War of the Ancient Dragon

“A testament to the healing capacities of the imagination, the humble “star in man” that connects us to the unconscious: to unknown and unexpected developments in ourselves.” says Literary Aficionado

New Title Press Release
Just Published by Fisher King Press:

War of the Ancient Dragon: Transformation of Violence in Sandplay
by Laurel A. Howe

Six-year-old Randy conducts bloody wars in the sandtray, calling them “World War One,” “World War Two,” and “The War of the Ancient Dragon.” He burns fires and bombs helpless victims, killing some and saving others. What could possibly be going on in his imagination?

The contents of his imagination—what the alchemists call the “realm of subtle bodies”—are revealed in his sandplay from one session to the next, and there we see the raw, autonomous dynamism that motivates Randy, already branded a bully and nearly expelled from first grade. We see fiery, destructive conflict, part his, part his culture’s, part lived, part projected, a conflict of archetypal opposites that engulf Randy’s personality and fuel his violent behavior.

But also from Randy’s imaginal world, out of the very war between opposites that drives him, the unknown third possibility unfolds. Continue reading

East of Eden

Review by Paige Ambroziak

This is a story about the endurance of the human soul, about choosing to be who you would like to be rather than believing you were cut with a mold that can’t be broken. But also it’s a story about forgiveness, the freedom of choice and the long road one must walk between one’s beginning and one’s end, and all the causes and effects in-between. Steinbeck’s masterpiece, for to call it anything less is impossible, has left me with a sense of loss. When I came to the end of this epic tale of family and humanity, I felt abandoned simply because I ran out of words to read. I wanted to carry on in his characters’ lives, spying on their darkness, watching them evolve and bloom and outrun the forces haunting them. No book has made me feel quite so much sadness and excitement at once. Perhaps because I’m a writer, I relished the painterliness of Steinbeck’s prose. I turned every single one of its six-hundred and one pages at a furious pace, and yet I indulged and languished and roamed the landscape he had painted for me, and me alone.

The story is so personal, a reader might feel it is written for her. It is a story we must hear, a story we know, a story with which we can connect, as we do with all the ones passed down from civilization to civilization. We commune with great stories, religious accounts, epic tales, because we see ourselves most readily in them, and as Lee (one of Eden’s finest characters) says, that’s why we keep telling, and retelling, them from one generation to the next. Steinbeck draws on the Old Testament, turning over the story of Cain and Abel and making it his, for us anew. And because we see ourselves in it—our good and evil—we devour his retelling as though it were medicine to save our soul, the cure for all our ails. But perhaps I exaggerate, indulging in the power of the writer a little too much. Or maybe I do feel my soul a little shaken by my experience, swept up in the writer’s magic. Either way, I am satisfied to credit Steinbeck for my joy at venturing into his Eden. Continue reading

Young Shakespeare’s Young Hamlet: Print, Piracy, and Performance

review by Paige Ambroziak

Not too long ago I came across “Shakespeare’s Badass Quarto” in the Chronicle of Higher Education, which details the latest controversy about the first edition of Hamlet. Though I have worked on Hamlet and am inclined to linger over its narrative aspects, debates about the historicity of the text are riveting, nonetheless. For anyone who doesn’t know, there are three printed versions of the tragedy, the First Quarto (1603), the Second Quarto (1604), and the First Folio edition of 1623. The First Quarto has always been suspect and a bit of a bastard child, if it is even considered the master’s offspring. I happen to love that edition best. It is shorter, tighter, and less about a hesitant and incapable prince than a young heir facing a suspect stepfather. The differences between the editions have been widely examined and discussed, as well as prove viable as evidence for both sides, which brings me to my point. After reading Ron Rosenbaum’s article in the Chronicle, I picked up Terri Bourus’s Young Shakespeare’s Young Hamlet, which he had discussed in depth since it convincingly heralds a much needed change to our perception of Shakespeare’s most famous tragedy. Bourus claims the 1603 Hamlet is the playwright’s original version, first performed on the Elizabethan stage in 1589. Continue reading

In the Oneness of Time: The Education of a Diviner

Review by Joey Madia

It is said that, when you are “following your bliss,” as Joseph Campbell would say, or walking the Good Red Road of Native American spirituality, the teachings you most need in the moment will find you. Six and a half years ago, this maxim was made manifest in a book co-authored by William Douglas Horden titled The Toltec I-Ching (also from Larson Publications). When it arrived in the mail with a request for review, I was in the midst of opening an arts education center that would house the social justice theatre company of which I am the founding artistic director. As with any big endeavor, there were endless meetings with political and community leaders, business groups, educators, potential donors, and prospective teachers and it seemed that everyone had a different idea of what the arts education center should be, including its interior design, programmatic content, and even hours of operation.

Looking for answers deep within, in order to honor (and protect) the mission of the theatre company and our other arts programs, I found The Toltec I-Ching to be an invaluable aid.

A great deal has happened with my arts mission since that time, including closing the center and leaving the state where it was founded, and changing the name of the theatre company, all in part to honor the messages gleaned from The Toltec I-Ching. In recent months, I have begun to lay the foundations in our current home to create new material for the company, hire administrative staff and passionate creatives, and set up classes and auditions. Not long after the process was begun, I received for review Horden’s newest book, In the Oneness of Time. It has proven to be just the guide I needed to find clarity and strength for this new journey. Continue reading

Love Hurts: A Speculative Fiction Anthology

Review by Paige Ambroziak

Though I’m not a linguist, I love words and their wizardly talent for surviving transmogrification, as their earliest meaning clings to their roots like a bur to bristles. Consider anthology’s Greek origin: antho, meaning “a blossom” or “flower,” as in chrysanthemum (gold flower), and logy, from the verb “to gather,” as in a collection. Eventually Latinized, anthology became known as a collection of poems, and thus is how we get our use of the term, a collection of literary works that complement one another in some way. But the Greek word, a collection of flowers, speaks most readily to Love Hurts.

Yes, the works in this anthology have a common theme, but because they are works of speculative fiction, the similarities are more or less irrelevant. Speculative fiction, in my opinion, is often ripe with wordplay and filled with rich prose working to disorient the reader, making her squirm and fumble in intellectual darkness. Good speculative fiction asks its reader to rummage up meaning, rather than serves it up on a platter. Bewildered and confused are positive adjectives in this case, which is not to say that a reader is less satisfied when she finishes a story that leaves her mildly heartbroken and incapable of moving on to the next read. With an anthology such as this, the push to move forward from one narrative to the next heightens the reading experience, as we are forced to leave pieces of ourselves behind in the process. This sounds dramatic, I know, but I experienced a kind of literary mournfulness as I read this compilation, traveling through its worlds from one story to the next. Continue reading