During the Year 2015:
–I was one of three head jurors for the regional competition for the Scholastic Arts and Writing Awards.
–I began writing reviews for the Washington Independent Review of Books. (My very first review, of Tesla, A Portrait with Masks, by Vladimir Pištalo, was one of the five most popular reviews for February 2015.)
–I read from my work in The Inner Loop reading series.
–I represented the Potomac Review, critiquing writers’ work in the “speed-dating” session of a writers conference held at JHU.
–For three weeks in June, I attended the New School’s Summer Writers’ Colony in New York. (Colony helpful; New York wonderful–when there was time to do anything in it. Colony activities went from noon to 8:00 p.m., Monday through Thursday. But feeling of living in the city, having a purpose other than touristing, was nice.)
–I read and critiqued a memoir for the Arts Club of Washington, D.C., for their Marfield Prize for Non-Fiction.
–I applied for an individual artist’s fellowship from the D.C. Commission of Arts and Humanities. (Missed it by “that much.” It was awarded to 12; I was number 14. Close, but no cigar. Sigh.)
–Last but not least, I completed the final draft (I think) of my newest novel.
A lot of “I”s in this post. But then, it is titled “MY” Literary year.
Note: In December, I was quite busy, as is everybody, with the holidays and end of the year tasks. For my birthday weekend, I met a friend up in New York. We went to three musicals: Kinky Boots; A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder; and The Book of Mormon. Mini reviews:
Kinky Boots: The plot summary sounds boring, but the musical is anything but. Lively, funny, and carries a message of acceptance delivered in a way which rings true, not trite. Plus, Wayne Brady, who plays Lola/Simon is AMAZING.
A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder: A cross between Gilbert and Sullivan operettas and Oscar Wilde’s plays, this musical is set in an earlier era and satirizes the British class system. The writing, staging and performers are terrific. The two female leads’ voices are wonderfully strong, and their style of singing is more one of purity of voice than the “belting” it out one finds in pop music these days.
The Book of Mormon: The cast performs ably, and it has its moments, but overall, this play was a disappointment. The satire of the Mormon religion is gentle and could apply to the evangelical missionary aspect of any religion. However, the portrayal of the Africans and their situation, though kindly, was steeped in stereotypes. The jokes based in this made the audience laugh, and maybe that’s all these playwrites cared about. But if you’re doing satire, your jokes should be aimed at what you intend to say. If they intended to promote stereotypes of black people, I don’t like it, but so be it. On the other hand, cashing in on stereotype just to get a laugh is cheap. Better to get the laugh playing against stereotype.
This ends my summary of my year, and brings this blog up to date on my December.