Tattered Trees

​Black limbs with outstretched sleeves
full of holes and bloodstained leaves,
soughing from groves of tattered trees,
blowing mournfully in a lead-filled breeze.

Thorns stem from grafted roots
poisonous runners sprout sickly shoots
tendrils smoking, choking, twenty-one gun salute.
Eyewitness videos can’t refute.

As soaking in a withering rain
the rotten gardeners remain
now all around us bears the stain,
deaf to the haunting refrain.

M. Zane McClellan
~
Copyright © 2016
All rights reserved

By the Authority Vested 

Who grants
authority
Vested in thee?
Taking
what cannot be
given back,
if mistakenly,
found
standing on
tremorous
moral ground,
unarmed, dead bodies
strewn around.
Granted power,
the right.
Constitutional,
Legal,
protection
from public
oversight.
We become
desensitized
society, inured is
traumatized
by so much violence,
it’s hard to
keep facts straight.
Another one?
Botched executions
by the state.
International conflicts
conflate.
Genocide
at alarming rate.
Global expansion
allowing for
export
of our
chief
cash
crop.

M. Zane McClellan

Copyright 2015
All rights reserved

Editorial Note: Today we introduce a new member of our core team, M. Zane McClellan. He grew up in New York where he attended Adelphi University and was the first African-American to play lacrosse and serve as the Freshman Class President. He studied Psychology before joining the Marine Corps. McClellan recently initiated an international collaborative poem called, Poets for Peace, and is working on his debut novel, a fantasy. To read more of M. Zane McClellan’s poetry, please see, The Poetry Channel. J.D.

Unfolding

unfolding
Image courtesy of Pixabay.com. Public domain, license cc0

Something about the weight of it.
It settles so well in my hands,
appealing to my sense of touch.
The warmth of the cover,
crisp edges sliding across my thumb
as I fan.
The soft scraping sound of the sheets,
like a tree branch brushing against the window,
playing hide and seek with the moon
casting shadows on my equilibrium
as they are cast across the room.
As I am enchanted
by the bending of the spine,
the unfolding of wings as a butterfly.
That which was cocooned
in another’s chrysalis mind
transformed
to take flight in the
infinite sky,
this imagination of mine.

– M. Zane McClellan

Copyright © 2016,  All rights reserved

Editorial Note: Today we introduce a new member of our core team, M. Zane McClellan. He grew up in New York where he attended Adelphi University and was the first African-American to play lacrosse and serve as the Freshman Class President. He studied Psychology before joining the Marine Corps. McClellan recently initiated an international collaborative poem called, Poets for Peace, and is working on his debut novel, a fantasy. To read more of M. Zane McClellan’s poetry, please see, The Poetry Channel. J.D.

April 2016, Vol. 2/Issue 7 ~ Celebrating Poetry Month

15 April 2016
Poetry Month

The Waste Land by T. S. Eliot

I. The Burial of the Dead

APRIL is the cruelest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.
Winter kept us warm, covering
Earth in forgetful snow, feeding
A little life with dried tubers.
Summer surprised us, coming over the Starnbergersee
With a shower of rain; we stopped in the colonnade,
And went on in sunlight, into the Hofgarten.
And drank coffee, and talked for an hour.…

A tidal wave of poetry, perhaps.

Michael Dickel, Contributing Editor

While Eliot declares the cruelty of April, April also happens to be National Poetry Month in the United States and Canada. In our online, social media world, it has become an international celebration of poetry as well. To join in this celebration, we in the Bardo Group Beguines dedicate the April issue each year to poetry. Many of us who write regularly for The BeZine are poets, and we usually include poetry. So, for us, it is a happy celebration—nothing cruel about it!

And what a wide-ranging celebration we offer in the 2016 National Poetry Month The BeZine issue! W. B. Yeats is oft quoted as saying, “What can be explained is not poetry.” So I won’t explain. I will tell you that Terri Muuss’ poem, “Thirteen Levels of Heaven,” takes you far and wide in a few grains of sand. “The Other Woman,” Imen Benyoub’s heart-wrenching poem, is not who you think—but in the current global storm of conflict and national political climate, indeed, she is Other. Michael Rothenberg’s “Poem for Mitko” personalizes the news we hear by imagining its impact on our mutual friend, Macedonian poet Mitko Gogov.

What these three featured poems have in common is their ability to take the intimate, the personal, the real moments of every day life, and reflect in and from them larger issues of humanity and life. Each describes very specific, personal scenes. According to Joy Harjo, “It’s possible to understand the world from studying a leaf.” And all of these poems open our eyes wide to the world. Sharon Olds tells an interviewer about poets she admires: “Their spirits and their visions are embodied in their craft. And so is mine.” And so are the spirits and visions of the authors gathered here.

“It may also be the case that any genuine work of art generates new work,” Donald Barthelme tells us in a Paris Review interview. As you read the poems, essays, interviews, and reviews in this month’s issue, I imagine that they will generate new art for you. Whether the art of living, the art of knowing others, or “the Arts,” you will want to do more of it after reading what we offer this month.


Last year, the Second Light Network of Women Poets (SLN) collaborated with The BeZine during April to present poetry from the SLN. In this year’s issue, you can read more about the network in “SECOND LIGHT NETWORK, showcasing the ambitious poetry of ambitious women.”  Jamie Dedes’ essay “POET, TEACHER, INSPIRATION: Dilys Wood and the Latter-day Saphos” also sheds light on Dilys Wood, founder of the SLN. This year, in my dual roles of contributing editor here at The BeZine and associate editor at The Woven Tale Press, I have served as liaison in a new collaboration. The works specifically from the collaboration appear in their own section in the table of contents below.

However, the whole issue represents collaboration—not only between the two publications, but between all of the writers. We work together, as a community. In putting this all together with Jamie Dedes and my Bardo Group Beguines and Woven Tale Press colleagues, I came to realize how many of the poets here I know personally—separately from these two publications. We all come from an organic online writing community. By organic, I mean through no organized effort or special social website.

After years of knowing Michael Rothenberg through email and Facebook, I only finally met him in person this past summer. Terri Muuss and I met at Cornelia Street Café in Greenwich Village, also years ago, where her husband, Matt Pasca (who also has appeared in The BeZine), Adeena Karasick, and I performed one lovely evening. All four of us keep in touch through Facebook now.

I met gary lundy a long time ago and have spent time together, including road trips and as roommates for a few months. However, most of our friendship has been sustained and maintained by email and online connections—dating back to before any of us had heard of Facebook. UK poet Reuven Woolley, Romanian poet Liliana Negoi, Natasha Head, as well as Jamie Dedes and the rest of the Bardo Group Beguines, I only know “virtually.” Until a few months ago, the same was true for The Woven Tale Press publisher and editor-in-chief, Sandra Tyler.

Today, the world of poetry, as with everything else, has transformed under the influences of technology and social media. Last year, I spoke to a graduate-student seminar about social media, poetry, and the latest wave of “democratization of poetry.” That discussion evolved into the foreword of The Art of Being Human, Vol. 14, which you can read in this issue as “(Social) Media(ted) (Democratic) Poetry.”

I won’t try to count how many waves of “democratic” trends in poetry have washed up on the beach. A couple of centuries ago, poets were concerned “just anybody” might write poetry, and they didn’t think that was such a good idea. Some probably still don’t. Free verse and the Beats in the mid-Twentieth Century have been associated with the idea, for better or worse, depending on who made the association.

Today, poetry slams usually involve actual voting, as do many online sites. Self-publishing has become easy and cheap, so anyone could have a book who wants to, now. As a result of all of this, editors—such as those putting together a special poetry issue—serve much more as curators than as the gate-keepers of old. So, we may be in one of the greatest ever waves of “democratic” poetry.

A tidal wave of poetry, perhaps.

Don’t worry. While it will wash over you and change you, you won’t drown. Enjoy the poetry, writing about poetry, and other work presented here for your celebratory pleasure!

“There is something in me maybe someday
to be written; now it is folded, and folded,
and folded, like a note in school.”
― Sharon Olds


Table of Contents

Featured

POEMS

ESSAYS, INTERVIEWS, REVIEWS

WOVEN TALE PRESS COLLABORATION

SECOND LIGHT NETWORK

IMG_9671CONNECT WITH US

Beguine Again, Spirtual Community and Practice

Facebook, The Bardo Group Beguines

Twitter, The Bardo Group Beguines

Access to the biographies of our core team contributing writers and guest writers is in the blogroll to your left along with archived issues of The BeZine, our Mission Statement and Submission Guidelines.

In Conversation: Poet/Musician Graffiti Bleu & Michael Rothenberg, co-founder of the global initiative, 100,000 Poets for Change

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You can listen to the two-hour podcast HERE. Recommended! This post is meant as an alert and also to share my two cents.

As I write, it’s just a few hours after listening to Just My Thoughts with Graffiti Bleu on BlogTalk Radio. The show started with an exploration of What does the revolution look like? with Graffiti Blue, Michael Rothenberg, and the show’s panel and callers comprised of poets involved in 100,000 Poets for Change (100TPC).

Harkening back to Gil Scott-Heron and his poem, The Revolution Will Not Be Televised,  part of the discussion was on technology and social networking and their roles in fostering peace, social justice and sustainability. When Heron wrote his poem in 1971, the means to formulate and distribute information and opinion were dominated by mainstream media and corporate interest, which were not in sympathy with the revolution Heron envisioned. Those interests are still dominant and still lack sympathy, but there’s something of a balance occurring – however imperfect – now that we plain folk have access to the tools of technology and social networking. Without social networking, we wouldn’t have 100TPC, which can happily be said to have gone viral since Michael Rothenberg put out a call on Facebook for poets to join in a global peace effort back in 2010. While each of us in the “100,000” has a relatively small “audience” together we touch many, many minds and hearts. We do have an agenda, but it doesn’t foment strife. We’re not in anyone’s pocket. That’s clean power. It’s power to …

On a personal level, one benefit of technology is that people who are homebound – as I sometimes am – can take part in change-making initiatives more actively than simply writing letters-to-the-editor or to our legislators, which is not to say we should give that up. I started a virtual 100TPC via The BeZine and with The Bardo Group Beguines so that disabled people and people who do not live near a 100TPC event would have the opportunity to have their say, to lend their support. Our 2015 commemorative page is HERE.

We need to do more than “talk.”  Agreed. And I think that one of things 100TPC gives us is hope … huge hope from seeing that there are people in every nook-and-cranny of the world who share our values and priorities. This helps us to keep on keeping on with our local grassroots initiatives as well as our broader advocacy. This serves to sustain our faith and commitment.

Ultimately for me, 100TPC is about breaking down barriers, crossing boarders. It leads the way in our evolutionary journey toward a sustainable peace. In the documentary film Ten Questions for the Dalai Lamathe Dalai Lama says “we need more festivals.”  In other words, if we get to know people, if we break bread with them or share a bowl of rice, we are less likely to think of them as “other.”  It will be more difficult to turn around the next day and do harm.  100TPC is our festival. Once we’ve shared hearts, souls and stories through poetry, how can we marginalize anyone? How can we abandon or abuse?

Can the revolution be bloodless? The question is really “will it be?” I don’t think so. I don’t think revolutions are by their very nature “bloodless.” The psychopaths will always be with us and until we stop marginalizing people and leaving them desperate and vulnerable to tyrants, we’ll never have bloodless reform. We’ll never achieve a sustainable peace. Peace is a state that takes awareness and awareness takes growth, which is an evolutionary process.  That doesn’t mean we should give up. It means that as poets we should continue to bear witness, to touch hearts, to raise consciousness and to nurture the process of growth. As poet Michael Dickel said in an interview on this site HERE: “. . . it may not be ours to see the work completed, but that does not free us from the responsibility to do the work.”

