for the fire
in hedgerow: journal of small poems #12
Well, the Munich Buecherschau 2014 is now closed. I am very happy I took part and would like to thank the readers who visited, wrote, commented on the books, and wished me well. Not forgetting those who bought my books! A big thank you!
Did you miss this year’s Buecherschau? Don’t worry. It is on again next year. Same time, same place; same procedure!
Several people have commented on the lovely painting on the cover of my new book of short stories, The Heart and Its Reasons. It is from a painting by Maria Pierides: “Port Isaac: Golden Light.” Maria is a great artist. I am really greatful to her for allowing me to use this painting for my cover. You can make out the heart arteries in the image, as well as the blues of the Aegean sea.
For more details about The Heart and Its Reasons, where to get a copy, and for reviews and articles, please see here
If you like the book please consider leaving a review on Goodreads, or Amazon. Or even if you don’t like it, say so. Please say so on Goodreads, Amazon.co.uk, or Amazon.de. It will be very much appreciated.
Thank you for your interest in my work.
the snowy egret’s feather
in her hat
Seize the poem prompt: cold days
the wrong way
seize the poem prompt: pond reflections
one cold wave
Great news! The Haiku Foundation’s Per Diem: Daily Haiku feature for December 2014 is on the theme of “Light and Dark,” and the shades in between. I had the pleasure of assembling this collection, drawing on haiku across the range from dark to light.
A seasonal topic. By way of an introduction, I quote from The Haiku Foundation blog post:
“Winter is the par excellence season where this duality comes to a head. For some, the long nights come with festivals of light, religious or secular holidays. For others, winter is a season of slowing down, of depression, loneliness, low spirits, spirits… For some poets, light is the source of inspiration; for others, darkness, against light, the essential element spicing their writing. Either way, wherever poets are, whatever their experience, tradition, or culture, poetry of light flows from their pen.This month’s Per Diem draws on haiku exploring this dichotomy of light and dark, and reflects on our dependence on and appreciation of this duality.“
I am really grateful to the poets who kindly gave permission to include their work in this project.
Do you have a poem on this theme? Please share it in the comment box here
And don’t forget to check out the Per Diem: Daily Haiku here
Photo: 29 November 2014 in Augsburg. First Advent, the Engelspiel, at the marketplace.
There is a video of this event (Engelspiel) from previous years here
Also a description of the Christmas market, or Christkindlesmarkt, as it is called, here
releasing the gist
of the story
NaHaiWriMo prompt: kitchen
More photos from the Buecherschau, as promised. The event has been well attended, with visitors browsing the book stalls, relaxing in the chairs provided, and reading into the late hours! It looks like everyone feels at home here, eager to get to know books and authors, touch and feel the texture of book covers and pages.
One of the free events I attended was a daily half-hour interview (part of series) for a radio book magazine, the Bayern 2 Diwan. The interviewee, French author Hélène Grémillon, spoke about her new book, In the Time of Love and Lies (German distributors’ title; in French the title is La Garçonnière), set in Buenos Aires in the late 1980s. Very interesting book, with a thrilling plot (a love/crime thriller) and characters (such as a psychoanalyst, and his wife, a tango teacher and murder victim), in addition to the wonderful setting…
Grémillon claimed that in Buenos Aires, there are, and have been, great numbers of psychoanalysts per capita. Imagine that! Even at the time of the Junta, she pointed out! While I am aware of the important connection between Argentina and psychoanalysis, I have not thought of it in terms of numbers. You can understand that, though it is a few years since I last worked as a psychotherapist, my curiosity peaked. So, addicted as I am to checking, I looked it up.
An article on CNN said so too. Indeed, the country has the unusual distinction of being home to more psychologists (i.e. when we include psychanalysts and psychiatrists) per capita than anywhere else in the world. While there are no WHO statistics for 2011, psychologist Modesto Alonso and colleagues estimated 202 psychologists per 100,000 for Argentina in a 2012 study. Compare that with WHO’s 2011 numbers for Austria being 80 per 100,000! And, as it happens, almost half the country’s psychologists are concentrated in the capital city of Buenos Aires.
But why this interest in the vicissitudess of the psyche? Theories abound. From the influence of the European immigrants, bringing with them the particular culture and society values of twentieth century Europe, through the interest in exploring the psyche of suffering, to the interest in the expression of the self – after all the tango is seen in these terms too – it seems that psychoanalysis not only flourishes in Argentina, but the country is a torchbearer for it. Particularly surprising that this continues to be the case, at a time when most of the other countries fall for the lures of the short and quick approaches to psychological healing.
I read in The New York Times:
“And in a sign of its wide acceptance, President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner and her cabinet chief took time out in April to meet with leaders of the World Psychoanalysis Association, which was convening then in Buenos Aires.” (2012).
