April 15, 2015

Power Full

Power Full
Z. Hall

Power Full [Title]

I can love you
beyond your faults
your weaknesses
are but footnotes
on whistling wind,
your secrete insecurities
silenced for eternity

your imperfections
are fine art
your mistakes
memories faded
in gesso

this is honest & real
my friend

truer than indigo
stronger than graphene
solid as oak
hewn in blood
sweat and
fear not
the crevices of culture
tradition, time or space

transcendence is at our
beck and call

say the word
just say the word

I fear not death, I am
director of its procession
conductor of all preceding it
I refuse to die
of internal bleeding

love me,  in return
fully, in complete knowledge
of me

that what is
common in me
with the morning dew

the scorching heat
of your absence
is the sole burden
I cannot bear
© Z. Hall, 2015

Cassandra Wilson, 'Solomon Sang,' Jazz

April 12, 2015

Billie Holiday: A Centennial Tribute

April 7, 2015, marked the centennial of Billie Holiday's birth. Her artistry has inspired the work of so many. For example, Cassandra Wilson's new project, 'Coming Forth By Day,' covers a number of Lady Day's songs. And Vincent Valdez's recent series of paintings draws on Holiday's work.

April is also National Poetry Month. For some time, I have been working on a found poem based on 'Strange Fruit' written by Abel Meeropol and performed by Billie Holiday. This is a good time to release the poem that also works with the song. It extends the idea of strange fruit rotting beneath the poplar trees to seeds of that fruit carrying on the struggle for liberty. I give you:

'Strange Seeds' [Title]

Hatred breeds such a strange fruit
Blood streams to the ground, ne’er will be mute
Black pods burst and puts forth seeds
Strong fruit grows round the poplar trees

Pastoral scene of the gallant South
Painful cries for lives snuffed out
Scent of magnolia sweet and fresh
Then human rights and laws don’t mesh

Seeds take root, crows refuse to pluck
For the rain to gather, no reliance on luck
For the sun to nourish what the tree did drop
Seeds of that strange and bitter crop
© Z. Hall, 2015

Vincent Valdez's series of eight large-scale oil paintings, 'The Strangest Fruit,' investigates the lesser discussed but widespread lynching of Mexicanos in Texas between 1848 and 1928. The images of men's contorted bodies wearing modern day clothing and seemingly suspended in space connects historical mistreatment of Latinos to present day injustices.

© Vincent Valdez

In an interview with Ed Fuentes, Valdez said, "It is important to depict these portraits through contemporary faces and bodies which suggest that the presence and threat of the noose itself has been reshaped, repackaged, and is as present as ever in modern America ... which represents an "obscure part of American history."

Cassandra Wilson's 'Coming Forth By Day,' with the exception for one original song, covers many of Holiday's most famous songs. Wilson performed the song book set to fresh arrangements at the Kennedy Center for Jazz Night in America on March 31, 2015.

April 11, 2015


  Image by © Moyo Okediji, ‘Construction Work Lady,’ Akure, Nigeria, 2012.

Woman [Title]

after love is made
buried & forgotten
deep in the cushion
cradling life

she wakes

sedimentary minerals
float, suspended
safely, in the
amniotic bubble

she daydreams

prehistoric memories
lain down
by the tickle
of first words
through the
chamber wall

she closes her eyes

the foliation
is set, clear
parallel planes

she weeps

rare formed,
she resists forced
temperature & pressure
to crystallize

she toils

speaks to her
character & commitment
her crag is famous
admired & loved

she persists

fertility & survival
is the wage
flesh, bone, & blood
the cost of labor

she provides

silky nourishment
gushes through her
mountain ridges
to pools promising
health & strength,
measured only by

she knows

idleness is vanity
pride is folly, &
continual change
& chance
proceed death

she rests

a diamond in the rough

© Z. Hall, 2015

Dedicated to all women around the world who toil in the worst conditions: societal, employment, romantic, personal, familial, and all human relationships in between.

April 10, 2015

The Hidden Social Justice Advocate in Maury Povich

This week, In Media Res features topics on 'Domestic Abuse in Movies & Television' that runs through Friday. 360 Degrees will follow contributions to the discussion.  Today's presentation: 'With All Due Respect, I'm Far from a Slut": The Hidden Social Justice Advocate in Maury Povich.'

Interpersonal Verbal Violence

The contributor points to several rhetorical features of this segment of Povich. Framing is one. Framing is a powerful tool, however, there is no analysis to convincingly support the notion that "seeing the woman in her environment" provides a "more holistic view of the environment of abuse." Or, that "to see the man solely, we get a narrowed perspective of abuse where he is the sole core of the abuse relationship."

What this segment of Povich does demonstrate is that interpersonal violence can be verbal. And that verbal violence can produce as much trauma as physical abuse. 

Click 'The Hidden Social Justice Advocate in Maury Povich' to read curated post and comments on this important subject.

April 9, 2015

Hitting the Nerve: Family Guy Confronts Domestic Violence

This week, In Media Res features topics on 'Domestic Abuse in Movies & Television' that runs through Friday. 360 Degrees will follow the contributions of my colleagues. Today, Thursday,  Robert Sevenich presents 'Hitting the Nerve: Family Guy Confronts Domestic Violence.'

