the last leaf now
on top of the pile
In NaHaiWriMo anthology Jumble Box (ed. Michael Dylan Welch, artwork Ron C. Moss, Press Here, 2017)
the last leaf now
on top of the pile
In NaHaiWriMo anthology Jumble Box (ed. Michael Dylan Welch, artwork Ron C. Moss, Press Here, 2017)
The British Haiku Society has just announced the opening of their annual Haiku, Tanka and Haibun Awards 2017! And with this, the judges for the different categories. I am honoured and excited to be invited to judge the Haibun category.
This year, the award for this category is named the “Ken and Noragh Jones Haibun Award”, honouring the two great poets and long-standing members of the BHS.
The competition is open to both members of the Society and non-members, from all over the world. Please click here for details. Deadline for submissions 31st January 2018.
It’s been a few months since I shared the good news about New Resonance 10. Well, now it is out and I am in it!
Volume 10 of “A New Resonance 10: Emerging Voices in English-Language Haiku,” edited by Jim Kacian and Dee Evetts, a much-awarded series, is out and it includes my poems. along with those of 16 other contemporary poets!
It is truly an honour to be a part of this wonderful collection!
I received 25 copies of the anthology, and have several available to order.
Price per copy is $17, including shipping, as well as a postcard with a reproduction of a painting by Maria Pierides (www.mariapierides.co.uk). Please email me for your copy: stella (at)stellapierides.com
the many colours
Incense Dreams journal issue 1, May 2017, p.49
The EarthRise Rolling Collaborative Haiku 2017, the world’s longest poem, on the theme of Reconciliation, is now collated and ready to treasure! You can find it in The Haiku Foundation site by clicking here
Many, many wonderful haiku.
I copy below my own contributions to the poem:
a pressing need
and who would hear
the sound of the sea…
letting the wild garlic
a stork pair picking
revving up the engine
despite the rain
because of it
First appeared in Haibun Today Volume 11, Number 1, March 2017
folding and unfolding
his paper boat
First prize, Sharpening the Green Pencil, 2017
a pen and a feeding spoon –
the baby’s laughter
First appeared in Inner Voices, International Women’s Festival, 2017
Delighted to learn that my poem “refugee child” received first prize in the Romanian contest “Sharpening the Green Pencil, 2017.”
Thank you to the judges, and especially Cezar Florin Ciobiza for his thoughtful commentary. And congrats to all participants!
folding and unfolding
his paper boat
A print book with all the poems entered is available from the contest organizers..
Please find the poem and commentary included in the (online) book of the contest, p. 13, here
What does it mean to wake up facing a fist pressing hard against your window?
How does one cope with such a threat, day in, day out?
The morning presses
its hot fist against the window:
the fight starts.
— Bart Mesotten, Haikoe-boek (self-published, 1986; translation by Max Verhart)
And try your hand at writing a commentary on the poem I chose (as this week’s winner) to be discussed next: LeRoy Gorman’s “the good soldier.”
A week ago, I mentioned in this blog a second paper, addressing the haiku community, Haiku and the Brain: an Exploratory Study, in Juxtapositions: The Journal of Haiku Research and Scholarship. Well, it is now online over at The Haiku Foundation. Do visit and check it out along with the other papers.
I am looking forward to reading the other contributions. And to receiving my own print copy of the Journal! Judging from the previous issues, it is a joy to hold and leaf through. And a collector’s item. You don’t want to miss it! More information on how to obtain a copy, see here
Meanwhile, here is the Abstract for this paper.
