The BeZine, Dec. 2018, Vol. 5, Issue 4, Theme: Life of the Spirit

“Walk with the dreamers, the believers, the courageous, the cheerful, the planners, the doers, the successful people with their heads in the clouds and their feet on the ground. Let their spirit ignite a fire within you to leave this world better than when you found it…”  The Art of Living, Wilfred Peterson

December 15, 2018

A Life of the Spirit is a many-faceted jewel. Some of our contributors interpreted the theme for this month as Spirit (Being, the Ineffable, the Divine) and others more as spirited, strong. Some find Spirit and courage in the great love of their life or in their art, in their religion or spiritual practice. Others find it in an inspiring parent or grandparent.  You will see that nature plays a role for nearly everyone.

I don’t think I’ve ever used as many hankies in pulling together an issue of The BeZine as I have with this issue.  Contributors this quarter speak intimately from both joy and heartbreak, which is perhaps not surprising given the theme.

©2018 Naomi Baltuck, Chris Spengler, and Allison Cox

Our contributors have also rallied their spirits to speak out against gun violence and to speak up for the LGBTQ community. Violence and cruelty are not an absence of Spirit but a lack of awareness.

c 2018, Anjum Wasim Dar

My country – America – has a gun violence history that is notorious but firearms are ubiquitous on this Earth and complicit in wars and conflicts, hate crimes, terrorism, suicide and accidental shootings. Death by fire arms is grotesquely common in South American countries, Jamaica, and Swaziland.

Gun-suicides: I’ve taken the liberty of including a poem about my big sister, Teresa Margaret, who died of a self-inflicted gunshot to the head. She was twenty-seven. I was fourteen. Fifty-four years later, the trauma remains. The questions remain: Why? Where did the gun come from? Who taught her how to use it?

“Although the USA ranked fourth in the world with 12,400 firearm-related homicides, that figure pales in comparison with its 23,800 gun suicides. None of the other 194 nations and territories  [ … ] came close; India ranked second at 13,400.” USA Today HERE

Easy access to firearms is cited by experts as one reason for the prevalence of their use in suicide. Another may be that guns offer an effective means of suicide.

Since there is history, culture, identity, and ethic involved in gun ownership and use, attempts at doing away with guns are not feasible at this time. Complicated core issues need to be defined and addressed first. Will we ever come to a unified place where we agree that murder and torture are not options?  How then would Spirit play in the garden of material life?

Thanks to The Bardo Group Bequines team and to our guest writers for helping us put together an issue that is honest, artful, and inspiring, one that walks “with the dreamers, the believers, the courageous, the cheerful, the planners, the doers, the successful people with their heads in the clouds and their feet on the ground.”

As you read, we hope that you will leave your “Likes” and comments behind to let each contributor know they were read and appreciated and to enrich the experience for others.

In the spirit of love (respect) and community,
and on behalf of The Bardo Group Bequines,
Jamie Dedes
Founding and Managing Editor

TABLE OF CONTENTS


How to read this issue of THE BeZINE:You can read each piece individually by clicking the links in the Table of Contents.
To learn more about our guests contributors, please link HERE.
To learn more about our core team members, please link HERE.


BeAttitudes

A Murmur, John Anstie

Your Freedom Eyes, Linda Chown

Julia Vinograd Slipped Into My Writing, Michael Dickel

Feathers of Grass, Joe Hesch

Whelm, Tricia Knoll

Making White Flags, P.A. Levy

Hope Springs Eternal, Tamam Tracy Moncur

Spirit Speaks, Corina Ravenscraft

A Gift of Courage, Anjum Wasim Dar

Poems

Standing Out in the Straight …, Linda Chown

Stone Love, P.A. Levy

Landing, P.C. Moorehead

Illuminating, P.C. Moorehead

Dense Flesh, P.C. Moorehead

Songbird, Jason A. Muckley

Princess of the Sea, Jason A. Muckley

Four Haiku, Jason A. Muckley

Log Cabin Quilt, Anne Myers

Lit Up With Your Warmth, Scott Thomas Outlar

Catching Leaves and Picking Clover, Scott Thomas Outlar

High Tide Hallelujah, Scott Thomas Outler

The Spirit of Us, poem by Deborah Setiyawait, photography by Carl Scharwath

The Star, Clarissa Simmens

my decision is not new, since …, Anjum Wasim Dar

for those who don’t know the chocolate, Amirah Al Wassif

the poetry is …, Amirah Al Wassif

Windows of Madrid, Amirah Al Wassif

Social Justice for LGBTQ

Telling Tales Under the Rainbow, Naomi Baltuck, Alison Cox, Chris Spengler

Gravy, Chris Spengler

Gun Violence

GunShot, Gary W. Bowers

A Girl in a Box, Jamie Dedes

A Poem for the Tree of Life Synagogue, Michael Dickel

Silencing the Thunder, Joe Hesch

Snow Angels, Joe Hesch

CONNECT WITH US

The BeZine: Be Inspired, Be Creative, Be Peace, Be (the subscription feature is below and to your left.)

Daily Spiritual Practice: Beguine Again, a community of Like-Minded People

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SUBMISSIONS:

Read Info/Missions StatementSubmission Guidelines, and at least one issue before you submit. Updates on Calls for Submissions and other activities are posted every Sunday in Sunday Announcements on The Poet by Day.

THE BeZINE, Vol. 4, Issue 2: Hunger, Poverty and The Working Class as Slave Labor

November 15, 2017


In the four-year history of The BeZine, this is the most significant edition. All of our concerns – peace, environmental sustainability, human rights, freedom of expression – depend on a more equal distribution of wealth, on making sure no one goes hungry and on breaking-down barriers to employment, healthcare, education and racial and gender equity.

This pyramid (courtesy of Wikipedia) reveals that:

  • half of the world’s wealth belongs to the top 1%,
  • top 10% of adults hold 85%, while the bottom 90% hold the remaining 15% of the world’s total wealth,
  • top 30% of adults hold 97% of the total wealth.

We’re all cognizant of that profile, but if you feel you’re sitting pretty and you’re not at risk, you’re employed, educated and middle class after all, you’d be well-advised to reconsider. The middle class is now – and has been for some time – dramatically challenged to find work, to acquire jobs that are fairly paid, offer stability and reasonable hours, and in the U.S., enable them to send their children to college.

