Posts Tagged ‘Bloomington Writers Guild’

Yes it was, the Bloomington Writers Guild “Second Thursday Player’s Pub Spoken Word Series” (see October 9; October 13 2017, et al.) with a special early Halloween lineup to honor October.  How special?  Even the five open mike readers at the end chose at least some poems, etc. specifically for spookyness while featured musical guest Travis Puntarelli also went out of his way to play and sing numbers with, let us say, Gothic overtones.  Then of the headlined readers, the first one was . . . moi.  Or to read from the blurb, JAMES DORR is a short story writer and poet, working primarily in dark fantasy and horror with some forays into science fiction and mystery.  . . .  The story he’ll be reading tonight is called “River Red,” and appears in THE TEARS OF ISIS.  It is set on a far-future dying Earth, populated by various creatures including ghouls — eaters of the dead — and is in the same universe as his latest novel-in-stories, TOMBS:  A CHRONICLE OF LATTER-DAY TIMES OF EARTH, out from Elder Signs Press.  This was followed by another musical interlude, then by the main event, a dramatic reading by Writers Guild members of . . . well, to quote again from the blurb, DRACULA is a screenplay for a never-made film by the late, notorious Ken Russell, Britain’s cinematic sultan of excess and outrage whose films include TOMMY, ALTERED STATES, LAIR OF THE WHITE WORM, and GOTHIC.*  The script was written in the late 1970s and published in 2009.  The film came close to being made only to be abandoned when Universal put its Frank Langella headlined version of DRACULA into production.  Russell’s script, however, allegedly formed the impetus for Francis Ford Coppola’s 1992 version, whose screenwriter James V. Hart was directly involved in the inception of Russell’s interpretation.

In a departure from usual practice, the evening ended shortly after 8 as opposed to a more normal 9 p.m., to allow for an additional band Players Pub had scheduled for the night.  This specifically cut down the amount of time set aside for the play, allowing for only two or three scenes, but enough to give an idea of its flavor, set in the 1920s, that of a vampire motivated by a love of music and on a quest to confer immortality on dying artists.  However, the Writers Guild also announced plans to present the play in its entirety at some time in 2019.
.

*Re. GOTHIC, cf. October 5, September 30.  But readers may recall having met Mr. Russell before as creator of THE FALL OF THE LOUSE OF USHER (July 17 2015, “E. A. Poe Meets Alice in Wonderland”), described as a buggy interpretation “for the 21st century” of not just Poe’s “House” (which possibly more deflates than falls at the end of the picture) but almost everything else Poesque beginning with a wink of the eye to “The Tell-Tale Heart.”

Advertisements

Which is to say more October fun is approaching, this from the Writers Guild again in just two days from now, Thursday evening, October 11 at Bloomington’s Players Pub.  Or, let’s let Chair Tony Brewer say it again.  THU OCT 11:  switching gears from Frankenstein to Dracula . . . the Writers Guild at Bloomington presents a staged reading of excerpts from Ken Russell’s unproduced screenplay DRACULA, plus horror writings by James Dorr and music by Travis Puntarelli.  Booo!  And what will I read?  Well, maybe that should be a surprise (though I wouldn’t be all that shocked if I hadn’t mentioned it somewhere elsewhere — it’s sort of a “go to” for me for occasions of this sort).

For now anyway just know you have been warned.

So it’s over now, the Monday after.  Thanks have been Facebooked to the participants, of which I’m one.  But it ended last evening with a flurry, a reading performance (with sound effects) of a radio play version of FRANKENSTEIN, written and directed by Russell McGee (cf. September 30) and produced by Writers Guild Chair Tony Brewer, for which to quote the playbill, [t]his faithful adaptation presents the creature as an intelligent being that has suffered the injustice of mankind.  In celebration of the two hundredth anniversary of Shelley’s creation, we felt it was important to emphasize Shelley’s text and allow the creature to speak for itself, in Shelley’s own words.  And then one extra twist, to help de-emphasize the hulking, inarticulate monster we may have met in the movies, [t]o that end, we have cast a female actor as the creature to help lift Shelley’s own voice from the text.

It was interesting, the novel itself depicting the “monster” as one that suffers rejection when it really wants companionship with, if friendships with normal humans are too much, at least a creature like itself.  It teaches itself to speak and to read, including such books as Milton’s PARADISE LOST.  But in the end, eight-feet tall and misshapen, it is still driven away, ultimately seeking instead revenge against its creator.  And, if you missed it Sunday, all is not lost.  From the Facebook “thank yous” (including, I might [*ahem*] add, “much gratitude to our panelists and FrankenExperts Monique Morgan, Adam Henze, Joan Hawkins, Rebecca Baumann, and James Dorr”):  The performance will be broadcast on cable access and WFHB, and available online before long, so if you missed the performance you’ll get a chance to see/hear it.