This paper presents the first results of an interdisciplinary project, bringing together haiku poets and neuro-/cognitive scientists, to investigate the reading of English-language haiku (ELH) as a potentially paradigmatic material for studying the reception of poetic texts. Our pilot study was based on the ‘eye-mind assumption’, that where and for how long we gaze at sections of text reflects processes of information harvesting for meaning construction. The results indicate that the interactive process between the poem and the reader gives rise to characteristic patterns of eye movements (saccades and fixations) across the text from which (i) the position of the cut (after line 1 vs. after line 2) and (ii) the type of haiku (context-action vs. juxtaposition) can be discerned. Finding (i) is of special importance: it provides evidence that the effect intended by the poet can indeed be traced in oculomotor behavior and that, thus, the cut is indeed a potent poetic/stylistic device with a specific effect in the reader. Moreover, readers’ recognition memory was found to be associated with more explicit, conscious-recollective experience of having read a particular haiku if the poem was self-rated to be understood. This suggests that the realization of the haiku’s ‘meaning gestalt’ in the reader’s mind, which may be associated with an ‘aha’ experience, is important for memory consolidation and remembering. Albeit tentative, these findings and conclusions open up interesting lines for future, interdisciplinary research.
dust devils: The Red Moon Anthology of English-Language Haiku 2016, edited by Jim Kacian & the Red Moon Editorial Staff is now out and available to purchase.
From their website:
The Red Moon Anthology of English-Language Haiku enters its third decade of gathering the finest haiku and related forms published around the world in English into a single book, the longest run of any book dedicated to ELH. dust devils includes 173 poems (haiku & senryu), 8 linked forms (haibun, renku, rengay and sequences), and 5 critical pieces on the reading, writing and study of the genre.
Honoured to be included!
Don’t delay, order it and enjoy!
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)
shows the sponge gene —
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.
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
shows the sponge gene —
(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
A few years ago, in a paper titled ‘Machine Phenomena’, I explored situations in which the metaphor of the machine is understood and used concretely to express positive or negative, idealised or denigrated experiences — ranging from, for example, the use of innocuous expressions like ‘I need to charge my batteries’ to experiencing being controlled by an influencing machine. This article became a chapter in the book ‘Even Paranoids Have Enemies: New Perspectives on Paranoia and Persecution’ (ed. Berke, Pierides, Sabbadini, Schneider), published in 1998 initially by what was then Routledge.
Since then, from time to time, I check whether, and where the concept of ‘machine phenomena’ is being used and to what effect. So it was with pleasure I came across an interesting article, by Grace Halden, titled ‘Incandescent: Light Bulbs and Conspiracies’, in Dandelion: postgraduate arts journal and research network, v.5, no 2, Spring 2015.
In my reading, Grace Halden (2015) illustrates how light, in the form of a lightbulb, became what can be seen as a machine phenomenon (Pierides, 1998), becoming entrenched in concrete fantasies of benevolence and evil. She points out
through examining general technology (such as machines), anxieties surrounding ‘modification, transformation and replacement’ emerge despite the technology being traditionally associated with protection and assistance.
Halden uses the texts of The Light Bulb Conspiracy (2010), The X-Files (1993-2002), and Thomas Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow (1973) to explore how this innocuous, commonplace object, with an enormous beneficial impact in the modern world,
has been used to symbolise the malevolence of individuals and groups, and the very essence of technological development itself.
Interesting stuff. Check it out!
April 17, International Haiku Poetry Day, IHPD for short, is the day of celebration of all things haiku. The Haiku Foundation encourages public events on local, national and global levels, including readings, exhibitions, excursions, collaborative projects and competitions. Since 2015, the event is listed in the World Kigo Database, a great source of advice and information. (see Kigo Calendar).
While waiting for next April 17 to come round, don’t miss the opportunity to watch the wonderful haiku films that were presented at this year’s HaikuLife, the Foundation’s Film Festival 2016. And scroll through the longest haiku collaborative poem, EarthRise Rolling Haiku Collaboration 2016. This year, in acknowledgement of the United Nations Year of Pulses, the theme of the project was Foodcrop Haiku.
