Non-Fiction, Poetry, Women

“Dreamwood” by Adrienne Rich

 

In the old, scratched, cheap wood of the typing stand
there is a landscape, veined, which only a child can see
or the child’s older self, a poet,
a woman dreaming when she should be typing
the last report of the day. If this were a map,
she thinks, a map laid down to memorize
because she might be walking it, it shows
ridge upon ridge fading into hazed desert
here and there a sign of aquifers
and one possible watering-hole. If this were a map
it would be the map of the last age of her life,
not a map of choices but a map of variations
on the one great choice. It would be the map by which
she could see the end of touristic choices,
of distances blued and purpled by romance,
by which she would recognize that poetry
isn’t revolution but a way of knowing
why it must come. If this cheap, mass-produced
wooden stand from the Brooklyn Union Gas Co.,
mass-produced yet durable, being here now,
is what it is yet a dream-map
so obdurate, so plain,
she thinks, the material and the dream can join
and that is the poem and that is the late report.

Adrienne Rich, 1987.

 

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Fiction, Non-Fiction, Poetry

Meet Carol Argyris, A Scottish Author and Poet

What are you working on?

I’ve written an eighty thousand word children’s novel pitched for nine to twelve-year olds about a furry four-armed alien called Yub who, a teenager on his own planet, has a special ability that allows him to travel through space. His planet is dying and all its inhabitants live underground in biospheres built after the Cataclysms (a war) that caused the destruction of the protective atmospheric shield around the planet. Looking for a planet like his own was before the violent changes. Yub arrives in the North of Scotland and contacts a teenage boy, Josh, who is also feeling a bit alien as he is an incomer from the south. With the additional help of another isolated incomer, Leonie, they get Yub’s family and closest friends to Earth and hide them. There are many ups and downs, some humour, and some real-life problems like Leonie’s relationship with her chronically depressed father.

I’ve written it, edited and re-edited, worked on a sequel, and think it is good enough to publish but haven’t enough courage to try sending it to any publishers! My self-confidence comes and goes.

I’m also working on a sort of patchwork novel which gives me a chance to make stories up for the characters that fill my imagination. It’s much more adult but doesn’t yet have a connective ‘voice.’

How does your work differ from others in the genre?

That is an extremely difficult question. Quick answer: I’m not sure either of these novels actually differ much from what’s on the market already. Probably because I am older I will have a more old-fashioned approach to writing children’s stories but I have read a lot and still enjoy teen fiction (Kathy Reich’s ‘Virals’ for instance.)
I love J.K. Rowling’s style and would like to be like her without actually emulating her (if you see what I mean). What I admire is her talent for spinning a good yarn, for creating characters who are real and walk off the page, for always mixing in touches of humour with drama even when the situation is dire. She has created a world of friendship, loyalty, bravery and good intentions, the most valued qualities. She creates a whole world in which children love to lose themselves. In my opinion, children need escapism as much as adults and really don’t want ‘real life’ stuff about drugs, getting pregnant, dysfunctional families, or the terrible life of children in war-torn lands, thrust at them constantly. That sort of ‘good for you’ genre reminds me of the books I used to get given as ‘prizes’ at Sunday School, moralising Victorian works like ‘Mary Jones’s Bible.’ They darkened my days–and completely put me off religion, I might add!

Why do you write what you do?

That’s another poser. I’ve written both the children’s story and portions of the adult novel with great enthusiasm and enjoyment. The characters for the latter are people I would like either to meet or be and their psychology amuses me. Probably they are all projections of myself; that’s fine. It’s like being allowed to be multiple-personality-me.

I love crime novels so it is shaping into one of those, but I do have to avoid police rules or autopsies because, though I’ve read a lot about both, I don’t want to get into areas that I only half understand. It would distract from the intricacies of the human mind behind the crime and the reactions of the other characters involved one way or another.We shall see.

How does your writing process work?

I used to always be writing something but have never been very good at consistency or discipline. Family matters and daily obligations easily distract me. It has been better since I retired properly and I have acres of time to myself – I love that. Once I do hit a hot spot I can write for eight hours a day, coming up for air only for coffee and snacks. I love that. At those times even when I lay down to sleep my mind is busy with the next chapter or event. Then months will go by and I can’t bring myself to add anything or even glance at what I’ve done. During this period, I usually write poetry. Recently there have been times when I write nothing. Strangely, I think this has come about because I joined a writing group. They are supportive people and for nearly a year, I loved my Tuesday evenings. Then I started to feel full up with other people’s words and my output dried.

