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Language/Place #14: Locating the Senses


LangPlace #14 According to scientists, we humans have receptors for between nine and twenty one senses available to us. Imagine! Up to twenty one points of entry to the world! I say imagine, because we do not appear to be aware of most of those senses. Beyond the five well-known ones, who thinks of their sense of equilibrioception (the sense of balance) or proprioception (the sense of the body’s position in space) – unless they go wrong, of course. What is more interesting is the use we make of these ‘inputs’! The emotional, geographical, cultural, historical worlds we build around them.


In this issue, twenty one contributors explore the senses – the primary but also some of the secondary ones – and the ways these interact to create a sense of place, rootedness, memory, history, and cultural identity. Using the taste and feel of words, the images captured on camera and in paint, their own individual experiences and associations, the artists reflect on the senses in diverse, entertaining, fascinating, remarkable ways and create the world of the senses anew for us to savour and celebrate. It has been a pleasure to host their contributions to the theme of edition #14Locating the Senses in Language/Place!

 Alegria Imperial, originally from the Philippines, now writing from Vancouver (Canada), explores in her haibun, “the tiresome coldness of winter, the longing for spring and its blossoms to spark again, a self-consoling reflection on what eventually awaits yet for now ‘this longing/at moonrise/the only star’”. See here





Elizabeth Kate Switaj, writing from Ireland, in her ‘Memories of Place: Fruit’ considers the way the taste and sight of two different kinds of fruit, persimmons and mangoes, can bring back memories of place. A slight difference in the variety of fruit means a different experience of memory entirely… here



Kristina shares with us a walk among the ruins of Paestum, an incredibly peaceful place, and draws our attention to the neighboring museum and the ways it imbues the ruins with a sense of place and time. And after the sights and the history, pizza with mozzarella and courgette flowers! What a treat! Here


Penn Kemp, writing from London (Canada) says, the “two poems in ‘A Carnival of Senses’ celebrate the senses, celebrate language, celebrate place, in this case my bedroom”.  Here


Brigita Orel writes: “Senses are the inciting sparks of stories and poems and the places and times at which I became aware of them shape how I use them, maybe even how I interpret them.” In her essay, she reflects on the difficulties and challenges of writing in a foreign language rather than her mother tongue, and what it means to think, feel, or sense in a language other than your own. See here

Driving Rain


Maria Pierides, Kent (UK), explores her sense of landscape using a non-verbal medium, painting. In her blog, she speaks in the language of color, image, movement, shape, density, contrast… In Gallery 3, Time and Tide, she explores the seascapes and landscapes of Kent and their relationship to time, culture, and history. Here


Martin Willitts Jr, writing from upstate New York (USA), in his poem ‘Dear Diary’ interprets the story of Hansel and Gretel; and he knows a trap when he smells one! Here


Jean Morris (UK), in her haiku/haiga reflects on her experience: it “has been lingering as a taste and texture of
icy cold in my mouth since the moment I saw/wrote it, last month before the weather changed.” Here




 Steve Wing, a visual artist and writer living in Florida (USA), in his work reflects his appreciation for the extraordinary in ordinary days and places. In this contribution, he writes about the unique cultural texture that some fragrances like copal acquire. Here


Abha Iyengar, writing from New Delhi (India), in ‘The Senses: Diverse Renderings’ immerses herself in sensations – she has jasmine under her pillow – in poetry written for this theme. Here


Fiona Robyn, from the UK, whose ‘mission is to help people connect with the world through writing’ writes: “To prepare yourself for nourishment, you need to allow your eyes, ears, nose, fingers, mouth, head & heart to open.” A true feast in ‘Feed your Head’ Here





Jim Martin, writing from Munich (Germany), in his ‘The Visitors’ takes us on a fascinating and mysterious journey, beginning and ending in a Tuscan farmhouse. Here




Cathy Douglas Cathy Douglas, writing from the US, says:  “In my adopted home state of Wisconsin, winter is a big part of our image.  As the snow melts and the lakes thaw, we experience a brief, muddy identity crisis known as March”. Here





