Posted in Bardo News, General Interest

BARDO NEWS: Enitharmon Press Launches 3 Poetry Collections; Connotation Press Call for Submissions; Plum Tree Books’ Children’s Imprint; interNational Poetry Month celebrations… and more…read on…

KUDOS FIRST Terri Stewart has been selected to present a first person monologue at the Network of Biblical Storytellers Conference in Los Angeles in August. She was also selected to teach a workshop titled “Developing First Person Monologues with Integrity.” She will be the keynote speaker at the United Methodist Women’s (Pacific Northwest) conference in October. She is speaking there on Creating Safe Space.

interNATIONAL POETRY MONTH is coming to an end. We recreated this annual April event, which is national in Canada and the United States, into an international celebration inclusive of everyone in our collective and consistent with our philosophy. Poetry – as all art – knows no borders.

What a good time we shared with readers and writers as we enriched one another’s lives. We published ten poems on the blog, were introduced to the lives and work of two poets, the Bulgarian Blaga Dimitrova (courtesy of Blaga Todorova) and the American Chirlane McCray (courtesy of Jamie Dedes), and sponsored two reader-participation events: Writers’ Fourth Wednesday hosted by Victoria C. Slotto and A Poem in Your Pocket hosted by Corina Ravenscraft.

We are pleased to share the news that Elegy to Damascus from the exquisite pen of Algerian Imen Benyoub garnered much attention, including two re-blogs and nearly fifty Facebook “Likes.” The poem is very much in the spirit of Bardo.

WHO IS POETRY FOR? This coming Wednesday as we put closure on poetry month – but not poetry – we share an essay from Bardo friend, Myra Schneider, who is much appreciated for her work as a poet and teacher, a consultant to Second Light Network and for her encouragement of others to read and write poetry for well-being. Myra asks, “Who is Poetry For?” and invites suggestions on how we might widen the audience for poetry. Feel free to offer suggestions in the comments section whether you are invested in this art as vocation or avocation or as an enthusiastic reader.

SECOND LIGHT NETWORK‘s next issue of ARTEMISpoetry is due out in May. The network’s anthology Her Wings of Glass is forthcoming this October. On Wednesday a review of the November issue by Jamie Dedes will post on The Poet by Day. Note: Second Light Network was founded and is based in England but its membership is open to women world-wide. See the site for more info on membership qualifications, membership costs and benefits.

PLUM TREE BOOKS (PTB) Niamh Clune announced this week that PTB had a face-lift. “We are focussing on DR. NANA PLUM’S AMAZING BOOKS FOR CHILDREN and have updated our web-site accordingly.”

The launch of the new web-site is on Saturday 3rd of May. “We hope you will join us then for story-telling and more.” Niamh has invited us to visit, so do save the date and lend your support. For a taste of what’s to come, visit Dr. Nana Plum’s Story Corner.

PTB Anthology in the works: Niamh reports thatwe have received some wonderful poetry submissions and art for our Mother anthology. There is still time to send in yours.”

BRAVO! A pat on the metaphorical back of Jamaica, which just this month named its first National Poet Laureate in fifty years. Read all about it HERE.

YOUTH POET LAUREATES: Los Angeles County Youth have until May 19th to submit work to Urban Word, which will name one talented person (aged 14-19)LA Youth Poet Laureate. Details HERE.

In January at Mayor Bill de Blasio’s inauguration, New York’s Youth Poet Laureate, Ramya Ramana, read her poem entitled New York City, a poem dedicated to Mr. de Blasio.

YOUTH CORNER: The Bardo Group is still looking for a youth – aged 19-24- to run a Youth Poetry Corner. Email us at bardogroup@gmail.com if you are interested.

ENITHARMON PRESS: The media team at Enitharmon Press alerts us to the publication of three new books of poetry in May with announcements of book launches in London for those in our collective who live or are visiting the area.

BOOK LAUNCH INVITES, 1, 13, 22 May 2014

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SOME LETTERS NEVER SENT by Neil Curry ~ “Deceptively relaxed in tone, these verse letters – sometimes serious, sometimes whimsical – are addressed to such figures as Angelea Carter, the Venerable Bede and from Odysseus to Gilbert White’s tortoise, on topics as diverse as smallpox and the paintings of Vermeer, landscape-gardening, the King James Bible and Eddie Eddi Stobart’s lorries on the M6. There has not been a collection of verse letters of this nature since the Epistles of the Roman poet Horace and, fittingly, it is to Horace that the final letter is addressed, partly by way of apology.”

