Posted in General Interest

The Poet as Witness: “War Surrounds Us,” an interview with Contributing Editor, Michael Dickel

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

Note: We did this interview some years ago. I’m posting it today so that readers who don’t know Michael may learn a bit about him. At some point tomorrow, we’ll hit the publish button for the April issue of The BeZine, dedicated to poetry.  Michael is the lead editor for this issue.  / J.D.

Jerusalem, Summer 2014: Michael Dickel and his family including Moshe (3 years when the interview was conducted, now 6) and Naomi (1 year at the time of the interview, now 4) 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

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MY INTERVIEW WITH MICHAEL DICKEL:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The summer before, on that same month-long getaway, I wrote a lot of flash fiction, which makes up most of my next book, which should come out by the end of the year (The Palm Reading after The Toad’s Garden came out December 2016, rather than 2015). I wrote during both summers when the kids were napping or after their bedtime, mostly. The place we stay in, a friend’s house (he travels every summer), has a lovely courtyard, and after the children went to bed, Aviva and I would sit out in it, usually with a glass of wine. She would read or work online and I would write on my laptop into the night. It was lovely and romantic.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For this year (2015), 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. (In the end, the collaborations did not work as planned in 2015, but there were three poetry events with some connection to 100TPC.)

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.

Poems from War Surrounds Us:
Again
Musical Meditations
The Roses

TLV1 Interview and Poetry Reading on YouTube

Be the peace.

© 2015, book review, Jamie Dedes (The Poet by Day), 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

Posted in poetry, Poets/Writers, Writing

FOR POETRY MONTH: Meaning and Pleasure … featuring Michael Dickel and Myra Schneider

It’s great to get a poem or story published. It’s about income and getting read and for some it’s validation as well. These are all important (even vital), but I was reminded recently that our poetry and other writing is about so much more.

In the introduction to the March issue of The BeZine, themed Science in Culture, Politics and ReligionContributing Editor Michael Dickel wrote:

American-Israeli Poet, Michael Dickel

“The title of David Cooper’s book on Kabbalah invites us to re-think the Creator as Creating: God is a Verb. While I don’t want to equate science to God in a religious sense, I want to borrow this re-conception. Science is creative, creating, if you will, knowledge of the world. Science is a verb.”

 

Jamie Dedes

A friend of mine came to visit and glowed when she told me she’d read Michael’s introduction. God is a Verb and Science is a verb popped out at her. Something she’d been struggling with suddenly fell into place. Other company arrived and I wasn’t able to get further explanation. I’m pleased but not surprise with her reaction to Michael’s piece. It demonstrates the power of words to bring joy, clarification and healing.

My own recent experience: a few people commenting or emailing me saying my post here – not with a bang but a whimper – helped release needed tears.

On another occasion in woman in Scotland wrote to say she’d read my poem – Wabi Sabi – to her wabi sabi group.  They found it inspiring. Wow! While I do need my payments, it’s this sort of thing – this human connection – that is satisfying right down to the marrow of my bones.

Poetry is also important as an entry point into sacred space for both artist and audience.  This is motivation for everyone to practice their art, whether professionally or as amateur, which is not a pejorative. I’m sure many of you – if not all of you – know what I mean.  There’s a shift that happens. Sometimes it feels more like channeling than writing. The experience is illuminating, healing and peaceful. An unexpected insight often arrives just when you need it.

Our job as poets and writers goes even further: we bear witness, we give voice to the voiceless, and we observe and commemorate.

English Poet Myra Schneider at her 80th Birthday celebration and the launch of her 12th collection

Myra Schneider said in an interview HERE, that “I believe the role of the poet is to reflect on human experience and the world we live in and to articulate it for oneself and others. Many people who suffer a loss or go through a trauma feel a need for poetry to give voice to their grief and to support them through a difficult time. When an atrocity is committed poems are a potent way of expressing shock and anger, also of bearing witness. I think that the poet can write forcefully, using a different approach from a journalist, about subjects such as climate change, violence, abuse and mental illness and that this is meaningful to others. I very much believe too that poetry is a way of celebrating life. I think it deserves a central place in our world.”

