Writing in the Dark,, an apt metaphor for anyone who has ever tried to tap out words on a  backlit screen.  This book, a collection of essays gathered by Max van Manen, shows how "different kinds of human experience may be explored, the methods for investigating phenomena contributing to human experience…the process of inquiry, reflection and writing…a valuable and rich resource".   That is to say, writing is an attempt to reflect what goes on inside us.  Inside us is where "story" occurs.Scott Popjes maintains a busy schedule, writing, producing and editing major theatrical trailers, promos and EPK's and developing and producing TV series and films, such as "The Remarkably 20th Century" and "The Long Ride Home".  Born and raised in suburban New Jersey, this everyman director/editor loves making movies.Ernest Hemingway - The man who ran with the bulls.  His literary sparseness and compression, well-worn and well-earned, captured the attention of critics and public in a volatile age.  In 1952, he received the Pulitzer for The Old Man and the Sea.   In 1954, he received the Nobel Prize for his "powerful style-making mastery of the modern art of narration."  He wrote from life.  Until his life subdued and rescued him.Will Shakespeare - Aka "The bard".  Arguably the best English writer to ever glide pen to page, populist hero as well as aristocratic raconteur, though we wish he had used all women instead of all men to populate his plays.  (Not a prejudice, just a fact.)   His sonnets remain divine.  Rare is the writer who can scribble successfully in one genre, let alone two.  Some postulate this poet and playwright was, in fact, more than one man…or woman.  What would he have done with film, we wonder?Though he produced fewer than 40 paintings, Dutch painter Jan Vermeer is one of the most respected artists of the European tradition. He is known for his serene, luminous interiors populated by one or two figures. Vermeer grew up in Delft, Holland, joined the painters' guild in 1653, and worked as an art dealer to support his wife and 11 children.  In 1672, war with France ruined Holland’s economy and Vermeer's business failed.  Soon after, he died of a stroke at age 42, leaving his family bankrupt.  Vermeer's paintings were largely forgotten for nearly 200 years, until 1858 when a French critic began to write admiringly about his work.  Interest in Vermeer surged again recently with his work exhibited at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.  Contemporary writers have also been inspired by him, including Tracy Chevalier whose novel Girl with a Pearl Earring imagines the life of the girl in Vermeer's painting of the same name. L.Ron Hubbard - Whatever you may think of his other worldly beliefs, the full body of L. Ron Hubbard's work includes more than 5,000 writings and 3,000 tape-recorded lectures, spanning five, highly productive decades.  A humanitarian and adventurer, he  believes, "There are only two tests of a life well lived: Did one do as one intended? And were people glad one lived?"  We add, "And can one write about it, anyhow?"Johannes Vermeer's "Lady Writing a Letter with Her Maid" records a prior chivalrous age where class decorum reigned.  (Oh, well, you can't have everything.)   One of the most talented painters in the Dutch Golden Age, that's the 1600's, Vermeer's work was forgotten for centuries.  The most brilliant artists of any century are probably never discovered, their paintings hidden till ruin, their pages dropping to dust in unfound attics.  We find this oddly comforting.  No martyr of time, this particular masterpiece hangs in the National Gallery of Ireland.  Definitely worth a gaze.Jules Verne - Ode to childhood and the player within us.  Verne was born, aptly, in Nates, France in 1828.  He promptly ran off to become cabin boy on a merchant ship but was caught and sent back to his parents.  Thus constrained, his imagination wandered.  He wrote story after story, became very rich, bought a yacht and resumed his initial intent - to sail around the world.  Or Europe anyhow.   Our favorite remains Twenty Thousand Leagues.
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The Writers Place
February 2006 - January 2007
Poetry Review

1st Place Winner 2nd Place Winner
3rd Place Winner Honorable Mention

First Place Winner
Linda L. Johnson
Author Bio:

I was born in Missouri in 1943. My first conscious goal was to run an orphanage wearing a tailored gray suit. By 1976 I had earned a Ph.D. in Hispanic Languages and Literatures at UCLA. Besides my dissertation, I've published articles in scholarly journals on Cervantes's La Galatea and on 19 th century Spanish poet, Gustavo Adolfo Becquer. Instead of becoming a university professor, however, I chose to teach younger students. By the mid-80's I began my stint as an Advanced English teacher to middle- and upper-grade elementary students at the same private school where I had already been teaching Spanish. For students of this age, English involves both grammar and writing. It soon became clear to me that writing was the passion I had to share. In the wee hours, I do my personal writing, most often poetry. I entered a Potato Hill contest a few years ago, and that poem, Choreography of a Dream was selected as one of the top five in the nation. Mostly I write because, increasingly, I feel the need to leave tracks.


“Thin Ice”
To Sylvia

You turn toward white
careening to
the final tumble
slip-sliding away
on unforgiving ice.
And what am I except your mirror?
So my balance starts to go,
and falling, I begin a slide
across the still, cold flats,
the point of no return.

Ice, a well-known
like any fun-house mirror,
us into clinging strangers.

But you and I never really mastered skating.
First we wobbled, then we skidded
hand in hand toward
the sudden inside grab,
the exile to fragile white fields
where we stand, still
unhinged and waiting for the sound
of those first soul-wrenching cracks in
the treacherous white.


