"Fear of Heights" for dVerse Poet's open link night

Posted by Dale Wilsey Jr. | Posted in , , , , , , | Posted on Tuesday, October 25, 2011

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I've been pointed toward a very interesting and exciting link by Twitter user @crosescribe. Over at dVersepoets.com, they have what's called Open Link Nights where writers are encouraged to submit links to a piece of their work. Since this sounded like an incredible idea, I've decided to participate. Below, you'll find a piece which was published in the Summer 2011 issue of the Boston Literary Magazine entitled "Fear of Heights".


Fear of Heights
Dale R. Wilsey, Jr.


The sound of roofing nails
piercing tin. Finding the
skeleton of heavy
timbers beneath.


Strength in my father's
shoulder swings the hammer
in a perfect arc, driving
nails through in a single
blow.


It's 1986. I am 2 years old
on a tin roof in a cloth diaper
creating the earliest memory
I'll ever hold on to.


A sunny day carried on a cool breeze.


Playskool hammer in hand,
I mimic my father.


Imaginary nails are driven
through thin metal
beneath my
child strength.


My mother is still here.


They're still married.


That was 24 years ago.


Nails still hold fast
in the roof of the
crooked barn.


But everything else
fell apart from then on.


And today I have
a fear of
heights.

--

Thanks for stopping by and make sure to stop by dVersepoets.com to check out more great writing.

Hell's Breaking Luce: Tom Waits' "Bad As Me"

Posted by Dale Wilsey Jr. | Posted in , , , , , , , , , | Posted on Monday, October 24, 2011

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Tom Waits has always had an extraordinary talent for weaving the real with the surreal. The every day with the oddities of life. He's a circus midway in the middle of a swamp. A Peterbilt hauling a diner down a desert road with the Tattooed Lady from the sideshow in the passenger's seat. And blaring through jukeboxes, bullhorns and radios everywhere is Waits' new album Bad As Me. His first in seven years, Waits has delivered once again.

Right from the get go, "Chicago" sends you flying down the rails on a trip to the unknown as Waits gives you his own brand of a history lesson on the Great Migration of African Americans to northern cities beginning in 1916. Waits states, "Maybe things will be better in Chicago / well it's brave for us to stay / even braver to go", ending with an urgent "All aboard!" 


One of the things you'll notice about Bad As Me is that Waits touches upon some current sociopolitical issues in a few tracks. Something, I feel, he doesn't often do. "Talking at the Same Time" is a blatant, melancholy comment on the current state of the American economy and the contrast of poverty and wealth.

Get a job, save your money, listen to Jane
everybody knows umbrellas cost more in the rain
and all the news is bad
is there any other kind?
Everybody's talking at the same time.
Well it's hard times for some
for others it's sweet
Someone makes money when there's blood
in the street.

Some artists can overdo the political commentary, but Waits approaches it with a subtle touch. The backing instrumentation to "Talking at the Same Time" paints a picture of trudging, down-on-their-luck feet walking along the street, peering in at well-off fat cats profiting from the labor of the lower class...

Well we bailed out all the millionaires
they got the fruit
we got the rind

Bad As Me is an eclectic mix of sounds. Something all Waits fans will expect before hand regardless, but here he really swings in all directions of sound. From the rockabilly infused "Get Lost" which professes a want to ramble and roam with a tight sweater-wearing love to the flamenco-tinged "Back in the Crowd" to the  uncharacteristically heavy anti-war song "Hell Broke Luce", a track only slightly rivaled in intensity by previous Waits' tracks like "God's Away on Business".

Kelly Presutto got his thumbs blown off
Sergio's developing a real bad cough...
Hell broke Luce...
Boom went his head away
and boom went Valerie
what the hell was it that the president said?
Give them all a beautiful parade instead
left, right, left

Even for Waits, this album touches an incredibly varied amount of sounds and ideas. It's as though a pinball was fired through his gray matter touching every corner of his creative conscious before constructing Bad As Me. For some, this may be a bit to take in but, for the experienced and seasoned Waits fans, you'll enjoy just how much he can still surprise you after almost 40 years of creating music.

