I am not governed by a foreign power; I am self-governed.
I am as free as I can be from the control of others.
I am influenced by love and beauty, kindness and compassion, yearning and striving.
I am self-reliant – an independent mind that cannot be reigned in, repressed or shape-shifted to please the status quo.
I do not depend on someone else to decide whether or not, I can express my voice in the world.
I am not determined by fashion – not the next J.K. Rowling – not trying to write the next Fifty One Shades Of Lighter Grey.
I am not determined by the outcome of statistics or the result of a study, or the promise of a guaranteed 5,000 advance sales.
I will not be watered down, nor have my chocolate sweetened.
I am cocoa, Marmite, chilli and garlic ~ an Independent Artist, Writer or Publisher who creates – simply because I can. I must. I will die if I don’t.
I am poor for my art but rich in my soul. I cannot DO anything other than express the inner urgings of my vision. I am driven, living in wait for that one person able to recognise that what I create has merit. I crave recognition that will, for a moment, exalt the beauty that’s in me. Then I shall no longer hide for fear of derision or being left exposed, naked and alone.
But if I never receive your acknowledgement, I will not falter. I will remain the bastard child and grow thin waiting for that which nourishes my soul – that golden patronage that stands against the sky and says, “I see you. I see what you are doing. You are the new adventure, the subversive, pure of voice untainted by the fickleness of the board (bored) room. You interfere with the syntax. You interrupt the narrative. You punctuate like a Jazz Drummer. You make me think, feel, wonder anew. You break the rules ~ because you can ~ because you must. It is your destiny. ”
I am an independent artist ~ harder on myself than others ever could be, working hard day and night sending my voice out into the wilderness.
When I was little, fairies lived at the bottom of my garden. I used to talk or sing to them quietly (as fairies don’t like shouting). And when dew covered the grass and made it glitter and sparkle, I knew the fairies were preparing for a shindig.
Everyone knows that when dew is on the grass, fairies have their choice of the most beautiful sparkles imaginable. Fairies might wear peony, iris, or rose sparkle. Boy fairies wear shamrock and breeches made of bark ~ be-dewed and made smooth and slithery ~ great for sliding down mole-hills!
Fairies love nothing more than dew! They drink it; it makes them giggle! They wear it; it makes them shimmer. Dew really is the diamond in the fairy-queen crown.
Apart from anything else, dew means the dawn of a new day, when fairies can flit and dart ~ flicker and start; hover and whiz ~ zip and fizz; float and flash ~ make-a-dash; tease and prance ~ skip and dance; hurry and scurry ~ all of a flurry; rush and rail ~ skim, speed and sail!
The best Leprechaun fiddlers play the most lively jigs! Elf harpists pluck at your heartstrings and weave magic in verse. Goblins are the best drummers, whilst meadow sprites have very high, reedy singing voices. Usually appearing on percussion are the cobbler gnomes ~ with a-clink and a-clank, whenever needed. All in all, fairy gatherings are a sight to see ~ for those able to see them.
I spent many an early morning dancing fine jigs to the tunes of the little people, singing long songs or reciting poems, all of which are of very great interest to fairies. They taught me some of their secrets about bees and butterflies, worms and magic bears who know such an awful lot about everything. They also taught me how to grow up into someone who is wise. I like to share some of those mysteries with boys and girls (and grown-ups who still have magic in them) who are inquisitive but can also keep a secret.
interNATIONAL POETRY MONTH is coming to an end. We recreated this annual April event, which is national in Canada and the United States, into an international celebration inclusive of everyone in our collective and consistent with our philosophy. Poetry – as all art – knows no borders.
We are pleased to share the news that Elegy to Damascusfrom the exquisite pen of Algerian Imen Benyoub garnered much attention, including two re-blogs and nearly fifty Facebook “Likes.” The poem is very much in the spirit of Bardo.
WHO IS POETRY FOR? This coming Wednesday as we put closure on poetry month – but not poetry – we share an essay from Bardo friend, Myra Schneider, who is much appreciated for her work as a poet and teacher, a consultant to Second Light Networkand for her encouragement of others to read and write poetry for well-being. Myra asks, “Who is Poetry For?” and invites suggestions on how we might widen the audience for poetry. Feel free to offer suggestions in the comments section whether you are invested in this art as vocation or avocation or as an enthusiastic reader.
