Apples and Bananas
Happy Spring, and welcome to Posit 27!
For well over a year, the human race has lived in a state of isolation, anxiety, and loss. And although the pandemic is (hopefully) loosening its grip on some parts of the world (however limited and privileged those may be), it seems apparent that Covid-19 and many of the ways it has changed our lives are likely to be with us for the long run.
Which is only one of the reasons the prose, poetry, and visual art in this wonderful new issue is both resonant and relevant. Some of the pieces in this issue address the pandemic more or less directly (see, e.g., the poetry of Michael Brosnan, Patrick Kindig, and Peter Leight, and the art of Dee Shapiro). Others, with their focus on the paradoxes of our needs for both autonomy and connection, as well as the many kinds of damage caused by isolation and loss, speak to recognizable if less specific facets of our experience in these extraordinary times (see, e.g., the prose works of Joey Hedger and Kylie Hough, or the poetry of Zach Savich).
But all of the remarkable work in this issue demonstrates that “the practice of intention is / its own discovery” (Elizabeth Robinson, Augur) while managing to “shadow twitch with tradition” (Edwin Torres, Northern Star) — even as it manages to meet V. Joshua Adams’s strict but essential demand for “no art without passion” (Another Country [II]).
V. Joshua Adams tallies the absurdities of our present and the thin membrane that separates us from an absurd future: “They sent me to school in the great forest / planted by the timber company where each morning the chaplain / would pray to the trees.” In our consumer world, there’s both fascination and anxiety in “Clever chicken wrap, that fantastic pink,” and we know, unfortunately, that “our lawns, sirs, shall outlive us.” Adams’s clever and indelible images, like “My empire-builder chugs: pa-thump. Those dying generations don’t die quick enough” make the point that we are still, as a society, spewing an outmoded, useless, and dangerous material philosophy.
Michael Brosnan’s In the Meanwhile praises and exhorts us to the noble modesty of a daily life helping others “practice the stubborn art of hope.” Contemplating “the antonym of contempt / In a world so humanly torn,” these verses display a rare and courageous intimacy whose vulnerability (“when I’m drinking alone in a winter-wrapped house, / Eating two-day-old cake and regretting many of my choices”) makes them all the more powerful. Written “with kindled care,” and fully cognizant that “Sometimes our need . . . carries short of anywhere,” this poem “respectfully ask[s us] to trade in our shared notion of progress / For one that will give future life a chance.”
The penetrating insight of Gabe Durham’s fables is slyly embedded in the subjectivities they so deftly voice. There is a dedicated accuracy to the observations that power these morality tales, undergirding the reliability of their fabulist yet subtle whimsy. A Fox in the City voices the vigilance and hunger of all who are marginalized, “living on the fringes” – whether by virtue of their “fox tail,” skin tone, or any other indicia of exclusion. And New People probes the dissatisfaction with the self which motivates our appetite for novelty, even at the cost of morality: “I love the smell of cigars I hate the smell of wafting from the yellow lips of boldly dying new people.”
There is something profoundly reassuring about the smooth solidity of the forms anchoring Christina Haglid’s compositions. More sculptural than two-dimensional in effect, these works on paper depict shapes as concrete and convincing as they are wholly imagined. With their focus on glowing light, gleaming water, and curved matte surfaces in calm, earth-tone palettes, Haglid’s serene yet mysterious compositions open like windows on worlds that both soothe and beckon. To gaze through these windows at Haglid’s imagined realities is to partake of a solace and serenity more vital in these anxious and uncertain times than ever.
Joey Hedger’s short fictions perform magic tricks of narrative economy, exposing the psychological depths of their bereaved narrators’ angst with the barest hints at backstory. In Paper Teeth, the narrator is confronted with a Sybil-like stranger who forces him to confront the fragility he is so keen to avoid, even as he seems bent on provoking its consequences with his self-destructive choices. And in Blurry Exit Signs, the narrator, who “can only focus on the immediate to get by” “as if there is a wall up ahead that [he] will soon hit, an incomprehensible, constantly moving wall,” is triggered by a medical vulnerability to confront the ambivalence of his complicated grief.
