Being the Flow – Claudio Basso: Zen Photographer
Claudio Basso and his book collaboration with Bodhipaksa, “Being the Flow” The mind. The memory. The soul. The body. The passion in Claudio Basso’s fine art captivates all of our senses, inviting us to linger awhile. As Jennifer Stockman, President of the Guggenheim Foundation, reflects, “Claudio Basso is a masterful artist adept at capturing the spirit and soul of any subject matter…. In his first landscape series, he was able to make even trees look like sensual and organic creatures. Claudio is truly a gifted artist who has the ability to change the way in which we perceive the world around us.”
Born in Paris in 1959, Claudio received his first camera and an enlarger for his fourteenth birthday. He set up his own dark room and was off shooting everything he possibly could. Soon thereafter he began dreaming of traveling the world and making a name for himself as a professional fashion photographer. At the age of twenty-one, he recalls saying to his father, “Dad, one day I want to be able to spin the globe and wherever my finger lands, go work there.” With that, Basso relocated to Milan to seek out possibilities for work and learned that Alberto Nodolini, a well-known art director credited for re-crafting Italian Vogue and Vanity magazines, was meeting with up-and-coming talent. Basso contacted Nodolini and arranged for an appointment. He was chosen as one of the few young photographers to work for Nodolini as an apprentice and it was through this valuable experience that Basso would begin to develop his own style. Basso witnessed and absorbed the unconventional techniques of style and lighting, poring over films shot by fashion industry pioneers like Richard Avedon, Irving Penn, Art Kane, and Bill King. Back in the studio, Basso would attempt to replicate and reinvent what he was learning, showing his developing style to Nodolini to receive his guidance and feedback. “That was a terrific experience,” says Basso, “because Nodolini allowed me to be in the editorial offices of one of the most iconic magazines in the fashion industry. Not only was I seeing the magazine being brought from an idea to an actual icon of the industry, but I was having the opportunity to look at the work of all the big masters who were collaborating with the publication at that time.” After years of apprenticeship, sacrifice and good, old-fashioned hard work in Milan, Basso went on to make his dream of spinning the globe a reality. Instead of hanging around Italy’s fashion capital with other successful fashion photographers who were beginning to enjoy the good life, Claudio packed his bags, went to Paris and started over again. Once he became successful there, he packed his bags again and did the same thing in London. “It was hard because every time I would go to a new place, not only did I have to break into a new market, but I had to literally start from scratch. That meant putting the portfolio on my back, going on appointments all day, and having most doors slam in my face until I got the first chance, then the second – all of this while surviving on french fries.” This cycle continued until Basso found himself in demand all over the world. It wasn’t until he landed in New York City that he called his father and said, “Dad, remember what I told you several years ago about spinning the globe?…” Today Basso can travel anywhere in the world and find work because his work and his name are so well-recognized. His portfolio includes exquisite fashion shots for magazines like Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, Elle, Vanity, Amica and Grazia, and he has photographed some of the world’s most stunning and famous creatures; Cindy Crawford, Estelle Hallyday, Niky Taylor, and Iman Bowie, to name just a few.
At the height of his career, while working in New York, Basso stumbled upon the website of Buddhist teacher, Bodhipaksa. Immediately transformed by Bodhipaksa’s writing style, Basso found and read Bodhipaksa’s book, Living as a River. Six months later, Basso suffered a career-halting aneurysm, challenging his entire way of life. In what he describes as a “heat wave coming up from my feet,” Basso was rushed to the hospital, where doctors ordered an emergency MRI. Basso’s brain hemorrhage was so severe that he was immediately transferred to another hospital. Within a matter of hours, Basso underwent brain surgery, after which he slipped into a coma for eight weeks, suffered three strokes, and encountered multiple brushes with death. It was an ordeal that hospitalized him for over six months, an experience that affected him deeply on a spiritual level, and granted him a second chance at life with a new perspective on his work. After his aneurysm, Basso went on to create a series of images with meditative statements, infusing them with “Zen energy” to which he is magnetically drawn. In a partnership with his Buddhist mentor, author Bodhipaksa, Basso collaborated on the creation of the book entitled, Being the Flow.
WRR: Being the Flow, brings together two talented communicators from very different fields. How did you find one another? Claudio Basso: I was already very much captivated by Bodhipaksa’s writing and all of the things that he was talking about on his site. He inspired me so deeply that one afternoon during the winter – and it must have been a day when I think the temperature must have been about five million below zero – I picked up my camera, and I went down to a nearby location where there were waterfalls and decided to create a series of images. When I went back and looked at it, I was so happy with the results that I decided to send them to Bodhipaksa to let him know that his book inspired me to create it. A couple of weeks later I get an email from him saying, “Claudio, I find your work spectacular. It stops me in my breathing and it makes me think a lot. In fact, I find it so inspirational that I would like to ask you if you would be interested in doing a book with me where I create my spiritual writing on the inspiration of your images.” At that point, you can imagine, I was like a little kid jumping up and down the whole house. I mean, this guy was my guru that I’ve followed, and he was now asking me to do a book with him.