Second Place Winner
Joseph P. Hart
Author Bio:

Joseph Hart is a playwright and theater director at Rutgers University . For many years has was a student of Joseph Campbell and a member of the Jung Foundation. His theater troupe of myth and folklore has toured internationally and won the Fringe First award at the Edinburgh Festival. His poetry has been published in several national journals, and in 2007, his work was given First Honors at the invitation-only "Writers in Paradise" National Writers Conference in St. Petersburg , Florida .

White Hole

The elderly poet,
famous for prizes and privacy,
walked quickly and quietly into the bookstore
and straight to the shelf of New Titles.
He looked first to his left,
then to his right,
and sure he hadn't been recognized,
took down a heavy anthology.
The pages fell open on his very chapter.
There was his name
and his picture too -
the one his late wife had taken,
and he had made the publisher use,
despite its being decades too young.
There was the blurb
of his bio and titles
written by his agent's inter.
And there, of course,
were six of his poems.
Two he could recite by heart
from God-knows-how-many readings,
and one he thought he he'd lost years ago,
and insisted it to be included.
For the other three
he still had doubts
about their selection and order.
He followed each line of verse with his finger,
silently mouthing the words.
But as he read
he found himself
glancing up the page at his name
and at the parentheses beneath it.
It gave a year, a dash, and a space
(like a little white hole he thought)
waiting to be filled.
Again and again it drew his attention,
until it fixed both his finger and eye.
Then, as he stared,
it seemed to him
that his bio blurb began to melt,
dissolving into a puddle of ink.
And, pulled by some strange gravity,
it flowed up the page and poured itself
into the little white hole.
His picture was next,
crumbling like a sheet of spring ice,
and making a creek of colored water
tumbling into the hole.
(The little white hole seemed to be growing.)
His poems began to yield to its pull,
till line by line
like an anchor chain with its hawser cut,
they rattled into the bottomless thing.
(And still the white hole grew larger and stronger.)
His hat was next, and then his cane.
His tie and shirt -
his pants and shoes.
At the loss of his socks
he was nearly upended.
His left hand clutched
at the band of his shorts,
while his right hand
tried to close the book.
But the strain was too much
for the cheap cotton cloth.
With a rip they flew off
and into the hole.
All the bookstore -
customers, clerks -
everybody was looking at him.
The elderly poet,
so famous for prizing his privacy,
was public now as never before.
He knew
there was only one place to hide.
One snatch - in vain -
for his glasses,
and he gave his body to gravity.
He disappeared down the waiting hole.
The big gleaming book fell to the floor.
And the cover slammed shut behind him.


Third Place Winner
Edward L. Mendoza
Author Bio:

As a farmer, with roots in Mexico , via California , Ed Mendoza (Aztec-Mayan-Chicano) has now been living in the beautiful southern Arizona desert for thirty years. Ed has written articles for magazines and newspapers (mostly on sustainable agriculture and permaculture) and recently discovered that he had written over 100 poems, these poems are gifts to his children and grandchildren, and as of late he decided to see if they could be published for others to enjoy.


As the Peaches Come


he of grass and roots
planting seeds
mind set
and Maria she dances to his song
she cooks of love
and he stands to protect her
the land
and the deer falls
epasote y frijoles
and the warm humid nights
they come together
if for the last time
the flute plays
the cracked walls
and the stucco falls
water from a bucket
from the well
wiping sweat on her blouse
as the rains come
things grow
swarms of bugs
and she cries
a snake came and rattled
but slept in the afternoon
no more money
but the food is good
the stars before sunrise
twenty water birds
and to this evening
only a few mosquitoes


Honorable Mention
Diane Y. Uniman
Author Bio:

Diane Uniman, a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of The University of Pennsylvania, is a criminal appeals attorney and winner of ASCAP's national legal writing competition. Her screenplay, Pyramid Scheme , won best comedy at the Beverly Hills International Film Festival, First Runner Up for the "Golden Palm Award," best comedy at the Pocono Mountain Film Festival and First Runner Up Best Screenplay and Best Comedy at the Indie Gathering Film Festival, with nominations at The Boston, Queens, Gloria, Buffalo/Niagara, Beaufort, Barebones and Filmakers.com International Film Awards, as well as "Best Comedy Scene" at Action On Film Festival. Diane wrote the book and lyrics for the musical parody TINK! , music by Kevin Cotter, which won "Best Music in a Feature" at the Garden State International Film Festival and was nominated for The Beverly Hills, Buffalo/Niagara and Barebones International Film Festivals. Her play Fireworks was selected for a staged reading by the 2006 Legacy Playwrights' Festival at the Producer's Club, New York . Diane's poetry won the tri-state New Jersey Dramatists' award and an Honorable Mention in The Writers Place poetry competition. She has published poetry and articles in various journals, was featured at The Painted Bridge Poetry Festival and is published with Warner/Chappell Music with rock star Glen Burtnik or Styx . She is an opera singer and sang with New Jersey State Opera Chorus.


Bellini Lullaby


Good night my darling baby
Softly may you sleep
Let stars be little angels
To soothe your slumber deep
Let moonbeams be beside you
To guide you to daybreak
Let sunshine slip inside you
The moment that you wake.