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November 04, 2013 - Image 6

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6A - Monday, November 4, 2013

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

6A - Monday, November 4, 2013 The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom

BOOK REVIEW
Giovannis poetic
pursuit of equality

N

'Chasing Utopia'
continues famed
poet's legacy
By KATHLEEN DAVIS
For the Daily
Nikki Giovanni is undoubtedly
an accomplished woman. Her
breadthofworkrangesfrombeing
the author of 19
collections of.B+
original poetry
and writing Chasing
10 children's Utopia
books, and she
earned a Gram- Nikki Giovanni
my Award nom-
ination for Best Harper Collins
Spoken Word
Album in 2004.
She is a seven-time winner of the
NAACP Image Award as well a
recipient of the Langston Hughes
Medal for Outstanding Poetry,
among many other awards.
Giovanni's impact on American
writing is mainly due to her poetic
stance on social justice and equal-
ity. Her latest collection, "Chasing
Utopia," however, is a lightheart-
ed reflection on younger days and
a positive outlook on growing
older.
To set the scene of the book in
cheeky fashion, Giovanni clari-
fies that the titular "utopia" she's
chasing isn't necessarily based
on the perfect society you'd
expect, but on the Samuel Adams

27-percent alcohol-by-volume
pseudo-beer called "Utopia." This
lighthearted tone sets the scene
for the book and is a testament to
Giovanni's ability to not take her-
self too seriously.
The structure of "Utopia" is
characterized by pages of poetry
broken up by longer anecdotes,
which allow her readers to gain
a more personal and straight-
forward look into her life. The
anecdotes range anywhere from
the analysis of the logistics and
,legalities that should be more
involved in "Aesop's Fables," to
peace and naivety during a segre-
gated childhood.
An overarching theme in the
book is the concept of cooking,
both traditionally and in a fan-
tastical sense. While reading
"Utopia," we gain detailed reci-
pes for soups, biscuits and even
for a perfect man (which, if you
were wondering, involves a nice
handful of intelligence, a pinch of
ambition and a sense of humor, if
desired). For the serious recipes,
Giovanni notes that she has such
a positive connotation with the
flavor because of the memories
attached with cooking them back
home.
Since Giovanni has been a pro-
lific poet for several decades and
is now 70 years old, it's appro-
priate that the idea of aging is
heavily embedded in "Chasing
Utopia." In "I Am At That Point,"
she writes, "embracing the old
things is a good new thing." This

simple phrase captures the over-
all essence of the book, looking
fondly at growing up in the sub-
urbs of Cincinnati and summers
with her grandparents in Ten-
nessee.
There is no aging without
the concept of death at the fin-
ish line, and the darker poems
within "Utopia" are unafraid to
explore it. While there are poems
about the passing of old friends
and family, one of the sadder
anecdotes withinthe book makes
mention of the lives lost during
the 2007 Virginia Tech massacre.
Giovanni, who was a professor
of English at the university dur-
ing the. shooting, actually taught
shooter Seung-Hui Cho ina poet-
ry class. But these poems tinged
with sadness are only a small
percentage of the overall content
in "Utopia."
And it couldn't be Nikki
Giovanni poetry without the
theme that made her such a pro-
lific writer during the 1960s:
equality. Many of these poems
are written through the voice of
a childish self, still naive to the
extremity of social turmoil hap-
pening outside her door. How-
ever, there doesn't seem to be
much disdain from Giovanni
when it comes to reflecting upon
her childhood. "What a pleasure
to be young and creative and so
sure of the future," she writes, a
statement which could truly be
an embodiment of the whole col-
lege experience.

Just see this movie
'12 Years' triumphs with

DO YOU LOVE TO READ?
YOU CAN REVIEW BOOKS FOR
THE DAILY.
E-MAIL ARTS@MICHIGANDAILY.COM
TO REQUEST AN APPLICATION!

By JAMIE BIRCOLL
DailyArts Writer
Simply put, "12 Years a Slave"
is the best of the year, a triumph
- a project of courage and heart
that is unset-
tling, provok-
ing and truly
stirring. It por- 12 Years
trays slavery in a Slave
all of its hor- , -
ror and forces Atthe
the audience Michigan,
to examine a Qualityl6
past typically and Rave
shoved to the
deepest recess- Fox Searchlight
es of the mind.
Based on
the memoir of its protagonist,
the film stars Chiwetel Ejiofor
("Salt") in an award-caliber
performance as Solomon Nor-
thup, a free man, husband and