Here are my own offerings to EarthRise:
the seed in the child’s
picking over lentils—
of the evening hour
edging closer to
at the back
of the late night bus
whiff of wild garlic
all seeds accounted for dawn chorus
This week, a terrific haiku by Melissa Allen was up for discussion at The Haiku Foundation re:Virals. Interesting commentaries looking at the poem from different perspectives. You can read the whole post with the poem and all the commentaries here. I am pleased to say mine was this week’s winner. I copy it below:
radiation leak moonlight on the fuel rods — Melissa Allen, Haiku in English: The First Hundred Years (2013)
And my take:
In current usage, the word leak refers to a variety of situations: from leaking a document and bringing into the light a secret, to taking a leak, to a wasteful dripping of water, to seepage of radiation. This poem, with its radiation leak, immediately opens up a danger zone. Step in at your peril into an image that gives rise to paralyzing fears, to the dead zones of Chernobyl, Fukushima; to the forbidden zones. Anything could happen here.
From a leak to a fireball, from the atom to the apocalyptic mushroom cloud, you could be walking into a minefield of the results of unbridled ambition and unscrupulous greed, a Faustian deal . . . Whether the leak is from a technological or scientific project, where man sees himself tirelessly bent on expanding knowledge and power over nature, finding solutions to the human problems of illness, poverty, and environmental degradation; whether hubris or dedication to the common good, here is a consequence: the spewing of poisonous material, the fall into a dark, man-made Hell.
But now the poet brings moonlight on the scene. Like a benevolent, all-seeing Eye of God, moonlight bathes the fuel rods in light we associate with understanding, with cool logic, in forgiveness. I am reminded of the Greek poet Yiannis Ritsos’ Moonlight Sonata, where moonlight hides smaller-scale follies such as showing white hair as golden, at the same time relentlessly intensifying shadows. In Allen’s poem too, moonlight is both kind and cooling, as well as relentless and permanent, not allowing the fuel rods to hide in the shadows. An image burned into the mind.
Note that the fuel rods are not spent. The young man in Ritsos’ poem too, is present all through the poem, at the end leaving full of energy, bursting into laughter as he walks away. Life continues in its boundless energy, in its perpetual flow, beyond leaks, beyond the night, beyond our human follies, beyond life itself.
in the book of the dead—-
Interesting introduction by Dale Wisely, founder and editor of RHP, who refused to include haiku in the journal for twelve whole years! Well, at long last, Dale!
Read Dale Wisely’s introduction here
In our hands, you said, we hold
the shadow of our hands. I know
the cold absence of the marbles,
olives sprouting from the cracks.
The coffee grinder turns
slowly, gently. The moon
still kind, bathes our wrinkled
hearts in light. In silver. In sorrow.
Old souls sitting by the river
listening to the boat engine
starting, coughing, spitting,
dying. Starting again.
(to Yiannis Ritsos, in response to his poem “Absence”)
Poem written to the poetsonline prompt: Dear Poet: Epistles to the Poets. For the other poems on the poetsonline.org blog, please see Archive, ‘Dear Poet’ on their site.
Please note English spelling of the original Greek name varies (Yiannis [e.g. Wikipedia], Yannis [e.g. Poetry Foundation]). Wikipedia lists a number of variants: ‘Yannis or Yiannis or Giannis (Γιάννης) is a common Greek name, a variant of John (Hebrew) meaning “God is generous.” Variants include Ioannis (Ιωάννης), Yanni, Iannis, Yannakis; and the rare “Yannos”, usually found in the Peloponnese and Cyprus.’
I enjoyed my reading last night, jointly with other writers, at the Open Reading for Writers event, Munich Readery. Many thanks to the writers for the company, camaraderie, their insightful comments and discussion; and special thanks to Lisa Yarger for so wonderfully, and calmly, hosting the event. I read eight haibun, all work in progress. Here is one of them:
With warmer days, newspapers are filling with news of migrant boats from Africa and the Middle East increasing in their numbers, sinking in droves. Hundreds of deaths each week.
We poets, who put our hearts in the shoes of the hummingbird and the beggar poet, the little frog and the mighty spring thunder, the cat and the star-studded sky, are confronted with a reality hard to fathom. I find myself at a loss for words. Reading about other people’s misfortunes, of their fleeing deserts, war, of their placing their lives and their childrens’ lives in the hands of fate, of their washing up on European shores lifeless, I stop writing.