The implications of a concentration of wealth in the hands of the few, the oligarchs and mega-corporations, are horrendous. Not the least is the undermining of democracy. Those who vote for and support the oligarchs because they think that’s where their security lies are victims of propaganda and bound for disappointment. The shadow of catastrophe (not too strong a word) that hangs over us is not due to the poor or the “other” who doesn’t look like us, worship the same God, or speak the same language, but to the 1%.  Huxley was disconcertingly prescient.


This month our core team and guest contributors create a picture that beckons and behoves us to abandon stereotypes and propaganda about the poor, to recognize slave labor in its most absolute terms (human trafficking and prison labor) and more subtly in the conditions faced by workers at almost all levels of the corporate pyramid. We are called to ethically source the products we buy, to study our history, to bravely speak out against injustice and stupidity and, by implication, to shine a light on best-practices, those programs, services and unofficial efforts in your city/town, region or country that are helping and that can easily be implemented anywhere in the world. (You can share these with everyone via our Facebook discussion group.)

Beginning with Juli’s impassioned editorial, The Exponential Demise of Our Well-being, and moving to our BeAttitudes: John Anstie’s powerful Dictators and Desperadoes … Delegation and Democracy; Corina Ravenscraft’s and Trace Lara Hentz’ thoughtful invitations to awareness; Phillip T. Stephens on prison injustice; Sue Dreamwalker’s encouragement to see the homeless as fully human (and she connects us with homeless poets and artists in England); and Joe Hesch’s honest exploration of self, we are called to responsibly participate in history.

We present a memoir from Renee Espriu and a short story from Joe Hesch this month. These are followed by yet another stellar poetry collection from poets around the world, including work by core-team members: Charles W. Martin and John Anstie.

New to our pages, a warm welcome to: Juli [Juxtaposed], Sue Dreamwalker, Michael Odiah, Evelyn Augusto, Michele Riedele, Irene Emmanuel and bogpan. We welcome work from among our previous and regular contributors: Paul Brookes, Trace Lara Hentz, Renee Espriu, Sonja Benskin Mescher, Denise Fletcher, Phillip T. Stephens, R.S. Chappell, Rob Cullen and Mark Heathcote.

In the spirit of peace, love (respect) and community
and on behalf of The Bardo Group Beguines,
Jamie Dedes, Founding and Managing Editor, The BeZine


HUNGER, POVERTY and THE WORKING CLASS AS SLAVE LABOR

How to read this issue of THE BeZINE:

Click HERE to read the entire magazine by scrolling, or
You can read each piece individually by clicking the links in the Table of Contents.
To learn more about our guests contributors, please link HERE.
To learn more about our core team members, please link HERE.


EDITORIAL

The Exponential Demise of Our Wellbeing, Juli [Juxtaposed]

BeATTITUDES

Dictators and Desperadoes … Delegation and Democracy, John Anstie
Change Your View and Your View Changes, Corina Ravenscraft
‘Til the Jails Are Empty, Phillip T. Stephens
Blessed Be, Lara Trace Hentz
Homeless, Sue Dreamwalker
Ramble Tramble, Joseph Hesch

MEMOIR

Meeting Poverty, Renee Espriu

SHORT SHORT STORY

And Crown Thy Good, Joseph Hesch

POETRY

As if …, John Anstie

Carolina Oriole, Evelyn Augusto

Ecomium, bogpan

Crow Share, Paul Brookes
Means Tester, Paul Brookes
A Hunger, Paul Brookes
The Good Employer’s Manifesto, Paul Brookes

Bitter limp fruit, Rob Cullen
Life in complicated times, Rob Cullen

Empty Pocket, R.S. Chappell
War Over Hunger, R.S. Chappell

proud at unjustified margins, Jamie Dedes
an accounting, Jamie Dedes

A Thread of Hope, Denise Fletcher

Dustbowl, Mark Heathcote
Humanitarian help worker, Mark Heathcote

Togetherness, Irene Immanuel

a slave’s mentality, Charles W. Martin

#ice&mud, Sonja Benskin Mesher

Nautilus, Michele Riedel

Life, Michael Odiah

EXCEPT WHERE OTHERWISE NOTED,
ALL WORKS IN “THE BeZINE” ©2017 BY THE AUTHOR / CREATOR


CONNECT WITH US

The BeZine: Be Inspired, Be Creative, Be Peace, Be (the subscription feature is below and to your left.)

Daily Spiritual Practice: Beguine Again, a community of Like-Minded People

Facebook, The Bardo Group Beguines

Twitter, The Bardo Group Beguines

SUBMISSIONS:

Read Info/Missions StatementSubmission Guidelines, and at least one issue before you submit. Updates on Calls for Submissions and other activities are posted every Sunday in Sunday Announcements on The Poet by Day.

July 2016, Vol.2/Issue 10; Faith in Things Seen and Unseen

If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is, infinite.
For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things thro’ narrow chinks of his cavern.
The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, William Blake

Faith! In the discussions here you won’t find consistent perspective or theology. You will find faith explored in its many manifestations, religious and otherwise. You’ll find it both shaken and unshakable and in things of the spirit, in nature and humanity, in intuition and in self and family. Unity here is not in things creedal but in the shared values of peace, sustainability and social justice and for many of us – implicitly – in ultimate salvation through artistic expression.

Unitarian Universalist Minister, Rev. Ben Meyers, starts us with an appeal to religions to give their prayers and vigils legs, to befriend one another into the groundswell of local social justice initiatives that ultimately help to inform and bolster global efforts toward equity, justice and peace.This couldn’t be more appropriate as The BeZine “went to press” amid news reports of yet more violence.

You will find our usual diversity represented: skepticism and atheism, the three Abrahamic traditions, shamanism, and the mystical perspectives of Buddhism, Hinduism and Sufism.

Our special selection of lead features and poems are by: shamanic practitioner and psychotherapist, Michael Watson; resident skeptic, James R. Cowles; the always engaging and level-headed analyst, Priscilla Galasso; the fallen altar boy, poet Joe Hesch; professional story-teller and photographer, Naomi Baltuck; our renaissance man in Sheffield, John Anstie; and university librarian, poet and artist, Corina Ravenscraft, on the ultimate triumph of the Universe.

