Tuesday, 28 June 2022

Arts & Life

Kwame Dawes. Courtesy photo.

Marwa Helal’s poem is anchored by a line of aspiration and effort, “I am trying to tell you something,” a line, in other words, that might easily be the mantra of all poets.

In “generation of feeling,” she seems to say that poetry, language, and words, arranged and rearranged, alter, change the universe.

These lines should be reassuring even when we are bewildered and alarmed by the strange violence of the first stanza’s image: bones, fires, and the pains of growing.

She invites us to keep rearranging words to achieve hopeful meaning. Sometimes this is what poetry aspires to.

generation of feeling
By Marwa Helal

these growing pains though
this good will hunting
we
fallen twigs
look like bones
waiting to be lit

i am trying to tell you something about how
rearranging words
rearranges the universe


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 ©2019 by Marwa Helal, “generation of feeling” from Invasive species (Nightboat Books, 2019.) Poem reprinted by permission of the author and the publisher. Introduction copyright ©2022 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.

Fire Series 2 by Ali Meders-Knight.

MIDDLETOWN, Calif. — The Middletown Art Center will host a panel discussion this weekend on traditional ecological knowledge, or TEK, and fire management.

The event will take place via Zoom from 4 to 6 p.m. Saturday, March 5.

The panel discussion will feature Meyo Marrufo, Ali Meders-Knight and Jessica Brown and be facilitated by Corine Pearce, lead artist of the Weaving Project. All are TEK practitioners, cultural educators, cultural artists and basket weavers.

In their work on the land, they have tended gathering sites and helped people restore native plants and ecological balance to areas impacted by wildfires. There is much to learn and put to practice from TEK, to live more sustainably in a region where fire is part of life.

“People have to understand that we'll never win. Fire will always win. And so what we have to do is work in accordance with the fire to be able to defend our space, doing what we need to do before we get to catastrophic fires,” said Brown, a Southeastern Pomo land steward who has been working in ecorestoration and fire ecology in Lake County and on a food sovereignty project for the Elem Tribe.

TEK is based on 20,000 years of place-based Indigenous knowledge of local ecosystems and watersheds.

“It is the ancestral knowledge that our people have practiced over time,” said Maruffo. “It's a new word but not a new theory.”

Marrufo, an Eastern Pomo from the Clear Lake Basin, also works to restore and protect environmental and cultural landscapes and tribal ways of life as the environmental director for Guidiville Rancheria in Mendocino County and is the California Representative for the EPA National Tribal Caucus.

“My people managed this land collectively to achieve peace, prosperity and health for all who lived here. This is why it’s important now to educate the whole community on how to manage the land, as it sustains our economy,” explained Meders-Knight, Mechoopda tribal member in the Chico area and advocate for community resilience and shared prosperity through community land management.

Register for Zoom access to this invaluable discussion at www.bit.ly/TEKlake. Preregistration is required so that the Zoom room can accommodate all virtual attendees. Fees are sliding scale and support the project and project documentation. No one turned away for lack of funds.

This event was previously scheduled for Feb. 26 and due to unforeseen circumstances has been rescheduled for March 5 from 4 to 6 p.m. If you have already registered, the same Zoom link will work.

For more information visit www.middletownartcenter.org.​



‘BLACKLIGHT’ RATED PG-13

One question that fans of Liam Neeson need to consider is whether following the career path of Steven Seagal in action pictures is worthy of emulation for a talented actor just shy of being a septuagenarian.

The Northern Irish thespian’s starring role in 2008’s “Taken,” in which he played a retired CIA operative who employed his “particular set of skills” to harshly deal with abductors of his teenage daughter kidnapped while on a trip to Paris, was followed by a series of similar films.

“Taken” turned into a trilogy, where he saved family members before having to finally save himself after being framed for the murder of his ex-wife and then using his talents to track down the real killers.

This brings us to “Blacklight,” where Neeson’s Travis Block is a deep undercover agent and a “fixer” for the FBI under the direction of its director Gabriel Robinson (Aidan Quinn), both of whom served together during the Vietnam War.

The film’s opening would seemingly appear to cleverly recall the paranoia of political thrillers from the 1970s when charismatic Congressional candidate Sofia Flores (Mel Jarnson) ends in the crosshairs of a shadowy conspiracy.

On the scene of the Flores political rally in the nation’s capital is Dusty Crane (Taylor John Smith), who we soon learn is an undercover FBI agent working for Director Robinson on a covert assignment of dubious origins.

A chain of events propels Crane to take drastic measures to reveal the foreboding conspiracy dubbed “Operation Unity” at high levels in the FBI, leading the agent to connect with website news reporter Mira Jones (Emmy Raver-Lampman).

As seen before in other films of the genre, Block tries to make amends as an absentee parental figure to his single mom daughter Amanda (Claire van der Boom) and young granddaughter Natalie (Gabriella Sengos).

To that end of seeking more quality time with family, Block wants out of his extraction duties, but Director Robinson won’t hear of it and insists that he must bring the errant Crane back into the fold.