Making buttons, making monsters on Barbie Doll bodies, these were among the attractions in the “Crafts and Activities” room Saturday.  Also scheduled for all day Saturday, and maybe part of the night too, was a full read-through of the novel’s text, part of FrankenFest as well as the Indiana State Library’s One State/One Story program.  This was a team reading, with people signing for 15-minute time slots, and as it happened was of the 1831 text, one available in a large print edition which was a great help in a not always that brightly lit Monroe County Library auditorium.  I was scheduled myself for 1 p.m. to 1:15 but, noting not as many had signed up as had been hoped, also took over an extra slot just after 3.  Be that as it may, Writers Guild Chair Tony Brewer was talking about continuing for hours after the Library’s normal Saturday closing time (which means, as I write this, they might be just finishing up about now), with hopefully extra readers arriving with more late-evening fortitude than me.

Two other items, which also caused pauses in the reading as readers wanted to be at them too, began with a 2 p.m. “FrankenSlam Poetry Presentation” with poems having to do with the novel itself as well as ancillary topics recited by Adam Henze.  That took us to 3 and my volunteer “extra” in the reading room, and then at 4 p.m. IU English Department assistant professor Monique Morgan (who we met two posts below on the FrankenPanel, see October 4) spoke on “The Science and the Fiction in Mary Shelley’s FRANKENSTEIN, on scientific thought in the early 19th century and the influrence on the novel of Erasmus Darwin, Luigi Galvani, and Humphry Davy, and other intellectual threads which added to the novel’s texture.

Thursday followed Wednesday’s FrankenPanel (see just below) with a day of film at the County Library auditorium, FRANKENSTEIN (the “original” one, with Boris Karloff), YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN, and GOTHIC, of which (other obligations intervening) I was able to see most of the first.  Well, not to worry, I have the others on DVD.  But also competing with the third was an evening lecture at Indiana University’s Lilly Library by Leslie S. Klinger, who just last year published THE NEW ANNOTATED FRANKENSTEIN*, on “The Teenager Who Became Immortal:  Mary Shelley and Frankenstein.”

So, having met Mr. Kilinger in the past, I took the opportunity to say “Hi” (he was very impressed by the Lilly Library’s FRANKENSTEIN exhibit of books before and after/influencing and influenced by/read by Frankenstein in the novel or by his creation), and enjoyed an hour of discussion of Mary Shelly’s life and companions; the genesis of FRANKENSTEIN with Byron’s challenge to Percy Shelley, not-yet-married Mary Godwin, John Polidori, and others at the Villa Diodati (the subject as well of the movie GOTHIC); the reflection of Mary Shelley’s own life in the novel with its several themes (and how, in Klinger’s opinion, a major one shifted from that of Victor as an irresponsible young man to him more as, with the monster, a victim of fate in the 1831 edition); how most movie translations concentrate more on a parallel theme that one must be careful of consequences of actions; FRANKENSTEIN (and other influences) in popular culture. . . .

Let it be said it was a full evening.

.
*Editor of THE NEW ANNOTATED DRACULA, THE NEW ANNOTATED SHERLOCK HOLMES, and others as well, Klinger also chaired the 2012 Horror Writers Association/Bram Stoker Estate jury, of which I was a member, that selected Richard Matheson’s I AM LEGEND as the most important vampire novel in the 100 years since Stoker’s death (cf. June 19 2013; April 3, April 2 2012, et al.)

The announcement was flattering:

FrankenFest

October 3–7, 2018
Celebrate the 200th anniversary of Mary Shelley’s classic novel, Frankenstein!

FrankenPanel

Noted horror and sci-fi author, James Dorr, The Lilly Library’s Franken-expert, Rebecca Baumann, and IU professor Monique Morgan talk about this classic novel. Moderated by Joan Hawkins, Indiana University professor of horror and avant-garde cinema.

Adults and age 12 & up
6–7:30 PM
Wednesday, October 3
Meeting Room 1B, first floor

“Noted author” one wishes!  But more can be said of the other two, Rebecca Baumann being head of public services at Lilly Library, the Indiana University rare books archive, who among other things explained why the original printing of FRANKENSTEIN was in three volumes (a common practice of the day when, books being a bit of a luxury, many read them through “circulating libraries”) and why a print run of 500 copies implied a much larger readership then than it would today; and Monique Morgan, associate professor of English with a specialty in Victorian literature who, referencing the part in Volume 3 where Victor Frankenstein first creates but then has second thoughts and destroys the female he was building to be the monster’s companion, discussed male/female relations in the early 19th century and Mary Shelly’s place in the mix.

