The road ends, but the journey continues...

Tag: writers as readers (Page 1 of 3)

October Poet (part three, final)

Khaya Ronkainen

Khaya Ronkainen, poet

Khaya Ronkainen is a South African-Finnish writer. Her work is largely inspired by nature but often examines the duality of an immigrant life. She is the author of two poetry chapbooks, Seasons Defined and From the Depth of Darkness, published through her imprint. Some of her work has been anthologized as well as featured in various publications. She is currently at work on her third poetry collection about all things pandemic and political. To learn more or connect with her, visit her blog at www.khayaronkainen.fi


Here we come to the third and final part of our (he)art to (he)art interview with Khaya where she elaborates on the universal language of love (part one here, part two here).
Please read on to the end where I reveal who won the free autographed copy of her “From the Depth of Darkness”.

LBL: How many languages do you in fact speak and/or understand?

KHAYA: Hmm…let’s see! I speak and understand five of the eleven South African official languages. I also speak Finnish. I’ve also studied a bit of Swedish and basic Spanish. Out of all these, I only speak four fluently, and dream only in two; Xhosa and English.

I dream in Xhosa

LBL:  There’s a drastic difference between South Africa and Finland! And yet, you seem to have embraced your adopted home. I suspect that connection was due to falling in love with a Finn!? Care to elaborate on what brought you two together?

KHAYA: True, there’s a drastic difference between these two countries. But there’s not much difference between people; we all want the same things in life. Tell me one person, who doesn’t want to be loved! I’m not talking about romantic love now but a universal love – being seen and accepted for who we are.

What brought us together? [Laughs]…Love, of course, is what usually brings people together. It’s that same love that saw me leave my warm and sunny birth country to embrace long, dark and cold Nordic winters. Love transcends everything, doesn’t it?

But what has kept us together and happy all these years is equally important. Our backgrounds, how we were raised, and our way of thinking are quite similar, even though we were born on the opposite sides of the world. We have so many things in common. For instance, the spirit of adventure (taking risks, being open to things we don’t know and learn, embrace the unexpected) is one of the things we share.

And oh, yes! I have the best in-laws ever. They make me feel like the luckiest girl in the world! So, again, the language of love has played a huge role in embracing my adopted home and vice versa.

LBL: You make building and nurturing relationships seem so easy to do. I assume this is how you approach relationship in your writing world as well, not only with readers but fellow writers.

KHAYA: Exactly. I see the reader of my writing as someone I’m having a conversation with. That is, it’s more than just saying come look, see, I wrote a book and now I’d like you to buy it. But it’s an invitation to explore the world I present in the book with me and exchange thoughts, ideas or even letters. My hope is always for the reader to see themselves in the world I share or learn something new or be inspired to share their world, too.

The same applies to relationships with my fellow writers. I value genuine conversations. Perhaps, that’s why blogging is my favoured way of interacting with other writers and writing communities. It allows for depth; learning more about the person behind the avatar. I like learning about how other writers and creatives, at large, navigate their worlds; the sharing of challenges and victories as our words find a home or take off to delight readers, wherever they find them. So, as it’s been said over and over again, “Other writers are not your competition but a source of support.” Because who else fully understands the struggles and joys of the writing life than another writer.

So, in closing, I’d like to extend my heartfelt gratitude to you for this meaningful conversation. I hope you and your readers will enjoy reading it as much as I’ve enjoyed answering your questions. Thank you so much. And here’s to October!

LBL: …and to October babies! 🙂


Khaya's chapbooks on shweshwe cloth

And the winner is…L. Marie! Congrats!

Please comment below and I’ll send on your autographed copy of “From the Depths of Darkness” via snail mail shortly.

Note: Fabrics in photo are traditional South African shweshwe cloth – sent to me by a dear SA quilter recently. I thought they added a little something to the display of Khaya’s chapbooks.