My mind fills with questions: did they leave books behind? A favourite thimble, a tin soldier, a straw dolly? A mug they liked to drink from, a shady spot they loved to sit in, an icon they lit candles in front of? A carpet they knelt to pray on? Did they leave behind many beliefs, nourishing relationships, did they lose their innocence before or during the journey? What happened to their shoes?
wall cracks filling
In 2015, The Haiku Foundation celebrates haiku on a global scale, encompassing the work and achievements of haiku poets from around the world. From this year on, International Haiku Poetry Day (IHPD), replacing the THF’s National Haiku Poetry Day, becomes the biggest celebration of haiku poetry word wide. On April 17 each year, haiku poets, haiku poetry fans, and organisations will be getting together under the auspices of the THF in order to honour the depth, reach, creativity, and joy of the genre we have come to love.
For this year, the Foundation has organised a series of events, from local haiku readings and celebrations, over HaikuLife, a FilmFest showcasing work submitted by individuals and organisations, to EarthRise, a rolling collaborative poem.
On April 17th, 2015, from 12:01 A.M. at the International Date Line, a wave of haiku contributions begins and rolls throughout the day, with poets offering their haiku at dawn their local time. The finished collaboration, on the theme of Light, will be permanently archived on the THF site.
I am very much looking forward to the day, and the many exciting contributions from poets around the globe. I will be setting my alarm, and posting my own haiku to the inaugural EarthRise.
I am also delighted that the FilmFest, HaikuLife, features a short film of my haiku together with paintings by Alfred Wallis (from the excellent Kettle’s Yard, University of Cambridge, collection). I created this film with the (much appreciated) support of Rob Ward, After-Effects Artist and Animator. Besides my presentation, there are at least 12 other contributions by haiku poets and organisations, amounting to almost 90 minutes of film.
I hope you will be able to join in the fun on IHPD.
For times, url, and other information about HaikuLife and EarthRise, as well as the local (to the US) readings, please visit the Troutswirl blog at The Haiku Foundation site.
Update April17, 2015
Happy International Haiku Poetry Day, folks! Contribute your poems to EarthRise, watch the HaikuLife films, go to the readings, enjoy the day!
For an introduction to the Foundation HaikuLife project, and the list of all projects shown, please click
Artwork by Ralph Murre, after a photo by (or of?) Giorgos Seferis
Little Eagle Press presents poems previously published. Well worth another look, we think
Paying homage to Seferis, the poem directly refers to Seferis’ ‘Thrush’, a poem he wrote in 1946. You can read the poem on the Poetry Foundation site.
For information about Giorgos Seferis, see the Wikipedia entry.
You may also want to take a look at this longer, Princeton Uni. entry with photos, or at Edmund Keeley’s interview with Seferis in the Paris Review.
What do Pattern, Poetry, and Polemics have in common? The Arts and Crafts Movement’s poet, novelist, publisher, translator, architect, designer, craftsman, retailer, environmentalist, and social activist William Morris! I was delighted to be able to visit the William Morris Gallery, in Walthamstow, which tells the story of William Morris and his multiple achievements: the elaborate, detailed, inspirational designs and their manufacture/production/application; the poetry and prose; the perfectly hand-crafted books; the politics, speeches and support for the Victorian poor… Morris applied himself with awe-inspiring energy and dedication to an astonishing array of disciplines.
There’s an organic unity in his work, each piece containing seeds from whatever he’d been working on, in whatever field. Despite this connectivity and continuation in his work, Morris has often been strongly and unfortunately linked with mere wallpaper design. I found this contradiction interesting in itself, as if the critics and the viewers, the consumers of his work, could not cope with someone different to themselves, someone excelling in many fields, rather than just one, if at that. It is not the only contradiction. The critical assessment of his work rests on this ground of contradictory perception, for example, when it is pointed out that Morris decorated the houses of the rich while campaigning for the rights of the poor.
