July 2009 Newsletter
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Update on Dickinson
"Dickinson: The Secret Story of Emily Dickinson" played for six performances at the Planet Connections Festivity in NYC. The reviews were positive and the audiences were enthusiastic. Dickinson re-opens July 10th through August 2nd with the original NYC cast performing at the North Park Vaudeville, 2031 El Cajon Blvd., San Diego, CA 92104. Tickets are $18. Call 619 220 8663 to reserve your tickets.

Montserrat Mendez with nytheatre.com said: "While the playwright devolves into merely a conduit to guide us through Emily's life, Emily becomes a full force of nature, and boy oh boy does Rhianna Basore bite into the role with the zest of a veteran actor. She is—and I say this without over-hyping my praise—simply magnificent. Her Emily goes from demure to naughty, from athletic to weak, from a pillar of strength to utterly damaged child often within the same beat, and seeing this young actor take the reigns of the play so daringly was inspirational.

Assisting our heroine in the journey is an able cast (Diana Sparta has an especially wonderful range) and the director Al Germani, who creates a full, specific world out of nearly nothing. Every movement is carefully thought out to tell the story; it is some of the best staging I've seen in a long time. The movement is fluid, his placement of the actors absolutely right on, and for a play which works on such a simple level, he manages to achieve moments of absolute breathtaking magic. You know, you never truly appreciate a director's contribution
until you see someone do it so right."

Byrne Harrison with Stageebuzz.com said: "The Emily Dickinson presented in William Roetzheim's Dickinson is nothing like the woman they teach about in school, and thank goodness for that. While that Emily is interesting, in a literary way, this one fascinates in front of our eyes...Director Al Germani shows his strength as a director and his background in dance and music. The direction in Dickinson often has the feel of choreography, and I mean that in a good way. The action is fluid, the stage pictures interesting, and Germani creates a flow in the production that complements the rhythm of both Dickinson's poetry and Roetzheim's dialogue."

Deirdre Donovan with Theatre Scene said: "Roetzheim has done his research, and done it well. ...To be sure, the best parts of the play are the poems. And the most effective one staged is the famous “Because I Could Not Stop For Death.” Used as a finale for the piece...This closing scene captures the inimitable personality (and Voice) of the poet moving across an unknown—and eternal—landscape. Directed with a breezy hand by Al Germani, this short play gives you great lines from the poems, and some interesting anecdotes, but it doesn’t penetrate the poet. The old air of secrecy enveloping Dickinson remains solidly intact as we exit the theatre.
Purchase tickets for Dickinson in San Diego
Update on Pound
"Pound: The Poet on Trial" closed after a successful run at Theatre Row, but will reopen on July 20th for a six performance run as part of the Midtown International Theatre Festival in NYC.

Amanda Halkiotis with New Theatre Corps said: "Roetzheim’s script is an invaluable resource—thorough, well-researched, and bias-less—but it’s Berg’s performance that makes it more than just another drama rooted in historical fiction; it truly paints a portrait of a poet’s life. Pound’s signature stream-of-consciousness lends itself to Roetzheim’s vignette-style monologues as the play (and spotlight) revolves around the different witnesses brought into the courtroom to be interrogated...Pound is no dusty regurgitation of literary criticism. True, it has enough high-brow appeal to indulge poetry buffs but it’s also fun-loving and stimulating thanks to the intelligent but never patronizing script and the brilliant lead actor. Jeff Berg performs with so much assurance, it’s obvious he’s done his homework, bringing honor and homage to the challenging topical landscape Roetzheim has laid out. Together they fuse the two genres of poetry and theater without watering down either, making for an incredibly well-researched script about a man who has reached his breaking point and the special opportunity for audiences to directly react to all of it.

Ron Cohen with Backstage said: "With nothing more than a scarf for costume changes, Berger expertly brings to life the play's various personas, from the smug but magnetic Pound and self-assured Hemingway to a charmingly sincere female Italian propaganda official."

Purchase tickets for Pound at MITF
Level 4 Press Update
Level 4 Press has announced two new anthologies for 2010.

"I Hate Poetry" is a collection of poetry geared to readers who hate poetry, or at least, think they hate poetry. We're primarily looking for light, humorous poems but will consider other poems if they would appeal to someone with no poetry reading skills or background. We are also very interested in poems that make fun of poetry or poets, including poems that satirize poems or poetry styles. This book will be published in 2010. Level 4 Press, Inc. pays one copy of the finished anthology per poem accepted. Poems may be contributed at the link below, or by emailing the poem to william@level4press.com.

"Regional Best 2010" is a collection of plays that premiered in regional theaters (not NYC) during 2009 and which are not currently scheduled for an NYC production. Candidate plays should be emailed to william@level4press.com, along with the current and planned production history.

For more details about either of these anthologies, contact william@level4press.com.
Contibute a poem
Poems of Inspiration and Faith
edited by William Roetzheim
This poetry anthology collects together the poetry of well known and emerging poets, all dealing with various aspects of inspiration and faith. The included audio CD contains spoken word versions of selected poems from the book. Poems are grouped as follows: Inspiration; Western religion; Eastern religion; Pagan religion; and Faith.

Some samples:

I May, I Might, I Must

If you will tell me why the fen
appears impassable, I then
will tell you why I think that I
can get across it if I try.