How did you arrive at marrying your respective images with the meditations themselves? Can you walk me through your image selection process?
Claudio Basso: The meaning really was about two artists, collaborating together, utilizing two different tools to send out the same message to the world. The pictures were the inspirational source for Bodhipaksa’s spiritual writing. So the pictures came first. However, we did have a wide selection to pick from and that was a wonderful sharing process between the two of us. I would send him a selection based on what I thought, then he would give me his comments and his selections, then working back and forth we came up with a final selection of images.
WRR: The image called Tango is such a captivating photograph. I look at this photograph and feel it’s so aptly named.
Claudio Basso: The whole idea of the tango dance, as you very well know, is that it is a very passionate type of dance where the relationship between the male and the female dancer is extremely tight, even physically. At the same time, it really rolls out some culture elements, like the position of the male figure in society in respect to the female, and so forth. That is why when people dance tango, the male is holding his companion with his hand across the back, and usually with his fingers open, because they’re both striving for closeness. So when I looked at that image of those two trees, I felt this is really the same vibrational emotion as dancing tango. It was like someone pumped the music in my ears while I was looking at this image.
WRR: And what makes you choose black and white photography over color?
Claudio Basso: The choice of color or black and white is similar to the choice a painter will make when he decided if he is going to do a canvas with oil or pastels. So it is just one of the many tools I have available as an artist to describe my message. I find the black and white very valuable, not only for the drama it allows me to depict, but because it generates a certain type of vibrational intensity. In black and white the whole sense of the message is carried by shapes and shades of grey. There’s no color to distract. WRR: Did you give the photographs in Being the Flow their titles yourself or did you and Bodhipaksa work together on naming them? Claudio Basso: The titles are all mine. They are part of the message. Everybody gets a different story or interpretation depending on what they need when they are in front of art. That has always been the intent behind my work. I enjoy the intellectual challenge of adding some words to the visuals. On the other hand, I like my work to be as open as possible in the sense that while I’m trying to offer a message to the viewer, I don’t like to impose one. To me, it doesn’t matter, the connection between the title and the picture. The purpose behind my work is to connect with the people out there and hopefully inspire them to take a moment, breathe deeply, and try to look at things a little deeper. Whatever makes them happy is fine with me as long as it becomes a source of generating some positive energy. WRR: That brings me to another evocative image, the XII Station. For me, this image represents that which is weighed down in the human experience, when we feel that we are tangled and knotted and confused or burdened. It looks like it’s a person with his or her arms outstretched, literally entwined with complexity.
Claudio Basso: The title came from the Via Crucis where the twelfth station is the stop where Christ was crucified. In fact, when I looked at the image I sort of saw an abstract figure of a man on a cross. This is one of the images that has an incredible significance for me, as I am Buddhist. The Buddha acquired his final enlightenment one day while he was sitting under a huge tree called the Bodhi Tree. That very famous Bodhi Tree was a particular type of fig tree that is now called a Banyan tree and that’s exactly the tree that I photographed in that image. When I actually completed the image and I started looking at it – I had this huge print next to my bed, so I had many opportunities to really stare at it – I was captured by the meditative Zen qualities of the image. I would get lost and find myself moving into a different realm of reality. I found myself often meditating on that image.
WRR: There’s so much you can take from it. There are vascular elements, and just these really human qualities. So, in terms of where Buddhism meets Christianity, if one element of this image is suggestive of Christ on the cross and another element is of enlightenment through Buddha, where do the two meet for you in your meditative assessment of it? Claudio Basso: Buddhism is not a religion, rather a way of life. However, to me, any form of expression, be it religious or meditation, that allows you to get in touch with your inner self, is a good thing to have. It produces positive results. It’s like if you give a bunch of kids white paper and colored crayons and ask them to draw a house, you’re going to end up with a bunch of houses that look different with different colors and all of that, but they are all a house. It’s the same way with religion. In fact, if you really analyze the word of the most renowned profits – be it Jesus Christ, be it Muhammad or whatever – you will realize that in the very end they all speak the same language and the same concepts. That goes back to the critical Buddhist concept of oneness: that we are all one, part of the same universal energy. It doesn’t matter if you are Christian or Hindu or Buddhist or whatever.
WRR: In your biography, you refer to yourself as being a very sensual being in that you enjoy scent and surfaces, music, food, wine, and enjoying beauty wherever you see it. Do you feel this is something that has developed or is this something you’ve always gravitated to even as a youth?
