TiaTalk











“Il n’y a que les montagnes qui ne se rencontrent pas”

… or so they say
Of the Pyrenees and other ranges
That stretch to heaven and stroll from sea to sea.

But in this small world
That encircles us and bears our circling,
Our molehills meet as mountains between you and me.



Thomas Carew had it right: Lukewarm is icky!

On Tuesday night (6th December) I enjoyed Poet in the City’s monthly drop-in at Waterstone’s Piccadilly. The theme was “Fire and Ice“, based on the famous poem by Robert Frost.

Jamie Field, a new blogger for Poet in the City, has posted a short review of the event with a list of the poets and poems read, which is a feast in itself, but I thought I’d post here the full text of the poem by Thomas Carew that I read, because I love it! My friend and fellow Poet in the City volunteer, Alice, suggested I read it and I’m so glad she did, because it reflects how I feel about everything from bathwater to coffee to love!

Mediocritie in love rejected
– Thomas Carew (1595? – 1645?)

Give me more love, or more disdaine;
The Torrid or the frozen Zone
Bring equall ease unto my paine;
The temperate affords me none;
Either extreame, of love or hate,
Is sweeter than a calm estate.

Give me a storme; if it be love,
Like Danae in that golden showre,
I swimme in pleasure; if it prove
Disdaine, that torrent will devoure
My Vulture-hopes; and he’s possesst
Of Heaven, that’s from Hell releast:
Then crowne my joyes, or cure my paine;
Give me more love, or more disdaine.

It seems the poem was originally a sonnet, because all the versions that I’ve found have fourteen lines, except for the one I actually read, which adds the final couplet to the end of the first stanza as well. Presumably, this is because it was slightly modified by Little Machine to enable their musical rendering of it, which is worth a listen!



{Wed 5 October 2011}   About Art Accelerating Art
Art Accelerating Art

We had the first rehearsal yesterday for this performance to be held at the Saatchi Gallery 13-16 October. I met John Angel Rodriguez, curator, and the deep-voiced James Honey and string-master Jamie Romain of A Band of Buriers. The band’s “alternative folk” music is absolutely mesmerising – it was gorgeous to hear it filling the large spaces of the gallery.

The idea is to investigate how audience appreciation of The Shape of Things to Come exhibition at the Saatchi Gallery is affected when music and poetry are performed in response to sculpture. Elinros Henriksdottir asked me to select and perform some poetry in response to certain works and invited A Band of Buriers to do the same in music. Unfortunately, a long-standing personal commitment prevents me from being there for two of the four days of the performances, so I will not perform, but instead I have arranged for three wonderful performers to do it instead: Rosalie Jorda, Gisele Edwards and Gabby Meadows. I am still involved as Project Assistant and will be going to the rehearsals and to the first and possibly the second performance.

The poems to be performed are the “Introduction” and “Earth’s Answer” from William Blake’s Songs of Experience, and my own Smooth Red Woman. The latter is really just a textual spec for a digital poem I intend to make, about thoughts triggered by a beautiful red marble sculpture I saw in Italy, so I didn’t think of it as a final version, but it does seem amazingly relevant in the context of the particular sculptures we’ll be using it to comment on. It particularly raises questions around how women’s responses to art may differ from men’s. All three poems sound amazing in the voices of the three female performers. It’s heartening to feel that themes so personal to me can be shared by and communicated through other women.

If this idea of using some art forms to enhance your experience of another art form appeals to you, or you know someone who might be intrigued by it, everyone in the Art Accelerating Art team would appreciate it if you would Like this post and spread the word via social media!



{Mon 3 October 2011}   Art Accelerating Art
Art Accelerating Art

Hello, hello, my long-languishing blog (and my very occasional readers)! I love you, I really do, and think of you constantly…. well, a bit inconstantly, it’s true, but I do hold you in my heart. It’s just been an incredibly busy year, with three main themes occupying my energies:

  1. Writing content and building an exciting commercial website for RealCorp Luxembourg; as well as ongoing training, consultancy, blogging and other writing for them and for other clients.
  2. Volunteering for Poet in the City as Social Media Manager: creating a WordPress blog and an internal Social Media Wiki on PBWorks, teaching social media workshops, encouraging a mixed bag of users to contribute on the blog, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, assisting with a bid for Nesta’s Digital R&D Fund, and writing a spec to revamp the main Poet in the City website (project on hold for now). I also managed the Poetry and the State event at Amnesty International and assisted with several other events.
  3. Buying a house in France…. more on that later, when I can get my head around the fact that it’s actually happening!

