“The only thing that is constant is change.” -Heraclitus
Change is the driver of every moment. Our adaptability is what allows us to pass from one instant to the next in a universe of blind uncertainty. And while there is endless movement, perhaps it is our need for something constant that encourages us to cling tightly to old ways and habits regardless of their futility or, at times, toxicity. A known parameter is just that, and what is known can be of comfort in a swirling sea of upheaval. This tendency to hold onto things may be in part responsible for some of the less fortunate aspects of our society, those ideas that continue to marginalize entire populations. With age sometimes comes wisdom, not just for individuals but societies as well. And with wisdom perhaps the ability to begin letting go of things that no longer, or perhaps never have served us well.
Sarah Schulman has been working with rock icon turned avant-garde artist Marianne Faithfull to write a play based on some of Faithful’s songs. The theme of the play draws from the fairy tale The Snow Queen and examines how we carry the traumas of our mothers using 24 of Faithfull’s songs. Schulman traveled to Paris where Faithfull lives. There she found the septuagenarian working on new music using punk rock motifs to examine aging and old age. Schulman discusses the way in which Faithful has let go of a lot of things that are unimportant enabling her to see from a whole new perspective. This perspective, Schulman says, often comes with age and growth and the wisdom gained over the years. Alongside this sometimes comes bitterness or a jaded point of view for some. Schulman discusses in her interview the way in which work she produced years ago has received interest years later. A novel she published in 1990 was recently reviewed by the New Yorker who paid it no mind upon initial publication. The reason for the sudden interest is that Schulman cast Donald Trump as the villain in her now nearly thirty-year-old book. Of the recent Me Too movement, Schulman discusses “the absolute miracle that women are being heard” after over half a century since the inception of feminism. Schulman is interested in the superstructure behind powerful men losing their positions. She notes that in the higher profile cases of Harvey Weinstein, Matt Lauer, and Charlie Rose, it was corporations who fired them rather than actual individuals. She also reframes the conversation as being more about power than about actual sexuality citing the numerous women whose careers were completely derailed by powerful men. She expands this conversation into a much larger context that questions the very fundamentals of what we have long been told are “good” films and performers and those who have found success within an industry where sex and sexual relationships serve as a sort of social and professional cement. Schulman goes on to discuss how changing norms have shaped and complicated the conversation and eroded the concept of due process. To hear her complex and important take in more detail, listen to the full interview.
Anastacia-Renee published three books in 2017 titled (v.), Forget It, and Answer (Me). She is quick to point out that she did not write three books in a year, rather they are the result of years and years of work that happened to be fortuitously published in short succession. Having so much work coming out at once has proven both exciting and terrifying, says Anastacia-Renee. The expectation from readers who have read one work can sometimes color how another is received. Her poems take on the powerful topics of parenting, racism, sex, love, and more. Within the context of the major socio-political movements arising over the last year or so in the United States, Anastacia-Renee discusses her personal experience as a queer black woman. She points to a long history of complex layers within movements such as those fighting for women’s suffrage who were simultaneously racist. This kind of dissonance exists today and is a theme often explored within Anastacia-Renee’s poetry. Anastacia-Renee was poet-in-residence at Hugo House and is currently Civic Poet of Seattle. To hear Anastacia-Renee read excerpts from her three very different books of powerful poetry, listen to the full interview.
A Few Words to Keep in your Pocket:
Take a moment to examine those things you hold onto. Ask whether they continue to serve or merely act as a security against an ever-changing background of uncertainty.
Books to Read
Opportunities / Open Calls
Art Center South Florida invites artists to submit for the chance to participate in their public art program. The project will address issues of coastal flooding and give artists the chance to contribute to creating art and finding solutions to pressing issues related to coastal flooding. Residency duration is one year. The selected artist will receive a $25,000 stipend, housing for one year, and up to $7,500 in project funding. Residency begins in April, 2018. Deadline for submissions is January 22.
Weekly Edited Grant and Residency Deadlines – review the list here.