed out of an arranged union with his sister Imani (Vanessa Bell Calloway) to jet off to America to find his true love.

Plotting to unify his country with Zamunda for a taste of prosperity, General Izzi offers up his son Idi (Rotimi) to marry Meeka, an idea which is immediately shut down, but that’s not the end of Izzi’s plotting to secure his place in Zamunda.

Meanwhile, Zamunda’s aging King Jaffe Joffer (James Earl Jones also reprising this role) delivers the shocking news that Akeem has a long-lost illegitimate son, Lavelle Junson (Jermaine Fowler), the product of a drunken one-night dalliance during the Queens sojourn.

Traveling back to New York with his trusted sidekick Semmi (Arsenio Hall also back), Prince Akeem finds Lavelle, referred to as his “bastard son,” a slacker scalping tickets to basketball games at Madison Square Garden.

Needing an heir to the throne, Akeem can only convince Lavelle to return with him to Zamunda as long as his son can bring his mother Mary (Leslie Jones) and Uncle Reem (Tracy Morgan) along for an adventure in a distant land.

Culture shock sets in for the Americans to comedic effect as they try to adapt to an opulent lifestyle of luxury, especially for Lavelle as he’s expected to acclimate to the trappings and customs of royalty.

Next comes an appeasement to General Izzi with the notion that Lavelle will marry the military leader’s alluring daughter Bopoto (Teyana Taylor), but the new prince yearns for the pretty palace hairstylist Mirembe (Nomzamo Mbatha).

The nostalgia that comes with “Coming 2 America” and the comic pleasures derived from Eddie Murphy and his crew surmount the dated material so that enough joy makes for a nice diversion.

HALLMARK CHANNEL PREVIEW

During the winter press tour, the Hallmark Channel rightfully boasted that it surmounted the challenge this past year of delivering a slate of 40 new original holiday movies during industry-wide production shutdowns.

President and CEO Wonya Lucas reminded the TV critics that “Hallmark has been in the Christmas business well before it was a network,” marketing greeting cards and ornaments for a hundred years.

For 2021, Hallmark already has 26 movies in production, with many more to come when holiday season rolls around again. Filming in places like Utah and North Carolina can be done safely, but the majority of the shooting takes place in Vancouver.

Hallmark Channel celebrates the return of its annual “Spring Fling” programming event with romantic stories that will transport viewers to snowcapped mountains, mythical waterfalls, Ireland’s Cliffs of Moher and beyond.

Late March brings the first of five all-new original movie premieres every Saturday night, starting with “Chasing Waterfalls,” starring Cindy Busby and Christopher Russell.

Busby’s aspiring photographer Amy gets a career break on assignment to shoot one of North America’s fabled waterfalls and ends up falling for her rugged guide Mark (Russell) and bonding with his young daughter.

In “Breakup Bootcamp,” Italia Ricci’s Miranda runs a boot camp for the recently broken hearted, and she forms a connection with Ben (Ryan Paevey), an undercover investigative reporter.

Taylor Cole’s Cara is leaving on an international book tour in two weeks and Jack Turner’s Ben is busy with a business expansion, but that won’t interfere with them going ahead with their nuptials in “One Perfect Wedding.”

Fitting for its Irish setting, in “As Luck Would Have It” JoAnna Garcia Swisher’s Lindsey decides to enter the town’s world-famous matchmaking festival to win over a handsome local (Allen Leech).

The last movie in the series, lacking a final title, stars Janel Parrish’s Carly getting a second chance at romance with her college crush with the help of a new friend (Marco Grazzini).

Tim Riley writes film and television reviews for Lake County News.

Darina Simeonova installing work for “Apart and Connected.” Photo by MAC staff.

MIDDLETOWN, Calif. – Join the Middletown Art Center on Saturday, March 20, at 6:30 p.m. for a live-streamed virtual opening reception of Middletown Art Center’s new exhibit, “Apart and Connected” on Zoom​.

The exhibit features a broad variety of expressions of separation and connection as we mark one year of pandemic challenges.

Enjoy work by artists you are familiar with as well as work by artists new to MAC. Also on view is Nicholas Hay’s series, Strategies for Sanity and ceramic works from Cobb Mountain Art and Ecology Project artists.

The MAC is also celebrating six years of operations and its 42nd gallery exhibit, having opened in March 2015, just six months before the Valley Fire.

The MAC has become a dynamic and vibrant center for the arts and culture, helping to galvanize the community through the challenges of sheltering in place, social distancing ​and continuous years of wildfires.

MAC has been leveraging digital tools to offer virtual exhibits, opening receptions, and workshops to continue to provide arts and cultural engagement and enrichment for the people of Lake County during the pandemic.

The opening reception will be hosted by MAC Co-curator Nicola Chipps, a former art and design consultant at ​Ærena​ Galleries in the Napa Valley.

"We are thrilled about the new work, new artists, and an addition of a featured series of work in the small gallery", said Nicola. "The opening reception for Apart and Connected will be shorter than our two previous virtual openings, and we'll save most of our Conversations with Artists for additional events to enjoy in the weeks to come."

Ceramic artists from around the country come together to join Scott Parady, founder of Cobb Mountain Art & Ecology Project, at his property nestled in the forest.

“One of the amazing draws to this facility is the Anagama kiln, a 250 cubic foot tube-shaped kiln built into the hillside,” said artist-in-residence Jacque Adams, who is also the operations coordinator at MAC. “The Anagama fires for nine days on a mixture of hard and soft wood, sourced and processed from the property. The laborious firing takes a team of dedicated artists, and is no easy feat.”

An impressive display of ceramic artwork from the latest firing is on view as part of the exhibit.

To join the virtual opening reception visit www.middletownartcenter.org where you will find a link to register for the Zoom event. The opening will also be livestreamed on Facebook from MAC’s page.

“Apart and Connected” is on view through June 20.

The MAC Gallery is open Thursday through Monday, 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., or by appointment 707-809-8118.

The MAC continues to adjust and innovate during this time of COVID-19. Social distancing and masking are always observed.

Find out more about events, programs, opportunities, and ways to support and celebrate the MAC’s efforts to weave the arts and culture into the fabric of life in Lake County ​at www.​middletownartcenter.org.​

Upcoming Calendar

15May
05.15.2021 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Lake County Farmers’ Finest Saturday market
15May
05.15.2021 10:00 am - 2:00 pm
American Legion Post flag retirement ceremony
15May
16May
05.16.2021 9:00 am - 2:00 pm
Lake County Fair cleanup event
16May
05.16.2021 2:00 pm - 3:00 pm
Konocti Fire Lookout volunteer meeting
17May
05.17.2021
Tax Day
18May
05.18.2021 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Lake County Farmers’ Finest Tuesday market
18May
05.18.2021 11:00 am - 3:30 pm
Lakeport Community Blood Drive
22May
05.22.2021 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Lake County Farmers’ Finest Saturday market
25May
05.25.2021 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Lake County Farmers’ Finest Tuesday market

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