Monday, July 27, 2015

The Voice of a Poet - Anne-Marie Kegels

I'm a sucker for poetry.

Thanks to my high school English teacher, Michael Savage, I learned how to appreciate the words that stood the test of time in various meters and rhymes. I made my acquaintance with John Keats, William Kees, Marianne Moore, Emily Dickinson, Maya Angelou, William Butler Yeats, Langston Hughes (we share a birthday!), W. S. Merwin, Sylvia Plath, Ted Hughes and many others. Humans have always needed poets to explain the world in a such a way that can not be described. We need the eyes and soul of a poet to convey that which we love, fear, hate, feel and dream.

Thanks to Memphis' own Burke's Books, I'd like to share with you their Poem For Monday - Nocturnal Heart by the French poet Anne-Marie Kegels, translated by W. S. Merwin. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did and I hope it makes you want to read not only her work but many others.

Nocturnal Heart
by Anne-Marie Kegels (W. S. Merwin, trans.)

Master of blood I am yours.
O tireless captain
upright on the plains of sand,
at night, at night I hear you
march toward a doubtful sea
with footsteps falsely restrained
--at that time I touch my breath,
I search for you with my bare wrist,
I defend you against the seaweed,
the salt, the wakened fish,
we faint under a wave,
people tell of tow that are drowned,
of a fog mowing the beach.

Midnight descends, covers my lips,
keeps me from calling for help.
We float, forgotten by day.

(photo by Kimberly B. Richardson, copyright 2014)

Monday, July 20, 2015

Serge Gainsbourg - A Heroic Life, Indeed

I just finished watching the film Gainsbourg: A Heroic Life and WOW!, I'm already listening to his music while typing out this review. Although I had heard of him before, I'd not truly listened to his work or knew too much about him. That is about to change. Je t'aime!

Serge Gainsbourg, nee Lucien Ginsburg, was a Renaissance man: painter, actor, director, musician, songwriter and writer who began at quite an early age. Smoking, drinking, loving and admiring women were his "better" traits that really flared up when he was older. The film depicts Serge as a man who rose to the top of the music world with his catchy and passionate songs, all the while living the life of a free spirit who knew no bounds. He had many lovers/wives, including Juliette Greco,  Brigitte Bardot and Jane Birkin, and fathered several children, yet he continued to live his life without regrets until the very end. Throughout the film, Serge is "accompanied" by a figment of his imagination - his "mug", of which was the extremity of his Jewish facial features made into a human form. All throughout the film, Serge and his "mug" dallied in decadence; when Serge suffered from a coronary, his "mug" showed up at the hospital with packs of cigarettes. As the movie played, I found myself looking up his music and realizing that a lot of the French songs that I enjoyed were written/sung by him. I also learned that the actress Charlotte Gainsbourg was his daughter.

(photo taken from IMDB)

In any case, I highly recommend Gainsbourg: A Heroic Life. If you enjoy French chanson/history, then you can't afford to miss this one. And, if you've already seen it, let me know and perhaps we can talk about it over croissants and cafe. Yes, I can be just that stereotypical. Oui, oui!

And now, I'd like to end this review with one of his songs - I hope you enjoy!

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Book Review - The Drowning City by Amanda Downum

The Drowning City is the first in a fantasy series by author Amanda Downum and I have to admit that I was completely drawn in and refused to let go. Symir, also known as the Drowning City, is a place filled with wonder, sweltering jungles, assassins with hidden agendas and the restless dead. A spy and necromancer named Isyllt Iskaldur arrives in the city with her carefully plotted agenda, only to find that the city turns her into an unwilling pawn in a game to the death and beyond. No one is clearly defined as a "good" or "bad" person in The Drowning City, yet everyone involved in the game all have their motives for their actions. Even the river goddess Mir has plans of her own. 

