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Starlight Artists Release a Book of Poetry and Visual Art on Friday

Starlight Genesis

Words and pictures from Starlight Gallery.

Starlight’s Genesis, a handsome, full-color anthology of poetry and visual art by clients of the Starlight Studio and Art Gallery, will be presented at a book release party Friday, June 3, 7-10pm, at the Starlight facility, 340 Delaware Avenue.

Poet Ricky Gene Hogan hits the keynote in the first poem in the volume: “I am/in the stars/and in the clouds./I am in the world./It is wild, a lifelong promise…/And I am/the Light.”

One of the more notable poetic voices in the volume—for its candor about the extraordinary frustrations as well as aspirations of members of this community—is that of Andrew Isadore Calderon.

In a linked series of “Personal Revelation” poems on the death of his mother and aftermath, he says that “I remain a Lonely, Grown-up Virgin,” but with “Her spirit with me/Always…Every day I feel her presence/in my life.” And on the coping mechanism he discovered—was given as a gift, he says—as if in compensation for his great loss: “Poetry began to uplift/Gave new life, turned young/what was once old/Brought the heat/to what was once cold…”

Another group of poems by the same poet treats of his dismaying experience with a scam poetry contest/publication come-on, inspiring emotions from initial elation (“Poetry contest made the Semi-Finals/In line to win 10,000 dollars/Want to Scream and Holla/Jump for Joy/Oh Boy/Could win a Grand/Frank’s Sunny Italy/Salad, Chicken Parm and Ziti for Dinner/I felt like a Winner…”) to outraged disappointment (“Rip-off committee/International Society of Poets/Distinguished member/Yeah, Whatever…The Lies you Bastards tell/Just one more thing, then I am lettin’ this pass/Stuff your mouths with tissue and Kiss My Ass!!!”).

The poetry ranges from lyrical: “The days of glory tell a story/of butterfly wings and finer things/of life and love and the day of loss/and nights of old and waves of gold…” (Janet Rose Harrison), and “Something’s happening in the wind…” (John Budney); to poetic personal narrative: “Today I set out on a journey…/The sun is my compass./My compass is my path.” (Jeremy Garber); to playful nonsense verse, heavy on alliteration: “In May a mouse/married a moose/on a mountain/in Michigan.” (Lloyd Rung); to a jazzy description of a performance by bluesman B.B. King: “Orange rhythm in a purple haze…We’re family tonight.” (Jeremy Garber again).

There’s practical good advice: “You might be taking the right way,/or you’ll be going the wrong way…/If you do get lost, just dial 911” (John Harold Gordon); a philosophical disquisition on the nose: “that thing in the middle of your face/that you use to smell with…/Could we live without a nose?/Yes, we can./I saw a man that only had/the inside of the nose facing outward.” (Mimi Miller); and awed appreciation of the horseback-riding prowess of the legendary Buffalo Bill: “I couldn’t believe he could/stand up on a horse/without falling off!” (John Harold Gordon again). With commentary: “When you’re on a horse like that/you gotta have good balance./If you don’t keep that balance/you will be fallin’ backwards./And that can’t happen/if you’re Buffalo Bill.”

Meanwhile, the visual art is a delight. For example, the cover artwork, by John Montedoro, called People, City, Friends, House, in marker on acrylic on canvas, that on close inspection consists of human figures and faces amid geometrical forms—circles and rectangles—representing each of the title items in one grand semi-abstract design.

And Kimber Rodgers’ superb clay and mixed-media sculpture of a woman giving birth. And Debbie Medwin’s lovely impressionistic depiction of pussy willows against a blue sky with fleecy clouds echoing visual-effect auras around the furry buds and pods. (Do pussy willows have pods? These do.) And Eric Johnson’s relief print of a zoo animal—a baby rhino, it looks like—in a few contrasting monotone shades.

Chase Lobely has a triply ferocious-looking Cerberus with three heads and serpent tail, and Paul Chandler a mysterious-looking fiber and mixed media creation he calls “Batboy.” Not a baseball reference, but not the Batboy we know from the comics and movies, either. A completely original interpretation.

And much more art, by 16 visual artists in all.

The Starlight Studio and Art Gallery is a program of the Learning Disabilities Association of Western New York. Starlight’s Genesis was edited by Katherine A. Loewen, and made possible with help from Geoffrey Gatza, Joe and Patti Cosgrove, and Greg and Suzi Loewen.

jack foran

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