The daily Nebraskan. ([Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-current, February 21, 2000, Page 9, Image 9

Below is the OCR text representation for this newspapers page. It is also available as plain text as well as XML.

By Jason Hardy
Staff writer
As in most college towns, Lincoln
has a fairly active music and arts scene.
Just about any day of the week, one can
find a musical performance or some
kind of visual arts exhibit to attend.
Still, it seems, there is something, or
rather some things, missing. Things like
poetry slams, poetry readings or even
poetry discussion groups are noticeably
absent from the local arts community.
With each passing night it increas
ingly becomes obvious that die poets of
Lincoln have little or no voice, and the
question inevitably becomes: Why?
“It doesn’t do you any good to write
and write and write and let it collect
inside a file box, which so many people
do,” said Rebecca Christensen, a local
writer. “It’s very disappointing”
Christensen, who has lived in
Lincoln for about a year and a half and
has had poems published in numerous
publications, said when she fust came
to Lincoln, she was surprised at the local
poetry scene, or rather, the lack thereof.
“Part of it is that in Lincoln,
Nebraska, everything requires funding.
Also, local publications are so slim as
far as challenging people to submit stuff
that’s going to shake things up. It’s a
town where you kind of have to do it
yourself,” she said.
The environment creates obstacles.
“So I think a lot of it is lack of moti
vation. It could happen if people were
more motivated to do it We’re just not
pulling together like we need to.
“It’s like if they’re serious about
being a writer, they’re not serious about
staying here.”
Eventually the question always
takes the form of a “which came first,
the chicken or the egg” debate. With
local poetry, however, one wonders
which was lacking first, local poetry or
local support?
According to local poet Adam
Pomajzl, it’s a little of both. He said
many Lincoln poets don’t actively seek
out opportunities to read or publish their
work, but the ones who do aren’t exact
ly embraced by the community, either.
“A lot of people have hopes and
dreams of getting out of Lincoln that
they forget that there could be a scene
here while they’re still here,” Pomajzl
“Once that scene becomes avail
able, I think the community will get
more involved. But so far what I’ve seen
is just not strong enough to be some
thing that would be continually going
on. There’s not enough push to support
local poetry and writing.”
For Pomajzl and Christensen,
the only outlets for their
work have been created
by their own ambi
recently put
lioKarl o rV*/-*«-♦
iitUlVU U Uiivi *■
book of
h e
bookstore, A Novel Idea, 118 N. 14th
St., and his own mail order business,
Pomajzl has had little to no luck.
“It’s just really hard to get your book
into stores,” he said. “A lot of the local
businesses have been cut out by stores
like Barnes
Christensen has found equally dis
heartening results in her quest for quali
ty representation.
“A lot of major publishing houses
won’t touch it with a 10-foot pole. But
I’m a writer, not a salesman, so I’m get
ting an agent,” she said. “But the type of
work T do is not common, and an
agent would rather receive a
historical romance or
a Stephen King
esque novel.
himself, and Christensen has
been seeking agents to represent her
work. However, even with small steps
like these comes a more uphill battle.
Since his book, “Two Days From
Honesty,” published by Infusion
Publishing, was finished, Pomajzl has
had a surprising amount of trouble find
ing places to sell it. Aside from a local
" ' Delan Lonowski/DN
and Noble or Hastings, and they have a
hard enough time keeping up with them,
so it puts a strain on them to take a
chance with poetry.
“It’s kind of like pulling teeth. It’s
sad because I’m sure there are so many
more talented Nebraska poets than are
being represented.”
“I’ve found 200 agents, and maybe a
quarter would look at it and maybe 10
percent of those would sell it if they
thought it was worth selling. Most are
from California or New York.”
Even when local poets are able to
publish work on their own and find rep
resentation nationally, the lack of poetry
readings in Lincoln does a lot to stifle
the quality and productivity of local
Still, there has been some progress.
Both Club 1427,1427 O St., and The
Coffee House, 1324 P St., hold occa
sional open mic-type poetry readings.
In January, LOCALincoln, a communi
ty arts support group, held a poetry
reading as part of a music and art show.
Nevertheless, support, even from the
poetry community, has been relatively
Colin Egger, a local poet and
employee of The Coffee House, said
The Coffee House is open upon request
to hold poetry readings, but people
rarely come forth to participate.
“It’s disappointing because I know a
lot of people that write, and I know a lot
of poets, and it’s like they just read (their
work) in whatever class they have, and
every once in a while there’ll be one
(poet to read) at the Coffee House,”
Egger said. “When we do have (read
ings) they’re kind of off and on. The last
one I saw, the whole room was full of all
different kinds of people, so I think the
more often people would read, the more
support there would be.”
Christensen agreed the Lincoln
community and its writers need to work
at providing a more embracing environ
ment for the arts in Lincoln.
