Tag Archives: Literature

Dr. Kenneth Pobo’s Loplop in a Red City Engages Audience at Widener University

For those who have an appreciation for the arts, it can often be hard to choose just one form, let alone one single work of art to showcase. The world of artist expression is vast and constantly changing. Fortunately, we do not have to choose. We can praise all art and even weave it together as our own, which Widener professor, Dr. Kenneth Pobo demonstrates in his newest book, Loplop in a Red City.

Released on May 15, Loplop in a Red City is a collection of ekphrastic poetry inspired by artworks old and new, figurative to abstract, Vincent Van Gogh to Leonora Carrington to Max Ernst. The poems are agonized and idyllic, uneasily at home in the surreal, animated, beautiful, and complex.

A large group of students, fellow faculty, and more gathered in the Widener University Art Gallery on October 5 to hear Pobo read from this book of ekphrastic poetry. Anybody who has ever heard Pobo read poetry before can agree there was a draw to be in that room and share in the experience.

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Dr. Kenneth Pobo shares his latest ekphrastic poetry at the Widener University Art Gallery

In Dr. Michael Cocchiarale’s introduction, he mentioned that Pobo became interested in poetry through a love of music. How fitting that someone so impacted by writing would also be impacted by music, painting, and any other artform. When one person has such a passion for art, it can become contagious and that is what happened that day at the reading. By the time Pobo got to the poem “Georgia O’Keefe’s Flowers”, his audience was so engrossed that most of us felt we were indeed collapsing into this magnificent flower that he described

I think a good way to sum up the theme of the experience is with Pobo’s response to the question, “What is your favorite painting?” After some thought, he simply said, “I don’t know.” I think for any true artist that is the only answer. Art can affect all different parts of us and for all different reasons. Though we might be driven, for a moment, to appreciate one work of art above others, the nature of art makes it impossible for any one piece to stand alone as the best.

Loplop in a Red City is published by Circling Rivers and is available for purchase on Amazon.

by Nicole Gray

Remembering Grant Hart’s Musical and Literary Legacy

On September 14, musician Grant Hart passed away from liver cancer. The former drummer and singer was a vital part of the punk rock band Hüsker Dü, which helped revolutionize alternative and rock and roll music. Hart left the group in 1989, subsequently creating another band, Nova Mob, before pursuing a solo career.

Hart released his last completed solo album, The Argument, in 2013. The Argument is a concept album based on John Milton’s epic poem Paradise Lost, which depicts the Biblical stories of the rebellion of Satan and the fall of man in twelve books of blank verse. Hart’s take on this iconic epic was inspired by an unfinished stage play called “Lost Paradise” written by Hart’s friend, the late American writer William S. Burroughs. From 2008 to 2013, Hart developed his double LP, The Argument. “From the outset, knowing it was a mighty piece of work made it more challenging,” Hart said in a 2013 interview with Clash Music.

With 20 tracks and 74 minutes of heavy guitar and drum, mixed with electronic riffs, beeps and even xylophone, The Argument breathes new life into Milton’s centuries-old poem. The second track, “Morningstar,” is a favorite of critics. Ryan Bray for Consequence of Sound aptly describes the “essential track” as “flower child ruminations,” while AV Club points out that it “frames Satan as, alternately, a hypnotic Pied Piper of chantlike hooks and a sly, Rudy Vallée-esque crooner.” “Run For the Wilderness” is an especially upbeat, lyrical track, one I could see being performed in a Rent-style Broadway setting. Opening with the literal roar of a motorcycle, and the rapid drumbeat conjuring images of a hurried escape, Hart sings, “We kissed the fruit forbidden / we smelled and tasted it / no difficult conditions / he gave us open wide / we disobeyed now we got to run / for the wilderness / well it’s the only place we can escape to now.”

The first notes of the final song on the album, “For Those Too High Aspiring,” recall the 1998 hit “Closing Time” by Semisonic. Hart’s punk ballad features a sentimental harmonica layered over guitar and prominent drum as his lyrics depict the exile of Adam and Eve from Eden and of Satan from Heaven: “For those too high aspiring / here’s to you / you bit off more than you could chew / now you know / sadly how far you could go.” The last 30 seconds fade off with a high-pitched whirring noise, like a motor slowly failing into empty silence, as the album—which is more of an aesthetic experience than anything—winds down to an end.