Waits' tender, romantic side shows through in tracks like "Back in the Crowd", a western-tropical sounding, love lost ballad, "Kiss Me", a crackling, jazzy tune that searches for the excitement of new love in a long-time lover: "Kiss me like a stranger once again / I wanna believe our love's a mystery / I wanna believe our love's a sin". In "Last Leaf", Waits creates what most will interpret as having a deeper, more personal meaning of holding on to more than what he shows on the surface. Waits explains, in a recent interview, "...you could say everything's a metaphor for everything else, but sometimes it's just what it is. It's just what it's about...a tree."

There are a few, small, almost insignificant issues I have with the album, but the good has so far outweighed those issues that I have trouble remembering them. Also, if past experience is any indication, any problem I may have with a Tom Waits track slowly erodes over time leaving me with only the good. Songs that I may not have much affinity for at first become clearer over time as the nuances come to the surface and pull me in.

Bad As Me has, so far, been another incredible Waits experience. It's filled with just the right amount of every human emotion, gradually floating between melancholy and longing. Falling fast into madness and landing in a pile of tender love. Maybe I'm just too much of a fan of Tom Waits, but I really have nothing negative to say about him right now. Unless he decides not to tour. Then, I may be a touch angered.

Overall, I'd have to rate this up there with some of my favorite Waits' albums. The best? No. But this album is incredibly diverse and full of incredible art and vision. The only thing I ask of Mr. Waits is to not keep us waiting another seven years. Bring it on the road, Tom. We all want to see your magic explode on stage like a calliope full of dynamite.

ANTI Records has released a deluxe edition of Bad As Me that includes three additional tracks on a separate CD as well as a 40-page hardcover booklet containing  images and lyrics of and inspired by the album. It is also available in a 180 gram vinyl version which comes complete with a slightly altered paper booklet and CD version of the album. Note that the vinyl version does not contain the three bonus tracks.


All photos included in this post are created by photographer Anton Corbijn. See more here.

NYTimes' #whyIwrite and Dietrich writer's group discussion

Posted by Dale Wilsey Jr. | Posted in , , , , , , , , , , , | Posted on Friday, October 21, 2011

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Spurred by the National Day of Writing and NY Times' #whyIwrite topic on Twitter, I lead a discussion during my writing group last night on the topic of why we writers write. Here's the comment I left for the Times about that discussion which has been "retweeted" by @NYTimesLearning:


picture-poems.com
NYTimesLearning,
Every Thursday night in Tunkhannock, PA at the Dietrich Theater, a group of local writers ranging in age from 18 to late 60’s come together in an effort to grow, learn, and sharpen their skills as writers. Some of us have been writing our whole lives. Others have only just began. The incredible diversity not only in writing styles but in individual backgrounds and personality has created a dynamic environment.
There is a set schedule of who is to read at each meeting and last night was supposed to be my turn, but I had nothing to bring to the table. The novel I’d been working on had hit a wall and every short story rolling around my desk was unfinished. After informing the moderator of the group about my predicament, she suggested I lead a discussion. Fine by me, but what about?
That’s when I noticed the #whyIwrite topic on Twitter. I’ve always been interested in why those of us who write choose to do so. What drives us to pour it all out? Surely we all have our own beginnings, but it seems that every true writer, at their core, has an undeniable force within that propels them to write.
With this in mind, I lead a conversation on why all of us in the group write. I started the group by quoting Rilke’s Letters to a Young Poet, one of my favorite and most beloved books on the subject of writing: “No one can advise or help you — no one. There is only one thing you should do. Go into yourself. Find out the reason that commands you to write; see whether it has spread its roots into the very depths of your heart; confess to yourself whether you would have to die if you were forbidden to write.”
While Rilke’s position may be a bit extreme, I believe he exposes the core of why writers write. It is a need. It’s not a choice, but something we must do because our mind and heart command us to do so. Lord Byron said, “If I do not write to empty my mind, I go mad.” I think most of us might do just that if we could not write.
The responses were as varied as the writers themselves. Most of us had always been story tellers. We lived in our minds among our imaginations. We constructed whole worlds during our childhood that continued on throughout our lives. And we all felt the need to tell our stories. To record them lest they be lost. One of the members commented, “I’ve had the urge to write since before I could actually write. I’d tell my sister what to write…and I’ve always had the urge to make a mark on the world even if it’s on a scrap piece of paper.”
After the discussion, we all felt a bit more connected. More open and personal. Not that we were not a closely knit group before hand, but now we had seen each others hearts beating with the passion of the written word.
Thanks for such a wonderful idea. I’ve enjoyed reading all of the #whyIwrite responses and hope that this discussion is explored even further. I also think it is essential for young children who feel the urge to write hear these responses. To discuss writing and reading. Too many today are left to stray away from such an amazing and beautiful world.
Cheers,
Dale Wilsey Jr.
----

Check out the Times' blog entry over at learning.blogs.nytimes.com.

