TiaTalk











{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.

Some of the paired poems

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.

Tia Azulay 28Mar10 Copyright © 2010 Tia Azulay



{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!



{Wed 16 December 2009}   When Orality met Literacy…
When Orality met Literacy…

I’m trying hard to articulate for my new business site (still under construction) what exactly it is I do for a living. My clients will be glad that this whimsical meditation probably will not end up on my Home page, but, for some reason, this is what filled that space today!

One day, young Taran was hunting lizards and rats in the desert with some friends. They trod softly and whispered as they walked, so as not to startle their prey. With practised ease, they stalked and circled, wasting no motion as they whirled their slings and released precise, stony death upon their unsuspecting lunch. The sandy crags were abundant with surprising life and by midday their belts were bulging with enough fresh meat to feed their entire tribe that night. With time on their hands, they ran eagerly to where they knew they could find water and shade, to sit and sing until the sun retreated from its ravaging.

As they approached the glistening desert lake, Taran spotted a woman sitting in the shade of the only tree at the oasis. Their tree. Their oasis. Her silverine hair rippled in the breeze as she bent forward. She was making strange marks in the sand near her feet. He confronted her:

“Who are you?”
She smiled, “I am Shanaya. I am a writer.”
“What is a writer?”
“A writer is one who writes. As I am doing here… writing.”
“What is writing?”
“Ah. Writing is …. the rendering on a surface of symbols representing sounds or words.”
“Hmmm. That’s… interesting… I suppose. What is writing for?”
“Writing is for communicating!”
“Communicating what? To whom?”
“Anything! Everything! To anyone! Or even to a machine!”
Taran did not know what a machine was, but he tried to make sense of what she said. “So if I make some marks on a surface to represent some sounds or words, I’ll be communicating?”
Shanaya smiled mysteriously. “Well, it’s a bit more complicated than that!”

She went on to explain about sentences, paragraphs, spelling, grammar, punctuation, reading, target audiences, lexicons, assumed knowledge, style, translation, record-keeping, letter-writing, creative writing, technical writing, analytical writing, history, plays, poetry, novels, short stories, newspapers, film, TV, computer programming, e-mail, blogging, online networking, texting, e-poetry, hypertext writing, video games, multimedia stories, cross-media narratives, Alternate Reality Games and transliteracy.

It was a long day.



{Sat 29 August 2009}   On Emptiness
On Emptiness

So much there was, so much, so much
That isn’t there, was never there!
How could so much nothing take up
So much space and time and tear
Me from myself with such solicitude?
I have spun and spun with spider-touch
A web of words to hold and care
For answers that may never come
From me or you—that truth so rare
We seek and hide in solitude.



{Thu 9 July 2009}   Smooth Red Woman

Smooth Red Woman

Piled under an Italian sky, red marble gleams at me:
“Rosso Ammonico di Verona”, “Rosso Levanto”,
“Rosso Francia”, “Rosso Laguna”, “Rosso Lepanto” …
Seduced, I let the rosy names roll richly off my tongue.
My husband moves on with the guide, but I am enthralled by a red marble woman:

Shining in the sensuous sun, her whole body is deep tongue-texture,
Poised for creamy pleasures.
I cannot pass without caressing her; without sending forth probes
To scan the galaxy of textures just below my reach.
I must stroke her; explore her cool warmth with my fingertips,
Marvel at the harsh practice that produces smooth perfection.
Her delicacy suggests a gentle touch,
But soon I want to lick her, kiss her deeply.

Did she respond to the artisan’s hand as he chipped and chiselled and polished?
Did blood roil in her seething veins?
Did she strive with him to produce this beauty?

My medium’s not marble or any other deserving stone
That earns its right to care by its beautiful existence.
No, my chisel hits flesh, and draws blood, each time.
Its lumpen labour breaks surfaces; bruises.
It’s always amateur art, always a work-in-progress.
I search to expose the beautiful woman,
But each blow chips so little away.

What do I earn by being? By being what I am,
What my mounds, my cracks, my crevasses dictate I must be?
The right to be tossed aside, dismissed, like inferior stone,
Or to be reshaped (misshaped) into something unrecognisable.
My capillaries and crannies are not lovingly polished to reveal their textures.
No, smooth is different for warm-fleshed bodies.

In the world below the marble mountain, there is no real red.
I have spent much life on the effort to be equal:
I could not fashion a man’s sword for myself,
But, with assiduous application of all man’s expertise,
I do not age, have no cramps, show no blood.
My tampon fits discreetly in the palm of my hand.
I am a smoothed-out person, with a smoothed-out life.
No wo(e)-, just -man.