Speaking from positions of their unshakable religious faith are: Algerian poet, Imen Benyoub, on the spiritual joys and family and community connection she finds in the holy tradition of Ramadan; Catholic Theologian, Fr. Daniel S Sormani, theology professor at Ateneo de Manila University, warmly writes about lessons learned from the homely life of the Blessed Virgin Mary; and our gentle Italian literary contributor, Mendes Biondo, tells of inspiration from the Bishop of Hippo Regius (current Annaba, Algeria), St. Augustine. Imen and Mendes are our two student contributors.

Two of our contributors allude to child sexual abuse but a third, Terri Muuss, addresses it head-on and in depth. These are experiences that may strengthen faith in self, though that doesn’t come without pain and work. Terri is featured this month in our popular “Getting to Know You” section.

Our July poetry collection covers matters spiritual, emotional and environmental with excerpts from published collections by Zine regulars: Matt Pasca, Terri Muuss, Myra Schneider, Silva Merjanian and Michael Dickel, contributing editor to The BeZine. With joy we welcome back two lights: German poet, photographer and educator, Dr. Aprilia Zank and English poet, Patricia Leighton.

New to our pages in this issue are:

  • Connie Spearing  who writes of finally “seeing” her Irish grandmother with the accidental discovery of her family’s history during and after World War 1.
  • Sandra Renew’s s poetry expresses her opinions on the state of the world. She wonders who sleeps at night? Who is lucky enough to live in safety and peace?
  • Anca Mihaela Bruma, citizen of world, educated in Rumania, is a poet who writes spiritual autobiography. Anca wanted to incorporate some lovely music and art into her posts. Due to copyrights in one case  (Dorina Costras’ art) and technical incompetence (mine) in the other, we are unable to share Dorina’s paintings or Anca’s soundcloud recordings. However you can view Dorina’s work HERE. You can listen to Anca on soundcloud HERE.

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One last word: DON’T FORGET TO SAVE THE DATE Saturday, 24 September 2016 is The BeZine’s 100,000 Poets for Change, an event which we host virtually.  This event is part of an  important annual arts initiative for global solidarity and peace, social justice and sustainability. Reader participation is invited and encouraged. This is a good time to share your work in the service of a worthy cause.  As is our tradition, all submissions will be archived here and at Standford University. Instructions for participation will be provided on our blog that day with Michael Dickel serving as Master of Ceremonies.  Between Michael and me, the event will run from morning in Israel to midnight in California. The theme this year is Environment/Environmental Justice. More detail HERE.

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Now, come friends.  Read.  Nourish yourselves at our table …

In the spirit of peace, love and community
and on behalf of The Bardo Group Beguines,
Jamie Dedes
Founding and Managing Editor
The BeZine

EDITORIAL

The World in Vigil, by Rev. Ben Meyers

THEME: FAITH IN ALL THINGS SEEN and UNSEEN

Lead Features

Knowing, Michael Watson
Varieties of Faith – Rational and Religous, James R. Cowles
Faith Means Making Choices, Priscilla Galasso
A Perfect World, Naomi Baltuck
Falling But Willing, Joseph Hesch
The Pine Cone Project, John Anstie
Regarding Faith, Corina Ravenscraft

Essays

A Month of Light, Imen Benyoub
The Blessed Mother: She Reminds Me of Who I Am and Who I Should Be, Fr. Daniel S. Sormani, C.S.Sp.
A Little Story of Faith, Mendes Biondo
NOTIONS OF THE SACRED: Poetry as Spritual Practice, Jamie Dedes
The Grandmother I Didn’t See, Connie Spearing

Speculative Flash Fiction

Moshe’s House in Space, Michael Dickle

Poetry

Rhetoric Introspection, Anca Mihaela Bruma
Our Autumn Spring, Anca Mihaela Bruma
Hindsight, Anca Mihaela Bruma

Unidos en Cristo, a poem in English y en español, Jamie Dedes

Three Poems, Michael Dickel
En Gedi, Michael Dickel
Hybrid: Warm Hunger, Michael Dickel

Lost Behind Clouds in Skies of Blue, Joseph Hesch
Hang in There, Joseph Hesch

And the Village Still Sings for Taha Muhammad Ali, Patricia Leighton

Coverage, Silva Merjanian

Passing, Terri Muuss
What Heals, Terri Muuss

Tanyou (In Search of Quietude), Matt Pasca
Silence, Matt Pasca
Toll, Matt Pasca
When Joy Breaks, Matt Pasca

Bring all those who are led astray out of the desert, Sandra Renew

3 a.m., Myra Schneider

prayer for shadows, Aprilia Zank

GETTING TO KNOW YOU

Terri Muuss, Over Exposed

CONNECT WITH US

IMG_0234Beguine Again, Spiritual 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 where you can also find links to archived issues of The BeZine (currently in the process of updating), our Mission Statement and Submission Guidelines.

This is not a poem

Editor’s Note:  The gremlins are hard at work behind the scenes preparing the July issue of The BeZine – to be published on the fifteenth.  Meanwhile we present a poem by Michael Dickel, for your Sunday reading pleasure.  

Michael Dickel shared poetry from his newly published chapbook, War Surrounds Us (Is A Rose Press), in the last two issues of The BeZineWe welcome Michael today as a new member of our core team.

This is not a poem

(cubist poem in entangled form)

Fake Sunset Music Digital art ©2015 Michael Dickel Fake Sunset Music
Digital art ©2015 Michael Dickel

i

This is not a poem; it’s a fake.
Someone else’s words, images, metaphors
creeping on cat’s feet into my mind,
clawing their way to the top of my consciousness
as though they were mine, mined
from some experience unique at once,
universal twice, useless thrice.
This is not a poem. It is a fake:

a book of chords, some sketch of the words,
a chorus. Fake the melody, fake the rhythm
fake the music of sensory language
abstracted to censor sexual pleasure
of the mind. Or something like that.
Or nothing like that. Or nothing.

Fake spring flower sunset Digital art ©2015 Michael Dickel Fake Sunset Flower
Digital art ©2015 Michael Dickel

ii

This someone: creeping, clawing as though from a universal.
This—a book, a chorus, fake, abstracted of the mind or nothing—
is not, else is, on cat’s feet, their way. They were mine, some experience
twice useless, not a poem of chords. Fake, the music to censor or something like that.
It’s a fake: words into my mind, to the top, mined, unique. Thrice: it is a fake.
Some sketch, the melody, sensory language, sexual pleasure: like that. Or nothing.
Images of my consciousness at once sketch, fake the rhythm. Metaphors.

