I’ve been away from the computer for several weeks. Just back from China with my husband Peter celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary. This photo shows me standing by the Yangtze River. Catching up on publishing news after my return, I can share that my short story “Keep Me Posted” is now online in the April issue of the Scarlet Leaf Review. Here is the link. If you have comments, please share them on the magazine website. Thank you!
I’m switching this blog up a bit. Several years ago when I started blogging, my objective as an editor of a local Annapolis area magazine was to promote events around Anne Arundel County. Thus I named my blog “Write On Annapolis”. While I’m still doing some marketing and freelance magazine work, part of my day is devoted to writing fiction.
I’ve also been writing a poetry, which I’ve also been posting here, as well as still writing memoir.. What I find difficult to do is to promote my own writing. I’m very good at promoting causes, organizations and businesses, but when it comes to promoting my creative work I often run out of steam. So I’m going to try to use this blog to share my writing accomplishments and pursuits with the world and I will start by posting a link to my short story published in Scarlet Leaf Review (a work of fiction) entitled “Trying to Be Normal”. I’d also like to share that another short piece of mine was recently published in the first issue of Fire Pit a literary magazine published by Eight-Stone Press. It is entitled “The Real Thing.” If you’ve followed my previous career as an antiques dealer, you’ll find it enlightening.
I hope to share more publishing successes as I continue to write short stories and will be embarking on another National Novel Writing Month adventure starting November lst. Thank you for reading. Without readers, where would writers be?
The sun was in my eyes, so there is a bit of a squint but I am wearing a Nano T-shirt in honor of the upcoming National Novel Writing Month. This photo was taken by my husband Peter on the Corn Hill Beach in Truro, Cape Cod, my most favorite place to write.
“The Essential Herman Maril” is the title of the art show currently featured at Acme Fine Art in Boston. The exhibit of works selected by Gallery owners James Bennette and David Cowan provides the viewer with an opportunity to become acquainted with some of the subject themes important in my father’s life. . His career spanned from the 1930s until his death in 1986. There is the boat, the sea, construction in the city, a garden with clothes line, looking out through a kitchen window, and one of my favorites–a black rotary wall telephone . My father painted what he knew and what he saw; selectively reducing and refining figures and shapes to depict on the paper or canvas what he felt to be important.
My dad, who divided his time between Maryland and Cape Cod, did some traveling and he sketched when he traveled. Writers put their notes in a journal. Herman’s notes took the shapes of trees, coastlines, people, and buildings. He visited the Southwest, California, Mexico, Spain, Italy, and Portugal, but he never made it to Africa although he had a modest collection of African Art that he prized. In addition to several masks and locks from a Chief’s hut, there was a sculpture fetish that was said to have been caked in mud and containing a lion’s ear when Herman purchased it.. He admired the simple carved shapes of these treasures, which he displayed in the front hallway and living room of our home at a time when such objects were not particularly fashionable.
As a child in the days when there were only three or four television stations, I’d watch wildlife nature shows with my dad, mesmerized by the images on the black and white TV. Expansive plains, tall grasses waving in the wind and the close-up of a hungry lion in pursuit of dinner, chasing a fast moving gazelle had us on the edge of our chairs. It was a shared time, just me an my father, and during my recent visit to East Africa I thought of him often, wishing he was with me to see the expansive plains, baoba trees, lions, zebras, gazelles, giraffes, and wildebeests in person.
When I told my brother David Maril I was going to Africa, he sent me a photograph of the bird sculpture Dad had painted in the oil painting below, “Artist Contemplating African Bird” now in the collection of Adirondack Community College, originally acquired by his close friend the poet William Bronk, known to our family as Bill.
“Artist Contemplating African Bird” oil on canvas by Herman Maril, Collection of Adirondack Community College
David was hoping I might be able to identify the origin of the sculpture, if I saw something similar.While I saw many large handsome birds during our travels on the Wami river and on our safari excursions overland by jeep inside Ngoronguru Crater and Masai Mara National Reserve, I saw no original pieces of bird sculpture during my visit. Walking in and out of all the tourist shops that line the narrow streets of the Stone Town portion of Zanzibar I mostly encountered the usual wood carvings I suspect are probably mass produced in China. My husband Peter and I found one quality merchant who was selling the older tribal pieces along with fine Middle Eastern jewelry and artifacts– but no bird sculptures.
