Monday, 14 June 2021

Arts & Life

Ted Kooser. Photo credit: UNL Publications and Photography.

In many American poems, the poet makes a personal appearance and offers us a revealing monologue from center stage, but there are lots of fine poems in which the poet, a stranger in a strange place, observes the lives of others from a distance and imagines her way into them.

This poem by Lita Hooper is a good example of this kind of writing.

Editor’s Note: This column is a reprint from the American Life in Poetry archive as we bid farewell to Ted Kooser, and work to finalize the new website and forthcoming columns curated by Kwame Dawes.

Love Worn

In a tavern on the Southside of Chicago
a man sits with his wife. From their corner booth
each stares at strangers just beyond the other's shoulder,
nodding to the songs of their youth. Tonight they will not fight.

Thirty years of marriage sits between them
like a bomb. The woman shifts
then rubs her right wrist as the man recalls the day
when they sat on the porch of her parents' home.

Even then he could feel the absence of something
desired or planned. There was the smell
of a freshly tarred driveway, the slow heat,
him offering his future to folks he did not know.

And there was the blooming magnolia tree in the distance—
its oversized petals like those on the woman's dress,
making her belly even larger, her hands
disappearing into the folds.

When the last neighbor or friend leaves their booth
he stares at her hands, which are now closer to his,
remembers that there had always been some joy. Leaning
closer, he believes he can see their daughter in her eyes.


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. From Gathering Ground: A Reader Celebrating Cave Canem's First Decade, University of Michigan Press, 2006, by permission of the author. Poem copyright © 2006 by Lita Hooper. Introduction copyright @2021 by The Poetry Foundation. The introduction’s author, Ted Kooser, served as United States Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 2004-2006.

MIDDLETOWN, Calif. – Artists are invited to submit work for the upcoming exhibit, “Apart & Connected,” at the Middletown Art Center, Lake County’s premier contemporary art gallery.

The curatorial team seeks strong, well-crafted work in any medium that expresses the new normal which now marks over one year of challenges with distancing and how we strive to maintain connectedness.

Submissions are due via email Feb. 28, with a hybrid virtual and on-site opening reception March 20. The exhibit will run through June 20.

“The work at the MAC is as impressive as work I have seen in boutique galleries throughout the Bay Area and Wine Country,” said Nicola Chipps, co-curator at MAC and former art and design consultant at Ærena Galleries in the Napa Valley. “With support from a CARES grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, MAC is leveraging digital tools such as virtual exhibits and hybrid opening receptions to reach a broader audience.”

MAC has been a beacon of resilience and hope during challenges of widespread social distancing, sheltering in place and continuous years of wildfires.

A dynamic contemporary arts resource, the gallery features rotating exhibits of exceptional work by regional artists.

Applications and high-resolution (300 dpi) jpeg images of work are due via email by Feb. 28. Delivery of accepted work is March 12 or by appointment.

The submission fee is $40 for three entries, or free to MAC Professional Members. Download an application and learn more about the benefits of exhibiting at MAC at www.middletownartcenter.org/calls-for-work.

The MAC Gallery is open Thursday through Monday, 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., or by appointment 707-809-8118. You can also see the current show virtually at www.middletownartcenter.org/home.

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 the MAC’s efforts to weave the arts and culture into the fabric of life in Lake County at www.middletownartcenter.org.

LAKE COUNTY, Calif. – The Lake County Theatre Co. announced open auditions for its next play, “A Virtual Whodunnit.”

This will be an online production that will be rehearsed and performed completely via Zoom.

Preston Sterling is hosting a Zoom meeting with his children, third wife and closest staff to celebrate his birthday.

The bitter old billionaire is bullying everyone once again and threatening to change his will when he is electrocuted through his phone.

Enter Sloan, Rockford Sloan, homicide detective. Through a series of Zoom conferences, Sloan questions the usual suspects, all of whom had a motive. When every suspect has motive and opportunity, it’s up to our brave detective and the audience to find the killer.

Auditions will be held via Zoom Feb. 18 and 20, with callbacks on Feb. 22.

Visit www.lctc.us for sides, character information and to schedule an audition.

Please note that due to software requirements, actors must have access to a laptop or desktop computer. Unfortunately, tablets and chromebooks do not support the necessary software.




‘CLARICE’ AND ‘THE EQUALIZER’ ON CBS

“Clarice” is all about exactly what you think. The name can never be separated from the chilling horror of “The Silence of the Lambs” film that starred a young Jodie Foster as FBI trainee Clarice Starling.

What does not surface in this new CBS series is even a mention of Dr. Hannibal Lecter, a psychiatrist who was imprisoned in maximum security isolation for being a serial killer that dabbled in cannibalism with a side of fava beans and a nice chianti.

More than a film rights issue disallowing a reference to the fabled cannibal, the show producer Alex Kurtzman obliquely noted to critics at the winter press tour that the Lecter storyline “had been explored in great depth by so many brilliant people.”

Moreover, if the Hannibal Lecter angle were to be raised in a new format, the series would be treading territory that has been slogged by so many others in films and even a television series that followed “The Silence of the Lambs.”

Set in 1993, “Clarice” picks up one year after the trauma of the young female FBI trainee having to confront the serial killer Buffalo Bill to rescue a senator’s daughter trapped in a dry well.

