poetry

The Antigone Poems

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ALTAIRE PRODUCTIONS THE ANTIGONE POEMS

by Marie Slaight and illustrated by Terrence Tasker

Overall: A short and sweet, yet very vivid interpretation of a classic. 


I received this book from Netgalley in return for an honest review. 

I will be the first to admit that Sophocles’ Antigone is one of the plays that I have forgotten a lot about, but I do remember the praise of Antigone by my English teacher in high school, praising her rebellion, and the message of suffering in the living world only to receive salvation in the afterlife. While not as dramatic or as darkly humorous as Opedipus Rex, you are given a very powerful story in this tragedy.

I disagree with some of the reviews that I have read that Marie Slaight creates a modern retelling of the aforementioned play. I do not believe that these poems will be understood as someone telling the classic with a modern twist, which is a little misleading depending on how you read some of the descriptions and reviews of this book. However, this is still an excellent book, you will be brought into the symbolism and imagery of Antigone’s heroic yet terrible narrative. These poems were written in the 1970’s, attached with charcoal sketches of the same time period when the author and illustrator were in Montreal and Toronto.

However, don’t think that you wouldn’t enjoy the book just because you know nothing of Antigone. These poems are beautiful and brilliant as stand alone poems. I was surprised how fast I ate up these poems, and they were very quick to read. I believe I finished this book for my second time around just on the bus back to my apartment. You will be amazed at the morbid yet impeccably intricate details, subtle rhyme, and alliteration that is littered through every poem in this small collection.

The only issue have with this book might just be a little picky. As I’ve said before that this book is short, something you can eat up time and time again in little time. With that said, I have to say that it’s a bit overpriced. From the Antigone Poems website, it is about 25 dollars. I got the entire Divine Comedy in paperback with that much. There are some Amazon sellers who are selling the book for about sixteen dollars. It’s a little more reasonable, as the book is about a hundred pages (even though it felt a lot shorter on my Kindle) and it makes me curious about the formatting of the hard copy.

The charcoals are GORGEOUS. They are definitely a huge plus for the book, you get a couple littered in between the poems and a lot of beautiful charcoal sketches at the end of the book. I can admit that it might be a reason for the high price.

In the end, this book is definitely something to pick up and read. I recommend you shop around for a good price, or just go ahead and buy it nice and new! I saw some pictures of the physical cover and I admit it is beau-ti-ful!

You can buy the book HERE!

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Sculpting In Time

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by Andrei Tarkovsky

Overall: Definitely a book to put on your shelves!


Cinema should be a means of exploring the most complex problems of our time, as vital as those which for centuries have been the subject of literature, music, and painting.

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Sculpting in Time by Andrei Tarkovsky is one of the most brilliant essays that I have ever read. Not only is it an excellent, straight-from-the mouth understanding of the films from Tarkovsky himself, this book opens your eyes to philosophy, religion, and art which is understood by the brilliant director.

Andrei Arsenyevich Tarkovsky was born in 1932 to Maria Vishnyakova and the famous Russian poet Arseny Alexandrovich Tarkovksy. Andrei was educated in cinema and film studies.

Andrei’s first film was Ivan’s Childhood (1962) which came from a story written by Bogomolov. In Andrei’s interpretation, Ivan’s Childhood is a war film that shows the character’s forced life within war-filled Russia. The dark and gritty nature that mixes with the purity and optimistic dream sequences from Ivan make up this baneful film.

Andrei’s second film, Andrei Rublev (1966) is a biopic of the famous titular iconographer. Andrei covers the duality and psychological effects of Andrei’s burden in his understanding of his relationship with God in medieval Russia during the Tartar invasions and Russia’s transition from a pagan society to Orthodoxy. The film is one of Andrei’s more graphic, gritty, but also the beginning of Andrei’s filmography career that focuses on religion and spirituality.

The fourth film, Solaris (1972), is a loose narrative from the Stanislaw Lem novel of the same name. This is Andrei’s first film that is in the science-fiction and horror genre. More psychological in nature, the main character–a psychologist named Kris–tries to understand the reality created by mysterious planet Solaris and struggles with the power that the human mind can do. 
Mirror (1975) is Andrei’s more personal film. It incorporates poetry written by Andrei’s father and even his own mother makes a cameo. The film revolves around the rhythm and timing of childhood memories, relationships, dreams, and the new (at the time) television program style of interview and newsreel footage. 

Andrei’s fifth film, and my personal favorite, Stalker (1979) is one of Tarkovsky’s well-known films. This science fiction, based on the novel Roadside Picnic (it is a loose narration), is an allegorical film making criticism on the modern world and the modern desires in which the Stalker suffers as he bears the burden of guiding visitors into the dangerous Zone. During filming of this film, it is alleged that Tarkovsky as well as many of the principal actors were exposed to radiation which inevitably led to Tarkovsky’s development of cancer.

Andrei emigrated to Paris due to the strict censorship restrictions on his films in the Soviet Union and out of Russia is where he filmed his final two films: Nostalgia (1983) in Italy and The Sacrifice (1986) in Sweden. Nostalgia relates to Tarkovksy’s emigration in the main character feels homesickness and the longing for his country and the things that made him human (” Я снимал фильм глубоко русский во всех его аспектах: моральных, нравственных, политических и эмоциональных…”)In The Sacrifice, the film coincides with the events of Chernobyl in the Ukraine, and the main character must try to save the destroying world by giving up the things that he loves. 
Andrei Tarkovsky died in December of 1986 shortly after filming in Paris. His diaries were published posthumously. 