This is an excellent beginning to a series that I know I will want to return to, thanks to the solid writing as provided by Downum. She has clearly given Symir and her inhabitants character and dimension and I found myself wanting to visit this city and discover its wonders. Even the dead are not truly dead; they speak and think with emotion so that I forgot of their "condition". The descriptions of Symir and the outlaying area made me think of South America and Italy mixed with the Middle East and the Far East. Spices, colourful clothing, seductive music and murder. 

How delightful. 

I have to admit that I'm a sucker for that kind of fantasy setting.

Highly recommended!


Tuesday, July 14, 2015

elmwood - flash story

(Elmwood Cemetery, 2015. Photo by Kimberly B. Richardson)

       She waited for the last person to leave before she set foot out onto the lawns. They came to say their goodbyes and pay their respects, yet she knew better. She had that ability, after all. She held herself close to the wall of the crypt as she watched the last car drive slowly down the gravel road. Then, with careful footsteps that caused her to gently rise over the dewy grass by several inches, she made her way to the freshly dug grave that held the shiny marble stone over it. She bent down and peered at the name etched on the stone then gracefully moved back as slow tendrils of thick white fog crept from the earth. She watched as the tendrils snaked through the air like fingers seeking something warm, something lost from a long lost memory. A lock of ash covered hair fell across her face yet she did not pay it any attention; her eyes focused on the increasing number of tendrils rising from the grave. Just then, the mound shifted, revealing a pale and slender hand with dirty fingernails, followed by an arm dressed in a matte black suit. The woman remained silent as the figure pushed himself out of the mound then slowly dusted himself off, although the she knew that once dead, the grave never left you. He stopped brushing his clothes as he stared at the woman dressed in haunting grey and tattered clothing watch him.
       "So," he said as he took a step closer towards her, "it is true."
       He moved with an unsteady gait towards her, his long and thin hair moving around his face without the aid of wind. "I heard them whispering to me before-"
       "Before you succumbed?"
       He smiled, revealing still white teeth. "Before I succumbed. I rather like that. Tell me, are you here for me?"
       She did not respond yet walked closer towards him, her feet still hovering over the grass. She stopped within a foot from him and delicately sniffed the air. Yes, she thought. He will do well here.
       "Welcome," she said in a warm voice, "to Elmwood."

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Ceramic Serenity: Jun Kaneko Exhibit at the Dixon Gallery and Gardens

If there is one thing that you have to do in Memphis this year, you must visit the Dixon Gallery and Gardens' latest exhibit - Jun Kaneko! Although I had heard quite a bit about the exhibit and how much people liked it, I still wanted to see the exhibit for myself. Today proved to be a good day to make the visit and I am quite glad that I did. Kaneko's style is simple yet complex as each of the ceramic statues, set out carefully in the gardens and trails of the Dixon, come together to create quite a moment of serenity and reflection. As I walked by each statue, I felt myself wondering who/what they represented, the emotions of Kaneko as he created them, and if they were part of an unwritten tale that needed to be told. The faces on several of the statues emitted a dreamlike trance, giving off answers to questions that had yet to be asked. The entire exhibit, as I told a friend, was surreal and I felt that at any moment, the statues would come alive and smile at those who stared at them in wonder. 

It is a good feeling to know that Memphis has several art galleries and museums that host such exquisite exhibits and the Jun Kaneko exhibit is such an example. The exhibit runs until 22 November 2015; if you either live in the city or have plans to visit Memphis soon, you can't afford to miss this exhibit. I guarantee that it will change you and your current frame of mind. 

Here are most of the statues presented below. I will admit that I couldn't stop taking their photos in various angles and distances simply because they are too beautiful. I hope you enjoy the photos!

 (NOTE: I kept saying WOW over and over again. I will fully admit that I wanted this one to open its eyes and say konichiwa to me. I would have probably bowed and said ogenki desu ka?)

 (NOTE: This one drew me in and I wanted to whisper my dreams to it)

(NOTE: This one is my favourite - Japanese Alice in Wonderland-esque feeling)

 (NOTE: I couldn't stop staring at these two. I wondered about their conversation and if it ever ended . . . or even began)