Kylie Hough’s wry, smart and self-aware narrators insist they are inarticulate, or sometimes deliberately quiet, but the reader gets the benefit of their very precise thoughts about relationships: “I told you it works like eggs. You shrugged your shoulders, said you never knew. I thought, there are a lot of things you don’t know about eggs and guar gum and binding and being bound.” They speak in startling and unexpectedly resonant images: “Like an egg navigates the oiled sides of a wok there was this feeling I got with you.” And in a darkly humorous imagined dialogue, a particularly controlling male personage is silently served with the narrator’s imagined response: “You’re not thinking of the future, he said and she raised an eyebrow because she was always thinking of how good it would feel to disarticulate him. Can you see you’re torturing yourself? he said. Yes, she thought and took his right leg and plucked it from its socket much like she would a carrot from her vegetable garden.”
Patrick Kindig’s lyric and idiosyncratic exploration of the multiple meanings and usages of the term “corona” includes what we might wish from a perfect definition: resonance, beauty, and surprise. They cannot help but bring to mind the virus which has transformed human life on this planet even as they remind us of the bigger picture: “a sun throwing its voice,” “a shining in the night,” “crown (of light), light (of God).” Each of these short poems begins with another accepted definition. But in Kindig’s dictionary, definitions include instructions (“Get in your crate, sun, and / do as you are told”) as well as philosophical musings (“in a clean, well-lit place, / there is no need for wonder”). And yet there is wonder, too: “a sheen, / a shining in the night, the night / a cloud of air, the air a jar of lightning / unlidded . . . a gesture electric enough / to make the heart beat faster, not / strong enough to cause a spark.”
Peter Leight returns to Posit with lineated and prose poems about the paradoxes of social isolation and organization that are as penetrating as they are understated, and as timeless as they are relevant to our pandemic lives of quarantine and Zoom. In Private Time, the narrator inhabits an isolation so resolutely enclosed that he tell us “I’m leaving the keys to everything I need to open / in a drawer I’m not going to open,” until he must physically pry apart his own lips to speak, or even to offer himself the gift of his own breath. In City of Separation we get an all-too familiar glimpse of the exclusionary rationale for social cohesion, in which “we stay on our side and they stay on theirs.” And in City of Meeting, we see how the cheeriest inclusivity, in which “the same place is reserved for everybody, like a pie chart that’s undivided, without a single wedge,” is also the death of individuality.
Gina Osterloh’s riveting film of a hand grasping at fruit (Apples and Bananas) references an early film by artist Richard Serra, but with a difference. Along with Janis Butler Holm’s hilarious yet thought-provoking textual accompaniment (“their boyish tuna casserole,” “their manliest horizon line”), this film leads viewers to ponder our own gendered expectations, and laugh at their all-too consequential absurdity: “their girly-girl electro shock,” “their fruity naval exercise.” The juxtaposition of adjectives like “girly,” “manliest,” and especially “fruity” with images of literal fruit highlights the artificiality of popular gendered tropes, prodding us to think again about how we have been inculcated to divide our world into such binary absurdities.
The scarf in Elizabeth Robinson’s profound and mysterious long poem acts as an Augur that is at once evanescent yet grounded, transforming, as in a fairy tale or myth, the search for a grail that ultimately contains elements of discovery and destruction. “The promise did not promise / to be beautiful. // The promise was of labor, / not virtue.” It is this grail that “attests / to its existence, but, as always, // refuses to disclose its whereabouts.” The journey has its discoveries: “Broken / perception is a place, even // “home,” if you will,” but there is never a final achievement. The making and breaking, and the almost finding (the scarf both stops our mouths and flees as we follow) are perhaps the only grail we will ever find. But the continued search, painful as it is, “becomes its own imperative,” leading to a kind of joy with which we can make do. In this powerful poem, “Never / a map but a disemboweling, discovery // joyously fractures what it finds” – namely, that “Reciprocity // means also exit.”
Zach Savich returns to Posit with a set of poems that capture the mysterious allure of what is “over by the time you see.” Not only personal mortality, but the fleeting nature of all existence is at the heart of these wise and subtle meditations in which someone procrastinates sending a condolence note “assuming grief will wait, or still be arriving, or be something else, whenever dry becomes preserved,” and “Day mak[es] its losing speeches.” Savich’s work is as precise as it is sensitive, as sorrowful as it is grounded, reminding us that “whatever road is down the road once we’re a few roads / down” “chances are . . . [we]’ll mostly respond / like most people do,” taking our chances that we can find a way to live on with the makeshift solutions we manage to construct.
