Friday, July 18, 2014

Gardening and writing

 I came across this hilarious Chinese proverb the other day: “If you want to be happy for an hour, get drunk; if you want to be happy for a year, fall in love; if you want to be happy for a lifetime, take up gardening.”

  I have never been drunk in my life, but I believe that gardening is akin to writing. In order to garden you need a fertile soil. You get good quality soil  by composting.  I love composting. Composting is about turning trash into treasure. In writing, we can try to create something meaningful out of life situations and events, so it is a way of recycling thoughts and experiences.
  Like gardening, writing is about choosing what you need to produce something that will inspire your readers’ senses. You can let your imagination fly and mold your words into something that will intrigue your readers and elicit an air of expectation and wonder.
  Both your garden and your manuscript have a soul of their own. They breathe life; your words make up metaphors or reflections out of something real. They both make you trim, prune, weed out, and you are  ready to add some fertile soil and make changes to let them grow in new directions.
  There is a time to sow and a time to harvest.
   Will it work? I’ve no idea, but I welcome the challenge.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Doris Lessing 's "Love, again"

“Don’t be satisfied with stories, how things have gone with others. Unfold your own myth.”

Love, again is populated by artists and intense personalities. From the very beginning I was so hooked to these characters that I needed to know what would happen to them.
 Sarah Durham and Stephen become good friends. Sarah is a writer who works in a theater in London. Stephen is madly in love with a woman called Julie Vairon. Julie is dead, though. She died one hundred years ago. She had been a gifted musician, an artist and a writer; she had also been a kind of outcast who loved to dance in the woods.
 Julie Vairon is  the main character of the play Sarah and Stephen are working on together. Sarah is a woman in her sixties who had not cared about romantic love for two decades, and, all of a sudden, she falls in love with Bill, the young actor who plays the role of Julie Vairon’s first lover. 
  Sarah had lost her husband in her late thirties. She had to raise her two kids by herself, so she had always been too busy to date men. 
  We are then invited into the intimate territory of Sarah’s thoughts, fantasies and emotions.
  While I read this novel I came across many interesting revelations about society, and I found myself saying, "Finally somebody dares to assert what I have been observing and thinking for many years". 
  Sarah did not know she was capable of being in love this way. She wondered how these exhilarating sensations had evaded her for two decades and is somewhat shocked at feeling what she feels. There is a mutual attraction between Sarah and Bill but their relationship never flourishes, and I am left wondering if her feelings had more to do with lust than with love.
 The frustration of not accomplishing a true love relationship with Bill transforms into something else. Just like Julie Vairon, Sarah Durham falls in love a second time. Doris Lessing dredges up the obscure realities and inconveniences of falling in love. She will make you burn in flames of passion and desire, and will later splash you with icy water. 
 After she falls in love, Sarah Durham is caught up in a swamp of grief. She yearns for her lost youth and falls into the prejudice of thinking that she will never be cherished and desired the way she had been when she was young. For many years she had been too occupied with life responsibilities to be bothered with the physical changes that had been happening over time. We witness the stages of her grief.  
  Now she also examines her life under a new light of introspection. Her quest for love leads her to ponder over her relationship with her brother, mother,  father. She is also flooded with memories of past lovers. 
   Everybody adores Julie Vairon. Her life is a mirror of their heartbreaks. Sarah and Stephen are two heart-broken souls “living in their own deserts”. They understand Julie Vairon’s misery from their own personal experiences and they are deeply touched by her music. Amid their despair, they share moments of solace and comfort in literature and philosophy.
  Yes, Julie Vairon is dead, but her spirit is alive through her art, music and words. It is the shadow of these characters’ love stories.  
  Sarah and Stephen are fond of each other.  They miss each other, but their friendship is crippled by misunderstandings, fears and doubts. The fact that Sarah is a woman and Stephen is a man plays a role in the dynamics of their communication. Yet their sincerity  had brought them together. I have never come across a writer who deals with these matters so openly.
  Doris Lessing made me feel that Sarah and Stephen are my intimate friends. I kept mulling over their inner conflicts and troubles after I finished reading this novel.
  I would have given this novel a different kind of ending -- a happier, hopeful one.
  It is clear to me that Doris Lessing had more faith in the arts than in the act of falling in love.
  If human relationships intrigue you and keep you awake at night, this novel will captivate you. If, on the other hand, you prefer fairy tales, you may be better off reading something else.

  Doris Lessing was awarded the 2007 Nobel Prize in Literature. In 2008 The Times ranked her fifth on a list  of "the 50 greatest British writers since 1945". In 2001 she was awarded the David Cohen Prize for a lifetime's achievement  in British literature.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Celebrating World Compassion Day July 7

   As we celebrate compassion day, I reflect once again on the power of literature. I believe literature has the power to make people more compassionate.
  It has the potential to open doors of understanding.
  May you all have a peaceful week.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

A strange frenzy

 "All writing is a love letter, said the great Deleuze. Reading is also an act of love, and, sometimes, this love, in reading writes."

