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February 11, 1998 - Image 9

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1998-02-11

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The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, February 11, 1998 --9

Powell delves into human soul

ByCara Spindler
For the Daily
The poems in "Old and New Testaments"
combine biblical language and imagery with
facets of everyday life. Using the Bible as a
sounding board, Lynn Powell creates a vibrant
voice that displays human experience in her
*ok of poetry.
In a recent interview, Powell described her
work in part as "poems about growing up in
the southern Baptist
church." "I feel like the
religious culture that I
grew up within forms
Lynn your character, language
Powell and the way you see the
Shaman Drum world," she said. "The
church is pervasive even
Tororrow at 8 p.m, when I've lived in the
north my adult life."
Currently, Powell is a
writer-in-residence at her
son's elementary school,
"working at both ends of
the spectrum and every-
thing in between."

vision that is acute and looks at the grace of
finite lives.
One of the stories that she retells is
"Immersion," which is from a revival where
Powell was saved. " I can wait till after' I'd told
my mother,/ but, at the watery suggestion,
pinch sharpened between my legs/ 'I can
wait'... ,questioning of the sacred fluids from
Christ's blood, menarche and this "chlorinated
baptistery." This questioning forms the matrix
of her vision: The power to pull in theoretical
and incarnate into the corporeal.
Powell views biblical events in a way that is
everything but stagnant. "And he said, 'I will
surely return to you at this time next year; and
behold, Sarah your wife shall have a son.' And
Sarah was listening at the tent door ... and
Sarah laughed to herself," the epigraph setting
the stage for the book reads. "How did Mary
judge,/ when little Jesus wept, if tears were
real, or crocodile?" As a mother, watching her
children deal with both the biblical world and
their own, Powell reflects on how the stories
that formed her substrate were actually lived.
How does a mother give up a child? "Dilute
my children's love with selfishness,/ let them
refuse the treacherous kiss...Make their their
lives long, happy, ordinary -,' she writes.
There is a continual, subtle questioning of
the idea that God is omnipotent and humans
have lost out on Paradise. In "The Garden," she
celebrates the bittersweet: "And I lean toward
his mouth,/ delicate as the herbs we bruise/ for

fragrance." Powell understands that we cannot
measure position and velocity at the same
time, and our unending desire to do so. In
"Myth," a sestina written about her daughter,
Powell reads the myth of Savitri the Indian
Princess to her daughter, spangled like a 5-year
old ballerina. At the last page of Savitri and her
prince old and fat, her daughter asks, "Mom,
read the story backwards." In the interview
Powell described this moment as the desire to
"turn back, to not have time make its mark on
us, except that only in a poem or a myth we can
Powell mentioned how many people have
particular reactions to the book because of its
title. She said, "Looking at it through a mine
field because the words (in the title) are so
loaded ... It feels a bit like a Rorschach test,
before people open it there's this reaction"
When asked "why the bible?", Powell said,
"It's the language that's the richest and most
resonant. I've had people tell me, you can't put
Jesus in a poem, you can't put Calvinist there."
These are the rules that Powell breaks with flu-
idity and grace.
In Powell's words "Old and New
Testaments" is "not about religion ... it's about
love, grief and sex, and being a mother and life
and death ... the dominant subject is about
being a human woman in this world."
As the last stop on her first visit to
Michigan, Powell will be reading at Shaman
Drum tomorrow at 8 p.m.

Powell's poetry is a testament of lives lived
and known; of the physicality of the human
body and its meaning within a mythological,
lical context. What does a story mean at the
el of human existence? How do we guide
life with the framework of religion and loca-
tion? She writes about these facets with a


Photo Courtesy of University of Wisconsin Press
Author Lynn Powell will read from her book of poetry, "Old and New Testaments" tomorrow at Shaman

Too much history weakens

By Gabe Fajuri
D~aily Arts NNriter
After prostitution, it's been said that magic is
the world's second oldest profession. Whether you
believe that or not, there can be no doubt that for
centuries, conjuring has fascinated and enchanted
countless audiences, from the ancient Egyptians
to the most sophisticated Broadway theater-goers.
The new PBS documentary "The Art of Magic"
attempts to explain just why magic has held the
interest of so many people for so long. For two and
a half hours, a combination of historical material,
modern performance and interviews with many of
today's master magicians not only show viewers
some incredible illusions, but attempt to go beyond
the surface and explain the psychology of magic to
In attempting to show the "why" of magic, the
whole thing goes wrong. I commend PBS for its
attempt to cover so much material in one special,
but after watching it twice, I had a problem dis-
cerning what the exact focus of the whole thing
"The Art of Magic" begins with a discussion of
ancient magic and its uses in years past.
Shamanistic magic, ceremonial magic and plain old
tricks get lumped together through the next two and
a half hours.
That may seem like a long time, but who can
really cover generation after generation of history
in just 150 minutes? Not even documentary master
Ken Burns could do it. I couldn't tell whether the

focus of the special was on tricks, magic through-
out history, the psychology of magic or why people
are attracted to conjuring. Even more issues were
also addressed.
Although the focus of "The Art of Magic" is
muddled, it isn't unworthy of time to watch
because the producers lined up an all-star cast for
the show, With performances of the signature rou-

tines by Jamy Ian
TheArt of
Feb, 11, 9 p m.

