Well done all! Ripper street has been renewed…

A public challenge to the BBC’s decision to axe the series has resulted in Amazon UK picking up the rights to stream a third season. Filming begins in May:
http://www.ign.com/articles/2014/02/28/ripper-street-renewed-for-third-season-on-amazon

Missing exhibit piece at Drents Museum unexplained…

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Yde bog girl

The Mummy exhibit at the museum in Assen is full of surprises, not least of which is the unexplained disappearance of one artifact in particular: the mummified head of a 19th century Italian woman. No clear statement has been made by the museum concerning the piece as yet.

Ongoing controversy also remains over the museum’s permanent exhibit of the mummified Yde bog girl, the “Meisje van Yde”. Modern pagans object to the removal of the girl’s remains from the sacrificial bog in which she was found.

Add to all this a confusing floor layout, bewildering transitions between thematic sections, a “Bodyworlds”-type figure that had seen better days, and surprisingly few mummified Egyptian artifacts, and the sum total is a bit disorienting!

Still worth a visit, but leave any pre-conceptions about mummies, or indeed about museums, at home…

BBC’s Ripper Street canceled

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If art is meant to move and provoke, this series is art in high form. Its Victorian Whitechapel setting holds up a mirror to our own 21st century domain–viewers are asked to wrestle with uncomfortable questions about the costs bound up with creating a better world. No easy answers, just a foil to show us to ourselves…
Surely that is relevant to BBC mandates? Or can vacuous reality celebrity TV (battling RS’s timeslot) cause such similar introspection?

The Independent’s Michael Hogan reviews the final episode:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/tvandradio/tv-and-radio-reviews/10521420/Ripper-Street-the-final-episode-BBC-One-review.html

Ripper Street star MyAnna Buring calls for public to challenge the BBC’s decision to axe series:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/tvandradio/10506209/Ripper-Street-star-MyAnna-Buring-calls-for-public-to-challenge-the-BBCs-decision-to-axe-series.html

Sign the petition here:
http://www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/reverse-the-bbc-s-decision-to-cancel-ripper-street?share_id=bxVxDjtQUk

Wagner’s Twilight of the gods premiering 14 Nov

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To celebrate the 200th anniversary of the birth of Richard Wagner (1813-1883), the DNO’s legendary production of Der ring des Nibelungen is being revived for the last time. The final piece, “Twightlight of the gods”, will premiere 14 Nov, and judging by the dress-rehearsal, audiences will not be let down by this long-popular interpretation conceived by director Pierre Audi.
Audi’s staging is spectacular, and his decision to seat members of the audience visibly around the stage suggests a sense of Roman amphitheatre–enclosed with viewers on all sides. Notable, too, is Audi’s choice to omit the final act’s “lifting of the veil” where, traditionally, the onlooking gods are at last revealed. Could audience members looking down from their amphitheatre seats be unwittingly taking on roles of the Norse pantheon — watching, waiting, intent on the outcome of events?
German Conductor Hartmut Haenchen, a tremendous favourite in Holland, returns to conduct the Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra in this dramatic conclusion to Wagner’s Ring Cycle.

Win Harms: In Harms Way

Win-Harms cover page

Barncott Press has been coming out with some exciting poetry titles lately, and one bright new poet is American expat Win(ifred) Harms, an accomplished writer who, incidentally, will be playing the title role in the upcoming filmic production of Eddie Woods’ classic Mary.

In her debut publication, entitled (perhaps inevitably) In Harms Way, Harms achieves something extraordinary. She taps in to the deep personal and collective trauma of our age, and does so with an almost off-the-cuff feel devised by a skillful and often playful handling of language and metaphor.

The kind of poetry that Harms produces requires an entire book, and even though she has individual publishing credits in various journals and publications, this intimate collection reads as a cohesive unit with its own sense of immediacy and a fast paced rhythmic propulsion. The imagery is dense and triggering and the metaphor is gritty and contemporary. Particularly poignant are the poems that address anguish and loss within carefully wrought and, for the most part, tightly controlled expression.

In a sense, Harms’ collection reads like a masterful reworking of the heartfelt but rather badly written poetry of angsty teens. The book’s early poems, one entitled Heads counterpointed by the next poem, Tails immediately signal a sense of polarity. And the book’s poems do run the gamut of emotional expression. We encounter poems about sex, mental wards, dead daughters and husbands, suicide, illusion, kindness and despair.

Running through the dark strains of the collection is a survivor instinct and trickster spirit. The words on the page are sticky, sugary, sexy, and full of fluid(s), with gleefully rampant enjambment. There is an authenticity and tough vulnerability that comes across in this no-holds-barred ode to the messiness of life incarnate.

The motifs of trauma and despair hold in tension a deep love for and celebration of life. The speaker in the poem Fear, for instance tells readers she is: waiting, yet again, for a transfer / to a state mental institution / this time it was the / beauty of a spring day / the Croatian man bringing me chicken / and the sheer happiness / that made me unable to take it anymore.

Beneath the layers of many poems, Harms pays homage to literary forebears such as Virginia Woolf, the imagist H.D., and American beat poets. Sylvia Plath, in particular, looms large, especially in poems like Elektra Euphemisms with its faint echo of Plath’s Daddy and her controversial Nazi imagery.

And while In Harms Way frequently explores many of the same themes as Plath, the voice is entirely 21st century, caught inextricably in the mire of negotiating a sense of self in a post-feminist, post-MTV-generation, post-post modern world. Harms’ second collection of poetry is certainly highly anticipated.

(Originally published in The Holland Times 9 September 2013)