Fake music flower sunset Digital art ©2015 Michael Dickel Fake Sunset Flower Music
Digital art ©2015 Michael Dickel

iii

This is not a poem; it’s a fake:
A book of chords, some sketch of the words,

someone else’s words, images, metaphors,
a chorus. Fake the melody, fake the rhythm

creeping on cat’s feet into my mind,
fake the music of sensory language

clawing its way to the top of my consciousness,
abstracted to censor sexual pleasures

as though they were mine, mined
of the mind. Or something like that.

From some experience, unique at once,
or nothing like that. Or nothing.

Universal twice, useless thrice.
This is not a poem. It is a fake.


This poem originally appeared in Drash Pit, April 2013


Dust Storm Sunset Digital image ©2015 Michael Dickel Dust Storm Sunset
Photo ©2015 Michael Dickel

The BeZine, May 2015, Vol. 1, Issue 7

640px-The_Historian_(The_How_and_Why_Library)Storytelling: It’s a means by which we are entertained but also by which we explore meaning and develop our internal fortitude, our moral fiber, values and identity … At least that was the purpose before storytelling was so grossly co-opted by marketing with its push to accumulation and self-aggrandizement. This month in our lead feature, Healing Stories, Michael Watson, therapist and Native American shaman, explores the power of storytelling to heal in the context of tradition and of therapy.

Our resident professional storyteller, Naomi Baltuck, gifts us with four photo stories, small gems that will make you smile and laugh and remind you of what really matters in life.

The poem, Mourning Brooch, reflects on the power of memory when it evolves into story. John Anstie‘s poem is a love story for his grandson. How many of us have told our children or grandchildren stories about their birth, it’s meaning to us, and what we want to leave them as legacy? Turtle Speaks explores meaning in Native American stories about Turtle. Charlie Martin, Joe Hesch and Myra Schneider use poetry to tell their stories or those of others. For Charlie it’s all about social conscience, compassion and justice. For Joe Hesch it’s often about nature and history. For Myra it’s about the different ways that both fine art and everyday things move her … and by extension, us.

Señora Ortega’s Frijoles is a short story about dichos (sayings), which are used to pass tradition and values from one generation to the next … just like storytelling.

Silva Merjanian shares four poems from her second collection, Rumor (Cold River Press).  We introduced Silva here last month.  Silva’s poems tell us the stories of war – not simply a reaction to the news of war as in my own The Doves Have Flown – but her experience of war.

We shared in the last issue that Silva and her publisher are donating all profits from the sale of Rumor to the Syrian Armenian Relief Fund.  As I was preparing this intro I learned that thus far they have raised $1,397.73.  Well and kindly done, Silva.

The use of poetry to raise funds for worthy causes is not new to our contributors and readers.  John Anstie and the Grass Roots Poetry Group donate the funds from Petrichor Rising to UNICEF.  Therein lies another story featured this month: “Petrichor Rising” … or how the Twitterverse birthed friendships that in turn birthed a poetry collection …

With a nod toward spring in the Western Hemisphere, Corina Ravenscraft serves up a charming soupçon of gardening advice, a small treasury of hints to help you garden with simplicity, patience, and compassion.  It’s all about balance, whether you are caring for plants or for your own spirit.

Millais_Boyhood_of_RaleighAs you go through your days, do your work and practice your art, we hope you keep in mind the meaning and value of the stories you hear and read and of your own story as it unfolds. We hope you’ll share your stories in the comment sections here or via books or blogs or at gatherings of family and friends.

Enjoy this issue.  Be sure to “like” and comment to let contributors know what you think and that you value their hard work and their contributions. The BeZine is entirely a volunteer effort, a gift of love. (Our mission statement is HERE.) Any ads you see are not our own.  They are WordPress ads used to defray their cost of hosting blogs and websites.

Be the peace.

Thanks for visiting us.
Jamie Dedes

Illustrations: Header via Wikipedia under CC BY-SA 2.0 license, A very fine par dated 1938 A.D. The epic of Pabuji is an oral epic in the Rajasthani language that tells of the deeds of the folk hero-deity Pabuji, who lived in the 14th century.; photo #1 (public domain) via The How and Why Library, E. Irving Couse, A. N. A.; The Historian; The Indian Artist is painting in sign language, on buckskin, the story of a battle with American Soldiers;  photo #2 (public domain) via Wikipedia, The Boyhood of Raleigh by Sir John Everett Millais, oil on canvas, 1870. A seafarer tells the young Sir Walter Raleigh and his brother the story of what happened out at sea.

Core Team and Guest Contributor Biographies

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Lead Feature

Healing Stories by Michael Watson, M.A., Ph.D., LCMHC

Photo Stories

Survival Stories by Naomi Baltuck
The Inside Story by Naomi Baltuck
To See the World by Naomi Baltuck
Rather Than Curse the Darkness by Naomi Baltuck

Fiction

 Señora Ortega’s Frijoles by Jamie Dedes

Poetry

An Apology from Your Grandfather by John Anstie

The Mourning Brooch by Jamie Dedes
Turtle Speaks by Jamie Dedes
The Doves Have Flown by Jamie Dedes

The Discovery of Grass by Joseph Hesch
In Audience with the Queen by Joseph Hesch

dance to life’s music by Charles W. Martin
no translation necessary by Charles W. Martin
honey … I swear this is for the birds … by Charles W. Martin

Beirut by Silva Merjanian
Collateral Damage by Silva Merjanian
Doves of Beirut by Silva Merjanian
Rooftop by Silva Merjanian

Bird by Myra Schneider
Milk Bottle by Myra Schneider

Feature Articles

Being a More Compassionate Gardener by Corina Ravenscraft

“Petrichor Rising” … or how the Twitterverse birthed friendships that in turn birthed a poetry collection … by John Anstie and Jamie Dedes

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.

The April issue of The BeZine will publish on April 15.

We’re celebrating interNational Poetry Month

in concert with Second Light Network of Women Poets (SLN)*

The BeZine is a publication of Bequine Again and The Bardo Group.

* Second Light Nework of Women Poets is open world-wide to women poets over forty. Details on SLN’s website.

The Art of Work

 

Imagine a world without art and artists.

They help us see the world through different eyes.