So, as we celebrate poetry this month, be sure to give yourself time to read and write … for the sake of your spirit and for the rest of us too.

Please join us at The BeZine on April 15th for our special interNational poetry issue. Michael Dickel is the lead editor.

© Each of the personal photographs belongs to the poet pictured, all rights reserved.

– Jamie Dedes (The Poet by Day)

Posted in General Interest

NEWS & KUDOS: Storyteller Naomi Baltuck & Poets Liliana Negoi and Reuben Woolley

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NORTHWEST FOLK FESTIVAL: Popular storyteller Naomi Baltuck (Writing Between the Lines) and her husband Thom Baltuck are performing this weekend (Memorial Day Weekend, May 27-30) at the Northwest Folk Festival in Seattle. The performance schedule is HERE.

NAOMI BALTUCK (Writing Between the Lines)~ is a Contributing Editor and Resident Storyteller at The BeZine. She is a world-traveler and an award-winning writer, photographer. Her works of fiction and nonfiction are available through Amazon HERE.

Naomi presents her wonderful photo-stories – always interesting and rich with meaning and humor – at Writing Between the Lines, Life from the Writer’s POV (her personal blog) as well as on The BeZine.

Naomi conducts workshops such as Peace Porridge (multicultural stories to promote cooperation, goodwill, and peaceful coexistence), Whispers in the Graveyard (a spellbinding array of haunting and mysterious stories), Tandem Tales, Traveling Light Around the World, and others. For more on her programs visit Naomi Baltuck.com.

Naomi says, “When not actually writing, I am researching the world with my long-suffering husband and our two kids, or outside editing my garden. My novel, The Keeper of the Crystal Spring (Viking Penguin), can be read in English, German, Spanish, and Italian. My storytelling anthology, Apples From Heaven, garnered four national awards, including the Anne Izard Storytellers’ Choice. I am currently working on a contemporary women’s novel.”

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erbacceprise 2016: Congratulations to Liliana Negoi and Reuben Woolley for making the long-list of 100 for this prize. They were chosen from among 8,000 entries world wide. According to erbacce press website the finalist are to be featured poets in their quarterly publication, erbacce journal. Read the long list of 100 HERE and watch for further announcements. (The site has great but loud music, so if you are at work when you read this, you’ll want to turn off the sound.)

Liliana Negoi has been on the core team of The BeZine since 2011 (back when it was a collaborative blog, not a zine) and is a contributing writer.

Ruben Woolley was featured for poetry month in the April edition of the zine, introduced to us by Contributing Editor, Michael Dickel. We are proud of both these poets and wish them luck in the next steps.

LILIANA NEGOI  (Endless Journey and in Romanian curcubee în alb şi negru)  is the author of three published volumes of poetry in English, which is not her mother tongue but one that she came to love especially because of writing: Sands and Shadows, Footsteps on the San – tanka collection and The Hidden Well.  The last one can also be heard in audio version, read by the Liliana herself on her SoundCloud site HERE.

Liliana is also the author of a novel, Solo-Chess, available for free reading HERE. Many of her creations, both poetry and prose, are published in various literary magazines.

HERE is an indepth interview with Liliana.

REUBEN WOOLLEY has been published in Tears in the Fence, The Lighthouse Literary Journal, The Interpreter’s House and Ink Sweat and Tears among others. A collection, the king is dead, 2014, Oneiros Books. A chapbook, dying notes, 2015, Erbacce Press. A poetry pamphlet on the refugee crisis, skins, 2016, Hesterglock Press. Runner-up: Overton Poetry Pamphlet competition and the Erbacce Prize, both in 2015. Editor of the online poetry magazines, I am not a silent poet and The Curly Mind. You can read more on Reuben’s  Blog.

photo credit (c) Jamie Dedes

Posted in 000 Poets, 100, Musicians

100TPC Event Today … Link in your poems, art, stories, film, music, videos for peace, sustainability and social justice with an emphasis on poverty and hunger