– Jamie Dedes

© 2016, words, Jamie Dedes (The Poet by Day), All rights reserved; photograph courtesy of Graffiti Bleu and Michael Rothenberg.

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.

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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:

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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

100,000 Poets (and other artisits and friends) for Change, 2015: over 500 events scheduled around the globe

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These are busy days for Michael Rothenberg and Terri Carrion who founded 100,000 Poets for Change.  Michael announced yesterday that 500 events are now scheduled for September 26, 2015, the fifth anniversary of this global initiative for change; that is, for peace and sustainability.

For those who are just catching up with us100 Thousand Poets for Change, or 100TPC, is an international grassroots educational organization focusing on the arts, especially poetry, music, and the literary arts. It was founded in 2011 by Michael Rothenberg and Terri Carrion and is centered on a world-wide event each September. This past June the first World Conference on 100TPC was held in Salerno, Italy.

There are also several offshoots cropping up: 100,000 Photographers for Change, 100,000 Drummers for Change … and so on. A little searching on Facebook and you’ll find them, though the umbrella for all,  100TPC, does include a range of artistic specialties and friends of the arts and is not limited to poets and poetry.

We – that is The Bardo Group and Beguine Again, publishers of The BeZine are hosting a virtual event and you are all invited to attend and add links to your own relevent work.  The links will be collected and published in a Page on The BeZine site and also archived at 100TPC. Michael Dickel (Fragments of Michael Dickel) of The Bardo Group is the lead for this event. Michael is also the organizer of an event scheduled in Israel this October.  You can contact him via his blog or message him on Facebook if you have an interest in participating there.

Meanwhile, here is an introduction to the visionary founders of 100TPC, Michael Rothenberg and Terri Carrion:

MICHAEL ROTHENBERG was born in Miami Beach, Florida in 1951, and has been living in the San Francisco Bay Area for the past 37 years. Currently Michael is living and creating among the redwoods.

Michael is co-founder of Shelldance Orchid Gardens in Pacifica, which is dedicated to the cultivation of orchids and bromeliads. He is a poet, painter, songwriter, and editor of Big Bridge Press and Big Bridge, a webzine of poetry and everything else.

In 2011 he and Terri Carrion co-founded the global poetry movement 100 Thousand Poets for Change. His songs have appeared in Hollywood Pictures’ Shadowhunter and Black Day, Blue Night, and most recently, TriStar Pictures’ Outside Ozona. Other songs have been recorded on CDs including: Bob Malone’s The Darkest Part of The Night (Caught Up in Christmas) and Bob Malone (Raydaddy’s Blues), Difficult Woman by Renee Geyer, Global Blues Deficit by Cody Palance, The Woodys by The Woodys, and Schell Game by Johnny Lee Schell.

Michael’s poetry books and broadsides are archived at the University of Francisco, and are held in the Special Collection libraries of Brown University, Claremont Colleges, University of Kansas, the New York Public Library, UC-Berkeley, UC-Davis, and UC-Santa Cruz.

His most recent collection of poems is Indefinite Detention: A Dog Story (Ekstasis Editions 2013) and Murder (Paper Press, 2013) My Youth As A Train published by Foothills Publishing in September 2010.

TERRI CARRION was conceived in Venezuela and born in New York to a Galician mother and Cuban father. She grew up in Los Angeles where she spent her youth skateboarding and slam-dancing.

Terri Carrion earned her MFA at Florida International University in Miami, where she taught Freshman English and Creative Writing, edited and designed the graduate literary magazine Gulfstream, taught poetry to High School docents at the Museum of Contemporary Art in North Miami and started a reading series at the local Luna Star Café. In her final semester at FIU, she was Program Director for the Study Abroad Program, Creative Writing in Dublin, Ireland.

Her poetry, fiction, non-fiction and photography has been published in many print magazines as well as online, including The Cream City Review, Hanging Loose, Pearl, Penumbra, Exquisite Corpse, Mangrove, Kick Ass Review, Jack, Mipoesia, Dead Drunk Dublin, and Physik Garden among others.

Her collaborative poem with Michael Rothenberg, Cartographic Anomaly was published in the anthology, Saints of Hysteria, A Half-Century of Collaborative American Poetry and her chapbook Lazy Tongue was published by D Press in the summer of 2007.

Terri’s most recent projects includes collaborating on a trilingual Galician Anthology, (from Galician to Spanish to English) and co-editing an online selection of the bi-lingual anthology of Venezuelan women writers, Profiles of Night, both to appear in late August, on BigBridge.org., for which she is assistant editor and art designer. Currently, she is learning how to play the accordion. Terri Carrion lives under the redwoods and above the Russian River in Guerneville, Ca. with her partner in crime Michael Rothenberg, and her dogs Chiqui and Ziggy.

The Poet as Witness: “War Surrounds Us,” an interview with American-Israeli Poet, Michael Dickel

Editors note: The theme for our September issue is poverty. It is part of our 100,000 Poets (and other artists and friends) for Change event (change being peace and sustainability) to be held here as a virtual event on 26 September 2015. Michael Dickel takes the lead on this project and the September issue. Here’s an opportunity to get to know him better. Michael’s vision: “… hope must/ still remain with those who cross/ borders, ignore false lines and divisions/” is consistent with the mission of Bequine Again and The Bardo Group, publishers of The BeZine.  The September issue will post on the 15th. J.D.

5182N5cYeEL._SX355_BO1,204,203,200_“That some of those labelled as enemies
have crossed the lines to offer condolences
at the mourning tents; that the mourning
families spoke to each other as parents
and cried on each others’ shoulders;
that we cried for the children who died
on both sides of the divide; that the
war began anyway; that hope must
still remain with those who cross
borders, ignore false lines and divisions;
that children should be allowed to live;
that we must cry for all children who die”

– Michael Dickel, (Mosquitos) War Surrounds Us

Jerusalem, Summer 2014: Michael Dickel and his family including Moshe (3 years) and Naomi (1 year) hear the air raid sirens, find safety in shelters, and don’t find relief during vacation travels.  In a country smaller than New Jersey, there is no escaping the grumbling wars that encircle. So Michael did what writers and poets do. He bore witness. He picked up his pen and recorded thoughts, feelings, sounds, fears, colors, events and concerns in poetry. The result is his third collection of poems, a chapbook, War Surrounds Us.

While some use poetry to galvanize war, Michael’s poetry is a cry for peace. He watched the provocations between Israel and Hamas that resulted in war in 2014 and he illustrates the insanity.

            And the retaliation
Continues, reptilian and cold,
retaliation the perpetrator
of all massacres.

Though the poems change their pacing and structure, they present a cohesive logical and emotional flow, one that takes you blood and bone into the heart of Michael’s experience as a human being, a poet, a Jew, a father and husband. He touches the humanity in all of us with his record of the tension between summer outings and death tolls, life as usual and the omnipresence of war.  Both thumbs up on this one. Bravo, Michael.

– Jamie Dedes

Poems from War Surrounds Us:
Again
Musical Meditations
The Roses

TLV1 Interview and Poetry Reading

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MY INTERVIEW WITH MICHAEL DICKEL:

Jamie: Putting together a poetry collection and ordering the work in a way that enhances the meaning and clarity of poems included is not easy. One of the first things to strike me about the collection as a whole is how it flows, so well in fact that it reads almost like one long poem. I found that quality contributed to the work’s readability. How did you work out the order? Was it consciously ordered or did it arise organically out of the experience of the war?

Michael: I’m very gratified that you noticed this about my book. I hadn’t thought of it quite in that sense, of being one poem, but I like that it reads that way. The sense of a book holding together, a collection of poems having some coherence, is important to me. I don’t think my first book achieved this very well, although it has some flow poem to poem. The whole is not focused, though. My second book has a sense of motion and narrative, from the Midwest where I grew up to arriving and living in Israel, and now being part of the Mid-East. However, War Surrounds Us, my third book, finally has a sense of focus that the other two did not.

Unfortunately, I probably can’t take too much credit for that coherence. Even more unfortunate, a real war raged in Gaza, with rockets also hitting the Jerusalem area, not that far from where I live. As we know now, thousands died, most apparently civilians, many children. Just across the border to the Northeast, diagonally opposite of Gaza, a much larger scale conflict burned and still burns through Syria—with even larger death tolls and even more atrocities over a longer time. These wars had, and still have, a huge impact on me and my family.

During last summer, the summer of 2014, this reality of war surrounding us had all of my attention. And it came out in my writing as obsession with the war, my family, the dissonance between living everyday life and the reality of death and destruction a missile’s throw away. So the topic filled my poems those months, as it did my thoughts. And the poems emerged as events unfolded over time, so a sort of narrative wove into them—not a plot, mind you, not exactly, anyway.

This gives a chronological structure to the book. However, not all of the poems appear in the order I wrote them. I did move some around, seeing connections in a theme or image—if it did not jar the sense of the underlying chronology of the war. Some of the events in our life could move around, and I did move some poems to places where I thought they fit better. I also revised the poems, reading from beginning to end several times, trying to smooth out the flow. A few of the poems I actually wrote or started before this phase of the ongoing conflict broke out—but where they also fit into a pattern, I included them. In the end, I moved and revised intuitively, following my own sense of flow and connection. I’m glad that it seems to have worked for you, as a reader, too.

Jamie: What is the place of the poet and poetry in war? Can poetry, art and literature move us to peace? How and why?

Michael: This is a difficult question. Historically, one place of poets was to call the soldiers to war, to rile them up and denounce the enemy. There is a famous poem from the Hebrew Scriptures. Balaam is called by Balak to curse Jacob and his army. The story sets a talking donkey who sees an angel with a sword and other obstacles in his way, but long story short, he arrives and raises his voice. He is the poet who is supposed to curse the enemy. Instead, he begins, “How beautiful your tents, O Jacob…” and recites a poem that is now part of the Jewish liturgy. This is not necessarily a peace poem, but it shows words and their power to curse of bless. I think the place of the poet is to bless and, rather than curse, to witness with clear sight.

There is a long history of poet as witness and observer. Czeslaw Milosz in The Witness of Poetry and Carolyn Forché, following him, in her books Against Forgetting: Twentieth Century Poetry of Witness and Poetry of Witness, which goes back to the 16th Century, argue that the poet’s role is to observe and bear witness to the world—to the darkness, the atrocities, genocide, war… Forché quotes Bertolt Brecht: “In these dark times, will there also be singing? / Yes, there will be singing. / About the dark times.” I think that is what we do as poets. That’s what I hope that War Surrounds Us does at its best, albeit as much a witnessing of my own family and context as of the Other. Then, as feminist theory has taught me, the personal is political, the political personal.

A1oKsOxRrJL._UY200_Can art and literature move us to peace? I don’t know. I hope it can move us to see more clearly, to feel more acutely, and to embrace our humanity and the humanity of others. Perhaps that will move us toward peace. There is so much to do, and it is as the rabbinic wisdom says about healing creation: it may not be ours to see the work completed, but that does not free us from the responsibility to do the work. As poets, we make a contribution. I hope the songs about the dark times will also be blessings for us all.

Jamie: Tell us about your life as a poet. When did you start and how did you pursue the path? How do you carve out time for it in a life that includes work, children and community responsibilities. You live on a kibbutz, I think.