All this has meant that I haven’t had much time for personal creative projects, so I was surprised and thrilled to be approached by the sylph-like Elinros Henriksdotter, after my reading of Shakespeare at the Poet in the City “Dog Days” Drop-In, to particpate in a wonderful four-day initiative (13-16 Oct) to use poetry and music to enhance the experience of sculpture: “Art Accelerating Art”.

(Update 05/10/11: I’ve moved the chunk on Art Accelerating Art to a separate post).



{Mon 29 August 2011}   I, ferocious woman
I, ferocious woman

I, ferocious woman,
bellow
at the morning;
You, angel,
heal
yesterday, softly.



Do different loves spawn different poetry?

Thinking about Valentine’s Day, and the Love Poetry event at King’s Place tonight, to which I am looking forward immensely, I suddenly wondered which of my own poems had been inspired by love, in the sense of romantic love. I am a very occasional poet, but, as for most people, those occasions are often linked to love, or the loss of it.

Of course, I’m interested in the nature of love in its broadest sense, an interest developed through my years in the Christian church, where we were taught to categorise love into agápē (God’s love — sacrificial love, the highest kind, a matter of choice), philia (brotherly love or friendship – the next best, perhaps imperfect, but also a matter of virtuous choice), storge (familial affection — a love to be expected, as good and natural) and eros (romantic love — also a natural love, but a dangerous and unreliable one, to be outwitted, outwaited, carefully managed, or repressed … and never trusted).

Nowadays, although I still find these concepts useful, I don’t see any of them as exclusive to particular types of relationship, which, I guess, reflects my more mature view of humans as psycho-sexual-spiritual beings who are inevitably always all of these things in all relationships. As the Wikipedia entries point out, the ancient Greek terms encompassed a wide range of concepts and affections. But the goal of Christian teaching is usually to simplify life, rather than to revel in its complexity, so the above simple English translations and the relative values assigned to them by my teachers were what stuck for a very long time.

And yet, despite this drilling in the compartmentalisation of love, when I looked through the paltry collection of my own poems, I was startled to realise that I had never read or examined the love poems as a group. Each was born in its own time, and each out of a different relationship or phase in my life, and although I have worked on each of them for years, I have never related them to each other. In retrospect, this seems strange, so today I looked at my poems to see a.) which I could call love poems and b.) whether I could sort them into the ancient Greek groups.

While in this “grouping” mode, I’ve enjoyed reviewing the more agápē-oriented poems arising from my spiritual quest, but that’s a post for another day. Valentine’s Day is the day for contemplating romantic love (and friendship, I think, because there is often so much overlap). With these poems, I was surprised to see, firstly, how they reveal precisely that tendency toward synthesis of which I’m now conscious, and secondly, how different they are from each other. At least, to me, they seem different from each other. I wonder if another reader would be struck by similarities or differences?

Eros

Philia



{Sun 18 April 2010}   Spring Poetry
Spring Poetry

“Spring Transformations” was the original theme for Saturday’s reading. I was a little worried that we might end up with a round of sickly sweet “positive” poems, but as it turned out, none of us brought poems specifically to do with change and renewal. These ideas are always associated with spring, along with youth, innocence, idealism and hope, but most of us found poems with “a shadow over them” as the poets looked back with a mixture of pleasure and regret on past springs. Perhaps, as none of us are exactly “spring things” ourselves, we are attracted to poems that have a more complex view of this season.

My favourite amongst those shared was the gorgeous Nocturne of Remembered Spring by Conrad Aiken. This is a bittersweet poem, capturing all of the above themes, but from the perspective of one looking back on the promise and potential of a path not taken.

Other poems shared included:

  • Shakespeare’s Sonnet 98, From you have I been absent in the spring, a poem of longing where the lover declares that despite the spring all about, winter remains for him while he is separated from his lover.
  • Men ask the way to Cold Mountain (scroll down to read stanzas 6-8) by Han Shan. This does not seem to be a spring poem, but perhaps a reluctant spring is implicit – the reader spoke of a resonance with the feeling of deep-seated cold when the summer is not able to break the ice of winter.
  • Spring (8 Haiku) by Ben Gieske, a whimsical, funny and tender poem that is also of remembrance, of one or several springs.
  • A series of Spring Haiku by different poets, accompanied by photographs, curated by Ray Rasmussen. The Haiku poems sparked quite a discussion about Haiku and even inspired some sharing of poems written by the various participants.

