Volume 1, Issue vi
Wild Greens 1, no. 6 (April 2021)
Welcome to the April 2021 issue of Wild Greens
When we think about play we think about theater—acting, doing, trying things out. This is exactly what we here at Wild Greens believe art should be. This issue features an outsized number of hands-on, do-it-yourself, try-it-out-and-see-what-works art projects. Many of the works presented here are thinking about theater, acting, and the stage. They’re also playing with words: sometimes taking the words that are there and sometimes taking note of the words that aren’t.
We start the issue with three calls to practice—get out your scissors, your paste, your notebook, your colored pencils—these are exercises for you! We begin with an anonymous contributor’s Covid Collage. Try to make your own collage about this year. What feelings have come up for you today? Add a few words a day, and see how your collage grows.
Then we move to Katie Huey’s practical exercises in grief, called Start with One: Putting Words to Grief Experiences. We encourage you to take out your notebook and a pen and give it a go. Find words for your grief; start with one word. In the spirit of practical exercises, we then move to Allison McClain’s Birds and Where to Find Them Coloring Book. Find your favorite colored pencils and play!
From there, we travel down the rabbit hole with a new Turtle and Hare, called Turtle Applies for Unemployment, and continue down it with Kiley Miller’s rhapsodic ode to words in the form of her essay, “Words, Words, Words,” which begins with a favorite quote from Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Kiley says words are like “errant puzzle pieces, waiting to be assembled and curated.” Robin Brownfield’s mosaic, The Murder Tree, plays visually on “venery” (from the Latin veneria, meaning beasts of hunting, or game). From a mosaic of skulls and ravens, we transition to Douglas Hardman’s poem A Play on Words (in Three Acts), full of wordplay, allusions, and Shakespearian tragedy.
From the theater, to casting calls; we end on a somber note. Lynne Marie Rosenberg’s stop motion video takes the words and the words missing from casting calls to comment on Asian erasure. And finally we conclude with Tim Brey’s found poem, which is thinking about the words used, and the words erased, when failing to condemn the murderer in the Atlanta spa shootings. We end the issue by commemorating the lives of the Atlanta victims of gun violence, and condemning the Asian hate we continue to see in America.
As Katie writes, “The concept of combining play with pain is foreign in our culture.” But we hope this issue of Wild Greens invites you to try it out. Start a collage. Print out the pages of the coloring book. Start with one word. See what happens.
Table of Contents
Poster paper, sharpie, magazine, scissors, glue
Inspiration: I started at the middle with what it felt like a year ago, and kept adding stuff with the layers of issues that came up along the way.
Start with One - Putting Words to Grief Experiences
by Katie Huey
In the aftermath of the unexpected loss of my father, people said many things to me. Some responses were helpful. Others were less than, laced with discomfort and an obvious desire to keep pain at a distance.
There is one statement I heard often. You’ve probably heard it too.
There are no words.
Maybe they couldn’t find words. I swirl in words, having used plenty to grapple with unexpected death. I tire of the blank stares I receive when expressing my grief to others. Our culture is horrendous at putting words to loss.
We’re coming out of a year of seismic loss and the road to recovery is bumpy and full of unknowns. The New York Times recently estimated that one in three Americans is grieving a loved one who died due to COVID.
What if how we respond in the face of grief can change? This work isn’t only for the eloquent. It’s for the fumblers, the patient, the let-me-try again people.
What if we coached, questioned, and fumbled through the confusion by practicing? We’re imperfect humans who can learn how to tend to individual and collective pain.
These tools may make you feel uncomfortable. The concept of combining play with pain is foreign in our culture. If you aren’t ready to try, that’s ok.
These exercises are permission giving. You don’t have to share your reflections with anyone. They are designed to reveal whatever may be bubbling under the surface for you. Tend to your heart. Tap into your dark humor. Create space for the sticky stuff you wish you could share with others. Equip yourself with phrases to support others.
Take a few minutes to read through the exercises below. When you’re ready, find a pen and some paper, and let’s get started.
Start with one word.
Ask yourself which part of your grief process you want to focus on. Write these focuses across the top of a page. Topics can include memories, feelings, frustrations or things you are struggling with.
Then make a list of all the words that come to mind related to your chosen focus.
Challenge yourself to only use one word at a time rather than phrases and see how many words you can generate.
Focus = Things They Loved: cheeseburgers, Sunday, flannel, fish, pinball
Focus = I'm Struggling With: communication, sleep, fear, peace, bills, truth, shoes
Let More Words Flow
Perhaps people say, "There are no words" because they don't know where to start. The first exercise does just that.