Hart’s talent and originality is a loss not only to the music industry, but also to the literature community. His former Hüsker Dü bandmate, Bob Mould, put it best: “Grant Hart was a gifted visual artist, a wonderful story teller, and a frighteningly talented musician. Everyone touched by his spirit will always remember.”

To listen to The Argument click here!

By Jennifer Rohrbach

Image courtest of: The Current (MPR/Nate Ryan)

The National Book Awards Longlists Have Been Announced For 2017

Earlier this week, the National Book Foundation announced the poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and young people’s literature longlists for the 2017 National Book Awards.

Since 1950, the National Book Awards and the National Book Foundation have made it their mission to “celebrate the best of American literature, to expand its audience, and to enhance the cultural value of great writing in America.” As a nonprofit organization, the National Book Foundation hopes to “raise the cultural appreciation of great writing” through these annual awards.

Each year a panel of esteemed judges read hundreds of published submissions before assembling a longlist of ten titles for each category. These longlists are then narrowed down to five finalists before a single winner is chosen.

This year’s longlists feature a variety of writers including Pulitzer Prize-winner Jennifer Egan, 2011 National Book Award-winner Jesmyn Ward, and five-time nominee Frank Bidart as well as numerous first-time longlisted authors and debut collections. Women prove to be a dominate force in the categories of Young People’s Literature and Fiction, while the topics of race and politics set the tone for the nonfiction contenders.

The finalists in each category will be announced on Oct. 4. The winners will be announced following a ceremony in New York on Nov. 15.

If you’re looking for some new reading material, click here and check out the longlists for the 2017 National Book Awards!

Top Destinations for the Perfect Literary Adventure

Looking for something to do this summer?

Check out these awesome literary destinations courtesy of Verily magazine and Flavorwire!

Take a trip to Long Island, New York and feel the inspiration for F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby or venture to Hartford, Connecticut to visit the Mark Twain House & Museum. The literary adventures are endless!

For destinations in the United States, click here.

For worldwide destinations, click here.

 

It’s Happening Again…Books Every ‘Twin Peaks’ Fan Should Read

After 25 years, Mark Frost and David Lynch’s Twin Peaks returns to television with an 18-part third season. The two-hour premiere debuts on Showtime May, 21 at 9 PM ET/PT. Details on the revival have remained a mystery, but fans can expect to see a great deal of the original cast returning to reprise their roles, including Kyle Maclachlan as Agent Dale Cooper.

If you love Twin Peaks and you’re looking for some new summer reading material, Lincoln Michel has compiled a list of books, both wonderful and strange, that capture the “Twin Peaks feel.”

Check out Michel’s recommendations here!

There are also numerous books dedicated the televisions series itself. If you’d prefer to read within or about the world of Twin Peaks check out this list of official and unofficial releases!

 

 

5 Facts About Zelda Fitzgerald

On Friday, January 27, Amazon Prime Video will be releasing a 10-episode bio-series on the life of writer and icon Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald. The Amazon Original, titled “Z: The Beginning of Everything,” stars Christina Ricci as Zelda Fitzgerald and follows the Southern Belle turned flapper on a wild ride through the Jazz Age.

The series, loosely based on Therese Anne Fowler’s Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald, gives Zelda the spotlight instead of her husband and acclaimed novelist, F. Scott Fitzgerald (David Hoflin). While the series recounts the romance and the turmoil, it also allows attention to be on the immensely talented, ambitious, daring individual that inspired countless heroines. Before she has her chance to shine, here are some interesting facts about Zelda Fitzgerald.

1. Zelda was a rebellious, free spirit

Named after Robert Edward Francillon’s gypsy heroine in the short story “Zelda’s Fortune,” Zelda Sayre was the pinnacle of rebellion in her hometown of Montgomery, Alabama, often sneaking out and anxious to be on her own.  After her high school graduation, Zelda’s live-for-the-moment spirit shined when she wrote: “Why should all life be work, when we can all borrow? Let’s think only of today, and not worry about tomorrow.”