Michael: Well, starting at the end, no, I don’t live on a kibbutz, I live in Jerusalem (the pre-1967 side of the Green Line). I do teach English at a college that was started by the Kibbutz Movement as a teacher’s college in the 1960s, now Kibbutzim College of Education, Arts and Technology. That appears in my email signature and confuses some people outside of Israel, who think I teach as part of living at a kibbutz. I’m actually more like adjunct faculty, but no one at the college works directly for a kibbutz as far as I know, and the college is open to anybody who qualifies.

While I only have a short day, from when the kids of my current family go to pre-school until I pick them up, I also usually only teach part-time. Some semesters I teach full-time or even more, but usually not. And, many of my courses in the past couple of years have been online, meeting only a few times during the semester. This helps.

My wife works full-time in high tech, which allows us to survive on my irregular, adjunct pay. She also has some flexibility, which allows her to usually be free to pick up the kids as needed around my teaching schedule, and we have on occasion hired someone to help with the kids so I could teach, not so much for my writing. But that has allowed writing time on other days.

Mostly, I write during those few hours when the kids are at pre-school, after the kids have gone to bed, or even later, after my wife has also gone to bed. If I’m working on a deadline or a large project, such as some of the freelance work I do for film production companies, I write after my wife gets home from work even if the kids are still awake. Usually, though, I write when I find time, and I find time when I don’t have other obligations.

Perhaps of relevance to this book, the writing took over. I was late in getting papers back to students and delayed other obligations and deadlines, even canceling a couple of other projects—although it was not just the writing, but the whole experience of the war, dealing with it and wanting to be very present with my children. As the poems relate, we went to the Galilee, in the North, for a month, a vacation we have taken before. Last summer, though, it had extra urgency because of the war. Unfortunately, during an outing picking apples in the Golan Heights, we heard artillery across the border in Syria, and that’s when I wrote the title poem of the book, “War Surrounds Us.”

The summer before, on that same month-long getaway, I wrote a lot of flash fiction, which makes up most of my next book, which should come out by the end of the year. I wrote during both summers when the kids were napping or after their bedtime, mostly. The place we stay in, a friend’s house (he travels every summer), has a lovely courtyard, and after the children went to bed, Aviva and I would sit out in it, usually with a glass of wine. She would read or work online and I would write on my laptop into the night. It was lovely and romantic.

I have to say that I almost don’t remember a time when I didn’t write poetry or stories. I recall trying to stop on a few occasions, either to work in some other aspect of my life, or when I did a different kind of writing, such as for my dissertation (which devolved into creative writing for more than half of it). But really, going back into my early years, I wrote stories or poems of some sort—influenced I suppose by A. A. Milne, Sol Silverstein, Kenneth Grahame and, later, Mark Twain and even Shakespeare. I had books of Roman and Greek myths, the Lambs’ bowdlerized Shakespeare for children, and some Arthurian tales as a child, not to mention shelves of Golden Books. Later, I read Madeleine L’Engle and a lot of science fiction. And everything I read made me also want to write.

I owe the earliest of my poems that I can remember to exercises from grade school teachers, one in 3rd grade, maybe 4th, the other in 6th grade. However, I’m sure that I wrote stories and possibly “poems” earlier. My first sense that I could become a poet arrived via a junior high school teacher, who encouraged me to submit some poetry to a school contest. I tied for first place.

So, I started writing forever ago. By the time of the junior high contest, I had read e e cummings, Emily Dickinson, some Whitman. By 9th grade, I discovered the Beats through a recording of Ginsberg reading “Kaddish” and other poems. Hearing him read the poems, then reading them myself, changed everything.

Alongside this development, one of my brothers brought Dylan records home that I listened to. All three of my brothers, with my parents’ tacit approval, played folk music and protest music in the form of songs of Woody Guthrie; The Weavers; Joan Baez; Peter, Paul and Mary; in addition to Dylan. These influenced both my writing and my world view. The same year that I came across Ginsberg’s work, I was involved in anti-war activity in my high school. That spring, four students were shot at Kent State. In another way, that changed everything, too.

Writing, activism, and politics, for me have always been interwoven. I also heard that year about “The Woman’s Movement,” which today we call Feminism. Later, much later, I would read and take to heart the idea of the personal being political, the body being political. I think my poems, even the most personal, always have a political and theoretical lens. And the most philosophical or political or theoretical, also have a personal lens. I don’t think that we can help but do that, but I try to be aware of the various lenses, of using their different foci deliberately as part of my craft. I’m not sure that is the current trend, and much of my work doesn’t fit well in spoken word or slam settings (some of it fits). However, this is my poetry and poetics—and they arise from a specific cultural context, the complexity of which I could not begin to convey in less than a lifetime of writing.

My development from those awakening moments looked like this: I read. I wrote. I shared my work with other people who wrote. Sometimes I talked with others about writing. My first degree in college was in psychology, not English, because I naively thought that psych would help me understand the human condition and that English would “ruin” – suppress – my writing voice. However, I took a lot of literature courses and my study abroad term focused entirely on literature.

After college, I had a career as a counselor working with runaways, with street teens, with children undergoing in-patient psych evaluations, and in a crisis intervention and suicide prevention center—a career that taught me a lot about politics, gender, race, and justice. I continued to write, often about some of the most disturbing realities that I encountered, but not well.

I had been out of college nearly a decade when I took some courses in creative writing at the University of Minnesota, at the suggestion of some friends in a writing group who had also taken some. One of the professors encouraged me to apply to the Creative Writing Program, where I was accepted. The acceptance was a poignant moment—I was out of state at my father’s burial. My now ex-wife remained back with our then 2 year-old daughter. She saw the letter in the mail, so called and read it to me. It was also my 32nd birthday. So many emotions all at the same time. Mostly, I remember wishing I could have told my father—from when he first heard that I’d applied, every phone call we had included his asking if I had heard yet if I had been accepted. It was the most direct way he had of saying he was proud.

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Jamie: Tell us a little about 100,000 Poets for Change (100TPC) in Israel and how people can get in touch with you if they want to participate this year. Are you able to manage a mix of Arabs and Jews?

Michael: The thing about 100TPC is that it’s pretty loose, as an organization, and very anarchic in governance. Which is to say, I’m not sure there is something I could call 100TPC in Israel. There’s a wonderful poet in Haifa who does some events, I don’t think every year. She is very active in peace activism and poetry. There’s an Israeli mentor of mine, Karen Alkalay-Gut, who has organized 100TPC events in Tel Aviv since the first year. For the past two years, I organized a poetry reading in Jerusalem. The first one was small, a few people I knew and cajoled into reading. The second one was much larger, over 25 poets. We had one Arab writer, who writes in English, at the second reading. Her poetry is powerful and personal, written as an Arab woman, a mother, and an Israeli. An Arab musician was going to join us, but he had a conflict arise with a paying gig. It is difficult to manage the practical, political, and social barriers, but people do it here. I am just learning a bit how to do this now.

For this year, I am working with two other organizations—the Lindberg Peace Foundation, which has held annual Poetry for Peace events. This year will be the 40th anniversary (yartzheit, in Hebrew) of Miriam Lindberg’s tragic death at the age of 18. She wrote poetry, was a peace activist, and also an environmental activist. Her mother was a poet and professor, and passed away a few years ago. Joining us in planning the Jerusalem event will be the Interfaith Center for Sustainable Development. Their mission as I understand it is to develop interfaith leadership for common goals related to eco-justice that would also provide a model for solving the Middle East conflicts.

The Jerusalem events won’t be the same date as the national event (26 September)—our dates will be 15–16 October, to honor the 40th anniversary of Miriam Lindberg’s death. Dorit Weissman, a Hebrew-language poet and playwright, also has become part of 100TPC this year, and she and I are having a smaller reading on 8 October with other poets.

We are just setting up a Facebook page for organizing with the three groups, 100TPC, the foundation, and the center. People could look for me on FB and send me a chat message there to be in touch. I hope that we will have the events posted on FB in the next few weeks, but we are still working on the details. The devil is always in the details, as the saying goes.

Michael will host The BeZine‘s virtual 100TPC this 26 September 2015.

Be the peace.

© 2015, book review, Jamie Dedes, All rights reserved; words, poetry, photographs of Michael, Michael Dickel, All rights reserved; cover illustration, The Evolution of Music, by Jerry Ingeman, All rights reserved

SAVE THE DATE: 26 Sept. 2015: 100,000+ poets in solidarity for peace and sustainability

Heads-up everyone: For the fifth year on September 26, 2015, more than 100,000 Poets (and artists, musicians, and other creatives and activist) will meet in town squares, theaters, on beaches, in cafes and probably some backyards in solidarity for a peaceful and sustainable world.

At The Bardo Group/Bequine Again, we’re hosting a virtual event so that those who have no neighborhood events to go to or who are home bound can participate.

At this writing founder Michael Ronthenberg, poet and publisher, reports that 300 events are already registered.  To see if there’s an event near you or to register an event in your neighborhood, go to the site. 

The following is a message from the founders of 100TPC:

Michael Rothenberg: Poet and editor of Big Bridge Press and zine

and

Terri Carrion: Associate editor and visual designer of Big Bridge Press and zine

100 THOUSAND POETS FOR CHANGE [100TPC] MOVEMENT for PEACE & SUSTAINABILITY!

Do you want to join other poets, musicians, and artists around the world in a demonstration/celebration to promote peace and sustainability and to call for serious social, environmental and political change? 

“What kind of CHANGE are we talking about?”

The first order of change is for poets, writers, musicians, artists, activists to get together to create and perform, educate and demonstrate, simultaneously, with other communities around the world. This changes how we see our local community and the global community. We have become incredibly alienated in recent years. We hardly know our neighbors down the street let alone our creative allies who live and share our concerns in other countries. We need to feel this kind of global solidarity. It is empowering . . .

… and there is trouble in the world. Wars, violation of human rights, ecocide, racism, genocide, gender inequality, homelessness, the lack of affordable medical care, police brutality, religious persecution, poverty, censorship, animal cruelty, and the list goes on and on.

Transformation towards peace and a more sustainable world are the major concerns and the global guiding principle for 100 TPC events. War is not sustainable. There is an increasing sense that we need to move forward and stop moving backwards. But we are trying not to be dogmatic. We hope that together we can develop our ideas of the “change/transformation” we are looking for as a global community , and that each local community group will decide their own specific area of focus for change for their particular event. All we ask is that local communities organize events about change within the guidelines of peace and sustainability.

“I want to organize in my area. How do we begin to organize?”

100 Thousand Poets for Change will help organize and find individuals in each area who would like to organize their local event.

If you are an organizer for your community you will consider a location for the event and begin to contact people in your area who want to participate in the event. Participation means contacting the media, posting the event on the web, in calendars, newspapers, etc., reading poems, doing a concert, performing in general, supplying cupcakes and beer (it’s up to you), demonstrating, putting up an information table, inviting guest speakers, musicians, etc., organizing an art exhibit, and documenting the event (this is important, too), and cleaning up, of course.

Organizers and participants will create their own local event as an expression of who they are locally. Do they want a a concert or a jam session, candlelight vigil or a circus, a march or a dance, poetry reading in a cafe or on the subway, do they want absolute silence, a group meditation on a main street; it’s up to the local organization.

However, groups should try to hold some part of the event, if not all of it, outdoors, in public view (not required). The point is to be seen and heard, not just stay behind closed walls. It is also important that the event be documented. Photos, audio, videos, poems, journals, paintings! Documentation is crucial. The rest of the 100 Thousand Poets for Change want to hear what you have to say about change and enjoy your creativity too! The documentation will be shared through a blog/website that I will set up, a blog/website where groups can share and announce event information, as well as post photos, videos, poetry, art, and thoughts. But an event doesn’t have to involve tons of people. It can be just you (the organizer) and your pet, on a street corner, with a sign. Just let me know what you are planning!

