Sunday, April 3, 2016

Green Dreams by Jay Requard

As you all know I sometimes post poems here because I know I'm not a poet, but in the tradition of my literary grandfather, J.R.R. Tolkien, though he was a master of the epic poem and his more folkloric ditties about Christmas and all that. I just have these things come to me and this one seemed good enough to share. It is in a free-form style.

Green Dreams by Jay Requard

Morning's first lucid light hearkens,
elderitch memories sparked by the grass,
where emerald scents mingle and fly,
ghosts upon a fresh day's breath.

Oh, how I've faltered,
lost in the ever-shifting, ever-changing,
cycle of Awen, where dreams hold fate
and doubt forges the shadow.

And yet a fresh day's breath,
a moment of illumination,
emeralds burn and become ghosts.
I find the everlasting.

Long lost is the shadow,
sent far to travel and sow
in the lands where green dreams grow
and holies shine in other-light.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

On Yojimbo

What can one say about Akira Kurosawa and it be anything other than "this is the most brilliant film maker ever"? He is credited by directors George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, John Milius. and Francis Coppola as one of the greatest cinematographers of all time, a masterful screenplay writer in his early and middle periods, and a director of such degree that his accomplishments cannot be overstated. Without Kurosawa you would not have Fistful of Dollars or STAR WARS.

Yojimbo is the samurai film that sparked spaghetti westerns and a visual style that is lush among the bleak and barren towns and wilderness where Kurosawa's samurai epics often takes place. One of Kurosawa's greatest influences on me is his view of space in storytelling. Space is something that continues on as the characters converse, love, hate, fight, and die, so it is always important to highlight movement within the setting. To put this into context, you pay more attention to movements when given space as the action taking place within the area reveal a more defined sense of how things happened on a more emotive level. It allows for still moments that breathe as the story progresses so that when there is a flurry of movement we are focused on it. We have to appreciate how stark in measure Kurosawa uses movement to progress his story, and more importantly, when to use it. 

In some ways he always dares us to have assumptions with movement: Instead of clean-cut, polished heroes, his protagonist are often scruffy swordsmen for hire or agonized samurai, middle-level knights who are struggling with the chaotic world around them. His rogue's gallery is varied but always has one real badass armed with an obvious advantage, and it is with creativity that Kurosawa gets us to a climax where we watch the hero finesse his way through, not on simple gravitas and predictability. Movements are made without consideration for the audience, and when those movements end there is a stillness where we are left to interpret what happened. 

Just like movies, it is up to readers to interpret what they are reading, not what they are told to read in it. Great storytelling requires attention to letting the actors turn the setting into the stage to address their issues within the self and society. Yojimbo never offers a black and white ending, but something equally tragic yet hopeful with justice served. This is an aspect I often find so compelling about Eastern storytelling. They have taken a lot from us in recent years, but they also have their own corpus that is equally beloved and novel as ours that we should be lucky to borrow from.

Yojimbo conceptualizes how movement goes hand in hand with great storytelling.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Pepper Spray

For all of the celebration and joy that has taken place during the lead up to the release of Thief of Shadows - Manwe The Panther Vol. 1, it is often easy to forgot that this short story collection was born from something that isn't to be celebrated and something that is the anti-thesis of joy.

My name is Jay Requard, and I believe firmly in living for revolution. My reading of history and my political perspectives fall in line with one of the greatest Founding Fathers, Thomas Jefferson, and in my heart of hearts I truly hold his opinion of revolution to be valid:

"Societies exist under three forms sufficiently distinguishable. 1. Without government, as among our Indians. 2. Under governments wherein the will of every one has a just influence, as is the case in England in a slight degree, and in our states in a great one. 3. Under governments of force: as is the case in all other monarchies and in most of the other republics. To have an idea of the curse of existence under these last, they must be seen. It is a government of wolves over sheep. It is a problem, not clear in my mind, that the 1st. condition is not the best. But I believe it to be inconsistent with any great degree of population. The second state has a great deal of good in it. The mass of mankind under that enjoys a precious degree of liberty and happiness. It has it’s evils too: the principal of which is the turbulence to which it is subject. But weigh this against the oppression of monarchy, and it becomes nothing. Malo periculosam, libertatem quam quietam servitutem. Even this evil is productive of good. It prevents the degeneracy of government, and nourishes a general attention to the public affairs. I hold it that a little rebellion now and then is a good thing, and as necessary in the political world as storms in the physical.1 Unsuccessful rebellions indeed generally establish the encroachments on the rights of the people which have produced them. An observation of this truth should render honest republican governors so mild in their punishment of rebellions, as not to discourage them too much. It is a medicine necessary for the sound health of government." - Thomas Jefferson to James MadisonParis, January 30, 1787

We live in a time and place where we live under "a government of force", and the moment I realized this was during the Occupy movement. At the outset of the movement where much of my generation who make up a group called "Millennials" marched on New York City, right down the middle of Wall Street, to protest what they saw as government corruption and the rising of an immoral oligarchy that devastated the overall economy while those same oligarchs made out with HUNDREDS OF BILLIONS OF TAXPAYER DOLLARS (if not trillions.) While I completely agreed with Occupy's view of what had happened, I disagreed with their methods of organization and disliked their inability to actually effect elections on a local and state level. They were co-opted, 

And then this happened:

Society often has to make decisions--sometimes unconscious ones--on how it reacts to popular uprisings that threaten to destabilize the status quo, and at a moment where those protesters were justified, the police that were sworn to protect the constitutional rights of protesters in general became the foot soldiers of a small class of unimaginably powerful people who have the ability to determine the fates of billions around the world. In submitting to them, we have allowed the poor to suffer, minorities to be disenfranchised and slain, and the less-able among us, including the elderly, to endure indignity after indignity.

