Poetry by Felino Soriano

Of language this ocular innervation

 

Aeriform

Separated syllables engaging reflectional differences.

Seesaw of waves exiting tonal creations thus

experimental burgeons.

 

Ash of

the heard’s appositional frequencies

these diagrams of trust

within adjectives then dying of kaleidoscopic fusillades.

 

Thrust of the thorax

syncopated exertion finality, genesis.

 

With(out)in

Palm the trusted warmth

among releasing (mockery) constant leaving

affirmation absence darkness

darkens laughter of prior temporal

rejuvenated elation.

 

Certain

Mood, emotion.

Listening, interpretation.

Uncovering, cultivation.

 

Radial the cylindrical spiral of dialectic

performing range of rage too of

 

oscillating gradations

of

understood affirmations.

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Felino A. Soriano is a case manager and advocate for adults with developmental and physical disabilities.  Recent poetry collections include Intentions of Aligned Demarcations (Desperanto, 2011), Pathos etched, recalled: (white sky books, 2011), and Divaricated, Spatial Aggregates (limit cycle press, 2011).  He edits and publishes the online journal, Counterexample Poetics.  For information regarding his published works, editorships, and interviews, please visit: www.felinoasoriano.info.

 

Earth Activist Training with Starhawk and Friends

Earth Activist Training with Starhawk and Friends

Cazadero, California January 7-21, 2012

From Doomsday to Bloomsday

by Holly Sisson

Our world is changing at an ever-increasing rate in response to global crises from hunger and war to the misappropriation of Earth’s natural resources. There are growing numbers of people being awakened by the effects of rapid globalization and the materialization of global warming. Our natural systems are acutely out of balance giving way to maladaptive addictions of anything from artificial sweeteners to the reliance on an unsustainable credit-based macro-economy that we have instituted at the cost of our local human communities. Trust is a phenomenon left for inter-dependent communities that see through the political idiom “every man for himself” as the illusory ambition it is. The fear induced by these maladaptive systems is reflected in mass media from network news to the film industry depicting zombie invasions and apocalypses.

Fortunately, finding problem with the current system is only the beginning to a revolutionary solution.

Earth Care, People Care, Fair Share

Respected globally for her work in non-violent communication and Earth-based spirituality, Starhawk (http://www.starhawk.org/) is one of the leaders of a growing revolution re-envisioning how we relate to each other and the natural systems of the Earth that are vital in sustaining life as we would like to know it once again. Her two week permaculture design course “Earth Activist Training” (EAT) skillfully weaves together the traditional science and philosophy of the movement’s founder Bill Mollison (http://www.scottlondon.com/interviews/mollison.html) with a spirituality that compares to the affluent indigenous and pagan practices around the globe. This combination provides a powerful and inspiring foundation for individuals to begin their unique and richly integrative action in restoring our natural connections and bringing our systems back into balance with each other.

The EAT course (http://www.earthactivisttraining.org/courselist.html) offers an incredible abundance of practical solutions to the world’s problems from natural building to alternative technologies, systems theory to time banks, bioremediation to aquaponics. Permaculture has created a common language of principles and timeless ethics from which we can come together on local and global scales with the health of our world being our central value. Forming the foundation for permaculture design and found in most traditional societies are three principles: Earth Care, People Care and Fair Share. Integrating traditional living principles with modern day knowledge is integral in achieving a world where flowers continue to bloom and sustainable practices put us back into healthy balance where we can all fulfill our potential.

The task of learning how to rebuild our world in this two week intensive course is considerable and in order to maintain our endurance, Starhawk makes sure to sprinkle in fun and lively activities such as songs and getting up to do “a bun dance” in the middle of lecture in recognition of the abundance that comes with systems in balance, plus other hands on activities and rituals that put us in deeper connection with ourselves and the spirit of the Earth. We had a full moon ceremony around a bonfire on our second night where we sang songs and danced in appreciation of the fruits of the Earth, and we used the opportunity to make our “bio brew,” or compost tea- made of many secret ingredients including worm castings from worms that ate organic fruits and vegetables.  Some of us got the eye-opening and nose-closing (hopefully) experience of transporting the compost from the compost toilet, while others of us the pleasure of a wonderful view of the hills of Sonoma County while contributing the fruits of our healthy (hopefully) diets back into the soil.

