Coffee | Artemis

Cappuccino
digital art from photograph
Michael Dickel ©2022

Coffee

I’m sorry, she said. Fuck you, zey said. I made a mistake, she said. You make a lot of mistakes, zey snapped. She hid away under a widow’s veil of tears. Zey hiked the Bahamas and found forgiveness.
	She tried to contact zem a month later: hope you’re doing well.
	Apparently, zeir forgiveness only extended so far.
	It had been two years, three months, eight days. Like planets orbiting the same sun, they once again aligned: they walked into the same coffee shop. They froze, stared. You dyed your hair, zey said. You gained weight, she said. Zey smiled; coffee--on me?

©2022 Artemis
All rights reserved


Artemis…

…is a high school student pursuing writing. Their favorite elements of writing are clever word plays and irony. They have been published in the anthology The Sky’s the Limit as a result of winning a writing competition, and the The Thread, their school’s art and writing anthology, for three years in a row. When they’re not writing, they spend their days creating resin dolls and sewing clothes.

Website / Reedsy



Posted in 100,000 Poets, Musicians, Artists and Activists for Change, Artists and Activists for Change, General Interest, Poets/Writers

News: Second Light Network, “ARTEMISpoetry”, Fugitive Flags, and The BeZine’s 100,000 Poets for Change

Editorial Note: The September issue of The BeZine will be out on the 15th and we’re all set for the big event on the 26th. Meanwhile …

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SECOND LIGHT LIVE: Everytime I visit Second Light Live, the website for Second Light Network of Women Poets (SLN), their biannual magazine (ARTEMISpoetry) and SLN’s two anthologies, Images of Women (Arrow Press and SLN, 2006) and Her Wings of Glass (SLN, 2014), there’s news . . . . Unlike a lot of news, it’s all good.

The poem of the month, Stones by Marion Tracy, is HERE.

Check out SLN for poetry, classes (including remote), and poetry news. The network is for women.  The poetry is for everyone.

I’ve read both anthologies, by the way. I enjoyed them immensely and go back to them frequently.

ARTEMISpoetry: The May 2015 issue of ARTEMISpoetry is still available for purchase.  I’m just getting ready to submit my request for permission to post some poems from it and once I have that you’ll see a review go up here along with two or three poems from that issue. Meanwhile, poems and artwork for the May 2016 issue are due by 28 February 2016.  Submission details are HERE.

Δ

FUGITIVE FLAGS: On 26 September, “100,000 Poets for Change” are celebrating their annual day of action, when poets all over the world call for social and political change.  [That is for peace, sustainability and social justice.] On that day we ask literature institutions and writers to fly a white flag.

Why: We want to make a stand for a different treatment of refugees: for respecting their human rights.

11990472_10153063200156615_706478127620772171_n

When:  26 September, 4 p.m.

What Can You Do?  Fly a white flag (e.g. made of napkins, bed linen, table-cloth, …) from your window or balcony.  It should say “refugees welcome” and “100,000 Poets for Change.”

Please share this call for action.

Δ

THE BeZINE’S 100TPC: Only seventeen more days to go for The BeZine‘s virtual event.  The theme we chose this year is poverty.  A post will go up on our blog and you are invited – encouraged – to link in your own relevant work. (How-to will be provided in the post.) We hope you will also read the work shared by others as well.  Ultimately the links will be gathered into a commemorative Page on our site and also archived at 100TPC.

I hope you are all working on your poems, music videos, art and so on to link in with our virtual event that day.

If you are coming late to this announcement, here are some informational posts to check out:

Δ

The BeZine‘s revised Submission Guildelines – including our schedule of themes through December of next year – is now available for view HERE.

Don’t forget to check for Writing Contests, Grant and Awards at Poets & Writers Magazine.  You’ll never know if you don’t try.

Thank you! Please feel free to reblog this post. 

Jamie Dedes

Posted in Book/Magazine Reviews, Jamie Dedes, Poems/Poetry

ARTEMISpoetry

artemispoetrycoverissue9frontARTEMISpoetry, a review

by

Jamie Dedes (The Poet by Day, a journey in poem)

No matter what happens on any given day, when the latest issue of a literary magazine crosses the threshold of my home, it’s a good day. Recently I received the November issue of ARTEMISpoetry for review. That was a very good day indeed. The writing and art is by women.The reading is for everyone. I venture to say that this publication of the Second Light Network, while not well-known, is making a mark and growing an audience.

Between the covers of ARTEMISpoetry, I found a rich selection of poems, features, reviews and interviews, biography, and art.

The journal opens with an interview of the Argentinian, Ana Becciú.

“I continue writing because I need to know and to understand … the voices within us, understand the surface of the words we use every day, voices that pronounce suffering, loss, the voices of all of us lost in this present society.”

There follows an exploration on the pleasures of reading and an essay by Myra Schneider on the “mystery of the creative moment.” I enjoyed the detail in Clare Best‘s engaging feature on her project and process for Self-portrait without Breasts. The project evolved from her decision to have a prophylactic double-mastectomy and to go flat chested and not have reconstructive surgery or use prosthesis.

“Cast me and I will become what I must.”

I think the feature I most enjoyed was Judith Cair’s piece on her experience translating passages from Homer’s Odyssey.

“The act of translating is beginning to influence my own writing. Even in writing poems far removed from Ancient Greece, I realize that there is an undertow of lines from the Odyssey, which may or may not be consciously acknowledged. And sometimes I am left with such a strong impression of a particular episode that I must re-imagine it for myself.”

The main course in this delightful menu addressing the interests of poets is the poetry itself. Among the many poems enjoyed is Anne Cluysenaar’s Hearing Your Words, offered here with the permission of the publisher and poet.

HEARING YOUR WORDS
For Ruth Bidgood, reading in Aberystwyth

by Anne Cluysenaar, © 2013, All rights reserved

I used, as a child, to imagine my death, or rather
beyond it. A ship setting out, in flames, at dusk,
counteracting the planet’s roll, on the sunrise path
to a waveless far horizon lit from beneath.

This came to mind, just now, clicking on close-up
through the café window – sea meeting that sky,
distantly smooth, arching high, up above
a jumble of chimneys and roofs backlit at sundown.

I found myself catching my breath, gravity’s curve
seen through such a small frame, from here where we sit
with our cups of tea. Vastness out there, our past.
But on planets elsewhere, other seas, other lives beginning.

Later, among the books, hearing your words,
it was waves I thought of – from land we may never see
reaching across the bulge of this little earth
to break, not one the same, on familiar shores.

taken from a poem diary From Seen to Unseen and Back by Anne Cluysenaar, forthcoming from Cinnamon Press, 2014.

ARTEMISpoetry is published  twice-a-year in November and May. Members receive their copy as part of their membership. Issues are available to nonmembers. For information, link HERE.  The next submission deadline is August 31, 2013. For membership and submission information, link HERE.

© 2013, review, Jamie Dedes, All rights reserved
© 2012, journal cover and art, Second Light Network, All rights reserved – Many thanks to Anne Stewart for forwarding the cover and to Myra Schneider, Dilys Wood, and Anne Cluysenaar for the poem

Photo on 2012-09-19 at 20.00JAMIE DEDES ~ My worldly tags are poet and writer. For the past five years on medical retirement due to a chronic, potentially life-threatening illness, I’ve blogged at The Poet by Day, formerly titled Musing by Moonlight. The gift of illness is the time for poetry. Through the gift of poetry (mine and that of others), I enter sacred space.

SECOND LIGHT NETWORK … showcasing the ambitious poetry of ambitious women

Roman marble Bust of Artemis after Kephisodotos (Musei Capitolini), Rome.
Roman marble Bust of Artemis after Kephisodotos (Musei Capitolini), Rome.

“Women, of course, write good and bad poetry – ‘ambitious’ implies more enterprising subject-matters and approaches, as well as a unique voice for each poet.” Kate Foley and Dilys Wood, Editorial Page, ARTEMISpoetry, November 2015

Here it is April – Poetry Month! – and the month in which I know that Dilys Wood, Anne Stewart and other poets in London at Second Light Network of Women Poets (SLN) are hard at work putting a wrap on the May 2016 issue of ARTEMISpoetry. This biannual literary magazine specializes in the work of women bent on honest self-expression, subjects of substance, and well-crafted poetry.

The last issue was published in November 2015 and the focus was on ecology with an interesting feature article by Jemma Borg, scientist and poet. I touched on it in a short piece, Poets and Poetry, In the Shadow Land of Technology and Social Networking.

The issue included poems by Anne Stewart, the featured poet and the author of Janus Hour and Only Here till Friday.

Myra Schneider was the judge for the 2015 poetry contest. The winning poems are featured as well as the commended and we get a bit of the behind-the-scenes look at the hard work of judging.

“I went through over a thousand poems looking for poems that traveled, paid attention to form and made words work. Eventually I reduced a long list of 101 poems to 26 … I was very excited because the winning poems were telling me loud and clear which they were!”

No doubt it is an honor to be selected to judge – and clearly there are  rewards – but what a job as well. Certainly a labor of love. The winners for 2015 were: Carolyn King, Margaret Wilmot, Judith Taylor and Kathy Miles.

I was also pleased to read Myra’s feature on one of my own favorites, American poet Louise Glück.

In line with the issue’s theme, politics and eco-politics were explored by Kay Syrad, a regular contributor.  She discussed Priscila Uppal’s Sabotage (explores private and public acts of destruction, disruption, and vandalism in the 21st century) and Helen Moore’s Ecozoa (response to the destruction caused by industrial civilization).

Fiona Owen gifted us a thoughtful piece – both homage and exploration – on Anne Cluysenaar‘s eco-poetry.

