Poems from NaPo 2015 – Second Week, and …


April 8 2015: Bloodlist

April murder count: 40
———-and counting.
Most at risk from homicide: young men.
———-86% of homicides globally.
—————I want to disbelieve.
—————I can’t.
Per capita homicide rate: 3rd in the Caribbean.
———-I don’t ask who’s first and second.
Trees left standing: down by four today.
—————The chainsaws are at it again.

 

April 9 2015: Private islands

if you call them that you
think that they were empty
when you bought them and
you think that you are some
kind of lord or khan or potentate
or maybe you really are and
you are master of all you
survey and the little bits you don’t and
you shape the land to fit your
loves or lust or fantasy but
you really aren’t you really
aren’t the islands were there
before you they were used by
people before you the people
who knew them knew them
and money does not buy them
it only makes them orphans

 

April 12 2015: Double-Digit Dolour

just when april gets feisty, grows muscle, adds digits, turns ten
my muse grows silent. nothing comes from screen, page, or pen.

 

April 13 2015: Exercises (5 out of 6)

1.
Pigs’ feet boil down to fat and bones.
The priest speaks low in monotones.

2.
The ephemeral city builds along a beach.

3.
They tell me that blank pink facade
is a new resort.

Its flat windows unblink
from sugarpink walls

4.
and stare on neon vests, hard hats;

5.
beyond the perimeter, an apocalyptic hotel squats.

 

April 23 2015: My definition of a line

A line is a feeling, a movement, a thought. Even if it’s part of a thought, ending a line at a particular place makes that part of the thought another thought. Turning the thought at the end of a line adds a new layer of meaning.

Poems from NaPo 2015 – First Week


April 1 2015: Words on Wood

you’ll paint the words on wood
you tell me ——— without doubt it will be done

 

we propose to collaborate
—-a bulldozer sat on lily’s house

———-“the wrong house”
———-“the agent ordered”

weave words
—–images
———-poems—————plans————— models
———-“I told him to wait”
———-The agent would not give a name
reincarnate————————–what was destroyed.
I doubt
—–pick up a brush anyway
———-and under the mango tree
—————————————-I write

what do lily fear
—–cold of grave
———-lily question, question, question

 

April 2 2015: Pictures at the exhibition

you set up the walls:
milled clapboard slipped together
with hammer and nails
not pegged shipwise
fitted together to strengthen in weather
but hammered

I paint them
paint no longer frightens me

you set up windows:
silkscreen frames
salvaged hinges
a shutter turned to mulch

I stack and order books
you lay straw matting

we fight
make up

arrange the pictures of the dead

April 3 2015: Caribbean Memory Project

Caribbean memory is held in heads
in hands
in bellies in hearts in feet
we have nothing to burn
but houses set on stones
cut by ancestors whose names
we cannot know
they burned initials
in the angles of houseframes
a private code
deciphered by demolition

*

we have nothing to burn
nothing to look at

nothing to see

our cultures fall
invisibly

 

April 4 2015: Resurrection

1) Ruin

Take wood salvaged from shipwreck
pegged together with hardwood pegs
fitted tight to strengthen with age
and rip it.

History cracks. Wood becomes nostalgia.
The ripper rips. The great blade shoves.

Clapboard bleeds no blood.
2) Rescue

Stop the blades. Confront the teeth
and salvage windows, doorknobs,
shutters. Imagine restoration.
3) Remembrance

But stopping and salvage are not enough.
Desire and imagination are not enough
to rebuild. Thieves take the windows.
The doorknobs disappear.

4) Resurrection

The real thing comes with angels,
rolled-back stones, myrrh-smeared wrappings,
empty tombs.

This one fills a room
with salvage, trappings,
photos, charm.

Those who enter laugh. And weep.