Hand of Fire, Hand of Creation<br/>Moshe Dekel (age 5)
Hand of Fire, Hand of Creation by Moshe Dekel (age 5)

Welcome to the 5th year of 100,000 Poets (Musicians, Artists, Mimes…) for Change, and the 2015 edition of The BeZine Online 100TPC Event! If you’ve done this before and you know the score, skip to the comments or Mister Linky at the bottom of the post and begin. If you are wondering, hey, what are you folks up to then check out some serious non-fiction here:

Our mission here today as poets, writers, artists, photographers, musicians and friends is a sort-of fission for change—a burning with and expression of the desire for peace, environmental and economic sustainability, social justice, inclusion, equity and opportunity for all. We seek through our art to do a bit of old-fashioned consciousness raising, to stimulate thought and action leading to the kind of change that is sustainable, compassionate and just, and to engage in the important theme of the issues facing humanity today—but all with a goal to alleviate suffering and foster peace. We don’t want to just “talk about it,” we want words, art and music that help us take action in some way for positive change wherever we are in our lives, in our world.

We see a complex inter-woven relationship between peace, sustainability, and social justice. We all recognize that when people are marginalized and disenfranchised, when they are effectively barred from opportunities for education and viable employment, when they can’t feed themselves or their families or are used as slave labor, there will inevitably be a backlash, and we’re seeing that now in violent conflicts, wars and dislocation. Climatologists have also linked climate change, with its severe weather changes and recent droughts, to the rise violence in the world, and even contributing to inequities in areas – like Syria – where a severe drought destabilized food production and the economy, contributing to the unrest that led to the civil war, according to one study.

Jerusalem in an unprecedented dust storm that engulged much of the Mideast, linked by one climate scientist to the Syrian civial war and ISIS conflict
Jerusalem in an unprecedented dust storm that engulfed much of the Mideast, linked by one climate scientist to the Syrian civil war and ISIS conflict

There are too many people living on the streets and in refugee camps, too many whose lives are at subsistence level, too many children who die before the age of five (as many as four a minute dying from hunger, according to one reliable study—more info), too many youth walking through life with no education, no jobs and no hope. It can’t end well…

Syrian refugee camp, photo: The Telegraph
Syrian refugee camp
photo: The Telegraph

More than anything, our mission is a call to action, a call to work in your own communities where ever you are in the world, and to focus on the pressing local issues that contribute to conflict, injustice, and unsustainable economic and environmental practices. The kind of change we need may well have to be from the ground up, all of us working together to create peaceful, sustainable and just cultures that nurture the best in all the peoples of this world.

Poverty and homelessness are evergreen issues historically, but issues also embedded in social and political complexity. They benefit the rich, whose economic system keeps most of the rest of us as, at best, “wage slaves,” and all too many of us in poverty, without enough to provide for basic needs or housing (including the “working poor,” who hold low-paying jobs while CEOs are paid record-breaking salaries and bonuses in the global capitalist system). We are united in our cries against the structures of injustice, where the rich act as demigods and demagogues. We have to ask of what use will all their riches be in the face of this inconceivable suffering and the inevitable backlash from the marginalized and disenfranchised. We need fairness, not greed.

So, with this mission in mind, and with the complexity of the interrelationships of social justice, sustainability and peace as a framework, we focus on hunger and poverty, two basic issues and major threads in the system of inequality and injustice that need addressing throughout the world.

We look forward to what you have to share, whether the form is poetry, essay, fiction, art, photography, documentary, music, or hybrids of any of these—and we want to engage in an ongoing conversation through your comments on all of the above as you not only share your own work here today but visit and enjoy the work of others, supporting one another with your “likes” and comments, starting or entering into dialogues with writers, artists and musicians throughout the world and online viewers, readers, listeners.

Think globally, act locally, form community.