October Poet (part two)

Khaya Ronkainen

Khaya Ronkainen is a South African-Finnish writer. Her work is largely inspired by nature but often examines the duality of an immigrant life. She is the author of two poetry chapbooks, Seasons Defined and From the Depth of Darkness, published through her imprint. Some of her work has been anthologized as well as featured in various publications. She is currently at work on her third poetry collection about all things pandemic and political. To learn more or connect with her, visit her blog at www.khayaronkainen.fi


Our (he)art to (he)art conversational interview continues, touching on the power of the written word and language as a bridge…please join us.

LBL: In reading your bio I am reminded that English is far from being your first language and yet it appears to be your language of choice for the written word. Why is that?

KHAYA: The answer is long and complex but I’ll keep it short. English is the main language, in every sphere of my life. I had no choice as history and politics of the day made sure that English and Afrikaans were the languages. So, like most South Africans, I’m multilingual. And even though for Black South Africans, English is officially classified as a second language, many of us have a native-like proficiency. Because we were (and continue to be) exposed to English from a very early age.

While I speak my mother tongue Xhosa fluently, I cannot write it with the same fluency I write English, especially now as I haven’t lived in South Africa for many years. By this I mean, I have to move slow and be diligent when writing or reading long Xhosa texts.

Finnish is another dominant language in my daily communication. Nonetheless, at home (in Finland) we speak English, except with a few relatives who don’t speak the language.

I view all these languages I speak as a set of keys to open doors that allow me entry into different worlds.

 LBL: Born into the Xhosa community of South Africa, your first language is Xhosa. I assume Xhosa is more of a spoken language so poetry, prose, stories are conveyed more along the lines of a spoken tradition? In light of that, what drew you to the written word? Expressing yourself in this manner?

KHAYA: First, I need to clarify, Xhosa is one of the South African official languages. It’s a standard language that is written, read and spoken. That is, it’s not dialect rather it has several dialects. I can think of seven Xhosa dialects off the top of my head. But you are correct about the oral tradition; the passing of knowledge from one generation to the next through stories, prose, poetry, songs, painting, etc.

I come from a tradition of oral storytelling, which means I grew up around stories. Retelling of Xhosa tales, was a pastime that lit our household with excitement in the evenings.

Anyway, what drew me to the written word? First, I’m an introvert with some elements of extroversion. I simply prefer to write rather than talk. So, letter writing was the art form I was drawn to first. At the time, though, I didn’t know or do it as an art but a pastime to share my thoughts. Second, I find power of the written word unmatched.

“Some of the important parts of life are not visible in pictures: ideas, insights, logic, reason, mathematics, intelligence. These can’t be drawn, photographed or pictured. They have to be conveyed in words…and can only be understood by those who have acquired the superpower of reading.”

Kevin Kelly

LBL: In what other languages do you write? And do you find it difficult creating poetry in languages and in context of a culture/society not native to your personal experiences/knowledge? 

KHAYA: I once mentioned on Instagram that one of the things I’m embarrassed about is that I can’t even write a poem in my mother tongue. Because I’m gradually losing my Xhosa vocabulary. A shift (or even death of a language in some cases) is the downside of being a multilingual. But the upside? I view all these languages I speak as a set of keys to open doors that allow me entry into different worlds.

As for difficulty in creating poetry in languages not native to me, I can’t say because I write mainly in English. As for difficulty in creating poetry in context of a culture/society not native to me, my poetry (even though largely inspired by nature) is influenced by cultures and societies I live in as well as diverse personal experiences/knowledge. So, the difficulty might be making art itself, but not due to a lack of perspective or material.

Dr. Solorio reading Khaya's chapbook

LBL: I asked you to sign a copy of your From the Depths of Darkness I’m giving to my middle daughter as a gift. The phrase you used in the inscription “For what is language but a bridge!” reflects on your own passion for building bridges with your own mastery of several languages. You seem to be driven by a deep desire to communicate, connect and enable community among people from all walks of life and cultures.