Swiss, Max Maven, Eugene
Burger, Hiawatha, Jeff
McBride and The Pendragons,
the performance segments
prove to be the most entertain-
ing portion. Swiss' exquisite
card magic is blended
smoothly with Maven's mind
reading, Burger's stories, and
The Pendragons' high-energy
I recommend you pay spe-
cial attention to Swiss' card
work, The Pendragons ver-
sion of "Metamorphosis,"
Eugene Burger's "intimate
miracles" and Jason Byrne's

phony so-called "psychics" and "fortune-tellers"and
people with "unexplainable powers" are. Randi's
debunking is entertaining and informative, but once
again, provides another topic that confuses the focus
of the special.
For the non-magicians watching the special, the
more notable names would be Lance Burton and
Sigfried and Roy. Their Las Vegas shows are used as
examples throughout "The Art of Magic," especially
when discussing the magician of today. Expect to see
birds materialize, bodies to levitate and an elephant to
vanish before your very eyes.
In fact, a huge portion of Burton's show is
included on the show. You can check it out lie
later this month at the Fox Theatre when Lance
leaves Vegas for a weekend engagementin
There are many reasons to watch "The Art of
Magic,' namely the magicians themselves. Just as
they do in person, their performances on the special
are outstanding and entertaining.
As a sort of magic show, "The Art of Magic" suc-
ceeds. It's a great showcase for some of today's great-
est magicians that might not otherwise get a chance at
recognition on national television. Unlike the
mediocre "The World's Greatest Magic" on NOC,
PBS's cameras truly do justice to the performers in
this special.
But as a special that teaches while entertaining,
"The Art of Magic" falls short of its goal. The vast
material presented was just too much to jam into only
a couple of hours.

dove act. If you've never heard of any of those
folks then this is the time and place to get
acquainted with their talents.
James Randi, a retired illusionist and author, also
spends a good deal of time in front of the camera. He
even gives away a secret or two during his pseudo-
professorial segments in which he explains just how

The Amazing Randi (James Randi) revealed an insideI
the PBS documentary "The Art of Magic."

Photo Courtesy ofrPBS
look at the world of magic in

With a dash of charm, Emeril 'kicks it up a notch'


Sy Ein Poddisky
For the Daily
There is a conspiracy on television
today the likes of which Agents Mulder
and Scully have never seen. The master-
mind is a man so frighteningly outra-
geous in his zeal for what he does that it
- impossible to take your eyes off him
len for a second. His name is Emeril.
The Food Network, one of cable's
newest additions, is a place of drool-
inducing half-hour cooking shows where

The Food Network
Daily, 9 p m.

everybody oper-
ates on a first
name basis. The
regular schedule
of shows includes
"Two Fat Ladies,"
"Molto Mario"
and "Michael's
Place." And then,
there's Emeril
Lagasse, the man
with the ultra-
thick New
England accent
whose overspiced
self is invariably

it, "essence") and "Emeril Live." "The
Essence of Emeril" is on a total of 22
times per week anc' "Emeril Live" is on
12 times. In his live show, he works with
an audience, a factor that pushes his usu-
ally wacky, sometimes grating personal-
ity into overdrive as he feeds off of the
energy (and the salivary glands) of the
Emeril uses a lot of catchphrases,
endearing himself to some viewers while
putting off others. He is a man of
extreme reactions and the audience is no
different - you either love him or hate
him. Emeril jumps up and shouts
"Bam!" numerous times throughout
either show, tossing down spices and
ingredients into bowls with enthusiasm.
He loves adding garlic and extra spices
to his dishes, informing the crowd that
he is going to "kick it up a notch."
"Emeril Live" is really a half-cooking
show, half-talk show. He often mentions
that other talk show hosts are probably
jealous of the food that he and the audi-
ence are making and every so often he
brings in special guests, like "Good
Morning America" weatherperson
Spencer Christian. His goal with "Emeril
Live" is to keep the audience and viewer
"happy happy," as he likes to say, and
they certainly seem to be if the live audi-
ence is any indication.
Truly a nut, Emeril's latest mission in
life is to find and purchase the Partridge
Family bus. He keeps a donation bowl

Photo Courtesy of The Food Network
Emeril Lagasse tres to keep his fans "happy happy" with his show "Emeril Live."

to find out
about the
trends of

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Look or us at the U-M
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called the "Bam! Bowl" on his cooking
counter for audience members to fill and
often asks his viewers to send in a dollar
or two to help him in his quest.
Emeril's antic personality shines
through in his preparation and cooking
of meals. One recent show focused on
cooking different types of sausage.
Emeril made his own sausage at one
point in the segment, and an audience
member called out that he was "practic-
ing safe sausage." Always a good sport
and a lover of the double entendre,
Emeril continued to joke about the
sausage-making process for the remain-

der of the show.
"Emeril Live" is clearly the better of
Emeril's two shows, allowing Emeril to
do what he does best - interact with a
live audience and share his unbridled
passion for cooking and food. Whether
you love or hate him, it's always easy to
laugh at Emeril and how absurd the
whole cooking show-as-talk show idea
is. For all his conspiracy-laden schedul-
ing on the Food Network, Emeril is
worth checking out at least once. Maybe
he'll suck you in and maybe he won't,
but it's likely that you'll walk away from
his show hungry for more.

cooking away when the remote stops on
the channel.
* t's no wonder that the Food Network
often seems like it is all Emeril, all the
time. Emeril is the only network chef
who has two shows, "The Essence of
Emeril" (named for Emeril's special
secret ingredient, known as, you guessed

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