In this context, Grémillon might be taking too bold a step in her novel: the main character, the psychoanalyst Vittorio, is also the main suspect in the murder of his wife…
I am reminded of a description of magical realism I found on Wikipedia relating to the Colombian writer Gabriel García Márquez’s style, by literary critic Michael Bell, as involving:
“a psychological suppleness which is able to inhabit unsentimentally the daytime world while remaining open to the promptings of those domains which modern culture has, by its own inner logic, necessarily marginalised or repressed.”
Holding in mind and in the text both, the rational and the shadows… Might this acceptance and celebration of reality and (i)magi(c)nation as parts of one and the same world, be at the root of this society’s welcoming attitude toward the psychological exploration of the human mind?
In any case, I am looking forward to reading this book.
birds in and out of sunday noon rain
NaHaiWriMo prompt: knack
the effort of sitting up
NaHaiWriMo prompt: King (?)
Feeding the Doves (Fruit Dove Press, 2013)
The Heart and Its Reasons (Fruit Dove Press, 2014).
I’ll be taking more pics in the next few days, hopefully with people in them, so watch this space…
The Goodreads giveaway is now closed. Goodreads has announced the three lucky winners of three free, signed copies of my new book: The Heart and Its Reasons (Fruit Dove Press, 2014). I’m happy to say that the winners include two readers from the United States and one from Latvia. Congratulations to the three lucky winners. And many thanks to the 1102 readers who entered the giveaway for a copy of the book.
The names of the three winners can be seen by clicking here
But don’t worry if you missed out! I’ll be holding another Goodreads giveaway in the near future. Several autographed copies will be up to be won.
I recently came upon the remarkable work of Christian Boek, who boldly took poetry into areas of science and technology and even created a ‘living poem.’ Although this is ongoing work, it already is accomplishing astonishing results in its encouraging poetry, and poets, to boldly go where no poet has gone before…
Boek inserted a line of poetry coded in a DNA sequence, into a bacterium. The bacterium then ‘responded’ by creating a new protein which, translated back into Boek’s letter coding scheme, turned out to be a new poem in ‘response.’ This xenotext experiment is described in James Wilkes’ article, March 2013, on “Bracketing the world: Reading Poetry through Neuroscience.” There was a blog post on Harriet, the Poetry Foundation blog, by Boek himself, and a very good exposition of the whole experiment on Triple Helix Online.
But I mustn’t keep you waiting. Here are the lines of poetry exchanged:
Boek: ANY STYLE OF LIFE IS PRIM
Bacterium: THE FAERY IS ROSY OF GLOW
Read about it on Triple Helix Online. It will make perfect sense.
19th International “Kusamakura” Haiku Competition, Third Prize, Foreign Language Category, November 2014
Surprise in the post! A letter all the way from Kumamoto, Japan, with the good news: My haiku was awarded Third Prize in the 19th International ”Kusamakura” Haiku Competition, 2014. A nice letter and a certificate to show off.
This is what the organisers say about the contest: “This contest strives to celebrate the novelist and haiku poet Soseki, as well as to bring awareness of “Kumamoto and its Haiku” to the national level and further develop Kumamoto’s haiku culture.” It certainly does so, and on an international level too.
Prizes will be awarded at the Kumamoto City Municipal Gymnasium and Youth Center on November 22, 2014. Warmest congratulations to the Grand Prize and all other winners. I wish I could be there!
There is a list of winning haiku from earlier years here (scroll down).
And now back to my wild stream (of consciousness etc.)
Delighted to see my poem “winter wind” featured in today’s (5th November 2014) THF Per Diem: Daily Haiku.
In case you missed it, after all it is only displayed for a day, here it is:
feathers and fishbones shift
inside the eyrie
This poem was a runner-up in the Snapshot Press Haiku Calendar Competition 2012 and first appeared in The Haiku Calendar 2013 (Snapshot Press, 2012).
A big thank you to the month’s editor, Sonam Chhoki, for including it in her collection “Writing the Difficult Thing.” Sonam Chhoki’s collection runs all through November, with lots of poems about difficult things to write… Each day, a new poem here. Enjoy!
new mother —
unwrapping a gift without
NaHaiWriMo prompt: jargon
autumn gusts ripple
NaHaiWriMo prompt: jinxed
the well-thumbed corners
of my diary
NaHaiWriMo prompt: journal
This is how it works: Find the book in Goodreads here. Scroll down the page, and click the enter to win button there. Goodreads will do the rest! After the 18th of November they will notify me the list of winners and I will post the books directly to the lucky three!
Good luck to all who enter!
A global discussion is being held today, October 16th, on the topic of inequality. Organized by Blog Action Day, this year’s event brings together bloggers from over 100 countries to consider an issue of vital importance.