SECOND LIGHT NETWORK‘s next issue of ARTEMISpoetry is due out in May. The network’s anthologyHer Wings of Glassis forthcoming this October. On Wednesday a review of the November issue by Jamie Dedes will post on The Poet by Day. Note: Second Light Network was founded and is based in England but its membership is open to women world-wide. See the site for more info on membership qualifications, membership costs and benefits.
The launch ofthe new web-site is on Saturday 3rd of May. “We hope you will join us then for story-telling and more.” Niamh has invited us to visit, so do save the date and lend your support. For a taste of what’s to come, visit Dr. Nana Plum’s Story Corner.
PTB Anthology in the works: Niamh reports that “we have received some wonderful poetry submissions and art for our Mother anthology. There is still time to send in yours.”
BRAVO! A pat on the metaphorical back of Jamaica, which just this month named its first National Poet Laureate in fifty years. Read all about it HERE.
YOUTH POET LAUREATES: Los Angeles County Youth have until May 19th to submit work to Urban Word, which will name one talented person (aged 14-19)LA Youth Poet Laureate. Details HERE.
In January at Mayor Bill de Blasio’s inauguration, New York’s Youth Poet Laureate, Ramya Ramana, read her poem entitled New York City, a poem dedicated to Mr. de Blasio.
YOUTH CORNER: The Bardo Group is still looking for a youth – aged 19-24- to run a Youth Poetry Corner. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested.
ENITHARMON PRESS: The media team at Enitharmon Press alerts us to the publication of three new books of poetry in May with announcements of book launches in London for those in our collective who live or are visiting the area.
BOOK LAUNCH INVITES, 1, 13, 22 May 2014
SOME LETTERS NEVER SENTby Neil Curry ~ “Deceptively relaxed in tone, these verse letters – sometimes serious, sometimes whimsical – are addressed to such figures as Angelea Carter, the Venerable Bede and from Odysseus to Gilbert White’s tortoise, on topics as diverse as smallpox and the paintings of Vermeer, landscape-gardening, the King James Bible and Eddie Eddi Stobart’s lorries on the M6. There has not been a collection of verse letters of this nature since the Epistles of the Roman poet Horace and, fittingly, it is to Horace that the final letter is addressed, partly by way of apology.”
SOONER OR LATER FRANK by Jeremy Reed “Sooner or Later Frank finds Jeremy Reed optimising his London quarter of Soho and the West End, its outlaws, opportune strangers and rogue mavericks condensed into poems coloured by an imagery that pushes pioneering edges towards final frontiers. Right on the big city moment, and with an eye for arresting acute visual detail, Reed makes the capital into personal affairs. His characteristic love of glamour, rock music, seasonal step-changes, and a Ballardian preoccupation with the visionary render this new PBS Recommendation, in John Ashbery’s words on Reed’s recent work, ‘a dazzling tour de force.'” You’ll find the poem that lends its name to the book HERE.
THE ORCHID BOAT by Lee Harwood ~ “A weave of stories: some personal, some historical, some real, some imaginary. Often these stories may co-exist in a poem just as they do in one’s everyday mind, as a collage mirroring our own perception of the world. It is a mix that can include Alexandria or China or Brighton or North Wales. These interwoven stories insist on the acceptance of contradictions and complexity in people and in life; a recognition characteristic of Harwood’s poetry and shaped by his acknowledged influences: Gide, de Montherlant and Cavafy, John Ashbery and Frank O’Hara. In Harwood’s poems the richest material and tone is found in ‘the ordinary’, and in The Orchid Boat this focus is thrown into even greater relief as he explores the power and weight of memories.”
CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS:Robert (Bob) Clark Young tells us that, “As the creative nonfiction editor for Connotation Press, I’m always looking for new essays. I invite you to submit nonfiction on a topic of your choice. I’m looking for creative nonfiction, narrative nonfiction, memoirs, and personal essays–with the understanding that these categories often overlap. Up to 10,000 words. Please submit work directly to me at email@example.com. I look forward to reading your work.”
Bob was a guest writer on Bardo. In his piece, Escape from the Nursing Home,he shared his story – and the rewards – of caring for elderly and infirm parents.
SAVE THE DATES
From Oxford Brookes Poetry Centre and the Arts Council of England
From The Bardo Group: While we don’t have a striking poster such as the one above, we do have some fun and interesting virtual events coming up:
WRITER’S FOURTH WEDNESDAY prompt hosted by Victoria C. Slotto is scheduled next for May 28th.
