Image Issue 61 Is on the Way
Image issue 61 will mail this Friday. The issue features poems by Marilyn Nelson on contemplation, Jill Peláez Baumgaertner on the journey of the prodigal son, Alice Friman on metalworking—and many others. In an interview, venerable poet Madeline DeFrees, who has memorized a shocking amount of verse, both good and bad, from Hopkins to Hallmark, describes the perseverance of will that led her to find and cling to a vocation as a writer as a young nun in the 1940s. In visual art, the issue features Polish painter Jerzy Nowosielski, whose icons and abstract paintings serve to guide us into the fruitful dark places of the soul. Also in this issue, Katie Kresser introduces Jacques Maritain as a guide to this artistic night—using two more contemporary artists as examples. Writing on new European film, A.G. Harmon explores the haunting leitmotifs of ancient passions, which he describes as a pattern of “the old meeting the older—a long-established culture faced by something more basic than itself, something deep within the core of human desire.” In a moving personal essay, award-winning young-adult novelist Sara Zarr recalls the Jesus Movement of her San Francisco childhood, which sometimes pitted the gospel of “peace, love, and understanding” against the gospel of “hating” or rejecting anything or anyone who comes before following Jesus. Fiction by Melissa Pritchard embellishes the history of the historical figure Holy Fool Pelagia Ivanovna, whose peculiar and incendiary behavior made her a puzzling and beloved figure to generations of eastern Christians; and fiction by Wilmer Mills re-images the Pensées of Blaise Pascal in rural Kentucky. In her sermon series from the 2008 Glen Workshop, Debbie Blue, a Minnesota pastor, explores the sheer strangeness of the Old Testament, from Cain to Babel to Job. She writes: “Faith in the God of life isn’t a way out of the wild and profane, scary and inscrutable. It’s a way in, into the depths, where there might be spiders and broken glass and decay and rage and fur and feathers, trash and dirt and the love of God.” And Image editor Gregory Wolfe argues for America’s need for a tragic sense of life.
Sixth Annual Denise Levertov Award Goes to Eugene Peterson
Join Image journal and acclaimed writer Eugene Peterson for the 2009 Denise Levertov Award lecture and reading and a celebration of Image’s Twentieth Anniversary. Peterson, a contributor to Image and author of the bestselling The Message, will give a reading and commentary called "Intently Haphazard," about how the arts have formed his vocation as a pastor and writer, at University Presbyterian Church on Saturday, May 16, 2009 at 7:30 p.m. The event is free and open to the public and will be followed by a reception and book signing. Peterson is an SPU alumnus and Professor Emeritus of Spiritual Theology at Regent College in Vancouver, British Columbia, and founded Christ Our King Presbyterian Church in Bel Air, Maryland, where he pastored for twenty-nine years. He is a pastor and spiritual writer who has written more than thirty books, including A Long Obedience in the Same Direction, The Contemplative Pastor, and Eat This Book: A Conversation in the Art of Spiritual Reading. In his most recent book, Tell It Slant: A Conversation on the Language of Jesus in His Stories and Prayers, Peterson invokes Emily Dickinson’s words: “Tell all the truth but tell it slant -- / Success in Circuit lies / Too bright for our infirm Delight / The Truth’s superb surprise.” Throughout his work, Peterson has insisted on the centrality of the imagination to the life of faith. He suggests that God’s revelation comes through the ambiguities and nuances of story and lyric poetry--highly charged language that calls on our active participation and response for its full meaning to be grasped. With Dickinson, Peterson believes that “the Truth must dazzle gradually” through language that helps us move past “preconceptions, prejudices, defenses, stereotypes, and fact-dominated literalism” into “the language of...the Other.” The Levertov Award is presented annually in the spring to an artist or creative writer whose work exemplifies a serious and sustained engagement with the Judeo-Christian tradition. Past recipients include poets Madeline DeFrees and Franz Wright, nonfiction writers Kathleen Norris and Thomas Lynch, and fiction writer Bret Lott. The event is co-sponsored by the Seattle Pacific University English department, the SPU MFA in Creative Writing, and University Presbyterian Church.
