Letters From Around the World
On the Road to Tarascon:
Francis Bacon Meets Van Gogh
What if Francis Bacon (1909–1992), whom art critic David Sylvester called the “monster of depravity,” ran into Vincent van Gogh (1850–1890), the mentally unstable Dutch painter, on the road to Tarascon in the south of France?
Set aside the fact that van Gogh died before Bacon was born. They were simpatico in some important ways. Bacon created several paintings in response to van Gogh’s Painter on the Road to Tarascon (1888), destroyed in World War II, in which van Gogh portrayed himself as a traveling painter – complete with straw hat, painting equipment and walking stick – accompanied by his prominent shadow.
Why did this painting strike Bacon so? The idea of the painter on his way to work appealed to Bacon. Van Gogh endured much suffering for the cause of his art, and Bacon clearly identified with his plight. Each painter was to a large extent self-taught in that they did not attend formal training. Van Gogh writes extensively in his letters to his brother Theo about his learning how to draw and paint through trial and error and other artists’ critiques. Bacon destroyed most of his early work and protected his biographical details to be assured that he would be perceived as a kind of naïve genius. Yet, he was aware of artistic movements and was influenced by artists in his immediate circle of British painters.
Bacon also noted in van Gogh’s painting that the shadow created a second figure distinct from the portrait, adding an important layer of meaning. This second figure has no recognizable shape as it does in some of Bacon’s shadows, but it gives the painting a stylistic edge and has the effect of a doppelganger, a double figure that portends doom for the mentally unstable van Gogh mired in poverty. The shadow that attaches itself to van Gogh can be construed as illustrating how van Gogh was unable to escape his emotional state – which is what Bacon capitalizes on.
Bacon re-created van Gogh’s shadow in his own work, focusing on its emotionally charged character. Doom was Bacon’s raison d’être as an artist. He painted many portraits of his kindred spirit – the first, Head, in 1951 and the last, with the same title, in 1962. In 1959 he produced Head of a Man—Study of a drawing by Van Gogh; and in 1960 Homage to Van Gogh, a paraphrase of van Gogh’s Self-Portrait with a pipe of 1889. Bacon’s Study for a Portrait of Van Gogh V. (1957) is a simplified version, with electrically charged colors threatening to close in on the innocent painter with oversized shoes, and the shadow appears even more threatening. It almost looks like a wild animal attached to a leash.
As Bacon has said, “van Gogh is one of my great heroes because I think that by the way he put on the paint he gives you a marvelous vision of the reality of things. I saw it very clearly when I was once in Provence and in going through that part of the Crau where he did some of his landscapes, and one just saw in this absolutely barren country that by the way he put on paint he was able to give it such an amazing living quality.”
Michael Peppiatt, art critic, friend of Bacon and Bacon biographer, said that Bacon claimed, “to me van Gogh got very close to the real thing about art when he said, I can’t remember the exact words, it’s one of those extraordinary letters to his brother, which I read over and over again. ‘What I do may be a lie,’ he said, ‘but it conveys reality more accurately.’”
This “lie” is important to Bacon because he saw the need to distort the figure as a way of taking representation in a new direction, extending in his mind what Picasso had done with his biomorphic figures back in the 1930s. He approached the figure knowing that the theme had been exhausted. He needed to give it fresh blood, so to speak. Only new techniques and emotional content could still move a viewer accustomed to Picasso’s enormous repertoire.
Bacon borrowed perhaps his most shocking theme – open-mouthed horror and/or ecstasy – from a scene in Eisenstein’s film Battleship Potemkin and also from Nicolas Poussin’s alarming painting of a mother’s terror at her child being threatened by the thrust of a man’s sword (The Massacre of the Innocents, 1629). Bacon’s depictions, however, are more universal in scope and originated more from existential dread than specific incidences. As a result, they pack an emotional punch that is like witnessing a bullfight, a gathering of Hitler’s henchmen, and a bacchanal all at once.
Van Gogh’s work touched a nerve in Bacon. The paintings were not mere depictions of people or places but were crafted through the touch of an artist connected with his innermost spirit. Van Gogh once claimed, “The real painters do not paint things as they are…They paint them as they themselves feel them to be.” (van Gogh letters, 1885). Bacon meanwhile claimed, “What is life but sensation, what we feel” (film biography). In response to the question of whether he painted from his head or his heart, Renoir is reputed to have said, “my balls.” One can only imagine what Francis Bacon or Vincent van Gogh would have said if asked that question, since Renoir’s work is tepid in comparison.