Dee Shapiro’s art integrates the symmetries and asymmetries of mathematical, architectural, and biomorphic patterns to create work whose energetic mastery encompasses a sense of interconnected complexity as various and inclusive as nature itself. These intricately patterned, brilliantly colored and immensely vibrant works apply feminist narrative to mine and re-envision historical representations of the female body as well as traditionally feminine and ‘decorative’ textile arts to generate a rich, potent, category-defying form of art. This issue features lush and exciting new pieces referencing the Covid pandemic, along with re-interpretations of canonical depictions of the female nude by masters such as Botticelli, Ingres, and Manet.
Hester Simpson’s compact, controlled canvases glow with preternatural intensity. The kinetic, almost vertiginous energy of her geometric patterns and biomorphic shapes presented in such high-octane, super-saturated, candy colors is just barely reined in by Simpson’s rigorous discipline and flawless precision. Many of the compositions are reminiscent of swatches or samples, suggesting the possibility of vast, even infinite planes where these eye-popping patterns might unfold forever. Simpson’s work offers thrilling if tantalizing glimpses of an imagined reality in which the vividness and energy of color and pattern might be freed of the dulling constraints and inhibiting limitations of what we take to be the “real.”
In Celestial Suite, Edwin Torres’s poetic compass encompasses the crossroads and crossings and endless white lines of North, East, West and South to guide our navigation of this “dispossessed globe” in the essential and elusive quest for “not an ending … but a sequence.” With Torres’s signature rhythmic musicality and nimble linguistic turns, these dense and condensed verses explore “the connective tissue of missing imperfections aligned / by the edges of our flight” to reveal “what we say / to hear what we hear.” The process carries the poet’s aphoristic brilliance in a “freefall [that] is exhilarating,” confirming that Torres’s “poetry can anything / if you let it.”
Nance Van Winckel’s witty, thought-provoking collages combine text and old-fashioned images to interrogate the slight and fleeting nature of the self against the scope of historical and even astronomic time. These one-frame marvels juxtapose text and image for an effect that is at once nostalgic, surrealistic, and cerebral. In these works we find Egyptian and early 20th century figures cheerily hailing each other from either side of history; antique diagrams of meteors whose metaphoric relevance to our own brief and tumultuous existence is highlighted by captions identifying their “spectacle of the old self” and “double nature” which “floats free;” a surrealistic building containing a stairwell filled with floating hats, a mountain lake, and a hot air balloon revealing that: “A. we came. B. we gawked. C. we lost ourselves;” and an antique map of the moon heralded by cherubim framing text evoking a self so slight it can “slip through the eye of a needle.”
Using Chinese idioms that themselves have become proverbs, Lucy Zhang skillfully crafts intricate folk fables set in a pastoral past which brilliantly illuminates more timeless meanings. Spear Against Shield explores the predatory relationship between vulnerability, commerce, and violence: “A man is trying to sell a spear and a shield. He boasts that the spear is so strong it can pierce anything. He continues to boast that the shield is so strong it cannot be pierced. When someone asks what will happen if you pierce the shield with the spear, the man falls silent.” And yet, after unsuccessfully haggling with neighbors fearful of war, he offers: “if you buy both a shield and a spear, you’ll get one additional weapon of choice free.” The “addition” abruptly catapults the reader into contemplation of yet another philosophical dilemma. And in Playing Zither for the Cow, a paradox of art-making is revealed by the way a musician’s skill is both best and least appreciated by the musician himself, who “taps and strikes and plucks to the view of the backs of his eyelids” as he “wonders how long it has been since he last listened to his music.”
Thank you for reading — and for doing your part for yourselves and each other by GETTING VACCINATED!
With gratitude and love,
Susan Lewis, Carol Ciavonne, and Bernd Sauermann
Imitation huckleberries hope to slander pilliwinks, lying consequentially to vibrant fish and fowl.
Much as specious water heaters dandle foreign underbrush, cracked and sullied databases target
kitchenettes. “That’s rubbish,” said the needle nozzle, fending off jujitsu moves. In effect, this ancient
humbug smacks of rock ‘n’ roll. And what of doctored leg extensions, wily, grouped, and nettlesome?
Even ersatz fuddy-duddies tamper with purée.
Micronizing eyelash curlers fabricate their voltage drops.