Second Things by Daniel Tobin
Daniel Tobin (Image #59) is a visionary, one who makes his way boldly into the heart of things in his poetry. Worlds within worlds are the territory of his latest collection, Second Things. With the sensitivity of a surgeon, he takes robustly sensual and metaphysical images and, with sureness and exactitude, lays bare their entwining sinews. Calling on myth, nature, art history, and the tradition of the prophet-poets, Tobin turns your view of a thing upon itself, like a kaleidoscope. The spirit of William Blake enters the garden musings of “The Sea of Time and Space,” illuminating the fragile “infant maples … we’d go uprooting, feeling in our hands the tug / of generation, its mechanism and miracle.” The poem itself is held in tension between visions of starry angels and resplendent bodies, and the poison of industry clogging “soil and skin.” In “Strategies for Turning Away,” Eckhart and Goya enter the work-a-day world, the hardening press of commute and office, and reveal, collected at the bottom of the “self’s dull pool,” what we most desire “welling at the bottom”: “ecstasy.” As we wrote for his Artist of the Month page in 2005, “Tobin knows how to mix gravity with levity, the downward pressure of sin and suffering with the unbearable lightness of grace.” One moment a poem elucidating “Five Minor Wounds” takes the scourge of plantar warts and still-rooted wisdom teeth and recalls in them a more ancient blight and struggle to carry our wounds. The next, Tobin is doing the “Senior Citizen’s Polka.” In everything, he touches upon the vast inner being of things, preserving their oneness, body and soul.
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Refractions by Makoto Fujimura
According to Wikipedia “refraction” is “the change in direction of a wave due to a change in its speed. This is most commonly observed when a wave passes from one medium to another.” Most frequently used in optics, refraction involves the way light can appear to split and alter the angle of the images we perceive. So it’s not hard to see why the New York artist and leader of International Arts Movement, Mako Fujimura, has chosen to use “refraction” as the chief metaphor of his art and his writing. Over the last few years, Fujimura has written occasional essays that he has mailed out to friends and followers under the title of “Refractions.” Now they have been gathered together and published in book form by NavPress. Because Fujimura works in the Japanese tradition of Nihonga, which uses crushed mineral pigments and precious metals like gold and silver, the reality of refraction is central to his art. And it is a metaphor for art itself, because all art forms involve media that change our perception of the world. In his writing style, Fujimura changes speed--his slow, relaxed style is ideal for discovery and exploration, inviting the reader along a common journey. Though he has a mellow style, Fujimura does not flinch from traumatic or complex issues: his essay “Fallen Towers and the Art of Tea,” first published in Image #32, tells the story of his family’s close encounter with 9/11. He also covers the “Operation Homecoming” stories told by soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan--a program sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts, on whose national council he serves. Other topics include the famous Gates project in New York’s Central Park by Christo and Jean-Claude, nature vs. the city, and modern dance. NavPress has pulled out all the stops in the production values of this volume: the quality of paper and abundant four-color reproductions of the art are part of the significance of this book. In short, Mako Fujimura has played a central role in opening up the Christian community both to the refractive power of art itself and to the urgent need for contemporary art to be part of the church’s daily life and experience.
For more information on the book, click here.