We rounded off the evening by watching Michael Radford’s Il Postino, a funny and touching delight that was good to revisit as I’d last seen it many years ago. I was quite surprised to discover that in fact this story about Chilean poet Pablo Neruda’s friendship with, and inspiration of, a humble postman on a remote Italian island is fictional… I suppose I believe so much in the power of poetry that it seemed to me perfectly plausible.

(Update 19/04/10: ) The Haiku shared included this one that I loved and which I can share now with the permission of the poet:

Drowning the day’s sorrow
Back and forth
The swimming pool

© Nitzan Marinov, Spring 2007



{Sun 28 March 2010}   Warm Winter Poetry Reading
Warm Winter Poetry Reading

Given the sparseness of my snowy post and my subsequent apparent absence from the blogoverse, you’re forgiven for thinking that winter got the better of me and I didn’t make it through! There’ve been times, given the !*&#insert-curse-here*~&! weather in the UK over the past six months, that I didn’t think I would.

But, contrary to appearances, I have actually been around, lurking and learning and adding my two cents’ worth to a few other web projects. I’ve also been having some offline fun, such as the poetry evening we hosted at home on 30th January.

This event came together quickly due to last-minute cancellations for the scheduled reading of Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale. We didn’t have enough people to read the play, but we still wanted to do something Shakespearean. I asked each person to bring a favourite Shakespeare sonnet, with another poem, by any other poet, which addresses that sonnet’s themes. It worked brilliantly – the selections delighted us with their variety, yet there was a strong sense of unity because of the Shakespeare connection.

These are some of the poems that were paired:

Because there were only six of us, and because the readings were much shorter than when we read an entire play in an evening, not only could we have a sit-down dinner instead of a buffet, but there was also much more time for discussion and for diverging along delicious poetic and non-poetic tangents.

Speaking of delicious… I created a new soup for the dinner, which went down extremely well and had everyone demanding seconds. As I’m not the world’s best chef, this was something of a culinary miracle, so, for posterity, here’s the recipe:

Tia’s Green Soup

Serves 8

Ingredients:

1 large leek (chopped)
3 garlic cloves (minced)
1 whole broccoli (chopped)
1 whole cauliflower (chopped)
5 celery sticks including leaves (chopped)
6-8 peeled carrots (unless the peel is sweet, then use it)(chopped)
1 large pkt spinach
1 pkt “salad or stirfry” leaves
1 can green flageolet beans

4 tsp vegetable stock granules
1 tsp mixed herbs
1 bayleaf
sea salt (to taste)
olive oil
1.5 litres water

In a very large pot:

1. Fry leek and garlic in olive oil for a few minutes
2. Add broccoli, cauliflower, celery, carrots and stir-fry for a few minutes.
3. Add spinach, “salad or stirfry” leaves, vegetable stock granules, mixed herbs, bayleaf, sea salt and water and simmer for about twenty minutes. Add more water if the mixture doesn’t look right, or if you cook for a bit longer, but the goal is to keep the soup really thick, so don’t overdo it.
4. After twenty minutes, add the green flageolet beans with the liquid from the can and cook for another five minutes.
5. Remove the bayleaf and use a hand-blender to liquidize the soup to a thick, smooth consistency.

The result is an amazingly creamy, tasty, green soup. I finished preparing this two hours in advance and then reheated it to serve and it was great.



{Wed 6 January 2010}   Snowy Delights
Snowy Delights
Yes, the weather’s awful and it’s hard if you’re out on the road right now, but Eyal and I are snugly (and just a tad smugly) working from home today! The view from our house is so lovely and so different from usual that we just had to take these pics!



A transliterate feast with Romeo and Juliet

“What are you doing over the festive season?” You often hear this question at this time of the year, but “Taking part in a Shakespeare reading” is not often the answer! It might seem a rather “boffinish” thing to do, as our youngest reader, Lizzi, remarked, but we will remember the Romeo and Juliet reading that we hosted on Saturday 19th December as a highlight of our festivities (and only a tad boffinish!). The company and the food were as great as those at Capulet’s feast and the text as rich as ever, of course, but besides these essential elements, we also enjoyed seeing the Fonteyn and Nureyev ballet version to Prokofiev’s gorgeous score (Royal Opera House, 1966), as well as the Shakespeare Readers’ Group’s Facebook facility, on our new wide-screen TV.