I’ve stayed away for two months – it’s coming back.

So, no words of wisdom here. I am an author who has self-published three small collections of folk tales indigenous to this part of the world. Everything I hear about getting published, from people who are really successful with their writing, is dedication, determination and discipline. I think that the added ingredient is enjoyment. The most successful authors are the ones who almost can’t help themselves–they have to write. I have found that I feel much better when I am writing poetry, which isn’t what I expected; I thought I was a story-teller. It has been quite a surprise and a great pleasure to find my poetry is acceptable.  The ultimate secret! Do what you’re good at.

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Health, Non-Fiction

My Story | Our Story Welcomes – Jane C. Colby

 

It is my pleasure to welcome and interview Jane Colby on our blog today.

Jane has been writing for many years. She has a BA Hons (1st) specializing in creative writing, and was a school principal until she was hit with a severe case of ME from a virus related to polio. She runs The Young ME Sufferers Trust. Her blog is at www.methenewplague.net/blog.

 

My Writing Process

I was very happy Terry Gibson invited me to join her to discuss my writing pursuits. I got to know Terry through Twitter and found her own blog inspiring. Recently she posed a question about memories from childhood that sparked off just the right anecdote for a speech I was writing. Thanks, Terry!

 

What are you working on now?

Something I can’t wait to get on with–the next episode of my book ME – The New Plague 2. Its theme is the link between the disabling disease ‘ME’ (myalgic encephalomyelitis) and the dreadful scourge of polio, and it advocates strongly for the patient’s voice – too long drowned out – to be truly heard. Given this sobering theme, I need continuing inspiration. If it all sounds terribly ‘worthy’ and suspiciously boring, I’m happy to say that readers so far assure me it’s not!

There’s just no excuse for writing a boring book, is there? I open with a scene in a television studio … I had to lay it aside for a while because June 2014 was the 25th anniversary of the UK charity I run for children with ME at www.tymestrust.org. As part of our Fighting Injustice focus we have joined a legal action against a law that Scotland has enacted to give all children state guardians (now called Named Persons) who, it appears from the legislation, will be able to override the will of children’s parents. Now that our anniversary event in the House of Lords (Palace of Westminster) is over,and the papers filed with the Court, I can finally get into the book again.

 

What makes your work unusual?

Although it’s non-fiction, it’s written using creative writing techniques. I need to draw readers into it – especially those who wouldn’t choose to read about ME – I want to surprise them out of their expectations. It’s quite controversial. You could probably call it ‘friction’. It’s the first time I’ve published a book in this way, episode by episode, while I’m still writing it. Is it a blog or a book? Some readers have called it a blog. Whatever, I excitedly follow a method used by my writing hero, Charles Dickens. And that’s a buzz.

 

Are you a writer with a cause? Why do you write what you do?

Because I must. I long to write something different after I complete this book. Fiction, poetry, memoir, all of which I have studied and worked at, and love.

My involvement in this is the fault of my consultant microbiologist/friend, who dragged me into it, then vanished into the woodwork when our work caused a media storm! Dear Betty. But that’s another story. Most of my published work has so far been journal articles, features, guidelines, whatever works to spread knowledge of this much misunderstood disease. The rights of families to care for and educate their children in ways that help them recover must be promoted and defended. Like the mountain, this ginormous obstacle is there and I have to try to surmount it.

 

How does your writing process work?

Organically. Whether I’m converting longhand notes into text, or starting a piece from scratch on my computer, I usually wait until a line or two springs into my head. That indicates that my brain is ready. It takes far less time for the words and ideas to flow and it’s very like free writing. It works best for me to edit section by section, and not wait to do so in its entirety. I treat prose like poetry; each sentence must have rhythm; I must get the wording just so. I read it aloud, over and over; it must feel good in the mouth and be performance-ready. Like music. I’m far more ruthless than I was before. I prune and prune,  and finally I read it out to my ‘critical reader’ who will point out anything that jars.

If I’m writing poetry, it’s always done in a notebook. I’m fussy about notebooks. I like them multicoloured with a good texture. They have to feel good in the hand. Pens too. I grew up watching my artist father produce glorious calligraphy and developed a love of aesthetic writing tools. Does that help the writing itself? Who knows? I like to think it does. If there’s a deadline, I work best right up to it. Scary, but it concentrates the mind wonderfully.

Thank you again, Terry, for the opportunity to tell people about my methods. I hope they inspire someone out there to try something new.  My book episodes, and my Stripeysocks blog, are at www.methenewplague.net.

