Committed To The Art Of Writing Is My Livelihood

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Paul’s Story

I particularly like the title of this blog – Livelihoods – in how it reflects the artistic attitude and the artistic challenge. Pursuing one’s livelihood is an act of securing all the necessities of life. For many authors and artists, it is difficult to do that in a single career or a single passion. Those of us committed to our art or writing know that the basic necessities of life include not only food, water, shelter and clothing, but also the exercise and sustaining of the imagination. But often what puts food on the table does not fuel the imagination, and often artistic work does not provide the other necessities.

What is one to do? Well, one gets by. Somehow. I learned from Rilke as a young man that if one must write, one will write. To a poet, poetry ever is “louder than a bomb” (as others on this blog have said) and also “quieter than a stone,” or perhaps both at the same time. For the playwright, the poet, the visual artist, the indie film producer, the songwriter, the actor, and others, art is not a “hobby” and don’t you dare call it that to them.

One is first nourished by the strength in the art of others until eventually one must walk on his or her own legs, regardless how weak.

One is first nourished by the strength in the art of others until eventually one must walk on his or her own legs, regardless how weak. In high school and then college, I absorbed rock lyrics (1960’s) and particularly soaked up Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen as I studied philosophy at Wichita State University and Indiana University. In writing workshops at WSU, I fed on Rilke and W. D. Snodgrass and the mid-20th century Moderns. At Indiana, I studied the no-nonsense positivism and empiricism of Carnap, Popper, Quine and Wittgenstein.   For me, the life of the mind and that of the heart came together paradoxically in my own quirky, personal human imagination (and that is how I hope to speak now as a poetic voice.) But then I only yearned (though not yet had learned) to write my own story, not echo the words and lyrics of those I loved and admired.

That was a long time, a long time coming, as Sam Cooke sang. In grad school, I had envisioned a coordinated pursuit of all life’s necessities as a university professor in the Philosophy of Science. But that did not work out for me and for many years I segmented my efforts to earn life’s essentials as many authors and artists must. For years, I worked as a computer programmer and in emerging areas of technological research and projects, including artificial intelligence and online stock trading. The 1980’s and 1990’s were exciting times in microcomputer technology and it was a good life, but poetry took a back seat and it seemed often like I was no longer a poet or worse, perhaps had never been one. Eventually though, things changed and the common provisions were secured. Fortunately, my need years ago as a young poet to develop the imagination had persisted. To my awe and amazement, I found poetry was still “louder than a bomb” and “quieter than a stone.”

About PaulDickey Lincoln

Paul Dickey grew up in Wichita and began publishing poetry in the 1970s. Dickey has a Bachelor’s degree from Wichita State University and a Master of Arts degree from Indiana University, Bloomington, in the History and Philosophy of Science. In 1985, he moved his family to Omaha. After a hiatus begun in 1980, Dickey started to publish again in 2003 when he retired from a career in information technology, online stock trading, and management. Since then, he has published poetry, plays, creative non-fiction and fiction in about 150 literary journals.

Dickey’s first full-length book of poems, They Say This is How Death Came into the World was published by Mayapple Press in January, 2011. A second book, Wires over the Homeplace was published by Pinyon Publishing in October, 2013.

Paul won the $5,000 2015 Master Artist Award for poetry from the NAC Individual Artist Fellowships (IAF) program. Besides writing, Dickey teaches philosophy at Metropolitan Community College in Omaha.  To read online work by Paul or get additional information, please visit his website.

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Quality Family Time is My Livelihood

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A Christmas Story: The Musical  Based on the motion picture, A Christmas Story now playing at The Rose through December 28, 2014.

Matthew’s Story

I remember seeing my grandmother and mother laughing so hard that tears spilled from their eyes.  We were witnessing a production of an obscure satire called The Hot Mikado.  I was seven years old and that is the only lingering image from my first experience attending professional theatre.  Years after my grandmother’s passing, that joyous mental picture is still one of my most cherished- seeing the people I love happy spending time together.  Giving others that same opportunity is my livelihood.