KHAYA: Thanks once again Laura for supporting my work. I thought a lot about what drives my deep desire to communicate and connect. I think it’s due to a number of things, such as my personality, values, worldview and so on. Or maybe it’s just a gift. And if that’s the case, then I’m grateful for it.  What I know is that I value authentic relationships with others.

However, I’m also passionate about words. I’m always interested in how they form a language, which we in turn use or respond to. How words can change within a language as we decide who to invite in or keep out. Hence, I see language as a bridge. It’s a tool we all have at our disposal and we, individually, can decide what to do with it.


to be continued…commenters will be automatically entered into a drawing for a free autographed copy of From the Depths of Darkness…winner will be announced at the end of the third and final part of this interview.

October Poet (part one)

Khaya Ronkainen

Khaya Ronkainen, poet

Khaya Ronkainen is a South African-Finnish writer. Her work is largely inspired by nature but often examines the duality of an immigrant life. She is the author of two poetry chapbooks, Seasons Defined and From the Depth of Darkness, published through her imprint. Some of her work has been anthologized as well as featured in various publications. She is currently at work on her third poetry collection about all things pandemic and political. To learn more or connect with her, visit her blog at www.khayaronkainen.fi


Depending upon which hemispheric season you find yourself occupying – grab a mug of hot cocoa or a tall glass of iced tea, sit back and savor the following (he)art to (he)art conversational interview.

LBL: Very early on in the perusal of your two chapbooks, I realized an intersection of yours and mine outlook on life. First and foremost, it’s the one of understanding, compassion and experience in being displaced with an even further deep desire to be the troubadour sounding the existence and needs of others in various states of being within displaced communities.

The other main intersection is that of our shared birthday month! Your poem, Summer was a real eye-opener as I think there is a natural tendency for us all to relate deeply to one’s birth month and consequent season associated with it.

What would you have me say of you?
Ours is an obscure relationship
You led me believe I was your baby
A summer baby –
Because down south, October simmers
Spring overlapping with summer

What would you have me say of you?
As if immaterial, now you tell me I am
An autumn baby –
Because up north, October teases
Skies weep fearful of winter.

excerpt from Summer by Khaya Ronkainen

I am an October Baby and my favorite season is Fall. You are an October Baby, yet your point of reference is as a Summer Baby.

That particular poem embodies what it means to be fully displaced – by choice or as refugee or for whatever reason. The seasons are a language unto itself and in this case a literal translation brings about a type of confusion!

KHAYA: In our early correspondence, I expressed my delight in learning about our intersection. But I had already suspected that we might share a similar outlook on life. This was probably from a comment you made on my blog about me being a sensitive poet. That comment made me pause because very few people, even in my family, have that perception of me.

I thought: it takes one sensitive poet to see another. 🙂

Your interpretation of displacement communicated in the Summer poem blew me away. Because I don’t know if any readers of my poetry understood or interpreted the poem as you did!

LBL: Let’s explore this a bit further. We share the same birth month and yet we were born into two different seasons. That is a new perspective for me. We are shaped somewhat by when we were born – and imagining myself as a Spring/Summer child is not only foreign to me, but honestly slightly off-putting.

You however seem to have embraced just such a dichotomy – Southern & Northern Hemisphere Seasonal Duality – fully embracing both birthrights. I can’t help but see the symbolism of this playing out in your poetry reflective of your own personal immigrant journey.

KHAYA: Oh, Laura! You made me laugh with the idea of being a Spring/Summer baby being slightly off-putting! I actually find having a claim on both seasons a beautiful contradiction. I guess because it depicts my life.

But you are correct, the dichotomy of seasonal duality is symbolic and plays a huge role in my writing. Poems in Seasons Defined, written over a number of years before being published as a collection, capture this contrast more. They were written from a place of amazement, a sense of awe, not only about love and my second home but I was also seeing my life anew under the microscope of clearly defined Finnish seasons.

