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Tag: writing

When She Waves

by fyarlgiles

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For Hellos and

goodbyes

my hands are

brittle sticks

stiffened by the forceful elements

raised up as if ready to punish the space

between us

with a strike.

unable to grasp–

They are unable —

to feel

to hold

Affection slides off of them.

and

sharing is lost.

Whether coming

or going

they wag.

wag.

wag.

Hi There.

 Hi there,

whoever you are.

“Her Wave” by Angie Hoover Hillhouse

Artwork: Shadows by Bird Heart

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The Silenced Wound

by fyarlgiles

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A scar

is yesterday

It doesn’t stab through lonely bones

or bite at freckled wrists.

It only

sits–

flacid.

— The corpse of a memory

that I have

forgotten.

Callous and benign

 in a garden of  blooming nerves–

Trying hard to imitate

the rosy shades

of life being felt.

But still-

it does not fit

Still

it does not See

that

it is not the same

 and it

can never  be—

“The Scar” by Angie Hoover-Hillhouse

Artwork: The Rising Sun by Peter Campbell

Editor Page

by fyarlgiles

Hello All, I have added an “About the Editor Page” to the site!

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Of Empowerment

by fyarlgiles

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Being in a gi again.

Tying my belt, again.

The meditation, knelt, eyes closed

As on the precipice of a great plunge.

 –

I am changed now :

My skin is not as young,

Not quite as pretty as I was.

My joints not quite as limber.

But my sweat still smells the same.

A clenched fist – remembered – is the same.

“A fist is a fist is a fist.”

Five years ago, when I began, tying my white belt, that’s what they said.

And now, dusting off my green-brown, I hear again

And again:

“A fist

is a fist

is a fist”.

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I look at my fist.

I remember keeping my nails short.

I remember wearing no makeup with confidence.

I remember

Balance

and

I could defend myself

if I had to.

Bowing into this keyhold door,

This is my dojo

my school

my home.

Deep somewhere in the roots beneath the floor boards

and the fibers of the carpet

is engrained my sweat

and my blood

and my tears

And there is magic here

underfoot

Because it is here I first saw

The glimmers of who is my true self.

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And I miss it

As a tree after a drought might remember its first bloom.

A level of introspection unparalleled as

what you do when a punch is coming at you.

I miss the intimacy of Kumite

Because to fight in this way is to know someone better

than a lover might know one.

I set my hands on guard,

I look you in the eyes,

and it is essential that I know you.

A strike and block exchanged —

The wing of a crane

or The bite of a snake,

and I know you.

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Oh, and I would rake as tigers claws might do.

I flew on wings and “rode the wind”.

My feet they moved as leopards do.

“A fist is a fist is a fist.”

And over clenched fist is set

an open one.

This means “Peace over Power”

To temper jagged steel

as I might have been.

But I’m back now. Things are different,

as I’ve said —

Ephemeral things like

the skin around the eyes.

But there are other things that are just the same.

And in these timeless stances,

That’s where I will find myself.

Untitled Martial Arts Poem by Vanessa Cate

The Way it Happened

by fyarlgiles

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Cold sands

rolling

over dents and dunes

silent as death

and

only my chilly lips between to feel them pass–

At once, light

and stiff- a densely packed strip of shoreline

 separating east from west.

spit from swallow

speak from sleep.

I recognize this place.

It is where pale

strands of life

rest

on my nose

exhausted after being pulled

and stretched

It is where fingers sag limp

from grasping the wind

too tightly.

And you cannot help me

because only I am here

with my voice

breaking against that relentless wind

that tells me

I can never know the truth

though it is buried somewhere near

“The Way It Happened” by Angie Hoover-Hillhouse

Artwork by Agnes Cecile 

Girls On Film: French New Wave

by fyarlgiles

I’ll Be Your Mirror: Performance and Identity in French New Wave 
by Angie Hoover

Cleo descends the dark spiral staircase as she contemplates her dwindling health. She peers out of a foggy, barred window, confined by the weight of death and cancer. Again and again, the image of her pretty face appears like a looping phrase on a snagged record: she is a fragmented woman built on hollow ground. She approaches a mirror and smiles, delighted by her own reflection: “Wait pretty butterfly. As long as you are beautiful, you are more alive than the rest of them,” she thinks.