Suffering from PTSD as the result of too many flashbacks from the rescue mission, Clarice (Rebecca Breeds) has been relegated to the safe confines of the Behavioral Science Unit and subjected to sessions with a condescending therapist (Shawn Doyle).

Viewed as a media darling for her notoriety, Clarice’s exclusion from field work has probably much to do with the suspicion of a male-dominated hierarchy in the FBI that questions her abilities, if partly for lack of a deep resume in the agency.

That’s no concern for Ruth Martin (Jayne Atkinson), the senator in the film who is now the attorney general and indebted to Clarice for saving her daughter Catherine (Marnee Carpenter) from the nightmare of Buffalo Bill’s basement.

That the attorney general insists Clarice must join the FBI’s Violent Criminal Apprehension Program (VICAP) that is led by hostile supervisor Paul Krendler (Michael Cudlitz) sets the stage in the first episode for the series premise of another hunt for a serial killer.

It’s a bit of an odd note that the second episode veers off into a standoff with a militia group where the FBI honchos fret about an explosive situation so close in time to the fiasco of the deadly siege of the Branch Davidians in Waco, Texas.

For Clarice, dealing with a cult leader may be little different than divining the motives of a sociopathic killer, but whether she succeeds as an agent despite her damaged psyche could be reason enough to tune into “Clarice.”

“The Equalizer,” first popularized as a crime drama television series starring Edward Woodward and later in two films with Denzel Washington in the role of righteous vigilante Robert McCall, has taken a gender twist with Queen Latifah as Robyn McCall.

As a crime procedural, this new version relies on the strength of character of a Black woman empowered to right wrongs and to seek justice that eludes a person in need with nowhere to turn for meaningful support.

Queen Latifah is a most appropriate choice for a role that calls for equal parts compassion and toughness. One has to wonder, however, if this series might have been even more fitting for Pam Grier in her prime almost fifty years ago.

In vigilante movies like “Coffy” and “Foxy Brown,” Grier’s avenging angel took no prisoners when exacting revenge on drug dealers and murderers. But Grier’s heroics occurred in a different era when Blaxploitation was a popular urban genre.

Whether Queen Latifah would have been a proper fit in Grier’s memorable roles may be an open question, but “The Equalizer” does offer opportunities for her to prove a toughness of spirit as well as physicality for vigilantism.

Robyn McCall is a former CIA intelligence officer who apparently seems to have been involved in a bungled operation in a third world country that hastened her departure from government service.

An old colleague, William Bishop (Chris Noth), surfaces with offers of lucrative work in private security, but Robyn has perhaps other ideas that don’t quite gel until she finds a young woman needing saving from a bunch of thugs.

Contemplating her future and caring for her rebellious 15-year-old daughter Delilah (Laya DeLeon Hayes), with the help of her Aunt Vi (Lorraine Toussaint) to balance life as a working mother, Robyn seeks to keep her clandestine work a secret from family.

Not the lone wolf that Denzel Washington portrayed, Latifah’s vigilante gets help from Melody (Liza Lipara), an edgy bar owner and sharpshooter, and her husband Harry (Adam Goldberg), a paranoid and brilliant hacker.

Robyn’s handiwork also draws the attention of NYPD Detective Marcus Dante (Terry Kittles), who doggedly seeks to uncover the identity of the person known as The Equalizer.

When only the first episode was available to review, it’s not easy to fathom whether “The Equalizer” will capture our attention, thus the viewers must choose.

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


Rebecca Roudman and the members of “Dirty Cello.” Courtesy photo.

LAKEPORT, Calif. – The Soper Reese Theatre presents Dirty Cello in virtual concert on Sunday, Feb. 14, at 3 p.m.

This four-member Bay Area band is perfect for starting up a funky, sexy, electric Valentine's Day party in the comfort and safety of your own home.

Vivacious Rebecca Roudman plays the cello like it was a lead guitar and she sings like a rock star with attitude.

Her group has played all over the world putting a highly danceable and original spin on blues and bluegrass, playing everything from Purple Haze to the Orange Blossom Special.

The concert will be shown on Zoom and registration details are at the theatre's web site, www.soperreesetheatre.com.

For questions please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Ted Kooser. Photo credit: UNL Publications and Photography.

Here’s a lovely poem about snow falling on San Antonio by Mo H. Saidi, an obstetrician and writer who, in addition to his medical training, has a Master’s degree in English and Literature from Harvard.

Editor’s Note: This column is a reprint from the American Life in Poetry archive as we bid farewell to Ted Kooser, and work to finalize the new website and forthcoming columns curated by Kwame Dawes.

The Night of the Snowfall

Snow falls gently in the Hill Country
covering the meadows and the valleys.
The sluggish streaks of smoke climb quietly
from the roofs but fail to reach the lazy clouds.

On Alamo Plaza in the heart of the night
and under the flood of lights, the flakes float
like frozen moths and glow like fireflies.
They drop on the blades of dormant grass.

They alight on the cobblestones and live awhile
in silence, they dissolve before dawn.
The wet limestone walls of the mission
glow proudly after the night of snowfall.

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 ©2010 by Mo H. Saidi from his most recent book of poems, The Color of Faith, Pecan Grove Press, 2010. Poem reprinted by permission of Mo H. Saidi and the publisher. Introduction copyright @2021 by The Poetry Foundation. The introduction’s author, Ted Kooser, served as United States Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 2004-2006.

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