Monday, August 22, 2016

Poem: lake feeding (written in 2000 or 2001)

lake feeding

I sit by the lake on the brick wall, legs crossed and grown pale and hard with chill, like iron rails.
The turtles don’t appear on the smooth green-black surface, only a sudden ripple or two, far out.
I break and throw a cracker anyway, nibble on the last part myself.
The stunning pink and purple sky of moments before has settled now into subtle hues of blue, white and a faint orange glow above the darkening water
The cold is numbing but I love it out here
A sudden splish and plop and a soggy, ragged square of cracker has disappeared.
A minute’s wait and then another is gone, and then another
I see the small explosion as a spot of water rises up to momentarily become solid and transparent as glass, then settles to liquid ripples
But I never see the fish, a brown glint at the most.
I marvel at their quickness, never seen but expertly nabbing their target, hardly ever missing
I wonder, too, at the split-second from floating cracker to empty water
All is veiled by the water’s darkness.
It is beautiful, but I have things to do, and the evening chill is growing
The bricks feel like rough ice.
I struggle to my feet and step off the wall, with one last glance for the faintly glowing sky and dark lake
The unclaimed bits of cracker will remain, float uselessly, slowly turn grey in the impermeable water.

- Kat Finger

In Which Is Illustrated The Reason Why I Don't Write Reviews

A long time ago....
(A decade, even)...
there was a website of miscellaneous written stuff called I Drank What?, which featured many things written by, among other people, Cindy Sites Wooley (only Sites back then, a decade or more ago), who had worked on and written for Tangents magazine, and Chris DeLisle (two awesome people, both of whom Facebook now helps my slack ass to keep up with; thank you FB!)

BTW, Tangents went away at one point but now is back again - hooray!! Here is the NEW iteration:

Anyway, I also wrote some stuff for IDW: mainly poems, a few articles, a story or two, and the occasional review. Not many reviews, though. For, you see, I am long-winded -- or rather, long-typed?/keyed? Yeah. In college, I *wanted* to be able to write the 8-9 page papers we were assigned, but in my OCD way I'd end up with 14 pages, still only 2/3 of the way finished with what I wanted to say, at 4 am, glaring at my peacefully sleeping roommate who double-spaced her paper to bring it up to 8 pages. So. very. maddening.

Thus, it came as no surprise to me that I could not for the life of me write a paragraph-long review of ANYTHING. My fellow writers (and happily, also the editors), however, were very very surprised nigh unto alarm. This is one of them, although not, I believe, the longest one. (The longest one, a paen to Die Hard, actually made their eyes glaze over and their faces sag a little. But I can't locate it right now.)
This review is from July 2001.

Exhibit Review:  “Mi Barrio/My Neighborhood” at Gallery L

One of the latest things to go cosmopolitan in Charlotte is the Main Library uptown.  In recent months, I’ve noticed a big change there, namely that the big room that used to be the Virtual Library has now become a seriously suave gallery, with the ultra-hip, New York-style name of Gallery L.  So far, I’ve seen two pretty neat things there:  a Warhol exhibit, and the exhibit I’m reviewing here, called “Mi Barrio/My Neighborhood”.  It’s an exhibit of a graphic novel and various other art created by 13 teenagers in a predominantly Hispanic part of Hendersonville.

The novel uses a combination of drawings, some black & white, some color, and photos.  There aren’t many words:  mostly a collage of pictures and images loosely tell a story of gang life, from riding high to dying.  This is then followed by a page that declares women to be “Man’s Best Hope for Peace” and shows some of the girls that were involved in the project.  Some comics and miscellaneous collage-style pages follow, including a really cool one about the “New Girl Order”.  The novel is in Spanish, reading from one side, then when you flip the book over, the words are in English, which is a really good way to do it.  The kids have done an amazing job of integrating the drawings and the photos, and the composition and placement is excellent, like when there’s a line-drawing of a man pasted into a photograph of a rear-view mirror.  I also like the way certain drawings, like the buildings, are repeated throughout the comic so skillfully, with different portions of a larger drawing in different sizes.  Although the gang story is really simple and almost stylized, it works well that way, and artistically it is really well-done.

