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Haverford Spring/Summer 2011 : Page 18

mixed media B OOKS Q&A: David Stowe ’83 In No Sympathy for the Devil: Christian Pop Music and the Transformation of American Evangelicalism (UNC Press, 2011) David Stowe examines the intersection between rock ‘n’ roll and religion and the evolution of contem-porary Christian music—a genre that sells as many recordings as classical, jazz and New Age combined. Director of College Communications Chris Mills ’82 talks to talks to Stowe, a professor of English and religious studies at Michigan State University, about the book. block of cocaine “the size of a shoe box,” looking up at posters on the walls—Hendrix, Joplin, Marilyn Monroe, Lenny Bruce, all people who died from drugs— and beginning to wonder about his life choices. And there’s Cat Stevens making a deal with God that if he survived drowning in the surf off Malibu he would con-vert to Islam. CM: How has the book been Chris Mills: Of the many anec-dotes that you recount, which ones most vividly capture the essence of your story? received by the individuals and institutions you write about? Poetry Prized IAIN HALEY POLLOCK ’00 I David Stowe: The book is full of tales of dissipation, repentance (sometimes short-lived), and redemption. My favorites are of pop stars living extreme rock ’n’ roll lifestyles—hanging on by their fingernails, if not in free-fall—before coming to know Jesus. Some of the individual sto-ries, like B.J. Thomas’, are almost comically hedonistic. Maybe the most wrenching involves Al Green, who was badly scalded by a pot of hot grits poured on his naked back by a girlfriend who then went down the hall and shot herself dead. That incident encouraged Green to give up his secular music and open a Pentecostal tabernacle in Memphis where he still preaches. Barry McGuire recounts sitting with a friend slicing lines from a popular, rather than academic, publisher for this topic? DS: My original intention was to try to publish this with a trade publisher. I came within a hair’s continued on page 21 18 HaverfordMagazine POLLOCK PHOTO: RACHEL ELIZA GRIFFITHS DS: So far I’ve heard from a cou-ple of people I interviewed for the book: Marsha Stevens, who was part of the first wave of folksy Jesus music that began springing up in Orange County [Calif.] around 1970, and Rick Tarrant, a Memphis DJ in on the beginning of the Christian rock scene in the 1970s. They both liked it a lot. A close friend who’d been on the edge of the Jesus Movement in Southern California read the book in various drafts and felt I was right on target. I’m looking forward to hearing from more participants once the book has time to reach its readers. CM: Did you ever consider a ain Haley Pollack ’00 was just a child when he visited Philadelphia for the first time, and one particular incident left an indelible impression. A woman on the street caught him staring at her and promptly stuck her tongue out at him. “That has always shad-ed my perception of Philly,” recalls Pollack. He captured the moment in a poem, which in turn inspired the title of his first book of poetry, Spit Back a Boy , which won the 2010 Cave Canem Poetry Prize in September and was published in May by the University of Georgia Press. The prize, given by the Cave Canem Foundation, goes to exceptional first books by African-American poets. Elizabeth Alexander, who was selected by President Obama to compose a poem for his inau-guration, chose Spit Back a Boy for the award. “To be able to represent the group through the prize is a great honor,” says Pollack, who says the poems in the collection focus on the “emotional famil-iarity” of everyday life and link themes of racial identity, romance, and mortality. Pollack, whose mother is African-American and father is Caucasian, says he wished growing up that he had a dark-er, less ambiguous complexion. Time and imagination transformed that memory of his first Philadelphia experi-ence, turning it into a touch-stone for racial identity in the poem, “Oya in Old City”: I flung my almost white self

Mixed Media

Q&A: David Stowe ’83<br /> <br /> In No Sympathy for the Devil: Christian Pop Music and the Transformation of American Evangelicalism (UNC Press, 2011) David Stowe examines the intersection between rock ‘n’ roll and religion and the evolution of contemporary Christian music—a genre that sells as many recordings as classical, jazz and New Age combined. Director of College Communications Chris Mills ’82 talks to talks to Stowe, a professor of English and religious studies at Michigan State University, about the book.<br /> <br /> Chris Mills: Of the many anecdotes that you recount, which ones most vividly capture the essence of your story?<br /> <br /> David Stowe: The book is full of tales of dissipation, repentance (sometimes short-lived), and redemption. My favorites are of pop stars living extreme rock ’n’ roll lifestyles—hanging on by their fingernails, if not in freefall— before coming to know Jesus. Some of the individual stories, like B.J. Thomas’, are almost comically hedonistic. Maybe the most wrenching involves Al Green, who was badly scalded by a pot of hot grits poured on his naked back by a girlfriend who then went down the hall and shot herself dead. That incident encouraged Green to give up his secular music and open a Pentecostal tabernacle in Memphis where he still preaches. Barry McGuire recounts sitting with a friend slicing lines from a Block of cocaine “the size of a shoe box,” looking up at posters on the walls—Hendrix, Joplin, Marilyn Monroe, Lenny Bruce, all people who died from drugs— and beginning to wonder about his life choices. And there’s Cat Stevens making a deal with God that if he survived drowning in the surf off Malibu he would convert to Islam.