Review: Je Christine

Thanks to Robert forwarding me an email, I ran off to catch this performance at Bard yesterday. I always wish that Bard were better about letting folks know about things happening on campus. I hate hearing about them afterward!

A small but appreciative audience shared the experience and stayed to talk with Suzanne Savoy (who has an impressive list of accomplishments beyond television work!). She had been intrigued long ago by that wonderful image of Christine writing away in her chamber and while working on a very ‘painful’ television series (hmmm, wonder if it’s this one) decided to create a one-woman show in order to enjoy having complete control.

Savoy worked on the translation of Christine’s writings herself; having grown up in Montreal, she was inspired by the older nuns she knew there and their particular cadences of French. The play begins with the very medieval notion of Dame Fortune’s changeability and traces the ups and downs of her life and times from favoured child of her philosopher father to desperate woman in exile. Savoy has skilfully knitted together Christine’s texts with a few augments for context to bring to vivid life this extraordinary woman with passion, humour and grace. Moving around the compact yet evocative set, she gave a moving performance that made Christine’s skill and conversational style so clear, engaging the audience directly at times. The power of her delivery–even under thundering rain that started falling during the performance–made Christine’s timeless words reverberate. And we all agreed afterward that when she declared the storm would be over in war-torn France the rain actually seemed to slow at that moment.

And she’ll be at Kalamazoo, talking about her translation with the Christine de Pizan Society.

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[Yes, I know I need to write up my two conference trips for your vicarious pleasure — soon!]

Out Now: My Wandering Uterus

My Wandering Uterus: tales of traveling while female 

Edited by K. A. Laity, Foreword by H. Byron Ballard, Cover design or artwork by S. L. Johnson

Buy merchandise with the cover art at Red Bubble or Cafe Press.

List Price: $14.99
5″ x 8″ (12.7 x 20.32 cm) 
Black & White on White paper
360 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1986379014
ISBN-10: 1986379019
BISAC: Travel / General

My Wandering Uterus

A diverse treasure trove from women across the globe and from every walk of life!

This book contains memoirs, stories and poetry about the experiences of being a woman on the road — the joys, the perils, the lessons, the changes. From spiritual pilgrimages to forced evacuations, in pursuit of opportunity or to escape from the past, travel broadens the mind — and broads’ travel writing will delight your heart!

My Wandering Uterus ToC

Wandering Uterus Proposed for web

The all-but-final table of contents for My Wandering Uterus, the collection of travel writing by women that Byron and I were foolish enough to brainstorm together — joking! I suppose this is the nearest I will come to that feeling of a baby being overdue (at this rate, I fear it will be coming out smoking a cigar and demanding a martini). But the end is in sight!

We have poetry, memoir, travelogue, fiction, humour, and more from very different women who inhabit all walks of life — even a mother and daughter! I’m grateful to them all for trusting us with their tales.

There are one or two details to firm up [contributors! please correct any errors you see in your title, name or punctuation] but here we go:

A Journey Charm — K. A. Laity (translation from medieval English)
Foreword — H. Byron Ballard
Accidental Openings — Carolyn Coulson
Wearing the Shalwar Kameez — Dawn Reno Langley
Once Upon a Time in Mexico — Catherine Lundoff
Poems — Devon Balwit
In the Course of a Pilgrimage — Tahni J. Nikitins
The Five Dollar Car — Diane Payne
The Threshold of the Sheela — Amy J. Rio
Mexican Getaway — Tonja LH Vernazza
In Search of Sorrow — G. Clark Hellery
Freedom of Voice — Jessica Marie Baumgartner
How Could I Disappear? — Sandi Hoover
The Week I was Jodie Foster — Leanne Breiholz
The Time I Went to Malta — Holli Shan
Sally Lunn — H. Byron Ballard
Good Fortune — Ellen J. Perry
Five Poems — Miriam Sagan
From Warrior to Chaplain: Giving the Middle Finger to the Patriarchy — Tiffany Andes
Notes from Barakhamba — Kate Telma
Pilgrimages — Ginger Strivelli
Chasing Shadows — Tammy Conrad
Motosexual & Trains of Thought — Shannon McRae
Five Days in Sydney: Remembering Judy Garland — Joan Coulson
Journal of Drive Therapy — Clara Vann-Patterson
Get Miles — Susannah Blanchard
My Uterus Did Not Wander — Tamara Miles
Never Look at their Faces and Other Unwritten Rules — Sonya M. Hamrick
Traveling the Crow Road with My Daughter — Sheri Barker
Freedom to Move About the Cabin — Angela Kunschmann
The Anniversary Train — Catherine Nurmepuu
The Beauty of Language and the Inadequacies of Standard Dictionaries — Ellen Sandberg
My Wandering Freedom — Lisa Wagoner
Walking Veiled through Khan el Kalili — Cynthia Talbot
Hotel Sheets — Victoria Squid
Across the Cerulean Sea: Woman on Water? — MJ Toswell
Colophon: Blessing

Coming soon! The Blood Red Experiment

The Blood Red Experiment – Neo Giallo Horror Magazine
Get it on Pre-Order for your Kindle. Only 99 cents.
Screen Shot 2017-10-09 at 15
Inspired by the genius of Hitchcock and his films, latin luminaries such as Argento and Bava directed macabre murder-mystery thrillers, that combined the suspense with scenes of outrageous violence, stylish cinematography, and groovy soundtracks. This genre became known in their native Italy as giallo.

Giallo is Italian for yellow, inspired by the lurid covers of thrillers, in the way that pulp fiction was derived from the cheap wood pulp paper of the crime stories, or Film Noir came from the chiaroscuro of the German Expressionistic lighting.

We at TBRE want to bring gialli-inspired stories by some of the best crime writers on the scene today to a wider audience, giving birth to a new literary movement in crime writing, NeoGiallo, and drag this much maligned genre screaming and slashing its way into the 21st Century.

Click for Amazon Pre-Order

My novella, The Madonna of the Wasps, involves a cult, an ancient knife, some art students, and a woman who thinks she may have found a way to live forever. If only it didn’t involve so many other people dying…

 

Writer Wednesday: Rita Lakin – The Only Woman in the Room

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Rita Lakin

I can’t recommend this book enough. A terrific travelogue through the Hollywood and television industries from the PoV of writing — and you know how those industries hate writers. Lakin has a multifaceted career that spans the 60s, 70s and 80s, everything from Dr. Kildare to The Home Front and Flamingo Road.  A suddenly-widowed woman with small kids Lakin landed a job as a secretary at Universal Studios, where she had the time — and the support! — to begin reading scripts to learn the trade. And did she ever! Her first big break is a script for Richard Chamberlin’s Kildare that uses her own experience of grief to give it emotional punch.

Of course things don’t go swimmingly forever after: this is television after all. Lakin breezily recounts moments of humiliation and betrayal with a survivor’s comic remembrance. Her dogged pursuit of a career despite these setbacks, the sneering of her fine arts writer pals (sound familiar?) and the active sabotage of some real stinker relationships (oh. my. god.) demonstrates the real love Lakin has for this form of writing. Her prose is lean and lively. There’s never a dull moment. She loves to hold you in suspense by changing topics.

But she never forgets: her pal Doris who wrote that one short story that did so well amongst literary mags, who wouldn’t even watch her script debut on television — sixteen years later asks for an entré into the business. Lakin, despite working all of those years to get where she was, helps her friend out. That’s a lesson, too. Opening the door for other women was a touchstone of her entire career. After going to Writer’s Guild meetings where she was ignored or to meetings with producers that were just couch casting attempts, Lakin learned a lot but she never got bitter.