If you're on Twitter, tweet why you write with #whyIwrite. Also, I'd love to hear why any of you write here on my blog. What drives you to write? How did you begin? How does it effect your life?

October off to a good start

Posted by Dale Wilsey Jr. | Posted in , , , , , , , | Posted on Sunday, October 09, 2011

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Central display at my gallery.
It was a beautiful night this past Friday in Scranton for October's First Friday events and, with the help of some incredible people at the Scranton Cultural Center, my debut gallery benefiting the Dietrich theater went off without a hitch. Between the bake sale held in conjunction, personal donations and the sale of two of my pieces, the event raised approximately $500. 

Throughout the night, I was approached by many in attendance who offered great feedback and, more interestingly, stories of Tunkhannock and life in general during and after the flood. 

The general buzz and interest in my photography work has given me the push I believe I needed to take it a bit more serious. For a long time, I neglected my camera in favor of the pen and other pursuits. Though I'm not sure why. Training my eye on different subjects allows me to inspect them more closely and, in turn, study my surroundings and life more intimately. Ultimately, it combines with my writing to give me clarity in certain aspects. 

The ladies from the Dietrich have also asked me to hang my work at the theater and, as soon as I get in touch with them, the details will be ironed out and announced here and on my Twitter account. 

Following the gallery there, I will more than likely begin to sell some of my work online. I've yet to figure out exactly how to go about that, but ideas for a full-fledged site and such have been rolling about my skull. Below are two of the prints I sold at this past weekend's gallery.

Alley at Night
Alongside the Dietrich, an alleyway is illuminated
in a way that makes the brick and mortar come to life.
 The bricks almost breathe with pulsing life in the 
constant glow of a single bulb.


Steam Engine at Riverside
In the morning, I wake to the hollow, 
echoing sound of an iron ghost bouncing
from ridge line to ridgeline. I can hear the
grinding of the wheels along the snaking
 tracks. Smoke billows from the stack 
and hangs lightly in the air tracing its path.

I may post images of work I have done here on my blog with ways to purchase prints for now until something more concrete comes along. However, if you are interested in seeing what I have to offer or in purchasing a print of those pictured here, feel free to email me. Contact information can be found on my contact page.

Thank you to all of the people who stopped by and especially my dear friends who came out to show their support. An extra thanks to those of you who donated and to those who purchased my work. To those of you who shared stories about the flood and life in Tunkhannock and also those who complimented me on my work, I thank you as well.



Countdown to exposure

Posted by Dale Wilsey Jr. | Posted in , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Posted on Wednesday, October 05, 2011

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This month has started out as crazy as the last and, for the most part, things have been gliding along smoothly (though somewhat overwhelmingly). Then, along comes that inevitable hurdle. As I crack open the seal to a bottle of Theraflu and fight back a cough, I look at the photos and frames strewn about my room. I'm determined to kick this cold before week's end.

Enough of the bad news, though. Some of you may have noticed by my constant Tweets and updates here on the blog that, at the end of this week on October 7th, the Scranton Cultural Center will be hosting a gallery of my photography to benefit the Dietrich theater in Tunkhannock, PA. The theater was recently damaged in the flood and is in need of over $100,000 worth of repairs.

The event and, by proxy, have been getting a bit of attention. In an earlier entry (here), I posted the interview that Electric City reporter Julie Imel conducted with me. There have been various mentions of the gallery in local papers and online, but, most recently, this blog was chosen as NEPA Blogs' "Blog of the Week". Consequently, I was also featured on the local program PA Live! during the NEPA Blogs segment where Harold Jenkins shared his thoughts on myself and my blog. He also managed to give the gallery a plug. See the footage here and the NEPA Blog entry here.

If you're a local to the northeastern region of PA, please try to stop by the Scranton Cultural Center from 5-9. All donations will be accepted and every piece of my work will be up for sale. Every penny made will go straight to the Dietrich theater.

War is Hell, but colds are just bollocks.
I'd like to thank everyone in advance for everything they've done. I will be posting after the gallery to let everyone know how it went and to give proper thanks to those who made it possible and who helped to bring attention to it.