There was also the day of workshops where we learned about closed-loop aquaponics systems, made tinctures that clean our blood and are good for allergies, how to stack functions in our herb gardens by using nitrogen-fixing herbs, dynamic accumulators, cover crops, and those that bring good bugs and bad bugs. On a field trip to Starhawk’s land we made cob structures on a fun day of mud-clay-straw stomping goodness which we then made “the psychiatrist’s office,” a Freudian bench and chair set next to her pond.

The diversity of individuals that make up the community of EAT alumni and facilitators are all over the globe working towards one common goal through a variety of tactics from being participating citizens to writing policy on clean water and oil use, creating socially conscious green businesses, starting intentional living collectives and educating others on how to reclaim an Earth-centered livelihood through observance of natural patterns and application of permaculture principles.

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You can contact Holly Sisson at holly.a.sisson@gmail.com.

Book review: “Not Exactly Haiku” by Leena Prasad

[Reviewed by Laura O’Brien]

Leena Prasad’s poetry collection, Not Exactly Haiku, is comprised of 51 haiku-like poems, each with its own drawing. The poems are similar to haikus in their sparse language and three-line structure, but they do not have the syllable count (5-7-5) that is usually used in traditional haikus. Traditional haikus are also typically ambiguous and inconclusive, and deliberately leave the reader to create their own understanding. However, these poems are written in contemporary language that is more grammatically accessible, making the poetry and imagery much more tangible. Thus, each poem feels complete because its message is immediately understood. It is then up to the reader to decide how this message applies to him/her.

Each poem is accompanied by a small drawing made by the author, and the drawings can both limit and enhance the poems. Sometimes the drawings are images from the poem, such as a beehive for the poem honeycomb. The drawing reinforces the imagery, but limits the poem to that specific scenario. However, a silhouette of a pregnant woman and child accompanies the poem clouds, which describes the sky before a storm. This juxtaposition adds a surprising layer to a very straightforward poem, and enhances the poem in a way that language could not.

The poems explore a variety of topics, which makes the collection great reading material for any mood. It feels more intimate with its direct, honest descriptions. Rather than distancing in its complexity, it welcomes the reader with personal art from someone else’s life. It’s a short, sweet, and positive read.

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You can contact the reviewer, Laura O’Brien, at lauraellaroberts@gmail.com.

Leena Prasad recently wrote an iPhone app which was inspired by Not Exactly Haiku. The app is currently available for 99 cents at http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/not-exactly-haiku/id495835142?mt=8

 

Book review: “Defining the Edge Between Truth and Madness” by Wade Alexander

[Reviewed by George Teseleanu]

At the beginning of the year I received through the mail an interesting book, “Defining the Edge Between Truth and Madness,” by Wade Alexander. Although people say not to judge a book by its cover, this time we should make an exception. The design of the covers gives us a clue of what we will find inside them. The idea of choosing an eye symbol for this book’s front cover was inspired, since the poems offer an overview of the author’s life experiences.

The book starts with an emotional foreword written by the author’s wife. She tells us about her relation with the author and the stages of its manifestations. The accent is put especially on the stage of their relation’s destruction and how they reacted to this event. Although this is not a fairytale, it has a happy ending in which they discovered that their love never left, it was just “covered up in a cobweb of lies” and once they put it away they found their love again. After that we find a small introduction about the author’s childhood with two alcoholic parents and how the hell from his home influenced his adulthood. Some people might ask what these informations have to do with the book. I must tell them that they offer a background that helps the reader to better understand some of the poems.

After reading a few poems we find a pleasant surprise, through the poems we find strained small pieces of wisdom from the author’s life. Here is an example of such a piece:

“Time brings what is missing

In our souls,

And our souls bring what is missing

In our time.”

One of the major themes that we find in Wade Alexander’s poems is human nature. The author critics modern society, that it puts too much emphasis on personal gain and that this surrounds the human soul in lies, cruelty and greed. This surrounding prevents us from seeing the true meaningful things:

“Victory is in the smile of a child,

The safety felt by others,

The feeling of being needed.”

In these poems the author also talks about the ephemeral nature of human thoughts and actions:

“Man judges us by our victories.

The earth sees us as visitors.”

and the fact that we struggle all our life, but once death brings us peace, we start to fade from time.

