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 2010 – January 2011
Poetry Review
1st Place Winner 2nd Place Winner
3rd Place Winner 3rd Place Winner #2
Honorable Mention

First Place Winner
Marian Kaplun Shapiro

Author Bio:

Marian Kaplun Shapiro is the author of a professional book, Second Childhood (Norton, 1988), a poetry book, Players In The Dream, Dreamers In The Play (Plain View Press, 2007) and two chapbooks: Your Third Wish, (Finishing Line, 2007); and The End Of The World, Announced On Wednesday (Pudding House, 2007). As a Quaker and a psychologist, her poetry often addresses the embedded topics of peace and violence, often by addressing one within the context of the other. A resident of Lexington, she was named Senior Poet Laureate of Massachusetts in 2006, in 2008, and in 2010.
mkshapiro@rcn.com
“What’s True Is True”

What’s True Is True           

whether you like it or not     

whether I like it or not          

whether or not it is good       

for you                                                            

for me

                                                                for the world

(even if we knew, which              

we do not). Perhaps                  

someday it will be clear               

to us. Perhaps it will be clear        

to our grandchildren. Or no clearer

at all:                     how rabbit          

freezes, how hunter pauses, how      

arrow flies and rabbit falls.*                  

*James Hillman, The Force Of Character. New York, Ballentine Books, 1999, p. 172

 

Second Place Winner
James N. Barton

Laura A. Kennedy

Author Bio:

Jim Barton, of Huttig, Arkansas, has been published in over 125 journals and e-zines nationwide. He is the author of one full-length collection, For the Animals Who Missed the Ark (Plain View Press 2008), and two chapbooks, At the Bird Museum (Dancing Rabbit Press 2009) and Music (Finishing Line Press 2010). He has won over 250 awards for his poetry. He lives in the pine woods of south Arkansas with his wife and two of their seven children.

Jbob214@yahoo.com

Porch Swing

I’d always meant to hang it,
that old porch swing
that was so much a part of you.
Sunny afternoons sometimes
you’d sit, gently rocking
back and forth like a cornstalk
in the gentle breeze,
chains creaking their arc
through thick summer air.
I remember you’d share your swing,
sometimes with Mama,
sometimes with one of the grandkids,
but most often with your cat,
that great swollen orange moon of a friend,
always ready to touch and be touched,
to soothe like a smooth-running engine
purring and rippling beneath your hand.
For years after you died I kept that old swing,
storing it in closets,
shuffling it between outbuildings,
moving it three times before I realized,
too late, that it was slowly falling apart.
It would never agree to hold me,
to swing, to sway on a summer’s day.
At last, I hauled it away
to be burned on a pile of brush
on the land we were clearing off.
That was two years ago.
Tonight, I sit gazing at a faded picture
of you in that swing with your cat,
a smile on your face, and I think once again
I’ll go burn that old pile some day soon,
        but not just yet, not right now;
        outside, the moon has risen,
        swollen, low and orange.

 

Third Place Winner
Nancy A. Caldwell

John F. McMullen

Author Bio:

Nancy A. Caldwell practiced psychiatric nursing and clinical social work before becoming a writer. She obtained her B.A. in English at the University of Scranton and is taking graduate courses in creative writing at Binghamton University. Her fiction and poetry has appeared in the Tea House Review, Westward Quarterly, and Saraba Magazine. Several pieces have been accepted for publication in The Broadkill Review, a Journal of Literature and Barbaric YAWP.

nacaldwell@comcast.net

Those Flapping White Sheets

I remember those flapping white sheets in the sunshine,
folded across gray rope dotted with wooden clothespins.

This is how you bleach sheets further, you told me,
and never put blue jeans in the sun
unless they’re folded inside out.

You permed your hair with Lilt; it stunk up
the basement, its smell lingering long after you were finished.
Lilt curled the short blond hair that framed your square face,
that face with those blue eyes and dark mole on your cheek.

Your white cotton blouse, tucked
into pale blue shorts gathered at the waist,
was so crisp and clean, like those sheets.

You used your wide shoulders, thick hands and calves,
those muscular calves that you
looked so comfortable in,
to carry out your work, do the laundry, clean
floors and cook hot dinners,
and those bare feet of yours whose heels cracked
so deep that dirt dyed them to support your long days.

You drank iced Lipton with fresh lemon
and sugar that you clinked and swirled with a special spoon
in glasses with golden leaves and trim.

When the noon firehouse whistle blew, it told me to go home
for lunch and dinner.
It called me away
from exploring Pennsauken Creek’s banks,
with my brother, or away from playing
dress-up dolls with Robbie, in that army tent of hers,
with all those colorful scarves that we draped
over breasts and tied behind our Jill doll necks.

I remember that old galvanized tub
you filled with water, put under the old oak,
and how Tom and I squished into it to cool off.

Wootsie Piggy, you called me,
when I returned from play that left me dirty
and messed up and happy.
Wootsie Piggy, you said again and again.

