Weeks Gallery hosts Requiem: When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d:
Paul Leone’s recitation of a poem by Walt Whitman, accompaniment by the Byard Family musicians.
April 26 6 – 8 p.m.
The presentation is free and open to the public. Refreshments will be served courtesy of Weeks Gallery. The JCC Juried Student Art and Design exhibition will serve as the backdrop for this program.
Writer and storyteller Paul Leone and musicians Kerry, Marian, and Hannah Byard will present the program, titled Requiem, commemorating the 152nd anniversary of the death of Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln died on the morning of April 15, 1865. Whitman wrote the poem immediately after he received word of the assassination. “The elegy is the lyrical expression of Whitman’s most sublime theme,” said Leone, “that is, the mystical relation between love and death. It is both an expression of profound grief at the president’s death and the uncorrupted love Whitman held for the American democracy and the magnificent American landscape.”
Leone has been telling stories in western New York for more than 25 years. He is the author of numerous books, both fiction and nonfiction, set in or around Chautauqua County.
As part of the April 26 presentation Leone will introduce the literary and historical context for Whitman’s poem. Most of the music for the adaptation is original, composed by Byard.
Salamanca High School
The world seemed still. Quinn laid on the damp forest floor, while looking up at the night sky. The stars were glistening and the moon illuminated the earth granting her nearly clear vision. The crickets’ chirping all around Quinn reassured her that life continued to exist in these woods. She was resting her head for the few precious moments she had. She had been running from the undead for hours and had finally lost them. The corpses’ rotted flesh stained her clothes and weapons. Her knife was rendered useless after the undead’s blood coated the entirety of the weapon (including the handle) making it slip out of her hands. One unfortunate slip caused her to slice her own hand. The rainstorm that swept through the area earlier that day did nothing to help her hygiene either. Blood and chunks of flesh still stuck to her face and now she was in a constant chill because her clothes were soaked. Her golden hair (pulled back into a high ponytail) was crusted with dirt and corpse grim baked into it. She had slain hundreds of walking corpses within a matter of hours but it all seemed in vain. She had little food, no shelter, and reeked of death. Quinn had no fall back plan, so she laid there and enjoyed the simple mercy of silence.
Quinn shut her eyes, took one last restful breath, and sat up. She bandaged her wound, took her leather jacket off to dry it on a branch, and laid her tools of mass destruction out in front of her. She was equipped with a handgun, a knife, and a longbow. She pulled out a dish rag and began to scrape the muck off of her knife. It was far more valuable for its ability to quickly eliminate the dead with little to no sound, so she prioritized its upkeep. Each weapon was damaged after the day’s battle, but only the bow proved to be irreparable. She studied the cracked limb of the bow. The wood appeared to be bleeding from the splinter. Quinn smiled. She remembered the moment the bow cracked. Continue reading
Salamanca High School
I can hear the melody in my mind. A pathway has been cleared for it to travel. The notes flow effortlessly from my head, quickly through my shoulder and arm, then to my pencil, and onto my piece of paper. The mouse-like scratching of my pencil on the paper fills my heart with joy. “Genius”, I think to myself. The markings I make on the paper are finally graced with life. Then, out of nowhere, there is a sudden pause. The pathway has become cloudy as I stare into the void of blank paper in front of me. What now? My writing comes to an abrupt halt, my mind falls into the awful Abyss of Silence, a dark place that I am all too familiar with. My journey through another writing impediment begins.
The satisfying sound of my writing utensil has faded. I run my hand across the page. Half of it is indented with markings from the painting palette that is my mind, but the other half is flat and bland like an open field. As I lift my hand off of the page, the sound of silence in my head grows louder. It’s as if someone is screaming. However, despite the potential for the sound to be heard, it will never reach the ears of any living thing. I take a deep breath of the air around me, hoping to clear the pathway for my creativity to flow once again. I desperately attempt to retrieve the focus that has been stolen from me by the creatures that lurk in The Abyss of Silence. However, they make the passage, in which my thoughts once traveled, more indistinct the harder I try to surpass them. Continue reading
Salamanca High School
The darkness consumes me; he manifests himself inside of me. He whispers sick, cynical secrets that I never knew about myself. He lingers through my veins, contaminating my body with hate and obscurity. The poison spreads deeper within me until it eventually crawls its way into my head. He shrieks words of resentment and affliction. The lacerations on my thigh, these battle scars, give me the courage to fight against this darkness. Its a constant war within my mind; a ghastly battle on a daily basis.
I lie in bed, a cadaverous girl, pale and numb. I wait lifelessly, ready for the darkness to devour me. As if someone has violently kicked down the door to my mind, I am greeted by my old friend. I am locked inside of a cage with him, fear trickling within my body, my soul, but I am the one who will survive. The darkness taunts me, howling heinous names at me, each word feeling like a punch to the face. I brush off the painful wounds, not allowing it to break me. The sweat drips down the side of my forehead next to my ears. My hands become clammy; my lips chapped. I begin to shake in dismay, fearful of what could happen next. I plant my roots, standing tall like a tree, unable to be knocked down. Continue reading