<br /> <br /> CM: How has the book been received by the individuals and institutions you write about?<br /> <br /> DS: So far I’ve heard from a couple of people I interviewed for the book: Marsha Stevens, who was part of the first wave of folksy Jesus music that began springing up in Orange County [Calif.] around 1970, and Rick Tarrant, a Memphis DJ in on the beginning of the Christian rock scene in the 1970s. They both liked it a lot. A close friend who’d been on the edge of the Jesus Movement in Southern California read the book in various drafts and felt I was right on target. I’m looking forward to hearing from more participants once the book has time to reach its readers.<br /> <br /> CM: Did you ever consider a popular, rather than academic, publisher for this topic?<br /> <br /> DS: My original intention was to try to publish this with a trade publisher. I came within a hair’s Breadth of selling it to a venerable New York trade publisher known for serious nonfiction. Independently of that, I signed on with an agent who circulated it among lots of editors. The publishing world is under financial duress these days and was reluctant to take on a book that sits somewhere between the popular and the academic and doesn’t focus on the Civil War. But ultimately I ended up placing it the way I have my other books, by contacting an editor, in this case at Chapel Hill. UNC was a perfect press to take this on, given their strengths in American religious history and culture. And the rigorous review I got from the anonymous readers, a standard practice with university presses, helped make this a much stronger book without pushing it in an excessively scholarly direction.<br /> <br /> CM: Christian pop was marginalized for years. Is your book experiencing the same sort of marginalization by secular tastemakers? If so, does that owe to the subject matter or the fact that it’s published by an academic press?<br /> <br /> DS: Too early to tell. The book got pre-release reviews from journals like Publisher’s Weekly and Book Forum that serve as gatekeepers for the publishing industry. I was invited by the New York Times op-ed page to submit a piece distilling my findings, and the online version comes with several sample songs mentioned in the article [nytimes.com/2011/ 04/24/opinion/24Stowe.html ]. I’m still waiting for the call from Colbert, though.<br /> <br /> CM: The early years of Christian rock seem like an Overlay to an existing construct, a Christianizing of a secular product. Has Christian pop now become mainstreamed within the evangelical community, such that it feels like something that is by and of them, as a community? Does it still have its skeptics?<br /> <br /> DS: Christian rock is now called CCM, for contemporary Christian music. It’s a big genre, selling about as many recordings as jazz, classical and New Age combined. CCM has some skeptics within the evangelical community— from those who think it waters down its theology to attract listeners to critics who believe it needs to work harder to break free from its subculture and reach secular listeners. But I’d say it’s accepted by a majority of evangelicals, many of whom sing a kind of simplified CCM every Sunday in the form of “praise” music that dominates the musical life of so many churches.<br /> <br /> CM: What’s your opinion of Christian rock, and were you at all personally affected by the Jesus Movement?<br /> <br /> DS: I was too young to be a Jesus Freak, but I vaguely remember seeing stories about the Jesus Movement in Life and Look magazines, which were always lying around. I heard some game-changing music from my older siblings, including Jesus Christ Superstar, which made a big musical impression on me as a youngster. I’m not a fan of CCM, but fortunately my narrative encompasses quite a few of my favorite mainstream artists who dabbled in religion and spirituality: Bob Dylan, Marvin Gaye, Johnny Cash, Aretha Franklin, Al Green, Earth Wind & Fire and many others.<br /> <br /> Poetry Prized IAIN HALEY POLLOCK ’00<br /> <br /> Iain Haley Pollack ’00 was just a child when he visited Philadelphia for the first time, and one particular incident left an indelible impression.<br /> <br /> A woman on the street caught him staring at her and promptly stuck her tongue out at him. “That has always shaded my perception of Philly,” recalls Pollack. He captured the moment in a poem, which in turn inspired the title of his first book of poetry, Spit Back a Boy, which won the 2010 Cave Canem Poetry Prize in September and was published in May by the University of Georgia Press.<br /> <br /> The prize, given by the Cave Canem Foundation, goes to exceptional first books by African-American poets. Elizabeth Alexander, who was selected by President Obama to compose a poem for his inauguration, chose Spit Back a Boy for the award.