 

April 5 2015: Thoughts on stained glass

Christ Church Cathedral
established 1670
Services in this building were first held in 1841

—–Easter Sunday service: this apostate
—–glances at the Dean high in the carven pulpit
—–and turns her eyes to the stained glass window
—–which burns with the eastern Easter sun

A stunning feature of the Cathedral:
the East windows which
depict the Crucifixion

—–The cross is grey. The stone of the tomb
—–is grey. (How does one stain glass
—–grey? In different tiles and sizes of grey?
—–How does one choose the shapes, design
—–the leading?) Around the crucifixion the sky
—–bleeds red. The red burns a redder red than skies
—–or roses or even blood. This red lives
—–although the Christ on the cross has died.
—–His mother is swathed in blue and gold.
—–The disciple he loved in sea-green and gold.
—–The skins of each one is conqueror pink.

the Empty Tomb

—–Mary Magdalene’s hair is long and gold
—–like sunshine on a morning sea; her robe
—–slips from her shoulders, red as harlotry.
—–But her shoulders are clad in a white chemise.
—–She kneels. There is plenty of white in this panel.
—–The angel’s robes are white. His wings
—–are white. Her skin is pink; his skin
—–is white. The wrappings spilling from the tomb
—–are white. The sky above is blue and pink. And white.

the Ascension

—–does not draw her eyes; it is a confusion
—–of blue, gold haloes, red robes, a Christ
—–with a face the bruised peach of a martyr
—–a halo the shape and colour of Mary’s hair.

 

April 6 2015

When we got to the graveyard there were parrots in the trees:
their acrylic green chests swelling and glimmering
as they clattered to one another high, high above us.

Parrots are terribly noisy birds. They clamour
at rest and while flying, sounding like bad tap dancers
on wings, irregular, without rhythm, so loud

one thinks of wooden trays tumbling downstairs.
Their hyperreal beauty: green breasts and red heads and blue tails.
Their gold hard beaks. Their castanet cries.

 

April 7 2015: Why I love graveyards

It’s not the presence of the dead. No; in-
stead it’s the presence of the trees, these
living, carbon-breathing guardians of our lives.

They grow big here, roots creeping through the earth,
sneaking under stone, crooking graves and cracking them,
fingering the sleeping underground, incarnating them

in wood, in rings, in bark and boughs, in whispers on the wind,
bursts of colour, the red of flowers, the rust of leaves
which fall and rot and sod and feed and fall again.

The leaves feed the earth. The earth
clothes the dead. The dead
feed the trees. The trees

the dead
the earth
the leaves
are why I love graveyards.

 

NaPoWriMo 2015

So I’m trying it again.

On Blogworld, I’m working on a long piece on immigration, and planning a second on Junkanoo Carnival. I’m working on two long-term research projects and overseeing smaller student projects. My cousin Margot and I created an installation at the National Art Gallery of The Bahamas based on our grandmother’s house. And every day this month, I’m supposed to be writing a poem.

Maybe I’ll let you know how it goes.

On That Island of Broken Penises

I follow Kei Miller’s blog. I saw this post pop up over on Facebook. It is something we must read and think about. The violence with which we live every day is endemic, is cultural, is inherited, and is fundamental to the way in which we see ourselves. The dancehall culture in Jamaica which engenders daggering is replicated in various ways around our region–Jamaica is a cultural engine in itself–but it is not always unpacked, not always understood, not always interrogated, most often not by those for whom it is part of survival. Here in the Bahamas we don’t deconstruct words like “jungless/junglist” and “ghetto” and understand that they are more than descriptions; here, the practice of “daggering” is similarly more than a dance. It is an enactment of something, something that may be beyond our collective comprehension but that at the same time re-enacts again and again our collective violent cultural subordination.

I got up in the middle of the night to write about Bahamian independence on Blogworld and will do so before I go back to sleep. But this post of Kei’s caught me and would not let me go. Read it, digest it, sleep on it. I did.

Under the Saltire Flag

Those apologists who make the spurious claim that it is always the violence of Caribbean society that spills over into the violence of dancehall music, and never the other way around, will not know about that curious time when Jamaica’s Kingston Public Hospital saw a sudden spike in cases of broken penises.

Note the x-ray is a comic exaggeration. Penises don't have bones. But 'Penile Fracture' is a bonafide condition. Note the x-ray is a comic exaggeration. Penises don’t have bones. But ‘Penile Fracture’ is a bonafide condition.