 Karyn Eisler, Vancouver (Canada), in her blog ‘Living ?s’ reconnects with her senses in Heviz. Where is Heviz? More important: what is Heviz for Karyn? Read Karyn’s post and see! Here


Michelle Elvy, writing from New Zealand, in ‘Close your Eyes’ explores the body and its history as a landscape, or rather an open book… Here


Dora, of ‘turns of endearment’, finds sanctuary in immersing herself in the experience of color… “an almost religious, aesthetic experience”. Here

sherry o'keefe

Sherry O’Keeffe writes: “The Shoshoni Indians had made the river valley their home long before I showed up on the gravel bars, looking for the sound of a crow. I learn from their language to see the world as never belonging to any one, not even to the crows”. Here


Nine’s memoir piece is filled with emotion, color, images. Looking back, now in New Zealand, she tells us how she said goodbye to Berlin. Even now, she says, “it’s still largely what I think of when I think about Berlin” in a blog entry, which “I wrote almost about year and a half ago” Here

Siddartha Beth Pierce contributes 6 poems, each covering sensitively and thoughtfully one of the six senses… “making angels on the ground”. Enjoy here

 Steve Wing and Dorothee Lang, in an e-logue that moves back 35.000 years in time, reflect on neolithic art and modern works that reach back in time to capture the past in film, in image, and in story: “A sense of place in time” Here


Stella Pierides, writing from Germany and UK, in her haibun ‘Other Worlds’ explores the sometimes hallucinatory qualities of the senses. Here


A huge thank you to everyone who contributed to this edition. I enjoyed reading your entries and getting to know your blogs – do let me know of any mistakes in your entries and I will try to correct them. I am going to be a more regular reader and contributor from now on! A huge thanks you to Dorothee Lang, too, the founder of this blog carnival, and the ever-present support and inspiration to the changing guest editors.

Edition #14, this edition, was put together by Stella Pierides. She is a poet and writer and blogs here. She tweets @stellapierides. She also has a facebook page and would like more friends! Apart from that, she looks forward to the next edition #15.

Edition #15 will be hosted by writer and poet Abha Iyengar, who lives in New Delhi (India) and blogs at and tweets at @abhaiyengar. The feature theme of Abha’s edition is “Encountering the Other in Language/Place“. Contributions are invited from writers, poets, and anyone with an interest in this topic. As always, we welcome a wide variety of posts. Guidelines here


Other Worlds (haibun)

Other Worlds

I had been walking for hours. Hungry, thirsty, sweat dripping down my face, I was hardly capable of thinking, or imagining, my usual pastimes. Yet, here it was, in front of me, an impossible sight, a mirage. What else could this door-frame be in the middle of fields, in the center of the Peloponnese?

The air around me was hot, suffocating, as if half of the baked earth had floated upwards and was now swimming in it; it resonated thick with the sound of cicadas. The relentless sun had been plaguing me all morning. And it was the sun – more than anything else – that made me sit under that frame; on the thin band of shade it provided.

Resting my head on my knees, I lost consciousness. I don’t know how long I was out, but when I came to the frame was casting an elongated shadow.

Getting up, I felt my knees stiffen. I took a closer look. I could now see this ‘thing’ was not really a door frame. It was carved out of a kind of wood I had not seen before, of a tree I’d never encountered in my life.

Puzzled I touched it lightly. It moved! Alarmed, I jumped back. It stopped moving. I started feeling the frame for clues.

At the top right hand corner I traced something protruding, something like a splinter or a thin nail. I pulled gently. A slight breeze brushed my face, as if a door had been opened. I could smell jasmine, lemon and tar all mixed up; I could taste the salt of the Aegean sea! I heard the cries of sea-gulls and the flutter of their wings. A door had really been opened to another world.

doors –
on wild thyme


A version of this haibun was published in Contemporary Haibun OnlineJan 1, 2012, vol 7 no 4

LanguagePlace Blog Carnival

LanguagePlace Blog Carnival: Call for submissions to edition #14 on the theme of The Senses in LanguagePlace. If you have written a short story, a flash, a poem, a non-fiction piece involving any one of the five senses – or indeed any of the twenty one senses we humans are supposed to possess – this is the time to send in your link(s): see here

You haven’t written such a piece? Looking for inspiration? Visit The Haiku Foundation Home page for the Per Diem: Daily Haiku ; the NaHaiwriMo facebook page; they are sure to tingle your writing!