Every effort counts!

Each local organization determines what it wants to focus on, something broad like, peace, sustainability, justice, equality, or more specific causes like Health Care, or Freedom of Speech, or local environmental or social concerns that need attention in your particular area right now, etc. Organizations will then come up with a mission statement/manifesto that describes who they are and what they think and care about. Mission statements form arround the world have been collected and worked together into a grand statement of 100 Thousand Poets for Change.

Thank you for joining us!

Best, Michael Rothenberg and Terri Carrion

—————————–
Michael Rothenberg: Poet and editor of
Big Bridge Press and zine

Terri Carrion: Associate editor and visual designer of
Big Bridge Press and zine

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.

BARDO NEWS: “Beguine Again” + “The Bardo Group” merging; Poetry Kudos; 100,000 Poets, Musicians and Artists for Change event; the People’s Climate March gone global …

800px-rafael_-_el_parnaso_estancia_del_sello_roma_1511-1STATUS ON MERGING  Beguine Again and our collective, The Bardo Group, continue with sharing of ideas and some modifications to site links already in progress. At this point the intention is to continue with daily posts. The official transition date is October 1st. On Saturday, October 4, Terri Stewart will post a more complete status report. Jamie Dedes will remain as a part of the core team and as poetry liaison.

We move forward with 100,000 Poets, Musicians and Artists for Change. However, we have streamlined the plan given the weight of work that is now upon us. We won’t be able to publish a book this year – a dream for next year maybe – but we’ll still have daily post/s and in the spirit of the occasion, we invite readers to link in their own relevent work to the posts via Mister Linky or in the comments sections starting September 27 and through October 3 inclusive. Shortly after the event close, we’ll collect links into a Page like the one we did for Poets Against War, 2013 Collection HERE.

The Bardo Group chosen area of concern for this year’s event is Peace and Justice.

The founders of 100,000 Poets, Musicians and Artists for Change are enthusiastically rolling forward. Founders Michael Rothenberg, poet and editor of Big Bridge Press and zine,  and Terri Carrion, poet, writer and associate editor and visual designer of Big Bridge Press and zine, have pages set up for all participating organizations. THE BARDO GROUP event page is HEREWe take this opportunity to thank Michael and Terri for their vision and their work.

Michael and Terri have written: 

“The first order of change is for poets, writers, musicians, artists, activists to get together to create and perform, educate and demonstrate, simultaneously, with other communities around the world. This will change how we see our local community and the global community. We have all become incredibly alienated in recent years. We hardly know our neighbors down the street let alone our creative allies who live and share our concerns in other countries. We need to feel this kind of global solidarity. It will be empowering.”  MORE

KUDOS

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PEOPLE’S CLIMATE MARCH (HERE) The largest global demonstration for climate action in history is scheduled for September 21. In solidarity, Beguine Again will post spiritual practice relevant to the issues.

(c) 2014 Jamie Dedes
(c) 2014 Jamie Dedes

 

More than 100 organizations are taking part in an online recruitment drive to sign people up for the demonstration. In the first hours of the push, thousands of new sign-ups have already begun to flow in.

The People’s Climate March is expected to be the largest demonstration for climate action in history. The march takes place just two days before world leaders gather for an emergency Climate Summit at the United Nations. Marchers are demanding leaders go beyond rhetoric and commit to bold action at the summit.

More than 750 organizations around the world are supporting the People’s Climate March, from the largest transit workers union in New York City to a coalition of buddhist monks.

In total, the groups represent roughly 100 million people worldwide.

The scale of organizing for the march now rivals that of a major electoral campaign, with thousands of volunteers, daily phone-banks and canvasses in NYC, and a major online operation to turn out marchers. Updates from the field include:

Trains and hundreds of buses will be bringing people from across the country for the march. Including a dedicated train from San Francisco to New York, a dedicated train from D.C. to New York, and buses from multiple points outside of New York.

More than 45 labor unions have signed onto the march, pledging to turn out members in New York City and from surrounding areas.

Connecticut alone has over 40 different groups confirmed to attend.

Renowned artist Shepard Fairey, whose Obama Hope poster has become world famous, has donated a poster design for the march.

At a warehouse in Brooklyn, artists are creating giant sculptures, floats, and banners for the march.

The global campaigning group Avaaz has secured 10% of the subway ads in NYC for the month before the march. The ads were chosen after a poster design contest that netted over 400 entries worldwide. Groups are planning a major student recruitment push for college campuses as classes resume in September.

In New Delhi, thousands will take over the streets on September 20 to demand a renewable energy revolution.

In Australia, organizers are expecting hundreds of individual events to take place across the country, including a major march in Melbourne.

In London environment organisations and faith groups are combining forces to create a historic march through the city to the steps of Parliament.

In Berlin three parallel marches will combine forces in a colourful festival.

Events are already being planned in Ghana, Kenya, DRC, Nigeria, and Guinea, along with a major march in Johannesburg.

In Paris, local groups will create the “Paris Marche pour le Climat,” with parades, marches, and bicycle rides planned across the bridges of the Seinne.

Reports are also coming in of large mobilizations planned in: Kathmandu, Rio, Sao Paulo, Jakarta, Dublin, Manila, Seoul, Mumbai and Istanbul.

Organizers are confident that the sheer scale and diversity of the People’s Climate March events, from the headline demonstration in New York City to the simultaneous events worldwide, will show politicians that there is a massive, energized movement demanding immediate action to address the climate crisis.

In New York City, the message will be difficult to ignore: marchers have come to an agreement with the NYPD for the march to flow directly through the middle of Manhattan. The march will begin at Columbus Circle at 11:30am on Sunday, proceed over on 59th Street to 6th Avenue, down 6th Avenue to 42nd Street, then right on 42nd Street to 11th Avenue. The route passes by some of New York City’s most famous landmarks, from Rockefeller Center to Times Square.

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The march and the Climate Summit in New York mark the beginning of a busy 18 months of crucial international negotiations. Climate negotiators will head to Lima, Peru, in December 2014 to make progress towards a global climate deal. Then, in September 2015 world leaders will meet back in New York to adopt the Sustainable Development Goals, the global post-2015 development agenda. Three months later, the world will gather in Paris to try and sign a new international climate treaty.

BLOGGERS AND WEBSITE OWNERS don’t forget that September 10 is Internet Slowdown. This is all about NetNutrality. Our site host, WordPress, is participating.

In the spirit of peace, love and community,

The Bardo Group

BARDO NEWS: Blessings on Ramadan; “Begin Again” blog expands its writer base and gets funding; artfully eco-friendly . . ….

Islamic Center of the U.S. in Washington by agnosicpreachers kid under CC BY-SA 3.o license
Islamic Center of the U.S. in Washington by agnosicpreachers kid under CC BY-SA 3.o license

BEST WISHES to our Moslem contributors, readers and friends all over the globe on this: the first day of Ramadan. ~ During this month, 1.6 million Muslims – or 23% of the world population according to Pew Research Religion and Public Life Project – observe a strict fast if they are of an age and healthy enough to do so. The fast extends each day from sunrise to sunset. The month-long fasting ends with a feasting celebration, Eid al-Fitr (the breaking of the fast), which falls on 28 July this year.

Britain’s David Cameron has this to say:

Kul ‘am wa enta bi-khair!

May everyday find you in good health!

Kazim Ali (b. 1971) American poet
Kazim Ali (b. 1971) American poet (c) Kazim Ali

CELEBRATING POET, NOVELIST, ESSAYIST and EDUCATOR, KAZIM ALI ~  who was born in the UK, is from an Indian Islamic household, and was educated at State University of New York (SUNY) and at New York University. Currently he lives in Oregon.

Of his most recent poetry collection, The Fortieth Day, the Library Journal review says that Ali …

“continues his task of creating a rejuvenated language that longs to be liberated from the weight of daily routine and the power of dogmatic usage . . . writing in the tradition of Wallace Stevens, Ali is clearly a poet of ideas and symbols, yet his words remain living entities within the texture of the poem.”


Of his essay collection, Fasting for Ramadan, Notes on Spiritual Practice, Tupelo Press states …

“Kazim Ali’s searching descriptions of the Ramadan sensibility and its arduous but liberating annual rite of communal fasting is sure to be a revelation to many readers — intellectually illuminating and aesthetically exhilarating.

“Fasting for Ramadan is structured as a chronicle of daily meditations, during two cycles of the 30-day rite of daytime abstinence required by Ramadan for purgation and prayer. Estranged in certain ways from his family’s cultural traditions when he was younger, Ali has in recent years re-embraced the Ramadan ritual, and brings to this rediscovery an extraordinary delicacy of reflection, a powerfully inquiring mind, and the linguistic precision and ardor of a superb poet.”

Unknown-8Ali’s poem Ramadan is from his collection, The Fortieth Day.

You wanted to be so hungry, you would break into branches,
and have to choose between the starving month’s

nineteenth, twenty-first, and twenty-third evenings.
The liturgy begins to echo itself and why does it matter?

If the ground-water is too scarce one can stretch nets
into the air and harvest the fog.

Hunger opens you to illiteracy,
thirst makes clear the starving pattern,

the thick night is so quiet, the spinning spider pauses,
the angel stops whispering for a moment—

The secret night could already be over,
you will have to listen very carefully—

You are never going to know which night’s mouth is sacredly reciting
and which night’s recitation is secretly mere wind—

– Kazim Ali
“Ramadan” except from The Fortieth Day. © 2008 by Kazim Ali, posted here under fair use

“Poetry is the smallest way – it is a small, small way, but it is a way indeed – that the individual body can express its own personhood and value in the face of faceless systems.” Kazim Ali

Terri Stewart
Terri Stewart (c) Terri

TERRI STEWART REPORTS on the expansion of Begin Again, the blog she started and hosts ~ “First news, welcome Bruce Chittick to the team of writers! Woot!! He will bring an awesome perspective to Sundays and inspiration. I can’t wait to get to know his writing. I experience him to be a thoughtful, gracious, inclusive kind of guy. His first post went live on the 22nd!

“And, in other exciting news, we got some funding. The United Methodist Church, in an expansive move towards trying new things (although we aren’t exactly NEW) has decided to fund my position at BeguineAgain.com AND all the technology for the next year and a half. This gives me & us time to build a class & subscription base to move towards an independent funding mechanism. This is awesome on so many counts. They know what we have been publishing and are willing to sit in that tension. Amazeballs! And it also lets the pressure off of me regarding all the work I am doing to create alternate funding mechanisms for my own family’s subsistence. Whew. Chaplaincy pays like zero. It is being billed as an online spiritual community. Very vague.

” … I can’t wait to try some of the new technology that will be available now that I can upgrade us to WordPress pro!”

Rose at Dusk (c) Jamie Dedes
Rose at Dusk (c)  Jamie Dedes

ARTFULLY ECO-FRIENDLY

Dutch Nature Artist, PAULA KUITENBROUWER (Mindful Drawing) ~ a long-standing member of The Bardo Group and a contributor to the blog has sent out a call to all of us  – team members, bloggers and friends – to initiate discussions of how and why we are living and working in an eco-conscious ways and how we can use our art and our blogs to encourage environmentally sound practices. Paula shares on her Guilt-Free Art Page …

“My original drawings are drawn on acid free paper. In the process of making acid free paper fewer corrosive chemicals are used, which makes acid free paper significantly environmentally friendlier than normal paper.