“… Anne ponders ‘the tenuous job of the poet’ and sees the arts as having an intrinsic evolutionary role …”

In addition to poetry, ARTEMISpoetry always offers book reviews and announcements of publications, events and classes of interest … and lately continues some discussion and promotions of SLN’s last two anthologies Her Wings of Glass and Fanfare.

🙂 I recommend both. 🙂

Below is a sampling (three poems) from Fanfare with thanks to the poets and their publishers, to SLN and especially to Anne Stewart for doing the work of acquiring the permissions for me to share these poems with you here today.

January

Going into the sun
over mud flats skimmed with water

people are walking on ice or glass
their reflections perfect

and you know it’s a new year

walking into the sun
beach and sky cast in light

sheer

gone when you turn

and wave rippled mud
takes your footsteps, softly.

– Caroline Natzler

Caroline Natzler: January and Life’s Work, from Fold (Hearing Eye, 2014)

Untouchable

She shines like Lakshmi through the fields –
a gentle stride, arms at her sides.
By the houses, stooping her beauty
to the earth, she raises the brimming bucket,
its stench sealing her nostrils. Slurry clings
to hair and skin, but nothing changes
on her face, only a puckering of lips
in silent thanks to Kali
for twenty years of women’s work,
this dawn till dusk that’s nurtured seven sons;
thanks that she’s never known the blessing of –
nor visited this curse upon –
a daughter.

– Jill Sharp

Jill Sharp: Untouchable, from Ye gods (Indigo Dreams, 2015)

A Miracle at Iskitim

In Siberia, a symbol –
this is what the locals believe,
a magical birth of water:

a fresh water spring, a spurt
close to the ground, a low white
eternal flame.
We dip our cups
(plastic, from the hotel) and say,
“It tastes pure. The water is pure.”

Some people here heard the last trucks
grind out of sight, after they shut
the ‘lagpunkt’,
the slow-killing place,
left the scar for people like us
in a half circle, dark barrels

in our padded coats, gloves, hats, scarves …
With our white breaths, we breathe out lives
as we raise up transparent cups,

“The future came too late.”

– Dilys Wood

In her Gulag, A History (Penguin, 2004)Anne Applebawm refers to a new fresh-water spring near a former camp at Iskatim.

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SLN, through community, classes, magazines and books, regularly serves up thought-provoking, often heart stirring and always engaging poetry by women as well as informative explorations and analyses of poems, collections, news and views. Whether you are an experienced professional or an amateur poet, there’s plenty to enjoy here, plenty to learn and think about. I venture to say though that if you are an older woman poet working to find your voice, you’ll discover special inspiration and encouragement through Second Light.

Membership (demographic restrictions), ARTEMISpoetry and the anthologies and other books can be purchased through Second Light Network of Women Poets or p f poetry

– Jamie Dedes

©the poets own the copyrights to their poems and they are featured here with permission; the photograph of the Artemis statue is courtesy of Marie-Lan Nguyen and generously released by her into the Public Domain.

POET, TEACHER, INSPIRATION: Dilys Wood and the Latter-day Saphos

Sappho (/ˈsæfoʊ/; Attic Greek Σαπφώ [sapːʰɔ̌ː], Aeolic Greek Ψάπφω, Psappho [psápːʰɔː]) was a Greek lyric poet, born on the island of Lesbos. The Alexandrians included her in the list of nine lyric poets. She was born sometime between 630 and 612 BCE, and it is said that she died around 570 BCE, but little is known for certain about her life. The bulk of her poetry, which was well-known and greatly admired through much of antiquity, has been lost; however, her immense reputation has endured through surviving fragments.
“Sappho (/ˈsæfoʊ/; Attic Greek Σαπφώ [sapːʰɔ̌ː], Aeolic Greek Ψάπφω, Psappho [psápːʰɔː]) was a Greek lyric poet, born on the island of Lesbos. The Alexandrians included her in the list of nine lyric poets. She was born sometime between 630 and 612 BCE, and it is said that she died around 570 BCE, but little is known for certain about her life. The bulk of her poetry, which was well-known and greatly admired through much of antiquity, has been lost; however, her immense reputation has endured through surviving fragments.” [Wikipedia]
Sunday: I began my dive into Dilys Wood’s Antarctica* (Greendale Press, 2008), spending my discretionary time engaged by this collection, which includes The South Pole Inn, a novella in verse.

“I dreamt I gave you the white continent
I wrapped it in white wedding wrap, embossed
with silver penguins and skiis …”
from Her Birthday Present in the section Love in a Freezing Climate: Four Poems

*****

“Wherever I look, the bacillus of melt
weakens the floes.”
from Future

DILYS WOOD is a poet, an editor and the founder (“convenor” as she might say) of the London-based Second Light Network of Women Poets (SLN), which produces the biannual ARTEMISpoetry and includes a publishing arm, Second Light Publishing.  I first encountered Dilys thanks to Myra Schneider. That award-winning poet with eleven published collections is a consultant to SLN.

While Internet and email have a way of helping to cross borders and make affinity-based connections, closing the gaps in culture and miles (in this case some 5,500 miles as the crow flies), the tools are imperfect. It’s not the same as meeting, talking and observing in person. However, when you read what people write, when they risk themselves by putting their very souls on paper, you do get to know something about their values and passions. My strongest sense of Dilys was as the quiet persistent energy behind a women’s poetry collective and an apparently indefatigable advocate for women’s right—including women over 40—to poetic voice. 

At the point in which I first encountered Myra, Dilys and SLN, Dilys had collaborated on (mainly with Myra) four anthologies of women’s poetry. She had two collections of her own poetry published, Women Come to a Death (Databases, 1999) and Antarctica. That was, I think around 2010. Since that time, we are gifted through Dilys and Myra, Anne Stewart (poetry p fand others on the SLN team with so many fine anthologies and magazines of women’s poetry, that I can hardly keep track. 

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Dilys is modest in presenting herself. Her Poet’s Page on SLN’s website says simply –

Dilys started writing poetry again after retiring from the Civil Service, where her jobs included being secretary of the Women’s National Commission. She shortly after founded Second Light, focussed on the needs of women reconnecting with writing after forty. Second Light Network developed into a support group and, on a small scale (though reviews suggest significant), publisher of women’s poetry. Together with her own writing (Antarctica, 2008; Women Come to a Death, Katabasis, 1997), Dilys has been the joint editor (mainly with Myra Schneider) of 4 womens poetry anthologies.

If The Poet by Day (my information hub for poets and writers) was a poem, its title would have to have the tagline after Dilys Wood. The site is not the product of collaboration and membership. Nonetheless, its commitment to sharing information on poets and poetry, including gifted if lesser-known poets, and promoting and encouraging poets who are marginalized by their gender, ethnicity, disability or age – is very definitely inspired by Dilys work and commitment to mature women and the work and commitment of Myra Schneider and the other SLN women as well as by my own love of poets and poetry and the whole of poesy history and culture.

This is Dilys in her own words as she “spoke” in a guest blog post here several years ago:

NEW SAPPHOS, CHALLENGES FOR WOMEN POETS

I run a network for women poets and naturally I want our members to be treated equitably, with recognition of any woman’s potential to be in the top flight of creative artists.

Some poets feel that ‘male and female he made them’ should not be an issue. I disagree because I want to celebrate and gain personal inspiration from the last fifty years. There has been a vastly increased involvement of women as students of poetry, published poets, book purchasers and consumers of ‘products’ such as poetry festivals. I also want it debated why this has not meant equality of treatment by journals.

Why do some leading journals publish fewer poems by women and use fewer women reviewers? What part is played by prejudice and what by our diffidence? Do we submit enough work and persist when submissions are rejected? Are there subtle shades of prejudice? Are we taken seriously on ‘women’s topics’ but not when writing about spiritual experience or politics?

A first step is to convince ourselves that there is no ceiling. Emily Dickinson surely lives up to the epithet ‘unique genius’? Her work is incredibly economical, dense, universal and deeply moving. She is totally original in style and thought. Her work alone ought to kill the slur that biology-based inferiority explains historical under-achievement.

So many more women have found now their voice. Let’s celebrate poets who excite us, from Emily Bronte (say) to Jorie Graham (say). We can also start thinking seriously about differences and about inflated reputations. Let’s be wary about ‘celebrity status’. This tends to narrows true appreciation. Read voraciously. Include lesser known poets and dead poets. You will be impressed by how much exciting writing is on offer.

– Dilys Wood

* “Antarctica,” Greendale Press, 2008 (all proceeds to Second Light Network funds). �5.95 through poetry p f (scroll down on the page to which this is linked)

© The New Sapphos, Dilys portrait, book cover art, Dilys Wood; © introduction, Jamie Dedes; Sapho embrassant sa lyre Jules Elie Delaunay (1828-1891), public domain

Second Light Network of Women Poets: Celebrating Anthologies of Women’s Poetry

They thought death was worth it, but I Have a self to recover, a queen. Is she dead, is she sleeping? Where has she been, With her lion-red body, her wings of glass?

They thought death was worth it, but I
Have a self to recover, a queen
Is she dead, is she sleeping?
Where has she been,
With her lion-red body, her wings of glass?
excerpt from “Stings” by Sylvia Plath

*** ANTHOLOGY “HER WINGS OF GLASS” ***
 
“I’m completely wowed … the most important anthology for decades,” John Killick
 
“tremendously inspiring,” Moniza Alvi  

“an amazing anthology,” Pauline Stainer
 
“It’s a magnificent anthology (and I’m not just saying this because my mother’s face peers at me from the cover!),” Adam Horovitz
 
“I’m impressed,” Anne Stevenson

Second Light Network of Women Poets (SLN) does many wonderful things for women poets of a certain age, but among the loveliest is the production of poetry anthologies. SLN’s latest anthology is Her Wings of Glass, the title taken from Sylvia Plath’s poem Stings in which she uses the life in the hive as metaphor for her own life and feelings.