Bowdlerizing car mechanics fabricate their pseudocones.
Customizing willow beetles fabricate their railway yards.
Gourmandizing traffic tickets fabricate their linking verbs.
Sympathizing chaos junkies fabricate their stubble geese.
Traumatizing butterscotches fabricate their flexure tests.
Neutralizing protest slogans fabricate their whiskey jugs.
Plasticizing stretcher cases fabricate their gamma waves.
Snooker black-eyed peas, my pet, and garble lithogenesis. Manipulate gorilla suits with fiddlesticks
and chyme. Some wonky kleptoparasites have deconstructed volleyball. Accordingly, fallacious
brickwork organizes snuff. Yada, yada, yada–having counterfeited onion rings, artificial letter writers
tussle with croquet. Your bogus metacriticism roller-skates with laundry chutes, and inauthentic
gyromancy fires a grassy knoll.
Obfuscating hunger artists falsify their chimney pots.
Percolating anthrax hoaxes falsify their logic games.
Carbonating input methods falsify their hydrophiles.
Imprecating mountain faces falsify their dealerships.
Estimating coffee grinders falsify their stable hands.
Lubricating science studies falsify their pleasantries.
Gravitating ketchup bottles falsify their tummy tucks.
Subjugating baseball clinics falsify their woolly bears.
Peevishly adulterated, crackerjacks rigidify, leaving phony knickerbockers wretched and alone. At
what price do sandwich cookies libel pomp and circumstance? Misreported fallen arches spurn the
day-to-day. Camouflage or improvise or weave together onion smut. Undeterred by trickish poplin,
nappies shoot the breeze. Never has deceptive yoga cozened rubbing alcohol. Double-dealing
slumber parties oxidize fake news.
Influenced by Yoko Ono’s performance pieces, these sound poems are selections from a book of experimental work to be titled Rabelaisian Play Station. While drawing from Dadaist (Hugo Ball) and Surrealist (Kurt Schwitters) traditions, my work differs from earlier sound experiments by using real words instead of non-word phonetic sequences, engaging the reader by the possibilities of interpretation even as the word combinations refuse to transmit meaning in conventional ways. Yet here at the border between sense and nonsense, a reader can construct meaning—in this instance, for example, the absurdity of declaring everything one doesn’t like as fake.
Happy Spring, and welcome to Posit 21!
It is with equal parts pride and delight that we offer the freshness and breadth of poetry, prose, and visual art in this issue: its capacity to match aesthetic delight with insight, emotion, and critique. Book-ended by poignant treatments of mother and home by Emily Blair and Karolina Zapal, the writings featured here are distinguished either by the bold frankness of their voice, the restraint of their meditative lyricism, or the exuberance of their experimentation and play. And the visual art collected here has a comparable depth and breadth, from painting to assemblage, collage to textile.
All of this, of course, against the ever-more disconcerting backdrop of our real-world “collective failing, a planet / boiling” about which “how frighteningly / beautiful those words / about the slouching and /the beast, another matter / when it is at the door” (Gary Sokolow, The Darkness, The Knocking).
Yet even now, when what the narrator of Blair’s A Boy Named Rooster Tries to Kiss Me calls “the craziest thing she ever heard” makes more sense than what we’re asked to accept on a daily basis by the most powerful man in the world, these works remind us how “the moment / is still music” (Mark Truscott, Rain) and help us appreciate “windfall as artifact of storm.” (F. Daniel Rzicznek, from Leafmold).
Which is why you won’t want to miss these wise and beautiful windfalls of our stormy times.
Azadeh Ardalan’s painted-from-memory portraits utilize eye-poppingly vivid, non-naturalistic colors and broad, gestural, brushstrokes to peer beneath the surface of how we live now. The heightened colors and lush textures with which she depicts contemporary characters seated in simplified interiors is more than reminiscent of the Fauves (and especially Henri Matisse): it brings their revolutionary prioritization of form and color effortlessly forward into the 21st century. The velvety saturation of Ardalan’s palette infuses these paintings’ static compositions with an intense energy, so that their depiction of the isolation of contemporary life delights the eye, refreshing the viewer’s appreciation for the beauty of the everyday.
