O Muse! 04: Winter Solstice 2021
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ON THE COVER
Autumn Uke by Tracey Roberts
Tracey Roberts • Shannon Barletta • Susan Richards • kid red + Amzie Adams • Dan Simpson • Diana Thornton • Joe Barbara • CJ Hunt • Eleanor Wagner • Turin Burdick • Beth W. Patterson/Morgan Wagner
With winter full on in much of the Northern Hemisphere, I thought it would be nice to include a little bit of summer with Shannon Barletta’s incredible mosaic surfboards. And recently I drove a friend to Biloxi on the Mississippi Gulf Coast for a dentist appointment two blocks from the beach, so I took the opportunity to do some photography.
Beth connected me with synesthete Tracey Roberts, an Australian whose vibrant, intriguing art is inspired and guided by the colors she sees when she hears or plays music.
kid red just finished building a guitar custom painted by Amzie Adams (whose Ida painting was featured on the Fall issue’s cover).
On September 23, my aunt Elly Wagner died from pancreatic cancer. I included some of her writing and photography in the Spring issue. She wrote Dancing with David after the death of her mother, who had lost her first-born son David to Leukemia in 1940. The photo, taken by David’s father, my grandfather Homer Wagner, captured the deep love between mother and child. When David died at the age of five, she lost her joy in life. I never saw my grandmother cry, but she rarely laughed or smiled, and I never knew the woman she was in that photo. On the next page is a poem written by her great grandson Turin following his grandmother Elly’s death.
A few months ago, Joe Barbara submitted a short story called Wild Man Wyman that touches on New Orleans’ festering tensions with the Robert E. Lee statue, the roiling emotions connected to it and the power of symbols. Then in November I saw the independent film The Neutral Ground that documents the fight to remove the statue and realized it would be the perfect follow up to Joe’s story. When I moved to the South from Pennsylvania in the mid 80s, I quickly realized that the U.S. Civil War is not over. With the saturation of monuments, Confederate battle flags, the KKK and CSA holidays, one could be easily confused about who actually won in 1865. Confederate nostalgia is baked into everyday speech, politics, music and culture. Every country has gone through at least one civil war or invasion. But show me one victor that permitted the losing side to continue to fly their flags or erect monuments to their fallen leaders. As an archaeologist and historian, I am saddened by the loss or defacement of any artifact. As a descendant of Confederate soldiers (and Union soldiers and Revolutionary War soldiers) on my father’s side, I research and learn as much about them as possible. But as a woman born in the North in the 1960s, I identify with my mother’s Union and pacifist roots, and I will never “understand” my father’s grandfather, let alone my Rebel-flag-waving neighbor. Acknowledging, learning and talking about all aspects of our heritage is valuable. But, as a human being and U.S. citizen, I am outraged by the state-sponsored veneration and violent perpetuation of one of the most shameful periods in our country’s history.
Featurettes include haiku I wrote to accompany some of my photos, inspired by Johnette Downing’s haiku in a previous issue. Past contributor Dan Simpson sent me a winter photo with great juxtaposition of soft and sharp that I paired with a poem by Margaret Widdemer. Pandora’s Box is a painting by Susan Richards that I discovered in my hunt for dragonflies for the previous issue. And I paired an Emily Dickenson poem with an old photo of the unplowed dirt road leading out of our farm in Greene County, Pennsylvania where I grew up in the 70s.
And finally, Luna and Danzi kick some ass in their ongoing saga.
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