Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Poets United Midweek Motif ~ Survival

“All art is a kind of confession, more or less oblique. 
All artists, if they are to survive, are forced, at last, 
to tell the whole story; to vomit the anguish up.” 
― James Baldwin

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“. . . and when we speak we are afraid
our words will not be heard
nor welcomed
but when we are silent
we are still afraid
So it is better to speak
we were never meant to survive” 
― Audre Lorde
The Black Unicorn: Poems

Midweek Motif ~ Survival

Breaking the cycle of violence 
against women and girls.  Stopping violence altogether.

Today, I am thinking of the ones who 
don't survive.  Of the ones who do.
 Of surviving  huge violence and 
violence others might perceive 
as small.   I want to write,  but how 
to take one event and emotion
 from among so many that 
stuff up our mouths?  

Your challenge: Speak about survival so that others may listen.  Write a new poem because that is what we do. 

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Please share your new poem using Mr. Linky below and visit others 

in the spirit of the community.

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(Next week, Susan's Midweek Motif will be Energy, as in Vitality)

Monday, November 23, 2015

Life of a Poet ~ Laura Bloomsbury

Today, my friends, we are flying across the Pond to visit Laura Bloomsbury, in London, England. Laura writes at Tell Tale Therapy, and you likely have read some of her poems in recent weeks. I wanted to stop by and let her know how happy we are she found Poets United. I am pretty sure we will be arriving right at tea-time, so let's all share a pot of Earl Grey tea, while we chat. There is bound to be a crackling fire against the November chill, which will be most welcome. If there isn't, we will invent one, because we can do that, here.

Sherry: Laura, I am so happy to be chatting with you. As you are one of our newer members,  we are very happy to have this opportunity to get to know you better. Would you give us a glimpse of your life, so we can picture you in your setting as we read your poems?

Laura: My moniker is Laura Bloomsbury, after the eponymous area of Central London (UK) where my husband and I live - as have many famous writers and poets before me! It also doubles as a reference to my love of flowers and gardening. I’ve 3 children and 4 grandchildren and all are within easy reach of the capital city, so we are in touch quite often. In dreams, I live in a small country town with 2 dogs and a garden, in England or perhaps Spain.

Sherry: Oh, both lives sound perfect! And it is lovely your family is close by.  Are you retired, Laura?  Is there a career behind you that you’d like to mention? 

Laura: I’m retired and, in my final professional life, was a psychotherapist, having moved through several manifestations to get there, including secretary, nurse training, full time mother, researcher and health food business. In retirement, I have taught Tai Chi to elderly Chinese.

Sherry: How interesting. You have great experience in the field of health! When did you first pick up your pen and begin writing, Laura? Was it poetry or prose? Was there someone in your early life you feel had a significant influence on your becoming a poet?

Laura: In short, I was never much of a childhood poet or writer, not counting the hundreds of compulsory English essays throughout school days. Good literature and the constant companionship of books were the best of foundations. When the meaning of poems was explained by my high school teacher, the motes fell from my eyes in a eureka moment of having broken a secret code.

Since the age of 7, I had had to learn poems for Speech and Drama exams and enter poetry recitation competitions. I understood rhythms and understated dramatic emphasis from this, as well as the joy of alliteration, as I had a bit of an S lisp and ‘sister Suzie sewing shirts for soldiers’ shoulders’ helped me overcome it!

School plays had me destined for the stage!

Sherry: Well, I would have trouble with that phrase now, I think! What are the joys of poetry, for you? Why do you write?

Laura: I have a love of words which don’t seem to develop  much further than a few written paragraphs, but in poetry they can whirl about and settle down to something more precise and concise. Words paint pictures and images of feelings, and that is the poetry I prefer. I try to keep my verses simple, as Hemingway stressed, though he would hate my fauvistic use of adjectives!

There have been many years of not writing anything, and even rejecting all poetry and fiction.  But time and again I return to it.

Sherry: I love how poetry is always there to return to. Who is your favourite well-known poet?

Laura: Ultimately I suppose it is T.S. Eliot, though Dylan Thomas, Hughes, Plath, and the Romantic poets are a close tied second! I’ve begun reading Spanish poets, too, if only to help me learn the language.

Sherry: I detect a theme here, Laura, your love of Spain, your learning the language. Have you been there? Do you hope to return?

Laura: I went to Spain last year, Sherry, and plan to go again in April, to a different part. I would love to live there awhile. if only to absorb the language more readily.

I posted about last year's trip here.

Sherry: I read this post and it is wonderful! Kids, be sure to check it out. The photos are great, too. I would have loved to make such a trek myself this lifetime. I have done so only through the pages of books.

When did you come to the world of blogging, Laura, and how has it impacted your writing?

Laura: It all began with writing a gardening blog (now defunct) whilst I was the communal gardener for my block of flats, but when that fell through (sad story – don’t go there) - I set up eljaygee – based on my initials,  initially intended to help me through the stopping smoking days. When that period passed, the blog idled, before being resurrected to record my replacement hobby of photography.

Sherry: Might we have a peek at your desk? I always love to see a writer's work area - where the magic happens!

My work area

Thanks, Laura. I see your journals stacked there - I always view a poet's journal as a treasure trove of words, ideas and snippets! You have several blogs – perhaps you could tell us briefly the purpose of each one? 