Emily Blair writes in a powerful voice rich with mastered emotion and an indelible connection to a home left as far behind as it is ever-present. These lyrical poems evoke a “back-home” to which, to paraphrase Thomas Wolfe, the narrator can never truly return: a back-home of laundromats and Ms. Pac-Man and eighteen-wheelers and a boy named Rooster “with a lip full of mint Skoal and his thumbs in his belt loops,” as well as seraphs that are “beasts of fire” and a “toothy” mother “everything about [whom] turns inside out, a body of prolapse, liters of bile, and blaming [her] for the trouble.”
In Thomas Cook’s prose poems we are treated to language at serious play, a gestural yet sly resort to the atomized energy and unpredictable harmony of words and phrases in a world where “origin stories are difficult,” the “best has less to do with extraction than survival, especially in the case of cortexes.” In the world of these poems, lying to yourself is a shortcut the poet must eschew, even if, or perhaps especially because, it would create “a poem for the millennium in which you were found.”
In Janis Butler Holm’s sound poems from Rabelaisian Play Station, we’re treated to another vision of language cavorting on the fertile ground “between sense and nonsense.” In keeping with their Dadaist heritage, these humorous mash-ups ring deliciously with the surprising sting of critique. Dripping with satire, and propelled by a driving trochaic beat, these collages focused on fabrication and falsification lampoon the absurdity of an all-too-recognizable political status quo, one in which “peevishly adulterated, crackerjacks rigidify,” “percolating anthrax hoaxes falsify their logic genes,” and “double-dealing slumber parties oxidize fake news.”
Susan Leary studies the emotional complications, more and less beautiful, in the unknowable spaces between body and soul, as well as bodies and souls; “the world consumed by the vast invisibility of its histories.” In the first poem, that “the babies have a designated space in the cemetery” underscores that “only death would disguise in such beautifully-cut grass a field of complex abductions.” In another, the narrator wonders “how a fish becomes a body, & through this how a body becomes a boy that survives. Knowing only to flail and calm.” Yet another poem asks, “if science is the body’s ability to know something the world cannot, what then of the world?” And, further: “how should it come to recognize itself if all but gloaming & accidental recklessness?”
Returning to Posit with more virtuosic thought experiments, Peter Leight offers a number of understated meditations which cast “the kind of sensitive light that only shines when there’s something to see” — even, or perhaps especially, when it is “the business of shadows.” This poet’s probing work has the courage to “see how far away you are / from what you’re close to,” and the wisdom to know that it “takes all our strength just to give in to the weakness.”
Fabricated out of numerous pieces of wood “puzzled” together into abstract and architectural forms, Helen O’Leary’s sculptures are miraculous in their meticulous fabrication and transcendental beauty. They travel simultaneously between the worlds of painting and sculpture. The surfaces move literally and figuratively, their unlikely undulations carrying the eye across their painted surfaces, around to their backs, through their openings and back. These visual journeys are a surprise and delight. O’Leary is a master of abstract narrative. Each of these constructions has a story to tell. They hint of history, memory and experience. O’Leary presents the clues so that we can finish each narrative in our personal way.
F. Daniel Rzicznek returns to Posit as well, with more lush and meditative prose pieces from Leafmold. In these poems, living in the wild reveals that when there is “trouble with the bugs, trouble with thirst, trouble with desire,” “gratitude must be endless if you want to survive.” In a vivid tableau of “two towels, rust-orange and aquamarine, flap[ping] on the clothesline” the narrator sees “capes worn by invisible spirits, maybe your guardians, your watchers.” Considering what he has “left . . . on the mainland,” he concludes it is “that certain noise,” the “noise of certainty.” In the wild, by contrast, “the season puts white on the pines but inside them: always green, always green.”
Gary Sokolow’s poems find solace in the memory of a time when “it was cheaper to be going nowhere” and “nothing mattered but to stand by the last great jukebox” even if “maybe I was simply crazy believing I was stopping time, nursing a beer.” Yet, despite the fact that life is “a bracelet tight around (our) ankles” and “the shadows stay like the outline of the names of the builders on the ovens of Auschwitz,” these poems manage to balance despair with hope: that “a want there is to make it kinder” despite “the thirteen billion light years that would take.”