And artisans infuse our everyday lives with beauty.

 

 

Works of art come in many disciplines.

 

And on many scales…

…some more grand than others.

 

My artist sister Constance’s painting, “The Poet”, celebrates the literary art of poetry through her visual art.

But I have great appreciation for people who would never consider themselves artists, and yet they make an art of work.

Some apply exceptional creativity to their work, like this fellow who rigged a bicycle to power a sugar cane juicer, to crank out a little work of art one cup at a time.

Some turn an ordinary business into something with a very personal touch.

In Ireland, I was moved by the gravestone of a man lovingly remembered for his gift of turning his work into an art.

Be it traditional…

…entrepreneurial…

…fleeting…

…or a treasured heirloom…

 

…art is all around us, and everyone is an artist in his or her own way, whether practicing with a paintbrush, chisel, camera, wooden spoon, plow, or scissors.

Art is in the eye of the beholder.

Also on the tongue…

…in the ear…

…the nose…

…the heart…

and the mind.

Whatever you do, wherever you go, party arty!

All images and words c2014Naomi Baltuck.

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NaomiPHOTO1-300ppi51kAqFGEesL._SY300_NAOMI BALTUCK ~ is a Contributing Editor and Resident Storyteller here410xuqmD74L._SY300_ at Bardo. She is a world-traveler and an award-winning writer, photographer, and story-teller whose works of fiction and nonfiction are available through Amazon HERE. Naomi presents her wonderful photo-stories – always interesting and rich with meaning and humor – at Writing Between the Lines, Life from the Writer’s POV. She also conducts workshops such as Peace Porridge (multicultural stories to promote cooperation, goodwill, and peaceful coexistence), Whispers in the Graveyard (a spellbinding array of haunting and mysterious stories), Tandem Tales, Traveling Light Around the World, and others. For more on her programs visit Naomi Baltuck.com.

weeps for the earth

Another gentle lovely from Gretchen Del Rio …

Gretchen Del Rio's Art Blog

watercolor aceo 8/2014 watercolor aceo 8/2014

May the sun
bring you new energy by day
May the moon
softly restore you by night
May the rain
wash away your worries
May the breeze
blow new strength
into your being
May you walk
gently through the world
and know its beauty
all the days of your life
                                     Apache Blessing

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“Who Speaks for Wolf” … a Native American Learning Story …

Our thanks to Gretchen Del Rio (Gretchen Del Rio’s Art Blog) and Mary Burns (Seeker of Truth and Beauty) for this lovely video.

Gretchen is much appreciated by us for her beautiful spirit as expressed through her spirit animal paintings. Below is one of her watercolors, War Bonnet, which notes that “Wolf is on the warpath. Many of his kind have been destroyed.”

If you haven’t already “met” Gretchen and Mary, we recommend a visit to their blogs.

Original watercolor by Gretchen Del Rio (c) all rights reserved; posted here with permission
Original watercolor by Gretchen Del Rio (c) all rights reserved; posted here with permission

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The book, Who Speaks for Wolf was
written by Paula Underwood and
illustrated by Frank Howell.

buddha bear

Gretchen Del Rio, the queen of spirit animal art, brings us this charming water color of Buddha the Bear and a sweet story of Buddha the Dog … Lovely!

Gretchen Del Rio's Art Blog

watercolor aceo 7/2014 watercolor aceo 7/2014

I have a dog named Buddha. It seems to me as though he looks quite like a bear. He has a very expressive face and he is a stealthy fellow. Many years ago when he was disappointed with the way things were going he decided to chew up a few things. It wasn’t the all out destruction of puppies cutting teeth or boredom. In fact he usually never chewed anything. He was, however,  a casual muncher at times. The problem was the arrival of the second dog….Maus. There was one particular little book that was always on a table in the living room. He took it off the table and chewed ever so delicately around the edges. Upon discovery he was reprimanded….”NO CHEWING BOOKS.” Right then and there the book was returned to the shelf. He watched the placement out of the corner of his eye. Next day he was chewing…

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Shadow of a Heartbeat

You ask me where these come from,
and I can’t say with certainty,
because there is nothing certain
about our days. Sometimes
the shadow of a heartbeat,
the sound of a color,
the taste of the darkness,
the touch of solitude,
they come to you from
over your horizon.
And horizons know
no direction. There’s
no east or north in you,
no sud or oeste.
There’s only ever-moving circles
surrounding you,
encouraging you
to sense the inspirational It
between yourself and
the infinite, to tell its truth
as you will know it.
We’ve not stumbled upon
one another yet. This is
just another page
in the journal we’ll share
when we finally do.

– Joe Hesch 
© 2014, All rights reserved

Hesch Profileproduct_thumbnail-3.phpJOSEPH HESCH (A Thing for Words) is a writer and poet from Albany, New York , an old friend of Bardo and a new core team member. Joe’s work is published in journals and anthologies coast-to-coast and worldwide. He posts poems and stories-in-progress on his blog, A Thing for Words.  An original staff member at dVerse Poets Pub website, Joe was named one of Writers Digest Editor Robert Lee Brewer’s “2011 Best Tweeps for Writers to Follow.” He is also a member of the Grass Roots Poetry Group and featured in their 2013 poetry anthology Petrichor Rising.

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

Pressed Flower Power and Sunny Spinach Pie

It is SUCH a blessing to have a mother who is an artist! My mother recently hosted a workshop where we made flower presses and feasted on home-made goodies. I had never given much thought to the process of dried and pressed flowers before, but I learned quite a bit! Did you know that back in Victorian times, pressed flowers were considered one of the “acceptable” past-times for women? They would trade them, make “Old Maid” cards with them, use them to decorate serving trays by putting them on the bottom of the tray and then placing a piece of glass over them to keep them in place and protect them! You can do the same kind of thing today, of course, or they can be used for bookmarks, hand-crafted greeting cards, even decoupage gift boxes. There are scads of good ways to use these free gifts of nature. 🙂

Bought Flower PressMy mom got the idea after buying some blotter paper on sale and seeing the different types of flower presses available out there in the world. She got a couple off of e-bay and decided that they were really simple to make, so she cut up some scrap wood she had in the garage, and bought some hardware and invited us all to come learn about the process.

Materials for Flower Press

She made it easy for us by providing all of the materials. Each press has two pieces of wood for a top and bottom, four long bolts with washers on each side and four wing-nuts, and then as many pieces of blotter paper and cardboard between as you can fit into the press.