Moderator Joan Hawkins had led off, introducing the three of us plus citing chapter 4 in volume 1 when the monster first comes alive and Frankenstein’s reaction to it as not a single action but a sort of process, while I followed her by quoting from the preceding chapter the method Frankenstein had used in studying the process of moving from life to death to lead to, through a kind of reverse engineering, “discovering the cause and generation of life.”  But I also mentioned the 1930s films FRANKENSTEIN and THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN and the “launching the kites” scene in the latter, quoting a passage in chapter 2 describing a tree destroyed by lightning and then 15-year-old Frankenstein’s father explaining electricity (wherein “he made also a kite, with a wire and string, which drew down that fluid from the clouds”) which Shelly later rewrote in the 1831 edition, changing the father to “a man of great research in natural philosophy” who “entered on the explanation of a theory which he had formed on the subject of electricity and galvanism” — “galvanism” being a key hint (assisted by a passage in her introduction about how listening to a discussion of galvanism led to her dream that inspired the novel) that the “cause and generation of life” would most likely have something to do with electricity, as indeed is the case in the movies.

This all took up a bit less than half the session, which then opened up to audience questions, expanding on the sexual mores of Shelley’s time; the transformation of the well educated, if self taught, well-spoken monster of the book to the lurching, grunting hulk of the movies (Boris Karloff actually does move with some grace, it was pointed out, and as he gains a few lines in THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN it also shows him in the process of learning); Victor Frankenstein as flawed creator becoming himself a monster in his own way; and modern science fiction monsters (or possible monsters) in robots and androids, with actual fears of industrial robots displacing humans plus such cutting-edge concepts as artificial intelligence.

With a busy week coming up, today’s “Last Sunday Poetry Reading and Open Mic” (cf. August 26, et al.), co-sponsored by the Bloomington Writers Guild and the Monroe County Convention Center, offered featured readings by relative newcomer Breon Rochelle Tyler (see May 29 2017) who read a poem about being free, introducing her own work on freedom, mothers, art, and creation; followed by many-time participant Maria Hamilton Abegunde (August 27, April 1, et al.) with several works in progress, including two inspired by current events, and ending with three selections from her LEARNING TO EAT THE DEAD.  In the audience readings afterward, my part consisted of three more poems from VAMPS (A RETROSPECTIVE), the second of the three recordings done for fall broadcast on WFIU’s “The Poets Weave” (see August 26, et al.), “Why She Started Writing Poetry,” “California Vamp,” and “Chagrin du Vampire.”

Of busy weeks, though, next Sunday’s normally scheduled prose readings will not be held due to FRANKENFEST (cf. August 5), the 200th Anniversary celebration of the first publication of Mary Shelley’s novel FRANKENSTEIN, co-sponsored by the Monroe County Library and the Writers Guild at Bloomington, and made possible by a grant from Indiana Humanities with additional funding from the IU Arts and Humanities Council.  Running October 3 through 7, events will include a Wednesday evening FrankenPanel, of which I will be a participant; FrankenFilms (FRANKENSTEIN, YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN, and GOTHIC) on Thursday, October 4; a FRANKENSTEIN Read-a-Thon among other activities on Saturday the 6th; and FrankenTheatre on Sunday, a live radio theater adaptation of FRANKENSTEIN by Russell McGee, who also directs, presenting the creature as an intelligent being who suffered the injustice of mankind.  All events will be held in the Monroe County Public Library.

Well, it was actually just one of many readings on the Spoken Word Stage, and that just one facet of Bloomington’s annual Labor Day weekend 4th Street Festival of the Arts and Crafts (cf. August 27; September 23 2017, et al.), but one does what one does.  And mine was the only one touted as “horror fiction,” or as one person said afterward, welcome “chilling” on a hot, humid, hazy (with one smidge of light rain about 2 p.m., a safe hour and a half before show time for me, and anyway the readings were under a tent) late summer day.  Preceding me were two half hours of fiction, “audio theatre”, and more poets and theatre; just after a “poetry band” called SHAKESPEARE’S MONKEY (who we’ve met before, see March 10 2017, et al.), more poets, and a storyteller.  And that’s just today, with more poets and fiction, storytelling, and audio theatre scheduled for Sunday.

My reading featured two stories from my 2013 collection THE TEARS OF ISIS (press its picture in the center column for more information, reviews, and/or ordering), with the curtain raiser “Bones, Bones, The Musical Fruit,” a dystopian future (of sorts) fairytale about music and the making of performers’ instruments.  Then finishing off was “River Red,” a far-future variant of “Snow White” — with ghouls — preceded by reading part of the back cover blurb for TOMBS:  A CHRONICLE OF LATTER-DAY TIMES OF EARTH, in which universe this story is set.

The audience wasn’t super large, but I kept everyone who showed up from the start (some of whom may have looked a bit nervous before it was over), and it was fun.  So, after, I treated myself to a bowl of “drunken” noodles from the Thai restaurant across Dunn Street from us, that had a stand set up at the corner.

