Thursday, 7 February 2019

My Poetry

I've had a few requests from blogger friends to post up some of my poetry but once a poem has appeared on a blog it is considered to have been published and, as such, most poetry magazines would refuse to accept it. I am working towards producing a poetry collection and so it is important for me to have my work published by poetry magazines in order to get my name out there. Therefore I can't post up a selection of my poems at the moment. What I can do is to post the links to three poems that have been published so far this year...

Youth

I wrote Youth in response to a piece of artwork called Messiah by Ernst Neuschul. I am fascinated by this kind of writing. It's called ekphrastic writing and our tutor on the MA Course introduced me to it. He took us to New Walk Museum and told us to find a painting and see what writing it inspired. Youth was the first piece I wrote. I went on to write a number of other pieces but this one was accepted by the Ekphrastic Review last December and so you can read it here:


Klezmer Men

Having been inspired by art, I moved on to music. I love listening to Klezmer music, popular in 19th century Ashkenazi communities of Eastern Europe. Klezmer bands would roam from stetl to stetl often playing for very little money and a bed for the night. The music fell out of fashion after the Second World War but during the 1980s its popularity reemerged. Klezmer music makes me want to dance and so I wrote two poems about men playing and dancing to the music. They were both published in last month's Jewish Literary Review. You can read them here:




Saturday, 2 February 2019

Holocaust Memorial Day Event...

...and a tiff with the local press

Last week our local newspaper, The Leicester Mercury, said that they couldn't send a reporter to the annual HMD Event and so the event organiser asked if I would write a report. I interviewed participants, wrote out the article and submitted it early next morning.

The following day it appeared in the local newspaper - that is to say, all my words appeared, but they were accredited to someone called Staff Reporter. When I queried this, they said they thought I was sending in a press release... No, it made no sense as an excuse to me either. 

I have decided to post the article here, so that my name can be firmly attached to my words, because I did indeed write them. The only alteration I've made is to remove the names of the school children - something that is welcomed in the world of local newspapers, but not necessarily on a public blog.

Theme: Torn from Home

On Sunday, 27th January, 2019, it was standing room only for the 19th Holocaust Memorial Day Event. The audience at the University of Leicester’s Fraser Noble Hall experienced a rollercoaster of emotions. 

Four eloquent students opened the evening with a passionate desire to see their generation make a difference. The first two students recounted their visit to Auschwitz. They were particularly moved by the room of personal possessions, by the bags, shoes and glasses, and were saddened that there is still ethnic cleansing today. The second two students spoke of their trip to the First World War battlefields. They hoped that by raising awareness of past horrors it might prevent them from reoccurring and concluded by quoting Anne Frank: 
‘I still believe people are really good at heart.’ 

Tony Nelson, who was chairing the event, said that these youngsters give us hope for the future.

Howard Coleman playing
Klezmer music for the guitar
Photo by Richard Gatward
After listening to haunting flute music from two young musicians, Dr Tom Wilson talked of his sobering experience visiting Srebrenica. This was followed by several pieces of Klezmer music. Howard Coleman played his own guitar arrangements of original pieces and explained that Klezmer music had been lost following the Holocaust but since the 1980s it has been more readily available and is now gaining in popularity once more.

The rollercoaster of emotions continued. The children’s art competition organised by local artist, Claire Jackson, produced astoundingly moving artwork from four local schools including the Children’s Hospital School. One youngster explained that she used a curled up body to portray the emotion of loneliness and fear. Another chose the darkness of a silhouette to express a man’s desperation. His father was overwhelmed saying, 
‘I didn’t realise my son could express such emotions through art.’
Professor Aubrey Newman ended the evening with the keynote speech. He has presented every one of the keynote speeches since the annual event began 19 years ago but said that this year’s theme, Torn from Home, had particular resonance. He began by reminding us of the number murdered during the Holocaust – six million, a number impossible to comprehend, but still the murders continue in Rwanda, Cambodia, so many places and so many people living in fear of their safety, even in our own country where anti-Semitism has now re-emerged. He concluded by saying that this year’s theme reminds us that home should be a place of security. We are all entitled to a safe home.






Friday, 25 January 2019

Life After Masters

Last week I graduated. De Montfort Hall looked amazing. We all looked amazing. The University of Leicester did us proud.

I had been dreading Graduation Day - all that fuss, all that pomp and tradition. What if the gown didn't fit? What if I tripped as I walked across the stage? But then I woke up at 5 am and I was no longer anxious. I was looking forward to it. I was going to enjoy every minute, not least seeing Daughter who was travelling up by train for the day.

Now it's all over. I have my certificate for my MA. I have my Waddington Award for best dissertation and my G. S. Fraser award for poetry. But there is a void. I want a deadline for an assignment. I want the preparation for a seminar. I want the coffee and chat in the Student Union cafe. It will take a while before I stop missing all those things.

Its not as if I've been doing nothing since I finished the MA. I've sent out some poetry - three poems accepted so far this year and there are more out there being considered. What I should be doing is transforming my stage play from a dissertation to a submittable script. I worked really hard on that play, was thrilled to get an award for it, so why can't I just get on with editing and submitting? It's based on a true event from 1935 London. I became very attached to the characters, both the real ones and my fictional protagonist. Maybe I'm afraid that it will be rejected. Maybe I need a bit more time to ruminate. Maybe I should stop writing this blog post and just get on with it...

Friday, 4 January 2019

Ferret Love

For over 40 years I cooked Christmas dinner for the family. Now it's someone else's turn. 

This is the second year that we spent Christmas with Daughter. It has become our new tradition. Daughter found a lovely pub-cum-restaurant where we lounged near a huge log fire and unashamedly allowed others to wait upon us.

Since I last mentioned Daughter on this blog, she has fallen in love with ferrets. She is a weekend volunteer at her local RSPCA and this was how she first met - and lost her heart to - these long furry animals. I didn't realise how tame and loving ferrets could be. It would seem that I am now their grandma and so, as is the way with all good grandmas, I am in love with them... almost.

Between you, me and the blog post, I have to admit that I do prefer cats. My two girls, Mabel and Charlie, are getting on in years now and are both on different doses of medication. This would make going away impossible if it wasn't for my amazing friend/neighbour who even crept round early on Christmas morning to give them food, meds and love before her family woke up.

Of course, there were other holiday events; trips to visit family, family staying over on New Years Eve, a visit with the grandkids to the local pantomime, Peter Pan - oh yes we did - but somehow I keep thinking of those ferrets, of their hammocks to sleep in, their toys to play with and tubes to run through. They've certainly landed on their paws at my Daughter's place and they're not cheap to run. They eat fresh meat every day, need constant care and attention and I'm guessing that all those ferret toys cost a pretty penny and some, but then I think about the amount of love that they have to offer - and that is priceless.