Come this Friday, I hope to have beaten this illness which has filled my skull with fog and water and made my body ache more than usual. Off to the frontline. I come loaded with gallons of OJ and cough drops. Do white blood cells bleed if they're wounded in battle?

(Please excuse any grammatical errors. The germs are waging war against my cerebral cortex.)

Information on my benefit gallery this Friday

Posted by Dale Wilsey Jr. | Posted in , , , , , , , , , , , | Posted on Monday, October 03, 2011

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On October First Friday, there will be a gallery of my photography opening at the Scranton Cultural Center in Scranton, PA. This gallery will serve as a way to raise funds for the restoration of the Dietrich Theater in Tunkhannock, PA, my home town. All of my work will be for sale and, if purchased on the first night of its showing, every penny will be donated to the Dietrich Theater. Donations other than the purchase of my photography will also be accepted up until 10p.m. Here is the information about my upcoming gallery:


WHO: The Scranton Cultural Center featuring artist Dale Wilsey Jr.

WHAT: First Friday Exhibit: to benefit the Wyoming County Cultural Center at the Dietrich Theater


WHEN: October 7th, 2011 5-8 p.m.


WHERE: The Scranton Cultural Center

420 North Washington Avenue
Scranton, PA 18503
4th Floor, Shopland Hall Lobby

TICKET PRICE: Free
FROM ONE CULTURAL CENTER TO ANOTHER: SUPPORTING ARTS IN NEPA: Scranton, PA -- Sept. 20th, 2011 -- The Scranton Cultural Center at the Masonic Temple will host a benefit exhibit to raise money to help restore and rebuild the Dietrich Theatre in Tunkhannock. The Dietrich Theatre (the Wyoming County Cultural Center) was recently devastated by record flooding. Estimated costs to restore and repair are close to $100,000.

The exhibit will take place Oct. 7th, in conjunction with Scranton's First Friday, as well as, the kickoff of the SCC Electric City Listen Local series. The free exhibit will begin at 5pm on the 4th floor Shopland Hall and run through 8pm. Money will be raised through individual donations, sale of artwork and a bake sale. Donations will be accepted until 10pm.

Photographs in the exhibit were taken by writer/photographer and Tunkhannock native, Dale Wilsey Jr.

All proceeds will go directly to the Dietrich Theatre.




All the leaves are brown

Posted by Dale Wilsey Jr. | Posted in , , , , , , , , , , | Posted on Sunday, October 02, 2011

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"Autumn arrives in early morning, but spring at the close of a winter day."
~Elizabeth Bowen

It's been a long, stressful, busy and, most of all, wet month(s). On the surface, in Tunkhannock, everything seems back to normal since the flood. The roads are clean and clear of mud and people go about their normal business.

Look closer.

Brick's Market is "Closed until further notice". There's still a drooping barrier of caution tape strung across the parking lot of Gay's True Value. In small corners, I find caked mud. Stains of oil. Ghosts of the flood remain on stalks of corn and trees in pale shadows left by the water.


While driving around, I've felt I've been sailing. Waterfalls are still pouring down the side of Avery Mountain and the Susquehanna runs muddy and high along its banks. Route 92 was closed for a second time just last week.

The weather sways like an erratic pendulum taunting me with shining, beautiful days only to pull blankets of dark, miserable clouds across the sky dumping sheets of rain down over hills and across my face.

Leaves are beginning to change and fall, covering my lawn in speckles of reds and yellows. I find myself closing my window at night to keep the chill out and, in the morning, it's harder to leave the comfort of my blankets. Even the sun finds it hard to come out. I smell winter coming.

Jack, my niece's horse who stands quietly behind the weathered wood of the old barn, will grow thick with a winter coat. Snow will fall, clinging to the lashes around his dark eyes. His breath will billow out in gentle clouds around his snout.

Watch the trees grow naked. Feel the crisp retreat of another summer. Another year. Unpack the jackets and mittens and store away the memories created in the passing months. Pick pumpkins from the field and cut character into their face while you drown in cider. This is the winding down of time.

The deep slumber of the land is coming. The hollow winds of winter. Blank canvases of land lit by the moon and pinpoint stars.

Another year is just beyond the banks of snow to come. All is reborn when the last bits of ice melt away and hearts begin to beat faster.

"O, wind, if winter comes, can spring be far behind?"
~Percy Bysshe Shelley