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Non-Fiction, Poetry

One Hundred Love Sonnets: XVIII – Pablo Naruda

Mural del poeta chileno Pablo Neruda.
Mural del poeta chileno Pablo Neruda.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I don’t love you as if you were a rose of salt, topaz,
or arrow of carnations that propagate fire:
I love you as one loves certain obscure things,
secretly, between the shadow and the soul.

I love you as the plant that doesn’t bloom but carries
the light of those flowers, hidden, within itself,
and thanks to your love the tight aroma that arose
from the earth lives dimly in my body.

I love you directly without problems or pride:
I love you like this because I don’t know any other way to love,
except in this form in which I am not nor are you,
so close that your hand upon my chest is mine,
so close that your eyes close with my dreams.

 

Pablo Neruda.

 

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Non-Fiction, Violence Against Women, Women

My Heart’s Longing …

The World Peace monument in a pond next to a s...
The World Peace monument in a pond next to a statue of the Buddha on a lotus in Swayambhunath temple site, Kathmandu, Nepal. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

My heart’s longing is for a peaceful world and that warring factions everywhere somehow wake up to the senselessness of continuous destruction, bloodshed, and killing.

I yearn for a bliss-ninny’s contentment in love. To find the eternal satisfaction popular media romanticizes. To be soaked in happiness and appreciation for all that I have, instead of focusing on innocuous things that matter little.

My heart’s longing is for the ability to one-day continue my education and complete as many degrees as I want. This is not just because I must be a ‘woman of letters’, but to satisfy myself at having accomplished so much given the dodgy package life gave me with which to build something, anything and hopefully, good.

I yearn for lots of future travel. To check out Vietnam, Chile, Finland, go to Scotland and Cuba again. I hope to work for a friend of a friend’s NGO in Nepal.  All of this—while I write books.

My heart’s longing is to purge my body of the tumultuous emotional tangents I wander off on occasionally.  I want to feel rage against the ails of the world but not lose myself to them.

I yearn for an ever-widening global community, the resources I need as an effective source of support to women’s groups in developing countries. To find some way to honour the struggles of women, especially the isolated and poor, and help advance them toward their immediate goals.

My heart’s longing is that my father-in-law fares well tomorrow for his first chemotherapy treatment for an aggressive stage 4 non Hodgkins lymphoma. However, he said yesterday, “I feel rotten!” and I am afraid he will not do well. I think he will deteriorate rapidly and feel distraught about it. The toll this is taking on my mother-in-law is gut wrenching to watch.

I yearn for the day when people (including myself) become mindful of their choice of language.  Their intentional and inadvertent use of sexist stereotypes, regular ‘slams’ (verbal abuse) against women, even when the speaker is also female.

My heart’s longing is for harmony within this soul of mine, hewed brutally by repeated criminal victimization.  I need courage when I feel like an empty scarecrow faking bravado in a corn field, too alive with the flapping wings of six half-starved four-foot buzzards. I hope for strength.

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Poetry

Adverb-Mongering

Adverb

Like a kid stuck in a guilty stammer

I just failed a test in grammar

Adverbs and verbs did not agree

They quibbled, declaring

Themselves more worthy!

Why do I bother?

I thought in a huff

Allow them to mingle

Play the role of

Hot Stuff!

 

Terry Gibson, 2014.

 

 

 

 

 

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Non-Fiction

Adelstrop – by Edward Thomas

 

English: Adlestrop station sign in the bus she...

 

Yes. I remember Adlestrop—
The name, because one afternoon
Of heat the express-train drew up there
Unwontedly. It was late June.

The steam hissed. Someone cleared his throat.
No one left and no one came
On the bare platform. What I saw
Was Adlestrop—only the name

And willows, willow-herb, and grass,
And meadowsweet, and haycocks dry,
No whit less still and lonely fair
Than the high cloudlets in the sky.

And for that minute a blackbird sang
Close by, and round him, mistier,
Farther and farther, all the birds
Of Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire.

by Edward Thomas

 

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Mental and Emotional Health, Non-Fiction

Sitting Quietly

Shambhala Buddhist Shrine

 

 

While I was sitting quietly, I thought about our discussion of Blaise Pascale on Roadmap this week. I ran across the name ‘Blais’ once. It was an ex-employer’s surname and the ‘s’ was silent, so you pronounced it as if you were spitting a bit of lint off your tongue. It didn’t have the command or sophistication of so many French words and names. To me, it was like calling your son ‘Milieu’.