“For packing my fine art cards and reproductions, I use biodegradable plastic. I like my art work to be as environmentally friendly as possible and I select my products carefully. My paint-brushes are synthetic without animal hair.”

Other eco-friendly living practices that might be shared would include the ways in which we order our lives to enable no-or-minimal use of cars, mindful shopping (buying only what we need and buying from bulk containers rather than packaged items, buying locally produced food and other products), using biodegradable cleaning products and reusable shopping bags. Yes! All this and how about telling us about your advocacy efforts?

We invite you share your thoughts on this in the comments section here, on your own blogs (then leave us a link under any current post so that we can publicize it in the next Bardo News) or as submissions to The Bardo Group blog this month. (If you are not a core-team member, please email us at  bardogroup@gmail.com.)

Coming up:

… and many more goodies from our Core Team, readers and guests. This month’s guests will include:

Poet K.A. Brace (The Mirror Obscura) and Jewelry-Maker, Writer, Photographer Isadora (Inside the Mind of Isadora)

bardogroup@gmail.com

The Bardo Group Facebook Page

In the spirit of peace, love and community,

THE BARDO GROUP

Honoring My Father

George William Heigho II — born July 10, 1933, died March 19, 2010.

Today I want to honor my dad and tell you about how I eventually gave him something in return for all he’d given me.

My dad was the most influential person in my life until I was married.  He was the obvious authority in the family, very strict and powerful.  His power was sometimes expressed in angry outbursts like a deep bellow, more often in calculated punishments encased in logical rationalizations.  I knew he was to be obeyed.  I also knew he could be playful.  He loved to build with wooden blocks or sand.  Elaborate structures would spread across the living room floor or the cottage beach front, and my dad would be lying on his side adding finishing touches long after I’d lost interest.  He taught me verse after verse of silly songs with the most scholarly look on his face.  He took photographs with his Leica and set up slide shows with a projector and tripod screen after dinner when I really begged him.  He often grew frustrated with the mechanics of those contraptions, but I would wait hopefully that the show would go on forever.  It was magic to see myself and my family from my dad’s perspective.  He was such a mystery to me.  I thought he was God for a long time.  He certainly seemed smart enough to be.  He was a very devout Episcopalian, Harvard-educated, a professor and a technical writer for IBM.  He was an introvert, and loved the outdoors.  When he retired, he would go off for long hikes in the California hills by himself.  He also loved fine dining, opera, ballet, and museums.  He took us to fabulously educational places — Jamaica, Cozumel, Hawaii, and the National Parks.  He kept the dining room bookcase stacked with reference works and told us that it was unnecessary to argue in conversation over facts.

Camping in Alaska the summer after his senior year in High School: 1951.

My father was not skilled in communicating about emotions.  He was a very private person.  Raising four daughters through their teenaged years must have driven him somewhat mad.  Tears, insecurities, enthusiasms and the fodder of our adolescent dreams seemed to mystify him.  He would help me with my Trigonometry homework instead.

Playing with my dad, 1971.

I married a man of whom my father absolutely approved.  He walked me down the aisle quite proudly.  He feted my family and our guests at 4 baptisms when his grandchildren were born.  I finally felt that I had succeeded in gaining his blessing and trust.  Gradually, I began to work through the  more difficult aspects of our relationship.  He scared my young children with his style of discipline.  I asked him to refrain and allow me to do it my way.   He disowned my older sister for her choice of religion.  For 20 years, that was a subject delicately opened and re-opened during my visits.  I realized that there was still so much about this central figure in my life that I did not understand at all.

Grandpa George

In 2001, after the World Trade Center towers fell, I felt a great urgency to know my father better.  I walked into a Christian bookstore and picked up a book called Always Daddy’s Girl: Understanding Your Father’s Impact on Who You Are by H. Norman Wright.  One of the chapters contained a Father Interview that listed dozens of questions aimed at bringing out the father’s life history and the meaning he assigned to those events.  I decided to ask my father if he would answer some of these questions for me, by e-mail (since he lived more than 2,000 miles away).   Being a writer, this was not a difficult proposition for him to accept.  He decided how to break up the questions into his own groupings and sometimes re-phrase them completely to be more specific and understandable and dove in, essentially writing his own memoirs.   I was amazed, fascinated, deeply touched and profoundly grateful at the correspondence I received.  I printed each one and kept them.  So did my mother.  When I called on the telephone, each time he mentioned how grateful he was for my suggestion.  He and my mother shared many hours reminiscing and putting together the connections of events and feelings of years and years of his life.   On the phone, his repeated thanks began to be a bit eerie.  Gradually, he developed more symptoms of dementia.  His final years were spent in that wordless country we later identified as Alzheimer’s disease.

I could never have known at the time that the e-mails we exchanged would be the last record of my dad’s memory.  To have it preserved is a gift that is priceless to the entire family.  I finally learned something about the many deep wounds of his childhood, the interior life of his character development, his perception of my sister’s death at the age of 20 and his responsibility in the lives of his children.   My father is no longer “perfect”, “smart”, “strict” or any other concept or adjective that I could assign him.  He is simply the man, my father.  I accept him completely and love and respect him more holistically than I did when I knew him as a child.  That is the gift I want to give everyone.

I will close with this photo, taken in the summer of 2008 when my youngest daughter and I visited my father at the nursing home.  I had been widowed 6 months, had not yet met Steve, and was anticipating my father’s imminent passing.  My frozen smile and averted eyes are fascinating to me.  That I feel I must face a camera and record an image is somehow rational and irrational at the same time.  To honor life honestly is a difficult assignment.  I press on.

© 2014, essay and photographs, Priscilla Galasso, All rights reserved

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004PRISCILLA GALASSO ~ started her blog at scillagrace.com to mark the beginning of her fiftieth year. Born to summer and given a name that means ‘ancient’, her travel through seasons of time and landscape has inspired her to create visual and verbal souvenirs of her journey. Currently living in Wisconsin, she considers herself a lifelong learner and educator. She gives private voice lessons, is employed by two different museums and runs a business (Scholar & Poet Books, via eBay and ABE Books) with her partner, Steve.

BARDO NEWS: SecondLight Network of Women Poets celebrates its 20th Anniversary; a Poetry Competition; A Bea in Your Bonnet; interNational Photography Month (wrap-up); 100,000 Poets for Change

Second Light Network Founder, Dilys Wood
Second Light Network Founder, Dilys Wood

SECOND LIGHT 20th ANNIVERSARY! The Bardo Group community extends to Second Light Network (women poets forty-years old or better) our best wishes, appreciation, and congratulations for its on-target focus, fine work and unrelenting commitment to poets, poetry, and to giving women in their third act a second chance. Special kudos to poet and founder, Dilys Wood, and all those who provide regular support to us here at The Bardo Group especially poets Myra Schneider who keeps us informed, provides us with wonderful poetry and instructive feature articles and Ann Stewart who so ably assists us with the details of coordination.

Jackie Kay (b. 1961), Scottish poet and novelist is the 2014 Second Light Network Long and Short poetry competion, photo by Slowking4 under CC A - Noncommercial Unported License
Jackie Kay (b. 1961), Scottish poet and novelist is judge for the 2014 Second Light Network Long and Short poetry competition, photo by Slowking4 under CC A – Noncommercial Unported License

SECOND LIGHT POETRY COMPETITION DEADLINE: TUESDAY 17th JUNE. Judge: Multi-award-winning JACKIE KAY. Long and Short Poems by Women. (‘Long’ = 50+ lines). 1st Prize £300 (in each category). More cash & book prizes + publication in ARTEMISpoetry + London reading. Enter by post or online.

Amongst Jackie Kay’s many poetry awards and prizes are the Forward, Saltire, Scottish Arts Council (for The Adoption Papers) and a shortlisting for Costa. She also writes award-winning fiction both for adults and children, and for stage and TV. She is Professor of Creative Writing at Newcastle University. She was awarded an MBE in 2006, and made a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 2002.

£300 First Prize for each of Long (no upper limit) and Short (max 50 lines) poems

£100 Second Prize (1 poem from either category)

£50 Third Prize (1 poem from either category)

Commended poets: book prizes

Winning & Commended Poets published (in full or extract) in ARTEMISpoetry

A reading will be organised for winners in London in Autumn 2014.

Entry: £6 each per long poem. Short poems: £4 each or £9 for 3, £14 for 8. Enter by post (2 copies) or online.

Complete details HERE. PLEASE NOTE THAT ALTHOUGH SECOND LIGHT NETWORK OF WOMEN POETS IS BASED IN ENGLAND, MEMBERSHIP IS OPEN WORLDWIDE AND SUBMISSIONS TO ARTEMISpoetry and to various anthologies and competitions are considered from women anywhere in the world. You do not need to be a member to submit your work to be considered for publication.

product_thumbnail-1.phpA BEA IN YOUR BONNET, FIRST STING: If Charlie Martin has felt his ears ringing this month, it’s probably because we’ve been reading – and talking about – his newest collection and are delighted with it. It was worth the wait. It’s filled with humor, irony and folksy wisdom.

Charlie says, “Bea In Your Bonnet: First Sting is a collection of germinal poems featuring Aunt Bea. Aunt Bea’s voice is one I’ve heard almost every day of my life. Family observations, lessons, and advice given to me and every other family member who had the good sense to listen. Her homespun philosophy most likely will not be found in any collegiate textbooks or for that matter in any local town crier newspaper catering to city dwellers. Indeed, she has a different way of viewing the world; a bit old fashion, sassy, and steely at times but a viewpoint which has engaged my imagination and heart. I sincerely hope you too will find some morsel of wisdom in her personal observations and interpretations of life’s events, but do watch out for her stingers.”

 

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unnamed-17YOU BRING TO THE ACT OF PHOTOGRAPHY all the pictures you have seen, the books you have read, the music you have heard, the people you have loved.” Ansel Adams (1902-1984), American photographer and environmentalist

interNATIONAL PHOTOGRAPHY MONTH: We’ve spent a good portion of our May posts on photography in honor of this celebration. We’ve explored photography as art, journalism, documentary, story, creative outlet, means to enter sacred space and as spiritual practice. In case you’ve missed any of these delicious and sometime provocative posts, here are the links/subjects covered:

interNational Photography Month, join us in celebrating this art form, May 1

The Very Picture, a photo-essay/story by Naomi Baltuck, May 2

Sacred Space in the Frame, a Sunday meditation by Terri Stewart, May 4

St. Louis Arch, a meditation by Liz Rice-Sosne (a.k.a. Raven Spirit), May 5

Life is Like a Camera, May 9

Sacred Space in Photograph: Perspective, a Sunday meditation by Terri Stewart, May 11

Photographs “are made with the eye, heart and head.” French Photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson: The Decisive Moment, May 11

interNational Photography Month: Wordless Wednesday essay and event host, Prisciall Galasso, May 14

About My Friend, Wendy Alger, Fine Arts Photographer by Jamie Dedes, May 16

Sacred Space and Light, a Sunday meditation by Terri Stewart, May 18

Through a Lens Darkly: How African-Americans Use Photography to Shape Their Cultural Representation, May 18

Tempest in a Teapot, a photo essay/story by Naomi Baltuck, May 20

Travel Themes: Blossoms by Imelda de Castro-Santore, May 20

Fusion: The Synergy of Images and Words by Steve McCurry, May 21

Expanding the Circle: The Engaged Photographer, May 22

Photoshopping My Life by Charles W. Martin

stalking the wild tombstone by Jamie Dedes, May 24

Sacred Space and Photography: Light v 2, a Sunday meditation by Terri Stewart

TIDBITS: Niamh Clune reports that she is  busy busy expanding  Plum Tree Books children’s division. Liz Rice-Sosne (noh where) and Jamie Dedes (The Poet by Day) have both moved to new digs and are recuperating from exhausing work and the many complications (anticipated and unanticipated) that are always involved in such endeavors. Both will be back online more frequently soon, as will Liliana Negoi (Endless Journey and in Romanian curcubee în alb şi negru) who has been up to some truly interesting things, which we hope she’ll share with us.

and Golden Lens Awards to:

WRITER’S FOURTH WEDNESDAY/Coming up 28 May: Writers’ Fourth Wednesday prompt is hosted by poet, novelist and writing coach, Victoria C. Slotto, from January through October. Victoria’s next Fourth Wednesday writers’ prompt will post at 12:01 a.m. PST on May 28. Please join us. Mister Linky will remain open for seventy-two hours so that you can link your response to this blog.If you find Mister Linky too combersom to use, please feel free to leave your link in the comments section on Wednesday. Victoria and Jamie will read and comment and we hope you will read each other’s work as well, comment and encourage.