It was in the time of daggering – which is to say, not so long ago – and a friend was working as an anaesthesiologist at the hospital, applying icepack after icepack onto weeping men’s groins before wheeling them into surgery. But how did they get there? Well, in Jamaica’s Dancehall culture, Daggering was as bizarre as it was a perfectly natural culmination of what had always been a space in which an aggressive masculinity was affirmed and constantly performed…

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There is a new Year-long Artist-In-Residency Program in Toronto Canada…

watah school flyer inwards front page

The Watah Artists-In-Residencies (WAIRs) are year-long programs based in Toronto Canada, exploring the self, art, and community using The Sorplusi Method, facilitated by globally celebrated artist d’bi.young anitafrika. Each artist works diligently for the year, creating a unique work of art, catalyzed by their biographical experiences, supported by the womb of the Watah Residency.

Based in Toronto Canada, WAIR has 5 tributaries: BMI – Biomyth Monodrama Intensive, TAP – Transdisciplinary Artist Residency, PATI – Performing Arts Training Intensive, YAM – Youth Artist Mentorship and YEMOYA Intl Artist Residency (hosted globally for 3 weeks yearly).

The Watah School (womb arts and healing) is a w/holistic artist development institute, grounded in d’bi.young anitafrika’s Sorplusi Method, that cultivates and nurtures artists as healers, mentors, and keepers of the sacred. Watah is a conceptual and physical space where the potentialities of arts and healing flow into an ocean of the self with(in) community. Arts-education…

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Closed for business: Brazil 2014 and productivity

Well worth the read!!

Jamaica: Political Economy

Conventional wisdom has it that productivity declines during World Cup tournaments. Judging by what we usually see, with people looking to take time off work legitimately or without permission, for part- or all-day, we think that much less work gets done and what is done is likely to be half-hearted. However, a contrary view exists, which argues that interest in watching World Cup matches makes people more focused on the work they have to do, complete tasks faster to avoid missing matches, and avoid other distractions so that time is available to do what is necessary and also watch matches.

I am very sympathetic to that latter view, as it conforms with how I arrange my time. I work backwards from game time and make sure that the essentials are done and that I can rock back and get crazy in peace (that is an unintended oxymoron). It is…

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Leslie, man. No, man.

Under the Almond Tree

Last week, in the House of Assembly, Leslie Miller, the “honourable” member for Tall Pines, told a tale about how he used to beat his girlfriend, all the while his colleagues could be heard laughing in the background. When the Speaker of the House offered him an out, of sorts, Miller denied that he was joking, but affirmed that he was serious.

Leslie Miller, MP Tall Pines: “That’s like beating your wife or your girlfriend every time you go home. You just beat her for looking at her. I love ya. Boom, boom, boom. I had a girlfriend like that. When I didn’t beat her, she used to tell me I ain’t love her no more, ‘cause I don’t hit her. But seriously, I had one like that. I had one. She used to tell me…”

Kendal Major, Speaker of the House: “We know that you are joking with that…”

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I don’t come back to this site often because I am pretty swamped. But I’m coming to post a link to another blog, Wadadli Pen. Caribbean writers of the world, unite.

Wadadli Pen

UPDATE! (February 7th 2017) Edited to correct an error pointed out by one of the contributors. Also, I’m aware that the links to the referenced samples are broken as the site address seems to have changed. I may correct at some point (when able) but even if I don’t (or can’t), I do encourage you to check out the collection and the entire series.

BUY THE COLLECTION HERE

This is a repost about Lynn Sweeting’s new WomanSpeak collection out of the Bahamas, but featuring the fresh voices of contemporary female writers from across the Caribbean. Including yours truly. You can read samples of the chosen pieces at Tongues of the Ocean including Trinidadian Simone Leid Etiquette for Fine Young Cannibals – which Sweeting describes as “one of the most important pieces in the collection” and “a disturbing depiction of Caribbean rape culture”; American Anita McDonald’s Seized – of which Sweeting…

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Not at all sure

I want to do this, but here goes.