A van Gogh landscape vibrates with tension, while a Bacon portrait is an affront to the senses. Van Gogh’s “nature” was a plastic device that could be manipulated using form and color, but his own nature was acted upon by factors out of his control: the wind scattered his thoughts; rain washed his clothes; sun scorched his senses; dirt grounded him to the earth.
Bacon, at the opposite end, took matters into his own hands. His penchant for unconditional nihilism and experiential openness fed his art: gambling extended his risk-taking; drinking washed away his inhibitions; promiscuous sex fed his obsession with the body; and excess in every form kept his nervous system piqued. Chance and instinct, his “two great shaping forces,” as Bacon’s biographer Michael Peppiat has said, slid seamlessly from lived life to the canvas. A single stroke could change a painting, just as a chance encounter in a bar could change a life.
While van Gogh practiced an almost religious devotion to the land in order to capture its essence, Bacon entered into the inner sanctum of human excess in order to reveal its truths. It was no great sacrifice for either party. They were able to express their findings through paint. Bacon though, enjoyed himself to a much greater degree than van Gogh, who toiled through a life of general obscurity as an artist.
Van Gogh never realized the success that sprouted soon after he died. His letters to his brother (and dealer) Theo reveal the desperate material and emotional sufferings of an artist who isn’t yet understood by the public. He politely requests paint, brushes, and other supplies, along with money so that he can eat, while intermittently exclaiming the beauty of a specific site, or striving to explain his work and exploring ways of improving it.
Bacon, on the other hand, never studied art formally but had an eagle eye and ear that scooped up and filtered everything around him. His blatant homosexuality put him at odds with his military father and he was pushed out of the house while still a teenager in Ireland (of English parentage). Bacon never believed that his family was related to his apparent namesake, the philosopher-statesman Francis Bacon, but he was thrilled that the man was a renowned homosexual and that others suspected that he was the real Shakespeare. As a young man in the 1920s he absorbed interior design and produced furniture and design motifs that later found their way into his paintings. He devoured the urban milieus of Berlin, Paris, and London through thieving, whoring, and drinking – all the while absorbing art and culture.
Bacon was after an immediate sensation in his life and his work. He lived to excess. The drinking, socializing, sexual promiscuity, lack of sleep, life of the party lifestyle fed his work. He once said that, “It’s [my painting] a visual shock, not what you get when you tell a story. I’m not telling a story or expressing anything. Life is more violent than anything I can do” (film bio). He took the sensation that he felt was contained in van Gogh’s radical colors and directional marks and doused his paintings with disturbing content. Never before had Nazi swastikas, human/animal carcasses, depictions of crucifixions, and sadomasochistic sexual rituals been used as universal symbols of human life. He used framing devices to contain his figures, as if it would be dangerous for them to escape into the real world.
In my own work as a photographer, drawing out primal human traits is critical. A bullfight, for example, would lead to some spectacular imagery, as would an animal slaughter in an abattoir. Each is an artifact of human history that should be documented. But unless one can maintain a distance from the subject – be a neutral observer, an uninterested party, an amoral witness, as Bacon was – the resulting image cannot succeed as a work of art. A certain feeling for a creature abused for my benefit clouds the picture. Bacon visited abattoirs to study the beauty of severed animals. He witnessed and took part in extremes of human sexuality. And his work reflects that.
Rather than adopt Bacon’s extremes of human nature, one can instead borrow another of his prominent concepts, which is to distort the figure. A distorted photograph takes the image away from the “real world” and places it in a more imaginative space. The resulting image does convey a certain emotional appeal, and has been created using two important Baconian techniques: distortion and chance. However, it lacks the nerve-racking punch of a Bacon portrait. To apply paint in a way that gives the viewer only minute clues as to the person depicted is an act of undeniable skill. Nonetheless, once cannot but wonder what Bacon would have thought of this devilish head with the prominent nose.
Bacon follows van Gogh’s road in many ways. Like van Gogh, he strove to represent the feeling of something rather than mere depiction. He used technical devices such as framing, distortion, and alarming color to capture attention, just as van Gogh combined distinctive marks adapted from the Impressionists and Pointillists, and glaring color. Bacon thought about the body as van Gogh thought about nature. The subjects are different but the emotional impact and, perhaps, the result is the same—sensation that hits the solar plexus hard.
