Friday, September 10, 2010
What May Have Been: Letters of Jackson Pollock & Dori G
Gary Percesepe & Susan Tepper
Cervena Barva Press September 2010
The letters in this novel are as tumultuous as Jackson's paintings,
splattered in movements, layer upon layer, as the story reveals
itself the same way the paint speaks abstractly:
"Before you, all I could see was a pit. Dori look what you've
done for me already! I'm partly to blame for your troubles.
I'll never call you a little girl again. Inside your body I reach
the center of the earth."
This is a love story and a story of lust between a seasoned womanizer who is a self-absorbed artist, and a young naïve woman. In places this story feels as if it could be a fairy tale, but in essence, Pollock is speaking to himself, longing for his own youth and the rigor of those early experimentations, in this case through narrative? Yes. There are two voices, Pollock and Dori, but are they really one Pollock?
"Pollock turned back to her. She studied him in the dying
light. It occurred to him that he could share with her the
thoughts he'd pieced together in the car, lay them out in
sequence, with the earliest, tidiest first, just lay them down."
The two authors take an interesting view of who Pollock was and how
he effected a larger audience:
"DORI. YOUR NAME IS DORI. KEEP THAT UNDER
YOUR PRETTY HEAD OF HAIR. No I don't play golf.
I'm a painter. A painter and your lover. That's the sum
total of my life."
Wilderness House Literary Review
Ibbetson Street Press
Tuesday, September 07, 2010
“‘Sez’ Malachy McCourt to Somerville”
by Tracy L. Strauss
“I like the name ‘Somerville’,” Malachy McCourt said over the phone from his home in upstate New York, “it’s got a nice euphonious ring to it. ‘Somerville’ – sounds like the wind whistling through the trees.”
In fact, as we spoke about his upcoming appearance at the 8th Annual Somerville Writers Festival, to be held November 13, the wind was doing just that.
Malachy McCourt, Frank McCourt’s younger brother, has had a varied career as a writer, actor, and politician. A co-writer (with Frank) of the play A Couple of Blaguards, McCourt has written and published close to ten books of essays, history, and memoir, including The New York Times bestseller A Monk Swimming. His work has also appeared in many magazines including New York Newsday, National Geographic, Conscience Magazine, and New York Times. McCourt’s column, “Sez I To Myself,” appears in Manhattan Spirit, The Westsider, and Our Town in NYC.
However, McCourt does not consider himself a writer: “I happen to be an author,” he said, “but I don’t consider myself a writer. Writers are people who are diligent and disciplined and all that, and I am not.”
When approached to participate in the Festival, McCourt said, “Yes, yes, yes!” Speaking engagements are his passion. “But I don’t consider it speaking or lecturing,” he made the distinction. “I consider it chatting with people. I like sharing whatever looney thoughts I have and then there’s the mischievous part of me that I know is going to piss people off. I like that because people absolutely disagree with you. The constitution gives you that right. Free speech is very expensive. We ought to get as much of it as we can. It’s more important than money. And it’s very important to writers, who don’t make a lot of money.”
In 2006, McCourt was the Green Party candidate for New York State. Running under the slogan “Don’t waste your vote, give it to me,” McCourt promised to recall the New York National Guard from Iraq, to make public education free through college, and to institute a statewide comprehensive “sickness care” system. He lost to Democratic Party candidate Eliot Spitzer.
“I have no formal education,” McCourt said, “so it always amuses me that people ask me questions. I’ll be delighted to share my ignorance with you. I don’t know anything about anything. All I have are opinions.”
McCourt is currently working on a one-man show about H.L. Mencken. “Like myself,” McCourt explained, “Mencken was a non-believer in organized religion, or in a vengeful deity. I believe there’s a plague of organized religion in our country that needs to be stopped. It’s akin to organized crime because they – conservatives – threaten you if you don’t do certain things. They say you will go to hell for eternity, and that various entities will shove red hot pokers up your armpit forever and ever. It’s just torture.”
McCourt has also led a prolific career as an actor on Broadway and Off-Broadway, as well as in regional theaters, movies, and soap operas such as “Ryan’s Hope,” “One Life to Live,” and “All My Children,” on which he has had a recurring Christmas-time role as “Father Clarence,” a priest who shows up to give inspirational advice to the citizens of the fictional town “Pine Valley.”
In the 1970s, McCourt was one of the first talk show hosts on the Christian radio station WMCA, and also worked at WNYC and WABC. He was also a frequent guest on the “Tonight Show,” “Merv Griffin” and “Tom Snyder” shows, and, more recently, “Conan O’Brien” and “The Late, Late Show.”
As someone with public appearance experience, McCourt has advice for those writers preparing for a public reading: “Read monotone, or invest your work with life and drama,” McCourt said. “That’s what you have to think about.”
For aspiring writers, McCourt clarifies focus: “The main thing about writing,” he said, “is don’t edit – there are editors who get paid to do that and you shouldn’t be putting people out of business. Don’t worry about grammar, it’s not your business either. Punctuation is totally a matter of opinion. And don’t ever show any of your work to relatives until you’re published. Then they can argue with you.”
“There are two things to avoid in writing,” McCourt added. “Shame and fear. Don’t be ashamed of anything you’ve done. Well, do be if you want to be, but don’t be afraid of it. Put away fear and never, never judge your work. You will always find it guilty.”
********** Tracy L. Strauss teaches writing at Emerson College in Boston.
Monday, September 06, 2010
Review of RENEWAL by Diana Kwiatkowski Rubin, 123 pages, 2010, Xlibris Corporation, www.Xlibris.com, paperback, $15.99, trade hardback, 24.99, eBook, $9.99
By Barbara Bialick
Diana Kwiatkowski Rubin’s voice in RENEWAL, comes forth as mature, spiritual and rhythmic. Rubin, who comes from Edison, New Jersey, has published in a number of journals, five books of poetry, two books of stories, a cookbook, and a children’s book. Two of her poems were winning entries in the 14th Annual New Jersey Wordsmith contest. But her Xlibris marketing service calls the book “a literary masterpiece that touches on sundry themes.” That is terrible marketing that made me want to dismiss the whole book. But I did find some lines that showed the spark of poetry.
One of the better poems was “Caribbean Ghost Ship,” which begins: “Terrified, for several days/after volcanic eruption,/molten lava,/she clung desperately to life…soon arrived a rainbow of visitors,/a green parrotfish awakened/from its protective cocoon…”
As she often does, she ends the poem with a spiritual slant, “Her sunken bulkhead, setting her free/to start over anew in spirit.”
The two winning poems were “The Waves At Wildwood Crest” and “Swamp Vision.” The first is a short poem, that is similar to her many Haiku entries, which she does pretty well. She writes, “Bold, sienna sunset/to her astonishment/my daughter swims/with dolphins swirling…her clandestine dream/unfolding…”
“Swamp Vision” is a good example of melodic rhythm: “White ducks waddle/across the frozen pond/…One, two, three four…January’s fabulous parade.” But it is a bit too reminiscent of the famous children’s book, “Make Way for Ducklings.”
“Summer Haiku”, which consists of four haikus, is a little more original, and begins: “The sweet taste of pear/combats the blistering sun/late summer delight.” Its third haiku reads: “Bold red ladybug/dotted upon a soft fern--/wonder to behold.”
But that about ends the wonder.