Frida Kahlo’s Portrait of Doctor Farill

Frida Kahlo’s Portrait of Doctor Farill

An introductory note on the poem “Ex-Voto” by Dr. Michael Cunningham:

I have been interested in portraiture, artists’ renderings of the human face and figure. And I am interested in self representation, especially in the two forms where it is commonly found: the memoir/autobiography and in paint.

My “Artists at Their Easels” project is a result of the convergence of these two interests. At first the subjects came to me; for a long time I have been familiar with and provoked by the mischievous Rene Magritte’s “Clairvoyance.” The same is true for Jan Vermeer’s “The Artist in His Studio.” I have been fascinated by the photography of Vivian Maier, the North Shore nanny who shot thousands of street scenes in Chicago at the middle of the 20th century, none of which were reproduced until her negatives and proof sheets were discovered at a garage sale in the last decade. I was delight to find that, in some cases, Maier had turned the camera on herself, capturing her fleeting image in a huge department store window.

In other cases, I have deliberately looked for self-portraits in studio settings. I was familiar with the work of British avant-gardist Lucien Freud, but didn’t know that he had done self-portraits until I investigated.

If the limited number of poems that comprise this project can be classified, it would be in this way: poems in which the artist speaks and those in which an observer speaks. In the first category, I am challenged to be a good mind reader, that is, to take what information I may gather about the artist and imagine what he or she might be thinking. The poem about the Frida Kahlo painting shown here is such an instance. My research is not extensive. Though I have seen and enjoyed “Frida,” the 2002 biopic, and have seen a number of exhibits of her work and that of her contemporaries at the National Museum of Mexican Art in Pilsen, I have not read Hayden Herrara’s biography. I suppose that this leaves me open to the charge of “historical error,” but then complete fidelity is not my goal. The Frida who speaks in this poem is the Frida that I imagine.

In fashioning poems in the second category –-  those about viewer responses – I rely on my own engagement with the poems. The speaker in these poems is some version of myself. The voice found in the poem about Vermeer is close to my own. It’s me that finds something intriguing about the use of red, an unusual color in the painter’s palette. The voice that you hear in the poem about the naked and aging Lucien Freud is my own; in the painting I find an image of my own increasingly decrepit form.

Dr. Michael Cunningham is the Director of the Lewis University Arts & Ideas program.

Read the rest of this entry »

Conflict, conflict, conflict! It’s what your story needs and your readers crave. Conflict is what makes stories whir and plots fizzle and pop. If your characters aren’t in conflict with one another in some way, then why are you writing about them? If your characters are happily in love, happily employed, or happily content with their lives, maybe you need to move on to new characters. Now, your characters don’t need to be complete emotional trainwrecks, but some misfortune must enter their lives at some point.

In a blog post about conflict, author Kara Lennox says, “A good conflict has external and internal aspects…the conflict manifests on a superficial level at first, then at a deeper level as the hero and heroine become more involved, reveal more parts of themselves, more bits of their history, their secrets.”

This is great advice because it basically describes the plot of any good book or movie you’ve ever read or seen, especially romance stories. In Pride & Prejudice, for example, the overarching external conflict is that of Mrs. Bennett’s quest to marry her daughters off in prosperous and promising fashion. Lizzie is caught up in this when she meets Mr. Darcy, who could be a good match for her. But the internal aspects of both characters creates a conflict that results in Lizze’s sister Jane nearly missing her own chance at being married off, Lizzie’s sister becoming embroiled with the unsavory character of Mr. Wickham, and an eventual declaration of love. All of that happened, essentially, because of the warring personalities of Lizzie and Mr. Darcy. Pretty good, eh?

Because of these internal and external aspects, conflict is intertwined with both character and plot. The conflict between characters can lead to a conflict that occurs within the plot. So it’s a good idea to remember your character development as you create your plot.

In this same post, Kara reminds readers to avoid adding in too much conflict. Just as too little conflict can leave readers bored, too much can leave them feeling overwhelmed and unwilling to put up with your story anymore. If you create just one conflict that runs deep in your characters, you can find different plotlines within that one conflict to explore.

— Jet Fuel Blog Editor, Mary Egan

Editor’s Notes #172

Posted: November 22, 2015 in Editor's Notes

Welcome, blog readers, to another Editor’s Notes round-up post. I hope you’re all having a wonderful weekend, even though it’s soon coming to a close. If you’re in the Midwest, you might be dealing with some snow this weekend! As winter begins and November comes to an end, that means the 10th issue of the Jet Fuel Review is almost here. On December 3rd, our 10th issue will officially launch, so be sure to keep an eye out for that. For now, though, let’s take a look at our recent posts.

In the realm of writing advice, there have been two new posts on the blog. Firstly, I wrote about the importance of pacing yourself when writing. It’s important to keep a good pace in your story so that readers aren’t feeling either too overwhelmed or too bored. I also wrote about backstory, mainly about how it should be left to your planning notebook rather than your actual story.

A few new poems have been featured here on our blog. In recent weeks, we have featured  I’m Going Back to Minnesota Where Sadness Makes Sense by Danez Smith and Revision by Danielle Cadena Deulen. Our Jet Fuel Jukebox posts have also continued. Be sure to check out the playlists for November 10 and November 17.

This past week, our film blogger Mike Egan returned to write a post about watching films or TV shows out of cultural obligation. He ties this topic to his own experience of watching Jaws for the first time. Jake Johnson, our music blogger, has written two new album reviews (well, technically three). First, he reviewed Ellie Goulding’s new album, Delirium. This past week, he wrote a joint album review of Justin Bieber’s Purpose and One Direction’s Made In the A.M.