The body, and, more particularly, the inside of the mouth – from its aesthetic form, variety, and color to its use as a nourishment vessel and tool for communication – is what drove Bacon. Nature is the catalyst that van Gogh used to lose himself in the act of creation. It was not trees, stars, and landscapes that interested him, but their effect on his nervous system. Painting was an almost religious devotion. “I have a terrible lucidity at moments, these days when nature is so beautiful,” he wrote to his brother Theo. “I am not conscious of myself any more, and the picture comes to me as in a dream.”
But there were just as many times when that “dream” failed to materialize. “Well, well, there are moments when I am twisted by enthusiasm or madness or prophecy, like a Greek oracle on the tripod” [letter to Theo: Feb. 3, 1889]. But if van Gogh immortalized nature and human poverty in his spiritually laden depictions, the Abstract Expressionists became one with nature themselves.
When asked how his paintings related to nature, Jackson Pollack said, “I am nature.” As a tree grew from its roots, the painter’s inspiration originated inside and then proceeded to take shape on the canvas.
As the act of painting and the painters themselves reached a certain summit, along came Francis Bacon to destroy the illusion. He may be the last of the great painters, meaning the last in a line of artists whose work centered on painting when the medium was recognized as the premier form of representation. Abstract Expressionism dominated the art market during some of his most fruitful years in the 1940s and 1950s. Then Duchamp, Rauschenberg, Warhol, and conceptual artists watered down the role of painter as authoritative, autonomous hero.
Gone are the days when critics, dealers, and a knowledgeable public anxiously await an artist’s next canvas. While painting continues to play a significant role in artistic production, it is only one of many possible mediums. Ironically, as Bacon enlarged the scope of figure painting, he also managed to be its last mega-star practitioner. Perhaps through his painful expressions of human nature, he took painting to an extreme that could not be repeated.
So, when Bacon met up with van Gogh on the road to Tarascon, he stuck to the one commonality between them – how to create paintings that reverberated with life. Bacon couldn’t tolerate the country and would have invited van Gogh to accompany him to the nearest tavern. Van Gogh sheepishly ate bead and soup, energizing himself for applying the finishing touches on a fresh canvas, while Bacon gorged on food and drink and surveyed the grounds for able-bodied men. Nature was no longer divided between what was outside and what was inside. There was only human nature, and Bacon’s depiction contained within it a bleakness that perhaps only van Gogh’s last painting could have foretold.
Francis Bacon: A Centenary Retrospective
Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC
May 20, 2009–August 16, 2009
153 works (70 paintings, 19 drawings, and 64 archival items)
In 2006, Joy E. Stocke founded Wild River Review with Kimberly Nagy, an outgrowth of the literary magazine, The Bucks County Writer, of which Stocke was Editor in Chief. In 2009, as their editorial practice grew, Stocke and Nagy founded Wild River Consulting & Publishing, LLC.
With more than twenty-five years experience as a writer and journalist, Stocke works with many of the writers who appear in the pages of Wild River Review, as well as clients from around the world.
In addition, Stocke has shepherded numerous writers into print. She has interviewed Nobel Prize winners Orhan Pamuk and Muhammud Yunus, Pulitzer Prizewinner Paul Muldoon, Paul Holdengraber, host of LIVE from the NYPL; Roshi Joan Halifax, founder of Upaya Zen Center; anthropologist and expert on end of life care, Mary Catherine Bateson; Ivonne Baki, President of the Andean Parliament; and Templeton Prizewinner Freeman Dyson among others.
In 2006, along with Nagy, Stocke interviewed scientists and artists including former Princeton University President Shirley Tilghman and Dean of Faculty, David P. Dobkin for the documentary Quark Park, chronicling the creation of an award-winning park built on a vacant lot in the heart of Princeton, New Jersey; a park that united art, science and community.
She is president of the Board of Directors at the Cabo Pulmo Learning Center, Cabo Pulmo, Baja Sur, Mexico; and is a member of the Turkish Women’s International Network.
In addition, Stocke has written extensively about her travels in Greece and Turkey. Her memoir, Anatolian Days and Nights: A Love Affair with Turkey, Land of Dervishes, Goddesses & Saints, based on more than ten years of travel through Turkey, co-written with Angie Brenner was published in March 2012. Her cookbook, Tree of Life: Turkish Home Cooking will be published in March, 2017 by Quarto Books under the Burgess Lea Press imprint . Stocke and Brenner are currently testing recipes for a companion book, which will feature Anatolian-inspired mezes from around the world.