I belong to two worlds, and I am at home in both.

Of course, we have four seasons in South Africa but they easily overlap. October, for example, is supposed to be spring but temperatures are already so high that it feels like summer. That’s why I’ve always identified as a summer baby. Then I moved to Finland and what I thought I knew was turned upside down, literally. 🙂

I’ve grown to love autumn, it’s one my favourite seasons. Yet it’s the same season that has the ability to throw me under the bus, if it finds me in a bad mental space. But yes, I’ve embraced it all. I belong to two worlds, and I am at home in both.


to be continued…commenters will be automatically entered into a drawing for a free autographed copy of From the Depths of Darkness

A Boy And His Tuba

Dear Kaden,

Your Ma texted me some pictures and a video she took of you playing at your most recent concert. You sat tall and straight and played your part well – without tapping your foot – yes, I noticed! Good job.

A few weeks ago, I won this book for you. I read an interview a writer friend of mine had with the author, Mary Winn Heider, about her newly released book, “The Losers at the Center of the Galaxy”. Learning that one of the main characters was a boy whose best friend was his tuba – I knew I had to enter the contest and try to win this book for you! And I did!

I waited to send it on to you because I wanted to read it, too. Your Ma might like that it has references to Chicago (our shared hometown – we’re cousins, you know). I suspect the football team and stadium described in the book is based upon Northwestern University in Evanston, but it’s still fun to have that Chicago connection along with the tuba connection.

One of Winston’s (the tuba player in the book) favorite pieces to play is Darth Vader’s Theme from Star Wars – The Imperial March. So, I printed out a copy for you. Who knows, you might play it in a concert next year?

I found a very short 1-minute YouTube of a student about your age practicing playing it on the sousaphone. Which as you probably already know is the marching band version of a tuba. You might like to see it here.

I also am sending you a link to the author’s book trailer. This is a very short 1-minute Vimeo video where she talks about her book and shows you how she works out her action sequences – very fun!  

I am proud of you Kaden. Keep playing your tuba – it is way cool.

Lots of love & hugs (I get to say that because we’re cousins, too!),

Laura


Thanks to all you music teachers in the schools – you serve as first introducers to the glorious variety of instruments there are in this world to try out and play. And a huge thank-you to L. Marie – you help connect kids with books and readers with authors.


Resources for inspiring aspiring Tuba Players

Losers at the Center of the Universe book cover
  • Let’s start off with this book. It can be found here, here and here.
  • Free sheet music of arrangements of popular tunes for tuba at various proficiency levels by TubaPeter can be found here.
  • Your local Tuba Player Musician/Teacher (ask your music shop or school band teacher for recommendations).

My Target Treats are out of Quarantine

The official closing down of ‘non-essential’ services and stores is in a confused, motley disarray here in South Carolina. There is no real rhyme or reason as to what is considered essential or non-essential – case in point, until last week hair salons were still open and truth be told, hubby has seen several still open while doing drives to check on parking lot volume of customers in area grocery stores. Kind of a no-brainer that maintaining social distancing and performing haircuts with gloves and mask for both hairstylist and customer isn’t an easy way to stay open and provide services, much less provide a safe environment. But hey, what do I know?
And let’s not even get into the phrasing of our governor’s official COVID-19 orders* submitted just last week: “Stay at Home. Stay at Work.” When asked by a reporter what that meant exactly, he replied that if you’re at home, stay there and if you’re at work, stay there…say what? Oh and in continuing to clarify, he added that whatever was open before is open now and whatever was closed before is closed now.
That, dear readers, is Governor McMaster’s version of a ‘shelter-in-place’ order while not exactly being a ‘shelter-in-place’ order. Welcome to South Carolina…
Anyway, back in March, certain retail & grocery stores began announcing special COVID-19 shopping hours for Seniors and people with special health needs. We’ve incorporated our immediate buying around those times as much as possible with extra trips to the grocery store as needed during low volume times.
In addition, I now make a point of visiting our local Target Store during their special Senior Hours: Wednesday from 8AM-9AM each week because

