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Interview with Gail Godwin about Grief Cottage

Started by Rob Neufeld in AC-T Book Reviews Aug 3, 2017.

Ellington in Asheville--a survey

Started by Rob Neufeld in Local History Oct 6, 2017.

Dave Minneman, heroic portrait

Started by Rob Neufeld in Local History Aug 25, 2017.

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Rob Neufeld posted a discussion

Coalescence

Coalescence (part of  Living Poem)Intro Don’t listen, children, and do not hear.(A monster is coming and there’s no escapeWithin this story, and no good way to tell it, Except to gaze at the horror as at a flower,A disaster streaming off extremes it breedsEverywhere and in our minds, disabling our power.) Distractions are good, puzzles that teaseAnd please and fill the main scene, whichIncludes…See More
Tuesday
Rob Neufeld posted a discussion

The Sultan's Dream

The Sultan’s Dream (Part of Living Poem) When it comes to walking, the jig’s up.No more fit lad sitting at the pub.No more flim-flam smiling with a limp. See how the legs totter and the torso leans.Do you know what a lame sultan dreams?Of reclining on a divan wearing pantaloons, Comparing his plight to a mountaineer’sNegotiating an icy bluff in a fierce wind,And then lounging in a tent to unwind. Which…See More
Nov 15
Rob Neufeld posted a discussion

The Tale of Ononis

The Tale of Ononis by Rob Neufeld Part 1: The Making of a Celebrity ❧  Hare Begins His Tale  Ononis was my region’s name.People now call it Never-the-same.I’ll start with the day a delivery came. The package I got was a devil’s dare,Swaddled and knotted in Swamp Bloat hairAnd bearing, in red, one word: “Beware!” Bloats are creatures from the Land of Mud Pies,Wallowing in waste with tightly closed eyesUntil fears bring tears and the bleary bloats rise.   ❧  Hare’s Colleagues  I asked my boss,…See More
Nov 9
Connie Regan-Blake posted an event

Drop Your Troubles: A Solo Storytelling Performance with Connie Regan-Blake at Black Mountain Center for the Arts

December 1, 2018 from 7:30pm to 9pm
Join this internationally renowned storyteller, Connie Regan-Blake, as she transforms a packed theater into an intimate circle of friends with old-timey charm, wisdom, and humor. We’ll also welcome the Singer of  Stories, Donna Marie Todd, who will perform her original story, “The Amazing Zicafoose Sisters.” Connie’s last two shows at BMCA have sold…See More
Nov 6
Connie Regan-Blake updated an event
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Explore the Landscapes of Story and Telling at Lenoir-Rhyne Center for Graduate Studies

January 23, 2019 at 10am to February 27, 2019 at 12pm
A Storytelling Offering in Asheville, NCWednesday Mornings 10am-12pmJanuary 23 – February 27, 2019 This winter Connie is excited to offer a learning opportunity to warm-up your storytelling voice and creativity!  Join her in Asheville, NC at Lenoir-Rhyne University for six story-work sessions with a weekly format that allows for skills to grow over time while encouraging a consistency in discovering, revisiting and refining your stories. During these weekly sessions participants are invited…See More
Nov 6
Connie Regan-Blake posted an event
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Explore the Landscapes of Story & Telling at Lenoir-Rhyne Center for Graduate Studies

January 23, 2019 at 10am to February 27, 2019 at 12pm
A Storytelling Offering in Asheville, NCWednesday Mornings 10am-12pmJanuary 23 – February 27, 2019 This winter Connie is excited to offer a learning opportunity to warm-up your storytelling voice and creativity!  Join her in Asheville, NC at Lenoir-Rhyne University for six story-work sessions with a weekly format that allows for skills to grow over time while encouraging a consistency in discovering, revisiting and refining your stories. During these weekly sessions participants are invited…See More
Oct 28
Connie Regan-Blake updated an event
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Connie Regan-Blake presents A Slice of Life: An Evening of Stories at Black Mountain Center for the Arts