Stocke’s essay “Turkish American Food” appears in the 2nd edition of the Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America (OUP, 2013). The volume won both International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP) for Beverage/Reference/Technical category, 2014; and the Gourmand Award for the Best Food Book of the Year, 2014.
She is the author of a bi-lingual book of poems, Cave of the Bear, translated into Greek by Lili Bita based on her travels in Western Crete, and is currently researching a book about the only hard-finger coral reef in Mexico on the Baja Sur Peninsula. She has been writing about environmental issues there since 2011.
A graduate of the University of Wisconsin, Madison, with a Bachelor of Science in Broadcast Journalism from the Agriculture Journalism School where she also received a minor of Food Science, she participated in the Lindisfarne Symposium on The Evolution of Consciousness with cultural philosopher, poet and historian, William Irwin Thompson. In 2009, she became a Lindisfarne Fellow.
Works by Joy E. Stocke in this Edition
AIRMAIL – LETTERS FROM AROUND THE WORLD
AIRMAIL – VOICE FROM SYRIA
ARTS – ART
COLUMNS – THE MYSTIC PEN
FOOD & DRINK – ANATOLIAN KITCHEN
FREYMAN & PETERSON- Your Life is a Book: How to Craft and Publish Your Memoir
LITERATURE – BOOK REVIEWS
LITERATURE – ESSAYS
LITERATURE – MEMOIR
LITERATURE – POETRY
LIVE FROM THE NYPL
The Euphoria of Ignorance: Being Jewish, Becoming Jewish, The Paradox of Being Carlo Ginzburg
Fountain of Curiosity: Paul Holdengraber on Attention, Tension and Stretching the Limits of Conversation at the New York Public Library
Paul Holdengraber – The Afterlife of Conversation
2013 – Three Questions: Festival Director Jakab Orsos talks about Art, Bravery, and Sonia Sotomayor
Critical Minds, Social Revolution: Egyptian Activist Nawal El Saadawi
INTERVIEW – Laszlo Jakab Orsos: Written on Water
Tonight We Rest Here: An Interview with Poet Saadi Youssef
Georgian Writer David Dephy’s Second Skin
On the High Line: Diamonds on the Soles of Our Shoes
Car Bombs on the West Side, Journalists Uptown
New York City – Parade of Illuminations: Behind the Scenes with Festival Director Jakab Orsos
The Pen Cabaret 2008: Bowery Ballroom — Featuring..
Anatolian Days and Nights: A Love Affair with Turkey, Land of Dervishes, Goddesses and Saints
Daring Collaborations: Rolex and LIVE from the NYPL at the New York Public Library Composing a Further Life: with Mary Catherine Bateson
WRR@LARGE: From the Editors – UP THE CREEK
Up the Creek: Volume 1, Number 1
Up the Creek: Volume 1, Number 2.5
Up the Creek: Volume 1, Number 3.3
Up the Creek: Number 4.4
Up the Creek: Beautiful Solutions
Up the Creek: Blind Faith, July 2009
Up the Creek: Create Dangerously
Up the Creek: What Price Choice?
Up the Creek: Before and After: September 11, 2001
Up the Creek: Candle in a Long Street
Up the Creek: Crossing Cultures: Transcending History
Up the Creek: Man in the Mirror; A Map of the World
Up the Creek: Stories and the Shape of Time
Up the Creek: The Divine Road To Istanbul
Up the Creek: What It Means to Yearn
WRR@LARGE – WILD COVERAGE
UNESCO World Heritage Site Under Threat of Mega-Devlopment Sparks International Protests
The Other Side Of Abu Ghraib — Part One: The Detainees’ Quest For Justice
The Other Side of Abu Ghraib – Part Two: The Yoga Teacher Goes to Istanbul
WRR@LARGE – WILD ENVIRONMENT
WRR@LARGE – WILD FINANCE
WRR@LARGE – SLOW WEB
WRR@LARGE – WRR BOOKS
In 2006, Kimberly Nagy founded Wild River Review with Joy E. Stocke; and in 2009, they founded Wild River Consulting & Publishing, LLC. With more than twenty years in the field of publishing, Nagy specializes in market outreach and digital media strategies as well as crafting timeless articles and interviews. She edits many of the writers who appear in the pages of Wild River Review, as well as clients from around the world.