While I was sitting quietly, I startled myself with a cough and realized that I was getting sick, again. Then I remembered the husky-voiced star of a movie we watched recently, who reminded me of Susan Brown’s comments on writing sex scenes. How bad ones are, well, really bad. Touted as exhilarating and erotic, this was a primetime stinker. It did not happen, people. You can laugh, throw your hair around and proposition while rasping all you want but if there is no chemistry between the pair, it won’t work. It can’t be sexy just because those three letters, in that order, are in the word. It was a punctuated snooze-fest.

While I was sitting quietly, I realized I wasn’t asleep at all but awake and having fun, wandering through my amazing but ugly-looking brain. (Yes. I saw a diagram of one recently in a course about that very organ.) Opening my eyes, I discovered that I was in my Shambhala ‘Contentment in Everyday Life’ class and the room was full of people of all ages. Many sat, cross-legged, warrior style, on gold satin zafu pillows filled with buckwheat hulls, while others, with bad backs like myself, sat on chairs. I recalled how Shastri Leesa said that our belly muscles would strengthen as we deepened our meditation practice. I looked forward to sitting on the floor with everyone else soon and relaxing, certain I wouldn’t burst into a Tourette-like whirl of profanities in a room so quiet you could hear somebody’s zen state fizzle.

While I was sitting quietly, I discovered that I wasn’t sitting at all. Nor was I silent. In fact,  it was the last night of the Commonweal retreat and I was standing on that tiny white stool in front of the podium, projecting my voice to the last row of the audience. The air was stifling and thick with emotion. I was reading a poem in honour of Laura, given her Mom’s health took a sudden turn sending her daughter off on a two-and-a-half hour drive just after midnight. My mouth was dry and I was at one of those split-second intervals where, as I explained to David later, I was on the verge of panic. Inhaling deeply, fighting back tears, I felt a surge of fire within me. I carried on with the story of my mother, while flashing on Bushwhacker’s flaring nostrils during a random ad for a bullfighting competition. (Although I have cut down on my TV by eight-five percent, occasionally some stupid commercial will pop into my awareness.)

While I was sitting quietly, I realized, yes, life entails suffering. Lots of it. Women are hurting. Aboriginal and Indigenous peoples the world over are hurting. People in the Gaza are dying. The First Nation’s woman who had half her family wiped out in a month was in agony. Despite our differences, I knew that emptiness. The shock. Hurt. Unanswered questions. Why? What did I do to deserve THIS? I knew what it felt like to be so livid you think your head will spontaneously combust after leaving brain tissue on the walls.

While I was sitting quietly, I knew it was all such an exquisite pain. I appreciate every second of this life although my mother threw me and it away like last week’s garbage. My emotions steer me on many tangents at the most inopportune moments but I want this life. People can and will refuse to give me work, look at me with suspicion because I’m depressed, and make me feel like wasted space when my defenses are down. I do, however, want this life–even when my spine is screaming at me, “It’s time for more steroid shots!” I am alive to it all, good and bad. Finally, I can explore who I really am. Between that, and loving others, I have everything. Even if I live in the streets. Thankfully, I am not a Blaise or Milieu and there is nothing average about Terry despite my name.

Now that I can’t even pretend to sit quietly–I’m bursting with life–it’s time to get up and go give my best friend a long nurturing hug.

 

 

 

 

 

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Poetry, Quotes

Letters to Milena – Franz Kafka

  
milena

“In a way, you are poetry material; You are full of cloudy subtleties I am willing to spend a lifetime figuring out. Words burst in your essence and you carry their dust in the pores of your ethereal individuality.”

 

Letters to Milena, Franz Kafka.

 

 

 

 

 

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Non-Fiction

My Writing Process #MondayBlogs

Thanks to David Colin Carr for the invitation to take part in #MondayBlogs. I first met David in July 2011 in Bolinas, California at The Writer’s Retreat of Your Dreams, where he assists Laura Davis with this amazing six-day event. Since attending two more retreats with David present, we have shared writing, laughter and plotting mischief.

Here are my answers to the questions:

What am I working on?

Currently, I am writing a memoir called ‘That Terry’. This is my true-life story of surviving a violent, sadistic family who would have destroyed me if I did not run away with Police help at seventeen years old. I was smart and creative but depressed and suicidal. My all-or-nothing thinking took me from hospitals in Ontario to South Korea, from the fields of rural China, to the bustle of Tokyo streets and Parisian cafés. Finally, I landed in Sydney, Australia, where I lived and worked until the brutal murder of a young woman put me in danger of human trafficking and losing my life as well.