When we consider all the elements of an apiary with its oddly flipped sexual structure, the momentary life of the parthenogenic queen juxtaposed against the leisurely life of drifting drones, we appreciate the brilliance of Plath’s using the apiary as an allegory for her relationship with her husband and her conflicted feelings about domesticity and motherhood.  The bee community makes for an apt illustration of Plath’s poetic self (queen), her domestic self (drudge), her distaste for other women willing to be drudges, to sacrifice themselves.  The poem is intensely personal, has elements of tenderness but ends fiercely. (FYI: You can view photographs of Plath’s worksheets HERE.)

It’s easy to appreciate just why the women of the ’60s were so enamored of Sylvia Plath, why she is still appreciated for both her observations and her craft.  It’s also easy to understand why a reference to Plath’s work would make such a good title for a collection of poetry by contemporary women poets. The anthology, like the poets, poetry and the work in ARTEMISpoetry (biannual magazine) represent a cross-section of A-list poets and a range of themes, subjects and styles.

ARTEMISpoetry, Issue 14
Issue 14

There’s a good piece by Anne Stewart on Her Wings of Glass in the May 2015 issue of ARTEMISpoetry, which focuses on anthologies. Due to the very nature of SLN, many are the poets and poems that might be overlooked by other press as not in line with mainstream literary standard. I deem this an advantage indeed and wish more publishers would take note.

Petronella Gives a Reading c Kate Folley
Petronella Gives a Reading (c) Kate Foley

In addition to celebrating poetry anthologies, the current issue also featured Alison Brackenbury, the award-winning author of eight collections, and Jemma Borg in an interesting piece by Kay Syrad: The Illuminated World, A Dialogue Between Science and Poetry.   Jemma studied evolutionary genetics and worked as a tech editor among other jobs. She stands at the intersection of science and poetry.

“I tend now to think of science and poetry in some kind opposition because they are such different systems of thought in terms of the philosophical roots and development, but essentially it is this love of what is unknown that is common to both and which forms my motivation as an individual: how can we, and indeed is it possible to, understand this world we are embedded in.”

Susan Wicks selected the poetry shared  in this issue, which included these two:

Gift from my Daughter

A pink bag with lime-green flowers
in silk floated
like a lotus as she carried it
down the ward.

We fizzed with giggles over
the contents,
cream laced with sandalwood
and lavender,
lip-salve with lemon,
little bottles steeped in mint
and nutmeg,
a Morpheus spray
to enchant the pillow with sleep.

Outside, the weather slashed its tail
of water-scales
and hail,
and we unpacked the orient,
distilled these gardens from the east.

Isobel Thrilling

Where lies the blame?

Things in their quiet think no harm,
light probes, passes, leaves unmoved
knife, whip, Kalashnikov.

Stone voices grate, shingle shifts,
things in unquiet hands drip blood
the birds no longer sing.

Shadows touch, move on, abandon
farmhouse, barn and empty field
the bees have gone.

Jenna Plewes

The homage to Anne Cluysenaar in this issue was warm and appreciative and the thoughts of several poets who knew her were included. I find this sort of acknowledgement and loyalty touching and asked for permission to include Alison Mace’s poem in this blog post. Alison said that we need to read Anne’s Diary Poems to fully appreciate her poem, but I took it at face value and warmed to it, though I haven’t read Touching Distances: Diary Poems.  I like Alison’s poem for the gentle way it shows how one poet and her work and life were valued.

from LIVES OF THE POETS
ANNE CLUYSENAAR 1936-2014

Alison Mace writes: Since Anne Cluysenaar’s appalling and untimely death, I have meant to write about her, a poem if possible. Anne came, when she could, to our monthly NaCOT poetry-writing group at William and Juliet Ayot’s house near Chepstow. We were so lucky to have her. Her contributions were memorable and heart-warming, both of her own work – several of the Diary Poems that became Touching Distances – and in the help she gave the rest of us with our own poems.

.
Anne

‘Wise’ comes first to mind,
then ‘kind’,
and then so many more.
Heartsore,
we count the ways she was:
capable, nurturing,
loving her cob, her cat,
at home with hens and hay,
Mozart and Henry Vaughan;
happy to teach, to learn –
learned indeed – at ease
combining earth with wit,
abstruse with everyday –
and ours: muse, mentor, friend,
bringing her poetry
for us, wanting our own:
probing, encouraging –
all with her gentle smile.

And so it shatters sense
that such a life should end
with terror, suddenness
and wanton violence –
a bleak atrocity.
The distance we would touch
that our intensest thoughts
might wing to her
has widened beyond reach,
leaving us at a loss,
empty, and blank, and still
heartsore.

– Alison Mace

So, another altogether enjoyable read. Another issue to return to with pleasure.

All things SLN may be found HERE including gatherings and classes, remote – or as we in the U.S. would say “distance” – classes, coaching, contests, books, magazine, samplings of poetry and introductions to poets.  Much appreciation to SLN Founder Dilys Wood and to Myra Schneider and Anne Stewart and all the other women for their work, their poetry, and their commitment to women and poetry. Second Light Network of Women Poets is based in London and most of the members are in the UK, but membership is not geographically restricted. Of note: Anne Stewart has a site – poetry p f – which makes it easy to pay membership fees and to order books, ARTEMISpoetry, poem cards and other goodies.

Congratulations to Myra Schneider: Goulash from her collection Circling the Core (Enitharmon Press, 2008) was recently featured on Anthony Wilson‘s Famous Lifesaving Poems. We’ve featured it in The BeZine and are all fans.  Bravo, Myra! Here it is on the Lifesaving Poems site. Contact Myra for Circling the Core and other books.

Poems, cartoon, cover art are published here with permission of the publishers and authors.

© 2015, article, Jamie Dedes, All rights reserved; cover art, Second Light Live; poems and cartoon as indicated above.

Opsimaths, Polymaths and Poets

chap-book

As you already know, I am enamoured of Second Light Network of Women Poets for its committment to poetry education and for encouraging and promoting poetry by women, especially women who come to poetry late in life.  It’s “never too late” the saying goes … and Second Light seems to prove that indeed it is not too late to learn, to create and to appreciate beautiful poetry.

Second Light has the fair-sized, faithful and active participation of women to whom it offers support by way of connection, classes (including remote classes), competitions and publication opportunities, anthologies of women’s poetry and the biannual ARTEMISpoetry magazine.  The May 2015 issue is out now and you can order it HERE. Membership information and sign-up for email alerts are HERE.

While membership in Second Light is restricted to women, the poetry shared is for everyone.  This poetry includes works by accomplished – if lesser known poets – and works of well-established poets you may have long admired including R. V. Bailey, Jackie Kay, Mimi Khalvati, Anne StewartMyra Schneider and Dilys Wood, the founder of Second Light.

These and other women serve as role-models and also are often involved as judges of competitions, as editors of publications and as teachers through Second Light in workshop settings, through remote education or through The Poetry School, “the U.K.’s largest provider of poetry education.”

Polymath ~ a person with a wide range of knowledge or learning.

Each May and November when my copy of ARTEMISpoetry arrives I’m always delighted with the depth of learning that continues and with the wide range of knowledge, interests and observation that informs the poetry. What follows is an overview of the November 2014 issue and three poems from that issue.

* * * * * 

“Nights, I squat in the cornucopia
Of your left ear, out of the wind,

Counting the red stars and those of plum-color.
The sun rises under the pillar of your tongue.
My hours are married to shadow.
No longer do I listen for the scrape of a keel
On the blank stones of the landing.”

“”
from The Colossus”, The Colossus and Other Poems, 1960, Sylvia Plath

The November 2014 issue of ARTEMISpoetry is dedicated to Sylvia Plath (1932-1963), the renown American poet, novelist and short story writer who produced in her foreshortened life a remarkable body of work that influenced her contemporaries and continues to inspire poets to this day.

If you are a fan of Plath, this issue will delight you for the fresh imaginative breath of its insight. If you are new to Plath, this issue will serve as an excellent introduction to her. It includes an imagined interview of Plath by Kay Syrad.  Anne Stevenson briefly tells of her struggle to maintain the appropriate detachment when writing Bitter Fame: A Life of Sylvia Plath and how depleted she felt when she finished the biography in May 1988.  The narrative is followed by a quite lengthy and somewhat charged poem, A Letter to Sylvia Plath, which is an excerpt from Stevenson’s book, Poems 1955-2005 (Bloodaxe Books).

The last stanza of Anne Stevenson’s poem ~

“We learn to be human when we kneel
To imagination, which is real
Long after reality is dead
And history has put its bones to bed.
Sylvia, you have won at last,
Embodying the living past,
Catching the anguish of your age
In accents of a private rage”

Also included is Three Young Poets on Plath’s Influence that you can read HERE in the April 2015 issue of The BeZine, which was dedicated to poetry. Second Light partnered with us (The Bardo Group) in April for interNational Poetry Month.

I was happy to see Alison Blackenbury‘s piece on Jenny Joseph. Featured poets were R.V. Bailey and Adele Ward, who is also a publisher. 2014 Poetry Competition winners were announced and their poems published. As with every issue, this one was rich with poetry, reviews, and announcements of events, collections published, calls for submissions and other material of interest to members.

The poems that follow were published in the November 2014 issue and are included here with the permission of both publisher and poets. Enjoy …

Three of the poems published in ARTEMISpoetry, Issue 13, November 2014:

Featured Poet, back cover:

Flowers in the cemetery

Ahead of me as always, you were first
To die. But what possessed you, love,
Trusting a feckless gardener like me
To plant the flowers on your grave?

It’s garden-centre-best-suburban,
Sentimental, pink and blue,
Till in the natural course of things
I come to lie down here too.

Forget-me-nots and lavender –
What rustic cliches. Yes, I know:
I also know you will not care,
Since it was I who put them there.