Hosting the #14 Language/Place blog carnival

In March I will be hosting the Language/Place blog carnival on the theme “Locating the Senses in Language / Place.”  Submissions of poetry, fiction and non-fiction are open from February 1 – March 10, 2012.

My own contribution will be in haiku; here’s why. When I first came across haiku, I was puzzled by its brevity, and, given the size, the disproportionate impact it had on me. There was something in this form that attracted me in mysterious ways, enough to start me reading it and, much later, trying my hand at writing it.

Then in January 2011, I joined the small stones project (A River of Stones, then), focusing, noting, and writing down an immediate experience from my day; in February 2011, the National Haiku Writing Month (NaHaiWriMo for short), and felt I had found something precious, an area of writing and thinking that with study, practice and discipline would be rewarding to me.

And so it proved to be. This coming together of daily attending to my sensory experience of the world, and putting it into words, shaping it to the short form of haiku, became both an invaluable experience and a developmental practice, a sort of daily meditation on a material, physical input. The essence of this experience was not in the mind (where I lived for many, many years), but in this lived moment where, for me, both the work and the rewards were found.

So I didn’t need to think twice when it came to choosing a theme for the blog carnival Language / Place, #14. My contribution will be in the form of haiku. Yours might be in the form of a short story, a flash, a non-fiction piece, a travelogue, a recipe, an image.

Listen, taste, feel the weight, and lightness of the world and share this experience with us. Does a place associate in your mind with a smell, an image, a sound? Does a taste, say of aniseed, of olives, of papaya define a place for you? Do bird song, drumming, waves move you? Where do you stand on body odor? And how do you react as a writer? Do you have a voice recorder, notepad, or the back of your hand on the ready for recording your experience? Is the result a ‘small stone,’ a flash, or haiku? Do you have a Proustian gene in you? Perhaps a non-fiction piece detailing a sensation-awakened memory? Tell me. Tell us. I can’t wait to hear from you!

If you have already written something on this theme, great. Please submit your link(s). If not, and you are looking for inspiration, then have a look at The Haiku Foundation website: lots of (haiku) moments to inspire you, including Per Diem: Daily Haiku.  In March, my selection of sense-based, mainly non-visual haiku will appear, illustrating not only how good these sense-based poems can be, but also how the senses interconnect, each one stimulating one or more of the others. There is a digital library on the site with free books to download and enjoy, discussion boards, calendars of events and contests and more.

There is the ‘official’ NaHaiWriMo coming up in February once again, too. Perhaps you might like to join and write a haiku a day. Michael Dylan Welch has set up this site with iinformation about haiku and the NaHaiWriMo facebook community. I joined last year doubting I could keep it up. Well, I haven’t. I have been writing not one but several haiku a day! (FB community site here)

If you didn’t join the January Small Stones project, no need to worry! You can keep your senses alert with a little help from Fiona Robyn and Kaspalita Thompson’s  Writing our Way Home

Fiona and Kaspalita’s blog is full of ideas on how to record polished moments of experience. You could start from here:

Other contributions, not restricted to this theme are, of course also welcome. Submissions will open on the 1st of February and close on the 10th of March.

For information on how to submit your links to you posts see here

The blog roll of those taking part in the blog carnival so far can be read on Dorothee Lang’s BluePrint blog site.

Checking my food unconscious

Living in Germany and England, while having Greek roots, I thought I could lay claim to an international outlook!