It’s Lent, and my mother died barely two months ago, and her brother died eight days before her. I didn’t give up anything else for Lent, but vowed to write a poem a day. A sevenling a day, to be exact.

As Lent started in March and Easter comes in April, this meant that some of the discipline would cross over into NaPoWriMo, when I usually commit to the poem-a-day business.

I must admit I missed a week at the end of March, and will have to catch up. But the goal for Lent is forty sevenlings to lay the foundation for one long elegy. Taking inspiration, not surprisingly, from Tennyson’s In Memoriam; similar, but not the same.

So: March

Stuff that’s Happened since October

So there’s the big thing: our mother’s illness and death.

This time last year she was fine. Or seemed fine, though the cancer that would kill her was quite probably growing quite happily and quietly inside. This time last year she decided for the first time in years not to attend the annual Thinking Day Service because she was tired. She wasn’t diagnosed till June, and she died one week ago.

*moment of silence*

Some little things:

My chapbook, Mama Lily and the Dead, was published in December.

The Avatar Review accepted four of my poems for publication in this year’s issue.

More stuff? Nothing really comes to mind. Death has a way of shutting out all the frivolous. Not entirely a bad thing, IMO.

iPadding around

So here’s the thing.

I mentioned a while ago that my husband, who doesn’t give frivolous gifts like jewellery or flowers (*stop changing my spelling to American, WordPress!!*), does give gifts that DO stuff. Like computers. Like iPhones. Like iPads.

I mentioned that he had given me an iPad. Not exactly against my will (who could turn down such a gift?) but far earlier than I thought I ought to get one.

I have been enjoying it as an e-reader, having finished both The Girl who Played with Fire and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest on it, and dipping into Ulysses off and on, reacquainting myself with Winnie-the-Pooh, even importing PDFs to read in the iBook app.

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Oh. Wow. Nic’s on fire!!

Nic Sebastian’s Whale Sound. Not to be confused with Blogsphere, though it looks the same. It sounds entirely different.

Dear Poet X – I am writing to ask your permission to record and post recordings of your poems A & C, which appear online in locations Y & Z. The recordings will form part of a larger project, the idea for which evolved generally out of a recent interview series on “Poets & Technology” and specifically, out of a suggestion made by Amy King in her responses to those interview questions.

Checking in

Well, I don’t know if there are still people who drop by and read this blog, which has become dormant for a little while.

This is a post to say that I’m not giving up on it altogether, but rather taking a sabbatical. I am thinking how to reform this so that it can work best for me in my new, more active and strangely fulfilling life these days.

In the meantime, enjoy the archives, and go and have a look at what else is keeping me busy these days:

Shakespeare in Paradise

tongues of the ocean

In particular, have a look at tongues of the ocean, where Issue 5 is coming to a close. This time, Issue 5 took a qualitatively different approach, reproducing a very exciting exhibition from this spring online. It worked! Go check it out.

Cheers.

Learning Curve

So I hate to brag but I’m writing this post from the iPad.

Many people will not know this but I’m married to a man whose idea of a romantic gift is a sexy piece of technology. Do you see me complaining? The only issues are: 1) the learning curve that comes along with the new piece of technology and 2) the frustration that accompanies that learning curve.

So far, though, so good with this one. There are things I’m figuring out about the iPad like taking work on the road etc etc and doing it from this little, light touchscreen object that are pretty exciting. Maybe I’ll keep a record here.

But maybe not. I like to be original. But let’s see whether this changes the way I write and read poetry. In keeping with Nic’s 10 Questions.

Tongues of the Ocean Issue 5

tongues of the oceanThe June 2010 issue of tongues of the ocean went live at midnight today.

This one’s a little different. We’ve taken a cross-disciplinary exhibition and put it into cyberspace. Instead the customary two pieces of writing a week, we’ve got a literary piece and a piece of visual art. This is how the exhibition—”A Sudden and Violent Change”, created for The Hub in Nassau for the Transforming Spaces Art Tour—was set up: writers creating pieces that artists used as inspiration for other pieces.