—Michael Dickel, Jerusalem (with G. Jamie Dedes, California, USA)

DIRECTIONS FOR PARTICIPATION

Share links to your relevant work or that of others in a comment or by using Mister Linky below. To use Mr. Linky, just click on the graphic. (Note: If you are sharing someone else’s work, please use your name in Mister Linky, so we can credit you as the contributor—we will give the author / artist name in the comments, from the link when we post the link in a comment.)

You may leave your links or works in the comment section below this post. If you are sharing the work of another poet or artist, however, please only use a link and not the work itself.

In addition to sharing, we encourage you to visit others and make connections and conversation. To visit the links, click on Mr. Linky (the Mister Linky graphic above) and then on the links you see there. (Some Mr. Linky-links can be viewed in the comments section after we re-post them.)

Thank you! 

All links will be collected into a dedicated Page here at The BeZine and also archived at 100TPC.

Thank you for your participation. Let the conversation begin …

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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When:  26 September, 4 p.m.

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

Please share this call for action.

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you! Please feel free to reblog this post. 

Jamie Dedes

Posted in 100,000 Poets, Musicians, Artists and Activists for Change, General Interest, justice, Michael Dickel, Peace & Justice, Poems/Poetry, Poets/Writers, Sustainability, The BeZine, Writing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted in General Interest, John Anstie, Mortality, Music, Poems/Poetry, Poets/Writers, Story Telling, Photo Story, theatre/spoken word, Video

Are There Any Other Civilisations … Out There?

 

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

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

… anyway, back to the theme of this post.

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

Sums it up very neatly for me.

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

 © 2014 John Anstie

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

*****

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

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

Posted in Bardo News, General Interest

BARDO NEWS: Terri Stewart breaking-down barriers to youth opportunity; Liliana Negoi’s birthday and book; a forward look at Spring and Poetry Month

terriIn what is probably our most exciting news this month: TERRI STEWART (http://beguineagain.com)TESTIFIED BEFORE THE WASHINGTON STATE CONGRESS in February for HB 1651 – the YOUTH OPPORTUNITIES ACT. This act would make non-violent youth records confidential. It is very important for our youth to have as much opportunity as possible and with 1 in 3 African-American young and 1 in 4 Euro-American young men affected by incarceration, we are crippling our young men before they even get a chance in life, saddling them with records that deny them housing, education, and jobs. A resounding success: HB 1651 has passed the house unanimously (on Valentine’s Day!) and is traveling through the senate. For more of Terri’s work with incarcerated youth, see the Youth Chaplaincy Coalition http://youthchaplaincycoalition.wordpress.com/.

Additionally, send all your positive karma, prayers, and energy to Terri from February 27 – March 1 as she travels – once again – with the Board of Ordained Ministry as they continue to get to know her and her work. Let them see the gifts she brings!

AND LATE BREAKING NEWS: Tomorrow Terri is speaking before the Washington State Senate Subcommittee on Human Resources and Corrections.

product_thumbnail-5.phpOn February 10 LILIANA NEGOI (http://summaryofmysoul.wordpress.com/ and http://curcubeeinalbsinegru.wordpress.com/) DECIDED TO CELEBRATE HER BIRTHDAY IN A MORE PARTICULAR MANNER, by releasing for free reading a novel that she finished writing last year. Solo Chess is the story of an online affair between Karina and Asheq, weaved from love and passion and obsessions, proving eventually that there can be a reality beyond reality and that our lives can always be the image of a Matryoshka doll. Solo Chess can be read HERE,  or you can read and download it from Scribd   HERE, and just in case anyone would like it in printed version, there is always the option of getting it from Lulu HERE, but there one has to pay for the printing and binding services provided by the publisher. These being said, Liliana would be glad to hear your opinions about the book. 🙂

Warmest wishes to Lily on her birthday and best wishes for literary success with her newest effort. Here is “Happy Birthday” in the various styles of Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Chopin, Liszt, Dvorak, and Stravinsky offered in celebration.

