Freely Accessible Sound-Cloud Playlist for 100TPC Read a Poem to a Child Week Initiative, courtesy Michael Dickel and Randy Thomas

READ A POEM TO A CHILD WEEK

Sep 23 at 12 PM – Sep 28 at 11 PM EDT

August 26, 2019: THANKS to Michael Dickel (Meta/ Phor(e) /Play) for putting together this post for us on behalf of The BeZine  and for his interview of Randy Thomas. This post was originally done for last year’s event, but the SoundCloud playlist is still up and has grown a bit. I’m posting it today to remind you of this charming resource. / Jamie Dedes



A SoundCloud playlist!

August 2018: Thanks to 100 Thousand Poets for Change co-founders Michael Rothenberg and Terri Carrion, and especially to our 100TPC friend, Voice-Over legend Randy Thomas, we have the honor of presenting a compilation of children’s poems read by master Voice Artists and created for the 100TPC community in support of the 100 Thousand Poets for Change Read A Poem To A Child initiative. / Michael Dickel


Randy Thomas and the other voice actors / voice over artists in the playlist (further down) volunteered their talent and time to Read a Poem to a Child!

Thomas started her career as a radio personality and DJ in New York, LA, Detroit, and Miami. She’s announced for the Oscars, Emmy Awards, Tony Awards, Entertainment Tonight, The Rock-n-Roll Hall of Fame Inductions, The Kennedy Center Honors, and much more. You likely have heard her announce:

“You’re watching Entertainment Tonight!”

or

“Live from Hollywood, it’s the Academy Awards!”

Voice Announcer Randy Thomas
Source

The BeZine asked Randy Thomas a couple of questions about how this came to be:

The BeZineWhat inspired you to organize these wonderful readings by VO artists for Read a Poem for a Child?

Randy ThomasI am always intrigued when invited to use my voice in a positive way that gives back to the community. My dear friend Michael Rothenberg, a world-renown poet told me about his effort to share a poem with a child during one specific week. He found interest from all over the world. It’s wonderful.

The BeZine: You have inspired a number of voice artists to contribute their voices—how did that happen?

Randy ThomasThe Facebook community of voice actors and friends that I have seemed to rally behind this idea. We all have our own audio booths to record quality audio in, and they are all being so generous with their time and Voice sharing these poems. I am proud to have played a small part in this beautiful effort.

You can hear the amazing results below, in the embedded SoundCloud playlist.


Please feel free to play these recordings
for children around the world!

These may be played right here from this post or go HERE.



Thank you Randy Thomas
and brilliant VO artists
for sharing your talent for the children!



All audio ©2018 by the individual Voice Artists.
Poetry copyright belongs to the poet
or other current copyright holder.

Post text ©2018 TheBeZine.com and 100TPC.org
Link-sharing of the SoundCloud playlist is allowed.
Link-sharing or credited re-blogging of this post is allowed.
Readings in the playlist are provided for free personal use,
not for commercial purposes or paid events.
The audio may not be recorded or redistributed in any form
other than a link to SoundCloud without permission of the voice artist(s).

Margarita Serafimova, Six Poems

On the crest of your voice,
the great hawk hovers for twelve seconds,
and enters the next world.


My mortality this morning was a white dove on my shoulder,
singing to the colour of the waves, singing, singing, its eyes turquoise.
Fleeting life, smooth filigree waves.


When I understood that I had a deathless soul,
and that it did not need me to keep on,
your voice was cresting, cresting, never breaking.


Singing are the jackals.
The other side is here.


The rocks, the ship ropes and the anchors
have found each other, and have become sirens,
and are singing a song about departure in arrival.


Morning
at the water fountain,
how the birds are singing!


MARGARITA SERAFIMOVA (Facebook Page) was shortlisted for the Montreal International Poetry Prize 2017. She has two collections in the Bulgarian: Animals and Other Gods (2016) and Demons and World (2017). Her work is forthcoming in Agenda, Trafika Europe, Waxwing, Ink, Sweat and Tears, Poetic Diversity, TAYO, Transnational, Pocket Change, SurVision, Poetry Super Highway, and appears in London Grip New Poetry, The Journal, A-Minor, Minor Literatures, Noble/ Gas, The Birds We Piled Loosely, Obra/ Artifact, Writing Disorder, The Punch Magazine, Futures Trading, Ginosko, Dark Matter, Window Quarterly/ Patient Sounds, Peacock Journal, Anti-Heroin Chic, Wild Word, Plum Tree Tavern, Oddball Magazine, Three Drops from a Cauldron, Sea Foam Mag, Aaduna, MOON, In Between Hangovers, MockingHeart Review, Renegade Rant and Rave, Tales From The Forest, Misty Mountain Review, The Voices Project, Cent, Heavy Athletics, Outsider Poetry, Outlaw Poetry.

The Sacredness of December: “Look to the Light” (Hanukkah), “The Magnificat” (Advent and Christmas) & Mevlûd-i Peygamberi (the Birth of the Prophet)

My soul magnifies the Lord ...


Look to the light, the light in the window,
The simple lit candles that shimmer and shine.
The message is clear as simple lit candles,
The passion for freedom is yours and is mine.
– Rabbi Dan Grossman

 December is a month rich in the holy days of the Abrahamic traditions. Jews celebrate Hanukkah, a commemoration of the Jewish reclamation of The Temple of Jerusalem in 164 B.C.E. Christians celebrate Advent – a period of waiting for the birth of Christ – followed by His birth, Christmas.  Muslims celebrate the birth of the Prophet in November or December depending on the lunar calendar. We do not need faith to appreciate the beautiful poems, music and artwork inspired by our religions, Abrahamic or others.