Claudio Basso: I am indeed a very sensual man. I can tell you for a fact it has increased vertically over time. I think that is a direct consequence of acquired wisdom in the sense that you become more and more secure about yourself, and, therefore, you can set the path where you are walking and allow yourself the freedom to be who you are and to experience the things you want to experience without any form of shame or guilt. I never really cared much about how the world perceives me as an artist. What I really care about is to be able to touch the world with my art. As long as I know that if someone looks at one of my images and receives its stimulating energy that eventually transforms into something positive in their life, then I’m a happy man and I think that my mission is fulfilled. What I care about is that they get my message and that my message helps make the world a better place. I came to the point of understanding that I am a man with very alerted senses, and now I am totally at peace at letting those senses fly free whenever I have an opportunity, whether taking a walk in the woods or being in front of food or touching a nice surface or what have you. For me, it’s not even a matter of seeing it. When I’m presented with a situation, the universe sends me the message through energy and my senses alert me towards it.
WRR: At the age of 51, you experienced a life-altering event and suffered an aneurysm. Tell me, how did that experience affect your health, your outlook, and your career?
Claudio Basso: Let’s just say I had a lot of time to think, and I took the whole ordeal very spiritually. The question that kept bombarding me was, “Why? Why does God, the Source – call it whatever you want – think I’m not ready to go? Why does he think I still have work to do on this planet when I’ve worked so hard all my life? What is it that I have to do?” These questions were bombarding my brain every day until one morning the light bulb went on, and I heard this little voice inside me that gave me the answer, “But you see, Claudio, you spent your entire life making pictures to please art directors, fashion editors, and advertising executives. I think it’s time for you now to make pictures to please people.” So that got me thinking a lot. I came to the conclusion that it was time to start thinking about messages that I want to communicate to the world to make it a happier place.
WRR: Did you battle at all with doubt or fear?
Claudio Basso: One of the things that was a consequence of the aneurysm – and the hospital afterwards – is that I gained an incredibly intimate relationship with mother nature – to the point that I can now walk outside and literally feel the energy of the Earth. My friends think I’m crazy because I talk to the birds or I go out at night and I talk to the moon and I talk to the stars because I feel they are all my friends. I truly feel their energy. Although I’ve always had a connection with Mother Nature since I was very young, it was never as deep as it is now because of a spiritual component in it. What happened was that I learned how to train my senses to become more and more alerted and more receptive towards universal energies. That stimulated the creation of my latest work.
WRR: Tell me about the transitional process away from high fashion celebrity photography.
Claudio Basso: I’m not in the fashion industry anymore. I’m not even in advertising anymore. As an artist, I now depend entirely on people purchasing my fine art from my website. That is my only source of revenue and my survival depends on the income I earn selling my fine art.
WRR: Do you feel more isolated?
Claudio Basso: Actually, I don’t. I’m very often alone, but I’m never lonely and that is because I believe my spiritual awakening has played a big role, so I’m constantly feeling this connection to “The One” and to Mother Nature. So whenever I go through moments of difficulty, I resort to meditating and that helps me a lot. Every morning I go down to the ocean, and I do my own meditation because moving water has a terrific beneficial impact on me. I developed a tremendous friendship with the ocean, which I feel is a direct conduit to the wider universe. When I go out and I create fine art, it’s not like “Alright, I’m going to pick up the camera today, get out there and do some fine art.” It’s a much more involving process. To start with, my fine art projects are all collections so there is always a concept behind them and a very clear message that I intend to describe to the world through images. That being said, I usually do a meditation session to get balanced and in tune, and then, when I am out there with my camera, I don’t use much of my brain anymore. I let my senses drive me. It’s the universe itself that shows me the things that I need to capture and the message that I want to tell.
WRR: You have an image called Change that shows water flowing behind ice. It struck me as perhaps an autobiographical statement of yours – how through your medical setback, your personal change might have served to have you to flow deeper into your artistic expression. I feel that image really captures how you are able to be in the flow. And I noticed that you chose that particular image as the book cover.
Claudio Basso: I look at my artistic process as an extremely dynamic one and, as such, is always changing. With this image, I had a very clear idea in mind: to debate and create some discussion about the fact that the general public looks at water and ice as two completely different elements: one being solid and the other fluid. So my intent was to stimulate a different approach to understand that they are both very fluid elements for the fact that without water there is no ice. One morning you wake up and you look out the window and you have an icicle that is three inches long, then two days later it’s two feet long. Ice itself is an extremely dynamic element.
WRR: You talk about how “exhibiting your work is the most humbling experience for a photographer” and how it is “the ultimate break away from the intimate relationship between the creator and the creation.” You liken it to the cutting of the umbilical cord. Can you elaborate about this kind of creative humility and intimacy?
Claudio Basso: For an artist to create, to go through the struggle – the emotional and intellectual turmoil – to produce something, it’s like the gestation of a baby inside the belly. Then it comes to the delivery point where you have to expose your work to the judgment of the public, be it a book, an exhibit or whatever. That, to me, is comparable to when the baby is born and you have to cut the umbilical cord so the baby stops feeding from the mother and is out in the world on its own. So an artist has to come to that point of inner security and spiritual balance to be willing to let go of the project and deliver it without fearing what sort of response will come back. The work was created to be given to the world, so give it to the world!
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.