Friday, November 12, 2010
Review of A NORTH ATLANTIC WALL BY Donald Wellman, Dos Madres Press, Inc., PO Box 294, Loveland, Ohio 45140, 95 pages, 2010
By Barbara Bialick
This book-length literary journey would appeal to those who like medieval travel mixed with travel in the present, but largely through intellectual allusions, history, and what the author called “transhistory.” I didn’t notice any particular poems that would stand out distinctly without their book, yet it is interesting reading and written smoothly. As literary analyst Don Byrd notes on the back cover, “Don Wellman maps a remarkable geography. The deeper interest of this poetry, however, belongs to places that are not on the map.”
There is a literal map at the beginning of the journey.—the Spanish Kingdoms, 1210.
There are also some notes in the back, should you want to study more closely all the allusions and opinions. But the author observes on page 39, “The canon urged the poet to wed fabulous lies with the understanding of the readers so as to facilitate impossibilities and join admiration with delight. Does this justify Quixote or make transparent an underlying purpose?”
An example of the metaphorical travelogue reads, p.46, “From the stone bed of San Guillarmo, draw an east west line/the sacred stones lead to the summit on a north south axis/and all of this at the time when a pagan queen ruled the/headlands and the Milky Way was thought to be the celestial colure…”
But the present intrudes into the intellectual fantasy, on p. 47: “Later the poets discussed roof construction after/the Arabic fashion…Families arrived in black Mercedes to visit the spa…”
The quote that most interested me was his philosophical idea about God, page 74:
“So I say, as it is impossible that what has happened has never happened, and so it is impossible too that what will happen shall not happen. And above all, in God, who understands and knows from the beginning what has to happen, even before it comes to be, so it was and is then without a doubt necessary that the future has been completely determined in his thought already, given that he knew and understood always, what causes are necessary for the consummation of what has to happen.”
Donald Wellman lives in Weare, New Hampshire and has written two other books of poetry. For many years, he edited O.ARS, a series of anthologies about post-modern poetics. He has been a translator in several languages.
Tuesday, November 09, 2010
A BagelBards Book Review
“Tales Of The Troupe”
By Rob Dinsmoor
Zingology Press, No price listed
Reviewed by Paul Steven Stone
“Tales of the Troupe” is just what its title suggests, a series of stories about a comedy troupe named Chucklehead that performed blackout skits and guerilla theater in New York City towards the end of the 80’s. The author, Rob Dinsmoor, who makes his living these days as a science and medical writer, focused more acutely on the funny bone back then as one of the troupe’s onboard skit writers.
“Tales of the Troupe” offers a wry often bemused look at the struggles (many) and triumphs (few and short lived) that await any group of dedicated performance artists who are long on enthusiasm and short on visible means of support. The stories are connected by theme, time and characters but, alas, not by any sense of a building or compelling narrative. They are often humorous, always well written, but too reflective of life itself, which never fails to end its subplots with a dull thud rather then a resounding chord.
“Tales” has much to offer the self-motivated reader who might be interested in off-broadway theater, or Greenwich Village lifestyles, or the perils and pitfalls of the quest for fame and popular success, or who just might enjoy spending a few hours with an enjoyable group of comics and their cohorts. But fiction readers hungering for more story in their short stories, will find themselves wishing the author had allowed himself a little more literary license in conveying the times and adventures of Chucklehead.
**** Paul Steven Stone is the Creative Director of W.B. Mason and the author of "Or So It Seems."
Monday, November 08, 2010
“Midsummer Night’s Dream” presented by F.U.D.G.E Theatre Company –
Arsenal Center for the Arts, Watertown – November 5th -13th
Review by Adrienne Drobnies
As we slip closer to the winter solstice, F.U.D.G.E Theatre Company brings to the stage Shakespeare’s play of magical realism, “Midsummer’s Night’s Dream.” Joe DeMita’s innovative direction is the greatest strength of this production. The stage is set up with long monochrome strips of hanging fabric, a mirror to one side, and two rotating platforms on the floor, all of which are used effectively. The draped fabric evokes variously trees in the forest, bed covers for the lovers, and the tug-of-war between characters. The music (Debussy, Saariaho) fits well with the minimal and contemporary feel of this staging. The most interesting directorial choice was to divide the part of Puck into two, where the actors echo and mirror each other. And in the dreamscape of the forest scenes, the characters of Lysander, Hermia, Demetrius, and Helena have “shadows,” whose silent choreographed movements seem to represent the pure emotion of the young lovers. The depth and seriousness of those emotions balance the comedy of the characters’ immature actions. The effect of the extra players, enhanced by the stage mirror, is to create a kaleidoscope of altered and divided consciousness. The two Pucks, played by Anne Olmsted and K. Bevin Ayers, worked exceptionally well together. The actors were energetic and professional, with Richie DeJesus outstanding as “Bottom.” The cuts made to the script maintained the beauty of the language, humor, and fantasy in this enjoyable production. At a time of year when some fantasy and laughter is welcome, it’s worth the trip to the Arsenal Center to see this entertaining “Midsummer Night’s Dream.”