Linking that particular experience and my chosen vocation took years.  Like many people in the theatre field, I acted onstage.  I also wrote plays.  I also directed plays.  Eventually, I studied theater management at the graduate level in the belief that shepherding institutions to stability produced a certain guarantee of permanence to the endeavor of making live performing art.  The increasing tally of opera, symphony, and theater closures in recent years all but shatters the illusion of permanence in this field.  The very nature of our work is ephemeral, and that is what makes it so special.

At The Rose Theater, we acknowledge the impermanence of an art experience while aiming to make it stand outside the boundaries of time.

At The Rose Theater, we acknowledge the impermanence of an art experience while aiming to make it stand outside the boundaries of time.  We make art for children and their families, so like childhood itself, we believe a permanent and positive mark can be made on the world by holding steadfast to the belief that love is the only reality that matters- far more than commerce, politics, or even death itself.  That image of my grandmother and mother has the power to guide me at any moment in my adult life- at the grocery store, in traffic, and even at work.  It represents a choice to be gentle, silly, and powerful.  Art of all kinds has the potential to help us achieve such a reality.  For me, a desire to make art for families arose out of a serious search for something real, something that heals, something that makes us laugh.  All I did to find that was return home to what made me, not the theatre, but the people.

About Matthew IFM Panel 3 (Matt G)

Matthew Gutschick’s recent directing credits at The Rose include last season’s Robin Hood and Ramona Quimby.  Other directing credits include The Sparrow, Twelfth Night, and Anon(ymous) at the Interlochen Center for the Arts, Wuthering Heights at the Mint Theatre in New York, and Whacked Fairy Tales at Twin City Stage.  His plays have been workshopped/produced by Wordsmyth Theatre Company, Horse Trade Theater Group (NYC), Reverie Productions (NYC), Tri Sate Actors’ Theatre, and Magic Chicago.  Matthew’s work for MagicMouth Theatre won a New Horizons Playwriting Award and the company premiered a new magic-theatre piece, A Christmas Carol In Prose with Parallel 45 in Traverse City, MI.  He is the former artistic director of the Children’s Theatre of Winston-Salem and completed a fellowship with the Children’s Theatre Company in Minneapolis under the mentorship of Peter Brosius.  Matthew assisted Peter Brosius on productions of 500 Hats of Bartholemew Cubbins and A Christmas Story.  He is a former Managing Director of the Yale Cabaret where he produced over 14 world premieres.  Matthew is also the recipient of a Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation Fellowship in Entrepreneurship, a member of the Lincoln Center Directors Lab, and a graduate of the School at Steppenwolf.  He holds a BA in Theater from Wake Forest University and received an MFA in Theater Management from the Yale School of Drama.  He is in his third season as artistic director of the The Rose.

For more information about The Rose and current productions: http://www.rosetheater.org/

 

 

 

 

Fiction is my Livelihood

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As a farm boy, I was a spectacular failure. I wandered off from my chores, lost in imagination, mumbling to myself as I walked in circles. Today such a child would be drugged and counseled. My parents, however, let me roam; one of the paths I trod through a patch of weeds is still weedless to this day – nothing ever grew to cover my steps. Today, I pace as I write fiction, with my laptop propped on a fat dictionary atop the kitchen counter. I mutter aloud, considering the rhythms of words, performing lines of dialogue. I do have a writing desk in a writing room but I do no writing there. I need to be up and about fussing with things, my stories coming together on the sly. For me, I guess, writing must always involve wandering away from chores, and it must never become the chore itself.

Whether you’re a writer or not, you’re developing your own art of moving from point to point.