Then came the call from the hostess of LanguagePlace #12, Linda Hofke, to produce work on the theme of food. Armed with my ‘search’ button, I looked for my food haiku and found too many to mention in one post! I mean hundreds … My choice here is limited to (gulp) 17. Some of them either published, or posted on my or other poets’ blogs. But there was a surprise in this for me. The ingredients in the haiku are not that diverse, not that varied! Perhaps I am less international than I’d like to claim. What do you think?


celery crunch –
I always knew you threw
the dice


beets –
and he wonders how he got
kidney stones


pumpkin –
the car park attendant scoffs
at my car


in this rain
even the eggplant weeps –
billowing clouds

(These haiku appeared in Sketchbook 6-3, May/June 2011, in the Haiku thread/Editor’s Choice).


tomato –
sometimes even stars are not

Featured in Melissa Allen’s Red Dragonfly: Across the Haikuverse no 20


through the fog –
mountains of orange


mushroom garden –
in the damp, dark corner
full moon


magic mushrooms –
under the duvet I find

Nos 7 and 8 featured by Melissa Allen, of Red Dragonfly, together with other haiku,  in her blog post ‘Mushroom Harvest.’


pale moon –
sugar crystals travelling

Featured in Melissa Allen’s Red Dragonfly: Across the Haikuverse, no 23


ruby wine –
the song of a canary
on my tongue


wild goose chase –
even the duvet tries
to fly south


summer cool –
the blossom lingers
in the cherry


vesper bell
on the tree so many


chamomile –
drinking the fields
from my teacup


so here is the tree
of the liquid gold Homer spilt
so liberally—
between epic verses and
bare rocks it grows its olives


Olea europea

in Atlas Poetica Special Feature From Lime Trees to Eucalypts: A Botany of Tanka, poem #20, (26 August 2011)  [tanka]


full moon tea
my book of beasts
lies open

Featured in Aubrie Cox’s Yay Words‚ Tea with Trolls


I guess after all this food the next haiku is a must:


super moon 2034
robotic arm
brushes my teeth


Edition #3 of > Language > Place is out

The new edition #3 of > Language > Place blog carnival is out!

Hosted by Michael Solender, of “Not From Here, Are You?” it is a feast of stories, personal accounts, poems, photographs. In a number of excellent contributions, several bloggers explore what it means to feel at home, be at home, or indeed, where home is: the theme of belonging.

For information on what the blog carnival is all about, how it came into being and instructions on how to join, please visit Dorothee Lang at Blue Print Review and she will tell you all about it.

In addition, there is a special place to go to for information on the contributors and what they are blogging about  

The next edition, issue #4, will be hosted and edited by Jean Morris of “tasting rhubarb.” Jean is inviting submissions during the period from the 5th to the 20th of February 2011. For details and also the specific theme of the edition see here

I am happy to report that links to two of my stories are included in edition  #3: “Ariadne’s Thread” and “Where Home is.” Both stories first appeared on 52|250 A Year of Flash here; they can also be found in my blog here

Language/Place #2

The second edition of the Language/Place blog carnival, hosted by the writer and Journalist Nicolette Wong of Mediatations in an Emergency  is online. Visit it  here.  

This is what Nicolette  Wong says in her introduction to the second edition:

 “It unfolds between directions, detours and codes to arrive at fictive domains that are made real by the yearning for souls adrift. The journey continues, looking into private places and eccentricities, to trace slipping boundaries and the sense of one’s ever shifting homes.” 

Dorothee Lang, the originator of this project, who also hosted the first edition, wrote in her  “virtualnotes,”

“The idea of “> Language > Place” is to create a collaborate virtual journey through different places, in different formats, and with different languages included.”

My short story “Postcards” is included in edition #2, together with writings of more than twenty writers from all over the world. I can’t wait to read what they have to say.

16 December 2010

> Language > Place

The first edition of the Language/Place blog carnival is out. Why not visit here.  

I quote from “virtualnotes,” where this particular blog carnival originated:

“The idea of “> Language > Place” is to create a collaborate virtual journey through different places, in different formats, and with different languages included – the main language is english, yet the idea is that every post also includes snippets or terms of other languages, and refers to a specific place, country, region or city.”

For more information and how to join this monthly event, here

Oh, yes, and I took part too!

15 November 2010