  A Strange Frenzy includes 17 poems by Dom Gabrielli. Each of these poems was written in response to a quotation by Rumi. Dom Gabrielli feels an intimate connection to  Rumi's verses.
  Rumi's writings had lingered in his life over the years and they inspired him to write these poems that create a dialogue.
  This conversation explores the beauty of the universe and the mysterious moments of our existence; it is about those instances that leave us in awe because we cannot comprehend the underlying strings and  motions that draw us together.
  "What is the body?  That shadow of a shadow
of your love, that somehow contains
the entire universe."

  Rubi's and Gabrielli's voices slide into the mystic heart of love.

"Love has taken away my practices and filled me with poetry."

"i have nowhere to run

amid these wheat fields of lost words

all I know is i am far

far from you

from the smiles i love

i have nothing left of me

nothing of a body

to espouse the moment of blue

which brings green taste to my earth."

Dom Gabrielli

"The inner secret of that which was never born,
you are that freshness, and I am with you now."
                                          "There's a strange frenzy in my head,
                                                                                           of birds flying,
         each particle circulating on its own.
             Is the one I love everywhere?"

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Switch off the television

 Last April I attended the most important annual literary event in the Spanish speaking world: the Buenos Aires Book Fair. It is a meeting point for authors, editors, teachers, distributors, librarians, scientists and over one million readers from all over the world.
 There were also international renowned authors.
  Paul Auster was there, and you can read about his visit here.
  The crowds of people at the book fair are a celebration of the existence of physical books. It is this passion for books that convinces me that they will not cease to exist. The digital era will not kill physical books.
  While I was there I attended a poetry reading. The auditorium was packed. All the seats were taken and I had to sit on the floor.
  There were also plans to read poetry on the streets and in the subway stations. What a great idea! I believe poetry should reach people everywhere. You never know how the words will touch others. There are no castles to restrain the free spirit of a poem; there is no elitist house to befit the true nature of this art. For this reason I always choose to submit to journals that are free online. Do journals in print have a better reputation? I don't know and I don't care. I believe in the power of poetry.
  Poetry feeds the soul. It is a land where we can find ourselves in somebody else's words. Poetry is a language that embraces longings and dreams. It is the art of  telling stories that are afraid of being told in other ways.
  At the poetry reading I found a place close to the wall, and my eyes came across an enticing invitation (I took a picture of it to share it with you):

 It says, "Switch off the television, turn on your mind and smoke a book."

Thursday, June 12, 2014

A friend in Saudi Arabia

I can hear them say
how much everything has changed
over the years.
A friend of mine
just moved to Saudi Arabia;
she cannot leave her house
without her husband;

her gender encircles her life,
what she can do,
and what she can’t.

Windows close to the ceiling,
 heads wrapped in abayas,
cars with male drivers.

“I brought you your woman,” somebody
said to her husband,
announcing his belonging.

 The world is busy praying.

Justice does not fit in our mindsets.

Freedom is  a frail word
with fragile bones, 
 as a forsaken dream
whenever you believe
that every woman is ready to submit.

Julia Hones

In Saudi Arabia women are not allowed to study or work without the permission of a male family member. They are not allowed to drive, and they cannot travel overseas unless they have the consent of a man.
I dedicate this poem to the women in Saudi Arabia who are silenced or beaten whenever they try to change their situation.
 I dedicate this poem to the victims of domestic violence in Saudi Arabia. The ones who don't belong to the statistics, the women and kids whose silent suffering is forgotten by the world...

"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere."
Marin Luther King

Wednesday, June 11, 2014


"In every job that must be done there is an element of fun. You find the fun and ... snap! The job is a game." 
Mary Poppins
I agree with Mary Poppins, and so do the robins that live in a our house.
Can you see one of the baby Robins staring at me? Every year  a new couple of robins choose our home to build their nest.
 This year their location –or I should say one of them, because we have multiple nests attached to our home- enabled us to watch the parents raising their offspring. No documentary would be better  than the experience of being so close to them... here is a very brief video of the babies.

Two years ago we had a nest built by the Say's Phoebe. 

 They do have a predilection for porch roofs near the door- and this is what they did in our house two years ago. 

 By the way, when I was writing this post on the deck I spotted a mother deer breastfeeding her baby. What a beautiful scene. A mother breastfeeding her baby.( Sorry, I couldn't take a picture of them.)

  I've always been impressed by the variety of birds that live here, in Western Wisconsin. On one of my recent visits to the ecopark I popped into the local library and borrowed this book to learn more about the birds that I see on a regular basis. 

The creeper's way of foraging always captivated me: starting at the base of a large tree, it spirals up the trunk, poking into bark crevices, until it reaches the first large branches, at which point it flies to the base of a nearby tree and starts over. You can watch the bird do this a few times before he disappears. They eat insects, larvae, spiders and their eggs from the bark crevices.

Two months ago I was delighted by the visit of a cardinal. He perched on our deck for a few seconds before he flew away. I know he was a male bird because the male is completely red except for a small black mask and  chin. 

The kind of hummingbird that we can find here is the Ruby-throated Hummingbird. They have a feisty personality and aggressively defend their nectar source from others. You can find some astounding pictures of hummingbirds here.

 They feed on nectar, small insects and spiders. 

Have you been watching any birds lately?