Greek Dinner Around the World and Food for Thought

Each year around the 15th of January, Greek Dinner Around The World Day, I am reminded of The pre-Socratic Greek philosopher Thales of Miletus (624 – 546 BC), who is credited with the saying,

A sound mind in a sound body

How true! Research from many scientific disciplines has been confirming Thales’ saying ever since. Encouraging us to take up exercise of all sorts to keep the blood moving, arteries in good nick, and prevent harmful tangles from forming in the brain, scientists have gone out of their way to emphasise prevention. In this endeavour,  the Mediterranean diet  has been a major pillar, oiling the wheels of the temple to the mind!

Greek Dinner, Of This World,

In the context of this close relationship between physical exercise, bodily well-being, mental equilibrium, and the ability to enjoy life, you can imagine the enthusiasm with which I am taking part in this global event.

Admittedly, the main goal is wider: to celebrate Greek culture, Greek cuisine as it is known in every part of the globe, and promote the people, authors, chefs, travel and other businesses connected to Greece. Partners to this initiative host a dinner using Greek products and Greek dishes, share experiences and photos of their event, and tweet using the hashtags #GreekDinner, #GreekDinnerAroundTheWorld, and #EatGreek.

This year I took part by sharing a delicious Greek meal with friends and family. And books, of course. We met at an old favourite restaurant and I brought my latest book, Of This World (Red Moon Press, 2017) — a collection of haibun (prose with poetry) with several poems on Greek themes / settings — to the table.

The food was exceptionally good – the company excellent. The only problem was the usual problem: we all ate a little too much. Like every year, we were reminded that after a point, the amount of food, and drink, interfere with both body and mind! Once again we resolved to follow another Greek saying: the Aristotelian

Παν μέτρον άριστον, i.e., Everything in moderation

Many thanks to Keri Douglas for her tireless efforts in promoting this event.

και του χρονου
and if you are interested in a copy of my new book:

Amazon UK

Amazon Germany

Red Moon Press (USA)

Of This World, just released by Red Moon Press!

Delighted to announce that Red Moon Press just released my haibun collection, Of This World

Of This World

Stella Pierides has cultivated a terse, idiosyncratic style in her haibun that is instantly recognizable, and as a consequence is one of the shining lights of this burgeoning genre. Of This World certainly is, but it also takes us out of the world at large and into private spaces we feel privileged to witness. A unique and satisfying read.

 

Red Moon Press
Amazon Europe
Amazon UK

I am grateful for the generous comments:

This is how it’s done! Stella Pierides — in a hushed voice — takes me through what it is to be human — and part of the human history from the roots of Western culture in Diogenes’ tub to the ‘modern’ human — with all the questions and doubts, the uncertainties that come from that.

— Johannes S. H. Bjerg, Writer

Of This World’s marvelous, emotionally resonant haibun are steeped in the grace of the garden, rooted in a physical reality so sensuous that you can smell the fragrance of baking bread, of olives and garlic, of lemon and magnolia blossoms — and yet they also spiral on the updraft of metaphor as poet Stella Pierides ‘put[s] our hearts in the shoes of the hummingbird.’

— Clare MacQueen, Editor-in-Chief, KYSO Flash

A treasure trove of language and image. Pierides walks through dark streets of history, through alleyways of memory – emerging in shiny, unexpected places. Compact, urgent and closely observant, these minute offerings will captivate readers of both poetry and short fiction. An enormously engaging collection.

— Michelle Elvy, Writer and Editor

*
Of This World
ISBN: 978-1-936848-80-5
Pages: 124
Size: 6″ x 9″
Binding: perfect softbound

Poem in ‘Dust Devils’ the Red Moon Anthology

Great news! A poem of mine, ‘typos’,  has been selected to be included in “Dust Devils”, The Red Moon Anthology of English-Language Haiku 2017, now on its 20th year.

The Red Moon Anthology of English Language Haiku, published annually in February, is “a collection of the best haiku published in English around the world”. The poems are voted in by an editorial panel. It’s an honour to be included in this anthology.

My poem was first published in Right Hand Painting, issue 95, 2016.

Dust Devils will be published on February 1st by Red Moon Press. I can’t wait! Can you?