–even over her terrible, lousy, leeching loser of a husband Bob. That takes some doing. Though she is plain about Harve Bennett stealing her MWA Edgar in 1970 for Mod Squad (what a creep! who of course went on to a long and successful career as a producer: crime pays).

Things you can learn from Lakin: Never trust Aaron Spelling. Always be leary of producers who promise the world. Get everything in writing. Seriously, everything. Praise people who do good work even if they steal it from your mouth. Hollywood hates writers. Hollywood has trouble remembering that women are people until women remind them. Still.

Lakin has nothing but good things to say about the people who were generous to her over the years. Sydney Pollack, Richard Chamberlin, Steve Bochko — she has a whole chapter on Bochko as the break-through show runner, a job she tried to convince producers to give to her when she pitched a series, but there wasn’t a name for it yet. Every innovation builds on what went before. We just don’t always know or see it.

In the scriptwriting business getting breaks matters, Lakin makes clear, but having done the hard work to be able to make use of them is the real key.

 

Happy Know Year

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Begin how you mean to go on,

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Take up your weapon of choice,

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Fill you heart with joy,

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Summon all your powers,

Hecate

And show the world what you’ve got.

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British Library: Punk + Bard

My last full day in London I headed over to the British Library to catch the Punk exhibit. On the way, I nodded to Saint Jerome‘s holy place:

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It was quite gratifying to see PUNK emblazoned across that bastion of quiet intellectual historicism, though it reminded me of the line from that much-treasured film which I think was called What is Creativity? that we saw in 6th and 7th grade and then I have not been able to locate even though it has John Astin in it.

In the sequence that shows the history of art, there’s an exchange between two snakes (or maybe worms?) that goes something like:

Snake 1: Do you realise that radical ideas that threaten institutions eventually become institutionalised and in turn reject radical ideas?

Snake 2: No.

Snake 1: Oh, for a minute there,  I thought I had something.

This film has stuck with me. That idea, too, has stuck with me.

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It was kind of glorious to see this in the lobby gallery of the venerable British Library. On the other hand, there was nothing much interesting that you hadn’t seen a millions times (well, I hadn’t anyway) and yes, the overarching impression was that punk was white and male. Here’s the ‘chicks’ corner:

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I want to see that documentary on the women in punk. The snippets were tantalising. But the rest, meh. The shop — well, there was nothing there you’d want to buy. It was kind of embarrassing really. I was so glad to hear that Viv Albertine took it upon herself to make some corrections. Rahr!

So feeling dispirited — even the Beowulf manuscript was not on display! — and it being too early to head to my next destination, I decided to go to the ‘Shakespeare in Ten Acts’ exhibit in the main gallery. And I’m SO very glad I did — how energising!

This display focused on the performance history of Shakespeare’s works. Coming from the lit side of things, there is so much I don’t know about the practicalities of performance. I remain grateful for sitting in on the course at the Globe back in ’99 because I learned so much (besides, the Globe remains the only theatre where I have trod the boards). It starts with the Globe and Greene’s famous sneer, then moves to Blackfriars. I am sooo longing to see a show at the restored indoor theatre. And it was a real epiphany to realise that The Tempest was at Blackfriars, not The Globe as I’d always pictured it, which in many ways makes it more amazing.

Even more now, I wish I could be there for one night (in case the Doctor reads this).

It’s exciting to see how the plays rippled out across the world: Hamlet on an East India Company ship anchored off the coast of Sierra Leone in 1607, in India, in Russia. The first woman to play a woman’s role (Desdemona in Othello) in 1660 broke one barrier: the first black actor, Ira Aldridge, played Romeo briefly in NY in 1822, then sailed to London in 1825 to debut as Othello. He was just 17.

The exhibit details the bard’s censors, forgers, actors and visionaries, including a room that recreates in small part Sally Jacob’s astonishing design for Peter Brook’s 1970 intoxicating incarnation of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. It really is inspiring.

Go if you can: it runs through September. You can get yourself an Elizabethan ruff necklace.

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