<br /> <br /> “To be able to represent the group through the prize is a great honor,” says Pollack, who says the poems in the collection focus on the “emotional familiarity” of everyday life and link themes of racial identity, romance, and mortality. Pollack, whose mother is African- American and father is Caucasian, says he wished growing up that he had a darker, less ambiguous complexion.<br /> <br /> Time and imagination transformed that memory of his first Philadelphia experience, turning it into a touchstone for racial identity in the poem, “Oya in Old City”:<br /> <br /> I flung my almost white self Into my mother’s embrace— that brown embrace I hoped would swallow me whole and spit back a boy four shades darker— while the woman chuntered away, her cart rattling over cobbles worn by centuries of traffic.<br /> <br /> Poetry seemed to be an unlikely future for Pollack. After graduating from Haverford with an English degree, he went into corporate public relations. “I felt this pressure, as my parents’ oldest child, not to be a financial burden to them,” Pollack explains. “It wasn’t my intent to become a poet.”<br /> <br /> But friends from Haverford who worked in the non-profit world encouraged his eventual decision to try another path. Pollack’s poetry began appearing in literary publications and he moved into teaching. He recently finished his fourth year teaching seventh and eighth grade English at Chestnut Hill Academy in Philadelphia.<br /> <br /> Pollack says his poems serve as a witness to his times. “I didn’t write in a serious way at Haverford,” he admits. “[But] I believe poets should be aware of their time. Haverford was important in my understanding of that.”<br /> <br /> —Samantha Drake<br /> <br /> Pollock will do a series of readings and book signings through the summer and fall. More information: iainhaleypollock. Com/events.htm<br /> <br /> MORE ALUMNI TITLES<br /> <br /> Elif S. Armbruster ’88: Domestic Biographies: Stowe, Howells, James, and Wharton at Home<br /> <br /> (Peter Lang Publishing) An assistant professor of English at Suffolk University, Armbruster examines how the domestic lives of several notable 19th-century writers made it into their books.<br /> <br /> Andrew E. Budson, M.D. ’88 and Paul R. Solomon: Memory Loss: A Practical Guide for Clinicians<br /> <br /> (Saunders) Dr. Budson, the deputy chief of staff at VA Boston Healthcare System and the director of its Center for Translational Cognitive Neuroscience, co-wrote this text, which is designed to offer expert guidance and case studies to help readers accurately diagnose and manage common dementias, including Alzheimer’s disease.<br /> <br /> Jonathan R. Copulsky ’76: Brand Resilience: Managing Risk and Recovery in a High-Speed World<br /> <br /> (Palgrave Macmillan) Veteran marketing executive Copulsky, the CMO for Deloitte Consulting’s Strategy and Operations Practice, offers a guide to brand strategy that focuses on ways to protect brands from sabotage and handle defense in the event of a crisis.<br /> <br /> Daniel Greenstone ’93: A Theory of Great Men<br /> <br /> (Academy Chicago Publishers) This debut novel by Greenstone, an award-winning history teacher in suburban Chicago, is the story of a cynical, impulsive history teacher and basketball coach, who, despite teaching his students that people are shaped by the uncontrollable machinations of the world around them, is the architect of his own decline.<br /> <br /> Melissa Murphy ’94 and Matthew Liebmann (editors): Enduring Conquests: Rethinking the Archaeology of Resistance to Spanish Colonialism in the Americas<br /> <br /> (SAR Press) Biological anthropologist and bioarchaeologist Murphy, who is an assistant professor at the University of Wyoming, coedited this anthology of scholarship about the Spanish conquest of the Americas, focusing on the experiences of Native Americans.<br /> <br /> Bryon Powell ’00: Relentless Forward Progress: A Guide to Running Ultramarathons<br /> <br /> (Breakaway Books) Runner, writer and creator of the blog iRunFar.com, Powell has created a veritable encyclopedia for those who want to attempt ultramarathons—distances From 50K to 100 miles. This how-to manual will guide aspiring ultramarathoners through everything from training and nutrition to race strategy and choosing shoes.<br /> <br /> Brian Till ’08: Conversations With Power: What Great Presidents and Prime Ministers Can Teach Us About Leadership<br /> <br /> (Palgrave Macmillan) Till interviewed 13 global leaders—including Vaclav Havel, Jimmy Carter, Mikhael Gorbachev and Bill Clinton— for this book, which offers, in the words of Former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, “a revealing set of lessons about the possibilities and limitations of power… [and] also a challenge to a new generation to take the future into its own hands.”<br /> <br /> MUSIC<br /> <br /> Mark Guglielmo ’92 began his journey into the music industry at Haverford. As part of The Anonymous, the hip-hop group he started with his roommate Andrew Zinn ’92, he had a Top 10 hit in 1998 with “Green and Gold,” a track that featured a then-up-and-coming rapper named Eminem. And since 2006, he has run his own music licensing company, SupaTunes, which places his own music and that of 500 other artists in television, film and advertising. Now, after almost 20 years in the business, Guglielmo is finally bringing out his own solo debut, Shine.