2. Zelda and F. Scott Fitzgerald frequently stole from one another

They stole ideas that is. There was no question that Zelda was her husband’s muse. Several of Fitzgerald’s heroines were based on Zelda as well as the couple’s interactions and experiences. In The Great Gatsby, for example, Fitzgerald wrote Jay Gatsby’s first encounter with Daisy Buchanan to fictionalize his own first encounter with Zelda. However, eventually the line has to be drawn, especially when lifting diary entries nearly verbatim. According to The New York Times, Fitzgerald often drew “freely from Zelda’s diaries, letters and experiences…for his own work.”

Zelda fought back and within two months her autobiographical novel, Save Me the Waltz, was published detailing such themes as “a married couple in free-fall; a wife hospitalized.” Fitzgerald later accused her of stealing the ideas he was going to use in Tender Is the Night as well as the name of a previous character.

3. Zelda was an artist

In addition to being a strong writer, Zelda Fitzgerald was also a gifted artist. In 1996, her granddaughter, Eleanor Anne Lanahan, compiled 140 illustrations and 80 paintings all done by her grandmother into Zelda: An Illustrated Life: The Private World of Zelda Fitzgerald. Her artwork includes paper dolls crafted for her daughter, Scottie, illustrations from Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, and many scenes from New York City where she resided with Fitzgerald for some time.

4. Zelda was a ballet dancer

Adding to her list of talents, Zelda decided to pursue ballet with acclaimed Russian dancer, Madame Lubov Egorova. Though nearing her 30’s, Zelda was determined to reach professional standards, the pursuit becoming an obsession. She practiced for hours to reach perfection until ultimately suffering from a mental collapse.

5. In 1948, Zelda was killed in a fire

Following her mental collapse in 1930, Zelda was in and out of facilities for mental illness. She was maintaining residence at Highland Hospital in Ashville, North Carolina when a fire broke out March 10, 1948. Zelda and eight other women were killed. She was laid to rest with Fitzgerald who passed in 1940 from a heart attack. Inscribed on their tomb is the very last line of The Great Gatsby. It reads:

“So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”

Written by Carlie Sisco

 

 

 

A Scary Good Read: Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein; or, the Modern Prometheus

2016 marks the 200th anniversary of the Haunted Summer; the summer of 1816 that Lord Byron, Claire Clairmont, John Polidori, Percy Bysshe Shelley, and Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin (later Mary Shelley) spent together at Lake Geneva. The group took refuge from the poor weather one rainy June day in the Villa Diodati. Back then they didn’t have Netflix or the internet to occupy their time, so what better activity for a group of intelligent, creative, bored minds to do than write?

Lord Byron challenged each person in the group to compose a ghost story. Despite Byron and P.B. Shelley being well-established writers of the time, they attempted the challenge with little success. Polidori, Byron’s personal physician, would later write The Vampyre, which was then revisited by Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Mary, however, was struck by inspiration. That haunted night gave birth to one of the most iconic, well-known, thought-provoking tales of all time: Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein; or, the Modern Prometheus. She was only 18 years old during the Haunted Summer and 20 when her novel was published in 1818.

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The first edition left the author anonymous causing many people to attribute the novel to Mary’s father, William Godwin, an influential philosopher of the time (and whose ideals influenced the plot of the novel). The second edition, published in 1822, gave Mary the credit she deserved. Several more editions were published both during and after her lifetime.

It’s difficult, if not impossible, to list all the adaptations and creations that Frankenstein has influenced for the past 200 years. Literature, film, plays, television, and dance are just a few mediums by which people have explored the beloved story. In his book, The Detached Retina: Aspects of SF and Fantasy, writer and anthology editor Brian Aldiss supports the claim that Frankenstein is a progenitor of the science fiction genre and counts the novel as an ancestor of future works by the famous science fiction writer, H.G. Wells.

From a literary standpoint, the structure, flow, characterization, plot, and themes of this novel are so complex and interesting that people are still analyzing it today. Mary Shelley’s talent can be overshadowed by the success of her husband, Percy Bysshe Shelley, and the works of the male-dominated canon, but it is important to remember this incredible novel and its importance to literary and world history. So, if you’re looking for a spooky read this Halloween, pick up Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein; or, the Modern Prometheus. I promise I’m not tricking you—this book is a real treat!

Written by Jennifer Rohrbach.