Look to the Light

Menorah
Menorah

In 164 B.C.E., the Syrians who ruled Israel took away the Jews’ right to practice their religion. Led by Judah Maccabee the Jews rebelled and succeeded in reclaiming their sovereignty and they rededicated The Temple of Jerusalem. The history of the celebration of Hanukkah has had some interesting turns in more recent times.

There’s a story of a young Polish soldier in then General George Washington’s army who held a solitary Hanukkah celebration on a cold night in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania.  The soldier gently placed his family’s menorah in the snow and lighted the first of eight candles for the first night of Hanukkah. The man was perhaps a bit homesick and missing his family. He must have thought about how much they’d suffered over time from religious persecution. There were tears in his eyes when General Washington found him. Washington wondered what the young man was doing and why he was crying. The soldier told his general the story of Maccabee and the other Jews. It is said that Washington was heartened by the telling and moved on to battle and victory. The menorah is on now on display at the Smithsonian Museum.

Yet another story surfaces in 1993 Billings, Montana where a family was lighting their menorah one night. As is custom, they placed the lighted menorah in the front window of their home where it was stoned by anti-Semites, as were the homes of other Jewish families that same evening. The town newspaper printed dozens of menorahs.  Rev. Keith Torney, a minister of the First Congregational Church, United Church of Christ, distributed them to all the Christians and the paper menorahs were placed in windows all over Billings as a sign of solidarity and of respect for the freedom to practice religion as one’s conscience dictates.

Look to the Light is a commemorative poem written by Rabbi Daniel Grossman and set to music by Meira Warshauer. Enjoy!  … but if you are viewing this from an email subscription, you’ll have to link through to the web/zine to view and hear it.


The Magnificat

The Ode of Theotokos (Song of the God Bearer)

It is only in the Gospel of Luke that we read of Mary’s recitation of this poem that harkens back to Jewish prophecy and is constructed in the traditional verse style of the times with mirroring and synonymous parallelism.

From the Book of Common Prayer

My soul doth magnify the Lord : and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.
For he hath regarded : the lowliness of his handmaiden.
For behold, from henceforth : all generations shall call me blessed.
For he that is mighty hath magnified me : and holy is his Name.
And his mercy is on them that fear him : throughout all generations.
He hath shewed strength with his arm : he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.
He hath put down the mighty from their seat : and hath exalted the humble and meek.
He hath filled the hungry with good things : and the rich he hath sent empty away.
He remembering his mercy hath holden his servant Israel : as he promised to our forefathers, Abraham and his seed for ever.


The Prophet’s Nativity

A book explaining the meaning of the term Jashan e Eid Milad un Nabi
A book explaining the meaning of the phrase Jashan e Eid Milad un Nabi

One poem that celebrates Mawlid, the birth of the Prophet, is exceptionally sweet. It was written by the Turkish Süleyman Çelebi (also known as Süleyman Of Bursa) who died in 1429. You’ll note that in addition to honoring the Prophet Mohammad,  it honors three mothers: Asiya the mother of Moses, Mary the mother of Jesus and Amina the mother of the Prophet.

Mevlûd-i Peygamberi, Hymn of the Prophet’s Nativity

Some have said that of these charming three
One was Asiya of moonlike face,
One was Lady Mary without doubt,
And the third a houri beautiful.

Then these moonfaced three drew gently near
And they greeted me with kindness here;
Then they sat around me, and they gave
The good tidings of Muhammad’s birth;
Said to me: “A son like this your son
Has not come since God has made this world,
And the Mighty One did never grant
Such a lovely son as will be yours.

You have found great happiness,
O dear, 
For from you that virtuous one is born!
He that comes is King of Knowledge high,
Is the mine of gnosis and tawhid*
For the love of him the sky revolves,
Men and jinn are longing for his face.

This night is the night that he, so pure
Will suffuse the worlds with radiant light!
This night, earth becomes a Paradise,
This night God shows mercy to the world.
This night those with heart are filled with joy,
This night gives the lovers a new life.

Mercy for the worlds is Mustafa,
Sinners’ intercessors: Mustafa!

– Süleyman Of Bursa 

* monotheism

Compiled by Jamie Dedes; Photocredits: (1) © Jamie Dedes,The first illustration was created using a public domain photograph of The Magnificat (Le magnificat) by James Tissot; (2)Hanukkah Lamp, Lemberg (Lviv, Ukraine), 1867–72 from the collection of The Jewish Museum of New York under CC BY-SA 3.0; (3) Photograph of a book explaining the meaning of the phrase Jashan e Eid Milad un Nabi by Saudmujadid under CC BY-SA 4.0

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

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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.

Far from Eyes Broken

San Francisco Bay Area poet, Ann Emerson, was one of the first two people I invited to join in the collaboration we now call The BeZine. It was originally named Into the Bardo, in reference to the Buddhist state of existence between death and rebirth; so named because of life-compromising illnesses.

Ann was a gifted poet, but she didn’t find that out until after she was diagnosed with a rare bone cancer. She discovered her voice in a hospital poetry class. Ultimately she studied with Ellen Bass in Santa Cruz, California. 

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After diagnosis, Ann survived for an almost consistently tortured six years. Physical pain. Trauma. Fear. Chemo. Poverty. She had signs posted around her house that said, “Live!”

While Ann spent a lot of time in the hospital, her home was a cabin in the Redwoods of La Honda, a stone’s throw from the log cabin where Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters so famously partied in 1964. She lived with her cats. Originally there were six and they were all blind. No one would take them in, so Ann did.

