REVIEW: Xylem Release Party

Xylem, according to the opening letter of the 2018-2019 issue, has existed since 1990. I myself have been a part of the two most recent issues of the magazine, and even in the span of that one year it evolved immensely. I can’t imagine what it must be like to be a part of a publication with that type of history and capacity for growth. This year’s issue presented a unique collection of artists, each expressing their own forms of metamorphosis. While the release event itself was inspiring, the magazine is what I would like to preserve in writing.

One of the pieces that stood out to me during my initial read through of the magazine was Notes on Colors by Christine Mackenzie. Instead of normal stanza breaks, Notes on Colors separates lines with simple dashes. This creates a stream of consciousness feel to the read of the poem, which strengthens its subject matter. Notes on Colors, to me, is about being able to associate other senses with the perception of visual color. The poem utilizes a lot of nature imagery, like the feeling of wind to evoke the blue sky of a summer’s day or cranberry juice drying on your tongue to evoke the heat of redness. All in all, it’s a brilliant poem focusing on multiple forms of perception to solidify its expression of one.

Another piece that was particularly striking was Elizabeth Le’s Out of Many, One. The aspects of the poem that I found the most captivating were in its discussion of “broken language.” This is a theme I’ve discussed many times in past classes, so I’m familiar with its academic discourse and what it can bring to a classroom conversation. Despite that, I haven’t come across that theme a lot in my everyday life, so I thought it was refreshing to know the subject matter in a different context.

Out of Many, One accomplishes a lot in the small space of the poem. The narrative voice contrasts itself with certain aspects of her mother, illustrating how eloquent the mother figure is and how inadequate the narrator feels by comparison. The importance of physical beauty and musical talent are important to the narrator because they are emblematic of her culture. The narrator, however, feels as if she doesn’t belong to neither American culture nor her native one. Most of this internal struggle stems from observations she makes about language. Le ends her poem with “Bless it despite its ugliness. / Bless it / anyway.” It was a powerful poem with an optimistic conclusion.

The cover of the magazine itself is also really cool, with a glossy feel to it and a stark black and white color scheme. Images are printed in color on special paper in the middle of the magazine. While I understand the practicality of that, part of me wishes the images were spread a little more throughout the other works. Overall, however, I’m really glad to be featured in the 2018-2019 issue of Xylem, with my work residing alongside many other incredible pieces of art.

PREVIEW: Xylem Release Party

Xylem is one of The University of Michigan’s literary magazines. The magazine features University of Michigan undergraduate artwork, including poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, artwork and photography.

Tomorrow, April 9th, Xylem Literary Magazine is hosting their annual release party to celebrate the newest issue of their magazine. From 7-9pm, the event will be held in the West Conference Room of Rackham Graduate School (on the 4th floor). Published authors and artists will get a chance to grab copies of the magazine, read their work, and celebrate another successful issue of Xylem!

REVIEW: John Butler Trio

The Michigan Theater provided a really gorgeous setting for last night’s concert. If you’ve ever been there, you’re familiar with the ornate designs on the walls, the gold sheen of everything, and the overall cozy yet lavish atmosphere. As the theater started filling up, Dustin Thomas started his set.

He played a song from 2016 that stuck out to me, called “Kings and Queens.” He introduced it by stating that we need to live more like our grandparents – in the moment, and connected with our loved ones (not our screens). In a rather ironic turn of events, one of his next songs was, as he called it, a “reverse Thanksgiving song,” something to listen to when politics emerges at the dinner table. Overall, though, Dustin Thomas’s set was heartfelt, even though it wasn’t what I was there for.

Based on the reaction John Butler received after intermission, I wasn’t alone in my excitement for his performance. There were 5 people onstage, the only other one I was familiar with other than Butler being the bassist, Byron Luiters. As I mentioned before, I was a little skeptical about the new drummer, but he was amazing.

I’ve always admired the John Butler Trio’s message. He had a great respect for the Native American land gift that is our university, and said so explicitly before he started playing. I also really love the band’s logo and poster artwork. Aside from aesthetics, the music was better than I’d anticipated. I had forgotten how great they were in a live performance. Every single one of their songs was unique.

“Blame It On Me” was one of the songs I particularly enjoyed. Butler was on an electric guitar. During his solo he used a reverb setting which reminded me a bit of the Eagles. I was amazed at how much of the neck he was using, and so quickly. The lights even did the rock song strobe effect so it was a very intense experience.