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Guest writer T.J. Therein (http://tjtherien.wordpress.com/) has also published his book, Liars, Hypocrites & the Development of Human Emotion, which is available through Smashwords https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/397819.

430564_3240554249063_1337353112_n-1DR. NIAMH CLUNE (Plum Tree Books) SPEAKS FOR BABCOCK INTERNATIONAL TO SURREY SCHOOL TEACHERS ON SCIENCE THROUGH LITERACY.

These days, the aim of education is to speak across curricula, and this is something that fills me with passion. We all learn differently. And although I am not a scientist ~ rather an educational psychotherapist specialising in learning through the imagination, my knowing is science-filled, as in any serious research, Epistemology and Methodology (two glorious words) share the love.” MORE

Dr. Clune is CEO of Plum Tree Books, a partner of The Bardo Group.

800px-Container_garden_on_front_porchLOOKING TOWARD SPRING ~ OUR MOST QUOTABLE QUOTE ACKNOWLEDGEMENT goes to contributing writer and artist, Paula Kutenbrouwer (Mindful Drawing):

I see it like this: If you want to change the world, start with yourself and gradually this change enters the world, becomes more manifest, and spreads. It is the same thing with gardening. If you care about your environment, pesticide-free food or biodiversity, start gardening and create, small as it is, a new world for you, your birds, butterflies and bugs. Every act of kindness helps; every square meter of extra green helps.” Paula Kutenbrouwer

Visit Paula’s post on starting a small City Pot Garden (container garden) and view her lovely drawings and photographs link http://mindfuldrawing.com/2014/02/12/starting-small-city-pot-gardening/.

In line with Paula’s KIND IDEALS, we introduce a new blogger and a young friend of The Bardo Group, Jamaican (now living in Taiwan), Owen Alanzo Hogarth II (The Land of the Blubeegan http://blubeegan.com/). Owen posts essays and videos about living simply, crafting practical products in an EARTH GENTLE WAY and on kindly vegan-style consumption http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Veganism. He also advocates for raw foods and eats a vegan diet that is 50% raw. In this way food quality is not compromised, allergens are bypassed, less particulate matter is spewed into the air, fewer fuels are used … and NO ANIMALS ARE HARMED. His ideals are real. His footprint is modest.

We also invite you to visit our Canadian friend ChrisBkm (Dancing on Bever Ponds http://chrisbim.wordpress.com/). Chris shares EXQUISITE NATURE PHOTOGRAPHY, ART AND POETRY on his blog. He says, “I believe we are shaped by our environments, that life is fascinating and that spending time here is quite a gift.”

NPM_Poster2014_SmallPageViewCOME SPRING AND APRIL WE LOOK FORWARD TO POETRY MONTH, a national event in the U.S. and one that The Bardo Group will celebrate as an international event in line with its focus and philosophy.

This annual celebration of poetry was introduced in 1996 by the Academy of American Poets as a way to increase awareness and appreciation of poetry in the United States. In 1999 Canada joined in the celebration. U.S. President Bill Clinton called it, ” “a welcome opportunity to celebrate not only the unsurpassed body of literature produced by our poets in the past, but also the vitality and diversity of voices reflected in the works of today’s American poets. . . . Their creativity and wealth of language enrich our culture and inspire a new generation of Americans to learn the power of reading and writing at its best.”

Poets.org (the website of the American Academy of Poets) has its button up for you to share on your blogs should you care to do so. They quote this year from Walt Whitman’s Song of Myself.

“Missing me one place search another
I stop somewhere waiting for you.”

You can request a free copy of the 2014 poster for your home or office HERE.

Victoria C. Slotto (Fiction, Poetry and Writing Prompts) hosts WRITER’S FOURTH WEDNESDAY this Wednesday at 7 p.m. Mister Linky will be open for you to link in your poetry, fiction or non-fiction related to the prompt. It will stay open for thirty-seven hours. Victoria will visit you and comment.

Join us on at our Facebook page, THE BARDO GROUP.