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Julio-Pavanetti-del-Liceo-Poético-de-Benidorm1-300x189THE BEST FOR LAST:

POETS AND ARTISTS OF EVERY ILK GATHER FOR POSITIVE CHANGE AROUND THE WORLD: As part of the planning process for 100,000 Poets for Change in Septermber, we are interviewing one of the founders of the event, Michael Rothenberg, poet, songwriter, editor and environmentalist. (Terri Carrion, poet, writer and photographer is the other founder.) We will complete the interview and deliver it here sometime in June. It’s a work in progress right now. The Bardo Group is officially partnered with 100,000 Poets for Change. We will sponsor a virtual event. Liz Rice-Sosne (noh where) hosts.

Thank you to all who share their extraordinary and diverse works here, to those who read and comment, and to those who spread the word and reblog posts. Thanks to the Core Team for their consistency, commitment, and professionalism. You rock!

In the spirit of peace, love and community,

THE BARDO GROUP

The Bardo Group, Facebook Page

bardogroup@gmail.com

Photo credits ~ all portraits belong to those whom they picture unless otherwise indicated; roses by Jamie Dedes, © 2014, All rights reserved; 100,000 Poets for Change banner belongs to that organization.

Are There Any Other Civilisations … Out There?

 

I have held a universal and, it seems probably a pantheistic view of our life on earth for many years now. It is this: that there are probably other intelligent civilisations out there in the cosmos, but, in spite of our continued quest to find some and because of the humungous scale and mind boggling span of time that is represented in the life of the universe, we will never discover one. We may not even exist simultaneously. I would add a small warning to those, who like my mother-in-law, God rest her soul, are mind-bogglephobics, or who simply cannot cope with the scale of it all, that this may be a challenging concept to grasp. Nonetheless, it does require a calculator with a large scale, should you wish to do some proportions!

The following is a track from his album, “Letters from a Flying Machine” by a very fine musician, singer and songwriter from the USA, Peter Mulvey, whom we saw and met on the weekend at the Barnsley Acoustic Roots Festival.  Having listened closely to the words of his songs and one or two of his ‘between song’ talks, I asked him in our brief chat, did he by any chance write poetry? He replied that he didn’t; he preferred to leave that to the poets, but that a few of his friends were poets and that he read a great deal of poetry … to exemplify this, the inside cover of the album we bought from him, “Silver Ladder” reveals a brief quote from the 17th Century poet, Mizuta Masahide: “Barn’s burnt down – now I can see the moon”.

… anyway, back to the theme of this post.

The only thing I can do is ask you to listen to this story that Peter Mulvey tells of a conversation that he had, over some beer, with “Vlad the Astrophysicist“:

Sums it up very neatly for me.

You might also want to listen to some of this fellow’s music; there is poetry in a lot of it.

 © 2014 John Anstie

John_in_Pose_Half_Face3

JOHN ANSTIE (My Poetry Library and 42) ~ is a British writer and poet, a contributing editor here at Bardo, and multi-talented gentleman self-described as a “Family man, Grandfather, Occasional Musician, Singer, Amateur photographer and Film-maker, Apple-MAC user, Implementation Manager, and Engineer”. He has participated in d’Verse Poet’s Pub and is a player in New World Creative Union as well as a being a ‘spoken-voice’ participant in Roger Allen Baut’s excellent ‘Blue Sky Highway‘ radio broadcasts. John has been blogging since the beginning of 2011. He is also a member of The Poetry Society (UK).

*****

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51w-rH34dTL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA300_SH20_OU01_John has also been involved in the recent publication of two anthologies that are the result of online collaborations among two international groups of amateur and professional poets. One of these is The Grass Roots Poetry Group, for which he produced and edited their anthology, “Petrichor* Rising. The other group is d’Verse Poet Pub, in which John’s poetry also appears The d’Verse Anthology: Voices of Contemporary World Poetry, produced and edited by Frank Watson.

Petrichor – from the Greek pɛtrɨkər, the scent of rain on the dry earth.

Myra Schneider asks, “Who is poetry for?”

1815_coversNote: This full-length feature article is presented as an appropriate wrap after celebrating interNational Poetry Month (April). The feature was originally published by ARTEMISpoetry (13 November 2013) and is delivered here with the permission of the publisher (Second Light Live) and the author, Myra Schneider. Although Myra discusses poetry in Britain, we feel her observations apply to other countries as well. Jamaica only just appointed a poet laureate for the first time in fifty years. This month in the U.S. King Features Syndicate partnered with the American Academy of Poets to present poetry to the general public along with the news, which hasn’t been done in the U.S. for more than a generation.

Some months ago at one of the twice-yearly poetry readings, which I help organize for Poetry in Palmers Green, a woman I didn’t know, turned to me as she was leaving and said apologetically: ‘I’m afraid I don’t write poetry.’ It was as if she had been attending under false pretences. I told her we welcomed everyone and felt it important our audience didn’t only consist of writers. The conversation reminded me sharply that in Britain poetry is in the main seen as a separate world. Who would go to a concert feeling uncomfortable that she/he didn’t play a musical instrument?

Why is it that contemporary poetry is often viewed as a minority art form when there is often no more potent way of expressing and communicating vital aspects of life and thought?

One problem is the poor coverage of poetry by the media. BBC Radio 4 broadcasts the poetry request programme Poetry Please. The medium of radio is, in fact, ideal for poetry and Radio 4, which includes readings twice a day from prose books, could offer much more. However, there are some green shoots. Radio has given serious attention to some contemporary translations of classical poetry, such as Amy Kate Riach’s translation of The Seafarer broadcast with sound effects and music on Radio 4, summer 2012. This programme also included a discussion of the poem led by Simon Armitage. This year a Radio 4 play was based on the life of the poet Clare Holtham, drawing on her writing. Radio 4 is also due to broadcast in January next year, as an Afternoon Play, Pam Zinnemann-Hope’s adaptation of her book-length poem On Cigarette Papers about the lives of her parents. More programmes with a poetry focus would be valuable.

Television rarely gives attention to poets and poetry. Serious drama, art and classical music, are all featured on both radio and television. Over recent years national newspapers have cut down the space they give to poetry. At one time there was a daily poem in The Independent and a weekly poem in The Observer. These have been dropped. The Guardian usually features a very short poem in its Saturday Review and a long review of one collection by a well-known poet. It used also to include two or three short reviews. Few bookshops hold good collections of poetry.

The mainstream media’s focus on a very small number of ‘hyped’ poets disguises the great range of lesser-known but strong writers whose poetry deserves to be heard. A large number of poetry collections are published each year but potential readers have no pointers about what is on offer amongst this confusing variety. If they go into a bookshop which does have an extensive poetry section (rare!) they may alight on books in which the poetry is obscure, erudite or both and others which are streetwise or jokey. They may remember some poems from the past which they liked as children but have no idea how to make their way into contemporary poetry. Unless they chance upon a book they can relate to they will probably give up.

There are, however, certain organizations and individuals who are concerned to take poetry to a wider audience. The Bloodaxe anthology, Staying Alive, and its sequels include in themed sections a wide range of accessible contemporary, twentieth century together with a few earlier poems, that is poems whose language and rhythm communicate their general sense. In comparison with the normal sales of poetry books, these anthologies have had huge and deserved success.

In London the Southbank Centre offers a fair number of readings by acclaimed poets from the UK and overseas. These draw in some non-poets as does Poet in the City’s themed readings. The Poetry Libraries in London and Edinburgh are invaluable resources with their comprehensive collections of books for children as well as adults. Both stock magazines and leaflets, provide information and put on intimate readings by a wide range of poets. Poems on the Underground and the charity, Poems in the Waiting Room, both long-running, bring poetry to the many who are unused to hearing or reading poems. The Poetry Society, which sees part of its role as bringing poetry to the public and is the main organizer of National Poetry Day, helps promote Poems on the Underground.

Of prime importance is the work done, on whatever scale, by individuals who have found ways to introduce poetry directly to non-poets. I want to mention some of the very different examples I am aware of.

Deborah Alma, who wrote about her Emergency Poet Service in ARTEMISpoetry 10, is in great demand at city centre events and venues such as pubs as well as at poetry and arts festivals. She travels as a poetry ‘doctor’ in her adapted ambulance and comments, ‘What I do by “prescribing” a poem for their “empty-nest-syndrome”, their stress or heart-break, is show them that poetry has something to say, that it can speak intimately…I try to tailor the poem to their reading habits and taste. I really do believe that poetry is for and about everyone. I might recommend a Bloodaxe anthology…It works! And it matters.’

Poet Kaye Lee, who attends a WEA Writing for Pleasure class, was asked by the tutor, whose interest was prose, to run a poetry session. She told me it was difficult because although one member of the group had requested poetry most of the others were antagonistic, considering it outlandish and too difficult. She started by reading and discussing several accessible list poems by Ruth Fainlight and other poets as a lead-in to writing and gradually won the group over. Keeping to the format of beginning with themed poems, she now runs one very popular session every term. Some members of the group are reading poetry for pleasure at home.

This year the Second Light Network invited a few book-groups to accept copies of Mary MacRae’s posthumous poetry collection, Inside the Brightness of Red, to study her work and to send in reviews. Some book-groups had previously avoided poetry books and a typical comment was: ‘Only twice in the last fifteen years…have we ventured into poetry. The few reviews coaxed from our group suggest that we might do well to dedicate more evenings to poetry in the future.’ Though Mary MacRae was widely admired by fellow-poets, she did not have a high public profile. Nevertheless, the many new readers targeted by this project were able to appreciate both the power of her work: ‘This is a luscious book of poetry. It oozes beauty and wistfulness and is a joy to have by the bed – a poem at bedtime.’ Such enthusiasm makes you wonder what it would take to bring more people and more poetry back together (‘a poem at bedtime’?).

While she was manager of Palmers Green Bookshop Joanna Cameron, a non-poet who loves poetry, ran a series of successful poetry readings. Much of the audience was made up of customers who didn’t write poetry. Later, Joanna was a founder member of Poetry in Palmers Green and she has brought many non-poets to the readings. She now lives near Cambridge where she is putting on readings for Oxfam. She believes it is important to be inclusive while offering a high standard of poetry. She told me she’s seen tightly buttoned men cry at events and heard people saying, ‘I didn’t know poetry could be like that’.