– R V Bailey

Short Poem First Prize Winner
Second Light Open Poetry Competition for Long and Short poems by women, 2014:

By Heart

Once she had to memorize the chemical elements
of soil, learn how to measure the height of trees
using sine and cosine and how to address a letter
to a bishop – information lost now in dusty
box files in a corner of her brain, with lists
of Latin verbs and conjugations, the Attributes
of the Virgin Mary and which feast days a priest
wore rose or purple. But she remembers maples
graded from cinnabar to porphyry stretching
across the Laurentian hills like reels of Sylko
in a haberdasher’s drawer; the rustle of raven wings
through cedars as an Indian canoe skims the surface
of a turquoise lake; castles carved from blocks
of ice, snow on the windshield as she left.

– Margaret Beston

Commended
Second Light Open Poetry Competition, for Long and Short poems by women, 2014

Pray

Pray for Aurelia. She has a court case pending
and she misses her children. (Prayer Request, Church of Our Lady)

Pray for her.
For God has made her in his own image.
For this image startles her as she passes a shop window.
For she sees a cardigan (sleeves unravelling),
skirt (waist tied with string). Odd socks.
For the name-tag on her coat says Melanie.
For she knows God will clothe her. She’s a lily of the field.
For she has no thoughts of tomorrow.

Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof

She’s fat with drugs. They’ve stuffed and stuffed her.
She has no teeth.
Her children have been taken from her.

Pray for her.
For she has a first class degree but her mind has betrayed her.
For betrayal is the only thing she knows.
For her father lifts his grand-daughter onto the swing in the local park,
touching her ever so, ever so gently.

For her mother didn’t listen.
Nor her brother, her sister, her teacher, her lover.

She’s a loony.
She’s a swing door.
She’s a bin-liner.

Pray for her.
For God has made her in his own image.
For he is with her even through the valley of the shadow of death

Which is her life, you know. Her one and only. Life.


– Vivienne Tregenza

© 2015, magazine overview, Jamie Dedes, All rights reserved; photo ~ Newstand illustration by J.C. Leyendecker circa 1899; copyrights to all poems are held by their authors and rights are reserved

Posted in 000 Poets, 100, General Interest, Musicians, The BeZine Table of Contents

The BeZine, 15 July 2015, Vol. 1, Issue 9, Table of Contents with links

15 July 2015

 IMAGINATION and THE CRITICAL SPIRIT

The inspiration for this month’s theme is a quotation we think is Oscar Wilde’s.  That hasn’t been confirmed to everyone’s satisfaction, but it did grab our interest generating a bit of Facebook discussion and a few flying emails.

“The imagination imitates. It is the critical spirit that creates.”
Oscar Wilde

Three of our stars – Priscilla Galasso, Liliana Negoi and Corina Ravenscraft – have explored the theme in their essays.  They have a few thin threads in common but they each also have a unique view.  Read and join the conversation.  Does imagination imitate and critical spirit create?  If so, why and how?  If not ??? … Share your thoughts in the comments section below each essay.

We are thigh-deep in 100,000 Poets (and writers, artists, photographers, musicians and friends) for Change [100TPC]. In this issue we feature Michael Dickel’s article and photographs, Salerno, il mio amore about the first world conference on the future of 100TPC, which was held in Salerno, Italy just this past June.  Michael, an American-Israeli  Reform Jew, has organized two 100TPC events in Israel and is working on one scheduled for October this year.  Michael is also the lead person on The BeZine for our virtual event this September, which involves reader participation.

Not all of us are professional photographers but thanks to our smart phones many of us have become avocational photographers and will appreciate Seattle-based Rev. Terri Stewart’s thoughts in her two-part feature, Sacred Space and Photography.

Our poetry collection this month includes Algerian poet and Renaissance woman Imen Benyoub’s Elements, which will charm you and you might be surprised by some of the elements she includes.  You’ll be made to think, chuckle wryly and sigh as you read Michael Dickel’s My Free Poetry Book (a poem). Joe Hesch and Lily Negoi delight as always with their singular work. (Lily’s work, by the way, can be read in her native Romanian as well as in English at curcubee în alb şi negru.) And hang onto your seats for a good laugh with Naomi Shihab Nye’s When Did You Stop Being a Poet (One Boy Told Me).

Los Angeles-based Simone Frame MA CCC-SLP, RP is a new guest writer here with her feature Clarity Is Just Above Your Problems. Simone is the founder of Healing Life Insights. Welcome, Simone!

Opsimaths, Polymaths and Poets is an update including poems on Second Light Network of Women Poets (UK based but not restricted to the UK) and on ARTEMISpoetry.  Second Light partnered with The BeZine for interNational Poetry Month in April.  Three poems are included in the feature and – as I often say – the network is for women but the poetry is for everyone. 

Liliana Negoi’s A Closer God and Naomi Baltuck’s photostory, The Seeds of Creativity will both do your hearts good.

Enjoy the reading, learning and inspiration, be the peace, and visit us again. Please support our efforts with your comments and “likes.” You and your ideals and ideas are valued.

On behalf of Beguine Again and The Bardo Group and in the spirit of peace and community,
Jamie Dedes

TABLE OF CONTENTS WITH LINKS

Special Feature:
The First World Conference on the Future of 100TPC

Salerno, il mio amore, Michael Dickel

THEME:

IMAGINATION and THE CRITICAL SPIRIT

Tomb of Oscar Wilde designed by Sir Jacob Epstein
Tomb of Oscar Wilde designed by Sir Jacob Epstein

The tomb of Oscar Wilde in Division 89 of the Père Lachaise cemetery in Paris. 

“The imagination imitates. It is the critical spirit that creates.”
Oscar Wilde

Oscar Wilde and “The Critical Spirit”, Priscilla Galasso
God Particles, Liliana Negoi
What if?, Corina Ravenscraft

Photostory

The Seeds of Creativity, Naomi Baltuck

GENERAL INTEREST

Sacred Space and Photography

Sacred Space and Photography: Light, Terri Stewart
Sacred Space and Photography: Shadow, Terri Stewart

Poetry

Elements, Imen Benyoub
The Taste of Baklava, Jamie Dedes
The Transformation of Things, Jamie Dedes
My Free Poetry Book (a poem), Michael Dickel
Dust to Dust, Joseph Hesch
bladed, Liliana Negoi
When Did You Stop Being a Poet, Naomi Shihab Nye

Feature Articles/Essays

Opsimaths, Polymaths and Poets, Jamie Dedes
Clarity Is Just Above Your Problems, Simone Frame
The Closer God, Liliana Negoi

BIOS WITH LINKS TO OTHER WORKS BY OUR CORE TEAM AND GUEST WRITERS

FOR UPDATES AND INSPIRATION “LIKE” OUR FACEBOOK PAGE, THE BARDO GROUP/BEGUINE AGAIN

MISSION STATEMENT

Back Issues Archive
October/November 2014, First Issue
December 2014, Preparation
January 2015, The Divine Feminine
February 2015, Abundance/Lack of Abundance
March 2015, Renewal
April 2015, interNational Poetry Month
May 2015, Storytelling
June 2015, Diversity

Reel to Reel

High Fidelity. He was on it like a plague.
Four tracks just coming into pocket range.

Every visitor loosened up to it eventually.
It was all on the tapes – laughter, singing –
‘Dis aubudy kaen this wan?’ then a flurry
of snippets, of songs old and new,
Campbeltown Loch, Paper Doll,
and now and again a strident voice…
‘Huv ye got the knives and forks oot yet?’
from the kitchen ben to the living room,
the occasional fssss of taking off a bottle top,
then ‘Jessie! Jessie! Come oan, hen!’
knowing she’d sing one everybody knew
and the party was on for real…

Soon enough they’d be in the swing,
there’d be calls for the favourites – each singer
prized for their own particular songs –
and here, fifty years on, a wee bit of him
singing Heart of My Heart before he’s cut across
by a voice I can’t place, a feisty woman:
Aw, Joe! Gei us the wan ye got 6 months fur!’
But who was Joe? What had he done!?
And the old man who sang next – ‘There iisss
a tavern in the town…’ – was this him?

I’m filled with names and questions: That’s Grace!
Grace the big belly-laugher – if a corner of her lip went up,
you knew, any minute, the whole place would go up with it
but is Al’n no there? Alan, who brought his drumsticks
and gave it laldie on the smokers’ stands? What was
the name of that woman who used to fling in all
the Heee-euchs! to the old Scots dancing songs?
And why, four hours, three tapes in, have I not heard
the famous cuckoo clock? Famous for having lost its ‘oo’,
that left us hanging on the quarter hour with just a rising ‘cuck’?

It’s mostly weekend radio shows, behind them
incoherent chatter, the odd faint conversation.
She: ‘They say it’ll be some weeks.’
and he: ‘It disn’t sound too good then.’
Another tape, in the reel to reel’s last days,
him and a man I don’t know, who says
‘Aw right then… C’mon… Oan ye go’
then a bairn, all of four, by the sounds of her,
singing Flouer o Scotland –
this isn’t what I’m hoping for. It’s not my mother’s
Banks and Braes, his web-footed friends… it’s not Grannie
kicking off a round of I am the music man annnd
I come from down your way, not Uncle Stan’s
Moon River, Margaret’s infamous Granada...

Did he save nothing of family? His children?
None of those New Years chock-full until
Four in the Morning and The Foggy Foggy Dew?

Dear Heart, there is something I must tell you.
They don’t say the words I wanna hear.

I want my mother singing Swing Low Sweet Chariot.
I want her in her white dress singing Summertime,
just as though the living had been easy,
just as though, Lord, he really did have
kisses sweeter than wine.