Inequality evokes images of poverty, abuse, injustice, discrimination, suffering, so ubiquitous that we often feel there is little that we can do to address these problems. Sometimes, they are even considered part of the human condition to be simply accepted and endured. Yet, inequality is mostly man-made, and amenable to intervention and change. There are numerous ways open to us to redress skewed balances, and perhaps the most effective ones start right here, right now: from each one of us becoming aware of our own contribution to the layers of inequality in everyday life.
In my earlier posts I reflected on the language of art and its role in bringing awareness into the equation. Looking at artists’ creations not usually associated with inequality, I noted how Anselm Kiefer’s work embodies remembrance in his use of materials such as clay and metal fragments; how Frank Auerbach’s long preoccupation with repair manifests in his heavily encrusted paintings of the same subjects, over and over again; Kader Attia’s concern with the fragility and malleability of meaning and the cyclical processes of creation, recycling, and re-appropriation. Phyllida Barlow’s juxtapositions connecting us to the history of use and abuse of materials and resources. Malevich’s ways of lifting painting out of the necessity of depicting reality… All these ‘revolutionary’ approaches to painting and sculpture, I saw as being instances of digging under layers of appearance, bringing out the asymmetries, the inequalities in the building blocks of our world. In this sense, good art becomes a language mediating our preconceptions, and experience, re-shaping our ways of seeing the world.
Specifically, becoming aware of the subtle ways inequality arises, expresses, and perpetuates itself in our everyday interactions, is the first important step in helping rebalance unequal relationships.
For instance, common words we use unthinkingly can be a major way of maintaining inequality as well as a vehicle for change. Mary Beard, Cambridge professor in classics, in her recent call for a grey revolution, noting this double-edged potential in language, urges us to reclaim the word ‘old’ from the negative connotations it has acquired. In particular, our associating old age with negative traits, rather than acknowledging it as a source of pride, needs to be examined: in our accepting comments such as “you don’t look your age” as a compliment, she observes, we come to maintain this form of imbalance. We prefer to deny the reality of a natural stage of life, because we have come to see it as only riddled with problems: wrinkles, forgetting, instability, unemployablility, illness. The wisdom, acceptance, achievements, survival, reflectiveness,… that go with it, seem powerless to counteract the negative values we have come to associate with ageing. And this matters because attitudes towards the older generation are at the core of governmental policies making available, or denying, further opportunity, adult education, support, healthcare, and social resources.
In addition to ageing, further examples could be drawn from areas of mental ill-health, poverty, homelessness, unemployment, immigration, conflict… Attributing the cause of these predicaments to the individuals concerned – e.g. genetic or acquired traits, social, or national character – and keeping them separate through linguistic devices, only continues our turning a blind eye to what we have the power to address and change.
Becoming aware/re-minded of this tendency in ourselves, helps us redirect our attention to, and question the assumptions determining our relationship to others. This awareness enables each one of us to make a positive contribution, however small, to the big problem of inequality. But let literature have the last word. Let E. M. Forster’s “Only connect” become a motto for the day, and the year ahead.
This year, Blog Action Day is partnering with Oxfam, whose work and involvement around the world has brought in-depth understanding of the issues involved in inequality.
On October 16th, 2014, a global discussion is being held on the topic of inequality. Organized by Blog Action Day, this year’s theme brings together bloggers from over 100 countries to contribute on a matter that becomes increasingly urgent.
Wars, civil and religious violence, scarcity of materials and ecological concerns, the spread of disease, are increasingly diverting our attention from the inequalities that abound, and increase in our societies. Yet, to a large degree, inequality is the result of all those processes individually and cumulatively. Wars, for instance, are about real or perceived biases in resource distribution, in turn often resulting in huge increases in inequality. Just think of the thousands of refugees looking for safety in the Mediterranean, and the response they get when (and if) they make it to the European shores. (see here
all the refugees asleep
It is ubiquitous, but so are the processes that ameliorate and even help reverse it: awareness and reflection, empathy, generosity; pooling of resources and co-operation; language, art, literature; institutions, policies, humanitarian approaches at national and international levels are just a few that come to mind.
Inequality is an urgent and vital topic for discussion, and you may have noticed, I am taking part this year with a series of posts.* Are you? If you are not sure what to write about, Blog Action Day on FB has a number of tips for bloggers. If you don’t have a blog, you may use your FB account or other social media. See also the Blog Action Day 2014 site.
If you are looking for literary inspiration on themes of poverty, homelessness, begging, and poetic resonances to these issues reflecting perspective and culture, see The Kindness of Strangers, a six-part series by Swedish poet Anna Maris on The Haiku Foundation site (you’ll need to scroll down the blog entries for the earlier posts).
Bye for now! See you on the 16th, online.
#Blogaction14, #Inequality, #Oct16
* Anselm Kiefer at the RA and Museum Walter
Malevich at Tate Modern
Phyllida Barlow at Tate Britain
Kader Attia, Whitechapel Gallery
Frank Auerbach at Tate Britain
two kids make space
for their granny
NaHaiWriMo prompt: jet