VOICES FOR PEACE PROJECT in concert with 100,000 Poets for Change (Michael Rothbenberg and Terri Carrion organizers) is hosted by Liz Rice-Sosne and scheduled for September 27, 2014. We are officially partnered with 100,000 Poets of Change as of April 10, 2014.
I want to reach across the sky
to mists beyond the blue
to where you are imagined still
and I remember you
Your face was soft, your lilting tongue
a brogue of Burren’s air,
a flute that danced upon the wind
from Erin’s County Clare.
You danced a Hornpipe, kicked your heels,
smiled with not a care ~
With rocking ankle, turn of calf,
And ribbons in your hair.
Wild and exiled, mother mine
you beat the flaggy ground
with rhythm of the rebel coast
battering the sound.
I do miss your bluest eyes
and long for when you were
an orchid in a field of tare ~
the girl from County Clare.
Copyright, poem, Niamh Clune 2013, All rights reserved
Editor’s Note: Yesterday, May 30, was Mothering Sunday in the UK and Niamh’s lovely poem is posted in honor of the day. Best wishes and gratitude to moms in the UK and everywhere from The Bardo Group and thanks to Niamh for sharing this lovely homage to her own mom with us in celebration of this special day.
Niamh Chinn Óir mounted her white stallion to ride the warm, west wind. Her golden hair, wild and free as horse’s mane danced in gay abandon. This journey, fit for none other than she of the faery folk had not been made for centuries. Leaving Tír na nÓg far behind, she crossed the perilous ocean.
What lover’s call had summoned her?
What sweet voice, carried on sea mist had entered her slumber? She would know his name.
Oisín, son of Fionn mac Cumhaill sat on a rock gazing over the crashing sea. The young warrior-bard paused from his labour, disturbed as he was by unquenched longing. His father, fierce and wise chieftain of the Fianna had conquered the Scottish giant Cú Chulainn. Oisin was tasked to write the victory for posterity making it known to all those who were destined to belong to the future.
A wind stirred his hair, just a whisper that carried sweet, unfathomable promise. He was lifted up into the air, dazzled by golden streams of sunlight. He looked upon the face of Niamh and knew the one for whom he had longed.
She carried him across the sea to Tír na nÓg, the land of Eternal Youth. The journey was the passing of a second. No mortal had ever crossed the perilous ocean to the edge of time, to the furthest, western-most reaches of the world where faery and mortal knew no distance or fear between them.
She was his arbour; him, the conqueror of all he surveyed ~ prince of timelessness.
But mortality is ruled by time. And soon the restless spirit summoned him to his father’s purpose. In his deepest heart he was of the blood-line race of Fianna and must return to Ireland to attend his kin.
Niamh warned him of succumbing to his mortal destiny. “If you set foot on Irish soil, it will be your end.” Echoes of her warning called after him on the high-pitched voice of the ill wind that carried him home.
Oisín was shocked at how his land and people had changed. He was a giant among men. Fields were cleared, forests cut down. Hunting had given way to farming. He sighted a group of workers as they struggled to lift a boulder and clear a new tillage. The boulder was of no consequence to Oisín. He leant from his horse to toss it aside. As he did so, his stirrup broke and he fell to the ground. Ageing in an instant, the three hundred years that had passed claimed him and returned him to the soil from whence he had come,
In Oisín’s passing, contact with faery was lost forever. Niamh came no more to the Emerald Isle. Although I hear it told that her name lives still in some of Erin’s daughters.
Martha pushed the wave of hair from her mouth. It curled defiantly, springing back to long-established disobedience. Persistent, she thought, me and my curls.
Grey now, her hair once tumbled in fiery splendour, was alive, misbehaved ~ a shimmering red-gold, tossed easily by whispers of season’s change. Though faded, red gold still flecked her grey.
She had always loved Autumn ~ even in Spring ~ loved passion’s ripening, bearing fruit, swelling, dying and finding peace in Earth’s dormancy.
Gazing from her bedroom window upon the now silent, winter-ravaged garden made barren by endings, she noticed the first thin, green shoot pushing its way through frozen earth in reach of sun. It broke that ground disallowing any weight that might prevent discovery of new life. It pierced the earth, pushed it aside and reached upwards with unashamed vigour.