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Bringing you up to date

Since I last posted, I have finished 21 of the 30 poems of NaPoWriMo, been stuck in Belfast owing to volcano ash, helped bury my husband’s mother (yes: sombre news, and we are still grieving), got two new Lilies accepted for publication, rounded out the fourth issue of tongues of the ocean (well OK, the last two posts are not yet live but they will be, as soon as we hit 00:01 EST), finished another semester, begun the drafting of an Academic Paper (important for increments, promotions, tenure and the like), finished (overdue) one of the books on both my lists of African and Caribbean books, begun reading another book that will suit the Caribbean Reading Challenge (even though 2009 is well away) … whew.

Been a busy little bee, me.

Just thought you’d like to know. Maybe I’ll even bring us up to date on some of these in detail.

In the meantime, go check out tongues of the ocean. It’s a solid issue, this one. Go spend some time.

I’m sure I’ll regret this, but

It’s Lent, and that means contemplation. Even for one such as me who schedules church like dentist’s appointments. Lent and Easter are time for introspection, meditation. Perhaps it’s the light.

Anyway, I’ve begun a peculiar, rough, organic project: a poem a day in contemplation of the season. These are different from teh Lilies that I will need to do for the Seven/Seven Challenge in March, but they are also far more spontaneous, far less fashioned, far more open to inspiration (and far more likely to fail.

I shall post them here for the nonce. They’ll be removed quickly too, and I doubt that they’ll be posted daily, though there will be a poem a day. Still. It’s Lent, it’s Spring, and all things renew, even poetry.

Cheers.

Haitian-Bahamian Solidarity

As I said in my earlier post, the history of our country and of Haiti are intertwined and deeply connected. Although we don’t recognize the connections often enough, or think of them with much positivity all too often (Haitians are often labelled as “illegals” even when they are perfectly legal immigrants and residents), this tragedy has made far more Bahamiams than ever before deeply aware of the long, long relationship of exchange, mutuality and kinship between our two countries. But we have a long way to go.

A small group of us have worked together to set up a group expressing our solidarity with our neighbour-cousins, and the website’s here on wordpress.com:

http://bahatiansolidarity.wordpress.com

Haiti

Silence on this blog compounded by the earthquake(s) in Haiti and the resulting tragedies.

For those who don’t know Caribbean geography, The Bahamas lies between Cuba, Hispaniola (Haiti and the Dominican Republic) and Florida, with the Turks and Caicos Islands at our tail.

One of our greatest challenges is managing the constant influx of Haitian migrants seeking a better life. We have no solutions, and have hitherto not managed it all that well. We anticipate even more challenges in the months to come. In my free time all my focus falls on Haiti and on the Bahamian response.

Keep our neighbours in your thoughts, y’all.

A little encouragement goes a long way

And flattery goes even further. Thanks to Harry and Aditi, I’ve been encouraged to keep writing on this blog. So I will.

Today I’ve got two things I want to share with you all. The first is that round here we’ve been sleeping with the Canadian covers. When I tell you why you will all want to move here, but I caution you: what you think of as balmy round here is a little different for two main reasons. (1) We are (literally) Hemingway’s (Bahama) islands in the (Gulf) stream, which means that all temperatures here must be imagined in terms of wetness — wet and cool in the winter, wet and hot in the summer. and (2) WE HAVE NO HEATING SYSTEMS. Except in our cars.

That said, this past week’s average temperature at night has been about 60 degrees F (16 C). (I can hear you now: that’s nothing!! I’d kill for 60!!) Fine, but then add the wind chill (our cold fronts are not still, but arrive on the backs of northern winds), dewpoint and humidity, and then remember: *no heat*. And for most people, no woolly sweaters — just cotton hoodies, unless you’ve been living, like me, in the far far north. All my Canuck friends and transplants are freezing. So think again.

I love it!! The tourists, not so much.
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Happy New Year

So. This blog (Scavella’s Blogsphere) is now going for five years old, having been established sometime in 2005 over on Blogspot. In that time much has changed. In the beginning, I walked anonymous in cyberspace, using my Scavella moniker as a cloak to my real identity, not sure how to use the blog, nor what for (it was mostly for poetry back then). Since then, this has become one of five blogs that I administer, each of them for a different purpose, and each of them more and more time-consuming.