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Ann was just a thesis away from her Ph.D. A few weeks before she died, four of Ann’s poems were published in American Poetry Review

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Two days before Ann died, she married the gentleman who was her sweetheart of thirty years. Ann’s wedding was held in her hospital room. Those of us in the attendance were required by the hospital to wear yellow gowns over our street clothes. The bride wore yellow too. The flowers and the ring were from the hospital gift shop. The founder and leader of our support group for people with catastrophic illness, a Buddhist chaplin, performed the ceremony. One of us took wedding photographs using a cell phone.  I created a virtual wedding album.The wedding was in its way lovely, but it was achingly sad.

IMG_8407

When Ann died, we sat with her for some time because Buddhists don’t believe the soul leaves the body right away. Ann’s Buddhist teacher – someone she held in high regard – came and lead us in meditation and blessing.

Here – are three of her poems – posted today in her memory. In closing, I added A Hunger for Bone, the poem I wrote the day her ashes were released to the sea near Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park in Big Sur. My poem in no way comes up to the gold standard Ann set, but it tells the story. 

Julia_Pfeiffer_Burns_State_Park

– Jamie Dedes


Elegy for Cat Five

Fuck the Glory that is Poetry,
fuck the smell of God in my hair,

The world is the color of driftwood,
this ordinary Wednesday in June.

Let’s have a moratorium on poems
about my shitty news from Stanford

and how I can’t tell heat from cold.
My blood dirty as brown sand in a museum,

and my cat, well, he has news too.
Death woman, skeleton cat,

I turned 57 yesterday when
the veterinarian said No.

I am taking us both to the ocean
for as long as we need:

red sand staining white fur.
I am smelling my cat’s iodine breath,

I am putting my hand in the wound
in my side. Dry brine stinking up

the air, seawater choking the
cawing gull in his throat.

And my face, he’d better
not fucking forget.

One more day leaving me
for a little peace of mind.

.
A Modern Poem (draft 1)

.
I am walking again through an American night,
past police stations with barred gates, windows
glazed warm with doughnuts, patrol cars in the lot.
I stand outdoors seeking coffee: someplace where
eyes will not wander through me when I sit in a red
booth filled with books as women fearing Altzeimer’s
hoard cats. I stay up until dawn, waiting for panic
to subside, to find the meaning in all things
in a city which says I am nothing.

..
I wake in my American forest, from a dream
of being shot: when one lives in a forest one cannot expect
the humane society always arriving in time. I walk through
the cabin and on down the path: moonlight blurs the redwoods,
wind blurs water. I feel like a girl safe in a picture book.
Indoors the television screen shines blue as topaz.
I am walking again through the forest aglow with
snowy owls and see-through salamanders.
Far from eyes broken like windows, and people
thinking they are nobodies, reading the paper
about life being rebuilt by night so that
no one notices it tumbling by day.

 

The Wrong Side of History

Fifty years ago, a house of
pale cinderblock. Sixty miles

north of here, Richmond
California, the poor

mending holes with colored thread.
I live in a house of

unnatural law, I am painting
landscapes in black: horses

and floating carpets of leaves.
When I am ten my father fills my mouth

with dirt for saying I want to die:
a ripped sheet twisted over my eyes,

my ankles hobbled in bed;
I summon the kingdom of horses

where lullabies murmur
brittle-legged ponies to sleep.

When I am twelve the city catches fire:
ruined faces of mares stretch for pages,

and when the tar roof seeps into
my room, I still do not run away.

Say nothing about the comfort of solitude,
stars crowded like sensations under the skin.

Say nothing about the morning blow of light,
the herd coughing on last night’s oily weed

– Ann Emerson


A Hunger for Bone

we scattered your relics, yours and your cats,
chared bone to be rocked by waves,
to be rocked into yourself, the rhythm
enchanting you with cool soothing spume
merging your poetry with the ether,
rending our hearts with desolation,
shattering the ocean floor with your dreams
lost in lapping lazuli tides, dependable ~
relief perhaps after pain-swollen years of
suckle on the shards of a capricious grace

those last weeks …
your restless sleeps disrupted by
medical monitors, their metallic pings
not unlike meditation bells calling to you,
bringing you to presence and contemplation,
while bags hung like prayer-flags on a zephyr
fusing blood, salt, water
into collapsing veins, bleeding-out
under skin, purple and puce-stained,
air heavy and rank; we came not with chant,
but on the breath of love, we tumbled in
one-by-one to stand by you

to stand by you
when death arrived
and it arrived in sound, not in stealth,
broadcasting its jaundiced entrance
i am here, death bellowed on morphine
in slow drip, i am here death shouted,
offering tape to secure tubing, handing
you a standard-issue gown, oversized –
in washed-out blue, for your last journey
under the cold pale of fluorescent light

far from the evergreen of your redwood forest,
eager and greedy, death snatched
your jazzy PJs, your bling and pedicures,
your journals and pens, your computer and
cats, death tried your dignity and identity –
not quickly, no … in a tedious hospital bed,
extending torment, its rough tongue salting
your wounds, death’s hungering, a hunger
for bones, your frail white bones – but you
in your last exercise of will, thwarted death,
bequeathing your bones to the living sea

– Jamie Dedes

© 2011, Ann’s poems, her photo and that of her cat, Ann Emerson estate; © A Hunger for Bone and the yellow flower photograph,  Jamie Dedes; photograph of Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park in Big Sur courtesy of wordydave under CC BY SA 3.0

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

15 April 2016
Poetry Month

The Waste Land by T. S. Eliot

I. The Burial of the Dead

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

A tidal wave of poetry, perhaps.