Our apologies that not all the links in this report are embedded. WordPress seems to have a hitch in its get-along this evening and there were problems with embedding. One way or another though, the proper links are here for your convenience.

– The Bardo Group

photo credit ~ container garden via Wikipedia by Shakespeare under CC-BY-SA-3.0

Posted in Bardo News, Uncategorized

BARDO NEWS: reader and writer achievements, Victoria’s books, the growth of Niamh Clune’s independent press, Second Light Network calls for submissions

800px-Rafael_-_El_Parnaso_(Estancia_del_Sello,_Roma,_1511)WE CLOSE THE YEAR WITH KUDOS ALL AROUND for prodigious bloggers of every ilk with their plans for 2014 and their successes in 2013. So many of our readers and writers rose to the WordPress challenge of a post a day. Others took on special challenges related to seasonal changes or holiday events or their own personal sense of adventure. To name just a few:

  • From November 28 on, Terri Stewart (Slow Down, Begin Again: Spiritual Practices in Context) incorporated the work of many bloggers into a creative and joy-filled Advent Light event.
  • Instead of counting down on an Advent calendar, Priscilla Galasso (scillagrace) has been counting the free gifts we all get every day in a series of Advent essays that are beautifully written and both thoughtful and though provoking.
  • John Nooney (Johnbalaya), a faithful reader here, successfully incorporated his prodigious works from several blogs into one compact blog where he shares his many talents and interests including essays, poems, short stories, photography, and a love of music.
  • Beatrice Garrard (Adventures in Hats) started her first blog and will be joining us in 2014 as our college reporter with a monthly news post covering the arts and other topics of interest to us.
  • Liz  Rice-Sosne a.k.a. Raven Spirit (Noh Where) a devoted friend to Bardo has joined us as a core team member and will take an active leadership role in our collective Voices for Peace project. This is no small gift to us since she is also now a volunteer teacher of English-as-a-Second language. We hope she’ll share her thoughts and experiences on that effort as well. We have officially partnered our Voices for Peace project with 100,000 Poets, Musicians and Artists for Change.

There are many among us who don’t aspire to publication, but many do and they have successfully sold work to magazines and anthologies, won contests, and/or attracted publishers or chose to self-publish.

Victoria Slotto's Mom
Victoria Slotto’s Mom

Not the least is Victoria C. Slotto whose first novel was published in 2012 by Lucky Bat Press. From that experience she moved on to publish Jacaranda Rain: Collected Poems, 2012, now in a newly-minted paperback edition, and  Beating the Odds: Support for Persons with Early Stage DementiaWe took the time to read the latter this month and found it to be chockfull of commonsense suggestions that are easily incorporated into daily activities with which you can encourage your loved one. This work was inspired by Victoria’s care of her elderly mother and her experiences as a nurse.

The first section, Shoring Up Memory!, is alone worth the price of admission. She advises phone logs, maintaining a memory board and lists, and a commitment to maintaining a Day Timer and a journal. Other advice includes simplifying life: no over-booking, doing what can be done to minimize stress, and reworking the home so that it is as danger-free as possible. She provides information on getting legal advice, creating a team of helpers (our term, not hers), finding doctors and other health care providers. Victoria emphasizes the importance of physical and mental exercises, faith and prayer, and family support. Well done, Victoria. (Photo copyright, Victoria Slotto, All rights reserved.)

PLUM TREE BOOKS and THE BARDO GROUP have tied the knot and are collaborating to evolve our collective of artists and musicians, poets and writers, encouraging fellowship and appreciation.  Plum Tree Books (PTB) CEO, Niamh Clune, writes about PTB’s latest effort: “This is the bones of the news…  I have created, Plum Tree Books ~ INSIGHTS ~ A magazine about publishing, writing, children’s books, illustrating and poetry. I am receiving so many of your wonderful poems, and requests from people who would like to write for Plum Tree Books, that I thought this would be a great chance to expand our horizons and include more of your work as well as sharing insights into how we are growing, creating, and collaborating. This is all part of building the Plum Tree Books’ platform to give some of the wonderful talent expressed through FaceBook, blogs and The Bardo Group a broader exposure. Coming in January!”

