Sensualized transcendence: Editorial and poem on the art of Jaanika Talts (pt 2) – National African-American Art |

              Image detail from video for “Be Still My Heart” by Paul F. Xaiver with art by Jaanika Talts.

“The Universe said, ‘let me show your soul something beautiful.’”
––Aberjhani (from ELEMENTAL, The Power of Illuminated Love)

If emergent expressionism lends chromatic form and substance to in-between states of metamorphosis, then transformative impressionism may be described as endowing such stages of transition with metaphorical narrative. These are images by Jaanika Talts in which her literary inclinations are most apparent and they evoke a clear theme, scene, symbol, or principle.

The artist’s depictions of mythology’s (as well as history’s and literature’s) Venus and Cupid, The Siren’s Dream, Ophelia, and Salome are a few of the canvases and digital art compositions which borrow cues from classic stories. What makes them uniquely engaging is her own finely-honed perspective, which seems as culturally expansive as it is aesthetically versatile. She is equally comfortable with more contemporary references in the mode of Hollywood screen legends like Elizabeth Taylor, Ava Gardener, and Sophia Loren. Their images at her touch take on a quality of regal finish that is both innovative and archetypal.

With Talts’ ability to produce highly-original art which speaks as eloquently to the heart and soul as it does to the intellect, it is not surprising that her labors have begun to inspire efforts by creative talents in different mediums. The poet Richard Michael Parker  has paired several poems with work by the artist. Videos on YouTube (and posted with this article) have both employed her art as background imagery and focused on the art itself as the video’s subject. The following original poem, titled Realms of Emerging Light (and written by this author) is presented in that same spirit of inspiration begetting inspiration. It is also shared in honor of the forthcoming World Poetry Day, March 21:

To enjoy the accompanying poem by Aberjhani please click this link:

Sensualized transcendence: Editorial and poem on the art of Jaanika Talts (pt 2) – National African-American Art |


Events, Books Highlight Author Flannery O’Connor’s Legacy (part 1)

The ever-mesmerizing Flannery O’Connor. (photo by Getty Images)


As close to a million or more people pour into Savannah, Georgia, for the March 17 St. Patrick’s Day Parade and associated festivities a number of them will also take time to visit the childhood home of America’s iconic author, Flannery O’Connor, at 207 E. Charlton Street near Lafayette Square.

Just eight days after St. Patrick’s Day, celebrations of a different order will take place when O’Connor fans mark what would have been the author’s 86th birthday on March 25. Those who immediately conjure images of southern “library geeks” with their noses pressed inside an open book when considering fans of her work might be surprised to note the Georgia College and State University website list the following among some of the author’s biggest fans: “Bruce Springsteen, Bono, The Coen Brothers, Conan O’Brien and Lucinda Williams are contemporary examples of people affected by her long legacy.”

Acknowledgement of that legacy over the next few months will take on many forms, including a short fiction competition, a conference, and the release of a new novel based on O’Connor’s life in Milledgeville, Georgia.

In the Mode of Flannery O’Connor

Hosted by the University of Georgia Press, the Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction was established almost three decades ago. It is presented annually for a collection of short fiction in the mode of O’Connor. Entries for this year’s competition will be accepted throughout the month of April until May 31.

To date, some fifty short story collections have been published through the competition, which has also been credited with generating renewed interest in the genre. Past winners have included Mary Hood for How Far She Went, Peter LaSalle for Tell Borges If You See Him, and Nancy Zafris for The People I Know. Zafris has also been appointed the new series editor for the competition. For more details and information on submitting manuscripts click this link: Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction

The Conference at the Farm

The Flannery O’Connor Conference will be held from April 13-April 16 at the author’s alma mater, the Georgia College and State University in Milledgeville, and also at Andalusia, the farm where she lived. The conference’s theme is “Startling Figures: A Celebration of the Legacy of Flannery O’Connor” and will feature talents from different creative disciplines, such as musicians, artists, writers, scholars, and artists, all of whom at one time or another have been inspired by the author’s work.

Among the more famous headliners slated to attend the conference is author and editor E.L. Doctorow, who will participate in an interview as well as present a reading In addition, musician Dave Perkins and Friends will perform a tribute concert on April 16.

A Good Hard Look

Usually when a publisher speaks of “resurrecting” an author who has passed away, they are referring to the re-publication of the author’s catalogue or the publication of a newly discovered book by them. In this case, O’Connor will undergo a literary resurrection with the July publication of A Good Hark Look (Penguin Press). The surprise here for those not already aware of the title is that it is not a scholarly study or biography but a novel by Ann Napolitano, author of Within Arm’s Reach.