Speaking of the lights, whoever was the light designer was impeccable. The colors were both subtle and vibrant at the right moments, and complex sets were well thought through for every song. The music was good, but the performance wouldn’t have been half as impressive with a different light show.

That is, of course, except for “Ocean.” It’s hard to even come up with where to start talking about that song. It’s more than a song, really, I think it’s more Butler’s life experience, or whatever message he’s trying to portray. It’s all played on his beautiful 12 string, but it sounds like at least five different instruments. My favorite version still has to be Live at Red Rocks, so if you ever get a chance, be sure to look it up. You’ll understand why I haven’t been able to do it justice in a description.

I would have paid the full ticket price just to see “Ocean,” but I got a lot more. Last night was a great show, and if John Butler is ever back in Michigan, I’ll be sure to attend.

PREVIEW: John Butler Trio

Tomorrow night at 7:30, the John Butler Trio will be performing at the Michigan Theater. I’ve seen them once before a few years ago in Grand Rapids, and they were amazing. Butler’s guitar playing in particular stood out to me – if you’ve ever heard or seen him play “Ocean” you’ll know what I mean. I wanted to buy a 12 string guitar for the better part of high school just to learn that song.

The John Butler Trio has a new album out. It’s called “Home.” It’s pretty good; a little more alternative than their previous stuff, it’s definitely marking the band’s progression through the genres. While I don’t like it as much as some of their other albums, I’m excited to see how they incorporate new and old songs into their set. They also have a new drummer, Grant Gerathy.

They will be performing tomorrow night with Dustin Thomas.

REVIEW: Women’s Glee Club Fall Concert

The Women’s Glee Club fall concert featured performances from Women’s Glee, the South Lyon High School Varsity Choir, and Midnight Blue. Although this concert seemed to take attention away from just voices, adding a lot of instrumental work, the concert consisted of empowering messages for women, students, and those affected by the Holocaust.

My favorite song was the Women’s Glee Club’s second performance. Called “A Jubliant Song” by Norman Dello Joio, it represented a complex and versatile method of using an entire choir. Each segment of the choir was singing almost the entire time, forming intense harmonies and crescendos. The pianist, Bobby Levinger, was also amazing, showcasing his talent with every note. After speaking with my friend in the choir, I discovered that “A Jubliant Song” was ridiculously complicated to perform, but it stood out to me as the most unique and memorable number of the night.

After “A Jubliant Song,” the Women’s Glee Club performed “Reflections from Yad Vashem,” by Daniel Hall. The song was a juxtaposition of references to the Book of Genesis, prose by Hall, and names of children who were victims of the Holocaust. It was a haunting tune, using a lot of minor key along with a beautiful viola performance by Samuel Koeppe.

Women’s Glee Club then left the stage, making room for the South Lyon High School Varsity Choir. While they were less in number than Women’s Glee, their sound was still resonant and strong. For their last performance, “Bring Me Little Water, Silvy,” all the singers stepped down from the bleachers to form a line across the lip of the stage. They made their own percussion by clapping and stomping, which was a welcome addition to the relatively textbook glee performance.

After intermission, Midnight Blue sang “Praying” by Kesha, a song meant to serve as a message of empowerment for anyone going through hard times. After that they performed “I Want You Back” by the Jackson 5. Both rather contemporary pieces provided diversity to the concert, allowing for some of the glee singers without solos in the large performance to get their voices heard.

Women’s Glee then retook the stage. For their last two songs, they invited any glee alumni to join them in singing the famous “Yellow and Blue” as well as “Varsity Victors.” As a senior, those were probably my second favorite performances, as they always make me proud to be a student here.

Overall, the fall concert was a great way to celebrate 125 years. I appreciate that the glee club invites high school choirs and alumni to join them each year. Additionally, the use of talented musicians really adds to the performances, although I wish some songs simply focused on the voices of the glee club members.

PREVIEW: Women’s Glee Club Fall Concert

Tomorrow at 4pm, I’ll be heading to Hill Auditorium to the Women’s Glee Club fall concert. I’m always astounded by the quality of their sound and can’t wait to immerse myself once again. Aside from that, this concert also has a relevant theme: reflections of the past … with a focus on remembering the Holocaust.

The main languages concerned will be Hebrew and Latin. Songs will be performed by artists like Jake Runestad, Levente, and Daniel J. Hall.

I have a friend on Women’s Glee so I’m excited to see her perform! Knowing the Glee Club, this will be a gorgeous, resonant way to celebrate their 125 years of song.