© 2014, Anne Stewart, all rights reserved; originally published in ARTEMISpoetry Issue 13, Nov 2014

Three Young Poets on Plath’s Influence

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Sylvia Plath (1932-1963), American poet, novelist and short-story writer

450px-Sylvia_Plath_signature.svg

by Kim Moore, Lavinia Singer and  Sarah Westcott

Kim Moore: I think I carry with me … her use of the poem as a psychological journey

I think I’m slightly unusual in that I didn’t read Sylvia Plath as a teenager, which I think is when many poets encounter her. I can’t remember when I first read a Sylvia Plath poem because it feels like I’ve always known it. I also think influence is a tricky thing to pin down and measure and maybe Plath is the poet who manages to influence the largest amount of young poets – and I know this from working with young writers, that part of the battle is trying to get them to read something else apart from Sylvia Plath. I think the way her poetry still connects with young people is quite remarkable and would probably merit a whole study in itself.

If I had to pick out the one thing that I love about Plath’s poetry though, and which I think I carry with me, it is her use of the poem as a psychological journey. The whole movement of the poem propels itself towards its end, and each poem feels to me, like a search for something, some truth, or realisation. I also feel like Plath was writing blind, she wasn’t planning what she was finding out, she was writing to discover what she wanted to say. Of course the only person who could verify or deny that is Sylvia Plath, but I like to think she probably got the same sense of shock and a slight lurch as the world shifts into a different focus when she wrote something and surprised herself as we do when we read her poems now. The last line of Mirror when the old woman “Rises toward her day after day, like a terrible fish” still shocks me now.

Lavinia Singer: Her gift for imagery continually surprises, and inspires my own writing.

Last May the Southbank Centre presented a Sylvia Plath celebration: forty female poets and performers each reading a poem from her final manuscript Ariel in its restored order. The hall was filled; Plath’s popularity has never been doubted. Harold Bloom spoke of it rather patronisingly: “But surely what matters about Plath … is the audience. These are poems for people who don’t read poems.” This from the man who opens his introduction to her work with: “Sylvia Plath, who killed herself early in 1963…”

It’s all rather snooty. Such pronouncements, alongside labels of ‘Popular Poet’, ‘Confessional Writer’, ‘Feminist Martyr’, marginalise any artistic achievement. As a literature student, I found Plath positioned as a poet to enjoy but then move on from. Perhaps this is induced by her successful novel The Bell Jar – a ‘coming of age’ narrative. Wryly depicting a young girl with writing aspirations and mental illness, it continues to appeal, and not only to adolescents. I prefer her Journals, which are more scattered and mood-dependent, expressing an identity both being forged and actively shaping itself: “A Life Is Passing!” It also offers helpful ways to approach her poetry:

Why can’t I try on different lives, like dresses, to see which fits best and is most becoming?

Writing makes me a small god: I re-create the flux and smash of the world through the small ordered word patterns I make.

Performance, play, construction: Plath’s work is never simply ‘confessional’, as many critics would have us believe, charting some inexorable spiral to suicide. Her gift for imagery continually surprises, and inspires my own writing. A beehive is a “black mind” (Wintering), birds are “moon-plumaged strangers” (The Shrike), and what depths are expressed in: “My landscape is a hand with no lines” (Childless Woman)! Plath smashes her everyday world and re-creates it with hard-won tools of myth and symbol, picking language to its core: “So words have power to open sesame and reveal liberal piles of golden metallic suns in the dark pit.” (Journal)

In the darkness of the auditorium, the uttered poems shone, and it was clear why audiences of all kinds – including poets! – keep coming back to share in the treasure.

Sarah Westcott: The boldness, the truths, the place she drew from…

At school I was aware of Sylvia Plath but it wasn’t until I went to university (and I was ready for her) that I discovered her poetry on my own terms.

I remember idly flicking through her poems in a bookshop and feeling I had stuck my fingers into a hive of bees – I “sizzled” in her own “blue volts” by the roots of my hair.

As an 18-year-old science student I was ignorant of her poetic craft and control. What I responded to was her fierce truthfulness, her shocking imagery and the intensity and ferocity of emotion. She brought up inner, collective symbols, things I didn’t know I knew, seemingly straight from the subconscious and forged them into poetry.

I felt like I was indulging myself in a sort of emotional expression that I could not in ‘real life’ – her words took me there, drawing on a wellspring of deep, rich imagery.

Plath spoke to me then, and does now, with her directness of perception. She showed you didn’t have to be good, or compliant, or even sane, to write poetry.

Daddy scared me: she voiced the unsayable. But her poetry went beyond self-expression into larger archetypes. She wrote, as she says, of ‘the things of this world’ but also of darker emotions that ‘put on the masks of quite unworldly things’ such as ghosts and gods or monsters.

She was also unashamedly female – and I thought of poppies, and hell flames, and menstruation and blood and my own ‘Daddy’ and she was gothic and terrible and brilliant.

There was an aura of glamorous tragedy around her, but she seemed ‘old’ to me – at thirty. Only now I am older than her do I realise how young she was when she died, and how much more she could have left the world.

As a young mother, I returned to her poetry as it captured the joy and intensity of early motherhood better for me than anyone else. You’re combines the other, almost alien-qualities of a new born, with tenderness. And the sincerity of Child is desperately moving:

Your clear eye is the one absolutely beautiful thing.
I want to fill it with colour and ducks. The zoo of the new…

I admire and study the way Plath writes about nature without conquering or trapping it. In Mushrooms, for example, she not only describes and inhabits their odd whiteness but takes on their voice herself:

So many of us!
… nudgers and shovers
In spite of ourselves.
Our kind multiplies:

We shall by morning
Inherit the earth…

I love this daring, this derring-do, this sly inhabitation of different forms and voices and it has encouraged me in my own experiments.

I continue to go back to Plath’s poems through the prism of my older self. I savour her exquisite rhyme and musicality, and I read her in a new context: how brave her poems are, forged in the autumn before she died.

Plath beat a path by opening up territories and by being vulnerable. She did not hide behind her cleverness or societal expectations. The boldness, the truths, the place she drew from are exposed and exposing. She inspires me to try to venture to the deepest reaches of the self, and to write without (self) censure.

Originally published in ARTEMISpoetry, Issue 13, All rights reserved

Comments on Second Light: organization, publications and remote workshops

Second Light:

… affirming and creative, thoughtful and wide-ranging. It is unique in offering practical advice, support, activities geared to promoting visibility and publication outlets for women poets.
Katherine Gallagher

Discovering Second Light was for me like opening a door and letting in the fresh air: it’s unstuffy, wide-horizoned, inviting and inspirational.
Mary MacRae

ARTEMISpoetry:

…certain to become a must-have, must-read journal for all involved with contemporary poetry…
Penelope Shuttle

Hooray for ARTEMISpoetry! Why are women so good at poetry? Like Artemis the archer, they see so clearly, and they aim straight for the mark. Not distracted by ego or vanity, they just want to say it as it is – the most difficult thing in the world to do. Written, edited, financed wholly by women, full of excellent poems, reviews, articles and information, ARTEMISpoetry is just what we need.
U A Fanthorpe & R V Bailey

Her Wings of Glass:

Her Wings of Glass is an amazing anthology — and most beautifully printed and produced
Pauline Stainer

I must say I’m impressed! There are so many poets, so many unexpected poems. You’ve done us proud.
Anne Stevenson

The anthology … is fabulous. Congratulations!
Prof. Dr. Lidia Vianu (Bucharest)

I’m completely wowed by the anthology: an absolutely outstanding collection making a powerful impact … I think it is the most important anthology for decades.
John Killick

Many congratulations to the editors of Her Wings of Glass! I read it from cover to cover over Christmas and found it tremendously inspiring. It was such a pleasure to read work from poets new to me, or whose work was less familiar, as well as the well-chosen poems from those whose work I knew better. I thought the sections mapped a really helpful and convincing way through. The poems were so fine and urgent that the book was as hard to put down as any novel! I felt very honoured to have poems included.
Moniza Alvi

just to congratulate Second Light on this huge anthology. There’s so much virtuosity among the poets – it puts to an end my reservations about the notion of ‘women’s poetry’ and I think the triumph comes from your chosen themes that brought out the passion women feel about our current situation – your introduction too was brilliant in priming us for what was to come. There were so many poets I ‘don’t know/hadn’t heard of’ I was so pleased to discover.

Judy Gahagan

Remote Workshop Series: Her Wings of Glass:

highly beneficial, thoughtful workshops, well-paced
Ruth Hill (Canada)

they are wonderful, something of a life-saver
Patricia Huth Ellis (UK)

[I] recommend them, both for range and value – really stretching
Carolyn O’Connell (UK)

my copy [Her Wings of Glass] has arrived. Lots of wonderful poems. And the workshops are great.
Moya Pacey (Australia)

Petronella checks the submission guidelines

Petronella
© 2014, Kate Foley, All rights reserved; Originally published in ARTEMISpoetry

My Life in Poetry

Stevenson_Anne“I am not a nano-particle being fired through an interferometer; I’m a living person whose outer and inner selves are intimately connected…”

Where to begin? Well, to be as up-to-date as I can, I’ll start by citing an article that struck me weeks ago, when I was sorting through old copies of The New Scientist. On the front cover of the issue of 15 stonemilkMay, 2004, was a headline, ‘Make me Quantum: How to be in two places at once’. Right away it occurred to me that ‘quantum’ or a ‘quantum feeling’ would be a good way to express the weird sense I’ve had as far back as I can remember of being at the same time myself and not myself, both here and not here. When I turned to the article, I was struck by the first paragraph’s likeness to a poem I’d written in the early ’80s. Here is the opening paragraph of the quantum article, followed by the poem:

Anton Zeilinger raps his knuckles on the wooden table in front of him. He thinks the table is there, passively sitting on the floor of his office… But he can’t be sure. ‘Reality seems to be immediate: I can touch this table,’ he says. ‘However, if you think carefully about it, all I have is information getting into my brain.’

