Friday, December 25, 2020

Christmas Ever After: A Crippling Disappointment

Image: On a snowy background with pine trees in white lights, the words "24/7 holiday movies all season long" are in small, red letters across the top. Underneath, the word "Christmas" is in gold with "Ever After" under that in red. On the left-hand side of the image, a white woman with blonde hair sits in a wheelchair holding the hands of a kneeling white man with dark hair. 

Izzi is a writer on a deadline who has a severe case of writer's block. When she goes to her normal vacation spot for Christmas, she meets a guy who looks exactly like the love interest in her novels. 

I wanted to absolutely love this movie. It's the first romantic Christmas movie I've seen with a disabled heroine! Unfortunately, this film missed the mark in so many ways.

Izzi is an inconsistent main character. When the movie first starts, she seems erratic. Her personality then shifts about a third of the way through the film and becomes just bubbly and upbeat. Watching her in the beginning was bizarre, and the change didn't help the incongruity of it all. I like the way the movie showed her navigating through life as a wheelchair-user, but it really felt like they glossed over a lot to do with disability in general; I understand not wanting to make a big production out of the fact that she's not a typical protagonist, but not addressing it in any way in regards to a romantic relationship struck me as disingenuous.

The love interest was bland, though they tried to give him a backstory. Of course, his past would have been incomplete without a dead wife... a cliche I'm tired of. His daughter was cute and his father was kind and boisterous, but the other side characters were mostly cardboard.

The score was not memorable in the slightest, and the cinematography wasn't the best. I acknowledge the way it was shot may have been due to the pandemic.

What temporarily splits the couple is beyond ridiculous. At first the viewer thinks it may be a misunderstanding trope, but it seems like Izzi's real issue is insecurity. I understand insecurity is a big thing during new relationships, but the way it occurred and was resolved just seemed like it was a non-issue.

There is a twist in the movie many viewers won't find a revelation at all. Since it is a supposed selling point, it was a major letdown.

It was still awesome to see a disabled woman in a film like this, and I have a lot of respect for Ali Stroker, but this was a disappointment. We deserve better than just a bargain-bin plot with stale characterization. This was a roll in the right direction, but it fell horribly short of being something I'd watch again.

End note: Izzi doesn't ever have accessibility issues... even in a small town. It might've cracked my disbelief meter.

Friday, December 18, 2020

Nude Model Drawings by Su Zi (Visual Art)

Artist's statement on the work: The drawings are from when I used to stop in at a community art center in Marigny Street—long gone now—Paint and Pallet, run by Toby and his wife: gallery and art supplies, with life drawing upstairs once a weekly evening. The models were professionals hired for us to draw: utterly traditional.

Image one: A nude man sits on a backwards chair. His figure is done in red and purple lines, with grey shading. The chair is done in purple and grey lines. His expression is solemn. His legs are extended away from the chair slightly.

Image two: A nude man is lying on his stomach with one arm draped over the side of the bed. His face is turned towards the viewer and his eyes are closed. His other arm is near his head, and his legs are bent at the knees... feet pointing skyward. The whole piece is drawn in blue lines.

Image three: A nude man (the one from image two) sits on a stool with his back to the viewer. He is looking over to the right. One hand is on his left knee, his other hand is flat by his side. You can see his left leg clearly but not his right. The drawing is done in pink lines.
Su Zi is a poet/writer and artist/printmaker and edits, designs and constructs the eco-feminist poetry chapbook series Red Mare
Publications include poetry, essays, stories and reviews that date back to pre-cyber publishing, including when Exquisite Corpse was a vertical print publication, and a few editions of New American Writing. More recent publications include Red FezAlien Buddha and Thrice. A resident of the Ocala National Forest, with a dedicated commitment to providing a safe feeding respite for wild birds, and for a haphazard gardening practice that serves as a life model for all aspects of her work.

Friday, December 11, 2020

Giveaway: Through the Kaleidoscope by Carey Link (Autographed)

We are giving away an autographed copy of Through the Kaleidoscope by Carey Link! The giveaway starts December 11th and ends February 4th. The winner will be notified on February 5th via the method they used to enter the contest. Read our review here!


1. Open worldwide.

2. People may enter by leaving a comment on this post, via email (, or on Twitter @HandUnPen. Please mention the contest when contacting us.

3. Only one entry per person.

4. If you win, please be sure to contact us with your mailing address in a timely manner. We will do our best to get the book to you.

5. Void where prohibited.

Friday, December 4, 2020

Through the Kaleidoscope by Carey Link (Poetry Book Review)

Image: A collage of different kaleidoscope patterns in muted tones of purple, red, green, blue, grey, brown, and black compose the cover of the collection. Across the top in white letters is the title. The poet's name is near the bottom in black capital letters.


1. I received this for free to review.
2. Carey is a mentor for our program.
When I write a poem,
I listen to the colors of a whisper
that rides on the shadows
of my dreams

-From "Poetry"

Through the Kaleidoscope is a chapbook with held, concrete images and ephemeral leaps. Readers can be in the surreal state of watching the narrator pass through an hourglass and brought back by the hands of loved ones. Dreams are as close as reality. Colors are used as lovely effects.

I search for answers
in opaque blue veins
and rose-colored valleys.

-From "Chain of Beads"

Circular things are mentioned throughout: Wheels, time, rings, beads, and holes are a few. I saw it as a way to remind readers of interconnectivity, but I might be wrong. It's definitely one strand joining these pieces together.

Another thing quite noticeable in these poems is movement. The narrator/subject is rarely still, but the momentum is gentle. Readers are often in a slightly different place by the time a poem ends, but the landing is never jarring.

Born twelve weeks premature
at almost three pounds,
I survived near death.

-From "My First Cradle"

While there are a few mentions of disability, the collection isn't about it as a whole. There is a poem about cancer (I loved the ending of it because it felt complicated and unvarnished).

All of the poems in this collection are fairly short. One of my favorites ("Infinity") is only twelve words long. Carey Link is excellent at using each word to her advantage with no fluff.

This collection is definitely worth the time.
Biography: Carey Link is from Huntsville, Alabama.  In 2017, she retired from a 16 year civil service career. Carey is currently in graduate school pursuing a degree in counseling.  After she completes her studies, Carey wants to work with clients living with life-altering illnesses and conditions.

Carey has been writing poetry since she was a teenager.  She has published two poetry collections, Awakening to Holes in the Arc of Sun (Mule on a Ferris Wheel) and What it Means to Climb a Tree (Finishing Line Press).  Her poetic sequence, I Walk a Tightrope Without a Safety Net was a finalist in the 2019 Blue Light Press Chapbook Contest.  Carey's poems have appeared in Poem, The Birmingham Arts JournalBirmingham Poetry ReviewWLRH Sundial Writers CornerHospital Drive, and elsewhere.