She said if this goal were accom
plished, it would benefit both Lincoln’s
writers and the city itself. Christensen
and Pomajzl said they hoped to orga
nized poetry discussion groups and
readings themselves but agreed that it
would take more than that.
Slowly, however, things seem to be
moving in the right direction.
“It seems like a lot of other people
lately have been recognizing that there is
talent in Lincoln, and they’ve been try
ing to get it out there,” Christensen said.
“Lincoln is kind of behind in pro
moting local arts, but there are a lot of
places that are now promoting visual art
shows; and, as we start allowing visual
artists to display their work in environ
ments that don’t require funding, it will
all tie together.
“But, of course, that’s still just the
first step.”
‘Hanging Up’ disconnects viewers
By Samuel McKewon
Senior editor
Let’s get two things straight about
“Hanging Up,” as the movie’s trailers,
posters and press material would have
us believe otherwise.
■ This is not a comedy. I found
five laughs in the movie. There might
be a few more. In reality, the screen
play written by Nora Ephron (adapted
from her sister Delia’s book) is sad,
and, at times, disturbing. Granted, it’s
all false disturbance, but I am certain
“Hanging Up” will not be mistaken
for bubble-gum joy.
■ There are two stars in this
movie, Meg Ryan and Walter
Matthau. Diane Keaton (who plays
Georgia and also directs) and Lisa
Kudrow (Maddy) have almost useless
roles in this movie. They’re the sisters
of Eve (Meg Ryan), and all three are
daughters of Matthau’s bitter and
dying screenwriter, who enjoys call
ing his daughters to annoy diem with
stories of John Wayne.
Actually, he bothers only Eve,
which is the entire point: This movie
would work much better with Eve as
an only child, but, alas, we must live
with the stories of die sisters we don’t
care about.
It’s pretty easy to see why
“Hanging Up” got jettisoned out of
the holiday movie lineup in favor of a
middle February date - critics would
have skewered it.
Critics are skewering it now, too,
but at least this over-sentimental,
rather boring drama of a dysfunction
al family doesn’t stink so badly when
compared to the rest of the shabby
fare out there right now.
But the lack of decent movies at
this time of year doesn’t make
“Hanging Up” any better, either.
While Keaton and the Ephron sis
ters would like this movie to be about
many things - the letting-go of a par
ent, the disconnection from loved
ones - it ends up being largely about
how many times Ryan can tug at her
mop-top hair over her father’s illness,
which we never learn about but know
to be deadly.
. Dad’s already moved into a hospi
tal and has written “It’s too late” on
his admittance form, leading Eve, the
middle sister who’s always been his
caretaker, to think Dad’s on the verge
of blinking out.
Considering how Matthau’s char
acter is portrayed in flashbacks, his
death wouldn’t be such a bad tiling. A
drunk capable of firing off emphatic
and accusing one-liners, even to his
daughters, Matthau is forbidden by
Eve’s husband (Adam Arkin) ever to
step in their house again after crash
ing their son’s birthday party.
Georgia, a magazine mogul, and
Maddy, a soap opera actress, cannot
(or does not want to) find the time to
visit him. And Mom (Cloris
Leachman in a cameo) left long ago.
So, it’s basically Eve, Dad and the
phone, with a highly annoying sub
plot of a car accident shoved some
where in between. There’s obvious
hints of a teary sister reunion con
cerning their father’s hospitalization.
Will it happen? God help you if you
can’t figure it out 3fT minutes in.
“Hanging Up” is poorly executed
in nearly every way - writing, direct
ing, editing, et-al. It’s a mathematical
impossibility, of course, to hate Meg
Ryan for any lengthy period of time
onscreen - she’s damn near 40 and
still looks 28 - and her character is
most clearly drawn.
Matthau is fine, too, considering
he has to play an oaf with only a mild
sense of humor. Every other character
has the depth of the numerous pump
kins Keaton piled on the set. „
This is Ryan’s fourth collabora
tion with one of Ephron’s sisters and
was part of Nora’s biggest success to
date in “When Harry Met Sally.”
Strangely, 11 years later, neither has
made a better movie. And “Hanging
Up” is nowhere near that caliber. It
isn’t even decent.
And while I am resigned that
some people (mostly women) might
be sucked in by the false charm of
“Hanging Up,” many more won’t.
They’ll be able to see, with clear
eyes, that this movie strikes not one
note of reality in its running time.
It’s a schmaltzy dud in almost every
^Hanging up
| v, Walter Matthau, Diane
^ Keaton, Lisa Kudrow
DIRECTOR: Diane Keaton
jp RATED: PG-13 (minor
I I I cussing, major boredom)
«sj GRADE: D
: IP FIVE WORDS: Ought to be
Us "Walking Out".