In a few poems the author talks about his childhood and how his innocence and hopes were destroyed by the violence provoked by his parents:

“The love was beaten out,

The peace shattered by screams,

Faith replaced with lies,

Calm replaced with fear”

Living in a terrible fright he dreamt of a place where fear is replaced by love and tears by laughter of joy. In all this chaos the child found comfort in his grandfather, who offered him love and told him how great he will be. Through his child eyes, his parents looked like vengeful gods, and the author advises us to be careful with our actions because someday we will become gods for a child and our actions will mold him.

Another major theme through the poems is the relation of the author with his wife. He tells us how finding love in her, made him forget all his past pains. They both recognize, she in the introduction, he in the poems, that once problems appeared in their relationship, unresolved past problems started to emerge making things worst and so the past started to prey on the fragile present. The book is full of poems talking about the pain produced by these unfortunate events and how these poems were a part of the healing process. But to really connect with the author’s feelings you should read the poems by yourself. With these words said I really recommend this book of poems and I think that it will open your eyes and help you to better understand the human nature.

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You can contact the reviewer, George Teseleanu, at blana_de_maimutza@yahoo.com.

Film Review: “I Want To Get Married”

[Reviewed by Bruce Roberts]

Take a gay character, with an unwitting penchant for slapstick comedy, and put him under pressure to be married before the controversial vote on gay marriage through Proposition 8 in California, and you have the recipe for a funny and thought-provoking film: I Want To Get Married.

Paul Roll (Mathew Montgomery) is a gay advertising specialist, and very good at what he does. He is, however, single, and with the Prop. 8 vote looming, feels he’d better hurry and marry. Yet he has no serious love interest and thus, at the urging of his best friend (Ashleigh Summer), embarks on a hunt for the love of his life.

Unfortunately, as competent as he is at his job, he’s basically incompetent at dating.   It’s as if Adrian Monk and Inspector Clousseau had a son.  He misreads situations, gets crushes when he shouldn’t, and can’t stand the messiness of the whole dating/sex scene.

Comedy continues into the subplots. His mom (Lisa Franks) leaves his dad (Patrick M.J. Finerty) and while traveling to see Paul, gets stuck in a run-down desert motel/casino, where she links up with a cross-dresser and great singer (Mathew Martin).    Dad, meantime, tries to find her, gets mugged and stripped, and just misses her as he staggers—sans pants– into the casino.

In the meantime, Paul, needing money, lets himself be hired by Deborah Anderson (Mark Chambers) of The Family, a well-paying homophobic organization, to create ads for Prop.8, with a resulting ethical dilemma made worse by the discovery that his mom has donated big money to this group. The plot swirls from plot to subplot to subplot, yet they all spin together to a satisfying end.

First shown at the Cinema Diverse Film Festival in Palm Springs in 2011, this film was written, directed, and edited by Billy Clift, produced by Terry Malloy.  Interested viewers can find it on DVD through Amazon.com.

For a look at Prop 8’s impact on people’s lives that is serious, though presented in a comic fashion, see I Want To Get Married, an entertaining and interesting independent film.

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You may contact the reviewer, Bruce Roberts, at brobe60491@sbcglobal.net.

Performance Review: Mariano Pensotti’s “El pasado es un animal grotesco” (“The Past Is a Grotesque Animal”)

HOW COMPLETELY WRONG YOU CAN BE

El pasado es un animal grotesco (The Past Is a Grotesque Animal)

Text and direction: Mariano Pensotti

Performed at YBCA Forum

Reviewed by Christopher Bernard

 

Argentine theatrical director and writer Mariano Pensotti’s ambitious performance piece evanesced in three performances in the middle of February in San Francisco, in the middle of a lengthy international tour his company is doing, and leaving behind it a long trail of disintegrating engrams like cold, vanishing sparks: the sense of a futile but unavoidable search into the meaning of the past for the present, and of the present for the future, even if all we can ever hope to keep of our present moments is a deck of damaged photographs called memories from which we devise an elaborate fiction we call our life.

The piece (it doesn’t feel quite right to call it a play) is performed on a revolving stage, made of undressed pine and divided into four pie-shaped sets; partly via dialog, partly by way of an endless, recitative-like voice-over, in Spanish, with English supertitles, by four actors playing young Argentines living out the dilemmas of growing up between the years 1999 and 2009; that is, between Argentine’s economic collapse and an uncannily similar one that hit the West at large ten years later.