As I took photography more seriously, it felt necessary to segregate off my post-camera tweaking and arty edits from eljaygee  into a dedicated photoart blog – ‘hanging up to dry’. The images are mostly altered in Smart Photo Editor software.

Sherry: Your work is very beautiful, Laura. The red berries are so dramatic.

Laura: But pictures alone do not satisfy my love of language, and so I began Tell Tale Therapy, because it is just that 

Sherry: And we are happy that you did!

Finally, my eldest grand-daughter and I share 1-pic-a-week on a theme of our choosing, at the obviously entitled blog 
Me and My Grandma. It’s a good way to keep in touch and see the world from each other’s perspective.


Silhouette - Laura's photo                               Lauren's photo

Sherry: What a wonderful idea! Tell us about your photo art – what are the joys of seeing the world through a camera lens? 

Laura:  Photography is the art of seeing light, space and framing, but is also a technical skill that I struggle to master. Without the latter, images are just snaps. I separate my photos into good enough to stand alone,  good enough to convert to photoart or best trashed. 

These 3 photographs are different aspects of London life:

London city from the river Thames

London people at an event

Peaceful London parks
Sherry: Such beautiful scenes, so well captured! Would you like to choose three of your poems to share here, and tell us a bit about the meaning behind each one? 

Laura: My photos are invariably the visual prompts to start me writing, although in ‘The City’ it was an artist’s tweet that gave me a first line to unravel the poem: 

A line defines the space -
and beyond a goodly share of ambition
the city a ripe cheese, slow-baked
oozing the edges of decomposition

I describe the metropolis of London stretching across the vertical and horizontal of space from its square mile origins through a history of devastation and reconstruction. A dark view prompted by a return journey from the wilds of a country walk with its softer contrasts:

a backwards ride from rural hinterlands
tree line silhouettes wave as if on air
the city shapes loom dark and hard
grist for the devilish millionaire”

Sherry: You capture urban sprawl so well in this poem.

Laura: ‘At the sign of the Fish’ employs the Christian piscine symbolism as well as its signature of Jonas. The poem begins with a fish-shaped love padlock attached to London bridge:

what lover felt that landing a fish
locked for aeons
could vouchsafe the course of true love;
a creature gasping by the watery wayside
declaiming empty-mouthed without
fluidity of feeling
depths of emotion

Sherry: Wonderful!

Laura: ‘Train Lines’ is a two-part poem –the first are some impressions I’d scribbled down on a journey; the last part is a retrospective on that:

“… fleet visions
of Spring and monochrome the lexicon
that nets elusive first impressions

lines seen from a train window
rattled to a plain and honest rhythm
jottings in a purple book of prose
dormant; revisited now without revision

only the poet knows to shoot in colour
without surfeit of sincerity”

Sherry: I love "only the poet knows to shoot in colour".  What other activities do you enjoy when you aren’t writing?

Laura: Walking with and without camera, photo editing, watching films, learning Spanish, doing my friend’s garden and practicing Tai Chi.

Sherry: How did you find Poets United, Laura? (We are so happy that you did!) And is there anything you’d like to say to our members?

Laura: It’s mainly thanks to Donna @ Living from HappinessDonna has been a most supportive, long term blogging friend  - since my garden blogging days in fact - and I’ve always enjoyed her plant postings and her more recent poetry contributions. Eventually I took courage and followed her in to Poetry Pantry.
And I’ve been genuinely touched by the generosity and support received from others at Poets United. Thank you everyone!

Sherry: You are most welcome, Laura, and thank you, for venturing in, and for allowing us this lovely visit. We look forward to enjoying much more of your work in the months to come.

Well, kids? It is half past teatime, so we must catch our flight home. I hope you enjoyed this visit as much as I did. Do come back and see who we talk to next. Who knows? It might be you!

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Poetry Pantry #279

Photos of Central London, England

by Laura Bloomsbury

Westminster - Sunset

London Skyline - River Thames

Trafalgar Square 

Pageantry - Horse Guards - Parade

City Hall & Tower Bridge, London

St. James Park

Red Bus & Flowers

Good day, Friends! Hope all is well with everyone.  We just had our first winter storm of the season, and quite a storm it was indeed.  It is beautiful outside, but still.....I am not a fan of the cold and the driving.  I am sure that some of you shared this storm with me too.  

Today our photos of Central London come from Laura Bloomsbury who is one of our newer regulars.  Thank you, Laura, for sending such a unique and beautiful collection.

And, following the Poetry Pantry on Monday Sherry will be featuring an interview with Laura Bloomsbury.  Please visit tomorrow and find out more about her!  I think you will enjoy.....

This week Susan has "survival" as the theme for Midweek Motif. I think this is particularly apt due to some of the events occurring in our world today.  But then again there are so many ways of thinking of 'survival, and you have a few days before Wednesday to cogitate.  Smiles.

If you missed The Living Dead post on "Ithaca" by C.P. Cavafy,  please scroll back and take a look. Cavafy is a most interesting poet.

With no further delay, let's share poetry. Link your poem using Mr. Linky below, say hello in the comments,  and then visit the poem shares of others.  Come back often to see who else has linked.  Be sure to comment back to those who visit you!  See you on the trail.