Issue #243 | June 6, 2012
Elizabeth Tarver's subject is all that is noble and ridiculous about the modern south—in particular, her longtime home of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast. In her short fiction, she tweaks the absurdity of pride, the pressure of convention, and the small-mindedness of insular places—but always with deep sympathy and imagination for the emotional lives of the people who live there. She reserves a special love and attention for the misfits and oddballs, those who find they don't quite belong but can't quite escape. In the tradition of Faulkner and Tennessee Williams, she writes about a hothouse world whose inward-looking communities are at once stifling, interfering, callous, courteous, hypocritical, long-remembering, loyal, and, when occasion calls, profoundly humane. Always she turns the coin to let us see both sides. Her fiction goes beyond mere local color to moral and emotional questions that are universal. She doesn't for a moment allow us to believe that we're more sophisticated or clear-sighted than the people she writes about just because we happen to read literary magazines. After all, it's been said that the American South is like the rest of the United States, only more so. Her writing can be lyric and heart-rending, but the dominant mode is comedy: her characters, and her prose style itself, are infused with a spirit that refuses despair, even at the bleakest moments, and keeps laughing in the face of defeat.
We are pleased to award IMAGE's 2012-13 Milton Postgraduate Fellowship in writing to Kelly Foster. Kelly hails from Jackson, Mississippi. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Belhaven College in 1999 and her Master of Arts degree in English in 2001. Since graduating with her MFA in Creative Writing from Seattle Pacific University in 2007, she has been an instructor at St. Andrew's Episcopal School, teaching world mythology and American literature courses. Kelly is also a regular contributor to IMAGE's blog Good Letters. She is grateful for the opportunity to join the community of readers and writers at IMAGE and Seattle Pacific University. As the 2012-13 Milton Fellow, she will work to complete a collection of personal essays exploring "landscapes of grace and redemption." Kelly's nonfiction can be found online at Good Letters. The Milton Postgraduate Fellowship offers new writers of Christian commitment the opportunity to complete their first book-length manuscript of fiction, poetry, or creative nonfiction. The fellowship is part of IMAGE's work to foster emerging writers seeking to animate the Christian imagination, foster intellectual integrity, and explore the human condition with honesty and compassion. During their time in Seattle, fellows will have a rich experience of literary and spiritual community; they will interact with the editorial staff of IMAGE and the English faculty at Seattle Pacific University, participate in a writer's workshop, and enjoy the lively literary scene in the beautiful Pacific Northwest.
For more about the Milton Fellowship, click here.
We've made it abundantly clear over the years that Flannery O'Connor is one of the patron saints of IMAGE, but we've also looked to another twentieth-century Southern writer for inspiration: Walker Percy. If O'Connor renders a timeless world of rural and small town Southerners, Percy presents us with a clearly postmodern world—the "New South" of cities, suburbs, malls, increasingly indistinguishable from the rest of North America. Now, it would hardly be true to say that Percy's been forgotten—two major biographies of him have been published and his books continue to sell well. But we are convinced he should be even more widely read. So we're delighted to announce that there is now a first-rate documentary film to serve as an introduction to Percy's life and work. Directed, written, and produced by Win Riley, this film, which screened at various film festivals and was shown on PBS, has been released on DVD. A combination of interviews, archival footage (including rarely seen interviews with Percy), and scenes of the places he lived and depicted in his fiction make for a seamless, engrossing narrative. The experts consulted are extremely well chosen, and include the Pulitzer Prize-winning writer and psychiatrist Robert Coles, novelist Richard Ford (who has long cited Percy's Moviegoer as his inspiration for becoming a writer), the late historian and novelist Shelby Foote, Paul Elie (author of The Life You Save May Be Your Own), and biographer Walter Isaacson (whose most recent book was about Steve Jobs). Some of the most absorbing material in the film covers Percy's childhood, which was tragically scarred by his father's suicide and his mother's death in a car crash. But Percy's interest in ideas—from existentialism to semiotics to the Catholic faith that he converted to as a young man—is also presented in a clear, accessible manner. Above all, Percy's humor and wry take on the postmodern world are evident throughout. This documentary is not only great for personal viewing but would be an asset at any school or university where Percy's work is taught.