Various pages from the novel were put up on different walls of the gallery, so it really hits you first with the collective atmosphere of it all, of gang life and teen life in general.  And since the gallery is laid out so that you have to walk around walls and partitions to see it all, the pages were shuffled even more so you therefore had to pay more attention to each frame, which enhances the experience.  Copies of the novel are provided free at the entrance, though, so you can then read it in order and see it the way they put it together.  Besides the novel, the walls of Gallery L held some more collage-type pictures, and a lot more miscellaneous pieces of art by the kids who worked on this project:  such as self-portraits, neighborhood scenes, some drawings of a more religious or mystical/fantastical nature, and even a few comic strips.

Out of the miscellaneous art, most was really good and impressed me with the kids’ talent – and a few drawings actually blew me away with the skill in technique and composition.  But the creativity of all of it, especially the graphic novel and collage pages, really impressed me in and of itself.  This exhibit reminded me of how it was in high school, of the kids who were into art and whose talent I admired and envied.  There is often so much talent in the kids around you, and so it’s really important for teachers, counselors, and society as a whole to not let down kids.  Everyone needs to encourage and listen to kids, to recognize how unique and impressive they are, and how important it is for them to feel pride in accomplishment.  This exhibit reminded me how cool most kids already are, at that age – at any age – as people who matter.

“Mi Barrio/My Neighborhood” runs through July 22nd, and it’s definitely worth a trip up to Gallery L.

- Kat Finger

Thank You, Justin Carmical

**Note: I wrote this probably well over a year ago, and procrastinated posting it. Posting it now, apropos of nothing.

"In loving memory of Justin Carmical" -- I just clicked on it because -- let's be honest: it was morbid curiosity.
The video was posted by one of my most recent favourite discoveries in the funny riff-type reviewers - Doug Walker, ThatGuyWithTheGlasses. I'd barely noticed the name "League of Super Critics". I honestly had never heard of Justin before.
Yet I quickly realized this was someone I'd have loved to know: a fan of sincerity, positivity, fun, and just plain old niceness. Reminds me of my friend Val, actually. She and Justin would've been kindred spirits - I hope there's some kind of afterlife or next stage or spirit world wherein they've just recently met and are dancing around in the rain, singing silly songs. Justin's heartfelt message at the end of the video is most definitely something Val would endorse - it's something that she told me about myself many times - in essence "You are good enough, just the way you are. I value you, so I want you to value yourself!"
And it is something so seemingly simple, and easy to mock or disregard, but it's also one of the most important things I can think of to pass on to others.....
You are unique. You are special, and your life has meaning. You matter. Just by being alive, you are making the world a richer and more beautiful place. Whether or not you think you are contributing enough, whether or not you feel you are creative or memorable or are. You smiled at someone today. You wore a bright red jacket, and someone enjoyed that splash of color. You were rocking out in your car at a stoplight, and the sight cheered someone up, jolted him out of his doldrums and caused them to grin. He walked with a little more animation down the sidewalk, and was there to open a door for a lady, then pet a dog a block later. All this happened on your neighborhood, on a day when the cotton-y clouds inspired a girl to write a poem and the little breezes ruffled a child's hair, and all of the little things woven together created a perfectly imperfect and random scarf of a day which will never be repeated again and was vital to the Universe. You, and I, and all of us, we matter and we are part of the mysterious magic that glows in the corners of everyday, in the moments between the events.

So, EVERYONE, please do try to remember that you matter, that everyone matters to someone. There is still hope, even if it seems hopeless.
And I'm posting this, and reiterating it 
- even though it's been said before
- even if no one reads it
- even if it is no longer considered topical, because I was too overwhelmed to blog about on the day I spotted it, so that for all I know, people will think I'm lame or lazy or cheesy or corny....
Doesn't bother me. Because when you write from the heart, it's good enough.
(It's so random and yet...
(I might have just declined to click and never have known...
A man made a video message, and I happened to see it. YouTube is full of videos, and the world is full of people. And it's all competing for our attention, all of the time. But this man, Justin Carmical, was special, and his message is important. It's a message I sometimes feel I was put on this earth to emphasize --value yourself. There is hope.

(So said Val. So said Justin. So say I.)