Small Philosophical Poem

Dr Animus, whose philosophy is a table,
sits down contentedly to a square meal.
The plates lie there, and there,
just where they should lie.
His feet stay just where they should stay,
between legs and the floor.
His eyes believe the clean waxed surfaces
are what they are.

But while he’s eating his un-
exceptional propositions, his wise
wife, Anima, sweeping a haze-gold decanter
from a metaphysical salver,
pours him a small glass of doubt.
Just what he needs.
He smacks his lips and cracks his knuckles.
The world is the pleasure of thought.

He’d like to stay awake all night,
(elbows on the table)
talking of how the table might not be there.
But Anima, whose philosophy is hunger,
perceives the plates are void in empty air.
The floor is void beneath his trusting feet.
Peeling her glass from its slender cone of fire,
she fills the room with love. And fear. And fear. ¹

It would be almost as mind-boggling as quantum theory itself if Anton Zeilinger in Vienna had read that poem, but the coincidence of the imagery may not be entirely accidental. Although Zeilinger was experimenting with de Broglie wavelengths and quantum ‘superpositions’ of electrons and photons, and the poem is a parable calling into question how little we know about what we think we know, it seems likely that two contemporary minds were running in similar channels. The scientist’s spirit of inquiry is not all that different from the poet’s. Keeping the biggest, most basic questions open and mysterious is what makes the disciplines of science and literature exciting in this spoiled, rich western world of the 21st century that can seem so cheap and media-heavy, filled with meaningless chatter. When, at the end of Small Philosophical Poem, Dr. Animus’s “wise wife, Anima” perceives the plates and floor are true only in so far as the human brain thinks they are, she fills the room with the fires of love and fear – unquantifiable emotions that give our lives meaning without promising us any kind of spurious public health and safety.

As for being in two places at once, here again I want to call on quantum physics for a metaphor. For although, in a classical sense, my life has proceeded normally from year to year, in a more mysterious way it has oscillated violently, circling around and back on itself between times of insight and creation and times of mental stagnation and misery. The life I have led as a woman, in short, often feels to me the same and yet different from my life as a poet. Like a quantum particle, I can exist in two places at once – though, let me hastily add, I don’t think being conscious of a double state is all that unusual. Nearly everybody dreams. And my ‘quantum’ life, which I think of as my ‘real’ life, certainly has a root in a dreamy state of mind, though I can’t imagine a dream causing me nearly as much hard, conscious labour as the writing of a poem.

What I am saying, of course, has to be understood as a kind of poetry, a figure of speech, as Anton Zeilinger puts it, made wholly ‘out of information getting into my brain.’ I am not a nano-particle being fired through an interferometer; I’m a living person whose outer and inner selves are so intimately connected that I can almost see them ‘superposed’, one in the exact same place and yet in a different place from the other. So, if I am to proceed with an account of my life in poetry I will have to negotiate with this mysterious conundrum to produce something like a coherent story.

Facts first. Born in January, 1933, I was the oldest of three American daughters born to Charles and Louise Stevenson, both Midwesterners from Ohio. They were highly intelligent and well educated. My mother, who surely would have become a writer or teacher had she lived a generation later, was passionately fond of literature, and the fiction she read aloud to us as children – mostly novels by Kipling, Dickens, Mark Twain, R L Stevenson, and, especially dear to me, Jane Austen – are books that I still can’t open without hearing her lively, wonderfully expressive voice. My father, though a university professor by profession, was at home an amateur pianist and chamber-music player who gave his daughters violins or cellos every Christmas (with a view to forming a family trio), and entertained us in the evening by reading us Shakespeare and Yeats and long narrative poems by the likes of Walter Scott and Mathew Arnold. He had surprised his Cincinnati business family by going to Yale to study English, but after marrying my mother and crossing the Atlantic to Cambridge, England, he switched his field to philosophy. He hardly noticed when I was born, my mother told me (though his letters at the time don’t bear this out) he was so absorbed in writing a paper on vagueness while preparing to submit a PhD thesis on Ethical Values to Harvard. At the age of six months, I was whisked out of the English Cambridge to start my life in the American one. The next move was to New Haven, where, throughout World War II, Steve (as everyone called him) taught at Yale. In 1946 he was invited to join the University of Michigan’s philosophy department in Ann Arbor. He was a professor there until he retired, and that is where I went to high school and university.

Now, it is no exaggeration to say that during those eight or nine years when I was growing up in Ann Arbor, I lived in an imaginary world of my own invention. And in this pretended world (which was pure fantasy and not at all the ‘quantum’ world referred to earlier) I was, according to what I was reading or seeing, Mozart the Wonder Child, Joan of Arc, Cleopatra played by Katherine Cornell, Elizabeth Bennet in Pride and Prejudice, Natasha Rostov in War and Peace, but most often a reincarnation of Emily Dickinson or Edna St. Vincent Millay – when I wasn’t being a female
reincarnation of William Shakespeare or John Keats. Later, as a university student and member of an organization called The Inter-Arts Union, I became an ardent modernist, writing Eliot-like poems and reviews for student publications, poetic plays in the manner of Yeats, even a rather Tom Stoppard-like libretto for a short opera. Then, in my final year, I won a Major Hopwood Prize for poetry, a very generous amount of money, and spent it immediately on a one-way air ticket to England. A year later, after passing myself off as a teacher in a boarding school in Kent, I threw away all my ambitions in the arts to marry a handsome Rugby-playing Englishman just down from Cambridge. My parents and fellow artists in Ann Arbor were puzzled and disappointed, particularly my mother, who, over the years, had transferred to me her own ambitions to become a writer. To me, though, England (the country of my birth, after all) had always been a kind of Mecca. Drab, cold and poor in 1955, still critically wounded by the war, it nonetheless seemed the perfect setting for the Henry James-like fiction I was writing continually in my imagination, in which I featured both as author and heroine.

It must have been four or five years after my marriage that I first became aware of soul-destroying frustrations. I was not living in a novel; I was living a box with a false bottom. On the surface I was happily partnered with a suitably adventurous hero. In 1957, I gave birth to a daughter in London, having already followed my husband to Norwich and to Belfast while he tried on different management consultancy jobs. By 1958–59, we were living in New York City, and from thence my husband’s business took us south to Mississippi. With every move, I was at first interested and stimulated, then later – completely unable to write – downcast, anorexic and helplessly tearful. My husband couldn’t understand what was wrong with me. Finally, in Atlanta, Georgia, we decided to part. Divorced and back at Michigan with my small daughter in the autumn of 1960, I began studying for an MA in English. Living again in my parents’ house of pianos and cellos and readings-aloud in the evening, I tried to take up the life I had lost in marriage, but that was, of course, impossible. My mother was dying of cancer, and she and my father knew it. Then, the academic discipline of English (and indeed of everything else) seemed to me sterile until I met the poet, Donald Hall, and through him was introduced to the work of modern poets I had never heard of: Wallace Stevens, Robert Lowell, Sylvia Plath and – miracle of miracles – Elizabeth Bishop.

There is little point in setting down many further details of my personal life after Donald Hall had helped to revive the poetry in me and arranged for me to write a short study of Elizabeth Bishop. This commission led to a correspondence with her that immensely affected the poems I wrote thereafter. But if my life as a poet began about then, my life as a woman still went on, and in oddly repetitive ways. After I left Michigan a second time, I taught at a progressive school in Massachusetts. In 1962, I married again – a young historian (famous today) who was studying Chinese and Japanese at Harvard. Shortly after New Year, 1963, my mother died, aged 54 – a blow from which I never recovered, except as I was later able to express my complicated dependence on her love and example in my book- length epistolary poem, Correspondences (1974). Throughout the 1960s and ’70s, living (on and off) with my husband in Cambridge, England (again!) and then in Glasgow, I continued to try on and rebel against contradictory roles that I thought appropriate to an academic’s independent wife: mother (my sons, were born in 1965 and ’66) amateur musician, literary critic, free-wheeling lover, bookseller, broadcaster, fellow in writing at several universities. None of these roles were absolutely false, but none were fulfilling, either. All I really wanted to do was write poems I could believe in, get them published, and have them fairly reviewed. What with moves back and forth from Scotland to Oxford, and from Oxford to Hay on Wye to found a Poetry Book Shop, it gradually became clear to me that the only life I was fit for, without lying or apologising even to myself for my blatant selfishness, would have to concede a lot of ‘niceness’ to some undeniable compulsion I had inherited – from where? From the extraordinary upbringing my parents had given me in the very best classical music and literature? Well, yes, but there was no way I could turn the clock back, even if I’d wanted to. Which, of course, I didn’t; I’d had quite enough of what at the time (not now) I condemned as ‘academic stuffiness’ and ‘middle-class morality’. The poets and artists I knew, worked and drank with in the 1970s and ’80s were exciting and fun to be with. And yet, some amalgam of language, music and rhythm that my ear had picked up in childhood remained with me all through this period. I couldn’t let it go. Call it, if you like, the English verse tradition, once strongly championed by radical modernists, Eliot, Pound and Stevens, but neglected in the 1980s, as today, by the apostles of post- modernism.

In the middle ’80s, when I had calmed down a good deal and finally found the right man to marry, just as I was beginning to have confidence in my own voice and ear, I became seriously deaf and could no longer hear music or performed poetry without a tone-distorting hearing aid. At first, I considered this a great disaster, but as it turned out, physical deafness helped me to see how the split simultaneity of my personal and ‘quantum’ lives could be an advantage.