Today, when I slip between my own clean sheets, I think
of you, the lessons you taught me through everything you did,
smell the clean air, feel the sunshine
and the comfort of your sheets against my skin.

 

Third Place Winner
Cornelius Jones Jr.

John F. McMullen

Author Bio:

Cornelius Jones Jr. (Cornelius LIFE Jones)

An actor, writer, and educator, Cornelius is living “LIFE” out loud and turning pain into art. He holds an M.A. from NYU (Dramatic Writing, Educational Theater, and Performance). He is a 2010 Lorraine Hansberry – Nia Award Recipient, and a Leo Bronstein Homage Award recipient. He is the creator of the performance piece HomoAffection and FlagBoy, an autobiographical one-man show, which earned him a 2008 Midtown International Theater Festival Nomination for Outstanding Performance in a Solo-Show, a Capital Fringe Festival 2009 “Best of Fest” award and has been featured on NPR. His poems “Momma Said…(A Hard Life)” and “Chicken N Shrimp Gumbo” appears in the 2008 & 2009 Writers Place Poetry Review and his essay “pianissimo: Memoir of a Black Gay childhood” appears in the 2010 MIGHTY REAL: Anthology of African-American Same Gender Loving Writing. Embracing all of who he is, Cornelius is featured in the Logo and Gilead sponsored PSA: “I AM LIVING MY TRUTH”, currently airing on MTV’s Logo Network.

cornelius@corneliusjonesjr.com
www.corneliusjonesjr.com


“Still swimming (…I remember…)”

            I remember going with you to Chesapeake Bay and I saw my first farm raised fishpond. I think there was salmon swimming in there. I remember when the boat came in and you, your fishermen friends, and Uncle John unloaded the wild caught fish: lake trout, shad, bass, and even live crabs. I remember a group of black men and white men laughing together knowing that this was a good catch and you all would be racking in the dollars. I remember this in Virginia.
            I remember when I made momma cry ‘cause she looked at the calendar we always kept in the kitchen to remind us of important appointments and I think momma was checking the calendar for her dentist appointment and saw that I marked: June 21st, Dad comes home. I remember this was the day you came home from being hospitalized with pneumonia for over a month. I remember. I remember. I remember when you starred on the 6’oclock news…Something you tuned into daily, in our living room, but this day you were not home, you were in jail and you headlined the news that entire evening…In handcuffs they had you and tucked your head into the police car ‘cause you sold illegal dear meat. I remember being so sad...so angry…so confused. You saying, “I’m just doing what I need to do, ‘cause I ain’t gon’ be here for too much longer.” I remember.
            I remember loving Kraft American cheese. The individual wrappers…going through 5-7 slices a day for 2 weeks straight, and you warned, “That cheese is gonna bind you up,” and I remember thinking you didn’t know what you were talking about and I kept eating my American cheese, and two weeks later, I learned my lesson. My bowels couldn’t pass through, and you had to buy me prune juice, which was so gross. I couldn’t stomach it, so you mixed it in with coca-cola and a day later you stood by my side as I screamed in the bathroom like a pregnant woman giving birth (as I would imagine momma giving birth to my hard-headed self). It finally passed through. You grinned and I said, “Yeah, I learned my lesson.” I remember.
            I remember you trying to get your strength back, testing what life had left. I remember you trying so hard. I remember. I remember you lying in bed. I remember communicating through raised and lowered hands and blinks of the eye and movements of the lip. I remember your last nod…your last smile. The look of joy that you were completing your last lap…finally you could float with no support. I remember….as I’m still swimming.

©2010 Cornelius Jones Jr.

 

Honorable Mention
Robin Roberts

Cornelius Jones Jr.

Author Bio:

I grew up in the San Francisco Bay area where I’ve been writing since my teens. I’ve lived on a sailboat and in France. I’ve published a shit load of poetry, a number of short stories, and had a play produced in Portland in the ‘80’s. Sorenson’s Gift, the first book in a YA adventure series (four are completed), is scheduled to be released in April by Daily Swan Publishing of San Francisco. In addition to the YA series, I am currently working on several scripts and a spec series for TV.


robintheorphan@yahoo.com

The Mermaid

The sun has set beyond the waves
And she comes
A splash of silver
Wings of light and foam chemise
Riding in the wet spray
Mist on the tired ships
Resting in the harbor shallows.
She comes invisible
Save to the last man
Sailor on a final voyage
Trying to leave the blue sea
Blood of his bones.

He turns his weary shoulders
To the plank
To the shore
To the dry and empty earth
And stomps the sweet salt from his boots
But not from his eyes
Though he rubs them with a denim cuff
A frayed heart.

When in the fading light
Their eyes meet
Different beasts of the same sea
Of the same heart…
To the other a dream.

He sits in the salt sea
With drowned boots
While she sings
Wind songs
To a sailor’s ears
And fills with gentler breeze again
Sails of history.

Before his ancient eyes
That he might see again
That he might be again
That tousled youth
Who loved the sea
And faced her proud

And so they were last seen
Beside the sea
Who can say
Which was dreaming
And which the dream?

.