  1. The specially designated hours are user-friendly
  2. The brick & mortar store offers up a sense of leisurely ‘window’ shopping for ‘non-essential’ items while in a relatively protected environment

In other words, I go there for a fun outing during this period of self-isolating while showing off my stylish homemade face mask at one and the same time. 🙂
This week, I scored a pair of Sketchers that were sorely needed. I tend to use up my running/athletic shoes until they no longer can stand up to my demanding version of wear and tear, and my current pair were way beyond ‘making do’.
As I passed by the shoe section, I noticed boxes of women’s athletic shoes scattered along a sparsely filled shelf. With nary a try-on bench in sight (they have been removed in an effort to minimize virus transmission), I plopped down on the floor. Surrounded by shoes of varying sizes and styles I promptly focused on the matter at hand.
Happy with my score, I then ventured over to the book/media section and browsed. Amazon states on their website an inability to guarantee a timely, if ever, delivery of a non-essential item such as a book to read during isolation, so I decided to find something of interest. Oh, I know, there are lots of offerings via the library’s on-line books, but my eyes are getting way overloaded with screen viewing these days and besides, I really do relish the feel of a book in my hands while hunkering down in isolation.
Lucky me, I scored another find – a book I’ve been wanting to read, but never got around to until now (you guys all know the drill on that!) – Becoming by Michelle Obama. At 30% off cover price, I also got a small discount for the immediate gratification of bringing my copy home same day of purchase!
When I returned home from my magnificent morning outing, I placed both purchases in the quarantine corner of the kitchen floor to await release in a few days.
Today both items were released from quarantine. I laced up those new Sketchers for my daily walk this morning and Ms Obama’s book is ready to be opened this evening for my before-bedtime reading.
Yes, it’s the small things in life during coronavirus that help us to make it through each day.
* A 12 page document that lists the details of the actual order starting on page 6

Ray's Zen

One hot, humid evening, late last summer, I scrounged the few books I had left on my bookshelves (in my passive-packing,* some of the first items to be packed were ‘books I can do without for now’). I spied my paperback copy of Ray Bradbury’s, Zen in the Art of Writing, and promptly plucked it from the shelf. Thumbing through the pages, I realized its time had come for a re-read.
A compilation of essays Mr. Bradbury wrote at various times about creativity and the act of creating, this is a book I picked up in the late 90’s and wrote on the title page “…deciding to write notes in the margins of this book…3/2000.” How cool to do a re-read with my own ‘notes’ alongside this book as well.
Before beginning my re-read, I skimmed through the various essays and noticed those handwritten notes ended after the essay titled, Just This Side of Byzantium: Dandelion Wine. I don’t remember why I stopped there but I do know that those ‘notes’ were written during a very dynamic time in my life. Perhaps quitting there was more an indication of satisfaction in what I had already read, or maybe just that I had reached the essay which discussed my favorite novel of his, Dandelion Wine.
No matter.
I do know that I whenever I read such essays I substitute any specific genre of the arts reference with my catch-all word, (he)art. In this case from Ray’s point of view, writer is replaced in my reading mind with, (he)artist.
Here’s a quote from the first few pages of this compilation of essays with my replacement word inserted after the slash.

 “…if you are a writer/(he)artist without zest, without gusto, without love, without fun, you are only half a writer/(he)artist.…How long has it been since you wrote a story where your real love or your real hatred somehow got onto the paper? When was the last time you dared release a cherished prejudice so it slammed the page like a lightning bolt? What are the best things and the worst things in your life, and when are you going to get around to whispering or shouting them?”
~Ray Bradbury, Zen in the Art of Writing

Life seems more complicated now with social media spouting out meanness in the name of ‘passion’, but (he)art is (he)art – a very different thing altogether.
Ray’s admonition must not be ignored by us creationists (interesting use of that word,no?)
…regardless of what the twitterers are twittering about!