But, inside me, blood breathes and surges.
When the moon is full, it calls and urges.

Why do I fear that place where the Goddess waits?
“I am a woman,” I cry, “See my wedding ring, the pink coat,
The love of roses, the plucking of eyebrows, the Brazilian!”
I don’t want to go to No Man’s Land, where the Goddess waits;
That place where, she says, my name is Woman.

But I hear her calling, “Come, give me your hand.
Let’s wander down the river of blood.”



{Thu 7 May 2009}   Watercolour E-Poem
Watercolour

So… it took a while, but this poem is now more than text! To experience it you’ll need Adobe Flash Player, preferably v9 or v10, and to turn on your sound.

Click the image to view the poem full screen:

gold-watercolour-on-black

The [Respond] button at the end of the poem will bring you back here to comment or offer a poem of your own.

Alternatively, why not respond by creating your own version of Watercolour? Grab the word cloud below, go to http://www.wordle.net, paste it in and have a blast! If you like the result, supply a link to the Wordle version in your comment.

Notes:

  1. Wordle gives greater weight to words that occur more often. If you want some words to appear bigger than others, copy and repeat those words a few times in the word cloud, e.g. repeating “jazz jazz jazz” and “pizzazz pizzazz pizzazz” and “imagine imagine imagine imagine imagine” could produce a Wordle like this: Watercolour imagine jazz pizzazz.
  2. Wordle strips out common words like “of” and “the” unless you change settings via the Language menu.

Word cloud for Wordling:

Watercolour primaries pounce on the primitive page usurping space with bizarre pizzazz opposing waves squall and break brim-brilliant crests crash create a jazz of chaos interference drags a screaming thread of blue through careless orange splotches tia azulay raging red gobbles new green panicking through cooling pools of sulphur a purple pulse breathes whirls of fire willing them to swirl against caking air to savage expectations flay the fair and even strokes of intent with edges of the depths fan water into flame with split-atomic spatterings of aquamarine and shame shatterings of line design all reason Oh Image imagine Imagination’s breathing Ruwach



{Thu 23 April 2009}   Thought Walk
Thought Walk

Pierce breeze
Dazzle sky
Haunt star
Laugh universe



{Wed 18 February 2009}   Watercolour revisited
Watercolour revisited

It’s amazing how a fresh project and the smallest amount of feedback can help one to see old work with new eyes. I’m working on my first e-poem – a conversion of an existing paper-based one. Discussion in the E-Poetry module of the MA made me realise that some of the poem’s “argument” had never made its way from my head to the page. In trying to describe my first experience with watercolour painting, which challenged all sorts of preconceptions I’d held about the medium, I was so focused on my emotional response that I hadn’t given a clear enough picture of the activity to justify my response.

I’ve brought back some structures (layout, punctuation) that I used in earlier versions, but also introduced a few new words, including a whole new line, and deleted some unnecessary ones. I’m pleased with the textual result now (the e- bit is still to come), although in two minds about the title – should I revert to the original title of “Watercolour”, or retain “Primeval Watercolour”?

You can see one of the many earlier versions here, if you’re interested, but here’s the latest version:

Watercolour

Primaries pounce
on the primitive page,
usurping space with bizarre pizzazz;
opposing waves squall and break,
brim-brilliant crests crash,
create a jazz of chaos:
interference drags a screaming thread of blue
across careless orange splotches;
raging red gobbles new green;
panicking through cooling pools of sulphur,
a purple pulse breathes whirls of fire,
willing them to swirl against caking air,
to savage expectations, flay the fair
and even strokes of intent
with edges of the depths,
fan water into flame
with split-atomic spatterings
of aquamarine and shame,
shatterings
of line, design, all reason—

Oh, Image, imagine
Imagination’s breathing:
Ruwach!

Update 12Aug09: See the digital version of this poem here.



Ode to Autumn by John Keats – Wordled by Tia

Today we had a fun exercise for the E-Poetry module – take a classic (out of copyright) poem and convert it into an e-poem. Using Wordle feels like cheating, because it’s so easy, but I think the effect is rather pleasing. I just played around with colour choices a bit to obtain an Autumn palette, and fiddled with the randomization and shape to get the impression of Autumn leaves swirling in a park.

Click the image to be taken to the larger version on the Wordle site.

Oh, by the way, “Anonymous” is me. I didn’t realise the implication of attribution when I chose not to input my name. Moving too quickly…

Ode to Autumn by John Keats



et cetera