Without giving away some twists, Block begins to harbor doubts about his superiors, and with a little push from journalist Jones, a light begins to shine on the sinister truth of “Operation Unity.”

Soon enough, Block is on a collision course with his old war buddy Robinson when his daughter and granddaughter mysteriously vanish from their home that Block had outfitted with cameras and sensors.

As expected, the obligatory gunfights and high-speed car chases add to the thrills, and Block delivers a few catchy lines, the best one being telling the menacing Robinson, protected by two agents, “you’re gonna need more men.”

According to the dictionary, blacklight is invisible ultraviolet light or infrared radiation. Given that blacklight could be used to detect that which is not visible to the naked eye, perhaps the title “Blacklight” is a metaphor for the unmasking of the bad guys.

Frankly, this generic Liam Neeson thriller does not merit any serious thought about the meaning of the film’s title. It’s so indistinctive that the only proper thing is for it to fall quickly into a black hole of one’s memory.

Having enjoyed the ride with many of Neeson’s previous forays into the genre, particularly with the original “Taken,” my suggestion is that anyone tempted to see “Blacklight” should save a few bucks and wait for its inevitable appearance on a streaming service.



‘RUBY AND THE WELL’ ON BYUtv

BYUtv is a free streaming service that produces a number of original series. “Ruby and the Well” is a 10-episode family drama, premiering on Sunday, Feb. 27, that follows the adventures of 14-year-old Ruby O’Reilly (Zoe Wiesenthal) in the rural town of Emerald.

After inheriting her great uncle’s apple orchard, Ruby and her dad Daniel (Kristopher Turner) arrive in Emerald, flush with hope for the future. To their surprise, the orchard and the town are in disrepair, and everyone seems to be going through a rough patch.

All that starts to change when Ruby discovers a profound way to impact the lives of the townspeople by granting their innermost wishes, which have been captured and stored in a magic well on their property.

While Ruby and her new best friends Mina (Lina Sennia) and Sam (Dylan Kingwell) work on solving the wishes one by one, Daniel toils in the disheveled apple orchard, determined to make their new lives work, even if it means taking side gigs to support the family.

But as the town’s rejuvenation draws attention from outside, a stranger from the city shows up with an offer that threatens everything Ruby has been working for. She and her friends must figure out a way to fight back while still honoring the well’s purpose.

“Ruby and the Well” invites viewers to a place where new beginnings and second chances have room to grow. Fittingly enough, this series is intended as entertainment for the whole family.

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



‘UNCHARTED’ RATED PG-13

What happens when you mix the first “Indiana Jones” movie with “Tomb Raider” and “National Treasure?” Since one of the three is actually based on a video game, we may arrive at the conclusion that “Uncharted” proves to be a hybrid of high-octane adventure and electronic thrills.

Given that it is based on the PlayStation video game by Naughty Dog, “Uncharted” could either go the dismal route of so many videogame-to-movie transitions that flopped or surprise with a rollicking sense of fun with some likable characters up against nasty foes.

With Tom Holland (“Spider-Man”) and Mark Wahlberg as the leads paired on a treasure hunt, this video game movie falls into the latter category, an unserious yet fun escapade involving affable con artists on a wild ride.

In the spirit of fantastic stunts that permeate a rough journey, the film begins with Holland’s Nathan Drake dangling perilously by a strap tied to cargo floating out of the rear of an airborne plane.

More thrills are in store, but first a flashback to Nathan’s childhood. History buff Nathan is seen as a 10-year-old orphan with his older brother Sam breaking into a museum.

Before being apprehended by security, the boys find their attention drawn to a vintage map of the world that offers a clue to where Spanish explorer Ferdinand Magellan hid a treasure valued at billions.

Separated by the authorities, Sam goes on the run and young Nathan grows up without family. In the present day, Nathan has become a New York City bartender juggling bottles like Tom Cruise in “Cocktail” and also moonlights as a pickpocket.

Recruited by Victor “Sully” Sullivan (Mark Wahlberg) with the admission of knowing his lost brother, Nathan’s interest is aroused by the scheme to search for Magellan’s gold fortune.

But first, Nathan and Victor must infiltrate a posh auction house and coordinate a tricky ploy to purloin a golden cross that unlocks clues that takes them to Barcelona and beyond.

Trust issues arise between the two treasure hunters, with Nathan dubious about his shady mentor’s honesty and credibility, and while they are not exactly bosom buddies, they share an obsession to find the cache of gold probably located in a pirate’s cove.

Once in Spain, they encounter one of Sully’s cronies, a young woman named Chloe (Sophia Ali) who is tough and resourceful. But she’s about as trustworthy as the scorpion in the fable that involves hitching a ride on a frog’s back with a false promise not to sting him.

An even greater challenge for Nathan and Sully is the obsession of the sinister Santiago Moncada (Antonio Banderas) who claims that Magellan’s lost treasure belongs to his family’s House of Moncada.