"A writer is someone for whom writing is more difficult than other people," says Thomas Mann, quoted in the first chapter of this pocket-size volume. Considering the outsized number of writing advice books in the world, one must conclude this is true. But Moore's latest contribution to the genre proves itself a worthy companion, whether you're a published author or whether you've just begun to call yourself a writer. Moore, author of the National Book Prize-winning memoir Between Panic and Desire, offers fifty-nine short, gemlike reflections on quotes from writers like Annie Dillard, Ray Bradbury, James Fenton, and Anton Chekhov that illuminate particular facets of the creative process. The book's four sections, informed by Moore's Buddhist practice, focus on "The Writer's Mind" (creativity), "Desk" (doing the daily work), "Vision" (how to engage with the work), and "Life" (identifying yourself as a writer). "There is something fresh and undeniably appealing about these bite-sized morsels, which expand the writer's experience to a broader, human one," says The Writer Magazine, and we agree. The quotes provide a jumping-off point, but Moore's open, conversational commentary is what makes this little volume really stand out. His passion for encouraging creativity in others is clear: "So give yourself permission to write that lousy first draft, or let that first sentence 'be as stupid as it wishes.' Don't fall for the illusion." If you've ever wished you had a desk-side writing coach, Moore's The Mindful Writer coaches with a convincing and eloquent voice, even if it can't reach out to give you a pat on the back.
Do something for your writing today, and order The Mindful Writer here.
It's not often that we recommend works of theology to our IMAGEUpdate readers, but in the case of Icons and the Name of God, we are excited to make an exception. Appearing in English for the first time (thanks to the work of esteemed Russian translator Boris Jakim), these two essays by Sergius Bulgakov deserve some spotlight. Bulgakov (1871-1944) is perhaps the twentieth century's most understudied and underappreciated Christian Orthodox theologian. A beloved priest, philosopher, economist, and prolific writer, Bulgakov spent his life engaging the patristic tradition critically and appreciatively, working toward an understanding of tradition with a contemporary sensibility. This is what makes Bulgakov's theology so valuable today: it chews on old questions for the modern person of faith. In these particular essays, Bulgakov considers two topics, which you may have guessed from the title: iconography and the name of God. As Boris Jakim writes in his introductory note, "Divine energy radiates from the icon of Christ, just as it does from the Divine Name Jesus. The icon is not just a picture, and the Name of God is not just a word: they are modes in which this Divine energy radiates into us." Here Bulgakov delves into the theological underpinnings of the veneration of icons and the glorification of God's name. His goal throughout the book is not to simply define these things, but ascertain how they are possible; he does not offer a description of an icon, but an exploration of its action. If this sort of discussion piques your interest but you're conjuring images of sinkholes when you think about reading a deceased Orthodox theologian's life work, worry not. As Richard Pevear from the American University of Paris writes, "Bulgakov's full and penetrating thought...is more striking for the brevity of its expression." Bulgakov's study is thorough but inviting, dense but not baroque. His is a name that will last for many more generations of Christians; we should be grateful for it.
Check out Bulgakov's work today.
Who Do You Say That I Am? at Faith in Art Gallery
From June 9-29, First Presbyterian Church in Beacon, New York, will be holding a debut art exhibition in their new Faith in Art Gallery. Who Do You Say That I Am?—Discovering Images of God-with-Us in the Gospel of Luke is a showcase of seventeen artists from diverse backgrounds who have been inspired, challenged, and disturbed by a serious encounter with the Gospel of Luke facilitated by Reverend Ben Larson-Wolbrink. The Faith in Art Gallery was created to facilitate conversation and expression at the intersection of faith and the arts, with the creative community of Beacon providing fertile soil for this experiment. The public is invited to an opening reception on Saturday, June 9, from 4-6pm, including live music and refreshments. The exhibition may be viewed on Saturday and Sunday afternoons from 1-5pm through July 29th. Admission is free. For more information, click here.
