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Saturday, June 7, 2008

Fiction to look forward to


My first stab at blogging came in the year leading up to my 30th birthday. Determined to publish something by the time I turned 30, I launched disciplineandpublish.com, a site for daily writing. The term blog didn't have the ubiquity it suffers from today, but I felt D&P really wasn't one - "this isn't going to be one of those Web diaries" is how I think I phrased it in an initial posting. The idea, modeled after the Daily Themes course in daily writing I took at Yale with Wayne Koestenbaum, was to write every day. It could be fiction, poetry, essay, diary, mock news - anything, as long as it was at least 300 words. It was a good exercise and out of 366 postings there were ten or so I wound up liking. I've posted them here.

Back then it wasn't so terribly competitive to get an audience if you wrote and posted something on a daily basis, and one of the very nicest things about D&P was the people I met doing it. One D&P reader was Cooley Windsor, who was at the time a writing resident at the Headlands Center for the Arts. He invited me to read there with him, and so D&P had its closing ceremonies, on my 30th birthday, in that august and splendid setting.

Cooley's short story collection Visit Me in California, coming out in August, just got this review in Publishers Weekly (emphasis added):
Visit Me in California: Stories
Cooley Windsor. Northwestern Univ./Triquarterly, $16.95 (130p) ISBN 978-0-8101-2496-7

San Francisco poet Windsor's punchy, edgy briefs find his characters often caught in Homeric and Old Testament entanglements. “The Last Israelite in the Sea” imagines a protagonist running after Moses after the Red Sea miraculously parts, feeling rapturous but also terrified, barefoot and unable to swim, that he won't make it to shore. “The Art of War” finds various Homeric characters in painfully human situations, such as Paris, steeped in pornography as a youth and unable to consummate his desire for Helen because her beauty only underscores his imperfections, or Achilles, accidentally shot by a farm boy in the chest rather than in the heel. Some selections have a poignant memoiristic feel, as in the elegiac “I'll Be You,” in which the friend of a dying gay man in San Francisco has to make choice that places him between his friend and his friend's caring Tulsa mother. Windsor's stories possess the startling, memorable quality of the brightest fiction. (Aug.)

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Paul Festa’s first film, Apparition of the Eternal Church (2006, 51 min), captures the responses of 31 artists to the apocalyptic music of Olivier Messiaen (with Justin Bond, John Cameron Mitchell, Harold Bloom; screenings: Grace Cathedral, Barbican Centre, Library of Congress; “Remarkable”The New Yorker; “Stunning”Chicago Sun-Times; “Sublime”Globe & Mail; numerous awards). Festa performs the Tchaikovsky violin concerto, opposite members of the San Francisco Ballet and The Cockettes, in his award-winning second film, The Glitter Emergency (2010, 20 min), a silent-film drag ballet comedy (“Enormous visual and musical inventiveness…full of pleasure and joy...Festa gives a bravura performance."—Film Threat). He produced, wrote and edited, with director Austin Forbord, and was chief archivist, for the Emmy-nominated documentary Stage Left: A Story of Theater in San Francisco (2010, 80 min: with Robin Williams, Bill Irwin, Peter Coyote; screenings: Geary Theater, KQED; “Intriguing...entertaining...a valuable record”—Variety). Performances as violinist and actor: ODC Theater, Center for Performance Research, Kunst-Stoff, TheatreFIRST, North Bay Shakespeare, Albert Fuller's Helicon Ensemble (Merkin Hall, Weill Hall at Carnegie Hall, Alice Tully Hall). US, Boston, NYC, SF, LA and DC (Coolidge Auditorium at the Library of Congress on the “Betts” Stradivarius) premieres of Messiaen’s Fantaisie for violin and piano. He is the author of OH MY GOD: Messiaen in the Ear of the Unbeliever, based on Apparition of the Eternal Church, and several anthologized essays, and has written for The Daily Beast, Salon, Nerve, and The New York Times Book Review. Current projects include a novel and Tie It Into My Hand (2014, ca. 80 min), a documentary feature that has screened as a work in progress at the Cannes film market and at ODC Theater in San Francisco (with Alan Cumming, Gary Graffman, Peter Coyote, Mink Stole, Robert Pinsky; "A fascinating exploration of the artistic life, as rollickingly entertaining as it is insightful and stirring."San Francisco Bay Guardian). Education: Yale (B.A.; prizes, honors, distinction), Juilliard (Cert., Adv. Cert., scholarships). Residencies: Yaddo, MacDowell, ODC Theater, Centre des R├ęcollets.

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