A FINAL REMINDER ABOUT THE SECOND LIGHT NETWORK’S CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS FOR THEIR 2014 ANTHOLOGY. The deadline is 15 January 2014.

51rk8frRwfL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Her Wings of Glass (the title a quotation from Sylvia Plath) is to be a 200 page anthology that will complement but not repeat Second Light’s previous anthology (with Arrowhead Books), Images of Women. The focus of this anthology is ‘big issues’, for example the future of the planet, good and evil aspects of our relationship with the natural world and with each other, different aspects of our imaginative understanding of ‘who we are’.

The invitation is for up to six poems per submission, not more than 200 lines in total, with three copies of each poem to Dilys Wood at 3, Springfield Close, East Preston, West Sussex, BN16 2SZ, by January 15th 2014 together with the administrative fee of £5 (Second Light members) or £8 (non-members). Cheques payable to ‘Second Light’ or pay online at the poetry p f (online shop (filter to ‘Wings’). Non-UK submissions may be sent by e-mail as .doc or .pdf attachments, only to Second Light Administrator (poet Anne Stewart. ) Anne Stewart is a fabulous help with your technical questions. [Check out Anne’s poems HERE.]

Issue 11, November 2013 of ARTEMISpoetry is available now through Second Light Network and submissions are currently being accepted for the next issue. Details HERE.

BLOGGERS IN PLANET LOVE: This is a heads-up on our event in the planning for Valentine’s Day 2014. Details to be determined and announced. Look for more news about this collaborative effort addressing climate and environmental concerns and the meaning of nature in our lives.

WRITERS’ FOURTH WEDNESDAY with Victoria C. Slotto will resume on 22 January 2014, running every month up-to-and-including 22 October 2014.

… and, as the saying goes “last but not least” … a WW I memorial project of John Anstie’s (My Poetry Library and 42church group from Christ Church Stocksbridge featuring poet Ian McMillan …

Best wishes for the New Year from all of us to all of you. If you missed the deadline for this post, feel free to leave your announcement in the comments section. If you have something you’d like us to include in the next news post, leave a note here in the comment section as well or under any upcoming post and someone will get back to you. The next news post will go up on January 26, Sunday at 7 p.m. PST. The deadline for news submissions is Friday, January 24.

– The Bardo Group

Posted in Uncategorized

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.

Posted in Bardo News, John Anstie, Victoria C. Slotto

Welcome John Anstie and Victoria C. Slotto to Bardo’s Core Team

John_in_Pose_Half_Face3JOHN ANSTIE  (My Poetry Library and Forty Two) ~ As near as we can determine, John’s been blogging since early 2011.

For twenty years, he was a Rugby Union player with an ‘eight-pack’, which was helped in the early days by a school run on the same lines as Gordonstoun as well as by farming and working as a leather factory packer and security guard. The ‘eight pack’ was not helped, John admits, by becoming an ice cream seller. He’s also earned his keep as metallurgical engineer, marketing manager, export sales manager, and managing director of his own company. He’s a poet and blogger, a would-be musician with a piano and a forty-year-old Yamaha FG140 acoustic guitar. He is a singer in and chairman of a local amateur choir. He is also a would-be photographer with drawers full of his own history. John’s an occasional but lapsed ‘film’ maker. In his other life, he doubles as a husband, father, grandfather, uncle, cousin, friend and family man. In sort, it would seem John leads a well-rounded life and a rich one in terms of both arts and family. We’re wanting to call him a renaissance man, of which we have several in residence here along with a fine group of renaissance women.

John’s prose and poetry tells us everything else we need to know about him … or at least all that he’s currently prepared to tell us. He has just completed an anthology of the poetry of nine poets who met two years ago on Twitter. He produced and steered the book entitled  “Petrichor Rising.”  It’s publication will be announced shortly by Aquillrelle. The story of this project’s evolution and naming is interesting and enlightening. You can read it HERE. Among other things, it’s another thumbs-up for connecting to like-minded folks through social media.