Call:#734-418-4115
Email: dailydisplay@gmal.com

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Edited by Rich Norris and Joyce Nichols Lewis
ACROSS 6 Battery terminal 38 "Let's Make a 51 Waikiki's island
1 Credit card choice 7 Morse code Deal" choice 53 High-tech hand-
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what I think" 9 "All the 45 Puff up in the detail
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father of two, who lives out owed to finding the truth in
his days in happiness in New their characters, we, too, owe
York - until 1841, when he is Solomon Northup and the
kidnapped and sold into slav- countless others like him our
ery. During his captivity, he is undivided attention, to finally
moved to different owners of accept that our past is a dark
varying degrees of cruelty. one, to acknowledge that Edwin
Paul Giamatti ("Turbo"), Epps was as real as the man or
in that slimy fashion he does woman in the seat next to us in
so well, plays Solomon's first the theater.
owner, a slave trader who quick- Many film critics are lament-
ly sells him to Ford (Benedict ing that it took an English direc-
Cumberbatch, "Star Trek Into tor (Steve McQueen, "Shame")
Darkness"), a devout Christian to craft the film that "properly"
that shows a sort of pity for his portrays American slavery. But
slaves. He reads scripture to his there is no better director than
workers every Sunday and goes McQueen to tackle the central
so far as to treat Solomon almost human condition of this proj-
as family, later protecting him ect: pain. All of McQueen's
from his twisted overseer (Paul films have focused on the pain
Dano, "Prisoners"). All in all, imposed on their protagonists
Ford seems to be a good man, by their societies, and McQueen
but does his very involvement then uses that pain andsuffer-
in the practice of slavery make ing to explore each character's
him evil? strength of will. Despite the
blood, sweat and tears through-
out "12 Years a Slave," there is
something beautiful to be found.
Bt I expect this film will be
and tears, but taught to future film students
for every aspect of what makes a
also beautiful great film, from Hans Zimmer's
haunting score, to the power-
performances. ful performances and strong
writing, all the way down to the
importance of each lingering
angle of the camera. It's a fantas-
Ford eventually sells Solomon tic film, and no amount of praise
to Edwin Epps (Michael Fass- will satisfy.
bender, "Prometheus"), another Make no mistake that "12
deeply religious man that uses Years a Slave" will be a classic
the Bible to justify his role as for one reason: For 133 minutes,
master, contrasted to Ford's use the story of Solomon Northrup
of scripture as a means of salva- comes to life.
tion. Epps prides himself on his As an audience member, you
reputation as a "slave breaker," will not see a movie but a life,
doling out lashings on a daily a real life filled with sorrow
basis, raping the young women and tragedy, but also with hope
to fill his lust. Fassbender's por- and strength - a story about
trayal of Epps will be compared perseverance and healing as
to Ralph Fiennes's portrayal of equally as torment. Each gaz-
Nazi war criminal Amon Goeth ing stare from Ejiofor reveals
in "Schindler's List," an evil a man breaking inside, strug-
man of no redeeming quality gling every day to fathom 'just
and unrelenting cruelty - much why this fate has befallen him.
like Fiennes, Fassbender should And yet, even as he burns what
receive an Oscar nod for his is likely his last hope for rescue
work. (a letter home), as those embers
The audience- is subjected slowly smolder and fade into the
to multiple scenes of suffer- black night, Northup's will to
ing, brutality and violence, and endure, to survive, to live never
without the brief levity of, say, falters.
a Tarantino script heavy on sar- And at last, when the credits
casm, it will likely become bur- roll, when you have dried your
densome for some viewers. And eyes and left the darkness of the
yet I myself could not look away theater, you will recognize that
from the screen. My eyes never what you have seen is poetry as
turned from the writhing bod- much as it is biography. You will
ies being hanged, the lacerated turn to your friends or family
backs and bloody shirts. It's a and you will discuss what you
testament to the greatness of the have just witnessed, and you
performances; to miss even the will be haunted by every crack
slightest nuance, the subtlest, of the whip as much as you will
expression is to miss something be moved by the mounting cre-
profound. scendo of each spiritual, and
But it's even more than that. you will realize that you feel
As much justice as the actors alive, so very alive.

43 Refrigeration
mechanic's "Stay
cool!"?
45 Take out a ban
47Senior advocacy
gp-
48 Help out
49 Roller coaster
segments
52 Bedroomshoe
57"If a Hammer
58 Realor's"Stay
cool!"?
61 Arty NYCsecion
62 Last new Olds
63Vciniy
64 Rattian
65 Black._.spider
66 Legis. meeting
DOWN
1 '80s TV's
"Miami'"
2 "That'smy cue!"
3 Closed
4 Top-shelf
5 Refugesfor
ovemighters

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 17 112 113
14 15 16
17 18 19
20 21
22 23 24
25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32
33 34 35
36 37 36 99
40 41 42
43 44 45 46
47 48
49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56
57 58 59 60
61 62 63
64 65 66

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