by guest editor Tori Falcon
(CW: This feature mentions rape and forms of abuse.)
You ever just excuse any form of productivity in the summer because it’s too damn hot outside? I need to go get groceries…it’s too hot. I need to clean the apartment…it’s too FREAKING hot. I need to write today…but it’s too. Hot. To. THINK. Using any form of energy in the summer is an admirable and brave act, so first round of applause goes out to every writer who contributed to The Dentonite’s on-going series, Poetry and Prose from the 940, which recently took on the theme of Summer in Denton. I salute you sweaty writers.
For starters, my name is Tori Falcon. I am the new Editor-in-Chief at The Dentonite and the jerk who asked writers to get their pen moving in this sticky heat all summer. If you don’t know what The Dentonite is: we function as Denton’s online, alternative and progressive publication.
Denton is my entire life all the time, so when Spiderweb Salon reached out about collaborating with us for this series, I was immediately excited to join forces and lift up the community in Denton together. That is also why, when choosing what to feature for Spiderweb, I choose a prose piece by Nicole Lefteau which felt scarily on brand for Denton. Lefteau is someone who involves herself heavily in the creative community here in town, and who even participated in Spiderweb Salon herself earlier this year at The Electronic Experiment III.
Lefteau works tirelessly on a million and one film projects while managing to write and perform poetry and prose as regularly as possible. She has already performed twice with our favorite host and art collective and is hoping to perform with Spiderweb more in the future. But fear not for her health, because as she says herself, “it is the stress I can’t get enough of.”
The focus of Lefteau’s art revolves around womanhood and female sexuality and has recently shifted her creations around queerness and queer anxiety as well. Lefteau has been a community advocate for these issues by allowing herself to be open and honest about her situations dealing with rape and abusive relationships.
“I think it’s so important for people to come as they are - I’m the kind of person who wears my heart on my sleeve - I really, really appreciate open dialogue and that’s what my art has allowed me to do,” Lefteau said.
One of her up and coming film projects, scheduled to film in October called The Devil Has Blue Eyes, is a horror film about an emotionally abusive relationship. The film, which will come out in Spring 2019, explores the side-by-side image of how emotional abuse can feel like a possession by a partner. Moreover, Lefteau’s film, Lioness, which came out last December explored the psychological experience of rape survivors through beautiful imagery and a powerful message where a survivor is able to find inner-peace and who channels pain into strength. Lefteau is big on female-led projects and stories that give voice to the voiceless. For The Devil Has Blue Eyes, she is hoping to have an all or predominantly female cast and crew.
Lefteau has a soft spot for the creative community of Denton and said she strives to give back to the community that has given so much to her. When she came to Denton in 2015, she said she was a mess emotionally and creatively, and Denton and specifically people in the media arts program at UNT, helped her find her path. Lefteau said just as the 1970s in Austin were a special time that will never happen again, she feels that way about Denton right now acknowledging her romanticization of this town. And, her prose exactly titled Summer in Denton is a sweet anecdote of a night that many of us have definitely had with some friends at our favorite home bar or venue. Lefteau writes fondly about her three friends after an evening with them at Backyard on Bell. She said last summer they rotated mainly between there and Denton County Brewing Company. This piece captures a similar night we may have all had that we hold dear and like to also romanticize and think, “if I wasn’t right here tonight, living in Denton, I wouldn’t have this or be surrounded by these fantastic people.” Lefteau said she does her best to capture these moments and that’s how this piece came about.
“I just try to journal so I can remember these little, intimate moments because, you know, no one is taking pictures while you’re at Backyard on Bell, and doing these everyday things but I still wanna remember and capture these intimate moments for myself.”
Summer in Denton
Summer in Denton. It’s hot out. The thick, wet hot that fills your throat and hangs in the air. My bangs are sticking to my forehead and the ice cubes in my drink boil over. And we’re talking about everything And we’re talking about nothing. And it really doesn’t matter what we’re talking about at this point in the night but rather, that we’re with people who will listen. Tony sits to my left, and waits eagerly for his next punchline. Not the kind that he tells on makeshift stages on sunday nights or comedy clubs for the rest of the week, but the kind that sparks instantaneously off his tongue the way sparks fly from the lighter I always fidget with. To my right, Kenny and Peyton bounce off each other like twin toddlers speaking their own secret language until they finally tire themselves out from accents and bits. Until all of our minds drift off half sentence, and I think back on the all times we’ve danced together. All on our own beat, off beat, half a beat behind from the real lyrics. Swirling onto each other, bouncing and swaying and reaching our hands high above our heads and up to the sky. We snap back into ourselves. Someone cracks a joke and the we pick up right where we left off. We fill the air with thoughts we never thought we’d say out loud, dark humor wit, and dry clouds of Marlboro smoke.
The bar’s closing soon but I don’t dare look at the bartender stacking chairs because that would make reality welcome in this perfect fever dream I don’t want to end.
Even though we’ll be sitting in the exact same seats, sweating and swearing tomorrow night.
Nicole Lefteau is a filmmaker and poet who creates and collaborates throughout Denton. The 21-year-old artists is in her senior year at UNT as film major and art minor and she hopes to move to Seattle after graduation to become a film editor. You can support Lefteau’s film work through her Facebook and Instagram pages about her work and by following the instagram page for The Devil Has Blue Eyes set to premiere in Spring 2019.
This is an ongoing collaboration with The Dentonite where we will commission prose and poetry through our series which will then allow me to pick one piece and writer to write about for Spiderweb Salon’s featured artist. I’m so excited for our next edition as well which surrounds the theme of Hispanic (Latinx) Heritage month. (We know Hispanic and Latinx aren't interchangeable but we would like to widen that scope to include non-spanish speaking people form Latin countries, too!) We are currently taking submissions about the Latinx experience until Sept. 19, so please send in your work to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Be sure to check out Spiderweb’s other featured artists here! Interested in sharing your work with the Spiderweb Salon editors? We want to read what you’ve got! Send your good stuff to our submissions page here.