A more interesting and exceedingly dangerous villain is Moncada’s sexy confederate Jo Braddock (Tati Gabrielle), and unlike Chloe, there’s no mystery about what side she’s fighting on.

Amid the backstabbing, lies and double-crosses, piled on top of battling cutthroat thugs in a pizza parlor and on the high-seas and everywhere in-between, Victor and Nathan are on a bumpy road filled with some fast-paced and energetic thrills.

Knowing anything at all about the film’s origin in a video game is irrelevant for enjoyment of a rousing adventure where the bantering duo of Nathan and Sully turns on the chemistry of their wisecracks and feelings to deliver a satisfying buddy relationship.

What’s not to love about the spectacular stunts that come with 16th century Spanish galleons flying through the air for climactic battles between our heroes and Moncada’s cadre of henchmen and mercenaries?

Leaving open the almost certain possibility of a sequel, “Uncharted” could not ask for a better scenario than a repeat performance for the main protagonists and their female counterparts. “Uncharted” should set sail for its next chapter of risky ventures.



‘ANGELA BLACK’ ON SPECTRUM

A Spectrum Originals production, the limited series “Angela Black” is a spellbinding psychological thriller of a woman’s life seeming like a dream, but in reality, she’s living in a nightmare from which an escape may be elusive.

Angela (Joanne Froggatt) lives an ostensibly idyllic life in a lovely house in suburban London with two beautiful sons and a charming, hardworking husband, and volunteers at a dog shelter.

Behind this facade of charmed domesticity, Angela is a victim of domestic abuse at the hands of her spouse Olivier (Michiel Huisman). Though Olivier is controlling and brutal, Angela loves him and he’s the father of her children.

The daily abuse causes Angela to cover her bruises with makeup and fabricate lies to explain away her missing teeth. Until one day, Angela is approached by Ed (Samuel Adewunmi), a private investigator who smashes her already strained domestic life to pieces.

Ed reveals Olivier’s deepest secrets to Angela, and she is faced with horrifying truths about her husband and his betrayals.

Forced to take matters into her own hands, the situation could become desperate for a mother trying to protect her kids.

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

Kwame Dawes. Courtesy photo.

It is not entirely clear what has arrived, here in this poem “Psalm For Arrival.”

What is clear, is the familiar sense that sometimes, after a long effort, we are able to “find sounds/ for words” — to articulate, the difficult stuff of memory.

And perhaps this is what has arrived, the voicing of the difficult things.

In the end, however, Khaled Mattawa finds no great relief in speaking these words. Somehow the deadening effects of memory can be persistent, despite our necessary efforts to disavow “old sentiments”.

Psalm For Arrival
By Khaled Mattawa

When we find the sounds
for words we need, their death
rattle begins to echo in our throats.

Memory creeps up on old sentiments,
finds them lurking like blind fish
in the twilight of our blood.

Dead and living on—ancient prophecies
or frozen microbes—something we disavow
continues to feed on us.


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 Khaled Mattawa, “PSALM FOR ARRIVAL” from Fugitive Atlas (Greywolf Press, 2020.) Poem reprinted by permission of the author and the publisher. Introduction copyright ©2022 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.

Here is what one might call a most witty anti-Valentine’s Day poem, which, tellingly, turns out to be an exuberant and witty pro-love poem.

Kalamu Ya Salaam’s “civilization” should be read as an over-protestation against sentiment, for in the end, “As Serious as a Heart Attack,” is a lovely and defiantly optimistic celebration of the abundance of love.

As Serious as a Heart Attack
By Kalamu Ya Salaam

i have never been fully domesticated
but i have been civilized

by women taught that the heart
is more than a muscle

a life drum whose function is
both physical blood pumping
and spiritual longing to be embraced

but love, ah love is a river
we may get wet
but we can never drink it all
love always flows on
more than we can ever swallow

no matter how thirsty
we claim to be


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 Kalamu Ya Salaam, “AS SERIOUS AS A HEART ATTACK” from Cosmic Deputy, poetry and context 1968-2019 (University of New Orleans Press, 2020.) Poem reprinted by permission of the author and the publisher. Introduction copyright ©2022 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.

Upcoming Calendar

28Jun
06.28.2022 9:00 am - 12:00 pm
Board of Supervisors
28Jun
06.28.2022 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at Library Park
28Jun
06.28.2022 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
Rotary Club of Clear Lake
30Jun
06.30.2022 7:30 am - 8:30 am
Rotary Club of Middletown
1Jul
07.01.2022 5:00 pm - 5:30 pm
Essential workers mural dedication
2Jul
2Jul
07.02.2022 9:00 am - 11:00 am
Junior Ranger Program: Lake ecology
2Jul
07.02.2022 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at the Mercantile
2Jul
07.02.2022 11:00 am - 1:00 pm
Weekly writing workshop
2Jul
07.02.2022 11:00 am - 11:00 pm
64th annual Redbud Parade and Festival

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