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November 14, 1996 - Image 13

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1996-11-14

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The Michigan Daily - Thursday, November 14, 1996 - 13A

Seattle poet to read at Shaman Drum
Writer combines Biblical stories, Jewish folklore to create vivid, moving works of poetry

By Erin Schwartz
For the Daily
Seattle-based poet Emily Warn
weaves a series of complex themes asso-
ciated with Jewish history, as well as uni-
versal truths about history, faith, God
and language in her new book, "The
Novice Insomniac" (Copper Canyon
Press). Warn will read at Shaman Drum
at 8 o'clock this evening.
Born in San Francisco but raised in
Michigan, Warn attended both
Kalamazoo College and the University
of Washington. She also held a Stegner
Fellowship at Stanford University, and
she has published three previous collec-
tions of poetry.
Her latest collection features many
Jewish images concerned with female
roles. They are a refreshing contrast to
traditional stories based on New
Testament tales. In particular, a heroine
of Jewish history, Queen Esther, takes
on a role of great importance and defi-
ance. Also, Warn illustrates the overall
theme of crossing boundaries between
the self and God.
"The Novice Insomniac" is divided
into seven sections - "On the

Insomniac's Watch," Kaddish,' "The
House of Esther," "Highway Suite,"
"Starvation Hill," "Bravura" and
"Solitary Date Orchard." Each section
leaves the reader with a new sense of
truth as Warn sculpts her words and
images into the
poetic narratives
and histories of P
her characters.
In the poem:
"Moving," which Re
initiates the col- Drum Boo
lection, the per-
sona discusses
the act of giving a speech, "delivering a
funeral oration / or a lecture about rain."
The image of rain as sharp and haz-
ardous emerges throughout the poem:
"Outside, rain drills its pointers / into
the ground." This coupling of the rain
with images of death permeate the
beginning of the collection, but eventu-
ally goes through drastic changes as the
poems progress.
Surreal images abound in the title
poem. The female persona claims to
"hold night inside a box." Because she
cannot sleep, she feels as if all the night


belongs to her. The insomniac counts
hour by hour. Eventually, it becomes the
insomniac's job to pick garbage up off
the street. A stranger, "The Novice
Insomniac;' enters the poem, dumping
garbage back onto the street. Frustrated
because he cannot
sleep, he begs for
EV I E W someone to
understand his
Emily Warn behavior: "Please,
ing tonight at Shaman I cannot sleep."
op at 8 o'clock. Free. The collection
closes with the
poem, "Tower of
Babel," in which the rains have finally
ceased. "After days, the torrential rains
/ stop." The poem then continues,
exploring the mysterious history of lan-
guage: "I find a pine with a step ladder
branches. / From the top rung I hear /
wind scattering original language." It
was because of the Tower of Babel that
languages were born, and people from
different lands could no longer under-
stand each other. In this poem, Warn
writes: "When God hid their words / in
the wind's voices, limiting / their pitch
to whispers of leaves"

The character Esther reemerges
through "The Novice insomniac."
Historically, Queen Esther saved the
Jews from persecution in Persia. The
historical Esther is brought into con-
temporary literature here, and her
strength carries over into the '90s. The
modern Esther does not adhere to strict
traditions of Jewish law.
The speaker in the following excerpt,
from "Trouble," has much admiration
for the brave queen. Warn poses Esther
as a religious prophet who rivals God in
her mind. She uses the ceremonious
Kiddish as a means to celebrate her
Without hiding her.face,
she stared into the Shabbas flame,
tossed the Kiddish wine
into her mouth, celebrating
her rebel ways. And God,
she said, didn't blink.
Then 1 knew she was great as God.
Emily Warn captures many profound
emotions and ideas like those above in
"The Novice Insomniac"; her poems
find a balance between details and
voice which lead to the stunning con-
tent of her poetry.

attie poet Emily Warn reads tonight at Shaman Drum.

