2017 – Planning, Plotting, Doing

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Emmy Bridgwater

2016 was the year events culminated and I decided to return to academia.

I had recently moved back to Birmingham (my hometown and the city where I completed both my MA and PhD) and needed to (re)establish my academic presence. I reconnected with old acquaintances – some I had kept in touch with, some who I had not seen for years – and made some new ones. I asked advice, made enquires, talked to people. The academic and moral support I have received is tremendous and I really could not have kept going without these wonderful, encouraging people.

Good things occurred and plans were set in motion:

I will be giving two lectures in March. The first will be part of Birmingham School of Jewellery’s ‘Talking Practice’ series (2 March) and is titled Intimate Jewels: Surrealism, Fetish and Fairytales. This will be a fun and informative exploration of the overlaps between Surrealist objects and fairytales. It will be dark, at times salacious, and I am very excited to work on the paper.

The second will be on 17 March and is to be held at the Birmingham and Midland Institute (BMI). In keeping with the building’s heritage, the talk is titled Emmy Bridgwater and the Birmingham Surrealists. In this lunchtime lecture I will give a brief overview of Surrealism’s Birmingham branch and explore Emmy’s artwork. Not enough has been written or said on Emmy, and I intend to give her a well deserved place in the spotlight.

It is a small, modest start but I am very grateful for these opportunities. More information will be available here – and on Twitter – closer to the time. (Unfortunately I’ll be missing the AAH Conference due to a pre-booked holiday, but have other papers, projects and plans cooking as I type). As an aside (but still connected) I would like to take more art trips (much neglected in 2016) and spend some time in Paris.

I approach everything with an open mind, excited for new possibilities, and keen to see what this year brings.

Thank you for reading!

 

 

 

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Noirvember – Out of the Darkness…(It’s Over and I Messed Up)

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It’s 30 November, the last day of November – and Noirvember – and it’s safe to say that I messed up. I overestimated this self-imposed task to post something everyday and follow Noirvember to the letter. I did not anticipate the sheer volume activity that would flood my way and make this month one of my busiest of the year.

It’s started slowly and surely, but a combination of minor health niggles and research activity soon put my intentions to rest. May it was this task – the incentive to become more active on here – that kickstarted my hunger for something that I’ve been missing and craving for a very long time. It got me back into a much-missed circle, asking questions of myself and critiquing my current situation and general career plan. It gave me a much-needed kick to use my site more and to post whatever I wanted to at that particular moment, be it a photo, quote, anecdote or whatever. I wanted to do more in-depth reviews, analysis and wittily constructed posts but there’s always time – maybe I’ll do a mini Noir celebration in the year?

Let’s just see where this site takes us, shall we? Out of the Noirvember darkness and into the light…

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Noirvember – Day 20 (Running)

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My first viewing of He Ran All The Way was at this year’s TCM Classic Film Festival. What follows is an extract of my original post:

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He Ran All The Way was hardly a second choice and did not disappoint. A gritty, menacing Noir, we were soon being terrorised by a crooked John Garfield brandishing a gun, then a large piece of poultry, into the faces of Shelley Winter’s terrified family. Furthermore, I was in awe of Galdys George’s wardrobe and her superb, very minor, role as Garfield’s mother who smoked, drank and bitched her way through barely two scenes.

The sense of bleakness within He Ran All the Way is also palpable off screen. The Blacklist haunts the film – its screenplay was co-written by Dalton Trumbo and Garfield was blacklisted two months before the film’s release. It was also to be Garfield final film – he died one year later. Denis Berry, whose father John Berry (who was blacklisted after Edward Dmytruk named him as one of the Hollywood ten) directed the film, gave an affecting, personal introduction of life during this era. We can read about the time and see movies written, during and about this historical Hollywood period, but it is only when you hear it directly from someone who experienced and lived through it all that the reality truly hits home.

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Noirvember – Day 19 (Shadows, Part 3)

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Noirvember – Day 18 (Shadows, Part 2)

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Noirvember- Day 17 (Shadows, Part 1)

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Noirvember – Day 16 (Forever Words)

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Johnny Cash’s music is ideal for Noirvember. With his dark, melancholic lyrics conjuring up imagery in the imagination, he was both haunter and haunted; his songs inhabiting our thoughts with a brooding poetry. Yet there is also something about Cash’s voice that gives hope and optimism, that raises a smile and is filled with lyrical love stories. You can never ‘just listen’ to a Cash song – pop him on in the background as you would a radio. He demands your complete attention (which makes him extremely difficult to listen while working).

Johnny Cash’s voice can be heard loud and clear from every page of ‘Forever Words: The Unknown Poems’, the new volume of his previously unpublished poetry. Cash’s handwritten notes – sometimes neat, sometimes scribbled on bits of paper – all provide a greater touch of the personal. The two introductions offer various insights. While John Carter Cash (son of Johnny Cash and June Carter) adds deeper familiarity and affection to his father’s poetry, Paul Muldoon (Pulitzer Prize winning poet) unpacks and delves deeper into Cash’s words.

With annotated musings, photographs, and scribbles punctuating various pages, the book reflects Cash’s storytelling lyricism filled with every emotion from love to hope and dread. These poems offer glimpses into the construction of his songs, lines later adapted into his most cherished lyrics, and that unmistakable darkness of which he became synonymous. If Cash’s songs are personal insights then this book feels like a conversation.

Some are self-deprecating and humorous – especially ‘Don’t Make a Movie About Me’, written at Christmas 1982 which forms a nice alignment to 2005’s Walk The Line, especially as Cash approved Joaquin Phoenix for the role. Some may say he was a mass of contradictions but these all fit together beautifully: a scholar and learned in ancient texts, a brilliant theologian and ordained minister, well-read and a poet, a tortured rebel whose life was filled with sadness and tragedy.

Despite his tremendous life ‘Forever Words’ is not a big book. It is not the most ostentatious. Like Cash it is unadorned yet deep, intense but sensitive, soft despite appearances, and, naturally, it is wearing black.

 

*Johnny Cash, ‘Forever Words: The Unknown Poems’ is available now from Canongate.
ISBN, 978-1-78211-994-4

 

 

 

 

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