Thursday, 29 July 2021

Arts & Life

Kwame Dawes. Courtesy photo.

In this typ­i­cal­ly plain-spo­ken poem by North Car­oli­na poet, Ter­ri Kir­by Erick­son, from her new col­lec­tion, “A Sun Inside my Chest,” there is, hum­ming below the still sur­face of lan­guage, a rich pulse of hope, of every­day sur­vival — a body’s defi­ance that she cap­tures in that final image.

New Bathing Suit
By Ter­ri Kir­by Erick­son

My friend is wearing her new black bathing suit.
It came with the proper cups, made to fill
with one breast and the memory
of another—which is not to say emptiness—
but the fullness that comes to us, with sacrifice.
There is no one more alive than she is now,
floating like a lotus or swimming, lap after lap,
parting the turquoise, chlorine-scented water,
her arms as sturdy as wooden paddles.
And when she pulls herself from the pool,
her new suit dripping—the pulse is so strong
in her wrists and throat, a little bird
outside the window will hear it, begin to flap
its wings to the beat of her heart.


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 Terri Kirby Erickson, “New Bathing Suit” from A Sun Inside my Chest, (Press 53, 2020). Poem reprinted by permission of Permissions Company, LLC and the publisher. Introduction copyright ©2021 by The Poetry Foundation. The introduction’s author, Kwame Dawes, is George W. Holmes Professor of English and Glenna Luschei Editor of Prairie Schooner at the University of Nebraska.

Kwame Dawes. Courtesy photo.

I am a lit­tle embar­rassed by this poem because recent­ly, I asked my sis­ter in Jamaica if she knew where our father’s ash­es were.

We chuck­led at how we were still fail­ing our beloved father forty years after his death.

There is a vein of the same refresh­ing macabre humor in Kath­leen McGookey​’s poem, ​“The Box” — the way a crock­pot reminds her both of her fail­ure as a daugh­ter and her affec­tion for her parents.

The Box
By Kath­leen McGookey
My parents’ ashes are still in a cardboard box on the metal shelves in my basement. It’s not all their ashes, just my share. They left instructions, but no deadline: when the dogwood blooms, on that trail near the pines. Sometimes I feel a slight pang—is keeping them like this undignified? Disrespectful? But then I forget them until I need the crockpot, and there it is, the little box, heavy for its size, labeled in my writing, next to my daughter’s baby clothes. I haven’t held it since we moved ten years ago. But I might. I could.

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 McGookey, “The Box” from Copper Nickle 31 & 2 (Fall 2020.) Poem reprinted by permission of the author and the publisher. Introduction copyright ©2021 by The Poetry Foundation. The introduction’s author, Kwame Dawes, is George W. Holmes Professor of English and Glenna Luschei Editor of Prairie Schooner at the University of Nebraska.

Two Wise at the Middletown Art Center. Photo by MAC staff.

MIDDLETOWN, Calif. — Join the Middletown Art Center on Saturday, June 26, for a hybrid opening reception of its new exhibitions, “Two Wise” and “Multiples.”

Two Wise is a duo exhibition featuring Ava Avione’s monumental paintings and Alana Clearlake’s organically-inspired felted forms.

Multiples, a group exhibition on display in the small gallery showcases artwork made of two or more panels.

The opening reception will take place in hybrid format in-person at MAC and online on Zoom from 6 to 8 p.m.

To join the virtual opening visit www.middletownartcenter.org to register for Zoom which is free to the public. Conversations with artists begin at 6:30 p.m.

Ava Avione is visual artist, architect, pilot, poet and humanitarian. A master artist, Avione paints to explore and capture diverse forms of energy in her creations.

Her work has been collected by dignitaries and celebrities, exhibited in major museums, shown on television, computer media and in concerts, and published in magazines and newspapers internationally.

Avione’s paintings range from captivating light pastel iridescent angels to sophisticated energetic images that push the limits of figurative abstract expressionism. She moved to Lake County in 2015 just before the Valley fire.