Those women could have been my fiance, or my sisters, or my mother. They could have been your loved ones. They could have been the protesters in the #BlackLivesMatter movement who were beaten by the cops in Ferguson or murdered in New York, or the protesters in India who are fighting right now against a caste system where young Dalits feel that suicide is a better option than living in subjugation. They could have been the Iranians clamoring for freedom in 2009 when the US failed to support them when the call for democracy and support was given.

Manwe The Panther is more than one who thieves, an act of criminality that is often caused by poverty for those hung at the bottom of the social-economic ladder. He is more than a black man. He is more than a gay man. He is more than a poor man. The Gypians who have invaded his homeland have declared his race, his manner of preserving his life, and his political and personal outlook as taboo to society.

They have told him that to love who he loves is wrong.

He, like so many of us, is among the disenfranchised.

And he's not me. I think this is an incredibly important fact to point out: while I am and have been poor, there is no denying my privilege. 

Yet let us also be clear: I am not apologizing for my privilege--far from it. 

I believe my privilege requires me to be duty-bound in a pursuit for the betterment of others, where in the end my privilege is negated when all will be free in our society as we are in the eyes of God. Whether it is Noam Chomsky who said "the more opportunity you have, the more responsibility you have", or John The Baptist telling his followers in Luke 3:11 that "anyone who has two shirts should share with the one who has none, and anyone who has food should do the same."

We live in a world that has forsaken John's idea, a world where people are judged harshly for who they are, for whom they love, and for how much they don't have. We suffer a system where the impoverishment of people is tolerated if it creates capital that has no inherent value beyond the belief we pin to it and yet it can bring down empires. We invade other counties for their resources under the pretense that democracy is a simple process that all peoples have an ability to adopt when we all know that it is a difficult system that must be organic for the sake of those who use it, further tarnishing a beautiful gift of humanity that has been abused and distorted for the sake of a ruling class.

It's time to stand against this. I'm choosing to write about it, but I implore everyone reading this blog, everyone who decides to go and pick up this book (or not), to take the time and really look around. This world around us can be better for everyone, not the few who want more power than everyone else.

I believe in revolution, and all revolutions start in the darkest times. We only need to decide what kind of world we want when we turn the lights back on.

Saturday, February 20, 2016


Hey all,

I'm at Connooga right now in Chattanooga, TN as an author guest of the convention, but I wanted to stop real quick and let you all know that my new short story collection from Falstaff Books, THIEF OF SHADOWS: MANWE THE PANTHER VOL. I, is available for preorder!

Go pick it up here!

Monday, February 15, 2016

Manwe the Panther - March 2016!

I am proud to announce that Falstaff Books, a new and cutting-edge genre publishing company,  recently purchased the rights to Manwe the Panther and his nine-part saga a few weeks ago! I've been sitting on it until now, and for good reason: the cover has arrived!

Cover by James R. Tuck
This first volume will collect the first three Manwe the Panther stories, including:

"The Gem of Acitus" - Originally published by Mocha Memoirs Press
"A Light in The Dark"
"By the Tears"

I'd like to thank James R. Tuck for turning out a badass cover, John Hartness and Jaym Gates at Falstaff Books for taking on this project, but more importantly, I need to thank the luminaries, causes, and reasons for Manwe, his story, and the message:

I wouldn’t have written this if I didn’t have voices like Octavia Butler, Charles Saunders, Nigel Tranter, Ursula Le Guin, and the Occupy Movement. I still remember the day when I saw two young women get pepper-sprayed exercising their rights, or my friends being hassled by authorities because of the color of their skin, or having to watch friends and family in the LGBTQ community sit next to people who spewed hate at them, only to have their own fears silence them.

My parents raised me to be better, not “better”. This goes out to them too.

Finally I would like to acknowledge Immortal Technique, who opened my mind to what is going on around me and offered the courage to follow suit. Thank you for your music, your words, and your inspiration.

And of course, I want to thank all of you.

March 1st is coming quick. Follow me on Twitter @JayRequard and I'll see you soon.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

"Reputation" is live!

Hi everyone! Been away for a bit because of some real big things are happening, but I want to stop real well and let everyone know about the...

My first flash fiction sale, Reputation, has been published by The Flash Fiction Press!

Huge thanks to Charlotte Writers who helped critique this piece, along with Les Weil for accepting the work!

See you all soon!