Being Invested in the Success of Others - 10 Questions with Writer Laura Chow Reeve, Recipient of the 2017 PEN/Robert J. Dau Short Story Prize for Emerging Writers
"Butterfly in the sky. I can go twice as high..." If you're of a certain age group, the chances are high that you're already singing the lines that follow those words - as well as affectionately reminiscing about the television series for which those words served as the opening line to the theme song. That show was PBS's "Reading Rainbow," hosted by LeVar Burton.
From 1983 until 2006, "Reading Rainbow" served as an educational and entertaining production that encouraged children to read. The show provided elementary level discussions around themes, and book recommendations were made by children who participated in the program. Imagine how you would feel if you were one of the countless children turned on to books and reading through the series and years later you heard LeVar Burton reading YOUR work on a publicly published platform. That's the story of writer Laura Chow Reeve.
We do not have the fortune of choosing every situation that life bestows upon us. Because of that, at various points in our lives we find ourselves facing personal tribulations, seemingly unsurpassable obstacles, and overwhelming adversity. Though we may not be able to control what situations life presents us, we do have the ability to choose how we respond to these circumstances.
Struggles and challenges not only test our character but can also build our character. What we overcome, and who we grow to become as a result of what we endured, can be crafted into a narrative that serves to both differentiate us from and connect us to others. Such is the case for guitarist and singer-songwriter Raul Midón.
Midón and his twin brother were born prematurely in a rural hospital in New Mexico. As a result of their early arrival, the two newborns were placed inside an incubator. Doctors neglected to provide the twins with the necessary eye protection, which led to the brothers losing their eyesight.
Madeleine Peck Wagner, the Arts and Entertainment Editor at Folio Weekly, was pleased with the article I wrote for Folio's website, in which I reviewed the exhibit "Solar-Powered Spacesuit." Because of that, she requested that I attend and review a new exhibit at Jacksonville University. The exhibit features the work of Alan Skees and Katie Hargrave. You can read the review HERE.
It's a little after 8:00 PM on Wednesday, October 5th. It is the first Wednesday of the month, which means Art Walk in downtown Jacksonville. The Coniferous Cafe on West Monroe Street is hosting an event to support the launch of "Nick Name," a local zine. It's drizzling rain outside but inside it's dry and a group of supportive twenty and thirty-somethings are gathered to warmly support the evening's programming.
Part of that programming includes a stripped-down performance by Rania Woodard. A shy and gentle smile is on the face of the 23 year old singer/songwriter as she stands in front of the crowd, most of whom smile back at her affectionally. The crowd of people are not strangers to Woodard's work. They patiently await for her to begin her set and when she does they sway and sing along to her words and melodies.
Woodard plucks the opening notes of "Still," a song she released last year under the moniker LANNDS. Since its release, the song has received a considerable amount of attention in the indie-electronic scene. Woodard's guitar is tuned and her amp is dialed in so that the notes she plays are both haunting and soothing - think the opening notes of Jeff Buckley's cover of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah."
Last night I attended "Candy: The Land of Donks," an immersive group photography exhibition at Space 42. Contributing to the exhibition were photographers Malcolm Jackson, Andre Burgess, Esdras Thelsuma, and Aaron J. Jackson. Donks, a part of car culture born in Florida, served as the subjects of all photographs. Donks are full-sized Chevrolets built between 1971 and 1976 that are customized with flashy rims, extravagant sound systems, and are often painted wild, candy colors.
I selected the wrong lens to shoot the opening, as I anticipated more light in Space 42. However, not all my photographs turned out terrible.
Interestingly, I interviewed Malcolm Jackson exactly one year ago yesterday. I've really enjoyed seeing his growth as a photographer over the course of the last year. He has generated a tremendous amount of momentum and continues to garner praise from arts community.