Victoria and Dave Slotto
Victoria and Dave Slotto

VICTORIA SLOTTO (Victoria C. Slotto, Author)had her first novel – 2940013445222_p0_v1_s260x420Winter is Past – published last year. Her second novel is in progress as is a poetry chapbook. Victoria is a gifted writer and poet, and we are proud and delighted to feature her here. It is gratifying to see how well Victoria incorporates important insights and ideals into the narrative flow of her novel, her flash fiction, and her poetry. If you have occasion to read her novel, you will not soon forget the spirit of her major protagonist, Claire.

Victoria attributes her writing influences to her spirituality, her dealings with grief and loss, and nature. Victoria spent twenty-eight years as a nun. When she left the convent, she continued to work as a nurse in the fields of death and dying and she has seen and experienced much. Because of her experience, Victoria is able to connect with her readers on an intimate level.

Victoria resides in Reno, Nevada, with her husband and two dogs and spends several months of the year in Palm Desert, California. Winter is Past, her first novel, was published by Lucky Bat Books. Victoria is also an accomplished blogger, sharing her fine poetry with us HERE and participating in a leadership role on d’Verse Poets Pub.

SOMETHING NEW AT INTO THE BARDO:  As part of her participation here, Victoria will be bring something quite new to Bardo, a reader-participation post once a month. The ETA to be announced. This participation will be in the form of a writing challenge. We’re doing this in acknowledgement of the many, many talented writers who are so kind and supportive, reading here, “liking,” and often commenting. Readers will be able to participate by entering their post link through MisterLinky, which most of you have used but further explanation will be forthcoming for newbies. Victoria and Jamie look forward to reading your entries and hope that you will also read one another’s work.

Posted in Jamie Dedes, Poems/Poetry

Some Thoughts Along the Beach

Cliff House from Ocean Beach
Cliff House from Ocean Beach

1.

it must be painful for them to write, those poets in tough-times and hard places

where blood and tears and poverty contaminate the air, stain the sidewalks, and consume the people

the blood must be soul-sick and rusted and tasting of acid, not salt, and the poems meant to heal the writer and stroke the cheeks of the wounded, to dry their eyes and gently kiss their gray heads

to poem under such conditions must be like walking shoeless on glass shards

perhaps the most sacred thing in the dream-time meadow of poets’ desire is light
can you awaken to meet the Divine on the battlefield, in the camps, in government housing or in the ghettos?

if so, you are a saint, not simply a lyrist

2.

in my small world, my civilized world, people fall asleep reading or after making love or playing in the yard with their children
if they wander it is through books and planned travel
there are luxuries
there is food
there is cleanliness and paper on which to write
no bombs are dropping
there is almost certain dignity

3.

in San Francisco we walk along the beach at night, near the Cliff House
we walk to the sound of the waves, the sound of the Universe chanting its praise
our feet are bare and relish the comfort of cool sand

the air is clear and cold and easy to breathe, tasting of salt and smelling of sea life
here is a pristine moment of peace

i want to bequeath this peace to you, to everyone, as though it were a cherished heirloom
it is really a birthright

i want to plunge into the waters and gather the oceans to offer as sacramental wine in my cupped hands

i want to braid the seaweed into garlands for everyone to wear, hanging over their hearts, a symbol of affection

i want to collect pine cones from the trees that congregate along the coast and feed them to the children to remind them to love the earth and all its creatures, themselves included, and to say …

do not make war in your heart or upon your mother’s body

– Jamie Dedes

© 2013, poem, Jamie Dedes, All rights reserved
Photo credit ~ BrokenInaglory via Wikipedia under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported

Photo on 2012-09-19 at 20.00JAMIE DEDES ~ My worldly tags are poet and writer. For the past five years I’ve blogged at The Poet by Day,the journey in poem, formerly titled Musing by Moonlight.  Through the gift of poetry (mine and that of others), I enter sacred space.