June 24, 2015

Daughter of the Fire Breathers

My illustrated book of female monsters has been drawing to a finish. The text is complete with just one last illustration to go.

Nearing the end of a long term project always becomes a challenge for me not to rush those last bits and pieces needed for completion. There is something about almost smelling the finish line that often makes me begin to abandon the clear headed, detail oriented work that I began with.

Such was the case with this last project. I tried to hold back but ended up rushing through the illustration for the poem Every Goddess Burns. I sent it to my graphic designer with a comment something like, "Here it is, I don’t like it." She concurred that it was not my best work.

After letting the dust of my eagerness for completion settle, I made a new illustration as well as a new poem. Both were more in keeping with my earlier styles in my text, especially since I drew upon resources in classical art.
  Above is the new illustration for the new poem, "Daughter of the Fire Breathers." The so-so illustration is at right.

June 23, 2015

Removing the Flag, Adding Better Laws

The day after the Charleston massacre, while the shock, disbelief, and sorrow were still raw, I began to think of what, if anything, I might do about it. "Perhaps I should begin by starting a petition to request that the Confederate Flag be removed from the State House Grounds in Columbia." I said to my husband. I went to Google first to see if there might have been one already started. Indeed there was one about four hours old. "Ah, beaten to the punch," I thought. The petition had already garnered many signatures and I was about to sign it myself when I looked it over and realized that the words did not convey what I wanted to say. What I read stated what the flag intrinsically was rather than what it means to people. Perhaps I was being overly cautious about semantics but it occurred to me that the wording of the petition, although intended for the greater good, had the potential to spark an argument instead. And wasn’t argument the intent of the man now sitting in a Charleston prison for a heinous race crime? He wanted to start a civil war - a violent argument on a grand scale.

I decided to craft my own letters to my state representatives in order to request the removal of the confederate flag in words that one could not quibble about. This afforded me the opportunity to be more reflective on how I wanted this request to be made, and to add a call for a hate crime law for South Carolina as well as a request for gun control legislation.

After a few rewrites I sent off my letters to Senator Lindsay Graham, Congressman Joe Wilson, Representative Mark Sanford and one to Governor Chris Christie in New Jersey for his part in weighing in on the tragedy in Charleston.

No sooner had my letters been posted, then Governor Nikki Haley and Senator Lindsay Graham announced their support in removing the Confederate Flag from the State House grounds. "Beaten to the punch again," I thought, but relieved that our state leadership was finally doing something I could agree with and be proud of.

My focus in sending that one out of state letter to Governor Chris Christie was inspired by his own words in response to the recent tragedy: "Laws can’t change this," and his call to encourage people to "love each other" being "what leadership is all about." These are common maxims used by many who don’t appear to understand why we need gun control laws or who may be reluctant to face up to the strong gun control lobby in order to effect necessary change in this country. My own "weighing in" with regard to these commonly used platitudes is as follows:

Laws cannot change what may be in the hearts and minds of people. It cannot change the malicious intents of minds that are warped by hatred. These are things best left to our institutions of education and faith. What laws are for is to restrict, curb, and prevent the actions of those inclined towards violence. It is the obligation of those in government office to enact laws to protect citizens from harm. That is their duty. That is the job they were elected to do. That is why we call them law makers. It means standing up to wealthy powers that put Americans in harm’s way through their own greed and selfish lack of responsible concern. That is what leadership is all about.