Hell (descending)

Well, it's hot, but not from brimstone's rage;
the burn is more akin to want. There's thirst,
if one can call it that, to slake the need
of being known. The crush of souls, another
myth, they're here but never reach to touch;
demons too, from time to time, they pass
like a wisp of scent: flowers you cannot find.
The presence of eternity is something else
that isn't here. You try, but cannot speak
your name; it's gone and left you. Where?

At the Blessing of the children in Lourdes, Winter Solstice

They never imagined it would be like this—
The gurneys suddenly slipping away,
The braces all unclasping like hands.
And then the wading out, arm in arm,
Into the waters, the ghostly flowering
Of the night clothes. And for a moment
You can see them, out in the long columns
Of light, turning like white pinsheels
In the rain, the night so cold there’s just
Their breath starting its long climb
Into the sky. And scattered there
In the smoke, the crutches shining
Like wingbones, the empty fleets
Of wheelchairs all overturned,
Their wheels spinning on their starlit hubs.

Poetry Corner
by William Roetzheim
The Tempo of Poetry

If you listen to music you can quickly pick up the tempo, or beat. A Donna Summer disco song, with it’s four counts per measure, is significantly different from the tempo of a Strauss waltz. In a similar way, most early and some current poetry has its own tempo that is equally easy to pick up. In poetry, the tempo of a poem is called the meter. The most common meter is five beats per line, as in this poem by Omar Khayam written in the early 1100s.

The moving finger writes; and, having writ,
moves on: nor all thy piety nor wit
shall lure it back to cancel half a line,
nor all thy tears wash out a word of it.

Here’s a poem by Abraham Cowley written in the mid 1600s with four beats per line.

Drinking

The thirsty earth soaks up the rain,
and drinks and gapes for drink again;
the plants suck in the earth, and are
with constant drinking fresh and fair;
the sea itself (which one would think
should have but little need of drink)
drinks twice ten thousand rivers up,
so filled that they o'erflow the cup.
The busy Sun (and one would guess
by's drunken fiery face no less)
drinks up the sea, and when he's done,
the Moon and Stars drink up the Sun:
they drink and dance by their own light,
they drink and revel all the night:
nothing in Nature's sober found,
but an eternal health goes round.
Fill up the bowl, then, fill it high,
fill all the glasses there—for why
should every creature drink but I?
Why, man of morals, tell me why?

By now you should be starting to hear the rhythm. Let’s try one with three beats per line, this one written by Thom Gunn in the second half of the 20th century (from Collected Poems, 1994, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, LLC.)

Still Life

I shall not soon forget
the grayish-yellow skin
to which the face had set:
lids tight: nothing of his,
no tremor from within,
played on the surfaces.
He still found breath, and yet
it was an obscure knack.
I shall not soon forget
the angle of his head,
arrested and reared back
on the crisp field of bed,
back from what he could neither
accept, as one opposed,
nor, as a life-long breather,
consentingly let go,
the tube his mouth enclosed
in an astonished O.

So far the beat in each of these poems has been relatively steady, something you could almost dance to. In poetry these dance steps would be called iambs and a dance filled with this type of step would be iambic. Well, in dancing many Latin dances include a little triple step as part of the basic step. Think of the Cha-Cha, which goes STEP—STEP—cha-cha-cha. Poems can include these little triple steps as well, where they are called anapests. Here’s a poem by Louise Bogan from her book The Blue Estuaries (1968, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, LLC.) with two beats per line mostly alternating between regular beats and triple beats.

from Beginning and End—Knowledge

Now that I know
how passion warms little
of flesh in the mould,
and treasure is brittle,—

I'll lie here and learn
how, over their ground
trees make a long shadow
and a light sound.

Most music has a regular beat. If nothing else, the beat is needed to help the musicians stay synchronized with each other. But your CD collection more than likely has some relaxation CDs without a beat. In a similar way, not all poetry has a regular beat. In fact, during the twentieth century many poets turned their back on the idea of poetry as music and completely avoided regular rhythms. So if you don’t feel a regular rhythm to a poem, don’t go crazy looking for one—it probably isn’t there.
Visit William Roetheim's personal website
Calendar
Performance: Dickinson
North Park Vaudeville
2031 El Cajon Blvd.
San Diego, CA 92104
Tickets $18
619 220 8663 for box office
July 10 - August 2, 2009
Friday/Saturday at 8 PM
Sundays at 2 PM

Midtown International Theatre
Festival
Workshop Jewel Theater
312 West 36th Street
Fourth Floor East
New York, NY 10018
http://www.midtownfestival.org/
Tickets $18
July 20, 8:30 PM Open
July 21, 6:30 PM
July 22, 5 PM
July 24, 9 PM
July 25, 7 PM
July 26, 4 PM
View our calendar on-line
Fundraising Progress
Still looking for groups to attend Dickinson and Pound, either in New York or in July.
Make a donation now!
This Issue

About William Roetzheim
William Roetzheim is an award winning poet, playwright, and
writer. He began his career in the fine arts in 2001 after retiring from the technology industry. Since that time he has founded a highly aclaimed small press, written or edited several award winning books, directed and produced fifteen spoken word audio CDs, and with his wife Marianne, started an art focused Bed and Breakfast outside of San Diego.
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