Finished PressPress Close-Up

There were several of us who attended, and we each got busy sanding the edges off our own presses. We had to use wood rasps/files to get the big splinters and rough pieces off, and then we graduated to sand paper. Each top and bottom had holes (pre-drilled, thanks to Mom) in all four corners to line up for the bolts and wing-nuts.

Cutting PatternsAfter that, it was cutting out the cardboard patterns to go between the blotter papers (which had already been graciously cut and provided). You can use any paper (even regular copy paper) as your blotters but we suspect that the acid content may have something to do with preserving the original colors of the flowers.

Pressed HybiscusPressed Nellie Moser Clematis

The next step is to place your flowers between two blotters and stack them as you get more of them, so that eventually, your press is full of flowers! You then have to be patient and leave it alone for about 6 months, so that the flowers have a chance to fully dry and stay stationary. (This part will be the hardest part for me, as I am not known for my patience and I know I’ll want to keep checking on them). This is what my finished press looked like. I may paint it on the top and bottom, and I glued down the washers at the corners to keep them from sliding around when I added more flowers.

Pressed Jackmani Clematis

It’s important to get the flowers early in the day, after the dew is off of them, but before the sun has had a chance to wilt them. Moisture is bad, because it can cause your pressed flowers to mold. The thicker the flower, usually the longer it will take for it to dry, but don’t be afraid to try them all! You never know!

As for the “Sunny Spinach Pie”, I got the recipe from here and it looked so lovely that I decided to try and make it. I thought it would be the perfect dish to bring to our get-together. I ended up making two. The first one was what my boyfriend delicately called a “Pinterest Fail” (I’ll leave it to you to Google that phrase). It didn’t look very good but it tasted fine. The second one, however, came out a lot better. It was a success at the workshop, too. Everyone seemed to enjoy it.

Sunny Spinach PieWorkshops like this are a good chance to get together with other creative individuals, share the ‘creative energy’, good times, and learn something new at the same time. If you have a passion for a certain type of creative project, why not consider making it into a workshop and inviting others to participate? 🙂

~ © Corina L. Ravenscraft 2014 ~

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.

Cultural Connections–International Museum Day

“Museums are an important means of cultural exchange, enrichment of cultures and development of mutual understanding, cooperation and peace among peoples”. Internation Council of Museums 

Image: George Andrews
Image: George Andrews

Yesterday the world community celebrated International Museum Day. The International Council of Museums (ICOM) established this event to occur each year on or about May 18th. In 2013, 35,000 museums from 143 countries on five continents participated, welcoming guests to their venues, without charge.

The theme for this year’s celebration, as established by the ICOM is “Museum collections make connections.”

Until last year I had the great pleasure of serving as a docent at the Nevada Museum of Art (NMA), Nevada’s only accredited art museum. The role of the docent is, as the name implies, to lead the public in tours of the museum’s offerings, and to teach participants about various exhibits. This requires numerous hours of on-going training in the rotating exhibits and offers opportunities to meet (in the case of an art museum) artists, curators and collectors of art.

When I attended a National Docent Symposium a few years ago, I became more aware of how many types of museums were represented: those dealing with history, collections such as cars (the National Automobile Museum is here in Reno), zoos, botanical gardens, sports, entertainment, children discovery centers, occupations, science cultures…the list goes on and on.

Photo: Palm Springs Life
Photo: Palm Springs Life

I found the greatest joy in introducing children to the world of art—to watch them respond to the principles and elements of art such as color and texture, to learn to use art as a launching pad for story-telling and poetry, to learn to use their senses to jump into a painting and explore what it might taste like, smell like, feel like. I planned age-based activities and each tour was followed by an art experience.

In keeping with this year’s theme, museums offer a chance to experience other cultures and to understand the point of view of the forces behind the exhibits. They teach responsibility for the environment, diversity, and offer families the opportunity to share.

In honor of the spirit behind International Museum Day, please consider paying a visit to a museum of your choice. Perhaps the idea of becoming a docent will appeal to you if you are looking for a volunteer opportunity. Docents are educators, though it is not necessary to have a background in education, or even in your field of interest, thanks to the intense initial training program and on-going education.

It was hard for me to resign my position. It was a passion for me. But life circumstances change and sometimes the time commitment becomes unattainable. I find it dangerous to visit NMA now—I want to jump back into the role that is no longer realistic. But when I tour with friends or my husband, I find the docent in me taking over. I devise questions I would ask the school children, activities I would have them do.

To learn more about museums in your area just google “Museums (your town).” You will be surprised. And rewarded.

– Victoria Slotto

© 2014, essay, Victoria C. Slotto, All rights reserved; photo credits as indicated above

2940013445222_p0_v1_s260x42034ff816cd604d91d26b52d7daf7e8417VICTORIA C. SLOTTO (Victoria C. Slotto, Author: Fiction, Poetry and Writing Prompts) ~ is an accomplished writer and poet. Winter is Past, published by Lucky Bat Books in 2012, is Victoria’s first novel. A second novel is in process. On Amazon and hot-off-the-press nonfiction is Beating the Odds: Support for Persons with Early Stage Dementia. Victoria’s ebooks (poetry and nonfiction) are free to Amazon Prime Members. Link HERE for Victoria’s Amazon page.

Editorial note: Congratulations, Victoria, on that the long awaited publication of print copies of Jacaranda Rain, Collected Poems, 2012, Beautifully done.

Writers’ Fourth Wednesday is hosted by Victoria from January through October. Tomorrow Victoria’s Fourth Wednesday writers’ prompt will post at 12:01 a.m. PST. Please join us. Mister Linky will remain open for seventy-two hours so that you can link your response to this blog. Victoria and Jamie will read and comment and we hope you will read each other’s work as well, comment and encourage. 

About my friend, Wendy Alger, Fine Art Photographer

WENDY ALGER (b. 1972), Chicago, IL, U.S.A.