Coming from a background of working in casinos and playwriting, William Ayot became interested in poetry, both reading and writing it, in the 1990s. He included poetry in rehab work he did in prisons and for many years he has used poetry as part of teaching leadership in boardrooms and business schools all over the world. Unable to find a poetry group when he moved to Chester some years ago, he started Poetry on the Border. The series offers accessible poets to large audiences, many of whom are not poets. Recently he set up NaCOT (National Centre for Oral Tradition) and poetry, of course, has a role in this.

Poet John Killick has done major work using poetry with people who have dementia. He writes down a person’s words and then shapes them on the page. The resulting text is then approved by the person and released for circulation among care staff, relatives and a wider public. Anthologies of these poems have been brought out by the publisher, Hawker. John is now mentoring other poets to work in the same way. He also gives readings from these poems and his own at events which link poetry and health issues. Earlier in his career he used poetry in full time educational work with prisoners and he has done poetry residences in hospices.

Other poets are making valuable contributions in healthcare areas. Rose Flint has used poetry in hospital wards, special units and community groups. Another example is Wendy French who has worked in various health areas and been chair of Lapidus, an organization concerned with writing for personal development which very much involves poetry. Survivors Poetry offers poetry and poetry writing to those have suffered mental illness.

It goes without saying that bringing poetry to children is of paramount importance and the Poetry Society see it an essential part of their role to send poets into schools. The work of Sue Dymoke and Anthony Wilson, poets and university lecturers who support teachers by showing them exciting ways of introducing poetry to their pupils, is immensely valuable.

The Internet also offers routes into poetry. In the Guardian Poem of the Week Carole Rumens presents a poem with detailed description and comment. Helen Ivory posts a daily poem on Ink Sweat and Tears, a site which sometimes includes reviews of poetry. Oxford Brookes Poetry Centre posts a weekly poem. Some enthusiastic poets have blogzines in which they regularly introduce poets, together with one of their poems, in an informal but informative way. These sites are helpful to those beginning to read poetry and experienced writers are likely to gain insights from them too.
Blogzines I particularly I admire are posted by Kim Moore, Anthony Wilson and Jamie Dedes.

Kim Moore begins her posts with a lively account of her poetry week, then moves on to her chosen poet and poem. She told me she hoped to normalize poetry as having a part of a working week. In his daily Lifesaving Poems Anthony Wilson (mentioned above) presents a poem which is key to him and includes the personal circumstances in which he came across it as part of his commentary. Jamie Dedes, a retired journalist who lives in California, loves and now writes poetry. She often features articles, poems and interviews with poets in her daily blogzine, The Poet by Day.

It is very clear that themes of wide general interest as well as an informal approach provide inviting routes into poetry. This was underlined for me by Kim Moore. She was asked, as a local writer, to take part in a reading by a visiting poet on the subject of pregnancy and breastfeeding. The evening, she told me, was very popular and though none of her poems had any connection with the subject and no one in the audience whom she spoke to her had ever been to a poetry reading before, she sold nine copies of her debut pamphlet.

Although the media view poetry as a minority art I take heart from the fact that there are organizations and generous individuals committed to fostering an interest in it. I would like to think their number is growing and also that some of those who read this article might consider developing their own ‘open house’ approach.

How might we contribute? Possibly by boldly offering our own creative and/or critical work to various media. Would a long poem or sequence of yours, adapted, suit a Radio 4 ‘Afternoon Play’. Have you considered such a submission? Are we willing to post reviews of excellent collections we have read? Do we dare to invite a book group that we attend – one that never trifles with poetry – to look at a suitably accessible, intriguing individual collection of poetry or an anthology?

I know that the editors of ARTEMISpoetry would welcome and consider printing any information about schemes for widening the audience for poetry. After all, we are worth it.

Myra Schneider

© 2013, essay and portrait below, Myra Schneider, All rights reserved; © 2014, illustration, Second Light Live, All rights reserved

References:

Amy Kate Riach, The Seafarer, Sylph Editions, 2010
Bloodaxe Books, http://www.bloodaxebooks.com
The Poetry Library, Southbank, London, http://www.poetrylibrary.org.uk
The Scottish Poetry Library, Edinburgh, http://www.scottishpoetrylibrary.org.uk/‎
Poems on the Underground, http://www.tfl.gov.uk/corporate/projectsandschemes/2437.aspx
The Poetry Society, http://www.poetrysociety.org.uk
Poems in the Waiting Room, http://www.poemsinthewaitingroom.org‎
Kaye Lee, http://www.secondlightlive.co.uk
Second light Network of Women Poets, http://www.secondlightlive.co.uk
Mary Macrae, Inside the Brightness of Red, Second Light Publications, 2010
Joanna Cameron, joannacameron@live.com
Deborah Alma, Emergency Poet, emergencypoet.com
William Ayot, http://www.williamayot.com
John Killick, http://www.dementiapositive.co.uk
Wendy French, wendyfrench.co.uk
Rose Flint, http://www.poetrypf.co.uk
Lapidus, http://www.lapidus.org.uk
Survivors Poetry, http://www.survivorspoetry.org
Anthony Wilson, http://anthonywilsonpoetry.com
Sue Dymoke, http://suedymokepoetry.com/books
Guardian Poem of the Week, http://www.theguardian.com/books/series/poemoftheweek‎
Oxford Brooks Poetry Centre, ah.brookes.ac.uk
Ink Sweat and Tears, http://www.ink-sweat-and-tears.com
The Poet by Day, http://musingbymoonlight.com
Kim Moore, http://kimmoorepoet.wordpress.com

How might you contribute? Possibly by boldly offering you own creative and/or critical work to various media. Would a long poem or sequence of yours, adapted, suit a Radio 4 ‘Afternoon Play’. Have you considered such a submission? Are you willing to post reviews of excellent collections we have read? Do you dare to invite a book group that you attend – one that never trifles with poetry – to look at a suitably accessible, intriguing individual collection of poetry or an anthology?

IMG_0032-1Myra’s long poems have been featured in Long Poem Magazine and Domestic Cherry. She co-edited with Dilys Wood, Parents, an anthology of poems by 114 women about their own parents. She started out writing fiction for children and teens. We first discovered Myra through her much-loved poem about an experience with cancer, The Red Dresswhich she generously shared with readers here in our Perspectives on Cancer series in 2011.

Currently Myra lives in North London, but she grew up in Scotland and in other parts of England. She lives with her husband and they have one son. Myra tutors through Poetry School, London. Her schedule of poetry readings is HERE.

A Poem In Your Pocket Day

Is that a poem in your pocket, or are you just happy to see me? 😉

Image borrowed from http://www.publicdomainpictures.net
Image borrowed from http://www.publicdomainpictures.net

All month, we have been celebrating International Poetry Month. Today, we’re celebrating Poem in Your Pocket Day here at The Bardo. This event truly is a neat way to introduce and share poetry with just about anyone. One of the best things about pocket-sized poems, is of course, that they’re portable! No matter where you are, if you have a pocket, you can share, too. This page even has pre-made, down-loadable ‘pocket-sized’ poems in .PDF formats, so all you have to do is download them and print! Or here is another template from Scholastic.com that you can use on which to put your own poem. How easy is THAT? 😀

Image borrowed from http://jimmie.squidoo.com/hspoetry
Image borrowed from http://jimmie.squidoo.com/hspoetry

Probably the hardest part of participating in this celebration is deciding what poem to share. If it’s too long, it might not fit on a smallish, pocket-sized piece of paper. (Although, you can always print it out and then fold it up). It should be a poem that means something to you, whether it’s one that you’ve written and want to share, or one by a favorite author. The point is to get out there and share what you love about poetry! I combined this day with a couple of the other ideas I suggested back at the beginning of the month, to post poetry in unexpected places and take a poem to lunch. I utilized Post-It notes for the first one (both because of their stick-to-it-ness properties and because they could fit in lots of unusual places). I even recruited some friends to help me place the poems all around campus. I decided to use Haikus, because they are short and easy to write on Post-Its, and I don’t think they (Haikus) are properly appreciated these days. 🙂 Post-It Haikus As you can see, I printed the haikus with the authors’ names on them and taped a small note to the bottom which said, “Celebrate National Poetry Month all April!” I chose orange because it’s a high-contrast, noticeable color. I only actually witnessed the result of one of the poems I had placed…on the inside door of a restroom stall where I work…(captive audience and all that…hahaha). The young woman came out of the restroom holding the post-it in her hand with a big smile on her face. One of my friends posted one on the inside of the elevator door, so that you didn’t see it until the doors closed and you were in the elevator on the way to your floor. “Unexpected places”, indeed. When I “took a poem to lunch” I invited my mother to go to lunch and asked her to bring a poem, too. I chose Emily Brontë’s poem, “No coward soul is mine” (which had to be folded up to fit into my pocket, by the way) and my mother brought “If” by Rudyard Kipling. It was a wonderful addition to our delicious lunch. In fact, we enjoyed it so well that I think we may even do it next month, too. 😉 Have fun today sharing the poems in YOUR pockets. You never know, you may just inspire someone else to do the same! And please join us by sharing your poem with all of us here, in the online world, by using Mister Linky. © 2014, essay, Corina Ravenscraft All rights reserved

PLEASE USE MISTER LINKY BELOW TO CONNECT

THE URL TO A POEM OF YOURS YOU’D LIKE TO SHARE

OR TO ANY POEM THAT YOU FIND ESPECIALLY MEANINGFUL

YOU MAY ALSO POP A FAVORITE POEM INTO THE COMMENT SECTION FOR THIS POST

IF YOU’D PREFER. Thank you! 

effecd1bf289d498b5944e37d8f4ee6fAbout dragonkatet Regarding the blog name, Dragon’s Dreams ~ The name comes from my love-affairs with both Dragons and Dreams (capital Ds). It’s another extension of who I am, a facet for expression; a place and way to reach other like-minded, creative individuals. I post a lot of poetry and images that fascinate or move me, because that’s my favorite way to view the world. I post about things important to me and the world in which we live, try to champion extra important political, societal and environmental issues, etc. Sometimes I wax philosophical, because it’s also a place where I always seem to learn about myself, too, by interacting with some of the brightest minds, souls and hearts out there. It’s all about ‘connection(s)’ and I don’t mean “net-working” with people for personal gain, but rather, the expansion of the 4 L’s: Light, Love, Laughter, Learning.

The Burden of a Shared Name

571px-Blaga_Dimitrova_YounI used to hate her, foolish, a teenager’s hate that can only be explained in a parallel universe where logic doesn’t exist. I was a sixteen-year-old girl in a class with additional studies of mathematics. I was supposed to have the sharp brain, the emotion-free behavior required for someone who was a shining star in solving mathematical problems. Then suddenly there it was: the literature lesson about her and one of her poems I don’t even remember. The teacher decided that I was the one who should talk about her that day because of the first name we shared. 41GHNKWJ10L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_

It was a disaster! I hadn’t read a word from what was written in the school books about her and her poetry. When I was asked the question ‘What do you think Blaga Dimitrova’s poem symbolizes?’ all I could think about to answer was, “The only person who really knows what the words in a poem meant is the author herself. We, as readers, can interpret as we feel right and only hope we’ve reached close enough the thoughts of the writer.’ Wrong answer! A bunch of literature critics that wrote the school book of literature, had already decided what her poetry signified, just like they had decided what every other writer we had studied represents with their work.