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Cleo, the main character of Agnes Varda’s Cleo from 5 to 7, looks to her appearance to assert her identity. She is both the product of and response to an era dominated by celebrity culture: infatuated with her own carefully contrived persona, but desperately craving authenticity. Her dilemma is complex, but not necessarily unique.  In the late 1950s,  Hollywood films injected archetypes into Western culture that were almost immediately revered and imitated, infusing an element of performance with modern identity. The pervasive force that is American Cinema– filled with vamps, tramps, and wise guys, told audiences how to be likable, how to be interesting, and how to be important, and they listened. Selfhood then became a complex marriage between acting and being, one which is explored in depth by Varda’s Cleo from 5 to 7 and Godard’s Breathless. Through content and form, these films take a new artistic approach and provoke contemplation about the cultivation of the Self in an era where people attempted to understand and affirm their identities through appearance.

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The American Influence and the Birth of New Wave

The pioneers of the French New Wave movement were heavily influenced by American Cinema and paid homage to Hollywood both directly and subtly within their films. Breathless  is one of the clearest examples of this, chronicling the love affair between a Humphrey Bogart-Wannabe and his American girlfriend, Patricia. At one point in the film, the main character, Michel, visits a movie theater and casually jokes with a movie poster featuring Bogart’s harsh but handsome stare. This is Godard’s nod to the crime dramas of the 1940s. Similarly, Truffaut’s The 400 Blows shows the young Antoine escaping the harshness of everyday life in a movie theater, a practice which Truffaut claims, taught him how to make good films.

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The French movie-going population grew rapidly during the German Occupation, and continued to flourish during France’s reconstruction and modernization. During the second half of the 1950s, the popular audience rejected french films in favor of  american blockbusters (in particular detective films and B-movies) and the film critics of the time, including Andre Bazin, Jean Luc Godard, and Francois Truffaut, praised the more stylized work of american directors like Welles and Hitchcock. In the same breath, these critics condemned the “old style” of french cinema for its banal, hackneyed approach, and in an effort to revitalize filmmaking, they began directing their own films.

The onslaught of innovative films that resulted are considered the “new wave” of french filmmaking. Unlike the literary adaptations, and extraneous period pieces of pre-war France, French New Wave films addressed relevant social issues, as well as issues of existentialism, individualism, and the human experience. Both content and technique were manipulated to force contemplation about memory, time, and identity.

American Idols and Public Persona

Facades and personas are common areas of interest in French New Wave, which often dissects the process of personal transformation and the cultivation of Self. The implication in these films is that personality is no longer a thing that is discovered, but rather a thing that is created, resulting in a deep sense of narcissism and self-consciousness. Both Godard’s Michel and Varda’s Cleo obsessively interact with their own reflections as they attempt to build their personalities. Through these exchanges, we see the strange relationship that is forged between persona and self. When Michel rehearses his movie star glare in a glass  window or Cleo, catching her reflection in a hallway mirror, turns her chin upward ever so slightly to catch the perfect light, these films reveal the dichotomous nature of identity in the entertainment age. The self observes and critiques the effectiveness of the facade, and those natural behaviors which conflict with the crafted persona must be changed. Just as a ballet teacher urges her students to point their toes, or arch their feet to create a more uniform appearance, the self and the facade must be perfectly synchronized.