Fine Art Photography

“Photography. It’s like music … It’s like your favorite song, something you can listen to over and over and over again. You try to explain it to some and you can’t. That’s the feeling it gives me. It’s like traveling and you want to tell everyone how great it was … and I have that experience every time I pick up a camera.” Wendy Alger

My friend, Wendy Alger, is a talented photographer, now still active though legally blind. Wendy pursued the craft of photography as a hobby until another friend of hers suggested that she become a photographer. Wendy thought that sounded just right and a natural thing to do since both her parents were photography enthusiasts. Wendy’s dad supported her new goal and gave her one of his cameras and some lenses. And so the story begins …

At the time when this adventure started, Wendy owned an old ’68 Mustang. She’d drive around, listening to music. When something called out to her, she’d stop and take photographs. Thus Wendy began to learn what subjects appealed. “I photographed everything that felt right and compelled me to keep taking photographs.” Slowly, she discovered the artful photographer within and her own distinctive style. “I enrolled at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco and trained there, where I learned manual SLR. I also learned how to use a dark room.”

I am always surprised and delighted with the remarkable results Wendy manages despite the limitations of her sight due to retinitis pigmentosa. Quite a bit older than Wendy, I cut my own photo visionings using a Brownie and have not graduated much beyond that. My camera is digital, but it’s just a simple budget-wise P.H.D. (Push Here Dummy) camera.  Wendy, however, uses newer, better quality and more complex equipment than mine and tells me that these newer technologies facilitate the practice of her craft.  “I use a digital camera and I can check my pictures on the camera instead of in a dark room. Nowadays, my darkroom is a laptop, Photoshop and Photoshop Lightroom. This allows me to transform and print my images at home. I also use visual memory … I remember feeling to get through a photo session.”

Wendy’s long-term goal:

“To have my artwork displayed in the same building as Walker Evans in my lifetime – not after – during! My vision problems are not stopping me. I never even think about that. After I was diagnosed and as soon as I got the money I bought my digital camera.”

Here is a small gallery of Wendy’s recent work with a digital camera. The photo at the head of the post and the first one below are self-portraits. Wendy’s photographs are copyright protected. You can see more of her work HERE. She’s now in the process of updating her site.

– Jamie Dedes

© photographs, 2011 Wendy Rose Alger, All rights reserved

Photo on 2014-03-31 at 17.16 #3kif_0858-1JAMIE 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.

The photograph to your right, Portrait of a Photographer, which some will recognize as the photo I used for Wordless Wednesday, is a portrait of Wendy. I guess it might be more correct to say it’s a portrait of the camera not the photographer, though it was meant to capture the spirit in which Wendy works. I took the photograph some years ago when we spent an afternoon at Union Cemetery in Redwood City, Wendy pursuing art and me as chauffeur and tag-along doing the best I could. My own portrait here is a selfie captured using the photo feature on my MacBook. Happy interNational Photography Month.

gaia

Gaia, the essential mother, by Gretchen Del Rio.

Gretchen Del Rio's Art Blog

watercolor 7x10  4/2014 watercolor 7×10 4/2014

Nature – the gentlest Mother is,
impatient of no child
 
………………emily dickinson

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The Very Picture

The king was plagued with the heavy burden of responsibility. “Drought and famine, war and rebellion, disease and disaster, one after the other!  I must find a way to quiet my troubled heart, so I can sleep at night!”  He offered a reward to the artist who could paint him a picture of perfect peace.  Artists came from all over the kingdom, each bringing his own vision of peace.

 

One painted a sheltered mountain valley.

Another a pristine lake, still and calm, a perfect mirror to reflect a clear blue sky.

There was an orchard in full bloom.

Fluffy clouds with silver linings.


Cheerful sunny days.

And so many sunsets!

The king studied them all, and at last he decided.  He chose a painting of a waterfall, tumbling down a mountainside, beneath a dark, angry sky.

“But your majesty,” said his counselor. “Why this painting? This is a portrayal of chaos.”

“Look closely,” said the king.  He pointed to a sheltered spot behind the waterfall, where there was a ledge between the jagged rocks. Upon that ledge a mother bird had built her nest.  Snuggled beneath her wings, safe and warm, were her precious chicks.

“I understand now,” said the king. “Peace happens not only where there is an absence of strife and suffering.   In the midst of chaos, if there is calm in your heart, will you know the true meaning of peace.”

(Mrs. Bradford Ripley and Her Children, 1852. By Robert Walter Weir, Detroit Institute of Art)

(Sculpture for his friend Robert Arthur by Samuel Murray, Detroit Institute of Art)

Copyright 2013 Naomi Baltuck

NaomiPHOTO1-300ppi51kAqFGEesL._SY300_NAOMI BALTUCK ~ is a Contributing Editor and Resident Storyteller here410xuqmD74L._SY300_ at Bardo. She is a world-traveler and an award-winning writer, photographer, and story-teller whose works of fiction and nonfiction are available through Amazon HERE. Naomi presents her wonderful photo-stories – always interesting and rich with meaning and humor – at Writing Between the Lines, Life from the Writer’s POV. She also conducts workshops such as Peace Porridge (multicultural stories to promote cooperation, goodwill, and peaceful coexistence), Whispers in the Graveyard (a spellbinding array of haunting and mysterious stories), Tandem Tales, Traveling Light Around the World, and others. For more on her programs visit Naomi Baltuck.com

The Artist

Book Art by Brian Dettmer
Book Art by Brian Dettmer

The Artist

You are the poem and the rhyme,
The reason for created time;
The song, the sung, the singer too;
The truth that is the deepest you.
So ask not why you paint the rose,
Or write of love’s heart-wrenching prose ~
And steal the light from Heaven’s hand,
To write a poem in the sand.


© Niamh Clune 2013

430564_3240554249063_1337353112_n-1orange-petals-cover_page_001DR. NIAMH CLUNE (Plum Tree Books Blog) ~ is the author of the Skyla McFee series: Orange Petals in a Storm, and Exaltation of a Rose. She is also the author of The Coming of the Feminine Christ: a ground-breaking spiritual psychology. Niamh received her Ph.D. from Surrey University on Acquiring Wisdom Through The Imagination and specialises in The Imaginal Mind and how the inborn, innate wisdom hidden in the soul informs our daily lives and stories. Niamh’s books are available in paperback (children’s books) and Kindle version (The Coming of the Feminine Christ). Dr. Clune is the CEO of Plum Tree Books and Art. Its online store is HERE.  Niamh’s Amazon page is HERE.

Who Turned On the Lights?

People find the light in their life in so many ways and places.  It can be as easy as turning on a switch.

 

Some find all the light they need in a sunset…

…or a moonrise.