In A New Resonance 10!

I am delighted to share that my work will be included in A New Resonance 10: Emerging Voices in English-Language Haiku, along with the work of 16 other wonderful poets.

A New Resonance is a much valued and award-winning series, sensitively appreciating each featured poet’s work. The New Resonance Poets community, numbering more than a hundred-fifty poets, is a virtual who’s who of English-language haiku poets. I am honoured to be included in this group.

Thank you to the editors Jim Kacian and Dee Evetts and also a big thank you to the New Resonance community for nominating me!

The book (by Red Moon Press) will be available in May 2017.

‘Being Remembered’ in Haibun Today

Being Remembered

Salting is one of the oldest methods of preserving food. Fish, meats, cheeses, cabbage, olives have been cured, brined, pickled to protect them from fungi, bacteria, and other harmful organisms, and thus keep them fresh for longer. Still, it comes as a surprise to read of one more entity to be preserved in salt: memory.

A project titled Memory of Mankind aims to preserve humankind’s most precious milestones by engraving them on special ceramic tablets, and then storing them in salt-lined vaults deep in the Austrian mountains. Small tokens engraved with a map pointing to the archive’s location, and other information helping our descendants decipher the tablets, will be strategically buried around the globe. And what will future generations find to define us? The article suggests sacred texts, treatises, classics, scientific articles, images of buildings, paintings, musical scores. And individual histories, family albums, recipes.

My list would include my daughters’ photos and paintings, multiple drafts of a haibun, favorite poems, a pin cushion and thimble, an amber komboloi, an oil lamp, a pot of basil; my grandmother’s piece of the Holy Cross, the sound of the sea . . ..

family supper
the same joke for
the umpteenth time

.

In Haibun Today Volume 10, Number 4, December 2016

Memory of Mankind website

 

 

 

 

The Path

The Path

Painting,The Path,haibun,Maria Pierides,haiku,Port Isaac,Amorgos,

 

 

At the top of the stairway snaking up the hill, a white-washed chapel and an olive tree. Blinding sunlight. Some way to go yet. The stony stairs are narrow, a couple of hands-width before the cliff falls steeply into the sea.

Slow down, there’s no hurry. Take a deep breath. Feel the rough warmth of the rock. The wind beating against it raises the fragrance of sage, of thyme and marjoram to the skies, erases the silence.

marble wings—
in the distance
windmill ruins

Feel the salt on your lips, the urgent wind tussling your hair.

This history book under your arm, so well-thumbed, leave it here, against that rock, someone coming after you might linger, take a look.

pillars of salt—
propping her foot
on a stone

And the pebble from Amorgos you kept in your pocket all those years, add it to the cairn over there, where the path widens. Let it go. The trail is moments like this, following the light, teetering on the edge of your desires, of your sorrows.

That bench at the top, see it now, under the olive tree? This is your goal. You can rest there. Wise, gentle Persephone will hold your hand.

embalming my tongue
I rest in the shadow
of the silver-leaved olive

Author’s commentary:

stella-pieridesHaving left Greece in my youth, I keep returning to it in my writing, visiting and revisiting the landmarks and landscapes of the country.

Time has a different texture in and about Greece. Sculptures solidifying the past appear at every corner, at every museum: looming, teasing, reminding. Accompanying us into the future. There’s no escaping the sculptures, the poets know it:

“… I woke with this marble head in my hands;
it exhausts my elbow and I don’t know where to put it down.”

Seferis, Mythistorema 

and

Ritsos approaches the sculptures from different, mythical angles, turning the people and landscape into eternal presences:

“…Nowadays, we don’t think much
about Theseus, the Minotaur, Ariadne on the beach
at Naxos, staring out at the coming years.
But people still dance that dance: just common folk,
those criss-cross steps that no one had to teach,
at weddings and wakes, in bars or parks,
as if hope and heart could meet, as if they might
even now, somehow, dance themselves out of the dark.”

Ritsos, The Crane Dance

In The Path, honoring these roots, I try to present this aspect of my Greek inheritance. I fail, of course, but proud to be trying.