Yet, Morris himself was aware of the connections between disciplines and the depth achieved when we become conscious of them. Lecturing on design, in 1881, he claimed,
‘any decoration is futile … when it does not remind you of something beyond itself’.
Beyond Morris’ decorations, patterns, and wallpapers lie references to the medieval world, history and myth, nature and society, beauty, and above all the assertion that we are all made of the same stuff. Although referring back to a pre-industrial age, his is a utopian vision of humans fulfilling their creativity, and themselves, in self-determined, non-alienated work, within an egalitarian society that supports them in this endeavour. In those terms, in addition to his role in the Arts and Crafts movement, he comes across as a social thinker and moral visionary working towards a better world.
the heart of a soft
I’ve been reading Daniel Klein’s ‘Travels with Epicurus‘, and reflecting on the concept of play in relation to the life stages we all go through.
Epicurus was an ancient Greek philosopher and the founder of the school of philosophy called Epicureanism. Born on Samos, he lived in Athens and Asia-Minor. Epicurus is known for teaching that the purpose of philosophy is to attain a happy, tranquil life.
Answering the question “How does one make the most of one’s life?” Epicurus’s answer, according to Klein, was that
the best possible life one could live is a happy one, a life filled with pleasure. At first look, this conclusion seems like a no-brainer, the sort of wisdom found in a horoscope. But Epicurus knew this was only a starting point because it raised the more troublesome and perplexing questions of what constitutes a happy life, which pleasures are truly gratifying and enduring, and which are fleeting and lead to pain, plus the monumental questions of why and how we often thwart ourselves from attaining happiness.
I have to admit that I experienced a pang of disillusionment when I first realized that Epicurus was not an epicurean… i.e. a sensualist with gourmet appetites. Let me put it this way: Epicurus preferred a bowl of plain boiled lentils to a plate of roasted pheasant infused with mastiha (a reduction painstakingly made from the sap of a nut tree), a delicacy slaves prepared for noblemen in ancient Greece. This was … Epicurus’s hankering for personal comfort, which clearly included comfort foods. The pheasant dish titillated the taste buds, but Epicurus was not a sensualist in that sense: he was not looking for dazzling sensory excitement. No, bring on those boiled lentils! For one thing, he took great pleasure in food he had grown himself—that was part of the gratification of eating the lentils. For another, he had a Zen-like attitude about his senses: if he fully engaged in tasting the lentils, he would experience all the subtle delights of their flavor, delights that rival those of more extravagantly spiced fare. And another of this dish’s virtues was that it was a snap to prepare.
(From Waterstones, Non-Fiction Book of the Month)
The defining concepts of such a happy life, according to Epicurus, are ataraxia — i.e. peace and freedom from the disturbances of anxiety and greed — and aponia — the absence of pain — achieved through living a non-demanding, humble life surrounded by friends.
Klein’s book, taking its cue from this philosophy, is asking how best to think about growing into old age, and how best to live through this stage of life. The tendency nowadays, Klein points out, is to escape ageing, by spending our lives trying to remain forever young: sport, transplants and implants, botox, diets, all means to prolong and promote youthful looks. But are we missing out on an important stage of our lives, Klein asks.
To look into this question, the author packed a number of books, and staying on Hydra, Greece — where travel is restricted to going on foot, cycling, or riding a donkey — meditated on the issue. The answer he came up with in this book is playful, but I have no intention of reproducing it here. Suffice to say that with all the turmoil of this week’s Greek elections and heated debates, a calm book on growing older, set on a Greek island, juxtaposing the old with the new, matching island life with world-renowned philosophers, provides a much needed good, as well as romantic, counter-balance.
In his unhurried pace, watching a group of friends playing a game of cards, walking the hilly paths of the island, discussing beauty and youth, Klein takes us on his Epicurean journey, savouring the moments of insight, the juxtapositions of beautiful descriptions of nature and human nature with philosophical descriptions of ‘lived time’.