“The immersive large scale images vibrate with color and movement,” said Lisa Kaplan, MAC director and artist. “The works are exuberant and uplifting, evoking a feeling of expansion.”

Alana Clearlake is a visual artist, singer/songwriter, poet, and mother and long-time Lake County resident. She exhibits regularly at the MAC and has co-curated exhibits with Kaplan since MAC opened in 2015.

Her felted works are inspired by the bright colors and organic botanical forms found in nature, often incorporating bones, feathers and bamboo.

Before felting she was an enamellist, showing her work throughout the United States, Europe, Japan and Australia, and published in Craft in America Magazine.

In her most recent body of work, “White Series,” she removed all color, challenging herself to concentrate on pure form.

Organic shapes blossom out of 2-D wool, paper and an encaustic layering process that is molded into 3-D forms ranging from playful to abstract shapes.

“Alana’s work challenges our notion of biology and nature through her combinations of materials and forms,” said MAC staff member and ceramicist Jacque Adams. “I find her work inspiring! They elicit in me new ways of understanding vessels, form, and materiality, sparking curiosity with each new iteration and combination of work.”

Multiples, a group exhibition of local artists showcases work consisting of two or more panels connected in theme, color, or content to make a series or whole piece.

Exhibiting artists include Judy Rudiger, Robert Minuzzo, Kim Baughan-Young, Nicholas Hay, Yelena Zhavaronkova, Jacque Adams and Lisa Kaplan.

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 as we recover from the pandemic, visit ​ www.middletownartcenter.org.​

The MAC Gallery is open Thursday through Monday, 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., or by appointment at 707-809-8118. Changing health guidelines are observed.



‘F9: THE FAST SAGA’ RATED PG-13

The “Fast & Furious” franchise has been running for twenty years, and if it were not for the “F9: The Fast Saga” title, one could easily lose count of its number of installments.

“Fast & Furious Present: Hobbs & Shaw,” a spin-off film, does not count for the franchise, otherwise we would be watching “F10.” Yet, keep an eye out here for one of its protagonists.

“F9” opens with Vin Diesel’s Dom Toretto living the quiet life on a farm with Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) and his son, little Brian. Fans should not worry that Dom’s past of danger and driving fast cars is behind him.

In less time than it takes Dom to go from zero to 60 mph, Roman (Tyrese Gibson), Tej (Chris “Ludacris” Bridges) and Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuel) show up with news that CIA mastermind Mr. Nobody (Kurt Russell) has been captured after a plane crash.

Entering the mix of bad guys plotting world domination with the theft of a secret device that is part of Project Ares that could destroy the security systems of all nations is Dom’s forsaken brother Jakob (John Cena).

Part of the reason for the film’s nearly two-and-a-half hours length are the numerous flashbacks to Dom’s uneasy childhood, the reasons for the sibling rivalry and the fiery death of the father. The Toretto family has its own soap opera.

A more odious villain is a rich Eurotrash psycho named Otto (Thue Ersted Rasmussen). The villainous Cipher (Charlize Theron), spending most of her time in a plexiglass cage, figures into the plot.

Not to be overlooked is Helen Mirren’s Queenie, showing up to take Dom on a fast spin through London streets.

If you’ve ever wondered if a Pontiac Fiero could be outfitted with rockets and hurtled into space with Roman and Tej as humorously bickering astronauts, then you probably know the answer either from watching the trailer or knowing that nothing can be too far-fetched.

Coming right to the point, “F9” has little to do with any confusing storylines and plot holes or the characters; it’s all about over-the-top action sequences with an incredibly high toll of vehicles destroyed in spectacular fashion.

All in all, “F9” is mindless fun to be enjoyed by an audience that will care absolutely not in the least whatever negativity emanates from high-brow critics. This escapist fare will be gleefully savored for all its exciting thrills.