Use your gift, (he)artists!

*update forthcoming on hold until after COVID-19 plays out?

Snips, Snaps and Soggy Bottom Pie

Catchy title, eh? It’s been rolling around in my head as a title for a poem since 2015.
The alliteration, associated visuals, meanings and rhythmic feel just lends itself to something more creative than yet another blog post. I mean, speak this out loud: snips, snaps and soggy bottom pie.
Like I said, the perfect set-up for something more to follow than just another blog post. I think four years of this title sitting in a Word file of ideas for poems is long enough. It needs to see the light of day.
Which brings us to this day.
Notice that what follows is not a poem – more like a framework of thoughts prompted by said title. Which is handy as I’ve come against a brick wall lately trying to sort through the myriad current events and life events crowding my mind all screaming for first place in being presented in ‘yet another blog post’.
I’m sure most bloggers squash up against that brick wall every once and awhile. It’s one of the commonalities we bloggers share.
I therefore choose to start with Soggy Bottom Pie as the first smack down of that formidable barricade.

Soggy Bottom Pie

My current favorite PBS series, The Great British Baking Show aka The Great British Bake Off in the UK, is rich in such ‘show stopping’ images. (Yep, pun intended, for those of you familiar with the show).
Can’t you just hear Mary Berry intone, “It mustn’t have a soggy bottom,” as she pokes and prods a contestant’s pastry crust in the pie baking ‘Technical Challenge’?

cherry pie a la mode

I like mine with 2 scoops of the creamiest French Vanilla Bean ice cream available!


Truth be told, I am partial to a good homemade pie with, yes, a slightly soggy bottom. Sensuously luscious when the à la mode melts deep underneath the crust, bathing the jammy juices within.
My favorite pie is cherry. My extra favorite is a cherry pie made with Montmorency cherries picked from our own backyard tree*…seems like centuries ago when our kids and the neighborhood kids all helped pick once the harvest was in full swing.

What’s your favorite soggy bottom pie?
What’s your favorite reason why?

Snaps

“Contrary to popular belief, I am a snapdragon…” snapdragonsThus began a post I wrote in 2014. Based upon a now defunct ‘What Kind of Flower Are You?’ internet quiz, it was a fun foray into matching flower personalities with us humans. Or should that be human personalities with flowers?
I came out a snapdragon 8 takes in a row – even though I’m more partial to giant purple irises, deep red orange poppies, daisies and milkweed blossoms. I learned that my cousin Marybeth and blogger friend Deborah (christened ‘flower-sister’) both came up snaps in the quiz. We three are also October babies. Connection?

Snappy, flappy, flower laughing lips.
Caring, sharing, dreamy dew-drop drips.

Snips

Come a Stranger by Cynthia Voigt coverI do relish reading books and finding passages float up from the page past my eyes and into my (he)art. When that happens, I often mark it with a sticky note, reread it later, then if it still resonates, hand copy it into my book of quotes – or snip(pet)s if you will.
I often find lovely prose in young adult novels. Here’s one from Come a Stranger I jotted down 4/15/07.

“Even after everyone had gone home, the house was filled with the good time they’d had, as if it could linger in the air like the voices and music lingered in memory. Mina wrapped the memory up and put it in her heart; there was a quiet gladness, deep like a tree and tall in her.” Cynthia Voigt

 

 A tisket, a snip(pet)
A green and yellow kismet.
~~~

 Snips, Snaps and Soggy Bottom Pie

What comes to your mind as this phrase echoes about?

*we’ve since moved from our ‘growing-a-family-and-garden’ home…sigh.

ToDoTuesdayTwo

Even though I feel like there’s not much to report, I’m chiming in on this week’s linky-party for the sake of continuity. And, remember, Roseanne at Home Sewn by Us who sponsors this says it’s okay however I decide to participate!