Our favorite memories from the trip are those moments seeing the animals on the move in their natural environment. Watching hundreds of zebras, wildebeests, and gazelle making their way across the Serengeti Plain in search of fresh grass and sitting in a boat yards away from massive Hippos, hearing their deep sonorous groans as they submerge themselves underwater and reappear, is an experience of a lifetime. It reminded me that wildlife, and the variety of animals we grew up visiting at the zoo, is not something we can take for granted. It’s important we try to preserve the earth and protect our endangered species that include the Black Rhinoceros and Leopard, both of which I had the privilege to see, albeit from a far distance. (This is when field binoculars come in handy).
Nature and the images we see, whether they are exotic animals or the shape of flowers that bloom on the tree outside our window, can inspire the artist in all of us. You don’t have to travel half way around the world to see something worthy of inspiration, but some times taking a journey can give us perspective to appreciate what we have when we return home.
Just stopped by a panel discussion event at today’s Annapolis Film Festival on “The Pitch” and am looking forward to seeing a few movies this weekend. In case you’re curious, I got to preview one of the wonderful feature documentaries entitled, “Little White Lie,” written, directed and produced by Lacey Schwartz; and below I share a post/review.The evening I watched “Little White Lie” I’d just returned from a visit to my family home in Baltimore. Standing around the dining room table, my brother David Maril, our cousin Ron Becker and I tried to identify a stash of old family photographs. We searched our memories trying to recognize names and face of relatives going back several generations. There were photographs of my grandfather, a child sitting on a rocking horse and as a soldier in postwar France. Another larger photo showed my grandmother, as a young girl posing for a picture surrounded by her parents and four brothers and sisters in Bel Air Maryland where the family once had a farm. My grandmother, the eldest child, was ashamed of having been born in Russia. When the courthouse burned down and the birth records destroyed, she told everyone she was born in America. That was her little white lie. But some lies are much larger.The documentary “Little White Lie” begins with archival footage of the Jewish community in Brooklyn during the mid 20th century and there are old photographs and a timeline showing the Schwartz family arriving in the United States at the end of the 19th century. There is footage of old home movies showing parties, bat mitzvahs, picnics and other family events. Everyone looks happy.
We all grow up hearing stories about our grandparents and great-grand parents. But what if a one line of our ancestors had been completely wiped from the family history and another group of ancestors put in their place? What if our true heritage has been hidden?
Lacey Schwartz grew up believing both of her parents were her biological parents and that she was the descendent of Eastern European Jews, but that was only half the truth. The little girl and young woman in the family movies has darker skin and fuller features than her parents. When she asks questions about her appearance as a child she is told that her mother’s family had a Sicilian great-grandfather and that is why her skin is so dark. She accepts their explanations and when she looks in the mirror does not acknowledge her bi-racial heritage. Children believe their parents.
The movie is framed within the preparations for a wedding, Lacey’s wedding. As she tells her story, she shares with the viewers her belief that she did not feel ready to join her life with someone else’s until she understood the actions of her parents. They divorced when she was a teenager. What did her father know about the identity of Lacey’s biological father? Did he realize his wife had been unfaithful and that her lover had been African American? Why had her mother not been forthcoming with the truth about her heritage ? Her biological father was a family friend named Robert Parker, but he dies when Lacey is 30 with no opportunity to develop a relationship.
Lacey’s dad Robert Schwartz is the only father she has ever known. Although her bridegroom is African American, Lacey holds steadfast to Jewish traditions complete with the breaking of the glass as the two are pronounced man and wife. She decides to retain her last name of Schwartz, delighting in the double symbolism. The word “Schwartz” means black in German.
One of the many fine films coming to THE ANNAPOLIS FILM FESTIVAL.