This transliteracy experiment in bringing together voice, text, dance, music and screen was a first for this group, but in fact the clash and/or conflation of literacies is a continuous process, one that went on as much in Shakespeare’s day as in ours. One member, Irene, pointed out a few words in the text that were possibly innovations by Shakespeare, reflecting the time’s great excitement about language experiments as writers took inspiration from Europe and the Renaissance. These words dismayed or delighted the audience then, sometimes for different reasons than they do the same for us now. Then, these innovations were challenging because they were new; now, they are challenging because they are archaic, which may yet dismay some and delight others! It struck me that part of our enjoyment arose from the unique mix of literacies called up between us as we sought to share a pleasurable experience.

A requirement for participating in the group is “the ability to read English aloud fluently”, an ability all our readers possess to greater or lesser degrees. But each also brings different perspectives, experience and skills. One might say that each possesses a variety of literacies. Some have English as a second language and place emphases differently from first-language English speakers. The impulses of their primary literacy call our attention in new ways to individual words and to the iambic poetic flow of Shakespeare’s English. Some are academics who revel in explication and analysis of difficult or unusual portions of the text. Some intuitively inhabit their characters, bringing them alive through vocal variation that responds to each event in the story. Some are older and voice the concerns of older characters with an empathy that is not yet available to the younger readers. Some are dramatists who read even Stage Directions with a conviction that enables us to see and feel the context of the action. We learn from each other.

Each time we took a break from the reading, we watched the ballet. There are inevitably losses and gains in the process of transliterating the familiar story of the star-crossed lovers into the languages of music and dance. Some modifications to the storyline might disappoint, for example when scenes are left out or conflated, but other changes might delight when they richly express implicit characterization, emotional interplay or actions sometimes only hinted at or briefly mentioned in the text. The introduction of Juliet and the Nurse, the balcony scene with Romeo and Juliet, Juliet’s rejection of Paris and the final death scene are examples of wonderful choreography and dancing that carry the audience right to the passionate heart of Shakespeare’s poetry, without words.

A new literacy for the group is that of relating to one another on-screen via Facebook. Everyone who attended had responded to the invitation via Facebook, but with varying degrees of comfort depending on their familiarity with the tool. Many had struggled to find their way back to the Event page to see the Links and find the scripts. For this reason, I presented a brief Facebook overview to demonstrate the difference between the individual’s Profile (using mine as an example), the Shakespeare Readers Group and the Romeo and Juliet Event and to explain the import of leaving comments on each of the different Walls. We also looked briefly at the new Facebook Privacy options, to allay fears about publishing one’s data to the world.

This move to organising the readings via Facebook Events has become necessary for several reasons. It is quicker to monitor attendance and dramatically cuts the number of emails to and from individuals that I as organiser previously dealt with. It also facilitates an ongoing sense of community which is otherwise fragmented between meetings, as the group has grown to over twenty people, not all of whom can come to every reading. There is also interest from people outside the UK who cannot attend readings but would like to participate in discussions. For instance, Eva, a member in Italy, shared our anticipation before the event by posting a link to a blog post she wrote in 2007 about Shakespeare’s possible models for the Romeo and Juliet story in the real city of Verona.

Facebook is clearly useful in these ways, but I had not appreciated to what extent this particular new media literacy might have a direct impact on our appreciation of the plays themselves, until one of our new members, Anna, posted a link to this write-up of a student project that views Romeo and Juliet as “A Facebook Tragedy” of competing social networks which “contains an emphasis on the bonds between kinsmen and family. The play focuses on both honoring these bonds, and the consequences of breaking bonds.”

Shakespeare offers all the fascination of the archaic and unfamiliar to those who are keen on historical mysteries, but most of his enduring attraction is due to the aptness of his themes for every age and the up-to-date voice with which he has always spoken on issues close to the human heart. This powerful communication has demanded translation into almost every world language and transliteration into every conceivable medium (live theatre, music, dance, film, TV…), with each translater or producer creating new metaphors in order to stay true to the old themes in their new medium. In our networked age, it should not surprise us to find Shakespeare alive in Facebook too!



et cetera