Michael Dickel, Contributing Editor

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A tidal wave of poetry, perhaps.

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

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


Table of Contents

Featured

POEMS

ESSAYS, INTERVIEWS, REVIEWS

WOVEN TALE PRESS COLLABORATION

SECOND LIGHT NETWORK

IMG_9671CONNECT WITH US

Beguine Again, Spirtual Community and Practice

Facebook, The Bardo Group Beguines

Twitter, The Bardo Group Beguines

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

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

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

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

– Michael Dickel, (Mosquitos) War Surrounds Us

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

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

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

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

– Jamie Dedes

Poems from War Surrounds Us:
Again
Musical Meditations
The Roses

TLV1 Interview and Poetry Reading

813UAJBTpUL._UX250_

MY INTERVIEW WITH MICHAEL DICKEL:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

IMG_1250

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

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

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

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

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

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

Be the peace.

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

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

15 July 2015

 IMAGINATION and THE CRITICAL SPIRIT

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TABLE OF CONTENTS WITH LINKS

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

Salerno, il mio amore, Michael Dickel

THEME:

IMAGINATION and THE CRITICAL SPIRIT

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

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

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

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

Photostory

The Seeds of Creativity, Naomi Baltuck

GENERAL INTEREST

Sacred Space and Photography

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

Poetry

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

Feature Articles/Essays

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

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

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

MISSION STATEMENT

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

The BeZine, June 2015, Vol.1, Issue 8 – Table of Contents with Links

June 15, 2015

 DIVERSITY/INCLUSION

The evolution will be poemed, painted, photographed, documented, blogged, set to music and told in story.

The evolution will be delivered by a rainbow of human beings, everyday sort of folk ….  

The evolution will not be televised.

There are people for whom the arts exists almost exclusively as an aid to social change, to political discourse– not as some sort of didacticism – but as a discussion, a wake up call, a way of approaching some truth, finding some meaning, encouraging resolution. Many of us here number among them. All of us hope for kind, just and rational social change.

We write and dream about an inclusive appreciation of diversity that will promote a world without war, a world that respects all sentient life, all humans no matter their race or national origin, religion or lack thereof, economic or social status, mental or physical disability, age or sex, or sexual preference or gender orientation. We dream of a humanity that recognizes itself as an element of the natural environment not something apart from and over it.

We may be inspired by personal experience like Colin Stewart – our youngest ever contributor – who bravely articulates his experience of being bullied and marginalized in school in No Child Is Safe. Michael Watson, a therapist, a Native American shaman and a polio victim brings us  Still Here: Meditations on Disabilism and Lara/Trace Writes About Residential Schools, those schools established ” to save the person by removing the Indian.”

For some people the impetus is the direct experience of war, which is the ultimate expression of hate and exclusion. Silva Merjanian gifts us with an essay this month, As with any war …  Silva grew up in a war-torn Beirut. And, new to us is Michael Dickel, an American-Israeli who offers three poems from his new book War Surrounds Us.

Priscilla Galasso, whose appreciation for nature has birthed so many wonderful essays here, askes us to consider the diversity in nature, worthy of nurture and celebration not for ourselves but for its very isness in her essay Diversity and Car(ry)ing Capacity — Spiritual Lessons from Nature. 

The love of our children is a sure motivation to write about and work for respect and inclusion. We see this in Naomi Baltuck’s touching Mine (yours, ours), the second of our two lead features.

The muse is inspired by empathy and ideals, observation and proximity. Terri Stewart gives us one of our lead pieces this month, a moving poem, Created to Be Included. Sharon Frye shows a tender understanding of a Vietnamese refugee in her poem At Model Nails. This is the first time Sharon’s work is included here, but her poetry has found a home in many other publications including The Galway Review, The Portuguese journal, “O Equador das Coisas,” Mad Swirl, and The Blue Max Review (Ireland).

Sometimes the lives and work of  people who lived at other times and/or other places resonates for us. Roses and Their Homilies is an homage to Sor Juana Inez de la Cruz, the stellar poet of 17th Century New Spain. The clerical authority of her day simply could not put  her intellect together with her womanhood. Tragically for her and for us, this caused her to give up her writing five years before her death.

Each month the core team picks a theme.  We don’t dictate the slant.  We give everyone free rein. It’s always a surprise to see how the theme is addressed, who will hammer the theme dead on and who will address it obliquely. This month, when all the work was read, sorted and organized, most of us chose to “celebrate” diversity by illustrating just how slow and insufficient are the reforms and just how resistant humanity can be to inclusion. There is some deeply passionate work here.

I can’t help but think that the justice so many of us seek is rooted in transforming values. Hence, it is more evolutionary than revolutionary. Perhaps it is most evident in our blogosphere and social networking, in the heart-born prose and poems of simple folk like you and me with nary a politician or corporatist among us.

Perhaps the true evolution – the one that will foster permanent transformation – is a bottom-up thing, more likely to be blogged than broadcast, rising from homespun poetry and outsider art – sometimes rudimentary and awkward, but always quiet and true and slow like a secret whispered from one person to the next. It is something stewing even as we write, paint, make music, read and encourage one another. There is bone and muscle in what we do. Individually we have small “audiences.” Collectively we speak to enormous and geographically diverse populations.