<br /> <br /> Released under his stage name, Vesuveo, via his SupaTunes label, Shine has been a long time in the making. “I had always wanted to make a solo album,” says Guglielmo. “I started rapping when I was 16, and I’m 40 now. But it took that long for me to gain the confidence and skills to put my stamp on hip-hop as a soloist and to speak my truth unabashedly.”<br /> <br /> Guglielmo wrote, performed and produced the album himself, with help from musicians in his current town of Northampton, Mass. (including Evelyn Harris of the Grammywinning a cappella group Sweet Honey in the Rock). “There’s no other rappers on it,” he says. “I purposely did it that way because all the groups I grew up loving worked that way. … These days, every hip-hop album has 20 people on it, and I don’t get a feeling who that artist is.”<br /> <br /> “I purposely did it that way because all the groups I grew up loving worked that way. … These days, every hip-hop album has 20 people on it, and I don’t get a feeling who that artist is.”<br /> <br /> All of that responsibility and hard work has paid off; Chuck D, of the iconic rap group Public Enemy, has given the album his stamp of approval. “It’s a great record,” he has written. “Shine shines.”<br /> <br /> Like Chuck D, Guglielmo is inspired by issues of social justice. Shine’s first single, “Algiers Point,” was born of an article in The Nation about unsolved racebased crimes in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.<br /> <br /> “Politics is definitely very important to me,” Guglielmo says. “That’s why Haverford was Very good for me. So many people have an experience that’s very much about building their minds in college, but not about building their conscience. And I definitely appreciate that, at Haverford, there’s a certain social awareness and responsibility.”<br /> <br /> Though Guglielmo didn’t study music at the College—he was a French and history double major—he still credits Haverford with nurturing his musical and production skills. He and Zinn began recording music together early in their freshman year. They DJ’d parties, hosted their own radio show, and collaborated with others on campus (including Fred Howard, a longtime Haverford mail-room employee who is also an accomplished musician). Eventually, the two roommates moved to L.A.<br /> <br /> Together to make their passion their profession. “I didn’t major in music,” says Guglielmo of his time at the College, “but really, I did.”<br /> <br /> Shine is available via iTunes and CD Baby. —Rebecca Raber<br /> <br /> The women portrayed in photographer Sally Dennison’s ongoing series “Without a Shadow” don’t look much alike, yet they all have something in common: Each photograph begins as a selfportrait of Dennison ’07, who uses wigs, wardrobe changes and dramatic digital alteration to create the images. “What prompted this series was my interest in how digital photography was changing not only the medium of photography but also how it has begun to change how we look at the human body,” says Dennison. “I am interested in the notion of a ‘digital truth’ and the distance that continues to grow between the photographic image and its conception in reality.”<br /> <br /> Dennison, who had a solo show at the Los Angeles Center for Digital Art last year, will be exhibited at New York’s Foley Gallery this summer. She is featured in the forthcoming book, Identity Now, which explores the current state of photographic portraits. To see more of her work, go to sallydennison.com.<br /> <br /> Ben Hickernell ’00 saw his second feature film, Lebanon, Pa., open in theaters in late April after receiving warm receptions at the South by Southwest, Philadelphia and Traverse City film festivals in 2010. The independent film, which stars Cougar Town’s Josh Hopkins, The World According to Garp’s Mary Beth Hurt and Pump Up the Volume’s Samantha Mathis (as well as local Temple University theater student Rachel Kitson), had been five years in the making. Its story revolves around a Philadelphia adman (Hopkins) who returns home to the titular small town for his father’s funeral and becomes entangled in the lives of a married schoolteacher (Mathis) and his pregnant 17-year-old cousin (Kitson), who longs to go to college in the big city.<br /> <br /> “You have all these epically named towns in the U.S.,” Hickernell told the Philadelphia Inquirer in a glowing profile in advance of Lebanon, Pa.’s sold-out Philadelphia premiere. “You have Nazareth and Ephrata and these big biblical names. And that was part of what I wanted to do with the movie, with the title … to show this dichotomy between these big, kind of epic ideas, and then the reality of a place, of real people rooted in the real world.”<br /> <br /> Hickernell, whose “day job” is head manager of the Bryn Mawr Film Institute, was involved in every aspect of the movie; he was its writer, director and producer. “I don’t have a rich uncle, so basically we raised money every which way we could,” he said about the film, which he made for less than $1 million, an impressively frugal sum in the lavish world of moviemaking.<br /> <br /> The film is continuing to roll out in different cities through June. For more information, including a complete list of theaters, cities and opening days, check lebanonpamovie.com. Don’t worry if you don’t see your town listed—you’ll still be able to the catch the movie soon. Hickernell has plans for it to debut on cable, video-on-demand and DVD.

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