‘BOSCH’ ON AMAZON PRIME VIDEO

One of the best police procedurals is only getting better in its seventh and final season on Amazon Prime Video. In “Bosch,” Titus Welliver returns in the eponymous role of Los Angeles Police detective Harry Bosch.

Working out of the Hollywood Homicide division, Bosch has seen it all but what disturbs him the most is any vile and horrific mistreatment of children, including grisly abuse, sex trafficking and murder.

Going by his credo of “Everybody counts or nobody counts,” Bosch becomes obsessed with the investigation of an apartment building arson fire when a ten-year-old girl dies along with her mother and other family members.

An irreverent detective who often has a problem with authority, Bosch follows his instincts and willingly bends a few rules in pursuit of justice, particularly for the most vulnerable victims.

At his desk in the police station, Bosch keeps photos of kids either missing or dead in cases that remain unsolved. The pictures are a reminder that the stoic detective will keep plodding along even if he has to clash with bureaucratic obstacles.

The arson fire was caused by a Molotov cocktail tossed into the apartment building by a local gang, and when Bosch and his partner Jerry Edgar (Jamie Hector) investigate they find themselves in a possible conflict with an FBI probe.

Several subplots run throughout the season. Bosch’s daughter Maddie (Madison Lintz) is still interning with defense lawyer Honey “Money” Chandler (Mimi Rogers) on a case that takes a dangerous turn.

The Hollywood division’s Lt. Grace Billets (Amy Aquino) endures the treachery of office politics and a workplace harassment campaign seemingly orchestrated by a pair of sexist beat cops.

Chief of Police Irvin Irving (Lance Reddick) faces a threat to his career from a hostile new mayor, and with the dynamics on a Police Commission subject to political pressure, does the Chief have any leverage to win another term?

What matters most and holds the greatest interest in this last season is how dogged Bosch becomes to bring justice for the young arson victim regardless of whatever the cost may be to his position at LAPD.

Since it’s been widely announced that the “Bosch” series will have a spin-off show on Amazon’s free streaming service IMDb TV, there’s good reason for viewers to hang in during the last episode when the screen goes dark.

Previous seasons had ten episodes, so it’s a shame this last one only has eight. Savor every moment of “Bosch” and marvel at how good a television series can be with the right cast, script and production.

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




‘KEVIN CAN F**K HIMSELF’ ON AMC

The shopworn premise of the sitcom that involves a loutish husband with a beautiful, long-suffering wife has been a staple of network television forever, but AMC network’s “Kevin Can F**K Himself” turns that on its ear.

In style alone, this series differs from tradition as it alternates between multi-camera sitcom (complete with laugh track) and single-camera drama when the focus is on the beleaguered wife’s simmering despair.

While the husband in this new series, Kevin McRoberts (Eric Petersen), is a jackass man-child, his wife Allison (Annie Murphy) becomes increasingly desperate to escape from a marriage that seems to have doomed her to a life of servitude.

In the blue-collar McRoberts household, Kevin is a cable guy whose aspiration is to move into fiber optics, while Allison works at a liquor store and dreams of becoming a homeowner in a better neighborhood.

At their home in Worcester, Massachusetts, Kevin is so obsessed with Boston sports teams that he auditions candidates for a Tom Brady look-alike for an anniversary party and hangs out all the time with his dimwitted best friend Neil (Alex Bonifer) and his dad (Brian Howe).

Joining the men for much of the time spent in the McRoberts living room and kitchen is Neil’s hairstylist sister Patty (Mary Hollis Inboden), who seems more tolerant of the Neanderthal men.

The tone of the series takes a darker turn when Allison is alone, either at home or wandering around town and going to work. Acquiescence to Kevin’s whims and reckless choices is replaced by acts of defiance and expressions of seething rage.

Learning from Patty that Kevin has depleted her savings account and lied about their finances, Allison begins to plot revenge that is either wishful thinking or could lead down into a very dangerous rabbit hole.