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These interactions also function as a form of validation: reassurance that the self is still interesting, still beautiful, and that the persona is being upheld. Mirrors and other reflective surfaces are ever present in the films of La Nouvelle Vague, serving as symbols of inescapable self-awareness. Always, these characters are watching themselves be watched. On a drive through the french countryside, Michel glances at his rearview mirror to make sure that he is capturing that hard, mysterious quality that Bogart has perfected. He stares ahead, an oversized black fedora casting a shadow over his brow and a lit cigarette dangling precariously from his bottom lip. Even on this solitary drive, he imagines that he is being admired. Later, in Patricia’s apartment, he leans against the sink and stares at himself. He traces his thumb over his lips and delivers his line: “ I always fall for girls who aren’t my type,” but he isn’t talking to Patricia; he is talking to himself— playing the role of the tough gangster. His criminal-facade is not only a tool that he uses to gain approval from others; it is who he has become. For Michel, like for Cleo, the facade has become the primary identity. It wields ultimate authority and like an overbearing parent, it must always be consulted for permission. In Breathless, Godard’s rough, personal style is instrumental in accentuating the nature of this interconnection.  As Hoffman notes, his transitions from shot to shot contradict traditional editing rules, creating  a “perceivable gap in time and space.” These missing frames make scenes jittery and disjointed, representing visually the perspectives of Michel, whose actions are fragmented and contrived.

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This level of self-centeredness is emotionally debilitating: a narcissism that spurs introspection but dehumanizes others. Michel perceives his life in a cinematic context, and  so a portion of his compassion is foregone for the sake of his performance. As he drives down a dirt road, he begins to play-shoot a silver pistol. The blinding sun shines through the window of his stolen car while a police car pursues him. He parks the car where the road meets the trees and steps out of the driver’s seat. Sliding his head into the  car window, he reaches for a gun. In a flash, he shoots the policeman to the ground. Godard then cuts to a long shot of Michel fleeing the scene of the crime. The quick cuts, and lack of realistic violence imply that this moment does not have a lasting emotional impact on Michel; this murder is just another plot point in the epic crime drama that is his life. A natural event in the life of an outlaw. For Michel, empathy is secondary to enhancing his tough-guy persona, and decisions are made with the intention of further developing his image. His identity is, as Ebert argues, a “cool facade […] that functions to conceal his desperation”. This disregard for other people is paralleled, albeit subtly, in Varda’s Cleo, who coyly plays her own record during lunch at a diner. She dances and smirks graciously as if the patrons are her audience, without realizing that some are complaining about the noise. Through their careful studies, these directors hint at the delusion as well as the deep need for acceptance lurking beneath their conceit.

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Where is the Line?

The Movement’s intense focus on personal experience is what allows viewers to empathize deeply with its characters and investigate issues of identity within themselves. Lingering close-ups are privileged over quicker shots that transition from person to person with the flow of action. In this way, moments between plot points are emphasized rather than omitted,  allowing the spectator to observe minute changes in expression and mood that might be lost in more fast-paced films. In Cleo from 5 to 7, we follow Cleo as she waits for the results of a medical test. She visits an old fortune-teller, tries on a multitude of hats, and traipses through the city, stopping intermittently to admire herself in various mirrors and windows: where is that line? That line between the facade and the Self ? Can she see it, or is it hiding  beneath her long black lashes, and her tiny, pointed nose?  When she returns to her apartment, she sits on her flouncy bed, adorned with feathers and silk. All of the pieces in her apartment are exquisite, but disconnected. A swing stands alone in the center of the room. A dresser. A bed. A piano. Each object sits in its own area, separated from everything else as if to be beautiful is to be isolated. Her songwriters arrive and she joins them at the piano.

Varda slowly zooms into her face and the background melts into a blanket of deep black. Cleo begins to sing and the camera stays tight on her face. The playfulness in her eyes evaporates and we sense a growing sadness. Slowly, she slips out of her pretty but empty shell, and we can see her fears and her desperation leaking out with every tear that streams down her face. That line between the self and the facade is as bold and dark as the notes that she sings. Although Cleo remains unwise, the viewer can see that there is something deeper to her: a longing, an emptiness, a confusion. In this long take, we have learned to detect a nearly invisible hole in Cleo and in ourselves. This film, and others within the movement, transform abstractions like the dichotomy of identity into tangible things that can be observed and understood, making  external what is internal for the viewer. Film-watching is then an experience  of self-scrutiny and personal transformation.

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How Does it End?