I’ve lost a sense. Why should I care?
Searching myself, I find a spare.
I keep that sixth sense in repair
And set it deftly, like a snare.²

Since 1969, when Reversals appeared from Welseyan University Press in Connecticut, I have published many slim volumes, but to understand the shape of ‘my life in poetry’, a reader would do well to consult Poems 1955 –2005, the fat collection Bloodaxe Books brought out in 2006. When I put it together, instead of arranging the poems chronologically by date written, I tried to trace occurring and recurring themes that ran through them like variously coloured threads in a Turkish rug. Getting the tone, meaning and form of every one of those poems right cost me a good deal in time and nervous energy. It has cost even more to my husbands, partners and especially to my children, to whom my ‘quantum’ life, while they were growing up, was, of course, incomprehensible. I could say much about my personal life that would reflect negatively on my ambition, for ambition and professional jealousy naturally make up an ungenerous part of every poet’s drive to make a name and find readers in the present and future. Just the same, I consider that everything to do with my desire to succeed, strong as it has been, derives from my Mr. Animus self, not from the parallel Anima to whom I owe the poems I judge to matter. In the end, I will have to leave it to my poems to tell the story of my life, although I never know quite when that weird “Other House” of poetry is going to appear, or how in the world I ever find my way in and out of it.

The Other House

In the house of childhood
I looked up to my mother’s face.
The sturdy roofbeam of her smile
Buckled the rooms in place.
A shape of the unchangeable
taught me the word, ‘gone’.

In the house of growing up
I lined my prison wall
With lives I worshipped as I read.
If I chose one, I chose all,
Such paper clothes I coveted
and ached to try on.

The house of youth has a grand door,
A ruin the other side
Where Death Watch & Company
Compete with groom and bride.
Nothing was what seemed to be
in that charged dawn…

My angry house was a word house,
A city of the brain,
Where buried heads and salt gods
Struggled to breathe again.
Into those echoing, sealed arcades
I hurled a song…

I drove my mind to a strange house,
Infinitely huge and small,
The cone to which this dew drop earth
Leeches, invisible.
Infinite steps of death and birth
lead up and down.

Beneath me, infinitely deep,
Solidity dissolves.
Above me, infinitely wide,
Galactic winter sprawls.
That house of the utterly outside
became my home.

In it, the house of childhood
Safeguards my mother’s face.
A lifted eyebrow’s ‘Yes, and so?’
Latches the room in place.
I tell my children all I know
of the word ‘gone’. ³

Anne Stevenson

Notes:
1 Anne Stevenson, “Small Philosophical Poem” in Poems 1955–2005, (Tarset, Northumberland: Bloodaxe Books, 2006), 28.
2 Anne Stevenson, “On Going Deaf”, ibid, 351.
3 Anne Stevenson, “The Other House”, ibid, 153.

© 2014, essay/poems/photograph/book cover art, Anne Stevenson, All rights reserved; Originally published in ARTEMISpoetry

Posted in General Interest, Poems/Poetry, poetry, Poets/Writers, The BeZine Table of Contents

The BeZine, April 2015, Volume 1, Issue 6 – Table of Contents with links

OUR THEME THIS MONTH:
POETRY in honor of
interNATIONAL POETRY MONTH

Mid-wife

A poem is as new as beginnings,
as fresh as the first day at school.

A poem is as bright as our admiration
for courage, our respect for freedom.

A poem is as early as the first leaf,
as white as the most swan-white cloud.

A poem is a drop of rain, a little
convex mirror with the prime of day in it.

A poem is so raw, so young that it has grown
no first, second or third skin.

Dilys Wood, All rights reserved

April 15, 2015

Poetry is that particular way of organizing our thoughts and imagination into music, emotion, image and story. Through poetry we live hugely, with more beauty, and we seek to break the limitations of our minds, to understand the powers that are living us (to borrow from Auden) and connect with the rest of humankind and that ineffable something that is greater than ourselves. It is both art and meditative practice. Ultimately it becomes a collaboration between writer and reader.

Celebrating poetry in April for interNational Poetry Month has been a Bardo Group tradition since 2011. This year, together with our partner, Second Light Network, our core team and our guest poets we bring you – as poets and poetry lovers – a rich collection of poems, resources and inspiration.

We are pleased to partner with Second Light Network of Women Poets and to bring to your attention the work of 100,000 Poets for Change and Stephen F. Austin State University Press, which recently published a new biography of Sylvia Plath by Julia Gordon-Bramer. Ms. Gordon-Bramer explores Plath’s work through her well known interest in Tarot and Qabalah.

It occurred to me as I was putting the final touches on this month’s The BeZine that there is a sub theme:  the way poets reach out not only with words – but with actions – to help make the world a better place.  Second Light Network reaches out to support women poets in their later years. 100,000 Poets for Change is a global effort  to raise awareness of environmental issues, climate change and human rights issues.  Poet Silva Zanoyan Merjanian, a Lebanese-American of Armenian decent, is donating the sales of her second book, Rumor (Cold River Press), to the Syrian Armenian Relief Fund. 

Second Light Network (SLN) of Women Poets

Founded by English poet Dilys Wood, SLN is all about encouraging and promoting the work of women in their third act, especially those who are coming to poetry for the first time late in life. Full membership is open to women over forty years and affiliate membership is open to those under forty. Visit Second Life Live for details. Membership is not limited to residents of the U.K.

SLN sponsors classes (including remote classes), is often able to make special arrangements for disabled, and publishes anthologies of women’s work and ARTEMISpoetry magazine (May and November). While the network is for women only, the poetry is for everyone.

– Jamie Dedes

The HEADER this month is the work of our AmeriQuebeckian poet Annie Wyndham, who publishes Salamander Cove. It has an irregular schedule. There’s a fine archive of poems from some of the world’s finest poets.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

BOOK EXCERPT

Fixed Stars Govern A Life: Decoding Sylvia Plath by Julia Gordon-Bramer.

SECOND LIGHT NETWORK (SLN) OF WOMEN POETS

About SLN
Second Light Welcomes Women Poets
Comments on Second Light: organization, publications and remote workshops
Enthusiastic Supporters of Second Light

Features from ARTEMISpoetry
Three Young Poets on Plath’s Influence by Kim Moore, Lavinia Singer and Sarah Westcott
We As Human Beings Must Not Forget, An Interview with Argentinian Poet Ana Becciú by Maria Jastrzębska
My Life in Poetry by Ann Stevenson
Petronella Checks Submission Guidelines by Kate Foley

100,000 POETS FOR CHANGE

Poets and Artists Raise Awareness, Work to Inspire Positive Change

Poems

Past Master by John Anstie
The Dream of a Poet by John Anstie

Le Fée Verte, Absinthe by Jamie Dedes
Blue Echo by Jamie Dedes
Wabi Sabi by Jamie Dedes

Father Sky by Priscilla Galasso
Morning Dove by Priscilla Galasso

How to Write a Poem by Joseph Hesch

The Saints in My Rain by Silva Zanoyan Merjanian; artwork by Steve McCabe
Converge by Silva Zanoyan Merjanian

race by Lilianna Negoi

The Will of the Quill by Corina Ravenscraft

Survival by Myra Schneider

Reel to Reel by Anne Stewart

Double Dutch by Terri Stewart

Reasons by Blaga Todorova
After Neruda by Blaga Todorova

Our Stories by Annie Wyndham

The BeZine, Issue 5
The BeZine, Issue 4
The BeZine, Issue 3
The BeZine, Issue 2
The BeZine, Issue 1

The Bardo Group/Beguine Again on Facebook

The BeZine is a publication of BequineAgain and The Bardo Group.

Second Light Network (SLN) Welcomes Women Poets

What’s the purpose of this women-only network set up in 1994?

When set up, SLN focussed on women poets over 40 years of age who were ‘breaking into’ a world previously dominated by men. Without knowing it, we’d hit on the key moment when the art-form of poetry suddenly became a true domain for women, equal alongside male poets.

By the mid-90s the period, lasting into the mid-80s, when only a small minority of women poets were ‘recognised’ in the UK had gone. This revolution is still not always understood and celebrated – it’s one of our aims to promote opportunity, urging women’s ambition to match the new chances.

SLN membership quickly grew to around 300. The name ‘Second Light’, implying vision which comes later in life, was never quite right but it stuck and we’re stuck with it. The majority of members are published poets with a pamphlet or full collection, or aiming for this.

Many women felt that they needed the support and enthusiasm of other women to consolidate the progress already made in the ‘acceptance’ of women writers. Some women had written all their lives but had lost time and self-belief because of other priorities, children, caring roles, paid jobs.

Older women did not normally have the same ‘credibility’ as ‘new young poets’ of either sex and found that readings were not easy to come by. To experience this discrimination, which also applies to publication to some extent, you don’t actually need to be very much over 25! SLN is for young women poets, too, with a category of associate members under 40 who are warmly welcomed.

SLN works on four fronts: publication in our twice-yearly magazine, ARTEMISpoetry or in anthologies; workshops mainly in London with leading women poets as tutors; readings; a venture into low-cost workshops to be done at home, poems then shared with other participants, if desired.

What are our watch-words as an organisation? I would say ‘enthusiasm’ and ‘ambition’. There’s no better time to be a writing woman but some of us are isolated and even out of touch. We celebrate both tradition and experiment in poetry because it’s the poet’s right to choose and, to do so, we need to know what’s going on, get in there and do it. Information’s important and so is ‘sisterhood’.

Survival

SURVIVAL

1

When the cot wouldn’t stop howling
night unstitched its gentle blanket and smacked

the kitchen clock’s face. Death was a vision
of a bloated sheep slowly floating downriver.

By day I was trapped in the tube of the hoover’s
extended arm, fear filled my lungs with dust.

The years ahead stood before me blank
as a line of empty buckets but I knew they’d fill

with panic, its manic dance as time and again
I failed to measure up as a real mother.