I got a bad mark that day and I had come to a conclusion that no one should want to be a poet in a country where we are told what to think. The bad mark wasn’t the worst. After the lesson everyone started calling me Dimitrova. I didn’t like it, I could feel it was meant to be a joke with my personality; to label me with the weakness of feelings only poetry could carry because this is what I used to think about poetry and poets – weak people spilling their weaknesses… Ridiculous, isn’t it? And who knew that I would become one of those weak people. Who knew that one day I would learn  to squander my emotions elegantly on a piece of paper and love doing it too?

At the same time Blaga Dimitrova was vice president of my country, Bulgaria. That was another reason to dislike her. I didn’t dislike her because she was in politics. Who was I to judge someone I have seen only on tv? I disliked Dimitrova because I couldn’t understand why a sane person would stand to support the President we had at that time, and I just couldn’t understand why he was elected. I didn’t know him either. I was way too naïve and young to have the maturity to understand the political situation, but on his face was written all over “I’m capable of nothing.”

When a year later Blaga Dimitrova resigned from her post as a Vice-President due to a disagreement with the President she gained my respect and with that come the urge to re-evaluate her poetry. It was a shock to find that I actually loved her style, her words. The first poem I read and understood from her was:

Tag

I keep forgetting my clock
to escape the time.
But it catches up with me and I whirl
with the whopping, falling leaves.

I enter the sea with the clock on my wrist
to drown the time.
But it slaps me in the face
with the bells of the foam.

I’m not counting the beats of the pendulum;
I want to put the time away.
But it lands right on my nose
with the first snow.

At night I don’t set the alarm
with the hope the time will stop.
But it’s waiting for me in the cold bed
with love already gone.

– Blaga Dimitrova

Then I read her novel Journey Toward Myself.  It’s a book about a girl who tries to escape her past, which is not an easy task in the years of communism, especially if you were born in the wrong family. The message is rather strong and easy to apply to anyone of us. No matter how much we travel and how much we search for the person we are supposed to be, sometimes what we are meant to be is right there where we started our journey.

My favorite quote from Blaga Dimitrova’s book is: “I blessed him with a smile. It dissolved him completely. There was no need for words. I should have tried with a smile at first. I tend to forget that this is my most faithful weapon. I have never thought what impact a smile can have. Only here in the land of rocks and coarse people I found the strength of my smile. It’s worth to travel so far for such a discovery of your own possibilities.”

It’s somewhat hard to explain Blaga Dimitrova’s work and to try to extract a short conclusion that could fit into one review. There is always that special feeling left in the heart after you read her. Maybe that’s why I grew very fond of her poems and stories over the years and maybe that’s why it’s really difficult to fit everything I want to say about her in one blog post.

I can tell you that she comes from a family with professional parents. Her mother was a teacher and her father was a lawyer. She attended a roster of prestigious schools and gained an education that supported her talent. She was honored with many literature awards.

One of her books, Avalanche, was made into an acclaimed movie,  one of the best Bulgarian movies ever in my opinion. Some of Blaga Dimitrova’s work was forbidden in the 80s, because of the strong anti- communism touch. I could tell you that some people liked her and some not. Be it for her political views, be it for her writing, it doesn’t matter to me. On the 2nd of May in 2003 after a long battle with cancer, Blaga Dimitrova died. She was eight-one years old.

I believe on that day Bulgaria lost a great talent. Many years have passed. I am no longer the sixteen-year-old girl who didn’t know how to appreciate the good things in life. I have left Bulgaria for my own reasons and maybe I am still traveling towards myself to find who I really am. It hurts sometimes when I go back home to see that nothing from great people like Blaga Dimitrova was passed on to the new generation. Sometimes I still feel the burden of the shared name with the poetess, not because I am embarrassed to be connected to the weakness of poetry, but because I am afraid I will not be able to stand up worthy of the name Blaga like Ms. Dimitrova did with her talent. I love so many of Blaga Dimitrova’s poems, it’s hard to choose the best, but this one I had written on my wall in the room where I was living during my years at University. It is the one I cherish most.

Lyrical

In the sunset of every love
occurs pain and sadness.
After sunset every night
comes darkness and silence.

When somebody leaves you,
you don’t have the strength to stop him.
When you see that love dies
you can’t die along with it.

You understand that the dreams have never been real
that you have loved, but there wasn’t love,
that the memories are a pain that has fled already,
that you were happy, but you didn’t notice it.

– Blaga Dimitrova

For everything I have translated in this post, there probably could be a better translation. I’ve said it many times, some poems are best to be read in the language they have been written, but I did the best I could. My thanks to The Bardo Group for the opportunity to share the story and poems of a great Bulgarian poetess with readers here in honor of interNational Poetry Month.

© 2014, essay, Blaga Todorova, All rights reserved
Photo credit ~ Merolina under CCA-SA 3.0 Unported license via Wikimedia Commons

unnamed-6BLAGA TODOROVA (Between the Shadows and the Soul) ~ was born in Bulgaria, lives in Greece and doesn’t stop dreaming about finding new country for herself. She doesn’t consider herself a writer, but just someone who sometimes is lucky enough to be at the right place, with the right person, with the background of the right music that will bring the right words. Blaga has been blogging for many years now and has won the friendship and following of other poets and writers for her insights, humor and sense of romance and of justice. English is not her first language, but she uses it well and it is her favorite language for her favorite artistic pursuit, writing. She has a novel in progress. She is also a rather accomplished photographer.

November 22, 1963, Lives in Memory

Haibun

I had been to lunch in Third House.  It was a warm spring day, just the sort of day to leave lunch early and walk in the sunshine.  I ambled over to Second House and plopped down in front of the TV.  I had spent my sophomore year here and I had always loved it – it felt like home more than any other dorm.  However, that day I was a senior, an upperclassman of 17 years of age.  While at Dobbs’ I had lived in each of these Queen Anne houses.  Today I lived in First House.  They were rickety and old, painted a dull boarding school gray.  None the less I was quite comfortable for they represented home for me for three of my four years at school.  I comfortably seated myself on a couch in front of the television.  It might no longer be my dorm, but it still felt cozy and I felt confident, that day so long ago.  That confidence must have come from some of that upperclassman swagger that one acquires as they move though their grades (although, to be honest, I didn’t have much swagger).  It felt strange as I did not have many confident days in my youth.

wild grey geese above

flew in perfect formation

chaos left behind

 

Haibun

I flipped on the black and white TV, there was no color in those days. “Oh My God. What was happening?” I was in an instant state of shock. President Kennedy had been shot right in from of my eyes – in his limo in Dallas, Texas. “Was this true?” There was growing chaos everywhere on the television, then this horrific  event seemed to ebb out of the television and blanket me. It was thick and dark. I knew that I must get away. I had to get up, go back to the lunchroom and tell of the shooting. I thought of our beautiful first lady and what her sadness must be like. It was so hard to move. I made myself leave.

woodpecker knocking

high above in the maple

a chick all grown up

 

Haibun

I ran back to the lunchroom and shouted out the news. I do not remember another thing that afternoon. I do remember crying myself to sleep that night filled with such emptiness, dread and a sense of loneliness. Of late, I have been reading a good deal about the Kennedys. I will never believe that this assassination evolved out of the crazy thoughts of one lone Soviet sympathizer. I also suspect that the full truth of those moments in Dallas that November 22nd of 1963 will not be known by the public within my lifetime.

shells upon a beach

dry cool windy autumn day

creation of sand

unnamed-2LIZ RICE-SOSNE a.k.a. Raven Spirit (noh where), perhaps the oldest friend to Bardo, is the newest member of The Bardo Group Core Team. She is also our new Voices for Peace project outreach coordinator and our go-to person for all things related to haiku.  She says she “writes for no reason at all. It is simply a pleasure.” Blogging, mostly poetry, has produced numerous friends for whom she has a great appreciation. Liz is an experienced blogger, photographer and a trained shaman. We think her middle name should be “adventure.”

because a poem is everything you can be …

Chirlane McCray by Kelly Weill, NYU Local.com
Chirlane McCray by Kelly Weill, NYU Local.com

CHIRLANE McCRAY is a writer and poet, a speechwriter and wife of New York City’s new (as of January 2014) mayor, Bill de Blasio. She is also the mother of two children, Chiara and Dante.

According to her bio on de Blasio’s website, “Chirlane began writing at a young age. In high school she discovered ways to use writing as a tool for activism. While studying at Wellesley College and the famed Radcliffe Publishing Course, Chirlane became a member of the Combahee River Collective, a pioneering black feminist collective, which inspired her to write groundbreaking prose and poetry.”

I’ve triend to find poems by Chirlane other than the one below, which is being featured by just about everyone in the New York blogosphere. No luck. The poems are probably out in the world somewhere, but try to bring one up in a search and you get bombarded by the overriding political effluvia and razzmatazz. Nonetheless, this is extraordinatry poem and the one – according to the man himself – that made de Blasio fall in love with her. It is from Home Girls: A Black Feminist Anthology. I happen to have a copy of Home Girls, so I know it’s the only poem of hers in that collection. I was unable to find Chirlane McCray’s poems in the other anthologies I own.

NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 10: Public Advocate and mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio kisses his wife Chirlane McCray after voting in the New York City mayoral primary on September 10, 2013 (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
NEW YORK CITY: Public Advocate and then mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio kisses his wife, Chirlane, after voting in the mayoral primary on September 10, 2013 (photograph by Spencer Platt via Getty Images)

I Used To Think

I used to think
I can’t be a poet
because a poem is being everything you can be
in one moment,
speaking with lightning protest
unveiling a fiery intellect
or letting the words drift feather-soft
into the ears of strangers
who will suddenly understand
my beautiful and tortured soul.
But, I’ve spent my life as a Black girl
a nappy-headed, no-haired,
fat-lipped,
big-bottomed Black girl
and the poem will surely come out wrong
like me.

And, I don’t want everyone looking at me.

If I could be a cream-colored lovely
with gypsy curls,
someone’s pecan dream and sweet sensation,
I’d be

poetry in motion
without saying a word
and wouldn’t have to make sense if I did.
If I were beautiful, I could be angry and cute
instead of an evil, pouting mammy bitch
a nigger woman, passed over
conquested and passed over,
a nigger woman
to do it to in the bushes.

My mother tells me
I used to run home crying
that I wanted to be light like my sisters.
She shook her head and told me
there was nothing wrong with my color.
She didn’t tell me I was pretty
(so my head wouldn’t swell up).

Black girls cannot afford to
have illusions of grandeur,
not ass-kicking, too-loud-laughing,
mean and loose Black girls.

And even though in Afrika
I was mistaken for someone’s fine sister or cousin
or neighbor down the way,
even though I swore
never again to walk with my head down,
ashamed,
never to care
that those people who celebrate
the popular brand of beauty
don’t see me,
it still matters.

Looking for a job, it matters.
Standing next to my lover
when someone light gets that
“she ain’t nothin come home with me” expression
it matters.

But it’s not so bad now.
I can laugh about it,
trade stories and write poems
about all those put-downs,
my rage and hiding.
I’m through waiting for minds to change,
the 60’s didn’t put me on a throne
and as many years as I’ve been
Black like ebony
Black like the night
I have seen in the mirror
and the eyes of my sisters
that pretty is the woman in darkness
who flowers with loving

– Chirlane McCray

Photo on 2014-03-31 at 17.16 #3JAMIE DEDES (The Poet by Day)~ I am a medically retired (disabled) elder and the mother of a married son. The graces of poetry, art, music, writing and reading continue to evolve as a sources of wonder and solace, as creative outlets, and as a part of my spiritual practice. My Facebook pages are: Jamie Dedes (Arts and Humanities) and Simply Living, Living Simply.