Both Cleo and Michel find different ends to their conflicts of identity, but their endings are shrouded in ambiguity. After a conversation with a young soldier, Cleo discovers that she has cancer, but is able to see herself as a part of the world rather than the shining star that it revolves around. Michel is gunned down as he runs through the streets of Paris, only to die uttering a cryptic phrase  as Patricia stares down at him in confusion . The films themselves are more circular than linear, ending with puzzling scenes that send viewers back around to the beginning and through the film again like a carousel. Meaning is found throughout, in the detailed expressions of the characters and the innovative artistic methods which point to aspects of identity that cannot be conveyed through dialogue or plot. French New Wave Films often sought the contradictions  and conflicts inherent in the human experience, but neglected to offer neat resolutions.


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Because these characters are able to fashion themselves after archetypes ( e.g. the debonair outlaw or the beautiful pop star) , they believe that identity is something that begins externally and is funneled inward. What these films show so perfectly is how gradually the division between what we are and what we pretend to be dissipates, effecting a void that is difficult to recognize. Almost accidentally,  the films of the French New Wave explore the internal conflict that arises when personas are so easily adopted and projected. When performance is an integral part of being, there is always the fear that the real self will slip through, causing a rift that could mean the loss of acceptance and possibly the loss of self-understanding. Because the New Wave directors forced existential issues into film during a time when the meaning of identity was transforming into something part real and part artificial, they attuned viewers to an emptiness that was felt but not yet intellectualized.

The integration of more individualistic and innovative filmmaking techniques reinvented film as a medium and the innovations of Godard, Truffaut, Varda, and others transformed film into an artform that was capable of investigating culture and its impact on identity in a new, more expressive way. The films themselves are mirrors reflecting back narcissism, disfunction, and the reduction of human nature. The French New Wave popularized the concept of film as art: a medium with the ability to explore and transform cultural perceptions and the movement itself is self-conscious, experimental, and yearning for depth like its central characters, simultaneously constructing and dissecting its own identity with every jump cut.

The Gymnast

by fyarlgiles

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In the evening,

when her elbows grind into the gravel

beneath whirling toes

and plump, freckled cheeks,

she is alive

in the world with the rest of them.

She is the bringer of motion

of percussion—

of lightness and music–

she

is

everything.

But when the faint moonbeams recede,

she is a hardened lump of throbbing thighs

and raw skin–

stiffened scabs

and sleepy hands wrapped up in sheets

longing for the comfort of

adoring

eyes to tell her that

She Exists.

“The Gymnast” by Angie Hoover-Hillhouse

Artwork by Hugo Barros

This piece will be featured in an upcoming stage production called Cat-Fight, which explores  the complexities of womanhood!

Support Women in the Arts! Donate to CAT-FIGHT !

Cat Fight

by fyarlgiles


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My work is going to be featured in a Los Angeles-based production this spring!

Vanessa Cate, critically acclaimed director,  is developing her first independent production. The project,”Cat-Fight”, is an all female show which will explore the complexities of womanhood through a series of vignettes written by Vanessa, myself, Crystal Little Bird SalasCheryl Doyle, and Natalie Hyde! It will incorporate poetry, dance, music, scenes, and other performance art.We are all very excited about the project ! Please support if you can, even $1 will be useful! 

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JOIN FACEBOOK GROUP HERE

Over the next couple of days I will be reposting some work that has been selected for the show  in an effort to raise funds and draw attention to the project! This is the only official announcement I will post, however. I don’t want to spam anyone! Thank you!

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I am not a lesbian

by fyarlgiles

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I am not a lesbian. Not really.

but I know what it is to ache for a woman.

To be her smiles and her tears

To know

That she is the truth

To fantasize about feeling her breasts and her belly

About making her cum

About making her feel less lonely

but I am not a lesbian

not really.

” I am not a Lesbian” by Angie Hoover-Hillhouse

Artwork: The Secret by David Delruelle

The Problem With Blue

by fyarlgiles

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The problem with blue

is that it

 plumps up my lips with

the fatty fluff

of

petulance

until I am a beautiful beast—

-coddled-

– admired-

————-and loving it so

“I am Woman. Hear me Whine”  by Angie Hoover-Hillhouse

Gold & Pearls by Jenny Liz Rome