Selma Revisited: from Violent Racism to Reflective Compassion (part 1)

3 Producers of the film
Left to right, Producers of the Golen Globe Award-nominated film Selma:
Dede Gardner, Oprah Winfrey, and director Ava DuVernay. (photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for AFI)

 The movie Selma, directed and executive produced by Ava DuVernay, opened on Christmas Day 2014 and rang in the New Year 2015 with domestic sales estimated at $1, 204,000 according to Box Office Mojo. Whereas there have been any number of films about the life and legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. produced for television, Selma is the first major feature film on the great civil rights leader made for theatrical release.

The movie’s box office performance at the beginning of the year placed it at number 23 on Fandango’s list of “Top Box Office Movies,” and it currently stands at number 22. Both positions place it far behind “The Hobbit: the Battle of the Five Armies” ruling at the time at number 1, and “Unbroken” at number 2.

However, Selma played during the first week of its release in only 19 select theaters. It is set to screen nation-wide on January 9, just in time for the 86th anniversary of Dr. King’s birth on January 15. In honor of the fact that the movie would not have been made without the definitive role played by the people of Selma, Alabama, in the past as well as in the present, Paramount Studios announced that residents will be allowed to view it for free until the end of January.

DuVernay has already won the Los Angeles Film Critics Association New Generation Award for the film and it has earned 4 African-American Film Critics Association Awards. It has also received 4 Golden Globe Award Nominations. In addition to DuVernay, the line-up of producers includes Hollywood heavyweights Brad Pitt and Oprah Winfrey, who also performs in a supporting role as Annie Lee Cooper. Paul Webb provided the screenplay and among the exceptional cast that brings it to life are David Oyelowo (as Martin Luther King Jr.), Carmen Ejogo (as Coretta Scott King), Cuba Gooding Jr., Giovanni Ribisi, Common, Tim Roth, and Allesandro Nivola.

Technology and the Struggle for Human Rights

The story of the historic march from Selma to Montgomery is now a well-known one for many important reasons. It is obviously vital for the place it holds in the story of African-Americans’ ongoing struggle for social and political equality in the United States, as it is for the place it occupies in America’s attempts in general to refine its practice of the concept of democracy. In addition, it dramatically demonstrates the role which the evolution of technology has played in struggles for human rights in the modern era.

For the full article by Aberjhani please click this link:
Selma revisited: from violent racism to reflective compassion (part 1 of 5) – National African-American Art | Examiner.com.

King of Pop Michael Jackson and the World Community – The Journey and the Rainbow

          Michael Jackson with Spanish translation of quote from article by Aberjhani.
(graphic art poster courtesy of Facebook Group Blues Away)

The book Journey through the Power of the Rainbow, Quotations from a Life Made Out of Poetry, contains a full chapter of quotes on Michael Jackson as well as the short essay which follows. Anyone interested in winning a free copy of the book is encouraged to check out the Goodreads widget at the end of the essay.

At least part of worldwide reading audiences’ growing familiarity with my work has to be attributed to the late “King of Pop” Michael Jackson. Although I started writing about Mr. Jackson’s life and legacy after in his death in 2009, I did not understand just how many people around the world had been taking note of those writings. Then it was brought to my attention that several full articles had turned up on multiple websites in the form of unauthorized translations into German, Italian, French, Spanish, Greek, Portuguese, and other languages. Given the ease with which Internet technology makes it possible to accomplish such linguistic feats––precision of the translation notwithstanding––I told myself it had been inevitable.

Technological ease was only part of the reason. Another very significant part was what I had sensed myself and what author and Minister Barbara Kaufmann had identified as the “spiritual emergency” into which Jackson’s fans around the globe had found themselves plunged upon his death. They had discovered little to no consolation within a mainstream media and sideline tabloid press that continued to employ guerrilla decontextualization to sensationalize and capitalize off distortions of the megastar’s image even as the worldwide community he left behind flailed about in a tsunami of unrelenting grief. 

Please enjoy the full post by Aberjhani at this link:

King of Pop Michael Jackson and the World Community – The Journey and the Rainbow.

