“The Shadow Dance of the Masculine and Feminine” within poetry, an event review


The Androgynous Form of Shiva and Parvati (Ardhanarishvara) LACMA M.82.6.1.jpg

On March 9, 2017,  the Jung Society of Utah hosted an event called The Shadow Dance of the Masculine and Feminine, featuring Depth Psychotherapist Theresa Holleran.  The Saltair Room at the A. Ray Olpin Student Union at the University of Utah was filled to capacity for the program.

In addition to storytelling techniques, music and art, Theresa Holleran used poetry to illustrate the integration of the masculine and feminine within every human psyche, particularly the dark aspects of the masculine and feminine. She stressed that each individual, no matter their identity, has some balance of both masculine and feminine traits. Only by recognizing those traits, especially the darker traits, can we harness their power for creativity. The audience was encouraged to participate in an exercise designed to identify those traits they may be lacking. Most of the participants were surprised at the results.

The multi-media presentation included video of Maya Angelou reading “Still I Rise” and “Phenomenal Woman.” Also on video, a group of men were brought together to read Eve Ensler’s “Man Prayer.” Throughout her presentation, Theresa Holleran sprinkled in verses from Rumi, Hafiz, Walt Whitman and T.S. Eliot to emphasize her points. She concluded the evening with “When Death Comes” from Mary Oliver.

Since the program was only an hour and a half long, Theresa Holleran certainly couldn’t include every example of the theme of masculinity and femininity that poetry has to offer. Alexander Pope’s “The Rape of the Lock,” for example, portrays Belinda as a military general, displaying all of the darker masculine characteristics, and all of the men quailed at the prospect of battle. In “Three Women,” Sylvia Plath explores the theme of female creativity, but cannot fail to include harder, masculine traits to drive that creativity.

It was an evening full of interesting insights and perhaps more the beginning of an inquiry into the shadowy side of the masculine and feminine than a complete program. There certainly is a whole world of poetry to explore on this theme.

Lisa Connors – guest blogger for ProvoPoetry.org


“American Masters – Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise,” poetry film review

dsc01889Maya Angelou passed away in 2014, but she left an enduring mark on not just the nation, but on the world. While she is best known for her poetry and memoirs, she was a vocal civil rights activist both in the United States and in Africa.

KUED, Salt Lake City Public Library and Weller Book Works teamed up for a public screening of the first feature documentary of her life, “American Masters – Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise,” on Friday, 17 February. The documentary is a co-production of The People’s Poet Media Group and Thirteen’s American Masters series. Various PBS stations will be airing the documentary in honor of Black History Month.

The audience was enthusiastic about the event and the auditorium was at capacity fifteen minutes before the event was scheduled to begin. Many disappointed people had to be turned away. A brief presentation explaining the concept of the film and the importance of public funding for the arts preceded the screening.

The film spanned her entire life from her birth in St. Louis, Missouri, to her death in Winston-Salem, North Carolina and included interviews with notable figures and friends, such as President Bill Clinton, Secretary Hillary Clinton, Oprah Winfrey, Lou Gossett Jr, and Guy Johnson, her son, as well as with Dr. Angelou, herself. It detailed all of her occupations from entertainer to journalist to poet and dealt with her failed relationships and life-long search for lasting love in a frank and refreshing way. She was at the heart of the African American experience for her entire life, from Hollywood to Ghana and at the head of the Civil Rights Movement with Martin Luther King Jr and Malcolm X. The most powerful moment of the film was when she read her poem, “On the Pulse of Morning,” for President Bill Clinton’s first inauguration in 1993. She was the first poet asked to read at an inauguration in nearly thirty years.