Kimberly Nagy is a poet, professional writer, and dedicated reader who has interviewed a number of leading thinkers, including Academy-Award winning filmmaker, Pamela Tanner Boll, MacArthur Genius Award-winning Edwidge Danticat, historian James McPherson, playwright Emily Mann, biologist and novelist, Sunetra Gupta and philosopher Alain de Botton.
Nagy is an author, editor and professional storyteller. She received her BA in history at Rider University where she was influenced by professors who stressed works of literature alongside dates and historical facts–as well as the importance of including the perspectives of women and minorities in the historical record. During a period in which she fell in love with writing and research, Nagy wrote an award-winning paper about the suppression of free speech during World War I, and which featured early 20th century feminist and civil rights leader, Elizabeth Gurley Flynn.
Nagy continued her graduate studies at University of Connecticut, Storrs, where she studied with Dr. Karen Kupperman, an expert in early contact between Native Americans and the first European settlers. Nagy wrote her Masters thesis, focusing on the work of the first woman to be accepted into the Connecticut Historical Society as well as literary descriptions of Native Americans in Connecticut during the 19th century. Nagy has extensive background and interest in anthropological, oral history and cultural research.
After graduate school, Nagy applied her academic expertise to a career in publishing, in which she worked for two of the world’s foremost publishers—Princeton University Press and W.W. Norton—as well as at Thomson, Institutional Investor Magazine, Routledge UK, and Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic.
Kimberly Nagy in this Edition
AIRMAIL – LETTERS FROM AROUND THE WORLD
AIRMAIL – VOICE FROM SYRIA
ARTS – ART
ARTS – FILM REVIEWS
ARTS – MUSIC
ARTS – PHOTOGRAPHY
The Triple Goddess Trials: Fire in the Head: Brigit’s Mysterious Spark
The Triple Goddess Trials: Introduction
The Triple Goddess Trials – Meeting Virginia Woolf at the Strand
The Triple Goddess Trials: Me and Medusa
The Triple Goddess Trials: Aphrodite and the Lightbulb Factory
The Triple Goddess Trials: Goddess of Milk and Honey
The Triple Goddess Trials: Kali’s Ancient Love Song
ASHLEY – Renee Ashley: A Voice Answering a Voice
BELLI – Giocanda Belli – The Page is My Home
BOLL – Pamela Tanner Boll: Dangerous Women: An Interview with Academy Award Winner Pamela Tanner Boll
DANTICAT – Create Dangerously- A Conversation with Edwidge Danticat
CHARBONNEAU – A Cruise Along the Inside Track: With Le Mobile’s Sound Recording Legend Guy Charbonneau
de BOTTON – The Art of Connection: A Conversation with Alain de Botton
GUPTA – Suneptra Gupta – The Elements of Style: The Novelist and Biologist Discusses Metaphor and Science
HANDAL – Nathalie Handal – Love and Strange Horses
KHWAJA – Waqas Khwaja: What a Difference a Word Makes
MAURO: New World Monkeys: An Interview with Nancy Mauro
MORGANSing, Live, & Love Like You Mean It: An Interview with Bertha Morgan
MOSS – Practical Mystic–Robert Moss: On Book Families, Jung and How Dreams Can Save Your Soul
OGLINE – BEN FRANKLIN.COM: Author & Illustrator Tim Ogline explains why Ben Franklin would be a technology evangelist today
OLSEN – Greg Olsen – Reaching for the Stars: Scientist, Entrepreneur and Space Traveler
PALYA – Beata Palya – The Secret World of Songs
SCHIMMEL – Moonlight Science: A Conversation with Molecular Biologist and Entrepreneur, Paul Schimmel
SHORS – Journey into the Male & Female Brain: An Interview with Tracey Shors
von MOLTKE and SIMMS – Dorothy von Moltke and Cliff Simms: Why Independent Bookstores Matter, Part I
WARD – On the Rocks: Global Warming and the Rock and Fossil Record – An Interview with Peter Ward, Part One, and
On the Rocks: Global Warming and the Rock and Fossil Record – An Interview with Peter Ward, Part Two
WILKES – Labor of Love: An Interview With Architect Kevin Wilkes
LITERATURE – MEMOIR
LITERATURE – POETRY
LIVE FROM THE NYPL
Fountain of Curiosity: Paul Holdengraber on Attention, Tension and Stretching the Limits of Conversation at the New York Public Library
The New York Public Library at 100: From the Stacks to the Streets
Paul Holdengraber: The Afterlife of Conversation
That Email Changed My Life: Rolex Arts Initiative. Pulitzer Prize Winning Poet Tracy K. Smith Celebrates Rolex Arts Initiative