“Kevin Can F**K Himself,” much like the show’s racy title, is outside the norm of a comedy centered on the oafish husband and the perfect housewife; it’s more like social commentary on how a scorned wife can deliver the middle finger to convention.

NBC FALL TV REVIEW

Information about the upcoming NBC fall season remains less than complete in its details, and maybe we can blame that on the pandemic as one more reason the natural order of things has been upended.

Looking at the fall schedule, if it were not for legendary television producer Dick Wolf, who has created enough franchises for more than one network, NBC would have a gaping hole in its weekly lineup.

Wolf’s “Law & Order” franchise, with its 30-year history, is the most successful brand in television. Thursday nights will run “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” and “Law & Order: Organized Crime,” with “Law & Order: For the Defense” joining as the newest entry.

“For the Defense” takes an unflinching look inside a criminal defense firm. The series will put the lawyers – and the criminal justice system – under the microscope like only “Law & Order” can, delivering hard-hitting stories that provide a new vantage point on justice.

A massive sinkhole in Los Angeles that pulls hundreds of people and buildings into an abyss is the premise for “La Brea,” where the victims find themselves in a perilous and mystifying primeval land.

While the rest of the world is trying to solve the mystery of this catastrophe, one family that is torn apart by separating mother and son from father and daughter will have to figure out where they are and how to get back home.

Life is a series of choices, some good, some bad and others that could go either way. The heart-warming drama “Ordinary Joe” explores the three parallel lives of the main character (James Wolk) after he makes a pivotal choice at a crossroads in his life.

“Ordinary Joe” poses the question of how different life might look if you made your decision based on love, loyalty, or passion. We don’t know if the series would expect the audience to ponder their own choices, but maybe it will stimulate some self-reflection.

For decades, NBC ran a comedy block on Thursday nights, but come this fall not only are Thursdays now in the Dick Wolf drama orbit but the network will not be filling any other nights with comedy series.

Does this mean comedy is DOA at NBC? Not at all. The laughs are on hold until the midseason, at which time “Mr. Mayor,” “Kenan,” and “Young Rock” are expected to return. As a bonus, the final season of “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” drops after the flame goes out on the Summer Olympics.

One new midseason series is the workplace comedy “American Auto,” where the executives at a Detroit automotive company flounder as they try to rediscover the company identity amidst a rapidly changing industry.

The aptly named “Ground Crew” is an ensemble comedy about a group of young Black friends trying to navigate the ups and downs of life and love in Los Angeles while spending a lot of time at their favorite wine bar.

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

Kwame Dawes. Courtesy photo.

I heard Yona Har­vey say in an inter­view that this loose Shake­speare­an (“the bard”) son­net was writ­ten for her teenage daugh­ter, which makes its deep, lay­ered beau­ty a touch­ing mon­u­ment to what this moth­er knows and admires in her daughter’s unset­tling but nec­es­sary bloom­ing into selfhood.

Sonnet for A Tall Flower Blooming at Dinner
By Yona Harvey
Southern Flower, I want to quote the bard,
to serenade you, to raise a glass to you.
lone & tall you are always parched
& hungry. You wobble in strong winds, you
pull your bright hair when it rains, you
toss off the lint of dandelions, you
lean into the evening haunts
with your indifferent afro. You
were born in the old-world city, the invisible
dark girl city, the city that couldn’t hold
a candle, a straight pin a slave-owner’s sins
to you. You are the most beautiful
dark that hosts the most private sorrows
& feeds the hungriest ghosts.


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 Yona Harvey, “Sonnet for A Tall Flower Blooming at Dinner” from You Don’t Have to Go to Mars for Love, (Four Ways Books 2020). Poem reprinted by permission of Permissions Company, LLC and the publisher. Introduction copyright ©2021 by The Poetry Foundation. The introduction’s author, Kwame Dawes, is George W. Holmes Professor of English and Glenna Luschei Editor of Prairie Schooner at the University of Nebraska.

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