Painting “Golden Light, Port Isaac” by Maria Pierides

In Blue Fifth Review, Broadside #44 Fall 2016

‘on balance’

scales,haiga,

Walking around Augsburg, I came across this intricate, mysterious scales: beautifully balanced, surrounded by watches, clocks, wall clocks, jewellery, it took me to another dimension. Waiting for my watch-strap to be changed, the words “on balance” came to mind, life as a balancing act, time weighing on all of us…

When I asked for permission to take a photo, the kind owners related the scales to the ancient Egyptian Goddess of Ma’at, responsible for weighing the souls of the departed against a feather. If the soul was found to be heavier than the feather, it was denied access to the underworld.

I left the shop lighter, and full of ideas.

‘tree rings’

On a flying visit to the Tate Modern extension, I took this picture of the concrete walls of the underground Tanks that used to hold the oil in the building’s previous life as power station. I saw the oil marks on the concrete become tree rings, marking the age of the structure. The Tanks, kept in their rough state, turned into gallery spaces, now hold the present and enable the future. What a powerhouse of art!

Tate Tanks,haiga,

Revisiting re:Virals 49

Here is my contribution to re:Virals 49 (re:Virals is the weekly haiku commentary over at The Haiku Foundation).

Robert Mainone’s poem originally published in Modern Haiku 40.3 (2009)

my haplogroup
shows the sponge gene —
distant lightning

was featured and commented upon by a number of poets, yours truly included. Take a look here for the whole post.
Here I reproduce my own contribution, with a couple of minor clarifications/amendments.
Haplogroup, I understand, is the term, in genetics, describing the exact common ancestry of a group of humans, the genetic family tree down to its roots. In this poem’s case, the sponge.

At first, identifying with the narrator, I felt hurt to be classified as a sponge; then I reconsidered. After all, I’d read that sponges share a remarkable amount of genetic material with humans — so not to be taken personally. But did I want to be reminded on a Sunday morning, over coffee, that I have a lot in common with sponges?

It is of course science that gives me this information. Is science the bringer of uncomfortable news? Is it the culprit that clips the angel’s wings (Philosophy will clip an Angel’s wings,/ Conquer all mysteries by rule and line,/; Poe, “To Science”)? Or am I shooting the messenger? After all, Dawkins and others before him have argued that, rather than “Unweaving the Rainbow”, science reveals the worlds’s hidden beauty.

But here, in this context, it is the poet who reminds me of my humble beginnings. Of course, to their credit, sponges thrived for over 600 million years while I have struggled with fewer than 100. And recent research uncovered clues pointing to sponges descending from a more advanced ancestor than previously thought.

Still, how far am I reducible to bits of genetic information translated into proteins, labellable, traceable, ultimately replaceable? A mere cog in the cosmic machine? I, Stella, poet, writer, and sponge.

Be that as it may, what I find interesting, and welcome, is that the poet feels at ease with bringing a scientific fact into the poem. After all, objective scientific facts are as much part of our world as subjective experiences.

In earlier centuries (as far back as the ancient Greek thinkers), it had been common practice for poets to describe scientific discoveries in their poems; poets popularised scientific ideas – think of Charles Darwin’s theories on evolution and how they resonated with many poets and novelists – and scientists popularised poetry. In the nineteenth century, Dickens, and others, went further than mutual facilitation, exploring poetically, for instance, ideas of energy conservation and dissipation (cf. Barri J. Gold, “ThermoPoetics”). Literature and science have been inspiring and influencing each other in Victorian times, before, and since, as well as competing for access to truth.

In this poem, Robert Mainone’s narrator sounds both surprised and humbled at being reminded that he, we, are all branches of the same evolutionary tree, part of the same cosmos. The penny drops. The distant comes closer and light is thrown on the matter — aha! How humbling! How reassuring! We are all one.

re:Virals 49

A haiku is worth a thousand words: paraphrasing this well-known English idiom, I wish to point to this week’s re:Virals, the weekly haiku commentary over at The Haiku Foundation.
Robert Mainone’s poem

my haplogroup
shows the sponge gene —
distant lightning

(Modern Haiku 40.3, 2009)

was featured on re:Virals 49 and commented upon by a number of poets, yours truly included. So interesting to see how much is packed in this haiku! Take a look here

Literature, Art, Culture, Society, and lots of Haiku