I think I hear keyboards clicking and bare feet marching. Or perhaps poetic fancy has caught my spirit tonight and all is dream …I hope not. Write on … Read on … and be the peace …

So let some impact from my words echo resonance 
lend impulse to the bright looming dawn

Dennis Brutus (1924-2009), South African poet, journalist, activist and educator

In the spirit of peace, love and community,
Jamie Dedes

TABLE OF CONTENTS WITH LINKS

Diversity/Inclusion

Lead Features

Created To Be Included, Terri Stewart
Mine (yours, ours), Naomi Baltuck

LGBT

Darkness,  Colin Jon david Stewart
No Child Is Safe, Terri Stewart and Colin Jon david Stewart

Nature

Diversity and Car(ry)ing Capacity, Priscilla Galasso
Putting the “Action” in Activism, Corina Ravenscraft
The Clearest Way to the Universe, James Cowles

Native American

Lara/Trace Writes About Residential Schools, Michael Watson

Disabled

Still Here: Writing Against Disablism, Michael Watson

Refugee

At Model Nails, Sharon Frye

War/Conflict

Again, Michael Dickel
Musical Meditations, Michael Dickel
The Roses, Michael Dickel
As with any war …, Silva Merjanian
Borrowed Sugar, Silva Merjanian

Women

Roses and Their Homilies, Jamie Dedes

General Interest

Essay

British Bulldogs, Great Speeches … and poetry, John Anstie

Poetry

Rooftop Icarus, Joeseph Hesch
Prelude, Voice Aquiver, Sharon Frye
Growth Ring, Sharon Frye
Time Lapse, Liliana Negoi
for us, Liliana Negoi
dancing toward infinity, Jamie Dedes

Photo Stories

An Open Book, Naomi Baltuck
If Not for His Wife, Naomi Baltuck

OUR FABULOUS HEADER PHOTOGRAPH THIS MONTH IS THE WORK OF TERRI STEWART UNDER CC (BY-NC) LICENSE.

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

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

MISSION STATEMENT

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

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.

A Poem in Your Pocket

Editor’s Note:  One of our more popular posts from our smart, snappy Corina Ravenscraf (dragonkatet), celebrating poetry and interNational Poetry Month, a Bardo tradition.  Enjoy!  … and share the wealth. 

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

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

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

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

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

© 2014, essay, Corina Ravenscraft (dragonkatet) All rights reserved

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

The 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.

Such, Such Is Death

CHARLES HAMILTON SORLEY (1895 – 1915)

British Poet

Charles Hamilton Sorley was born in Aberdeen in 1894. The son of the profressor of moral philosphy at Aberdeen University, Sorley was extremely intelligent and won a scholarship to Marlborough College.

In 1913 Sorely spent a year in Germany before taking up the offer of a place at University college, Cambridge. When war (World War I) was declared in August 1914, Sorley returned to England and enlisted in the British Army. He joined the Suffolk Regiment and after several months training, Lieutenant Sorly was sent to the Western Front.

Sorley arrived in France in May 1915 and after three months was promoted to captain. Charles Hamilton Sorley was killed by a sniper at the Battle of Loos on October 13, 1915. He left only 37 complete poems, including the one he wrote just before he was killed, When You See Millions of the Mouthless Dead. Sorley’s posthumous book, Marlborough and Other Poems* was popular and achieved critical success when it was published in 1916.  [adapted from Spartacus Educational, a site developed by John Simpkin (MPhil.), British educator, historian, and member of the European History E-Learning Project] J.D.

·

SUCH, SUCH IS DEATH (1915)

by

Charles Hamilton Sorley 

·

Such, such is Death: no triumph: no defeat:

Only an empty pail, a slate rubbed clean,

A merciful putting away of what has been.

And this we know: Death is not Life, effete,

Life crushed, the broken pail. We who have seen

So marvellous things know well the end not yet.

Victor and vanquished are a-one in death:

Coward and brave: friend, foe. Ghosts do not say,

“Come, what was your record when you drew breath?”

But a big blot has hid each yesterday

So poor, so manifestly incomplete.

And your bright Promise, withered long and sped,

Is touched, stirs, rises, opens and grows sweet

And blossoms and is you, when you are dead.

·

TO GERMANY (1914)

by

Charles Hamilton Sorely 

You are blind like us. Your hurt no man designed,
And no man claimed the conquest of your land.
But gropers both through fields of thought confined
We stumble and we do not understand.
You only saw your future bigly planned,
And we, the tapering paths of our own mind,
And in each other’s dearest ways we stand,
And hiss and hate. And the blind fight the blind.

When it is peace, then we may view again
With new-won eyes each other’s truer form
And wonder. Grown more loving-kind and warm
We’ll grasp firm hands and laugh at the old pain,
When it is peace. But until peace, the storm
The darkness and the thunder and the rain.

Photo credit ~ a cropped and retouched version of a portrait of British soldier poet, Charles Hamitlton Sorely dated c. 1914/1915, since Mr. Sorely is in uniform here and was enlisted in 1914 and killed in 1915. The photo was first published in 1918. The collection of his poems came out in 1919. The photo is from For Remembrance: Soldier Poets Who Have Fallen in the War. The photograph is in the public domain.

*Poems ~ excepts from Marlborough and Other Poems by Charles Hamilton Sorely. It would appear that this book is currently in the public domain. You can read the entire book on or download it from Internet Archives HERE.

The Burden of a Shared Name

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

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

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

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

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

Tag

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

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

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

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

– Blaga Dimitrova

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lyrical

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

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

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

– Blaga Dimitrova

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

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

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

November 22, 1963, Lives in Memory

Haibun

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

wild grey geese above

flew in perfect formation

chaos left behind

 

Haibun

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

woodpecker knocking

high above in the maple

a chick all grown up

 

Haibun

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

shells upon a beach

dry cool windy autumn day

creation of sand

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

BARDO NEWS: April celebrations of poetry and poets, a shared heritage that knows no borders

Quatrain on Heavenly Mtn.
Quatrain on Heavenly Mountain

Both Canada and the United States celebrate April as national poetry month. Since Bardo is an international effort, we will celebrate the month as an international event. Poetry is a shared heritage that knows no borders.