Writing Journey, Sacred Journey: A Retreat
Join Elizabeth Jarrett Andrew for a week-long retreat (July 9-14) at the Madeline Island School of the Arts in La Pointe, Wisconsin. Spend a week exploring how writing well can become a spiritual commitment—to uncovering and witnessing the truth (be it in fiction, creative nonfiction, or poetry), to opening your heart to the reader, and to a creative engagement with the larger world. The practice of writing gives people a structure for self-discovery and increased awareness. Robert Frost said, "No surprise for the writer, no surprise for the reader." With the leisure to write and reflect on a beautiful island, the group will together expand their potential for surprise. Click here for more information.
The Creative Church Conferences: Embracing the Arts in Your Church
The Creative Church Conferences (June 15-17 in Indianapolis and July 13-15 in Boise) are forums for ideas and practices that can take churches and artists to new levels of glorifying God through the arts. These conferences will offer inspiration for churches and artists at all levels, whether you have a flourishing arts ministry or are looking to spark the arts in your church for the first time. Both individual artists and creative teams will discover inspiration for projects, community-building, character and creative development, and more. You'll find your creative "tribe." Pastors and leaders will discover how to release the godly creativity inherent in everyone in your congregation, how to start and maintain arts ministry, how to disciple and lead artists, and how to transform the church into a place that shares God's love in uniquely creative ways. Attendees can share during panel discussions and open forums. At the Indianapolis conference, the artists will design two Sunday services to conclude the weekend. In Boise, artists will join in arts-oriented services. Speakers include Rory Noland (The Heart of the Artist), J. Scott McElroy (Finding Divine Inspiration, New Renaissance Arts Movement), Jessie Nilo (VineArts Boise), Joe Boyd (filmmaker, actor, and pastor), Beth Booram (Awaken Your Senses), Theresa Dedmon (author, arts leader), Manuel Luz (Imagine That), Dave Blakeslee (potter and pastor), and Cecilia Brie Tschoepe, (arts pastor). Each conference is $75. Click here for more information.
ImageNews -- The Scoop on Our Programs
Glen East and West 2012 Registration Now Open!
It’s already here: Registration for the 2012 Glen Workshops! East at Mt. Holyoke College in South Hadley, MA (June 10-17, 2012); West in Santa Fe, NM (July 29-August 5, 2012). The Glen Workshop, a weeklong event combining the best elements of a workshop, an arts festival, and a symposium, has been a cornerstone of the IMAGE community for many years now, where participants practice and strengthen their craft and vision. In 2011 we celebrated the first-ever Glen East, and next year our faculty lineup is even better than ever: Glen East features classes with songwriters The Welcome Wagon, playwright Arlene Hutton, mixed media artist Barry Krammes, poet Gregory Orr, novelist Erin McGraw, as well as two nonfiction classes (with Lauren Winner and Scott Russell Sanders), Frederica Mathewes-Green with a seminar on icons, and Kathleen Norris presiding as chaplain. Glen West boasts the return of poets Robert Cording and Betsy Sholl, fiction writer Bret Lott, painter Kim Alexander, songwriters Over the Rhine, illustrator Barry Moser, and welcomes new faculty: photographer Michael Wilson, spiritual writer Susanne Antonetta, and director/screenwriter Scott Derrickson with a film seminar. This year's theme for both events is "The Generations in Our Bones: Art as Tradition": Does belonging to the tradition of religious faith change the way we respond to our literary and artistic influences? Is it possible to balance strength with humility, to develop our own voices while still engaging deeply with the great traditions that have equipped and formed us? Please note that class sizes are limited, and a couple are already more than half full: don't wait too long to register!
Find class descriptions, videos, and registration information here.
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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" (and recently, through a dazzling digital edition from Zinio). 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: Tyler McCabe
Layout: David Rither
Contributors: Anna Johnson, Tyler McCabe, Mary Kenagy Mitchell, Taylor 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.
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