First Editions / Second Thoughts — Defending Writers: PEN and Christie’s Raise One Million Dollars to Support Freedom of Expression
ON AFRICA: May 4 to May 10 — Behind the Scenes with Director Jakab Orsos: Co-curated by Award-Winning Author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
The Page is My Home: Giaconda Belli – Nicaraguan Poet, Writer and Public Intellectual
Georgian Writer David Dephy’s Second Skin
The Power of Conversation: David Grossman and Nadine Gordimer – The Arthur Miller Freedom to Write Lecture
NEW FROM WILD RIVER BOOKS – Brief Eulogies at Roadside Shrines
Daring Collaborations: Rolex and LIVE from the NYPL at the New York Public Library
Wild River Books Announces the Stoutsburg Cemetery Project: The Untold Stories of an African American Burial Ground in New Jersey
Wild River Books: Surprise Encounters by Scott McVay
Wild River Review and Minerva’s Bed & Breakfast Presents – “BITTER” Writing in a Weekend: How to Write About the Things We Can’t Change
ALLEN – Quarks, Parks, and Science in Everyday Life: Filmmaker Chris Allen’s Documentary Where Art Meets Science in a Vacant Lot
HOLT – Rush Holt: An Interview with Rush Holt
MANN – Boundless Theater: An Interview with Emily Mann
Keeping Time: A Conversation with Historian James McPherson
VOICE FROM SYRIA
WRR at LARGE – WILD ENVIRONMENT
Cool Chick is an inspired force of literary nature — a lifelong writer who is dedicated to the wild river school of writing.
Educated at Wild River Community College, later attending Wild River University, Cool Chick is working on her PhD in changing the world – one story at a time.
Type designer, librarian, and systems engineer, Saad D. Abulhab, was born in 1958 in Sacramento, California, and grew up in Iraq. Residing in the US since 1979, he is currently Director of Technology of the Newman Library of Baruch College, the City University of New York. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from Polytechnic University, and a Master of Science in Library and Information Sciences from Pratt Institute, both in Brooklyn. Involved since 1992 in the field of Arabetic computing and typography, he is most noted for his non-traditional type designs and the Mutamathil type style which was awarded a US Utility Patent in 2003. Designed more that 16 fonts families since 1998 and wrote several articles in the field of Arabetic typography and scripts.
ALL ARTICLES BY SAAD ABULHAB:
Opal Palmer Adisa, Ph. D, diverse and multi-genre, is an exceptional talent, nurtured on cane-sap and the oceanic breeze of the Caribbean. Writer of both poetry and prose, playwright/director, professor, educator and cultural activist, Adisa has lectured and read her work throughout the United States, South Africa, Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, Germany, Spain, France, England and Prague, and has performed in Italy and Bosnia. An award-winning poet and prose writer, Adisa has sixteen titles to her credit, including the novel, It Begins With Tears (1997), that Rick Ayers proclaimed as one of the most motivational works for young adults.
She has been a resident artist in internationally acclaimed residencies such as Arte Studio Ginestrelle (Assis, Italy), El Gounda (Egypt), Sacatar Institute (Brazil) and McColl Center, (North Carolina) and Headlines Center for the Arts (California, USA). Opal Palmer Adisa’s work has been reviewed by Ishmael Reed, Al Young, and Alice Walker (Color Purple), who described her work as “solid, visceral, important stories written with integrity and love.”
Following in the tradition of the African “griot” Opal Palmer Adisa, an accomplished storyteller, commands the mastery and extraordinary talent of storytelling, exemplary of her predecessors. Through her imaginative characterizations of people, places and things, she is able to transport her listeners to the very wonderlands she creates.
A gifted diversity trainer, literary critic, and proud mother of three accomplished children, Opal is the former parenting editor and host of KPFA Radio Parenting show in Berkley, California. Columnist for The Graduate Parent for the “Healthy You,” website and wrote a bi-monthly poetry column for The Daily News, St. Thomas. Adisa has published hundreds of articles on different aspects of parenting, writing and poetry and is currently completing a book on effective parenting.