Among the blog posts we’ll publish during this month is a piece by Blaga Todorova (Between the Shadows and the Soul) on the Bulgarian poet and former Bulgarian Vice President, Blaga Dimitrova. Included in our line-up is a memorable poem by New York’s first lady, wife of Mayor Bill De Blasio, Chirlane McCray. There will be a piece on writing poetry by English poet, Myra Schneider (Myra Schneider’s Poetry Website), and an article on the Lebanese poet, Khalil Gibran. Corina Ravenscraft (Dragon’s Dreams) will start us off on April 1 with some ideas for celebrating with family and friends.

While we don’t plan to post poems and/or essays on poetry every day, we’ll do so quite a bit. Also, along with the Academy of American Poets, we’ll celebrate A Poem in Your Pocket on Thursday, April 24, when everyone is invited to share a poem and/or a piece about a favored poet no matter the poet’s time or place. Mister Linky will go up and you can link in your own work or share a URL to work you admire. Or, if you prefer, you can share a poem or comment on a poet in the comment section of that day’s post. Mister Linky will open at 12:01 a.m. on the 24th.

This evening we kick-off poetry month – a day-and-a-half early, yes! – with award-winning Canadian slam poet and writer, Shane Koyczan, who first came to the wider world’s attention with his poem We Ae More at the 2010 Olympics opening ceremony in Vancouver. This video begins with Death Be Not Proud by British poet John Donne (1572-1631) and moves into Shane’s performance of one of his early poems, Move Pen Move.

CELEBRATE INTERNATIONAL POETRY MONTH WITH US

“Poets are the unacknowled legislators of the world.” Percy B. Shelley (1792-1822), English Romantic poet, In Defense of Poetry

HAPPY MOTHERING SUNDAY TO OUR FRIENDS IN THE UK

from The Bardo Group

tomorrow’s post by Niamh Clune (Plum Tree Books) will honor the day

and don’t forget to join us on Wednesday, April 23, for Victoria Slotto’s (Victoria C. Slotto, Author/Fiction, Poetry and Writing PromptsWriters’ Fourth Wednesday prompt. Mister Linky will go up for sharing your work at 12:01 a.m. P.S.T. on the 23rd.

Join us on our Facebook page, THE BARDO GROUP

Illustration ~ Fan with quatrain poem attributed to Emperor Gaozong of Song (1107-1187), the tenth Chinese emperor of the Song Dynasty, part of the John B. Elliott Collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City. The photograph is by Neutrality and generously released into the public domain.

– The Bardo Group

The Wednesday Poetry Corner With John Anstie

Collaborations works! Here’s a fine essay by our own John Anstie hosted by our Niamh Clune on her Plum Tree Books blog … read on ….

Niamh Clune

I am delighted to finally welcome John Anstie to the Wednesday corner. I have been wanting to post John’s fine piece for months now, but like many things we want to do in life, lists intervene. Anyhow, I know you will enjoy John. Not only os he a very fine poet, he is a fine writer of prose also. He is precise and studied and has produced and been involved in some very fine poetry anthologies. Great to have you here, John.

By John Anstie

When Niamh asked me who is my favourite poet or poem, I found this question impossible to answer. I can only nominate any that I have read, thus far; so the answer may change in time. William Shakespeare should be one, because of his huge influence on the English language and he championed one of my favoured forms of scansion, iambic pentameter; that he wrote…

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To Edit, Perchance to Publish …

(On use of the English language)

” … To edit perchance to publish: ay, there’s the rub;

For in that edit of death what publishings may come

When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,

Must give us pause … “

(Editing liberties taken with Hamlet’s famous soliloquy, with thanks and apologies to William Shakespeare)

Jamie Dedes suggested that I should write about my experience of publishing.  I thought about this, but came to a conclusion that it would be pretentious to do so, because it would appear like someone, who had just successfully completed their first length of the swimming pool, writing a book on swimming the English channel!  However, there is something to write about in any experience, however humble.  So, I decided instead to write about it from a perspective, where I have a little more to offer.  This is the business of writing the English language.

Designing the book’s layout, selecting and agreeing cover designs, which fonts to use, finding someone to write a foreword, or not, decide who should write the introduction is much to do with publishing.  Reading it all front to back, back to front, several times over, has more to do with being competent in the language and brings much to bear on the business editing!

product_thumbnail-3.phpTo cast a glance at the experience I had in publishing “Petrichor Rising“, before the publisher came along, thinking that we might have to self-publish, I designed the layout, asked one of the group to write the introduction and, after playing with the idea of asking an award winning published poet I know to write a foreword (with the vain idea that it might give the book some kudos), eventually decided to write it myself.  All that remained was to get the covers designed and … Edit!

After several runs through it, I got to a point where I needed to ask ‘editorial questions’ of the contributing poets, which were in a variety of different forms. I felt sure that, if I were to uphold the integrity of the book, I was compelled to verify some of the simplest things, like spelling, grammar, English usage, the odd neologism and even the position of punctuation marks.

My golden rule was always that I should change not one single word without the consent of any of the authors.  So, I grabbed the horns!  Accordingly, I received a variety of responses, which ranged from unquestioning acceptance of my suggested edits, through “no that’s the way I intended it” to a significant re-editing of a poem. This was, or so I thought, one of the final hurdles to publication.