Wendell Berry and the Cultivation of Life by J. Matthew Bonzo and Michael R. Stevens
In Wendell Berry and the Cultivation of Life: A Reader's Guide, Matthew Bonzo and Michael R. Stevens have put together a synthesis of the life and work of one of America's most important authors. While some may be overwhelmed by Berry's prolific writings or tempted to tune them out as harbingers of technological society's inevitable ruin, Bonzo and Stevens have given us a coherent and insightful way to navigate the waters of Berry's consistently countercultural message. First, they wrestle with Berry's own existential questions that surfaced when he returned home after leading a more cosmopolitan lifestyle: “What is this place? What is in it? What must I do?” And then they expand to ever-larger spheres of life, from the home to the political, exploring Berry's discovery of the principles of “practicing resurrection” and a humility that is true to its etymological roots by staying close to the earth. Berry's project grows before us as an embodied attempt to embrace both our human finitude--our inherited brokenness--and our created capacity for good and community, while remaining wary of any endeavor to entirely resolve this tension. Throughout, Bonzo and Stevens show concrete ways to live these principles. Shunning an overly abstract or legalistic understanding of Berry's commitment to hope amidst ever-present fragmentation, they lead us into such simple realities as opening one's front yard for neighborhood gatherings or getting involved in the local inner-city church. Bonzo and Stevens outline Berry's political, philosophical, and anthropological views in dialogue with current thinkers, delving into his rich novels and ending with an extended dialogue and critique of both church life and educational institutions. The result is a cyclical account of Berry's “liturgy of fruitfulness” that never quite comes to a totality, leaving us with a desire for the source of the book's wisdom.
Click here to buy the book.
The Artist and the Bible at John Knox Presbyterian Church
For more information contact Brian Moss at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Call to Artists
SPAC Art Gallery at Seattle Pacific University is putting out a call to artists for October 1-31, 2009 entitled Self Absorbed. The show theme is self-portraiture. Work can be in any medium. For more information, send a self addressed envelope to Cheri Wilke, Art Department, Seattle Pacific University, 3307 Ave W Seattle WA 98119 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Deadline for submissions: May 15, 2009.
Centennial Concert with Mary Chapin Carpenter, Claire Holley, and Kate Campbell
In celebration of the Eudora Welty Centennial, the Eudora Welty Foundation presents a concert on April 17, 2009 at 8:00 p.m. at the Belhaven Center for the Arts in Jackson, MS. The concert features singer/songwriters Mary Chapin Carpenter, Kate Campbell, Caroline Herring, and Claire Holley. The Centennial Concert is sponsored by Cellular South. Contact Ticketmaster at (601) 355-5252 or click here to go to the Ticketmaster website and search for "Eudora Welty." Click here for more information.
New Journal of Christian Verse Seeks Submissions
Vineyards: A Journal of Christian Poetry, publishing its inaugural issue in early 2010, seeks high quality, original poetry in the tradition of Donne, Herbert, Hopkins, Thompson, Eliot, Anne Sexton, Kelly Cherry, Scott Cairns, etc. We are looking for sacramental poetry that challenges the mind and the soul. Vineyard does not want greeting card sentimentality but poems that display the technical mastery and creative fervor that characterize work in esteemed secular journals. Send only hard copy (no e-submissions) of 3-4 original, not previously published, poems (under 30 lines each). Do not enclose a SASE; we will not return or comment on rejected poems. Send a postcard if you want to acknowledge submission. If you have not heard from Vineyards in 3 months, assume your work is no longer under consideration. Send submissions to: Philip C. Kolin, Editor, Vineyards, Dept. of English, Univ. of Southern Mississippi, Hattiesburg, MS 39406-5037.
Novel with Original Songs
Former Details/L.A. Weekly contributing editor and PEN-USA Award finalist Alan Rifkin, author of Signal Hill, rolls out a new hybrid novel about faith, love and music titled Alt. Country this Thursday in installments at www.alanrifkin.com. Billed as "a troubadour tale for the 21st century," this online novel about a former country singer trying to live right includes original, playable songs contributed by members of '60s folk-rock ensemble We Five; Long Beach roots-rocker Stanley Wycoff's band (with Dave Alvin on lead guitar and the late Chris Gaffney on vocal harmonies); and Long Beach's psychedelically folky Uninvited Dinner Guests. Haunted by the mistakes of a lifetime, Alt. Country’s protagonist runs from near-fame, leads spiritual fasts in the San Fernando Valley ("Country Music's Salinger," a bartender calls him), finds Jesus, marries a radio host who spins musical dreams of forgotten pasts, and then recreates all the chaos and tragedy he had tried to break free of. Meanwhile he is shadowed by a faded, possibly delusional, Rolling Stone reporter who believes that the artist's slide to obscurity is a story for our times. Full text and audio tracks are available at www.alanrifkin.com.