I enjoyed this quirky book, slowed down, looked up references to this and that… thought of acquaintances in Greece who, troubled by their country’s misfortunes, contrary to the Hydriotes observed by Klein, have all but forgotten their ‘ataraxia’; have meditated on the notions of austerity vs growth, and their effects on the mind, long enough.
A timely reminder of Epicurean notions then, a needed breath of fresh air? A New Year’s resolution? Even for those who may not be lacking in material resources, but may be short of (perceived) time?
The language in the book is simple, the images memorable, the light clear… So, keep calm, keep thinking, experiencing… it’s not that difficult to be authentically old… one day… eventually! Alternatively, one can always become a Stoic!
full snow moon
the tightrope bathed
You can read the first chapter of this book here
The pre-Socratic Greek philosopher Thales of Miletus (624 – 546 BC), is credited with the saying,
A sound mind in a sound body,’
pointing to the close relationship between physical exercise, mental equilibrium and the ability to enjoy life. It seems a good incentive to incorporate in the New Year’s resolution to improve our health, whatever the state we are in.
So, partly in the spirit of this, on the 15th of January each year, a global event takes place: Greek Dinner Around the World. The main goal is to celebrate Greek culinary culture, Greek cuisine as it is known in every part of the globe, and promote the people, authors, chefs, businesses who are connected to Greece. Everyone is invited for a Greek dinner with friends and family. Partners to this initiative host a dinner using Greek products and Greek dishes. Afterwards, they share a photo of their endeavors and experiences, and tweet using the hashtags #GreekDinner and #EatGreek.
This year, for the second time, I took part in the global celebration of Greek culinary culture, by sharing a delicious Greek meal with friends and family. And books, of course. We met at Lemonia, the old favourite in Primrose Hill. The food was good – especially the fish, which was a ‘miracle,’ to use a Greek expression – the company excellent, and well, the evening a treat. Only problem: we all ate a little too much. We discovered the limits to Thales’ saying. After a point, the amount of food, and drink, interfere with both mind and body! Which led us to resolve next year 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
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
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.
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.
So that was it! Inter-/National April Poetry Month 2014 is now over and done with! I hope you all had a great month of reading and writing poetry! I did, and I am particularly pleased to have completed the Writer’s Digest PAD Challenge. I wrote a poem a day (and more)! Now time to wind down (by writing a poem a day, of course!).
I am also pleased to have taken part in the BIG POETRY GIVEAWAY. This was the fifth year it was organized, but the first one in which I participated.
Four people’s names were taken out of my hat – and here they are:
Congratulations to the winners.
Please email me giving your postal address, and full name at: stella(at)stellapierides(dot)com
and I will be posting the books to you in a few days.
A big thank you to all those who entered the draw.
A happy and productive, poetry-filled new month!
PAD Day #29 prompt: Magical realism
the book of sand slips
through my fingers
The Book of Sand, by Jorge Luis Borges, is one of my all time favourite short stories!
This poem was written in honour of Gabriel García Márquez who was both influenced by and extended/added colour to Borges’ magical realist worlds.
My Giveaway: 4 Free Books for National Poetry Month! (Free postage included! Leave a comment to be included in the draw!)
I’m very happy to be participating in this year’s poetry event, which involves sending out poetry books into the hands of people around the world. Organized by Kelli Russell Agodon, of Book of Kells, this year’s Big Poetry Giveaway includes a number of poets giving away their and others’ poetry collections through their blogs. For a list of participating blogs visit Kelli here
This is how it works: Participants give away two or more books of poetry, one or more of which must be by another poet. To win a free copy (free postage too), all you have to do is leave a comment in the comment box at the end of this post saying you would like to take part in the draw. Please include your contact information (if you are concerned about giving your email address in the comment box, please leave your comment and then mail an email address to: email@example.com). Beginning of May, I will draw the winners, and email them to arrange posting the books.
1: Parallels, by Johannes S. H. Bjerg
“The publication of Johannes S. H. Bjerg Paralles marks a watershed in the history of the development of haiku related arts…The book contains some of the most moving poems I have read…” Comment by Jack Galmitz, poet and writer.