Writing in her blog, Napolitano revealed that “The idea of a ‘well-lived life’ is a central theme of my novel, A Good Hard Look.” She further added: “It’s difficult for me to write about Flannery O’Connor [in the blog] because she’s lived in my head for the last seven years as a character in my novel… I wrote endless drafts of my novel and in particular, hundreds of drafts of her scenes, because I wanted the book to be worthy of her.”

Such concern makes a lot of sense when considering the high esteem in which O’Connor is held almost universally. Even so, if the five- and four-star ratings awarded Napolitano’s book by advance-copy readers on the Goodreads website are any indication, she may very well have accomplished her goal.

Please click to read: Events, Books Highlight Flannery O’Connor’s Legacy (part 2) Her Life and Times

by Aberjhani

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Hillary Clinton Gives 2011 International Year for People of African Descent a Needed Boost

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton

There’s no question that U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s hands  are more than full these days with the war in Afghanistan, military tension between the two Koreas, relationship-building with China, and of course the revolution in Egypt. Nevertheless: Secretary Clinton took time out of her demanding schedule earlier this week to post a video message in support of the 2011 International Year for People of African Descent and Black History Month celebrations.

In her message, Clinton described this milestone event as “an opportunity for all of us around the globe to celebrate the diversity of our societies and to honor the contributions that our fellow citizens of African descent make every day to the economic, social and political fabrics of our communities.”

As it apparently did many others, the United Nations and the Organization of American States’ Resolution 64/169 proclaiming the year 2011 as the International Year for People of African Descent caught me by surprise. Though in all fairness to the U.N. and Organization of the American States, they actually announced plans to observe 2011 in this manner all of two years ago.

So what happened? Or possibly more importantly, what is happening?

For more, please click this link:

by Aberjhani


Pioneer Science Fiction Author Octavia E. Butler

Author Octavia E. Butler (AP file photo)

Author Octavia E. Butler (AP file photo)

Octavia Estelle Butler achieved the unprecedented feat of winning three major science fiction awards–the Nebula, Hugo, and Locus Awards, all in 1985–before going on in 1995 to also win the MacArthur Foundation Genius Award.  This achievement, in addition to a number of other honors, established Butler as a “grand dame” of science fiction and placed her within the genre on a level comparable to that of Toni Morrison or Alice Walker within mainstream literary fiction.

The daughter of Laurice and Octavia M. (Guy) Butler, the author was born June 22, 1947, in Pasadena, California. After attending Pasadena City College, California State University in Los Angeles, and the Clarion Science Fiction Writers’ Workshop, she went on to launch her literary career in 1976 with the publication of the novel Patternmaster. Over the three decades that followed, until her death February 24, 2006, she would publish almost a dozen more novels including Kindred and Parable of the Talents; and the short fiction collection, Bloodchild and Other Stories.

Innovative Literary Vision

Butler’s work explores and expands the basic language of science fiction.  In particular, she utilizes an interest in such subjects as psionic abilities, genetic engineering, different forms of power, and advanced alien intelligence to explore more earthbound themes of racial and sexual awareness.  The various categories into which human beings place each other might be seen through Butler’s literary glasses as hierarchies that do more harm than good by encouraging and sustaining degrading forms of dominance rather than mutual respect or tolerance.  In an essay for NPR titled U.N. Racism Conference, Butler observed the following:

“Back during the early 1960s there was a United Nations television commercial, the audio portion of which went something like this: ‘Ignorance, fear, disease, hunger, suspicion, hatred, war.’ That was it, although I would have added, ‘greed’ and ‘vengeance’ to the list. All or any of these can be the catalyst that turns hierarchical thinking into hierarchical behavior. Amid all this, does tolerance have a chance?

“Only if we want it to. Only when we want it to. Tolerance, like any aspect of peace, is forever a work in progress, never completed, and, if we’re as intelligent as we like to think we are, never abandoned.

Kindred, one of Octavia E. Butler’s most celebrated books.

The author was particularly noted for her creation of unique yet believable female characters and her accomplishments in this area paved the way for such contemporary Black women speculative fiction writers as Tananarive Due and  Nalo Hopkinson.

Speaking to Los Angeles Times reporter Jocelyn Y. Stewart , Tananarive Due stated, “In black speculative fiction, we are a tiny family and Octavia Butler was our matriarch.

Please click for a Full Review of Octavia Butler’s Parable of the Sower

by Aberjhani

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5 Notable women of the past and present (special series part 8): Author Octavia E. Butler

"Kindred" the modern science fiction classic by Octavia E. Butler.

5 Notable women of the past and present (special series part 7): Author Octavia E. Butler

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5 Notable women of the past and present (special series part 5): Savannah’s Dr. Abigail Jordan

World famous African-American monument on River Street in Savannah, Georgia, USA.

5 Notable women of the past and present (special series part 5): Savannah’s Dr. Abigail Jordan

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