~~~

My creativity trinity* is as follows: fiber art – MUSIC – writing. Each is intertwined with the other, offering needful respites between projects which in turn aid in the completion of various Works-In-Progress as new perspectives appear from such respites. Ultimately, it’s all about the music but tracking fiber art Works-In-Progress is lots easier to communicate in such a setting as this and hence the linky-party connection.

My goals for the week from August 20th through August 26th:

  • Continue edits on various NOTION scores  – “Christmas Medley” almost finished and soon to move onto another score-edit
  • Finish PFWHK Ø – decidedly not finished!
  • Maybe have something to post on next week’s ToDo Tuesday linky party  – today’s posting is evidence of this!

Yes, I worked on NOTION score edits for the “Christmas Medley” piece and realized I needed to de-clutter the score by 80% of previously inserted information. There is a delicate balance in music scoring between suggested fingerings and performance directions and OCD control of the performers every interpretation of the musical score. The fact that I de-cluttered a slew of fingerings shows I am closer to completion than before. In fact, with this particular piece, I have only to recheck for notation mistakes (think of this as being like ‘spell-checking’ the score) and add the fun stuff like title, arranger/name, date, copyright and dedication (if so choose to do). Then it is done and onto another piece to score-edit.
The PFWHK is not finished. Duh. In fact, as I continued with the vertical machine quilting, I found myself making dumb mistakes. So, I wisely decided to quit while I was ahead. Meaning: I did a few lines of reverse-sewing and set the PFWHK aside for another day/week. The interesting thing of note here is that the reverse-sewing (okay, seam-stitch ripping out!) went smoothly and left absolutely no small holes in the fabric top or back. I think that is due to two things: 1- the quality of the fabric itself and 2- the use of fine 60 wt thread in the bobbin.

~~~~

ToDo for the week of August 27th through September 3rd:

  • Finish “Christmas Medley” and start another NOTION score-edit piece
  • Finish PFWHK vertical quilting, start 3-D portion of project, figure out something special to add to PF’s eye (button, sequins?)
  • Enjoy a time to snuggle down and read newest novel(s)
  • If it’s cool enough (big IF), share some porch-time with hubby and a glass of Chardonnay (me), Beaujolais (him)
’Home

 
* a term I invented recently

Poetry Shoutout: “In Brigantia” by Andrew James Murray

In Brigantia by Andrew James MurrayGood poetry meets you wherever you are then draws you into its world. Seamlessly weaving place, perception; revelation, inspiration. Touching both the mind and soul.

The poetry of Andrew James Murray does just that and his second published poetry collection, In Brigantia does not disappoint.

~~~

I prefer reading poetry in the deep of night, the early recesses of morning. I like to take my time and linger, savoring each line and nuanced word choice within the context of the whole of the poem.
Yes, I flip through a new volume upon first receipt, even skim a few lines, but ultimately, the hunkering down with a new collection of poetry is an anticipated event – date – I make with myself for some dark day, quiet evening or womb-like twilight.

~~ Phrases to savor ~~

“From this soil,
seeded with the dead,
beautiful things will grow” (from: In Brigantia)

“Our country is too small
for road trips.

There is nothing epic
about these squeezed shores.
Where are we to go
to find ourselves?” (from: Motorway)

“A dog barks itself
into tomorrow,
clawing back the shade.” (from: Nocturnes)

~~Regarding process~~

“Some lines come to me when travelling, such as with Railway Platform.
We passed through a station (without stopping) which, due to rain sweeping in, appeared abandoned, except for a guitar case no doubt left by its owner who was seeking shelter while waiting for his/her train.
I was thinking about how platforms are normally busy places of greetings and farewells, and maybe some of those could, somehow, be held in the atmosphere and tapped into to work as inspiration to creative people. Like the owner of that guitar case.
Like seeds growing in darkness.
That’s how my mind works! And that’s how that poem was born before we’d reached the next station.” – Andrew James Murray

~~~

In Brigantia can be found at Amazon and Amazon UK

~~~

Andrew James Murray, Manchester UKAndrew James Murray is a writer and poet who is still firmly rooted in his childhood town in Manchester, England.
He has a wife who keeps him grounded, and four children who keep him young.
Among other things, he loves history and roots, books and writing, spirituality, landscape, music and the outdoors-all of which he can become a tad obsessive about.
He also tracks Great White sharks throughout the world over the internet, much to his wife’s consternation.
He can be found writing about anything and nothing over at City Jackdaw and at Coronets for Ghosts for all things poetry related.
Andrew is currently working on his first novel.