Martha remembered many springs ~ the spring in her step, the song in her heart, the smell of freshly broken soil, the scent of blossom on the air, new love ~ the excitement of life begun when there were many springs to come.
The young shoot clamouring for sky stabbed her heart. That green shard ~ that razor sharp needle did not speak of hope or new beginnings ~ nor solace, expectancy, or the trumpeted arrival into a fresh season.
She would not see flowers sown by him; she would not smell soil fresh-turned by him. She would not gather herbs for an evening feast. Birds could not sing her wounded heart awake or delight with soaring melody. Her garden was empty and silent.
She moved across the room. At her dressing-table, she opened the drawer, and taking scissors between her slender fingers, she pulled the offending curl straight, and cut.
Round after round, tinged still with autumn fire, tumbled to the ground, where it lay still and final.
Madiba was a fire dragon.
We breathe his air
Are shaped of his thoughts and aspirations
That lick though our minds
And light our hearts with fervent adoration
He taught us to see beyond skin
Into flesh, bone and sinew
Into the beating heart of Africa
He taught us to walk the burning ground with courage,
Even when afraid
To make partners of our enemies
And break chains of slavery
With weapons of love, compassion and understanding
Always demanding freedom’s righteousness
He will never die
He is a shaper of men
A man of history
An ancient of days
A World Saviour
DR. NIAMH CLUNE (On the Plum Tree) ~ 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). Her Amazon page is HERE.
A Heart Without Borders was originally published in On the Plum Tree and is shared here with the permission of author, Imen Benyoub, and publisher, Niamh Clune.
“Algerian, Imen Benyoub is a poet I have long admired. She writes with such feeling and movement. There is something veiled about her poems that entices you to want to dive into an underlying mystery.” Niamh Clune, Ph.D. (On the Plum Tree), creator of Plum Tree Books
Editorial Note: We are pleased to welcome Niamh Clune and Imen Benyoub to the Bardo community of readers and contributors. Niamh has joined us as one of the Core Team members and Imen as a guest writer. As a member of the Core Team, Niamh’s prophetic and mystical writing and art will regularly grace our pages and our hope is that Imen will share more of her work with us as well. Here Imen tells us of her love of poetry and her admiration for one of the poets of the more recent Palestinian diaspora, Nathalie Handal.
When I write, I surrender.
Surrender my senses to a delicious chaos – my soul to reach a deeper abyss and my heart to travel outside its borders.
It is the freedom that comes with writing that made me live through my pen and left me endlessly caught between worlds and words.
It is the freedom that sent Nathalie Handal on a journey from New York to Andalucia – full of colours, textures, and fragrant with history, to recreate the journey of her favourite poet, Federico Garcia Lorca, in reverse, and reconnect with her Mediterranean Eastern roots.
I was confused about what to call a woman whose soul stretches across four continents, a woman with many identites and many homes. But after reading “Poet in Andalucia,” I realized she is a woman who does not recognize borders. Like a gypsy, she moves, collects memories, scents, music, visions of landscapes and secret longings and fuses them into poems.
Nathalie Handal, a poet, playwright, translator and editor was born to Palestinian parents from Bethelehem. She travelled extensively through the United States, Europe, Latin America and the Middle East. Like Mahmoud Darwish and many exiled Palestinian poets, she tries to give a new meaning and shape to the word “home,” and Andalucia with the richness and the complexity of its cultural and religious heritage reminds her of her own country, where Muslims, Christians and Jews live together in harmony and peace. Drowning in nostalgia for a beautiful yet sad past, Handal tries to revive traditions of Andalusian poets, along with the spirit of Lorca who inspires her work.
Her poems drip with sensuality and longing, woven in English, Arabic, French and Spanish, languages she grew up speaking as a result of her displacement, a special feature that gave her work a multi-layered depth and musicality.
Along with “Poet in Andalucia,” Handal published “The Lives Of Rain,” “The Neverfield” and “Love And Strange Horses.” She won numerous awards and she lectures worldwide.
Nathalie Handal is a universal poet; her poetry is a mirror to her lifestyle as a beautiful nomad in search for an identity. Her voice is honest and passionate, where the East embraces the West in a beautiful harmony.
IMEN BENYOUB – As indicated by Namh Clune in the introductory statement, Imenis a talented poet in her own right, hence this video that provides a sample. The poem is Imen’s. It is read by Eabha Rose (theartre of words). The music is by Trian Kayhatu (band camp).