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Sculpting in Time is an excellent collection of Andrei’s thoughts and opinions of his films and the meaning and history behind the films. Despite some of the dark themes that Tarkovsky covers in his films, the book is uplifting, inspirational, and praises human life and spirituality. While Tarkovsky is highly religious, he covers spirituality on a poetic and universal level, relating to people in a style that is known by everyone: art.

Люблю глаза твои, мой друг,
С игрой их пламенно-чудесной,
Когра из приподыменшь вдруг
И словно молнией небесной
Окинешь бегло целый круг…

Tarkovsky also describes the nuances of filmmaking which includes mise en scene and the director’s relationship with time, rhythm, and editing to create a world that the audience can both immerse themselves in and become emotionally involved. The opinion of the author is similar to Dostoevsky, the commitment to passion in both the actors and the director himself.

And the moment of death is also the death of individual time: the life of a human being becomes inaccessible to the feelings of those remaining alive, dead for those around him.

If you are an artist of any type, you would benefit greatly to reading this book to inspire you and any medium that you choose to excel in.

One thing is certain: a masterpiece only comes into being when the artist is totally sincere in his treatment of his material.

Whether or not you have seen the films, the beautiful pictures of Tarkovksy behind the scenes, and many still shots of all of his films are a superb resource. I believe that all film lovers and anyone who loves/writes poetry should have this book on their shelf.

Mother came and beckoned me, and flew away…

 


 

Watch some of Tarkovsky’s films (use CC for subtitles)
Stalker Pt 1
Stalker Pt 2

Andrei Rublev Pt 1 (extremely graphic)
Andrei Rublev Pt 2 (extremely graphic)

Solaris Pt 1
Solaris Pt 2

 

Не сни, не спи, художник
не предавайся сну…
ты вечности заложник,
у временив плену

For Colored Boys Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Still Not Enough: Coming of Age, Coming Out, and Coming Home

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For Colored Boys Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Still Not Enough: Coming of Age, Coming Out, and Coming Home, edited by Keith Boykin

 

There is someone out there who thinks you’re ugly. You’re not tall enough for them or rich enough or you’re too fat or your nose is too big for your face. But you have to believe. Against all reason. You are good enough. You are capable and amazing and beautiful and lovely and you are here, right now, breathing, full of opportunities to change worlds and forge new definitions in your wake. If you can believe that, nobody can touch it, not some headless stranger on the Internet, not some twink in a white braided belt, not blond-haired, blue-eyed lovers desperate to be worshipped. And maybe, just maybe, you’ll wake up one day, rub sleep from your eyes, yawn heavily into a foreign air. You’ll climb out from the heat of night and find the world immersed in a brave new light. You may find to your surprise, a small sort of knowing on your cheeks, a quiet smile on your lips, that maybe, just maybe, you’ve learned to love the one thing you didn’t know how.

If that wasn’t an excellent summary of the entire message of this book then I don’t know what I could possibly tell you.

For Colored Boys is a collected anthology of stories, essays, and a couple of poems written about the many issues that affects both the gay male youth as well as the of-color gay male youth. This is not restricted to black men as there are collections from both hispanic men and a couple of asian men. The stories are true accounts from the men who come from diverse backgrounds. A lot of the authors are very well known, from RuPaul’s Drag Race contestant Jessica Wild (José David Sierra) to professional American football player Wade Davis. At the end of the book there is an excellent resource describing the authors as well as providing titles to the authors’ other works.

The books title is an obvious homage to Ntozake Shange’s famous For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Is Enuf but is not organized stylistically. Instead of the choreopoem you are reading stories, interviews, and even a couple of poems that are organized into ten sections.

Each section carries a theme that each author tells of in their own style: from coming out, to molestation and rape, and even to HIV/AIDS. Several of the stories are highly graphic but as they are non-fiction they shouldn’t be skipped over and should definitely be read to understand the entire depth of these individuals.

To colored boys who have considered suicide
on dark and cold winter days
in closets and rooms confined and strangled by their own
insecurity…

I really enjoyed this book as a straight ally. While I support all things gay-rights, I cannot say that I know entirely of the depth that it must be to live in this world when society doesn’t accept you. I was also equally drawn by this book as it dealt with issues of people of color. Despite gay individuals being already ostracized, there is still a divide between white gay individuals and ones of color.

…For instance, white gay sex-columnist Dan Savage was celebrated for launching the “It Gets Better” campaign… That makes people feel good, but the campaign makes a range of assumptions about the audience. For young people who are experiencing poverty, racism, HIV, bad public schools, or violence within their homes, it may not “just get better” by virtue of getting older.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who really wants to understand exactly the struggles of being gay in his world, and especially a black gay male when the black culture focuses on hypermasculinity, homophobia, and an entire culture that revolves around the church. Simply saying that you support gay rights isn’t enough when you have not developed the empathy needed. At times I was a little confused and I even scoffed when I read one of the stories where the author described his ordeal as “terrorism”. But upon reading everything I came to understand the psychological trauma associated with living in a world where you are not accepted. For someone as socially liberal as myself, seeing that deep down I still had my own slight prejudices and this book really opened my eyes.

How do you start a revolution?
Does it begin in the dark,
furtive glances
in a dusky city park?

…Will we love the men
who were raped on a date
led to believe
it was just their fate?

Yes, how do you start a revolution?

With a civil war between the states

…Or with a kiss?