April 6, 2019 from 7:30pm to 9pm
Join nationally celebrated storyteller, Connie Regan-Blake, as she hosts her workshop participants in an enchanting evening of storytelling in “A Slice of Life: An Evening of Stories.” The event will be hosted by the Black Mountain Center for the Arts, just a short drive from Asheville nestled in the picturesque mountains surrounding the area. Call the Center for advance tickets (828) 669-0930 or order…See More
Oct 28
Connie Regan-Blake updated an event
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Connie Regan-Blake's Taking Your Story to the Stage Workshop at StoryWindow Productions

April 5, 2019 to April 7, 2019
The focus of this “Taking Your Story to the Stage” 3-day workshop is on storytelling performance. Each participant is asked to come with a story that is almost “stage-ready.” Set in Connie’s home tucked in the beautiful mountains surrounding Asheville, NC, this workshop provides a supportive, affirming…See More
Oct 28
Rob Neufeld posted a discussion

Let’s say every word is precious

Let’s say every word is precious (Part of Living Poem) Let’s say every word is precious.Say every word is precious.Every word is precious.Every word precious.Every word.Word.--Rob Neufeld, Oct. 16, 2018See More
Oct 17
Rob Neufeld posted discussions
Oct 12
Nancy Sutton replied to Rob Neufeld's discussion Metamorphoses
"Poignant in so many ways!   "
Oct 3
Rob Neufeld posted a discussion

Metamorphoses

Metamorphoses (Part of Living Poem)Hear audio: Metamorphoses%20181004_0192.MP3 So Apollo committed the first rape.He’d come back from exterminating Python,The Bane of Humanity, now his arrow-victim,And stopped to mock…See More
Oct 2
Joan Henehan replied to Joan Henehan's discussion on Reading Living Poem
"Fantastic, that will be very helpful."
Sep 22
Rob Neufeld posted a discussion

First Drumbeat

First Drumbeat(Part of Living Poem) The time has come.Call it a drum,Or a crumb,What’s left of life. I used to tell a jokeWhen my life was wide,And I was a stud,And not a dud—I knowI’m not a dud.  I’m a dude,A dad.  But everyone mustRebut the dud chargeAt summing up time. Oh yeah, the joke,A trademark one for meIn that it’s not funny. I used to say I’ll never retireFrom writingBecause if I’m ever…See More
Sep 22
Rob Neufeld replied to Joan Henehan's discussion on Reading Living Poem
"Thanks for the prompt, Joan!  I have attached the whole work in progress as a doc at the bottom of the table of contents page: http://thereadonwnc.ning.com/special/living-poem"
Sep 22
Joan Henehan replied to Joan Henehan's discussion on Reading Living Poem
"Is there a way from this website to print everything or might you send me such a document to bayjh@icloud.com?"
Sep 22

Dance critic applies grace to every move

by Rob Neufeld

 

            It’s nice to find just the right word for something, especially when it sums up a main idea in your way of thinking.

            That was the case with Sarah Kaufman when she’d first felt moved, nine years ago, to write her new book, “The Art of Grace” (W.W. Norton).

            Kaufman, then a veteran dance critic for the “Washington Post,” had already expanded her coverage to include such dancelike subjects as the Tour de France and the Changing of the Guard.  Next, she’d decided, she’d write about Hollywood’s “Golden Age” movie stars, how they walked, faltered, and gestured.

            “The first movie I popped into my DVD,” she said in a recent interview with me, “was ‘The Philadelphia Story,’ and I knew instantly that the core of my essay was going to be about Cary Grant because that word—“grace”—just dropped into my mind when I saw him.”

            Kaufman presents her book at Malaprop’s Bookstore in Asheville Saturday evening, Jan. 9..

 

Everyday contexts

 

            Kaufman’s subject has become a beacon to her, as she follows it to sports arenas, religious practices, restaurant kitchens, emergency rooms, and ice trucks.

            “There’s so much art all around us, so much beauty,” she explained compassionately—“you know, in the way people tend to fall into step when they walk together; or with an easy exchange in a coffee shop between a barista and a customer; or with a homeless person on the street corner.”

“Have you ever thought of creating—or have you created any choreography?” I asked Kaufman.

            “No, that’s not my art,” she replied.  However, her writing might find expression in a documentary, as “some people are working on it,” she said.

            Passages in “The Art of Grace” would make great filmed scenes, I think—for example, the restaurant kitchen Kaufman writes about in the chapter, “Everyday Grace.”