Specialty Feet

Soon after the first two weeks of my convalescence I set up what my sorella-amica Lisa called a ‘sewing sanctuary’ – a working layout that is user friendly for one such as I with ‘Specialty Feet’. I scrunched down the ironing board, placed it in between my desk and sewing machine and scooter around from station to station on my desk chair. Using the desk as my cutting table area, everything is amazingly manageable – at least in context of smaller projects. While I can (and do with blessings from the Doc) clomp happily around from place to place while in the boot, merely standing on my foot for no good reason is a no-no.

sewing sanctuary set up

My sewing sanctuary set up. Yeah, it’s a mess, but it works!


That same aforementioned sorella-amica challenged me to dig out the 2018 Row-by-Row quilt block kit we each purchased while visiting the Rocky Mountain Quilt Museum last summer. Well, she didn’t out and out challenge me, but she texted me a photo of her completed block a few days before my surgery saying it was easy-peasy…except that the tiny flying geese border strips were a bit of a pain.
Who could resist that passive challenge? Not me.
Well, I stalled out at the sewing of the second half of those tiny flying geese blocks…ick, Too tedious and yes, tiny.
Tiny Flying Geese Construction

My ‘Specialty Feet’ resting while working on those tiny flying geese!


sewing machine accessory bible book coverNo matter, those circumstances pushed me to ferret out an excellent book I bought recently on specialty feet for the sewing machine and how to use them in various contexts.
(I bet you thought this post was only about my literal foot situation…HA! Fooled you.)
The Sewing Machine Accessory Bible by Wendy Gardiner & Lorna Knight is packed with information and advice on types of needles to use, size of thread, fabric idiosyncrasies and creative exploration of the assorted ‘Specialty Feet’.
This hands-on application on my Bernina is something I’ve dabbled in from time to time but never really got into as it took time away from my regular piecing and quilting projects. Now that I’m stuck at home* flittering between seated diversions**, I figured, why not go through this ‘get the most out of your machine – from using basic feet to mastering specialty feet’ book now?
wounded warriors specialty feetI can’t help but end this post with a slice of perspective…I will get out of the boot, I will resume my vigorous hiking in the mountains when we get back to where there are such places to hike, I will be able to wear sandals with my woman’s feet showing (even though I still maintain feet are pretty ugly under all circumstances!)…but for the many Wounded Warriors among us, their ‘Specialty Feet’ are permanent. Yes, enabling them more normal physical activities, but still composed of foreign materials and requiring new ways of thinking in their everyday usage.
 

“The Lord God is my strength, and He has made my feet like hinds’ feet, and makes me walk on my high places.” Habakkuk 3:19

 
* not entirely true, I get out and about, just can’t drive myself yet – plus I tire easily!
**I am currently in the middle of season 3 of Call the Midwife (I so love this series, especially as it’s based upon the true-life stories of the main character), season 7 part two of Dr. Who (after a so-so season 6, I am sooooo into The Doctor once again!) I am also going through stacks of reading material – some books by indie-authors, some craft, some contemporary novels, assorted magazines and ‘comfort’ novels I re-read on a regular basis. Then there’s the more business-like stuff I can’t escape because I am supposed to remain more sedentary than active: transferring files to my new computer, reinstalling NOTION sound bundles and the seemingly never ending edits, layout issues, etc for my Swimming with Swans project.

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