Michael Lane, our blog editor, has written two recent review posts as well. In his first, Michael wrote about AMC’s The Walking Dead and his disappointments with the series as opposed to the comic book. In his second, he wrote about the new series on Starz, Ash vs. Evil Dead.

Finally, we have posted a few student and faculty features on the blog. First, Lewis University students Ahimme Cazarez, Erik Medina, and Carrera Powell all offered their perspectives on why the film Halloween is such a classic in our movie lexicon. Then we featured a short story entitled Jamie by Lewis student Gina Capperino. Last but not least, we featured a poem entitled After the dishes are done by theater department faculty member Harold McCay.

I hope you’ve enjoyed what we’ve been posting on the blog recently. Happy Thanksgiving in advance!

— Jet Fuel Blog Editor, Mary Egan

Sam Raimi’s cult classic film series Evil Dead has made its way to television with the Starz series Ash Vs. Evil Dead. B-movie star and Evil Dead mainstay Bruce Campbell is back as Ashley J. Williams, the hero of the Evil Dead series, and even Sam and Ivan Raimi came back to write and direct the pilot episode. As a long-time big fan of the Evil Dead series, I’m glad to say that the show retains everything that has made people fall in love with those movies for more than thirty years. Only three episodes have aired so far, but it is safe to say that I really love this show and it has met and even surpassed my expectations. I even feel as though the show is getting better as it continues, making me extremely excited for what might come next.

In case you’re unfamiliar with the film series (you should be ashamed of yourself), the films focus on Ash Williams. Ash and a group of friends once stayed in a remote cabin in the woods, where Ash came across an old book called the Necronomicon. Within this flesh-bound, inked-in-blood book is an old language that, when spoken aloud, brings forth demons from Hell. The original film was played as more of a straight horror flick, and Ash was more serious. The sequels became increasingly more ridiculous and slapstick in nature, making Ash into a bumbling idiot but also creating one of the best demon-killing machines in all of film. It’s in the second film that Ash loses his hand and iconically replaces his stump of a hand with a chainsaw. Yes, it is ridiculous and stupid, but in all the right ways.

So, chronologically, Ash Vs. Evil Dead takes place after the events of Evil Dead 2: Dead By Dawn. Due to legal issues, the show is not continuing from the final film in the series, Army of Darkness. So, Ash is about 30 years older than he was when we last saw him, and yet he’s still the same ol’ Ash. Ash is still one-handed, constantly spouting one-liners, all about the ladies and genuinely pretty sexist, and good at nothing but killing the undead. Ash always was and still is one of the best characters in all of horror. Bruce Campbell gracefully slips back into the role that made him famous 30 years ago, and it’s is an absolute delight to see this character again, chainsaw and all. Read the rest of this entry »

Gina Capperino

Gina Capperino

An introductory note on the short story “Jamie” by Gina Capperino:

I used to live in a small suburb close to Midway airport — it wasn’t the best area, but I was too young to notice what was really around me. I fell in love with the rainy days in my neighborhood because there would always be a lingering fog that was hard to describe in such a small amount of words. Being a dog person, I was always looking to tell a story about how letting go can be for the better.

Gina Capperino is a junior at Lewis University and a member of the Jet Fuel Review staff.

Read the rest of this entry »

Fangirls, squad up — it’s time to get your wallets and weapons out. On Friday, November 13th of 2015, both Justin Bieber — the teen heartthrob turned delinquent — and One Direction — the once-quintet from England — each released their fifth albums, Purpose and Made In the A.M. respectively.

While each do not necessarily have anything to do with one the other — one album meant to be a re-emergence, while the other being an indefinite farewell  — both artists have had a challenging lead-up to the release of their albums. But it is these struggles that allow them to grow and reach new artistic heights.

Each album starts off on a somber and reflective note — with Purpose starting with the self-assuring “Mark My Words.” The song, along with a multitude of others on the album, touches upon the 21-year-old’s highly publicized relationship with Selena Gomez. However, while the song is meant to allude to his romantic life, it doubles as somewhat of a “welcome back” to the Bieber the world once loved. After an infamous 2014, filled with arrests, controversies, public meltdowns and more, Bieber is firmly stating that he’s more than ready to give it his all.

On the other end of the spectrum, Made In the A.M. kicks off with the “Bittersweet Symphony”-esque “Hey Angel.” The song is an inspiring, heartwarming number that almost seems reflective based upon the troubles leading up to the album. Earlier in 2015, previous One Direction member Zayn Malik announced that he was leaving the band to focus on himself and his solo career, leaving fans devastated and questioning whether the band would be able to continue on without him.

Read the rest of this entry »

Welcome, folks, to another installment of our weekly “Pick-a-Poem” feature. Each week, we feature a new poem that is hopefully new to you, and which might inspire you to find more new poetry. These poems all come from Poetry Daily, which is a great website that features a new poem from a new poet every day. If you’re looking for some new poetry to discover, be sure to check them out! This week we’re featuring Revision by Danielle Cadena Deulen.

According to her bio page, Danielle Cadena Deulen has had several books published, including Lovely Asunder, a collection of poetry released in 2011, and The Riots, a memoir published in the same year. Her poetry collection won the Miller Williams Arkansas Poetry Prize. Her memoir won the AWP Prize in Creative Nonfiction. She has received a Jay C. and Ruth Halls Poetry Fellowship, and she currently teaches in the English Department of Willamette University in Oregon.

Revision by Danielle Cadena Deulen

Read the rest of this entry »