So, okay, cutting to the chase I’m scheduled for Saturday afternoon at 3:30 p.m for a half hour (well, 25 minutes anyway — cf. just below, August 26) reading, probably of stories from THE TEARS OF ISIS.  But here is the entire two-day schedule from the horse’s mouth, as it were, of readers and performers, poets and prose writers, some known to us from before, some unknown.  So if in the area this coming weekend do plan to stop by — isisnewit’s the FOURTH STREET ARTS FESTIVAL, with artists’ booths galore, but also the Writers Guild’s Spoken Word Stage on Dunn Street, just south of 4th.  While I, in the meantime, practice timed reads while making my final story selections.  (Hint: it’ll probably be a short curtain raiser followed by “River Red,” which I’d read once before a few years back and had gone over well then, set in the TOMBS: A CHRONICLE OF LATTER-DAY TIMES OF EARTH universe although actually printed in TEARS.  Two birds with one stone, eh?)

So read, plan, enjoy:

When:
September 1, 2018 @ 10:00 am – September 2, 2018 @ 6:00 pm

Spoken Word Stage at 4th Street Arts Festival

Presented by the Writers Guild at Bloomington
Supported in part by the Bloomington Arts Commission

Labor Day Weekend
Saturday, September 1: 10am – 6pm
Sunday, September 2: 10am – 5pm
Intersection of Dunn and Fourth Streets
Fourth Street Festival of the Arts and Crafts
http://www.4thstreet.org

Save the Date!

Now in its 8th year, the Spoken Word Stage at the 4th Street Arts Festival is one of the largest literary performance events in the Midwest, featuring storytelling, poetry, fiction, non-fiction, live radio theatre, and other unique collaborations.

And of course, the ever-popular Poetry on Demand table will be staffed with a fleet of poets armed with typewriters ready to deliver!

SCHEDULE SUBJECT TO CHANGE!
CHECK BACK FOR UPDATES!

SATURDAY SEP 1
10:30 . 5 Women Poets (poetry)
11:00 . Patsy Rahn (poetry)
11:30 . Merry MAC Players (theatre)
12:30 . Shana Ritter (poetry)
1:00 . Maria Hamilton Abegunde (poetry)
1:30 . Fig Tree Fellowship Radio Players (audio theatre)
2:30 . Mary Pat Lynch (fiction)
3:00 . Juliana Ramos Crespo (fiction)
3:30 . James Dorr (horror fiction)
4:00 . Shakespeare’s Monkey (poetry band)
4:30 . Erin Livingston (poetry)
5:00 . Butch D’Ambrosio (sonnets)
5:30 . Stephen Vincent Giles (storytelling)

SUNDAY SEP 2
10:00 . Eric Rensberger (poetry)
10:30 . New Leaf-New Life (poetry and fiction)
11:00 . Adam Henze (poetry)
11:30 . Monroe County Civic Theater
12:00 . Joan Hawkins (fiction)
12:30 . Lisa Kwong (poetry)
1:00 . Jasper Wirtshafter (poetry)
1:30 . Arbutus Cunningham (storytelling)
2:00 . Richard Hague (poetry)
2:30 . Cricket’s Bone Caravan (audio theatre)
3:30 . Michael Brockley (poetry)
4:00 . Jeffrey Pearson (poetry)
4:30 . Bloomington Storytellers Guild 

Well, it’s been rather longer for my attendance it would seem, but this fall’s edition of “Last Sunday Poetry Reading and Open Mic” (cf. September 24 2017, et al.), co-sponsored by the Bloomington Writers Guild and the Monroe County Convention Center, came back from its summer break this afternoon.  Featured were Lisa Kwong who we’ve met before (see July 17 2016, et al.) reading selections from a new chapbook MS-in-progress, and PDVNCH who we’ve also just met (see August 5) with work from several poetry books he’s had published.  After the break, when “Open Mic” time came I was third of five, reading the first of three four-minute sets I’d recorded for local radio station WFIU’s “The Poets Weave” (see August 8) from my VAMPS (A RETROSPECTIVE) collection, the poems themselves being “La Méduse,” “Vampire Thoughts,” “Daylight Savings,” and “Night Child.”

With the city’s “4th Street Arts Festival” coming up in just under a week plus “Frankenfest,” celebrating the 200th anniversary of Mary Shelley’s FRANKENSTEIN (cf. August 21, 5), coming up in October, this fall is shaping up as an especially busy one locally for the written and spoken arts.  To help keep on top of things, one may want to check out the Bloomington Writers Guild’s website (as well as these pages) by pressing here.




  • My Books

    (Click on image for more information)
  • Chapbooks

  • Poetry

  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

    Join 1,536 other followers