... ......s

pike & Mike
ryan Lark
Arts Writer
ck in the kids, leave grandma at home and check
your inhibitions at the coat room - the notorious
answal celebration of sex, violence and bad taste,
"Spike & Mike's Sick & Twisted Festival of
Animation," has steamrolled into the Michigan
Occasionally offensive, fre-
quently unwatchable# often R1
pornographic, sometimes hilari-
ou-and always shocking, Craig
ke" Decker and the late
MiceGribble return to theaters
triunphantly with the intense,
humorous 1996 offering of 28
ofte best of the morally worst examples of anima-
tio.This work is part of a 20-year tradition that has
launched the careers of Nick Park and Mike Judge,
among others.
Adhering to classical sick and twisted precedents,
the component cartoons of various animation styles
(pencil drawings, claymation, etc.) featured in "Sick
Twisted" certainly do live up to their collective
name. The
"Sick" is provid-
ed by, for
. , :instance, wide-
Sl eyed, talking
excrement, and
the "Twisted" is
created by, for
example, the
funny rantings of
e Happy Moose" is featured a discarded,
ike & Mike's Sick & whining condom
Twisted Animation Festival." who feels "used."
Opening the
disorderly 1996 show is the relatively virtuous "No
Neck Joe," in which a dim-witted head with arms
and.-legs happens upon two bullies who are selling
cany for a quarter. Just as Joe buys the candy with
his-nly 25 cents, he sees another sign selling necks
for quarter; the bullies run away laughing and Joe
is lift to cry,
jhe gets his revenge in a later episode - he is rid-
i9in a car with the bullies when the three are
involved in an accident, giving the bullies a nasty case


shoot into Michigan Theater


of whiplash which, in turn, gives No Neck Joe a rea-
son to smile.
Another comparatively light point of the show is
the hilarious fairy tale, "The Happy Moose."
Narrated by raging bull Jake LaMotta to a trio of
cynical street kids, this is no ordinary fairy tale - it
begins with, "Once upon a time there was this
fuckin' moose who lived in
cardboard box over in Jersey."
VIEW WWhat follows that delightfully
lewd introduction is a side-
pike & Mike splitting story featuring
enchanted weasels that is a
refreshingly light-hearted alter-
the Michigan Theater native to several other featured
One such alternatively abhorrent cartoon is the ser-
ial "Lloyd's Lunchbox," which nauseatingly depicts
the stupid Lloyd experimenting with various bodily
destruction. I suggest not eating during the Lloyd
episodes, especially the one titled "Three Course Butt-
Cheese Platter."
Not all of the sickening thrills are relegated to
superfluous displays of violence, however. In "Safe
Sex" one man's lascivious struggle with a wily con-
traceptive device is depicted. Bill Plympton's
"How To Make Love To A Woman" is a
brutal step-by-step guide for men
that gives new meaning to the term
"nipple piercing." And
"Marylou" features a
carnal prom night fan-
tasy about a woman
who, through her vagi-
na, transports a boy to
Oz - where he kills
the Wicked Witch,
causing the resident
Munchkins to worship
his penis. Don't ask, just
Nicely lining up with those new per-
verse, detestable animated shorts are new
episodes of old Spike & Mike staples, like promiscu-
ous Valley Girls, Summer and Tiffany in "Hut Sluts,"
septic specialist Rick the Dick, and dog-in-heat
Horndog. The latest produces the most laughs of the
festival as Horndog humps everything from a Barbie

doll to a Thanksgiving turkey.
For those who are unfamiliar with any of Spike &
Mike's past endeavors, included in this year's festival
is a flashback to 1992, with Mike Judge's original
short featuring Beavis and Butthead, in "Frog
If this "Sick &
T w i s t e d
Festival" were
actually a
judged film fes-
tival, undoubt-
edly the highest , ,
praise would be -_ _ _ _
bestowed upon
the funny faux Spike & Mike present "Hut
c o m m e r c i a I Sluts" (above) and "Big Dumb
"Tasty Beef." In Fat Stupid Baby" (below, cutout).
this short, - - - - -
spokesperson Tasty the Cow gladly sacrifices
pieces of himself for three carnivorous kids. Also
likely to be lauded is "Ah, UAmour," a bitter, vio-
lent little film about a masochistic stick-figure man
who has no luck with women. (He says, "Hiya, Jill.
Nice shoes." She screams, "I need some
space," and literally bites his head off. He
says "Hello," to another woman; that
woman exclaims "No means no!"
And proceeds to stab him in each
Yet another winner would be the
wonderful "Genres." This depicts
the torture and humiliation of a
reluctant cartoon bunny at the
hand of his creator, who places
the rabbit in scenarios like "The
Romantic Movie " "The Foreign
Abstract Western Movie" and,
most memorably, "The Porno
Disaster Movie."
For sall its perversion and detesta-
tion, "Spike & Mike's Sick & Twisted Festival
of Animation," is nothing more than an enjoy-
able adult regression into the normally juvenile world
of cartoonishly violent and innocently perverted ani-
mated fun.
That is, if your juvenile years were filled with
blood, semen, tears of laughter and other bodily fluids.









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