2: In the Garden of Absence, by Stella Pierides
“A charming collection… This intersection of the past and present is within all of us, and Pierides mines it well. A very satisfying read.” Judges’ comment in Frogpond, Kanterman Merit Book Award for books published in 2012 (third place).
3: Memoirs of Writing Poetry in Japan, by Abigail Friedman
“For its honesty, accuracy, and the pure pleasure of reading, Abigail Friedman’s book joins that small collection within easy reach of my desk for …continuous enjoyment.” Comment by William J. Higginson, poet and author.
4: Feeding the Doves, by Stella Pierides
A book of short stories and haibun
“They (the stories) simultaneously enchant and provoke, lure and unsettle. Some guide the reader to dream lands… Other short pieces come to life through the compelling characters that populate them: homeless men, writers, travelers, immigrants, wives, monks from Mount Athos. Scintillating moments of their existence dilate, to define and symbolize entire journeys…” Comment by Mia Avramut, poet and writer.
A few things about me– in case you are interested!
I like film, books, haiku, haiku, haiku, did I say haiku? The Haiku Foundation, haiku, tanka, stories, water in all its forms, North Norfolk, quark with honey and nuts, walking, playing with ideas, my cat and tortoises, plants, mountains, marshes and open skies, and many other things.
In 2013 I published “Feeding the Doves” through my very own Fruit Dove Press and I am working on the final draft of my next poetry collection… about angels.
Happiest poetry moment: my book In the Garden of Absence winning the HSA Kanterman Memorial Merit Award for books published in 2012.
I participate in a number of FB writing communities such as NaHaiWriMo, and I will also be writing a Poem-A-Day for the WD challenge.
So, here you have it! 4 books: a wonderful collection of avant-garde poetry (by Johannes S. H. Bjerg), an award-winning poetry collection (mine), a delightful memoir of writing poetry in Japan (by Abigail Friedman), and a book of short stories and haibun (by Stella Pierides).
This draw is open from now through END OF APRIL 2014, National Poetry Month!
If you’d like to be entered in the draw, please leave your name and contact info by midnight (Berlin time), APRIL 30th, 2014 below in the comment section of this post and I’ll be randomly picking the lucky winners during the week of May 1st, 2014.
What an exciting month December has been! And it is only the 4th of the month!
The Haiku Foundation’s Per Diem: Daily Haiku, a feature I project manage, is scaling new heights this month. Michael McClintock, in his collection “31 Ways of Looking at a Mountain” is taking us for a mountain hike. Each day a new view here
The Haiku Foundation Fundraising campaign is continuing up to the 6th of December with a number of releases of new material and features. On the 3rd, the new social media account on Pinterest was rolled out. I am pleased to have played a part in this one.
Then there is a new haiga by Jim Kacian, a new digital library interface… there is an endless stream of enthusiasm and creativity coming out of the The Haiku Foundation. And the fundraiser releases continue for three more days!
Are you missing out? Register for blog post notifications via email (see the THF contact page), follow the THF on Twitter: https://twitter.com/haikufound
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/haikufound/boards/‚ and like it on
And above all, have fun with haiku!
Happy Thanksgiving, and Happy Chanukah to friends who celebrate it. And to the rest of my friends, wherever they happen to be in the world, who would be happy for the opportunity to give thanks for blessings received any time of the year, Happy Thanksgiving too!
I am giving thanks for my family and friends, the creative, nourishing and supportive haiku communities and writers’ groups I am involved with around the world, and the gift of every day on this Earth I continue to receive.
A special note of thanks to the The Haiku Foundation for its breathtaking work on the many and varied haiku projects it sustains and furthers. It too is giving thanks and fundraising for its work during the period from Thanksgiving through St. Nicholas Day. Please take a look to see what they’ve been up to this year, as well as the exciting program they have planned for the coming days here.
While you are visiting their site, I encourage you to sign up for their email notifications, follow them on Twitter and like them on Facebook: this way you will be kept up to date with all their offerings.
Wishing you a happy and healthy holiday season.