November 1 Begins Poem-A-Day Writer’s Digest Challenge; Malpertuis Start of Halloween Movie-Fest

Yes, it’s that time of the year again (or, actually two times, see, e.g., April 1 below) when WRITER’S DIGEST Poetry Editor Robert Brewer offers a poetry prompt per day for a month for poets who care to use them.  April is the other month, to celebrate National Poetry Month, so today we celebrate Just A Little Over A Half Year Past National Poetry Month in the same manner — by writing lots of poems.  For me, I usually add a horror or sometimes science fiction theme to the prompt du jour, but that’s up to the writer.  One poet I know uses it for an excuse to try out new (to her) obscure forms.

Also Editor Brewer’s site often offers additional challenges, such as to send in a number of poems for a chapbook challenge, although in my case I prefer to send the better results out to various markets, which if successful generally get reported here (cf. October 26, 3, September 29, et al.).  But whatever the results, at worst it’s good practice.

For more information as well as the day’s prompt, press their blog site here.  Also on months other than April and November, the same url will get you a weekly prompt every Wednesday*.

So Halloween night the weather broke.  Following an unusually temperate week for the end of October, Friday was damp and gusty, with a cold intermittent rain in the evening (possibly to turn to snow according to the Weather Channel) when I ventured out to the IU Cinema.  Last Sunday I had seen THE HOURGLASS SANATORIUM, a Polish film about memory and time — “a visionary, artistic, poetic reflection on the nature of time and the irreversibility of death,” to quote from the Cinema’s brochure — while Halloween brought MALPE220px-MalpertuisRTUIS, combining, again from the brochure, “elements of fantasy, horror, and exploitation in a cinematic fever dream where nothing is what it seems . . . [v]eering between classicism, existentialism, and camp, the film is an often-overlooked work from [Harry] Kumel, master of the cinematic fantastique.”  This was the “director’s cut,” adding about twenty minutes of footage cut from the version originally shown at Cannes.  For horror fans, it might be added that this film followed the Flemish filmmaker’s DAUGHTERS OF DARKNESS, which had itself been successful enough to allow him to cast none other than Orson Welles in this one as the patriarchal, dying Uncle Cassavius, master of the labyrinthine mansion called Malpertuis and peopled by . . . well, that’s the fascination.  The sailor Jan who’s been kidnapped there and his sister Nancy; Lampernist with his fixation with light; Philaris, the artist at taxidermy; Alice/Alecto, the prettiest of three black-clad sisters; the enigmatic Euryale who Jan is in love with.  Or is any of what we see real?  Or some of it mythical?  Or all — or some — a dream as the ending quotation in the film might suggest, from Lewis Carroll:  “Life, what is it but a dream?”

But there’s another Carroll quotation too, from the opening credits behind which is a little girl’s voice reading from THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS:  “Somehow it seems to fill my head with ideas — only I don’t exactly know what they are!”  This can be said of both MALPERTUIS and THE HOURGLASS SANATORIUM, both of which function as openings into a series of rooms, of visions.  Both of which are beautifully filmed and worth seeing for what they are — whatever that may be.

In a Wonderland they lie,
Dreaming as the days go by,
Dreaming as the summers die;
Ever drifting down the stream —
Lingering in the golden gleam —
Life, what is it but a dream?


(*No relation to the resident cave cat, see post just below.)

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