This being a new year, and time being one of those commodities that is easy to waste and impossible to keep, I’m changing the way I deal with this blog. What was once a refuge is becoming a burden; I really don’t have the time to write down the cool things I once put here on Blogsphere, and I don’t have the application to develop the poetry of the blog in a way that can rival Rob’s Surroundings, or Aditi Machado’s Blotting Paper or the fascinating trivia that can compete with Harry’s Heraclitean Fire, or the confessional-made-great-reading of Julie’s Carter’s Little Pill.

I just don’t have the time.

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In praise of mystery novels | Blotting paper

From Aditi Machado:

In praise of mystery novels | Blotting paper.

There is nothing like the genre fiction/literature divide to ruin friendships. ‘You’re an elitist bitch!’ ‘You read trash!’ ‘Your a slut for Proust!’ ‘You can’t spell!’ ‘I SED UR A SLUT.’ ‘I SAID YOU CAN’T SPELL!’

One of these arguments erupts around me every month or so, and I’m frequently involved, even when I try hard to stay away. It’s tiresome. Like getting your period.

There are various kinds of arguments (in the ‘fight’ sense of the word) related to genre/literature, but the most annoying kinds are with (a) people who refuse to even consider something generic as worth reading and (b) people who use all kinds of theories to say ‘genre fiction is better than literature.’

Lord of the Dreams

Two weeks ago, when I was told to stay at home to weather a bout of the dizzy-flu (don’t ask), I decided to watch The Lord of the Rings again. Now I am a mild Tolkien fan, and was one of those people who was of the opinion that his books were unfilmable, and so Peter Jackson’s achievement was something in which I invested.

Since watching the movie in its initial extended version (we didn’t buy the complete, extra-extended version that was released after The Return of the King was released, figuring that we already owned enough of what would be included in the Big Package to make the purchase of another package indulgent), I then moved on to watching the supplementary information for the last film. I went through everything the first film had to offer, and thought I’d viewed the appendices of The Two Towers, but was pretty sure I hadn’t done so for ROTK (I was right). Continue reading

Moving back to normal (posting, that is)

and the cool weather is a-comin-in.

I’m noticing a pattern now. I tend to post about the weather in October and in March. That’s because seasons are different year — hot and wet and cool and dryish are the main two, and the hot and wet seems to dominate (starting in May and running to September). Or maybe it seems that way because it’s been summer for so long. When it’s summer you don’t remember what it’s like when it’s winter (which means that we don’t need air conditioning to function as people are expected to do in this twenty-first century world) and when it’s winter you don’t remember what it’s like in the summer but in October and March no day is predictable, no day is the same. Continue reading

On why this blog is slow to move

Well.

In my other lives, I’ve got myself into a whole bunch of things that make it difficult for me to keep up with my blogging. Something’s got to go, and of everything it’s the most personal, the most recreational of my online activities. Every other blog that I keep (and there are many) has a purpose and a function. Scavella’s Blogsphere was started to deal with my writing, with the stuff that is entirely personal, and that stuff has been put on hold for now; I’m not even keeping up with my responsibilities as a moderator at PFFA these days.

The reason?

http://shakespeareinparadise.org

If you want to find out what I’m really doing, go here:

http://shakespeareinparadise.org/blog

I’ll be back online with some vague regularity after October 12.

Cheers.


So long, MJ?

I’m not normally starstruck. And when my husband told me, twenty minutes ago, that Michael Jackson had been found not breathing at his home, having suffered cardiac arrest, I didn’t feel a whole lot of sympathy for him.

The reason? I’ve been convinced for the last twenty years or so that Michael Jackson died after Thriller, and that the person we’ve been calling MJ is the clone.

But now that the word is out that they couldn’t revive him, that he might be dead, it’s hit me. This is the boy who sang me through my childhood. Fine, so he was four years older than me, and Randy is closer to my age, but Michael Randy ain’t, and fifty is way too young to die.

