Topic: April 2006
Fans of Margin contributor Jan Steckel will want to tune in today to the program, "Woman-Stirred Radio," on WGDR-Radio 91.1 FM in Vermont, or on the Internet at www.wgdr.org (1:30p West Coast time, 4:30p on the East Coast). Steckel adds: "Got something you want asked in the interview, like 'What about that five bucks you owe me?' You can call (radio show hostess) Merry in the studio before or after the show at 802-454-7762."
If you can't tune in, why not read two new online published poems by Steckel appearing in New Works Review and The Potomac? Another option: read Merry Gangemi's review of Steckel's recently released book of poems, The Underwater Hospital.
More Margin poets out in the world: Erin Fristad reads tonight at the Seattle Town Hall Political Cabaret and at the In Other Words Bookstore in Portland OR, May 5th. She's a terrific poet and reader; go to her events, if you can.
Also, once again, this spring Hermine Meinhard will teach a poetry workshop at Il Chiostro, a country farmhouse in Tuscany where wine and olive oil have been produced for hundreds years. She reports that last year the writing and the experience were transforming, as if the landscape had drawn the writers into an intimacy with it and themselves.
Practically speaking, the workshop is a chance to immerse yourself in writing in a place of deep roots and sensuousness. The group will be small (no more than 10); that, and the uniqueness of the setting, make it possible for her to give much individual attention to participants and their poems.
The 2006 dates are May 13 – 20. The week includes daily workshops of improvisational writing workshops which will draw on (among other elements) the mysterious beauty of the landscape, memory, and language; individual conferences, excursions to the walled medieval town of Siena and other hilltowns, and meals of traditional Tuscan recipes. For information, visit the website for Il Chiostro or contact Hermine at her website.
Peter Keough for Boston's The Phoenix discusses some of the treasures of this year's African Art Festival held last February. Would it be surprising to learn that many of the films shared at least a tangential relationship to magical realism?
Check for these titles in your local video store (or make a DVR wishlist!) and see for yourself:
Guinean filmmaker Cheik Doukoure's Le ballon d’or/The Golden Ball (1992)—"Charming and spirited, Doukoure’s fable evokes the disarming innocence and sinister darkness of a folk tale."[4.11.06]
Danish filmmaker Jeppe R?nde's The Swenkas (2004)—a "whimsical documentary" which "R?nde tries to transform… into a magical-realist tall tale complete with an old storyteller, arty symbolism, and an eclectic soundtrack…"
Rwandan filmmaker Raso Ganemtore's short film, Safi, la petite mere (2004)—"After her mother dies in childbirth, little Safi acts resourcefully when the locals decide to kill the newborn in order to escape the 'evil eye.' "
Internationally acclaimed magical realist author Salman Rushdie appeared a couple of weeks ago at the Schwab Auditorium in University Park, PA. I wish I could have been there. Writer Adam Smeltz for CentreDaily.com reports that "Life, according to Salman Rushdie, is inherently weird. … Ordinary life does not exist, the British author told an almost-full Schwab Auditorium on Tuesday night. … But day-to-day habits do dull human perceptions of the world, Rushdie said. So it's an author's job to shake them up."
Quoting Rushdie via Smeltz: "To renew that sense of extraordinary-ness, the artist needs to make things strange. … One of the great lies ... that we present to the world is that we lead ordinary lives … No, we don't."
The audience took care of the standing ovation for me.
"In Pen, psychosomatic paraplegia meets magic realism. But there could be worse marriages," says Michael Feingold in a panned review of the play for the Village Voice. Please note, his is not a panned review of magical realism, per se, though he does refer to it as a kind of "flamflam," which leaves this fan of MR a bit unsettled…
Fans of Jose Saramago's Blindness might also equally appreciate his latest novel, Seeing, which was recently reviewed by Art Winslow for the Los Angeles Times. Writes Winslow, "Saramago, Portugal's only Nobel laureate in literature, commonly employs magical realist techniques, and a seemingly inexplicable event does drive the action in Seeing. But whether it is questionable seizure, holding people indeterminately without charge, conducting high-tech surveillance, utilizing techniques such as data mining, refusing to accept electoral results or conducting PR wars against public opinion, all the political tactics on display in this novel are to be found operating today in the globe's democratic regimes, including our own, without resort to supernatural literary effects. That may be the eeriest aspect of Seeing."
Now this is interesting: Gabo's One Hundred Years of Solitude was one of only four novels that made "top 20" lists in studies researching the differences in reading influences among men and women. The studies, conducted by the organizers of the Orange Prize, are outlined in an article in the online edition of The Independent. Other titles to make the lists which have tendrils in magical realism include "Metamorphosis" by Franz Kafka and The Book of Laughter and Forgetting by Milan Kundera.