Others find illumination in a church…

…a synagogue…


…a mosque…

…or a library.

Sacred is a place that lights up your heart.

It isn’t always easy to find…

Some look for it in food…


…at the bottom of a wine glass…

…or through yoga…

Some light up with the joy and anticipation of adventure.

And what constitutes an adventure is very personal.

Sometimes light comes in the form of a bright idea, a flash of inspiration…

The joy of creation in all of its many forms…

Everyone’s light shines through differently.  To each his own.

For me, love shines brightest of all.

It’s our life’s work and pleasure to follow the light…

…or to make our own.

It is there.

It is there.

It is there.

All words and images copyright Naomi Baltuck

NaomiPHOTO1-300ppi51kAqFGEesL._SY300_NAOMI BALTUCK ~ is a Contributing Editor and Resident Storyteller here410xuqmD74L._SY300_ at Bardo. She is a world-traveler and an award-winning writer, photographer, and story-teller whose works of fiction and nonfiction are available through Amazon HERE. Naomi presents her wonderful photo-stories – always interesting and rich with meaning and humor – at Writing Between the Lines, Life from the Writer’s POV. She also conducts workshops such as Peace Porridge (multicultural stories to promote cooperation, goodwill, and peaceful coexistence), Whispers in the Graveyard (a spellbinding array of haunting and mysterious stories), Tandem Tales, Traveling Light Around the World, and others. For more on her programs visit Naomi Baltuck.com

very private thoughts

The Milkmaid, oil-on-canvas painting by Johannes Vermeer (1632-1675), Dutch
The Milkmaid, oil-on-canvas painting by Johannes Vermeer (1632-1675), Dutch

My first memory of art was in a dictionary, when I used to gaze dreamily at a portrait by Johannes Vermeer, The Milkmaid, a woman wearing a white cap, standing by a table covered with a blue cloth pouring milk…I was so fascinated by the painting, by the humble tranquil atmosphere and the basket of bread that resembled ours…and the dancing light on the maid’s face and arm. I knew nothing about this Vermeer but the few lines in the dictionary that never satisfied my curiosity: “a Dutch painter, born in Delft, his paintings, mostly about everyday life and domestic scenes were characterized by use of subtle light ”

Johannes Vermeer was my first inspiration, even his name had poetry or so I thought. After The Milkmaid I started a notebook and wrote about every painter I discovered. I made sure I kept it well hidden from my family.

My mother never understood why I spent most of my day holding that heavy dictionary just staring at paintings, I was a mercurial child and a picture could easily define and change my mood!! So my discoveries continued with Dutch art, some paintings by a mysterious looking guy called Rembrandt and another with an ironic look called Van Gogh.

My friends outside were so far from my world as a million star years. I remember their looks, half sarcastic half pitiful on a girl always lost in reverie, befriending ghostly figures in a dictionary and talking about places they never heard of.
I was always asking: how can this famous Van Gogh paint such a naïve painting like les douze tournesols? I can do it better!! What was le jeune homme au gilet rouge of Cézanne thinking?

Of course my childish mind always separated and catalogued them: the cheerful ones like the only painting by Rénoir that made me so fond of Paris le Moulin de la galette and those beautiful ballerinas in la classe de dance by Degas. The sad ones like femmes de Tahiti by Gauguin. Eespite the suggestive earthy colours of those exotic women I couldn’t miss the touch of melancholy on their faces. Géricault frightened me with his méduse so did the painting of Goya el tres de Mai that reminded me of my history classes about the Algerian revolution. Les mendiants made me cry and have nightmares (with all respect to Bruegel l’ancien). I hated the dismembered people and the cruelty of the act, but those who evoked me the most were those that made my fertile imagination drift even more.

La route de Louveciennes,  oil on canvas by Camille Pissarro (1830-1903), French
La route de Louveciennes, oil on canvas by Camille Pissarro (1830-1903), French

When I walk back home from school I close my eyes and imagine myself walking with the couple in la route de Louveciennes despite the difference between Pissaro’s perfect painting and my village disappointed me, it gave me extreme pleasure, only equaled by floating with Chagal.’s women in autour d’elle a name I found extremely romantic. Nothing matched that serene blue bathed in moonlight and those strange looking women I wanted so bad to look like.

I loved the fantasy in autour d’elle but another painting made me laugh and cemented the impression that this Picasso used squares and triangles only!! Because I always loved the light sprinkled on Rénoir’s canvas…Musiciens aux masques was as funny as humorous, because I never knew any instrument but the guitar, or who those three men were and never saw the dog under the table until recently.

I was drowning bit-by-bit in this world of colours, I knew Kandinsky, Caravaggio, Durer and Poussin and their names had a sensual sonority for my Arabic ear, not that I could pronounce them correctly because I could only manage the French ones. I continued to dream about the Louvre and cities I can visit when I become older. I continued to have my nocturnal conversations with Vermeer, Cézanne and Rénoir and make my own versions of la route de louveciennes and

Autour d'elle, oil on fabric by Marc Chagall (1887-1985), French artisit, Belarusian ethnic
Autour d’elle, oil on fabric by Marc Chagall (1887-1985), French artisit,

Vlaminck’s nature morte, this widened the gap between me and my friends who thought that I was weird and treated me suspiciously, my mother still couldn’t understand my attachment to this dictionary I wasn’t using to explain difficult words.

These memories came rushing back the moment I finished reading Tracy Chevalier’s novel Girl With a Pearl Earing, a gift from my beloved uncle who lives in Italy.I am still faithful to my Vermeer but through another equally mesmerizing painting la Joconde du Nord, and I know more about the art world now, my childish impressions and convictions are dramatically changed now. I can pronounce those names perfectly and I have wonderful friends who share my enthusiasm and passion.

But…despite internet and the thick art catalogues of le Figaro in my aunt’s library, despite the documentaries, TV shows and the long biographies I can read for hours, that dictionary still has the favour and a dear place in my heart, heavy, torn in places with its red cover and a single Arabic word written in black…

that was my first art class.

– Imen Benyoub

© 2013, essay and photograph(below), Imen Benyoub, All rights reserved
Illustrations courtesy of Imen Benyoub

pictureIMEN BENYOUB ~ is a milti-lingual, multi-talented essayist, poet, and artist living in Guelma, Algeria. She is a regular contributor to Into the Bardo.