Calligraphy of Intimacy: World Poetry Day 2014 – Bright Skylark Literary Productions

Mixed media digital art construction by Jaanika Talts.
Untitled Photographed Painting by Jaanika Talts shared by the artist on Facebook.(All rights reserved by the artist)

One need not, after all, call oneself an artist in order to embrace either the beauty that roses give to the world or the genius that one’s love does. (Aberjhani)

I. ENCOUNTER WITH BEAUTY

When viewing a recent untitled painting by Dublin artist Jaanika Talts a strange thought came to me. It was this: Between the elegant reach of an artist’s color-stained fingers toward her canvas and the haunted explosion of a soldier’s bullet inside his brother’s chest, somewhere a terrified soul is seeking shelter inside the warmth of a stranger’s voice, or an infant is squealing at the incomprehensible delight of discovering it is alive.

As I said, it was a strange thought.

Talts’ painting depicts a cluster of multi-colored roses in different stages of blossoming, nestled against the flesh of dark green leaves and framed by deep brooding shades of emerald, bronze, gold, ruby, and amethyst. There is no description of the medium but it appears to be mixed acrylic and might include photography as well as an actual rose or two.

The painting caught my attention only partly because it was accompanied by this quote: “Beauty will snatch us by the heart and love us until we are raw with understanding.” The words come from the poem “Calligraphy of Intimacy,” first published in 1996 in a small press magazine called Out of the Blue and later in the book I Made My Boy Out of Poetry. But the image drew my gaze mostly because it was something new from Ms. Talts and then because of what struck me as a sustained tension between persistent beauty and grace asserting itself while under fire. 

II. THE POEM

The poem “Calligraphy of Intimacy” is about how relationships anchored in mutual need and affection sometimes turn unexpectedly into battlefields. The relationship might be between two people or two nations, two dreams or two cultures. At their core, they are defined by a gravitational pull toward the best within each other but superficial externals repeatedly block or sever their connection.  That could, in many ways, describe the international community’s centuries-year-old waltz with peace and non-peace, and it consequently makes this poem a good one to share for World Poetry Day (March 21) and National Poetry Month (April) 2014:

Please click the link to enjoy the entire post and poem by Aberjhani:
Calligraphy of Intimacy: World Poetry Day 2014 – Bright Skylark Literary Productions.

This is why hip-hop icons like LL Cool J tweet positive quotes – by Aberjhani

LL Cool J on cover of March 2013 ESSENCE Magazine         

                    March 2013 cover of ESSENCE Magazine featuring actor and rapper LL Cool J.

“What I’m sowing today, I be reaping tomorrow So here’s some joyful bars, to replace your sorrow.” –LL Cool J (from Old School New School)

It was very difficult not to laugh when reading Robbie Ettelson’s satirical rant, “Being Positive is for Chumps,” in last week’s online Acclaim Magazine, against celebrity rappers for their inspiration-oriented tweets. In fact, I’ll admit it. Even though the sarcastic tirade was based in large part on a quote from The River of Winged Dreams, the subtitle of the piece almost sent me rolling on the floor:

 

“If Robbie of Unkut comes across one more inspirational tweet from a rapper he’s going to vomit rainbows.”

 

At the same time, I smiled at the realization that the quotes which apparently have threatened to turn Robbie’s tummy inside out were often, for the rappers who shared them, not just quotes at all. They were testimonials to what it meant to battle the demons that nearly derailed their own lives and which did destroy the lives of some of their peers, relatives, lovers, neighbors, and friends.

Gold and Rainbows

Specifically, Ettelson pointed out in his comical piece tweets from MC Lyte (who is fond of the hashtag #unstoppable), Russell Simmons, and LL Cool J (who is on the March 2013 cover of ESSENCE Magazine). While acknowledging LL Cool J as “the greatest rapper of all time,” he found that title inconsistent with this tweet:

Please enjoy this full article by Aberjhani by clicking the link:

This is why hip-hop icons like LL Cool J tweet positive quotes – National African-American Art | Examiner.com.

Sensualized transcendence: Editorial and poem on the art of Jaanika Talts (pt 1) – National African-American Art | Examiner.com

                                 (Images still from the video-poem “I Am Not a Child of Despair”) 

Consider Jaanika Talts of Dublin, Ireland, one of those contemporary visual artists empowered by an instinct for classic literary style. As she puts it, “I mostly paint when I feel like I need to write a book (and it happens often) but painting my thoughts and stories on the canvas is so much easier for me.”

Visitors to Talts’ Facebook timeline can see for themselves that the literary company she keeps is one of cross-culture diversity.  A range of quotes from such powerhouses as African-American authors Maya Angelou and Toni Morrison to Canada’s as well as Sri Lanka’s Michael Ondaatje and famed American diarist Anais Nin (1903-1977) help to introduce and interpret her generously-shared art. The same literary sensibility is apparent in her 2013 calendar, Camouflages. In it, she quotes the following from English novelist D.H. Lawrence (1885-1930):

“A woman unsatisfied must have luxuries. But a woman who loves a man would sleep on a board.”