A Distinguished professor of creative writing and literature in the MFA program at California College of the Arts, where she teaches in the Fall. She has been a visiting professor at several universities including, Stanford University, University of California, Berkeley and University of the Virgin Islands. Her poetry, stories, essays and articles on a wide range of subjects have been collected in over 400 journals, anthologies and other publications, including Essence Magazine. She has also conducted workshops in elementary through high school, museums, churches and community centers, as well as in prison and juvenile centers.
Opal Palmer Adisa is a vivacious, motivational speaker who will enthrall and mesmerize you with her words.
Phyllis Carol Agins’ fiction includes two novels: Suisan and Never the Same River Twice, as well as numerous short stories, published in Kalliope, Paragraph, and Lilith Magazine (Fall ‘06), among other journals. Her children’s book, Sophie’s Name, has been in print since 1990, and she also co-authored One God, Sixteen Houses, an architectural study. For many years, she served on the board of the Philadelphia Writers’ Conference and taught writing at Penn State Abington. Lately, she divides her time between Fairmont Park and the Mediterranean coast. She has completed a comic novel about young widowhood and is polishing a literary mystery centering on the Shakespeare authorship question. Her next book will follow a Jewish family as they leave Algeria to make a new life in France and America.
Angela Ajayi spent over ten years in publishing, mainly as a book editor, until she became a freelance writer. She holds a BA from Calvin College and an MA from Columbia University. Her essays and author interviews have appeared in the Star Tribune and Afroeuropa: Journal of Afro-European Studies. She currently writes book reviews for The Common Online. Her first short story, “Galina,” will be published by Fifth Wednesday Journal this fall. She likes to think she defies easy categorization, identifying through birth and citizenship as a Nigerian-Ukrainian-American writer. She lives in Minneapolis with her husband and daughter.
All Articles by Angela Ajayi
Drawing on the Universal in Africa (English Version): An Interview with Marguerite Abouet
Drawing on the Universal in Africa (French Version): An Interview with Marguerite Abouet
Kenya’s Unrest: An Interview with the Kenyan Poet Mukoma Wa Ngugi
PEN WORLD VOICES
Everything Is Complicated: An Interview With Nadia Kalman
On Reading and Writing in the Future and Now – Blogs, Twitter, and the Kindle
Literature, Life and Death: On the Arthur Miller Freedom to Write Lecture by Umberto Eco
In Spite of the Gun: Remembering Ken Saro-wiwa, Nigerian Writer and Activist
WRR@LARGE – WILD COVERAGE
Bill Alexander is a published fiction writer for Venture Magazine, Spectrum Magazine, and Drumbeat Magazine. As an intern for Wild River Review, he contributes to the column Wild Table, sharing his thoughts and insights on food and culture. Born and raised in New Jersey and a New Orleanian at heart, Bill is an avid storyteller and devoted writer who believes strongly in originality over faddism.
Works by Bill Alexander
Chris Allen became interested in filmmaking during High School, and has pursued it ever since. He studied Bhakti Yoga (which he still practices) in Chicago before receiving a degree in Film and Television from New York University. After raising three children and producing videos in corporate America, Allen started his own film company, Open Sky Cinema, writing and producing documentaries. They include “The Delaware and Raritan Canal,” “Lost Princeton,” “A Warm and Loving Look — The Poetry of Stephen Kalinich,” and “Open Sky.”
In his documentary, “Quark Park,” Allen filmed and interviewed dozens of scientists, artists, sculptors, landscape architects, and architects in collaboration with Quark Park’s creators Peter Soderman, Kevin Wilkes; and with the Wild River Review.
Works by Chris Allen
Renée Ashley is the author of five volumes of poetry: Because I Am the Shore I Want to Be the Sea (Subito Book Prize); Basic Heart (winner of the 2008 X.J.Kennedy Poetry Prize); The Revisionist’s Dream; The Various Reasons of Light; and Salt (Brittingham Prize in Poetry, University of Wisconsin Press), as well as a novel, Someplace Like This, and two chapbooks, The Museum of Lost Wings and The Verbs of Desiring. Ashley teaches poetry in the low-residency MFA Program in Creative Writing and across the genres in the MA in Creative Writing and Literature for Educators. She has received fellowships from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts in both poetry and prose and a poetry fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. A portion of her poem, “First Book of the Moon,” is included in a permanent installation in Penn Station, Manhattan, by the artist Larry Kirkland. She has served as Assistant Poetry Coordinator for the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation and, for seven years, as Poetry Editor of The Literary Review. Her new collection, The View from the Body, was published by Black Lawrence Press in March 2016.