As Pensotti recounts in the program notes, he got the idea for the piece from a collision of events and questions: a series of damaged photos, many of nameless Argentines, that he started collecting from a photo lab that used to stand near his home (and has since closed due to the digitalization of photography) and a series of questions about the growth of hopeful, dream-filled youth as it moves into its first years of disillusioning maturity, and another series of questions about how we build our identities on a complicated foundation made up of the illusions of aspiration, the fragments of failed dreams, and the compromises we make with an often recalcitrant and incomprehensible reality.

If this makes the play seem to court the problems of excessive ambition, it should. The play itself – performed by an extraordinarily able and energetic quartet of actors (Pilar Gamboa, Javier Lorenzo, Santiago Gobernori and Maria Ines Sancerni) who, in the two-hour performance, create dozens of characters spawning subplots and counterplots in more than 80 scenes – just manages to maintain enough coherence to keep me, as a spectator, committed, at the occasional price of psychological plausibility, and thus momentary losses of sympathy with the characters’ dilemmas. Which is a small shame, as those dilemmas are often ludicrous and tragic and all-too real: a young filmmaker and his girlfriend, love-drunk on each other, entangle and disentangle their romance between painful sorties into the disappointments of the harsher reality outside their impassioned dyad; a young woman discovers that her father has a second family, and sets out to spy on him and pull him back into her own emotional orbit by means as devious as his own have been toward her; an aspiring young business man receives a box containing a severed hand that turns his next ten years into a recurring nightmare of almost farcical paranoia that he is never able to resolve, explain or become resigned to: a MacGuffin representing the ultimately grotesque enigma of human life.

At the end of the play, as the stories of the four Argentines are left in an uneasy state of irresolution, the last, or perhaps the first, element that fed Pensotti’s restive imagination peals out, as the empty stage revolves beneath the fading light, through the sound system that throughout has been regaling us with a mixture of pop tunes, “house” and what one of the characters himself complains is too much folk music: the alt-band “of Montreal,” with the dark, knowing, disillusioned voice of Kevin Barnes singing,

“The past is a grotesque animal, and in its eyes you see …”

http://www.amazon.com/Past-Grotesque-Animal/dp/B003SA81TQ/ref=sr_1_2?s=music&ie=UTF8&qid=1329589414&sr=1-2

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Christopher Bernard is the co-editor of Caveat Lector magazine and author of A Spy in the Ruins.

Performance Review: “A Case of Libel”, presented by Novato Theatre Company

[Reviewed by Martin Rushmere]

The themes are even more relevant today than they were 60 years ago. Patriotism, Communism, the First Amendment and the ghost of McCarthy are all re-awakened in this robust production of the 1963 courtroom-plus-politics drama, based on a real case in 1954.   Courageous Second World War correspondent Denis Corcoran is outraged when a nationally syndicated columnist repeatedly accuses him of debauchery, cowardice and communist sympathies.

Instead of pistols at dawn, the two clash in court. (Corcoran got in the first barbs with a blistering attack on his journalist rival).

Director Ron Nash and producer Brenda Weidner coax a sterling effort from everyone, with the most consistent performance from Kris Neely as the opposing lawyer. Shrewd casting makes the imposing bulk of Paul Abbot as Corcoran’s lawyer dominate the scenes even when he is not speaking. And Ron Dailey as three characters (thank heavens no Equity actors are involved) comes off very well – although the Scottish burr does falter a touch.

A clever piece of stagecraft, to relate the events to the context of the times they were in, is getting the actors to read news headlines from the period (color television, jet travel, Elvis). Stirring speeches and unexpected twists in the storyline keep the attention focused.

However, the play is overlong (three Acts) and could do with judicious cutting of some of the speeches. The problem lies with politics in the last 50 years, because politicians and presidential candidates have trotted out the lines and sentiments so often that they have become hackneyed, ringing with insincerity. Especially in the closing speeches (stirringly delivered by both lead actors) one could predict, if not the actual words, the themes about to be uttered.

The courts, costs of litigation and legal processes have changed so much that in today’s climate the sequence of events seems almost quaint. But the pressing moral, social and political issues still burn as bright and productions such as this deserve their days on the stage.

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Click here for more information about A Case of Libel.

You can contact the reviewer, Martin Rushmere, at martinzim@earthlink.net.