            “Eight cooks are squeezed together like a submarine crew,” she relates.  “Still, they swivel with graceful ease.”  They bend and spring.  “These toqued commandos glide calmly through the same motions again and again.  They’re a hairbreadth away from ruin, mere seconds from scorched shoat.”

            I had to stop at the word, “toqued.”  Did Kaufman mean “torqued”?  No, toque is the little hat, that’s funny.

            “The Art of Grace,” is a good mix of celebrity anecdotes; timely advice; exuberant story-telling; and delicious wit, though the word-love sometimes spirals into romantic moon-shots.

 

Longed-for expression

 

            From childhood, Kaufman had been a story-teller and seeker.  Dance became a main channel within that interest, partly because of a childhood experience.

            “Born with a heart defect that required surgery when I was seven,” she writes, “I was strictly kept away from physical exertion until a year after I’d had the operation.  I watched and absorbed vicariously all I could of others’ play and sports.  Ballet lessons...finally gave me a way in to the much-longed-for world of physical expression.”

            In the chapter, “To Become Unstuck,” Kaufman reports on a dance class for  people with Parkinson’s Disease at Mark Morris Dance Group’s headquarters.

            “If we think of grace as a magical combination of phrasing, fluidity, musicality, suspension, (and) the sense that one movement leads to the next—all that goes away with Parkinson’s,” Kaufman quotes David Leventhal, program director of “Dance for PD.”

            Beginning with repetitive gliding and expressiveness—not memorization of steps—the class leads participants to a new sense of themselves.

 

Kinds of grace

 

            The meaning of grace contains the ease of movement that people try to attain, the relief of revelation, the power of generosity, and the humility of good manners, Kaufman explicates.

            Kaufman’s saint of gracefulness and graciousness, Cary Grant, purposely flubbed his lines if his co-star’s delivery was off, so that the scene would have to be reshot without embarrassing his partner.

            When the House Un-American Activities Committee revoked Charlie Chaplin’s visa in 1952, Grant announced his retirement, stood up for Chaplin, and told the nation, “We should not go off the deep end.”  In 1940, Grant had donated his entire salary from “The Philadelphia Story” to the British war effort.

            Also that year, Grant had starred in “His Girl Friday” with Rosalind Russell.  Seated at lunch with his ex-wife and her new fiancé, Grant’s character delivers a cutting line that is full of play and pain. 

            The coup de grace in this exchange, Kaufman relates, occurs when an action “that starts in his neck and trickles across the top of his suit jacket shouts out loud and clear that Hildy (his ex) is making a stupid mistake...That liquid, nearly imperceptible roll of a muscle hangs there like an echo...a shiver in the emotional current.”

 

More of the interview

 

            “Your book has been a passion of yours for a long time,” I acknowledged in my interview with Kaufman.

            “It’s true,” she said.  “It’s a topic that I couldn’t find written about already in a way that tries to identify the grace that we see and experience in our everyday lives.”

            When she said she’d been a shy and somewhat socially inept person as a child, I asked her how grace had helped overcome that.

            “One thing to bear in mind,” she advised, “is to take the focus off yourself.  One of the 1930s manuals that I quote in the book said, ‘If you feel self-conscious, think of the other person, and you can’t hold two ideas in your mind at the same time.’”

            “Have you had an eye-opening experience of grace lately?” I wondered.

            “In fact, just a couple of weeks ago,” she recounted, “I was in a grocery store café, doing work on my laptop.  It was a quiet evening.  From across the room, a fellow started singing...the whole Beatles canon!  I was thinking to myself, ‘Why?  I was having such a good time here.’” 

“As I was listening to him,” she continued, “he got to ‘Eleanor Rigby,’ and started singing the line, ‘All the lonely people.’  I felt a tear.  It was one of those moments of two impulses crashing up against each other—a little bit of frustration, and then a lot of compassion.   It was a moment of grace.”

 

AUTHOR EVENT

Sarah Kaufman presents her new book, “The Art of Grace: On Moving Well through Life,” 7 p.m., Sat., Malaprop’s Bookstore/Café, 55 Haywood St., Asheville (254-6734).

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