Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving

Here is a classic television moment that will give you some laughs. I encourage you to reenact this scene tomorrow. Enjoy!  

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Princess Katrina

On the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, I wanted to post a video of me reading my poem Princess Katrina. I am posting it a day early because the winds are picking up and it looks like my power may go out from Hurricane Isaac. This poem, which focuses on social class and poverty, is still poignant seven years later on the eve of another hurricane’s landfall.

I have been watching Hurricane Isaac coverage for days on the television. I have listened to New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu's live press conferences. There has not been one mention on the television of an open shelter in the city of New Orleans. Whereas, officials from adjoining parishes and Mississippi are bragging during press conferences about their increased shelter capacity—a lesson learned from Katrina. Moreover, it has been widely televised that two large New Orleans public shelters available pre-Katrina and during Katrina will be closed (Convention Center and Superdome). Additionally, as I have surfed all the local television networks for days, there has been no mention of any means or plans to transport anyone out of the city. So, if you see buses on CNN lined up to transport New Orleanians out of the city—it is a publicity stunt.

In a live local television interview today, an official from Second Harvest Food Bank effusively discussed the readiness of their organization. I believe this organization does great good for the area. However, this representative focused on how people can donate food and volunteer time, not how those in need can receive the food. Again, here is a broken link in the system. Poor people without internet access who only have antenna television are about to be cut off from the world by a power outage due to a hurricane. They need specific information and locations where they can find food and help during and in the aftermath of these disasters.

Lastly, many people in this poverty stricken area do not have automobiles to evacuate, nor the $700 to $2000 needed to evacuate. Do you have money for a 5-day vacation right now? Maybe you do. However, many people are living paycheck to paycheck in this economy. I appreciate everyone’s thoughts and concerns as Isaac strengthens. Let’s turn our attention to the broken infrastructure that makes these storms so scary.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Another Review For Exhuming Juliet

Exhuming Juliet gets reviewed by Times Beach Magazine! Learn more about this favorite book of mine by reading the article below. Add Exhuming Juliet to your bookshelf today!

I am proud to share the following book review from Times Beach staff writer and author Crystal Clemons:
"Nolan bravely shares his sweet and sensitive side as he writes about the beauty of love in its purest form. Many of Nolan's poems are infused with an overdose of sensuality and straight up sex. I blushed my way through it, partly feeling like I was an intruder spying on the intimacy of a couple while the other part was delighted and eagerly turning the page like I was reading a steamy Harlequin. The poems that I refer to as Hate Love were unsettling to read, as again I felt as though I was watching as an intruder, yet this time witnessing all the horrible things that people do to one another while claiming to love." READ MORE

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Curtain Call for the Last Real Ballerina

My dear friend and a true mentor passed away recently. Jacqueline Fry (May 6, 1939 - April 7, 2012), my ballet instructor and founder of New Orleans Dance Academy, was a timeless prima ballerina with a heart of gold. When she opened her mouth to discuss her old-school memories of ballet, I felt like I was watching a private screening of a movie that would never be seen again. I felt magic in her presence. Even though she was over seventy years old, she would still dance in class to instruct her students. With each pirouette and relevé her eyes would sparkle as her arms softly glided and folded towards the studio mirror as if she was still taking in the applause of thousands. She was classy, proper, while completely down-to-earth and in tune with the suffering of others. Suffering is a quality every ballerina must explore to all ends. Ms. Jackie was aware of the life problems and daily struggles of all her students. She would overhear our subtle complaints while stretching for class. The next week she would come up to a student in a plié at the barre and say, “So, how are things going?”

She was a legend who took me under her wing. I was a guy from off the street. I had no ballet or dance experience, and no money for classes. In exchange for classes, I would do handiwork around the studio. I would fix the bathroom, replace doorknobs, and run speaker wire. After a couple years of vigorous training and study, she gave me a rare shot at performing in my first ballet in the famous Loyola Roussel Performance Hall. It was a dream come true for me. Later, she taught me how to teach ballet.