Course, if it was the clone … well, as anybody knows, copies lose quality as they replicate, and lose length of life. So fifty for a clone …


Ten Questions for Poetry Editors – Scavella’s Turn « Very Like A Whale

Nic Sebastian over at Very Like A Whale invited me to respond to her Ten Questions for Poetry Editors. You can read the result this week here:

What goes on inside poetry editors’ heads? is a burning question for publishing and wannabe-publishing poets everywhere. With this third Ten Questions series, we are showcasing weekly answers from a diverse group of poetry editors to Ten Questions for Poetry Editors. Each editor’s responses will appear as a separate blog post and all posts will be linked back to the series’ standing page.

Our responder this week is Nicolette Bethel [aka Scavella], editor of Tongues of the Ocean.

Ten Questions for Poetry Editors – Nicolette Bethel « Very Like A Whale

Rob Mackenzie’s Cyclone Blog Tour

The last time I posted about this, I’d forgotten entirely that I’d agreed to host Rob on his tour, and had to be reminded by him. Since he started his tour on Very Like a Whale, he’s made two other stops: Marion McCready’s Poetry in Progress and Ivy Alvarez’s Dumbfoundry.

Blogsphere’s next. Check back on Monday coming for Rob’s next stop. And in the meantime, here’s a little taste of the UnCabbage:

  1. Never go into the cage
    without knowing
    what kind of day the poem is having.

–from “Advice from the Lion Tamer to the Poetry Critic”, by Rob Mackenzie


Update on synaesthesia: everybody has it

We are all capable of “hearing” shapes and sizes and perhaps even “tasting” sounds, according to researchers.

This blending of sensory experiences, or synaesthesia, they say, influences our perception and helps us make sense of a jumble of simultaneous sensations.

Oxford University scientists found that people associate lower-pitched sounds with larger and more rounded shapes.

More here: BBC NEWS | Science & Environment | People may be able to taste words

My synaesthesia experiences can be found here:

Synaesthesia reloaded

Is syn sin?

PFFA’s discussion of synaesthesia and metaphor

More synaesthesia

My synaesthesia & colour themes

On why 2543 is a cool number

This one’s for Rob

Help save Salt.

Poetry press Salt has launched a viral marketing campaign in a bid to stave off closure, in the wake of the publisher’s “financial difficulties”. The publisher has asked for customers to “buy just one Salt book”. Director Chris Hamilton-Emery said the first day of his company’s ‘Just One Book’ campaign had “swept the web”, leading to more than 400 orders within 24 hours.

He said: “The response has been astonishing and heart-warming. Since June last year our family business has faced severe financial difficulties – the recession hit us hard. We’re almost at the end, it’s terrifically sad. Nine years of our lives has gone into developing this literary business.”

All right, Rob Mackenzie, Aditi Machado, Nic Sebastian, I’ve bought my book. It’s Katy Evans-Bush’s collection, Me and the Dead.

I’m a little bummed she took half my title (Mama Lily and the Dead – trust me, I had it waaaay before 2008) and I’m half-racking my brains to think of another.

Summer Rain

It’s one of those underwater days, when the rain has turned everything grey and wet, and thunder’s rolling somewhere off in the distance.

In tropical places and really wet places this would be called the monsoon. But here in Nassau, the rain’s not as predictable as monsoon rain (which rolls in and falls daily, often at specific times of the day); you know (or hope!) the rain’s going to fall in the afternoon most days, and the roads stay wet and puddles collect on the sides of them. Some years it’s like that. But some years there’s more rain (like this week’s rain — every day, most of the day) and some years there’s only clouds and stifling humid heat.

Days like today (which is a day like the day when I took my final G. C. E. O-level, way back when, at the beginning of June, a drippy, grey, swishy day when the rain dripped down the spears of the great big sisal plants that lived outside my parents’ front window until the hurricanes of the turn of the century knocked them flat, and when the end of the day was marked with the news of a scholarship to go to a very special school and a rehearsal for the entertainment on prom night) are days I treasure.