Is satire a useful rhetorical device for addressing interpersonal violence?

Sevenich argued that "sans compassion and sentiment found in many sitcoms, 'Screams of Silence: The Story of Brenda Q' still has a worthy pedagogical objective and provides audiences the tools to identify warning signs of abusive relationships."

However, though the episode is a virtual textbook on the signs of domestic violence, it was widely denounced by
audiences and critics. Satirizing events and acts associated with violence has proven to be problematic, often alienating audiences. Closely held values and violence seem to be two areas where the use of satire is risky. In my work, I have found this to be the case because satire is inherently vague and has the propensity to produce noise, causing viewer's to miss the intended message. And satire intrinsically carries multiple meanings that compete with the message senders intended meaning.

This episode of 'Family Guy' failed with audiences because satire drowned out the intended message. This is a tragedy because the episode is a useful and powerful corrective to interpersonal violence. When using satire, producers should consider embedding clear and multiple signs and symbols to signal to viewers that they should look for the underlying intention or message in an artwork.

Click 'Hitting the Nerve: Family Guy Confronts Domestic Violence' to watch the clip, and read curated post and comments on this important subject.

April 8, 2015

Mommie Dearest Remixed: Child Abuse as Camp

This week, In Media Res features topics on 'Domestic Abuse in Movies & Television' that runs through Friday. 360 Degrees will follow the insightful contributions of my colleagues.Today, Wednesday,  Roberto Carlos Ortiz presents 'Mommie Dearest Remixed: Child Abuse as Camp.'

Is violent camp funny?

Ortiz argued that the repetition or recreation of certain actions, phrases or scenes in different videos remind us that images of abuse in fiction films are only performances, edited to elicit specific responses from audiences.

I have considered the idea that "abuse in fiction films are only performances" from a number of perspectives. Yet, I cannot imagine the experience being benign. Particularly if, as Ortiz reported, one participates in the film vicariously.

I have two reasons for believing this is not harmless: One, though cognitively we know we are viewing fiction, subconsciously the mind perceives the images we see as real. Two, in the case of 'Mommy Dearest' the violence was/is real. It happened to a little girl named Christina. The story line is real. The mother is real. The damage done in that family is real.

Otiz argued that the audience is not laughing at the abuse but, rather, the repetition of exaggerated gestures. However, it is unclear to me how abuse can be disassociated from the act of abuse. So, I tried to imagine the target being someone other than a child. Perhaps the child's innocence stood in the way of me enjoying this film. I imagined: a black person being tortured by a racist, a gay person attacked by a homophobic, a woman being attacked by a man. I could not find humor in either of these scenarios -- regardless of how they are remixed or preceded by performance pieces to conduce joviality, etc.

In the case of 'Drunk in Love' and my exploration of it as an adaptation of 'The Taming of the Shrew,' I found it to be a subversive rather than paternalistic project. Nevertheless, the violence in both works is problematic in spite of their overall messages or purposes.

'Mommie Dearest' is told from the perspective of the abuser rather than the victim, which problematizes the original film. Would it have become a camp classic had it been told from Christina's point of view? I don't know. But I would not want to imagine how difficult it would be to see my childhood story of abuse told and re-told to laughing audiences. So there's that level of violence.

It just doesn't work for me. But the effects Ortiz talked about, which are used in the re-mixed film, would work to make non-violent dramas funny.

Click 'Mommie Dearest Remixed: Child Abuse as Camp' to read Ortiz's curated post and comments on this important subject.

April 7, 2015

Drunk in Love & The Shrew

This week, In Media Res features topics on 'Domestic Abuse in Movies & Television' that runs through Friday. 360 Degrees will follow contributions to the discussion.  Today, Tuesday, Z. Hall presents 'Drunk in Love & The Shrew.'

Paternalistic or Subversive?

For centuries women have struggled for equality in every culture. And violence against women remains a serious global problem. Historically, art is used as a vehicle to confront or perpetuate the social ill. Twenty-first century audiences have less tolerance for abuse of women in entertainment products they consume.

In January, 2015, Beyoncé won Grammy's for both the Best R&B Performance and Best R&B Song for 'Drunk in Love.' The song, featuring her husband, Jay-Z, was praised widely and criticized extensively too.

Absent statements from artists, audiences are left to make sense of products that cross the paternalistic line. Exploring 'Drunk in Love' as a derivative work of Shakespeare's 'The Taming of the Shrew' provides a way to understand the Knowles-Carter project as subversive.

What parallels do you recognize?

Click 'Drunk in Love and The Shrew' to read curated post and comments on this important subject.

April 6, 2015

Private Violence

This week, In Media Res features topics on 'Domestic Abuse in Movies & Television' that runs through Friday. 360 Degrees will follow contributions to the discussion. Today, Monday, Laurel Ahnert presents 'Private Violence.'  

I believe that experiential knowledge is generally bastardize as a  pedagogical approach and means of understanding phenomena. If experience is anecdotal evidence it is dismissed out of hand. Such epistemological relativism is dangerous on many levels. Perceiving abused women's experiences as illegitimate is a tool of silencing. The work this film does is crucial. It moves the conversation from a limited standpoint epistemology closer to legitimation in the public square.

Click 'Private Violence' to read curated post and comments on this important subject.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...