SOONER OR LATER FRANK by Jeremy Reed “Sooner or Later Frank finds Jeremy Reed optimising his London quarter of Soho and the West End, its outlaws, opportune strangers and rogue mavericks condensed into poems coloured by an imagery that pushes pioneering edges towards final frontiers. Right on the big city moment, and with an eye for arresting acute visual detail, Reed makes the capital into personal affairs. His characteristic love of glamour, rock music, seasonal step-changes, and a Ballardian preoccupation with the visionary render this new PBS Recommendation, in John Ashbery’s words on Reed’s recent work, ‘a dazzling tour de force.'” You’ll find the poem that lends its name to the book HERE.

THE ORCHID BOAT by Lee Harwood ~ “A weave of stories: some personal, some historical, some real, some imaginary. Often these stories may co-exist in a poem just as they do in one’s everyday mind, as a collage mirroring our own perception of the world. It is a mix that can include Alexandria or China or Brighton or North Wales. These interwoven stories insist on the acceptance of contradictions and complexity in people and in life; a recognition characteristic of Harwood’s poetry and shaped by his acknowledged influences: Gide, de Montherlant and Cavafy, John Ashbery and Frank O’Hara. In Harwood’s poems the richest material and tone is found in ‘the ordinary’, and in The Orchid Boat this focus is thrown into even greater relief as he explores the power and weight of memories.”

CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS: Robert (Bob) Clark Young tells us that, “As the creative nonfiction editor for Connotation Press, I’m always looking for new essays. I invite you to submit nonfiction on a topic of your choice. I’m looking for creative nonfiction, narrative nonfiction, memoirs, and personal essays–with the understanding that these categories often overlap. Up to 10,000 words. Please submit work directly to me at robertclarkyoung@connotationpress.com. I look forward to reading your work.”

Bob was a guest writer on Bardo. In his piece, Escape from the Nursing Home, he shared his story – and the rewards – of caring for elderly and infirm parents.

SAVE THE DATES

From Oxford Brookes Poetry Centre and the Arts Council of England

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From The Bardo Group: While we don’t have a striking poster such as the one above, we do have some fun and interesting virtual events coming up:

  • WRITER’S FOURTH WEDNESDAY prompt hosted by Victoria C. Slotto is scheduled next for May 28th.

  • VOICES FOR PEACE PROJECT in concert with 100,000 Poets for Change (Michael Rothbenberg and Terri Carrion organizers) is hosted by Liz Rice-Sosne and scheduled for September 27, 2014. We are officially partnered with 100,000 Poets of Change as of April 10, 2014.

Join us on our Facebook Page

BARDO NEWS: Thanks to everyone who contributed today’s news. The next news day is May 25, 2014 and the deadline to get your news into the next post is Friday, May 23, 2014.

Email: bardogroup@wordpress.com.

If you missed the deadline for this post, please feel free to share your news in the comments section.

– The Bardo Group

Posted in Creative Nonfiction, Disability, Guest Writer, Robert Clark Young

Escape from the Nursing Home

“Your mother has escaped from the facility,” said the nurse on the phone.

file9591250747852I was still in Sacramento. I had just thrown my suitcase into the trunk of my car, and I had wanted to call the nursing home to check on my mom and her progress in physical therapy, one last time before I left for San Diego.

“Escaped? What do you mean, escaped?”

“Nobody knows where she is, sir.”

“How is that possible?”

“It looks like she just got out of her wheelchair and walked straight out the front door, past the front desk, when the receptionist was away. We’ve called the police,” the nurse assured me.

“What did you tell them? To look for an eighty-year-old woman in a hospital gown, pushing an I.V. pole?”

“They’ll find her, Mr. Young.”

“She was supposed to go home tomorrow.”

“I guess she couldn’t wait that long.” The nurse laughed. When my silence conveyed that this wasn’t funny, she said, “Don’t worry, sir. Residents escape from here all the time. We almost always get them back.”

“She has aphasia. Do you know what that is? She can’t speak clearly, because of her stroke. She can’t tell anybody who she is or where she lives. What if she gets hit by a car?”

“We’re not liable, Mr. Young.”

“What?”

“Your father signed our waiver form, which releases us from liability for bed sores, falls, and unauthorized self-release from our facility. It’s a condition of admittance.”

“This is unbelievable. I was just about to drive down to San Diego to help my dad bring her home and start caring for her.”

“You’re aware that she’s going to need twenty-four-hour supervision in your home, aren’t you? Otherwise she might start walking around, fall down, or even try to escape from your house in the middle of the night.”