Circle one to five words from your lists and ask yourself, "If I could help others understand these words, what would I say?" Take five to ten minutes to write freely about each word. Explore where you can combine words on your list to make bigger ideas.
You can also use these prompts to get the juices flowing.
What do I want the world to know about the person I love?
What do I miss about the person I lost?
What am I proud of in handling this new reality?
What is different now after I lost my person?
How do I want to show up for those who are grieving?
What brings me comfort?
What does being a helper mean?
Make note of what comes up for you. Start to count how many words you just used to share your experience. You can choose to keep your lists to yourself or share with people you trust.
Use Different Words Instead
Even after experiencing my own loss, I still get tongue-tied when encountering others grief and pain. I've come to rely on these phrases to share with others as they walk their own grief journeys. You can use these phrases to comfort rather than dismiss pain.
20 words - Life knocks us to our knees in so many ways. I'd like to bring over dinner. Would that be ok?
12 - I loved your dad. Can I tell you a story about him?
8 words - Can I call and check in later today?
7 words - I'm sending comfort and light your way.
6 words - I'm not sure what to say.
3 words - I'm so sorry.
2 words - This sucks.
1 word - Ugh.
Words put us on a path to healing, discovery, and connection. You get to choose how to use your words to comfort others, remember, and integrate your loss. Don't let others tell you no words exist. Look how many you just used to honor your experience.
Birds and Where to Find Them Coloring Book
by Allison McClain
Pen and ink
Inspiration: I originally made this for my niece to give her a fun indoor/outdoor activity to do at the beginning of lockdown last year. It involves going out into the world, into nature, and making observations of your surroundings. It involves play in that it is interactive and involves creativity in coloring.
Download: Readers can access, download, and print the full coloring book for use using the link below:
Turtle Applies for Unemployment
by Lauren Kimball
Inspiration: I was inspired by this month's theme, Alice in Wonderland, and my own experience trying to file for unemployment!
"Words, Words, Words"
by Kiley Miller
“Words, words, words.” - Hamlet
This quote from Shakespeare’s Hamlet pops in my head more often than any other. It’s my “to be or not to be.” As a writing teacher, I find more opportunities than most to slip it into casual classroom conversations. I don’t know if my students recognize the quote, or assume it’s just a tick.
“Words, words, words.”
In the scene from Hamlet, Polonius asks Hamlet what he’s reading, and depending on the version of the play, the retort is delivered in varying ways. In some, the line crescendos dramatically, and in others, it's flung frenetically as Hamlet’s face and body contort with each punctuated exclamation. In others, the line is delivered in staccato, strategically hurled to interrupt Polonius.
I haven't seen a Hamlet where my favorite line is spoken with pure reverence, but that's how I always think of “words, words, words”: emotive, barely whispered, and vibrating with possibility.
I’ve always thought of words as errant puzzle pieces, waiting to be assembled and curated: some are clearly edges or— eureka!— a corner piece, and you can sort most of them by color or shape. Tubes of paint, pots of color, harsh, mellow, or inspiring. There's a reason we have the euphemism “colorful language.” With a little imagination, there are endless opportunities for exploration and expression.
With quotes, it’s like someone has already put the puzzle together, arranging the words and making them automatically familiar. That recognition makes for easy bonding, too. I’ve made new friends because someone said, “You go, Glen Coco!” and then we traded Mean Girls lines for hours. I’ve seen tense arguments defused with an artfully timed and enthusiastic, “You can’t handle the truth!”
These immediate connections give power to words, and I’ve long recognized and revered this power. For me, it started as early as elementary or middle school, when I started recording a slang dictionary in the last pages of my diary. Some of the entries were early AIM or text slang, like LYLAS or LOL— was there any other way to say bye to your middle school best friend, or show how funny you found something? Many were entered after an eyeroll to my parents who simply could not understand the difference between “tight” and “sweet,” or “chillax” and “take a chill pill.” I want to say I got the dictionary idea from Andrew Clements’ Frindle, where these 5th graders basically create a new word and it gets added to the dictionary. #LifeGoals, right?
I’ve long recognized the unmatched magnitude of power of words, and I feel a desperate craving to commit them to paper lest they slip away. Before widespread literacy, when the sticks, bumps, and squiggles— commonly known as letters— were less intelligible, they were treated with a different kind of reverence. Now, they’re also a great equalizer, presenting opportunity, social mobility, and entertainment for the masses.