And today’s just that sort of day — three decades almost to the day later.

Literary Geek Meme

Harry tagged me.

On FaceBook, no less.

“You have received this note because someone thinks you are a literary geek. Copy the questions into your own note, answer the questions, and tag any friends who would appreciate the quiz, including the person who sent you this.”

1) What author do you own the most books by?
No clue. I would have to count and we really don’t have the time. Probably a writer of murder mysteries, though – possibly Christie or Sayers. They’re that prolific.

2) What book do you own the most copies of?
The Bible.

3) Did it bother you that both those questions ended with prepositions?
Not any more.

4) What fictional character are you secretly in love with?
Could I be more cliché? Mr. Darcy. Oh, you said secretly. Oh, well. That’s a different story altogether. That would probably be Strider/Aragorn. Or Lord Peter Wimsey. Or –

Hell and damnation. This multiracial Caribbean closet Marxist has a raft of crushes on upper class white Englishmen. What does that say about me, I wonder?

4a) What fictional character would you most like to be?
Strider/Aragorn.

Not a clue, really.

4b) What fictional character do you think most resembles you?
Not a clue. I shall give this more thought and get back to you. Maybe. I would like to say Nancy Blackett from the Ransome books, but I would be lying. Continue reading

The thing about vacations

is that they disincline one from returning to work for a while. I’m currently suffering from this after a fabulous Easter vacation on Long Island, one of the islands in the middle of the Bahamas, one of those the Tropic bisects. (Well, it’s not an exact bisection, but the north is subtropical and the south is tropical, and you notice the difference, we found, if you’re driving in April with the car windows open.)

My head is full of images, emotions, and ideas for poems. I’ve written most of them out but there are a couple more.

In the meantime, some photos. I’ll be back to caption and arrange them later.

tongues of the ocean: why stop now?

Two more poems are up for the week:

The West Indies Haiku (#1) by Tim Tomlinson

heat lightning—
pages scattered

on an empty bed

and

The joy of planting banana suckers in your own land by Ward Minnis

I only want me own garden
a little patch where I can dig till I silly.
Plant banana morning, noon and night,
Open the hole and put in me fertilize,
fill it with sap
from nighttime ritual and early morning dance.

Not keeping up with the blogging

There are many reasons.

One is the return to full-time academia, and the fact that writing comes in many forms now, not just recreational and/or personal.

One is the desire not to be bored, which has resulted in my taking on several projects that are pretty doggone huge in size.

One is a lack of organization for the moment.

But don’t despair. I’m still blogging, just not as frequently.

Watch this space.

Two more poems on tongues

Seems that all I do is advertise the journal! Swing on over to check it out. And when I get some ideas beyond it I’ll jot them down.

This week’s offerings:

“Passing” by Sonia Farmer

The doctor knows the heart and all
its chambered petals. He is versed in
vestigial organs, but not the art of hidden

Things.

“(untitled)” by Sheila Brooke

cedar floats liquid down my throat
in extract of red, pooled in cliffside fissures
opened by roots
whose hunger cracks stone

Twenty-five writers meme

From Geoffrey Philp:

The deal is to name 25 writers who have influenced you, and then tag 25 people.

Hear ye the gospel according to Fragano: “Influence” does not mean the same thing as “enjoy a lot.”

(Just to note — this has been cross-posted with Blogworld so I can cross both my writing networks)

As with everyone else, before, in no particular order:

  1. T. S. Eliot – for blowing my mind
  2. Kamau Brathwaite – for blowing my mind again
  3. Ngugi wa Thing’o – for inspiring me to write plays
  4. Chinua Achebe – for Things Fall Apart and A Man of the People
  5. Toni Morrison – for just being
  6. William Shakespeare (no, for real) – what I said about Morrison
  7. W. B. Yeats – for channelling ghosts and writing great verse
  8. C. S. Lewis – for Narnia and concision
  9. Bronislaw Malinowski – for participant observation, the Trobriand ethnographies, and theory I can believe in
  10. Claude Levi-Strauss – for Tristes Tropiques Continue reading