“If your entire nursing staff can’t supervise her, how in the world are my father and me supposed to do it?”

She lowered her voice. “I took care of my own mother at home for ten years, sir. I thought I was going to go completely out of my mind.”

I drove toward San Diego with my heart dropping through my chest and stomach. I had never known this much stress in all my life, not knowing where my mother was or what was happening to her. Or what would happen once we found her and brought her home. A perpetual state of emergency was becoming the most powerful reality of my life. I didn’t yet understand that accepting a continuing sense of uncertainty would become my greatest source of strength.

When I called the nursing home from two hundred miles down the road, they had found my mom. She had never made it out of the parking lot. She was walking between the cars and the SUVs, too short to be seen, until a driver just avoided striking her.

When I reached San Diego it was dark, but I went directly to the nursing home. As I hurried into my mother’s room, she glanced up at me from bed and, with the lucidity that aphasiacs exhibit when they’re surprised, she said, “Oh, it’s my son. Let’s go home now.”

I bent over to kiss her on the temple. “Mom, how are you feeling?”
“Window face,” she said, “hotel hotel hotel—and oil.” For the rest of the visit, as I tried talking to her, she replied with her enthusiastic, broken aphasia.

Sharing the room was an elderly man with a group of Mexican women sitting around his bed. My mother is Mexican, but I don’t look Mexican, so they felt free to talk about my mom in Spanish:

“That poor old woman is crazy.”

“She said she has a boat waiting for her outside. She has Alzheimer’s.”

“She ran away today. They ought to lock her up in a closet. She’ll try to walk across the freeway.”

“It’s a shame. I’m glad we don’t have that in our family.”

“It’s hereditary. Her whole family will turn out that way someday, including all of her children and grandchildren.”

Rage blackened my mind so quickly that, for a moment, I was dizzy. Although I’d never heard the word aphasia before my mom’s stroke, I was now outraged for the rights of all the aphasic people of the world, for their right to express their needs, for their right to be understood, for their right not to be falsely labeled.

Yes, my mother’s ability to process and produce language had been compromised, but she knew exactly what she was trying to say, and she could understand most of what other people were saying. She was not a crazy person, nor did she have Alzheimer’s, nor was she “demented.”

I waited until the women had left and then I kissed my mother again and told her not to worry about anything people said. She nodded with relief. “In oil, in oil. It is their face, it is their windows.”

Her spirit—the same spirit that had led her to escape from a nursing home that she did not like—was intact.
The next morning, my father and I came to take her home. Together, we cared for her for four months, until my dad had a stroke and was paralyzed on the right side. Now I had two infirm seniors on my hands.

I cared for my mom for 45 months, until she passed away in May, 2012. I continue to care for my dad every day. I’ve been a caregiver in my parents’ home for 61 months now. I’m proud that my parents have been able to live in dignity and freedom in their own home, without being institutionalized. This is the most important, rewarding, and illuminating work that I have ever done.

Any person with a compassionate heart can learn to be a caregiver. This means that you can do it too.

– Robert Clark Young

© 2013, article and portrait (below), Robert Clark Young, All rights reserved
Photo credit ~ courtesy of morgueFile

RCYoungROBERT CLARK YOUNG ~ is a guest writer on Into the Bardo. He has worked as a caregiver in his parents’ home since 2008. “Escape from the Nursing Home” is excerpted from his book, THE SURVIVOR: How to Deal With Your Aging Parents, While Enriching Your Own Life. The book seeks a publisher.  Robert’s other books are One of the Guys and Thank You for Keeping Me Sober. Visit his eldercare website  HERE. His Amazon page is HERE.

Editorial Note (Jamie Dedes): In addition to being a caretaker, Robert is an accomplished novelist, writer, and editor. I first “met” Robert several years ago when he was the creative nonfiction editor for an online literary magazine. In submitting his bio to us, he was understated about his mission, which is an important one.  He notes on Amazon:

“According to AARP, 61% of family care providers are women, with the typical caregiver being a 46-year-old female who is caring for one or both parents. Of the 39% of caregivers who are men, a majority are husbands of senior women, rather than sons. This gender imbalance in eldercare is one of the things we need to work to change.

“I’m unusual in being a male caregiver. One of the goals of this book is to help people understand that men can–and should–become nurturers.

“But my greatest wish is that this book will become a vital lifeline to everyone who, overnight, must face what first appears to be the devastating challenge of eldercare–a challenge that opens the way to unexpected growth and fulfillment for the caregiver. There is nothing to fear in eldercare. There is only joy, growth, and love.”