I eventually submitted the whole book to the publisher, who, within a short time had clearly read it through very thoroughly, because they returned it with a whole list of further edits, which comprised of spelling errors, general typo’s, even punctuation and the odd grammatical error!  An even greater shock to my pride was that a number of them were within my own writings! I had to agree with almost all of them!  What am I like! Evidently rather poor at self-editing!

As for English grammar, there are some rules that I’m keen on.  Even in poetry, I prefer to write English in complete sentences between full stops, with any main or subordinate clauses that have a subject and a predicate, any phrases suitably punctuated, words chosen for their proper meaning, as defined by a recognised dictionary (my preferred backstop is Fowler’s Concise Oxford English Dictionary) spelled correctly and, particularly in poetry, with no unnecessary repetition.

Amongst the rules I use, that I can rarely bring myself to break, include the use, in comparisons, of certain prepositions after the word ‘different’.  My personal loyalty lies with the traditional ‘from’; there are no circumstances under which ‘from’ cannot be used in this context; the alternatives used are ‘to’ (don’t know where this came from, but it is widely used in the media) and ‘than’ (more popular in North America), which sometimes permits a greater economy of words when ‘different’ is followed by a clause. So, in my book, it should be “different from”.

The next one is the split infinitive.  Once again, I would argue that there are no circumstances in which the infinitive form of a verb has to be separated from its preposition (‘to’) by any other word. The only possible exception could be in poetry, where one might want to split the infinitive for the sake of maintaining consistent scansion.  Even then, I would argue that there is no sentence that cannot be re-written in a different way, expressed with different words, to achieve the same effect; such is the variety of the English language.

Poets and writers have a great responsibility to communicate accurately, however perverse, complex or deep the story line. This super-fast digital age, with its plethora of social communication devices, has encouraged a laziness in the use of language and, therefore, a greater risk of misinterpretation, which transfers to our working lives too.  In the last twenty-five years of my working life, I witnessed a tendency for the generation, who have grown up with the digital computer age, to be ‘quick’, to empty the overloaded inbox as fast as they can and, in so doing, often write incomplete sentences that are easily misunderstood and that consequently waste time in clarification or, worse still, cause decisions to be wrong!

Economy of words is important in all writing, particularly poetry, which can only be enhanced by choosing the right words and concatenating them so as to achieve the meaning intended and, in this way, one should always aspire to achieve synergy, which is to say making the whole, the final result, greater than the sum of its parts. Shortening sentences, however, for the sake of speed is just lazy and symptomatic of an unwillingness to think more carefully about the language.

I hope, in any future attempt to publish a book, that I will remember this; remember how important it is to communicate our meaning accurately, and, thereby, truthfully.  As far as I am concerned, I am still learning.

– John Anstie

© John Anstie, essay, all rights reserved

RELATED FEATURE:

“Petrichor Rising” and how the Twitterverse birthed friendships that in turn birthed a poetry collection, by Jamie Dedes, The Poet by Day, the journey in poem

John_in_Pose_Half_Face351w-rH34dTL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA300_SH20_OU01_JOHN ANSTIE (My Poetry Library and 42) ~ is a British poet and writer, a member of the core team here at Bardo, and multi-talented gentleman self-described as a “Family man, Grandfather, Occasional Musician, Amateur photographer and Film-maker, Apple-MAC user, Implementation Manager, and Engineer. John participates in d’Verse Poet’s Pub and is a player in New World Creative Union. He’s been blogging since the beginning of 2011. John is also an active member of The Poetry Society (UK).

John has been involved in the recent publication of two anthologies that are the result of online collaborations among two international groups of amateur and professional poets. One of these is The Grass Roots Poetry Group, for which he produced and edited the  anthology, “Petrichor* Rising. The other group is d’Verse Poet Pub, in which John’s poetry also appears in The d’Verse Anthology: Voices of Contemporary World Poetry, produced and edited by Frank Watson.

The Evolution Shall Be Blogged: Our “Poets Against War” Wrap-up and Collection

White Doves at Blue Mosque
White Doves at Blue Mosque

There are people for whom poetry exists almost exclusively as an aid to social change – not as some sort of didacticism – but as a discussion, a wake up call, a way of approaching some truth, finding some meaning, encouraging resolution. Most of the folks who participated in this Bardo community event aren’t among them. They are as likely to write about the beautiful flowers that have just popped on their orchid as they are to write a poem calling for change, peace and justice. But it does happen and quite often:  a horrific war photo, a news report of an injustice, a homeless person outside the grocery, a friend in pain that can be traced to some social issues, and the words start to flow. There’s the urge to respond, to do something . . .

As I make my way around the blogosphere, I am touched to see how many people blog for causes – “worthy” causes as my mom would say – and I know that “worthy” is in the eye of the reader. War is big. For those bloggers who are pacifists, this medium offers one means of passive resistance. Perhaps passivism is the strongest form of resistance and poetry the conscience of the collective soul.

I can’t help but think that the peace and justice so many of us seek is rooted in transforming values. Hence, it is more evolutionary than revolutionary. It is perhaps so gradual but pervasive that it is more evident in our blogosphere than it is in the sensationalism of mainstream media. Perhaps it is more evident in the heart-born prose and poems of simple folk like you and me with nary a pundit or politician among us. Maybe it’s a bottom-up thing, more likely to be blogged than broadcast, rising from homespun poetry – outsider literary art – sometimes rudimentary and awkward, but always quiet and true and slow like a secret whispered from one person to the next. Maybe it is something stewing even as we write, read, and encourage one another. It could be there is some bone and muscle in what we do. Individually we have miniscule “audiences.” Collectively we speak to enormous and geographically diverse populations. Or perhaps it just that poetic fancy has caught my spirit tonight and all is dream …I hope not.  Poem  on … And thank you for your participation.