The excitement and potential of this power to create and uplift stands in contrast to fear and malfeasance, where words are bent out of shape or purposely taken out of context. Refusing to use preferred pronouns, fear mongering, trolling, and doxing, whether born of naïveté or poor decision-making, take seconds to commit but have lasting consequences. Whether this power is a good or bad thing, I haven’t been able to decide. Maybe it’s neither and both. Words are like that in their simplicity, potential, and ultimate influence.
More recently, that power has manifested in some surprising ways as we look back on a year of quarantine, spent in versions of lockdown, in degrees of constant anxiety and loneliness. I’ve found myself more and more often turning to the reprieve of words, a chance to turn off the screen and pick up a pen or book. It’s a privilege to jot down ideas and ease my mind in the blank pages of a journal. I revel in the chance to be whisked away to far-off places, or at least somewhere that isn’t my own couch and a time period that isn’t now.
These stories we make and share are lifelong friends, never leaving us, waiting patiently on the bookshelf. Words offer hope, words are rays of sunshine, words are luminous tableaus ready for viewing, puzzle pieces awaiting assembly.
The Murder Tree
by Robin Brownfield
Mosaic - glass & porcelain tiles, ceramic beads
Methods: Sculpt, glaze, cut, glue, grout
Inspiration: I love playing with the term "murder of crows."
A Play on Words (In Three Acts)
by Douglas Hardman[Lights, camera, action!WaitThat’s not rightCalling upon Shakespeare’s voice to guide usThe Bard. William. Billy. Help us set the scene]
Shall we start a flashback sequence?War stories and past mistakesLover’s quarrel and star-crossed snitchesBlood-soaked daggers whispering sweet nothingsEchoes in the raftersDrowned out by the applauseAs our heroes fall like a curtain call
[Critic’s will rave, “we love a cliché”]
Take centerstage to project unto the audienceMake them feel what we’ve been throughIsn’t that the name of the game?Two masks to conceal, you never know what is realAs fake as the so-called subtext between the two male leads“Whoever wrote this script is baiting the audience”Now something dramatic occurs, shifting the toneCasted aside, this foreshadowing is unbearableHow much longer will we stay in the past?We already know how this is going to endSo let’s move on to the big finale
[We see you on the edge of your seatAnxiously awaiting the conclusionRipped from the pages of Richard the III’s playbookWe guarantee a massacre of epic proportions]
You didn’t know about audience participationIdly sitting by, watching the events unfoldYou’re just as guilty as the sleeping kingWe can’t let you get away with itIn a surprise twist that absolutely no one saw comingWe turned the stage onto you so you can face your own truthsInstead of escaping into someone else’sCan you handle the bloodshed? Can you drink your victim’s poison?Expectations subverted likeThe end
Take a bow, for now it’s done, but we’ll came right back ‘roundGlobetrotting players performing a grand allusion again and againThe world is but a stage
Erasure Is The Soil Of Violence
by Lynne Marie Rosenberg
Printed paper, casting notices
Methods: Stop motion animation shot with manipulation of real, offensive casting notices from the entertainment industry
Inspiration: This is the latest in a series of language-based animations I have made, using real character descriptions from the world of casting to illustrate the entertainment industry's role in oppression, violence, and discrimination. Inspired by the recent hate crimes toward Asian-Americans in the United States, this piece highlights the exclusion and erasure of Asian actors/characters from film, television, and theater, and how that creates fertile ground for brutality.
Following the mass shooting in Atlanta, Lynne made a follow-up video on the sexualization of Asian women in casting calls. You can click the link below to take you to the video. It's part of a series called "Taking Out the Trash."
What They Won't Say
by Tim BreyI don’t recall any sermons dealing specifically with racismThe general tenorTo welcome(Several people of African and Asian descent)Be as inclusive as possibleIf this is a hate crimeWe can’t make a determinationA really bad day for him and this is what he didDoesn’t seem in any way like the young man I knewSexual addictionA temptation for himHe wanted to eliminateDelaina Ashley Yaun, 33, of Acworth, Ga.; Paul Andre Michels, 54, of Atlanta; Xiaojie Yan, 49, of Kennesaw, Ga.; and Daoyou Feng, 44
This is a found poem. A found poem is the literary version of a collage; it takes an existing text and reorders and refashions it as a poem. In this case, the poet took quotes from people interviewed in this Washington Post news report to create the poem. At the time the article was written, only the names of four victims had been released. We now know that eight people were killed, many of whom were mothers and grandmothers. This poem is dedicated to the memory of
Soon Chung Park, 74
Hyun Jung Grant, 51
Suncha Kim , 69
Yong Ae Yue, 63
Delaina Ashley Yaun, 33
Paul Andre Michels, 54
Xiaojie Yan, 49
Daoyou Feng, 44
Artists and Contributors
Writer & Poet
Katie Huey is a writer, marketer, and facilitator. She believes in the power of story and the beauty found in sharing personal experience. Her work has appeared in Invoke Magazine, Conscious Company Magazine, and Hello Humans. You can follow more of her story on her blog 52 Beautiful Things. She lives in Colorado with her husband Dylan and rambunctious puppy Olive.