A teacher once accused me of wanting to avoid “the dog work” of writing fiction. She said I didn’t put enough effort in moving the characters from point A to point B – she said I just wanted to jump from one vivid detail to the next. She was right, and she meant to scold, but I found myself inclined to rebel. Why must a character be moved from point A to point B? Why must there even be a point A and a point B at all? Of course I eventually came to understand that plot and technique didn’t have to muddle the art of the thing. But I remain baffled by those writers who consider fiction an obligation. (A novelist I once knew even likened writing to “factory work.”) And I’ve always found it curious that one is said to “indulge” the imagination, as if the imagination was too pleasurable to politely allow. Imagination and creativity guide your every move — you’re not just relying on your intellect and your sentiment to navigate your days; you’re inventing your own character as you go along, devising a kind of mythology based on all the aspects of your own spirit, and sense, and gesture, your daily tasks, your loves, your frustrations. Whether you’re a writer or not, you’re developing your own art of moving from point to point.

Please join us for (downtown) omaha lit fest on Sept 12-13 for literary readings, panel discussions, and an opening night party. “Like” us on Facebook (Omaha Lit Fest) or visit www.omahalitfest.com.

About Timothy

Timothy Schaffert is the author of five novels, most recently The Swan Gondola, set Timothy Schaffert 1_by Michael Lionstaramong the humbug artists and theatrical types of turn-of-the-century Omaha. His work has been a New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice, a Barnes and Noble Discover Great New Writers selection, an Oprah.com Book of the Week, and recognized in the O. Henry Prize Stories and Best American Short Stories anthologies. Novelist Kurt Andersen called Schaffert a “master of Great Plains gothic” on his public radio program Studio 360; on the NPR program On Point, Paul Ingram said “[Schaffert] is an Omaha writer the way Faulkner is a Mississippi writer – he has a deep historical connection to the area, and you learn so much.” Schaffert grew up on a farm in Nebraska; he lives in Omaha and is a professor of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He is founder/director of (downtown) omaha lit fest, to be held Sept 12-13, 2014 at W. Dale Clark Library. www.omahalitfest.com

Tribal Culture Is My Livelihood

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Our identity is everything to us as human beings. I was born into two tribes, the Omaha, and the Cherokee. I was adopted at birth into the earthen Bison clan (Black Shoulder or Inke’cabe). My name is Ba’gee-zha, which means Bison Mane, literally, but refers to the transformation of an alpha male whose head and neck enlarge dramatically as he must physically fight for the vitality of the tribe. Our goal as Omaha Indians is to live up to the metaphor of our names so that our tribe will thrive. I will spend my life trying to live up to my name for my tribe.

I am a student of our tribal life-ways, and try to help represent the truth in history, art, history, and the humanities. I am a dancer, singer and artist and try to express myself through these mediums the pride and clarity of identity in all I do.

I was recently given the honor of being inducted into the Omaha Eagle Whistle Society; it is one of the highest honors in my tribe. And with such honors come great responsibility. If anyone in the tribe asks for my help, then I am instantly indebted. I could ask for no greater honor in serving my people.

With my art, I only make ceremonial objects that must live in our ceremonies, whether thatTaylor Keen photo 1 be prayer fans or war dance regalia, I insist that they be used, to bolster our tribal life-ways.

I often find myself advocating for the true impact of history. Every time I hear “Pioneer” here in Nebraska, I immediately follow up with an explanation of the impact to Native peoples. The dislocation of the Nebraska tribes is a painful and real part of Nebraska history. I recently started portraying Chief Standing Bear of the Ponca in an effort to help educate citizens on this topic.

But mainly I just try to live our teachings; “help one another… be kind to one another… even your worst enemy- shake their hand, and remember they are a human being and that there are those that need and love them.”

About TaylorTaylor Keen
Taylor Keen is an enrolled citizen of both the Omaha and the Cherokee Nations. Prof. Keen is a full time lecturer at Creighton’s College of Business, and has served on the National Council of the Cherokee Nation and is a member multiple different traditional societies; include the Tai Piah Gourd Dance Society of the Kiowa, the UmoNhoN Society and the Omaha Native American Church.

Taylor is a veteran dancer, singer and artist and loves to share this passion with younger members of the tribe, in the hopes of it always thriving. Taylor is active in board/trustee governance with the Humanities Nebraska, the Nebraska State Historical Society and is Chairman of the Board for the Blackbird Bend Corporation, the hospitality / economic development engine for the Omaha Nation.