So let some impact from my words echo resonance and 
lend impulse to the bright looming dawn
Dennis Brutus (1924 – 2009), South African Poet/Activist

– © 2013 Jamie Dedes (The Poet by Day)

Featured Poem #1:

No mother’s arms shall cradle you
Nor gentle voice shall ease your heart
Nor call to you, through smoke and gun
Though you are lost, war-torn apart

Your mother’s eyes are filled with fear
They shall not weep, not shed a tear
For you, might one day come to gloat
And slice your blade across her throat

You devilled child of generation
Lost, forgotten by a nation.
Eyes of stone that cannot feel
Go crazed beneath a general’s heel

You play with guns, the Russian grades
In school of steel and AKA’s
And fall where shot, unfriended lie
On burning ground, but none shall cry

To moisten fire of barren earth
Or plant a stick to mark your birth

When tiny body finds its grave
Bones are bleached and none can save
Your soul, that cries to scorching sky ~
Where is my home, why did I die?

– © 2013 Niamh Clune (On the Plum Tree)

Featured Poem #2

Each one came, soldier, marine, airman, frogwalking quietly as if wrapped from within
the cocoon of his own world.War’s sad energy like a gray
heavy mist lay upon the shoulders of each,
reality spiking their dull black piercing shadows.Each man sat at the table abandoned.
“Just a word”?
“Coffee please”.“May we write yet?”
And then he stood.
A large and heavy presence, poorly balanced.He shouted …
“Don’t you see them?
There, in the corners … one in each corner.”“How dare they come here?
I ought-a know,
I was with the CIA.”Then he sat down defeated again.
He seemed to relax until another
Stream of madness crept out of his throat.“I will NOT be giving you a sample today!
There will be no writing samples.
THEY … are here for that reason you know, to collect them.”And I thought to myself,
Does the madness hide the pain?
Or perhaps this pain drives one mad.2008 © Liz Rice-Sosne (noh where)

Poets Against War Poetry Collection

These are listed in the order that I received them. Please visit one another: read, comment, encourage. I think I’ve captured all the links, but if I missed someone, I’m sorry. Please just put the link in again in the comments below and I will add it here. Thank you! J.D.

I Consider Myself by Renee Espriu, Turtle Flight, My Muse & Angels

Peace, always by Blaga Todorova, Between the Shadows and the Soul

the magic wand by Sharmishtha Basu, Sharmishtha Basu’s poetries

War by Reena Presad, Butterflies of Time

Wake up by Reena Presad, Butteflies of Time

Peace Embrace by Rev. Terri Stewar, CloakedMonk

The Irony of War by Victoria C. Slotto, Victoria C. Slotto, Author: Fiction, Poetry and Writing Prompts

Peace and War and Pieces of Human Beings on the Ground, Amy Barlow Liberato, Sharp Little Pencil

peace would be radical by Jamie Dedes, The Poet by Day, the journey in poem

Let’s merge our voices by Nadira Fromkannur, Dreaming Through the Night

Poems for Peace by Liz Rice-Stone, noh where

Think by John Anstie, My Poetry Library

In the Name of Love, A Poem to All World Leaders by T. J. Therien, Liars, Hypocrites & The Development of Human Emotions

Unite for Peace by Sue Dreamwalker, Dreamwalker’s Sanctuary

The Last Horseman Is the One Who Counts by Corina L. Ravenscraft, Dragon’s Dreams

Price Check by Corina L. Ravenscraft, Dragon’s Dreams

again by Charles W. Martin, Reading Between the Minds

Twenty Nine by John Anstie, My Poetry Library

conjugating wars by Liliana Negoi, Endless Journey and in Romanian curcubee în alb şi negru

For the kindness of reblogging the original announcement of this event, thanks to Reena Prasad, Renee EspirituTerri Stewart, George-b, Paula Kuitenbrouwer, Nadira Fromkannur, and John Anstie. (Please let me know if I left you out. J.D.)

And in closing, here is John Anstie’s re-articulation of our mission:

“. . . at its core is a spiritual aspiration for the moral (and perhaps literary) high ground – and that is not, in any shape or form, intended to be an arrogant position – it is, above all, the fact that it is the mission of ‘Into The Bardo’ to present a pan-religious, non-partisan, de-polarised, maybe even universal picture of humanity and the challenges we face . . .” John Anstie (My Poetry Library and 42)

BARDO NEWS: Poets Against War, Poets for Peace

file000513414694Please unite with us on Into the Bardo for Poets Against War, which is really saying Poets for Peace. 

We will start with something special tomorrow (it may or may not include a poem, Terri Stewart will surprise us) and then each of the next six days we’ll host poems from six different poets. Throughout the week, we’d like you to join us – not only as readers – but as writers by putting links to your own anti-war or pro-peace poems in the comment sections. We’ll gather the links together in one post and put them up as a single special page. Please don’t worry about questions like whether you’ve been published or whether you think the work is good. These questions are irrelevant. It’s your heart in the work that counts. That’s where the power is.   So please unite with us in this one thing. Let’s put that energy out into the world. If you are so inclined, please also reblog this post and help us get the word out about our week of Poets Against War. Thank you!

Photo courtesy of morgueFile.

A Heart Without Borders

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.

***

Nathalie Handal, Palestinian-American poet
Nathalie Handal, Palestinian-American poet and playwright

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

© 2013, essay, Imen Benyoub, All rights reserved

IMEN BENYOUB – As indicated by Namh Clune in the introductory statement, Imen is 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).