Ms. Jackie and I would close up the studio together in the evening. I would grab the trash and turn off the light to the back studio. She would be waiting for me at the front door with her keys to lockup. I would walk her safely to her car. Occasionally, she offered to drive me home instead of making me take the bus. I would sit anxiously in the passenger seat with my hands in my lap, excited and nervous, asking as many questions about ballet as I could in the ten minutes it took to get me home. I was in the presence of the last real ballerina.

Jacqueline Fry as the Black Swan

Here is a poem inspired by the world Ms. Jackie opened up to me. 
From my book Exhuming Juliet (2009)   


I dance with glistening ballerinas who shimmer in the
reflections of mirrors, a misty spray of fairy dust,
Degas alive, they stand before me, perfect posture gliding
from barre to barre, a deep stare from a little girl inside
clawing her way out from jump to jump

I follow their feet with my eyes, thousands of tiny feet,
I mimic their bold gracefulness
of solid white and black smearing the air

When still, they sit as small temples of beauty lacing up
their feet with silk ribbons,
it is always about their feet, hurting and frowning, talking
back to them

Life and power fill the room with each pirouette,
they bend to touch the ground, digging up strength,
endurance, blistering feet to build character—
while flimsy girls walk past the dance studio in
baggy clothes, undisciplined, comfortable

Ballerinas, serious, and stoic, planning a wedding,
not the pink and frilly girls who sleep with the boys
instead of the stars

I am boyish and coy in their royal astronomy

Copyright 2009 By Matthew Nolan 

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Poor Saints

Poor Saints. Our beloved New Orleans football team is being punished for implementing bounty programs that encourage players to physically hurt opponents in a sport where an important objective is to physically hurt the opponent. The media frenzy, dumb and numb masses, and the politically correct, policed NFL have made an example out of our poor Saints. The team that brought a broken community together and rebuilt the spirit of New Orleans after Katrina will be washed away. When the Saints won the Super Bowl in 2010, dignity, pride, and self-respect filled our damaged homes and hearts. Smiles, laughter and tears danced in the streets and in second lines behind brass bands. We had something to be happy about. We held our heads up high. The world was perceiving us differently and we knew it.   

I played football in elementary, junior high, and high school. As a defensive back, I was coached to hit hard and take out the offensive players. It is your objective as a defensive player. How can doing your job get you in trouble? It is up to the referees on the field to adjudicate dangerous hits. If a player attempts to break the rules with a head to head blow or a late hit, then the penalty per game rules is justly administered. Football is a violent and dangerous sport where players are paid millions of dollars to subject their bodies to brutality by the strongest, biggest, meanest men known to man. Broken bones, surgeries, brain injuries, and even death are normal game-day risks.  

The philosophy of football cannot be legislated by our uber-sensitive, reactive culture ruled by the entitled, haughty, and overreaching. Your average media consumed American thinks they can dictate their morality, project their opinion, and cast their vote onto every sensational news report that they know nothing about. The world is not an American Idol program, sharks are not always eating people, everyone is not a sexual predator, and the New Orleans Saints are not bounty hunters out to kill people. We should all spend more time reading books, visiting children at cancer hospitals, and giving out hugs instead of policing everything all the time.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Black History Month

I hope for the day when celebrating a group of people is no longer required to affirm their value. True equality exists when the value of a race is assumed and the knowledge of their history is inherent. February facts on black history wake our consciousness to the much bigger issue of race relations. A personal, honest reflection on race makes Black History Month an observance for us all.     

Please take a listen to one of my favorite speeches pertinent to the awareness Black History Month brings to mind. Robert F. Kennedy addresses a mixed crowd of black and white on the day Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated. Kennedy deliveries empathy and King’s tenets of love, nonviolence, and unity to a crowd on the precipice of violence. Here is the speech that bonded two races and kept the peace. It is a heartfelt, impromptu speech that reaches through the rhetoric of politics and into the heart and soul.