And this by American author Cate Tiernan: “Fire is a fragile lover, court her well, neglect her not; her faith is like a misty smoke, her anger is destructive hot.”

Now is a particularly good time for those not already familiar with Talts’ captivating creations to acquaint themselves with her artistry. One reason for doing so is because she is based in Ireland and this is St. Patrick’s Day weekend. Another reason is because this is also Women’s History Month and therefore an appropriate time to acknowledge the endeavors of women artists who themselves are potential history makers.

Enjoy this article by Aberjhani in its entirety by clicking this link:

Sensualized transcendence: Editorial and poem on the art of Jaanika Talts (pt 1) – National African-American Art | Examiner.com.

A River of Winged Dreams Valentine’s Day Letter

Now come the whispers bearing bouquets of moonbeams and sunlight tremblings.” —Aberjhani (from The River of Winged Dreams)

 Below is a list of a few links that have been shared with me and which fans of The River of Winged Dreams might appreciate as well. I found the Han Chinese translations of “Angel of Earth Days and Seasons” and “Angel of Peace” particularly interesting because other than a couple of poems in Spanish, these are the only ones I’ve seen anyone attempt to translate (note to foreign rights publishers: if you’re interested please email me). Equally worthy of attention are the poignantly, inspiringly, and humanly profound meditations by Shay MacKay in her blog post “Rising from the Ashes.”

List of Stops on an Internet Tour of The River of Winged Dreams

1. Han Chinese translation of Angel of Earth Days and Seasons
2. Han Chinese translation of Angel of Peace
3. Review of The River of Winged Dreams by Richard Van Holst
4. Rising from the Ashes blog by Shay MacKay
5.Quotation with image post by Clare Patrick
6. Bridge of Silver Wings Theme  by Sharon Bailey and Bridge of Silver Wings Theme 2 by Debby Bentch Pages on Pinterest
7. Quoted in Huffington Post
8. Quoted in International Press Institute Annual Report (p. 16)

For behind-the-scene happenings on The River of Winged Dreams and Aberjhani please click the link:

A River of Winged Dreams                           Valentine’s Day Letter – Bright Skylark Literary Productions.

The Astonishing Beauty of Art that Begets Art – by Aberjhani

“You were born a child of light’s wonderful secret– you return to the beauty you have always been.” Quotation from the poem “Holiday Letter for a Poet Gone to War” published in the book Visions of a Skylark Dressed in Black by Aberjhani. (Image from Bright Skylark Literary Productions)

One of the greater joys of my endeavors as an author and poet has been an occasional opportunity to compose poems, essays, and articles to supplement the vibrant works of visual artists with my own literary constructions.

That was the case in 2011 when providing panel text for paintings featured in the extremely gifted artist Michele Wood’s I See the Rhythm of Gospel exhibition. Previously, I had been blessed with a similar honor when composing ekphrastic poems for the art of Luther E. Vann in ELEMENTAL The Power of Illuminated Love. And I’ve written any number of essays reviewing the works or chronicling the lives of other contemporary artists such as Allen Fireall (who currently, heartbreakingly, is challenged by the need for a heart transplant), Jerome Meadows, Phil Starks, and Amiri Geuka Farris.

The year 2012 saw this scenario change in some unexpected ways. In recent months, various readers and inspired techno angels have shared with me a variation on the creative process of me producing words to complement the visual brilliance of fellow creators. Demonstrating Zinta Aistar’s observation (in her review of ELEMENTAL) that “art begets art,” they have employed quotations from my works to lend verbal articulation to specific images–– and vice versa. Their application of these quotes seemed a natural development following the increased popularity of social media sites like Pinterest, Twitter, and Tumblr.

It was an astonishing thing––at first––to experience. The reason was not because I had been unaware these inventive mergers were in progress (although in fact I did not know at the time). It was because the end results so often successfully expanded the original conceptions without excluding the original intent. Others provided fresh interpretations that generated new insights into my own work. How often does that happen for a dedicated pen-pusher who refuses to give up his inkwell and yellow legal pads no matter how awesome the latest generation of notebook tablets may be?

To read the full post by Aberjhani please click this link:

The Astonishing Beauty of Art that Begets Art – Bright Skylark Literary Productions.