A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to have coffee with the dynamic writer, filmmaker, and interactive producer Dan Sadowsky. In his time on this planet, Dan has had many enviable reincarnations career-wise. For three years he and his wife ran the vegetarian restaurant The Purple Parlor on Mississippi Ave in North Portland. After that, Dan worked for Mercy Corps in several different positions allowing him to travel the world. One of Dan’s jobs was to tell the stories of individuals helped by this powerful humanitarian aid agency; in this way he honed his skills as a storyteller.
First, I need to come clean: I am not an impartial reviewer. I have been admiring Eloise Klein Healy and her work since before I was accepted into the MFA program at the University of Antioch, Los Angeles, and Eloise, if you don’t know, is the founder of this magnificent program (no that is not hyperbole). I’ll put it all on the table here: I have placed Eloise on a pedestal—even though that is the last thing she would want. Eloise is my Sappho. Her voice is wise, imperfect, lyrical, strong, brutal, kind, but, above all, unflinchingly real. Read more here…
Well, hello again, beloved readers! Here is our second installment of books we love. This month the latest member of our Board, Kelly, reviews We Need to Talk About Kevin – her reader’s journey from doubt to devotion, Leanna chooses a novel about language and mental illness by Oregonian Craig Lancaster, and Art Director J.M. Jansen picks a book where “whores, magicians, monks, millionaires, computer hackers, politicians, and artists intersect in unexpected ways.” Read more here: Read more here…
Every now and again, the staff here at Gertrude will be blogging about our current favorite reads. This month Liz chose Ann Patchett’s State of Wonder, Tammy picked one of Vonnegut’s best, and Allison went with a book about the mess and madness during the London cholera outbreak of 1854. Read more here…
It’s unusual that I dedicate a blog to a specific Gertrude writer, but this is a great story I wanted to share…
Last year Loren Moreno placed third in our 2011 Chapbook contest. One of his stories was so brilliant that we decided to publish it in Issue 18 (just out!). When I added his name to our internal database of published authors, I saw that Loren had also been published by us before I came on as Fiction Editor a few years ago!
Then the blinded submissions came in for this year's 2012 Fiction Chapbook Content. As we always do, all identifying biographical info is removed from the submissions. Submissions go through two rounds, one with me and one with our slush reader, Allison Tobey, before we hash it out to a final decision.
This year there was not much hashing needed. Without knowing who we were reading, both Allison and I chose the same collection from the large stack of submissions – Loren Moreno!
I am so delighted to announce Loren Moreno as Gertrude's 2012 Chapbook winner. His collection, "Aaron & Keoni," will be out next year - watch for it!
Place is an art gallery located on the third floor of Pioneer Place Mall, in the heart of downtown PDX. The mall, an unexpected location for a gallery, is filled with your typical, garden-variety stores: Victoria’s Secret, Kate Spade, Apple, and H&M, just to name a few. Galleries containing interesting, thought-provoking contemporary art don’t usually exist alongside these monoliths of consumerism. But this unusual location has some advantages; it piques the curiosity of individuals who would never otherwise set foot inside a gallery. It makes for a much more diverse viewing experience when grandparents, blue-haired teenagers, soccer moms, and curators are all thrown into the same visual arts pot, placed on low heat, simmered and stirred together. The current show at Place features the work of artists BT Livermore & Phillip Bone, Georganne Watters, Heather Zinger, Michael Reinsch, and Julie Perini.
So today we start accepting video submissions (see the video call on our Home Page) – something we’ve been hankering to do for some time. And by chance I went to a TEDx (University of Concordia) and saw what – from best I can tell – would happen if a brilliant artist confined to a mental institution re-made HBO’s Carnivale entirely as a stop-frame animation… it's called Goodnight Billy Goat.
Goodnight Billy Goat started as a solo project then because a trio in Echo Park (LA) then dropped to a duo in Portland, OR. They create an ambient-but-pop-py soundtrack that accompanies the films they create using old school stop frame animation. Each film takes months to create. They run while the band plays.
They films are magnificent. That’s the perfect word, really – magnificent. They are larger than life, sepia-to-psychedelic, theme-driven nuggets of magic. That "I could die happy" kind of thing.
When asked by TEDx folks what they would have the 600 people in attendance do if given the chance, Goodnight Billy Goat said:
“…a surrealistist opera [with] the visuals projected in tandem with live moving sets, actors, and complete orchestration.”
Now that you have been readied, lean back in a comfy chair and take a gander at their work... maybe it will inspire some of your own, and if so, maybe you'll send it on to us because we are very readied and very seriously waiting.
Then Nikky got up to read and we all leaned forward in our seats. We stopped breathing, held back our tears, clutched the arm of the lover or friend or stranger next to us.
Nikky said her grandmother told her you must always tell the truth. Nikky said "the skin remembers / the body remembers." Nikky said we must not be afraid to go to the hard places, to say the hard things. Nikky said she, a Southern woman who would never presume to win anything, worked hard on her acceptance speech for the National Book Awards because it wasn't about her -- it was a moment, an opening, in history.
Nikky said we raised our hand and promised to ask a question the minute we entered the room to hear her speak. And so we did ask questions, and she was gracious and delighted and authentic and serious and inspiring and POWERFUL. She was powerful. She read this poem:
We poets, we writers, we listeners, we friends...we all drove home that night under a full moon with our hands itching for our pens, our minds on her words, our hearts on her mouth as she said: you must always tell the truth.
Thank you Nikky, thank you Nikky's grandmother and mother and father and uncle, thank you Reed College, thank you Crystal Williams, thank you night sky and stars, thank you place-where-poems-and-great-poets-come-from.
This is how the Pushcart Prize nominations work: Literary journals choose the top 6 pieces they published in the previous year, print them out, and submit them. And though it sounds simple, there are always a million things all-volunteer Boards such as ours are doing (especially since we just made non-profit about two years ago)...but this year we put it on our Wish List and we did it. Cherry popped!
Now, we are thrilled to announce our selections for year 2011 (each with a little nugget of trivia attached)....
I don’t own a Kindle or a Nook or any other e-reader for the simple fact that I can’t read them in the tub – though I am interested in them as an object, so originally I decided to do a post titled “Kindle – Taking the Shame from Fluff Buying” about how e-readers may be affecting our book purchases, i.e., some folks may buy much more fluff since the shame-inducing covers are hidden. (Author’s Note: OK, OK – the post was actually my wifey’s idea…) In googling around on my stolen post topic, I ran across a detailed list of what you get when you buy Jack Kerouac’s On The Road app/enhanced eBook. Please sit down and ready yourself. . .