In Eternal Relations, hiromi suzuki collages black and white images with words from a variety of languages to consider our “eternal relations” with nature, animals, and human society. Her use of the Japanese interpretation of Chinese kanji evokes the “eternal relation” of letters and visual images – the essence of the ideogram. In River and Forest, a parallel is drawn between the branching structures of tributaries and tree limbs, and the visual connotations of their kanji. Town, on the other hand, highlights the witty juxtaposition of its component characters, which translate, in English, as “orange chocolate almond.” Yet again, in Bird, the lack of easily discernable hints keeps us guessing – beyond the charming image of the kanji itself, perched like a bird on the back of a calf.
The astoundingly detailed collage work of Maritta Tapanainen delights and toys with the viewer. They are so precisely assembled that it is, at first glance, difficult to be sure if they are constructed rather than drawn. These transcendent collages are assembled out of hundreds of pieces of found paper. Working within the palate of black and white, she draws out scores of subtle and rich tones. The soft patina of vintage papers and multiple shades of black ink reveal the rich variety of colors that that we tend to think of as “monochromatic.” Her pieces draw from natural history, science and music, creating a world that is lyrical and lively. Her ability to weave together these disparate elements is no less than masterful.
In these lovely and profound poems, Adam Tedesco offers a persona who “stayed who I was as if I had an option” even with a “feeding tube filled with … dreams, sadness & Swiss omelets, this Rickroll of numb gums and dumb love.” These fine poems do not cease probing, even though “anything you try to understand owns you. The light you bend towards owns you. Your lover’s point of view owns you.” Even when “to weep is to ask what is in us,” this poet is not afraid to forge ahead until “cleared smoke & human patience reveal” poetry’s essence, the intersection of the mundane and the magical: “commonness, a plate & glass, the tablecloth pulled.”
With these poems from Her Scant State, Barbara Tomash returns to Posit with a sample of her own novel approach to erasure, constructing two-part poems extracted from the first and second halves of Henry James’ The Portrait of a Lady. In the complexity of this conversion from novel to poetry and conversation between novelist and poet (as well as between the novel and itself), Tomash reweaves James’ inimitable and exquisite prose through the loom of her own prosody, giving rise to a lively juxtaposition of paired and pared-down questions and images. What Tomash questions here is no less than James’ imagination of feminity: that “queer country across the sea” which he recognized as “caught in a vast cage” – a vision lovingly reimagined by Tomash, “in her lucidity” via “ambiguities composed all of the same flower.”
The quiet gravitas of Mark Truscott’s conceptual meditations contemplate the materials of existence: the tension between seems and is, the transience of matter, light, water, and breath in their progress towards to drift and diffusion. These poems ask “what can it mean / that what is / has arisen already? / And then it will change.” Truscott manages this heavy lifting with a light and graceful touch, “placing / word after word / before coating their / succession in / colours of interior / sound.” The placid surface of his prosody is “like / a surface of water, / vulnerable to ripples, / real, now / momentarily /expressing its /potential for stillness” even as its “slow-beat ringing / continues,” with understated elegance, in the reader’s ear.
Altered States is an apt name for this body of work by Kit Warren. Painted in a variety of media, and made over a long period of time, they have an intoxicating quality. Warren uses a rich and elegant palette that draws us deeply into the work. Rhythmically moving across the page, her shimmering marks invite you into their world. They present a meditative, calm universe in which we can relax and enjoy the luxury of this work.
Marie Watt makes contemporary sculptures out of memory and tradition, tweaked with a distinctly contemporary sensibility. She often uses materials common to all of us, if full of potent meaning personal to the artist. Using many traditional fabrication techniques, she presents a fully developed body of artwork that is deeply moving. Fusing storytelling, politics, and a graceful aesthetic, she presents narratives that cross time and place to touch us all. Her desire to create community and engage with women “makers” adds unique social resonance and depth to her lovely work.
And, finally, in language as frank as it is vivid, in which “a gut feeling is just a gut job,” Karolina Zapal evokes a piercing yearning for mother and home inflected by “a sprig of jealousy a pinch of gratitude a handful of reserve.” The wisdom of this poet’s treatment of those emotional touchstones lies in her recognition of their limitations, that “what she has is not / enough and what she can have is no more.” With poignant lyricism we learn that “when Baby returns home home breaks / into a whisper” even while “a cheek of moonlight / on the road breaks off / in my eye.”
Thank you, as ever, for reading and viewing.
Susan Lewis, Carol Ciavonne, Bernd Sauermann, and Melissa Stern