The Other Journal - Beauty and Aesthetics Issue
The Other Journal publishes creative writing, visual art, and scholarly essays that encounter life through the lens of theology and culture. Our upcoming issues explore a variety of topics, including beauty, race, the economy, celebrity, and food. We are seeking poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction. Fiction submissions may include short stories or self-contained novel excerpts, and creative nonfiction submissions may include personal essays or memoirs. We also welcome films, paintings, prints, photography, music, and academic essays. Please send submissions to email@example.com. The deadline for the Beauty and Aesthetics issue has been extended to April 10, 2009. For more information about our submission guidelines and deadlines, click here.
ImageNews -- The Scoop on Our Programs
Image Readings: Leslie Leyland Fields
When you read Leslie Leyland Fields' creative nonfiction or poetry, the experience is not unlike being in a skiff: you lean in to the language, landing metaphors that have the same freshness and invigorating shock of the big fish in cold water. Leslie teaches in Seattle Pacific University's MFA program in Creative Writing and is this month's featured author on Image Readings.
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The 2009 Florence Seminar
On September 13-20, 2009, Image will gather a small group of inquirers in Florence and Rome to explore the life and achievements of the sculptor, painter, architect, and poet, Michelangelo Buonarroti. In his works we see the dignity of humanity and its fall, the emergence of the individual and the dangers of individualism, and a fierce struggle to harmonize beauty with goodness and truth. Yet for all the conflict and tension in his work, Michelangelo left us with exquisite images of how God's grace can transform human experience. In Image's twentieth anniversary year, we'll return to Italy to explore how Michelangelo's incarnational vision can inform our own efforts to continue bringing about cultural transformation in our time. Our week together in Italy will begin with a couple days in Rome, where we will visit the Vatican and other sites associated with Michelangelo. The remainder of the week will be spent in Florence, where we will visit the great churches and museums featuring the artist and enjoy exquisite meals at restaurants in the city and the surrounding area. If you're interested, visit the Florence Seminar page or contact Julie Mullins here to request a PDF or hard copy of the brochure.
Subscribe to Image in Print and Get More Art, Fiction, Poetry, Essays, Interviews, and Every Good Thing
If you like reading about great new art and writing inspired by faith in ImageUpdate, and you're ready to get down to reading and seeing the stuff itself, it's time to subscribe to Image. Each quarter our editors comb the world of art and letters to bring you our favorite new work--work that respects transcendent mystery as well as the gritty truth of the material world that bears the divine imprint. A one-year subscription gets you four beautifully produced issues delivered right to your door. Ninety percent of the journal's content is not available on our website, but only through what we call "the sacrament of print." Click here to get the magazine Terry Tempest Williams calls "evocative and inspiring" and Bret Lott calls "the most meaningful literary journal being produced today."
ImageUpdatePublisher: Gregory Wolfe
Managing Editor: Beth Bevis
Layout: Anna Johnson
Contributors: Mary Kenagy Mitchell, Julie Mullins, Benjamin Olsen, and Gregory Wolfe
ImageUpdate is the biweekly e-mail newsletter from Image, a quarterly print journal that explores the relationship between Judeo-Christian faith and art through contemporary fiction, poetry, painting, sculpture, architecture, film, music, and dance. Each issue also features interviews, memoirs, essays, and reviews.
ImageUpdate brings you news about books, CDs, organizations, websites, conferences, exhibitions, and tours--all of which inhabit the intersection between faith and imagination. ImageUpdate will also notify you whenever a new issue of Image is printed, an Image event is upcoming, or new content is posted to our website.
Copyright © 2009 Center for Religious Humanism. All rights reserved.