2

When I received the diagnosis death jumped up
taller than life, laughed at the bright words

the consultant was mouthing and pointed its gun
at my head. Reeling, I looked into its two nostrils.

The words crumpled. Then the walls collapsed
as if they were the pieces of paper the wolf

had huffed. We drove home and the future
fled along the gutters with the thunder-rain,

so hurling my favourite teacup, the one patterned
with redcurrants – across the kitchen – was useless.

3

And yet somewhere inside the empty self
were threads I didn’t know I possessed.

Love was it? kindness? that tugged, set me
on my feet, worked my arms and legs.

There was the day when a girl in mauve
put a tray of powder paints into my hand

and I unleashed on the sugar-paper treefuls
of turquoise leaves, a pram with easy wheels.

There was the day, years on, when snowdrops,
defying the forest of bare twigs above them,

stopped me in the street, spurred me to latch
onto words, defeat the terror lodged in my head.

© 2014, poem, Myra Schneider, All rights reserved; originally published in Envoi (Issue 63) and more recently in ARTEMISpoetry, Issue 13

Enthusiastic supporters of Second Light …

Mimi Khalvati copyright Caroline ForbesMimi Khalvati, a regular tutor for Second Light, has judged the poetry competition, is the subject of the full page colour feature on the back cover of ARTEMISpoetry Issue 8. photo © copyright Caroline Forbes

Myra SchneiderMyra Schneider, Consultant to and regular tutor for Second Light, has judged the poetry competition, frequently on editorial staff of and regular contributor to ARTEMISpoetry and the subject of the full page colour feature on the back cover of Issue 9.

katherinegallagherphoto150Katherine Gallagher, Committee member, regular tutor for Second Light, has judged the poetry competition and frequently on editorial staff of ARTEMISpoetry.

 

 

Wendy French, Committee member, frequent tutor for Second Light, has judged the poetry competition and been co-editor of ARTEMISpoetry.

Kay_Syrad_bw_4cmKay Syrad, frequent contributor to ARTEMISpoetry and has been co-editor.

 

 

 

Alison Brackenbury, frequent contributor to ARTEMISpoetry and has been co-editor and Poetry Editor, is the subject of the full page colour feature on the back cover of Issue 10.

WE AS HUMAN BEINGS MUST NOT FORGET, An Interview with Argentinian Poet Ana Becciú

“… you could be very lonely as a young poet in the world, when that world was Argentina in the Seventies”

Buenos Aires & Brighton, 2012: Argentinian Poet Ana Becciú – latest collection Night Watch (Waterloo Press) – interviewed by Maria Jastrzębska.

______________________________________________

MJ: The epigraph to Night Watch is from 16th century Spanish mystic St. John of the Cross. Reading your book I was reminded of Gertrude Stein – can you tell me about your influences?

AB: Yes Gertrude was present from the start. The epigraph signals the importance of what the book’s about but is deliberately ambiguous. However St. John of the Cross is not a major influence. I would say more Las Moradas of St. Teresa of Ávila, La Celestina of Fernando de Rojas, XI century Portuguese ‘cantigas’ and Mozárabe poetry, Garcilaso de la Vega and Luis de Góngora.

In the text there are references to: Djuna Barnes, John Donne, Kierkegaard, Rilke, Clarice Lispector, Ingeborg Bachmann. Patti Smith’s music in London accompanied the writing of Night Watch. Paul Celan, Alejandra Pizarnik, Olga Orozco, Julio Cortázar, Sylvia Plath, Anne Carson, Inger Christensen, Ana María Moix, Thomas Bernhard, classical Greek poetry and theatre, Antonioni, Bergman, Alain Resnais, John Cage, J S Bach, among others, are the artists with whom I like to live.

MJ: Do you feel part of a writing or women’s writing community?

AB: I do indeed – a community of women who, through the XXth Century and the beginning of the XXI, are writing to enlarge our knowledge of a world where the Shoah (Holocaust) was possible, and a totalitarian society is still possible today. Women writers keep saying – using their writing as an art – that we, as human beings, must not forget. To this aim, the artist works with ‘one’s guts from one’s head’, as Auden put it.

MJ: Can you tell me something about your friendship with the poet Alejandra Pizarnik and her legacy today?

AB: I met Alejandra Pizarnik when I was 20 years old. It was the first time I’d met anybody else who lived poetry as an activity you could practice all day and night, at the centre of your life. Unfortunately I discovered that you could also lose your life, because you could be very lonely as a young poet in the world, when that world was Argentina in the seventies. When she died, a few of us, her young friends (thanks to Alejandra’s mother) saved her papers (copybooks, files, library, etc) from destruction.

In 1976, when the well known military dictatorship took power in Argentina and I left for Europe (Barcelona first and then Paris), I managed to get all those archives out of Buenos Aires, and years later, with the help of a woman publisher, Esther Tusquets, and a woman writer, Ana María Moix, in Barcelona, and friends of Pizarnik, such as the leading Argentine poet Olga Orozco and the translator Aurora Bernardez, we published her work.

Her poetry is the starting point from which I began to understand the power of language, when language is the construction of a poem as a place ‘where everything is possible’. She wrote that way. She taught me where to find sources to write from and I learned to recognize the language of a poem. I knew I had to start from the point she had reached. Poetical language is a continuum.

Forty years after her death, Alejandra Pizarnik is a major reference point for young Argentinian readers, and I must say – thanks to translators all over the world – Pizarnik’s poetry is also becoming that reference point in other countries.

MJ: Your collection Night Watch works on so many levels – spiritual quest, love story – but also as an examination of how patriarchal language appropriates and ruptures women’s experience. Are you being read within a feminist or queer context in Argentina?

AB: I am afraid I must answer no to your question. Night Watch has not been read within this context in Argentina. Perhaps because the book never circulated properly. In the beginning the reviews were excellent, written by male critics who pointed tangentially to that context but afterwards everybody always praised the writing but not its different levels.

In the early eighties after the military dictatorship and the Malvinas War, feminism sprang up in Argentina, particularly in Buenos Aires, when the country experienced a sort of Spring of Democracy. Feminist and queer organizations began to speak out, to circulate French and American ideas and theories. But very little happened in a concrete political sense. The first law allowing divorce was passed in 1997. A law permitting women to terminate unwanted pregnancies is still a dream. And no Leftwing intellectuals, women or men, will press the present government of Madame Kirshner, a fervent catholic devoted to Male Principles, on this subject.

Women in Argentina are still the victims of a patriarchal and male chauvinist ideology that survives in every political party, every family, the media, education, etcetera; gender violence is prevalent. You may say that’s true in Europe too, but what I observe in Argentina is how many women are punished and killed, raped, doused with gasoline and burnt, by their sexual partners, lovers, friends or husbands.

The first time Night Watch was interpreted in the context of patriarchal domination was when the book was republished in pocket format in Spain in 1998. That was when critics discovered it, and most of them also discovered its varied levels, saw there was a story being told though its details were not explained, because it was not just one more love story. And new readers, women, but also young men, begun to understand the context and the writing, and the necessity not to indulge in explanations or details or anecdotes or historical contexts, or whatever is normal in a narrative- fictional story. The translator Cecilia Rossi, a young reader herself, understood it completely; that’s why I like her English version so much.

MJ: Can you say something about the relationship with European and American poetry given the political situation?

AB: Since the forties English and US poets and writers were translated by our own best writers and translators, like Jorge Luis Borges, Aurora Bernardez, Julio Cortázar, and many more. Virginia Woolf was translated immediately after the publication of her books in London. We read Orlando and Mrs. Dalloway in the thirties. Eliot, Pound, Williams, Auden, Tomlinson, and a long etcetera, were available in Spanish, not via books coming from Spain, but from Buenos Aires and Mexico.

For example, my professor of English Literature at the university was Jorge Luis Borges. The preferences of my generation were much more for English and US poets than French. In the late Sixties and seventies we read French essays on linguistics and psychoanalysis and English and American writers. Djuna Barnes was first translated into Spanish in 1968 – a brilliant version.

We discovered the best writers of the XXth Century thanks to our translators. The same for the cinema: the Neorealismo Italiano, la Nouvelle Vague, Bergman, and so on. When I was 21 years old I discovered John Cage by going to a concert he gave in Buenos Aires. All that expansion and artistic vanguardism was killed by the military in 1976.

Today there’s a new wave of cultural life in Buenos Aires and a few of the big cities. Poets still read new American and European poetry, but mostly the tendency is to read poetry from Latin American countries.

New Argentinian poetry written by women, as far as I can tell, deals with personal experiences, but it’s both emotional and political at a national level. In fact, the only poetry that interests me in Argentina is written by women, like Tamara Kamenszain or Irene Guss, for example. And from the rest of Latin America too, women poets like Gloria Gervitz in Mexico or the late Marosa Di Giorgio from Uruguay.

MJ: What keeps you going?

AB: I continue writing because I need to know and to understand what concerns me – and us – the world we live in, as women. Give a voice to the voices within us, under the surface of the words we use every day, voices that pronounce suffering, loss, the voices of all of us lost in this present society.

MJ: Thanks so much for talking to us.

___________________________________________

Ana Becciú’s Night Watch was one of four Argentinian collections reviewed by Maria Jastrzębska in ARTEMISpoetry Issue 8 – read the reviews online at:
http://www.secondlightlive.co.uk/artemis/8jastrzebskaargentina.pdf

Maria Jastrzębska’s third collection At The Library of Memories is forthcoming from Waterloo Press. She co-translated Elsewhere by Iztok Osojnik with Ana Jelnikar (Pighog Press, 2011). Her work is frequently anthologised and features in the British Library project Between Two Worlds: Poetry & Translation. Her drama Dementia Diaries toured nationally.

More at http://www.south-pole.org.uk and http://www.mariajastrzebska.wordpress.com

Originally published in ARTEMISpoetry, All rights reserved