I am also in the midst of compiling ‘Traces of Silence’, a chapbook of poetry, and writing a novel tentatively called ‘Puffery Magazine Dishes On Wilbur’.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

My writing is different because I am telling my unique tale. It is a story of survival, loss, and the effects of being poor and too afraid of more suffering and violence to ever speak or challenge authority. It is a journey toward self-discovery while living on the edge of a razor. It is my struggle to find my childhood, grow up and parent myself along the way. It is at once an exceptional rendering of an unlikely fight to defy suicide statistics for a child like me, and an awkward invite into my often confused and troubled process, and slightly warped humour.

Why do I write what I do?

I have been fascinated by words since I was a girl with only my imagination to keep me company while locked in the attic. I started writing poetry because I was passionate about life. I had so much empathy for other people people in pain; of course, I was far too isolated to know my life was not normal but I somehow sensed it was not. I was only eight or nine then but I knew that you do not continuously ridicule, humiliate, beat, berate and ostracize any child, let alone your pre-adolescent daughter.

I have an enormous debt of gratitude. The happiness and laughter I now enjoy is like a huge sack of presents dumped on my desk by a postie. I want to give back in a big way. Many good doctors, therapists, and friends gave me the tools not only to survive, but also to carve out my wee corner of the world. I want to reach out to other young women (and men) who are clawing for any groove into which to sink their bleeding fingertips. To those hardly hanging on and feeling suicidal.

Before I die, I want to look back on my long healing process and know I shared what I learned and helped in every way possible, within my means, to effect change.

How does your writing process work?

These days, my writing process involves waking up, stumbling to the coffeemaker, while trying to avoid my cat Paco’s tail, plunking down at my laptop, fumbling for a password, and buckling up for yet another adventure in #wordmongering. That is–joining a few friends who invited me to their timed writing practice on Twitter.

I am always inspired by reading fiction–with a penchant for Victorian novels thanks to Carleton U–memoirs and poetry. (There must always be poetry!) I love watching movies, attending live musical events and theater. Yes. I did see ‘Les Miserables’ three times and thoroughly enjoy Theatresports at the Arts Club.

People who impact the world affect me a lot. In fact, some of whom I want to hug so often, I tell them, “If you see me coming at you with my arms out, and it’s not a good day, just point me towards the nearest tree.” They need hugs too.

I have invited the following writers to blog on June 16th:

Marta Moran Bishop

Marta Moran Bishop is a versatile author and poet.

Her poetry books are for children as well as adults. ‘Wee Three: A Mother’s Love in Verse’ was a collaboration between the short verses her grandmother wrote in the late nineteen thirties and her own work.

Her adult poetry is an emotional journey through the human condition. Taking one to the heights and depths of the good, bad, and beautiful of being human.

Ms. Bishop layers her novels and short stories with the mythical, paranormal, fantasy, and from there into the mind and heart of her rescue horse (‘Dinky: The Nurse Mare’s Foal’).

She grew up the middle child in a large family and credits her parents for giving her the ability of imagination, empathy, and reading.

You can find Marta here: http://www.martamoranbishop.com and http://www.martambishop.blogspot.com.

Lorna Suzuki

After multiple, failed bids at world domination, Lorna Suzuki was forced to create a fantasy world where she reigned supreme, until her characters orchestrated a military coup! She is a martial arts instructor with over 30 years experience in this field and a novelist, best known for the epic adult fantasy series, the Imago Chronicles as well as the YA fantasy series, The Dream Merchant Saga that she co-writes with her teenaged daughter, Nia. The first three novels of the Imago Chronicles have been optioned for a major motion picture trilogy for worldwide theatrical release in 2015. Film production is currently underway with an Oscar-winning producer at the creative helm! Visit the official Imago website here: http://www.newmobileme.com/imagochronicles9.

Susan Herman

Susan Herman is an independent editor living in Northern California with her husband and two school-age kids. She loves to travel and observe those little quirks that make places and people special. She will imitate your accent without meaning to, but will stop if you buy her a beer.

http://www.edit2yourcredit.com, http://www.slideshowandicecream.com, http://www.40daysofSNAP.wordpress.com

 

Thanks to everyone for participating. Despite technical glitches with the site today, I still had fun and learned a lot.

Please note: I will be looking for guest posts starting two weeks from now. Leave me a comment here if you are interested or tweet me at @Bookmark_Terry.

 

 

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