If you like her writing, give her a tip.
Allison McClain is a Philadelphia High School Biology teacher who has always loved doing nature illustration. She spends her free time rock climbing, bird watching, hiking, and kayaking. She also loves tinkering with her old chevy van, Bev the Chev, and snuggling her cat Myshkin.
If you like her work, send her a tip! Venmo: @Allison-McClain
Lauren Kimball lives in Philadelphia. She teaches literature and composition at Rutgers University, New-Brunswick. In her spare time, she plays with paint, digital pens, words, and home improvement tools.
Kiley is an Ohioan-turned-Coloradoan, living in Northern Colorado with her fiancé and two dogs. She teaches college composition and can usually be found at one of the local bookshops or breweries.Her passions include words (producing and consuming), beer (drinking and brewing),and adventures (near and far).
If you like her writing, send her a tip! Venmo: @Kiley-Miller
Robin Brownfield is a former sociology professor who turned to art after becoming disabled. While she dabbles in numerous art forms, she finds mosaic art is a great way to recycle old materials and found objects. She has created murals, garden walkways, ornate tables, and countless other mosaic works, but recently, she has turned to creating portraits and works for social justice. She was recently featured in a FOX-29 News report, because she was commissioned by Tamika Palmer to do a mosaic portrait of her daughter, Breonna Taylor, whose death, in part, launched an international movement for justice for victims of racist murders. She has also won numerous awards in juried art shows, was featured as one of the Best Mosaic Artists in New Jersey in Best of NJ, and has had her art displayed in galleries all over the United States.
Douglas is a veterinary technician by day and a brooding lyricist/poet by night. He has a background in theatre, with a few original productions under his belt. A love of the city and hiking the Wissahickon is making Philadelphia feel like home since August 2019. He has an original writing series on YouTube called “the hideaway” where he presents his poetry and song lyrics in spoken word; while breaking down each piece, Douglas explains metaphors, inspiration, and offering vague writing tips for creative writers.
If you like his writing, send him a tip! Venmo: @Douglas-Hardman
Lynne Marie Rosenberg
Lynne is an artist and performer living in Brooklyn, NY. In addition to being an actor, writer, and lo-fi stop motion animator, she is a representation and inclusion advocate, and the creator and host of "Famous Cast Words" on the WNET/Thirteen affiliate channel, ALL ARTS. Featuring stars of stage and screen, Famous Cast Words blends hilarious readings of language from the casting world with an earnest investigation into what’s wrong, and what’s changing, with the entertainment industry.
If you like her writing, send her a tip! Venmo: @lynne-rosenberg-1
Tim Brey is a freelance jazz pianist living in Philadelphia. He holds positions as Artist-in-Residence and Adjunct Faculty at Temple University and The University of the Arts, where he teaches jazz piano, music theory, and improvisation. Check out more of his music, including his brand new release, “The Things We Did Last Summer,” at timbrey.bandcamp.com
Maggie Topel is an artist and writer living in Philadelphia. She designed our seasonal Wild Greens logo and social media avatar.
Arts Editor & Artist
Hayley creates the cover image for each issue of Wild Greens magazine and serves as the Arts Editor. Hayley is a social justice seeker, world traveler, rock climber, dog snuggler, frisbee player, event planner, and story-teller. She loves to paint with watercolors, embroider, and write. She grew up reading sci-fi and fantasy, and to this day she still turns to those genres to help her make sense of the world. She calls Philadelphia home, and she wouldn't have it any other way.
Rebecca Lipperini is a writer, teacher, and academic living in Philadelphia, and the founding editor of Wild Greens magazine (hi!). She holds a PhD in English from Rutgers University, where she taught all kinds of classes on literature and poetry and writing, and wrote all kinds of papers on the same.