Free Audio – poems & short fiction

Rapture by Phillippa Yaa de Villiers, notable South African poet, performance artist, and PhD candidate with Lancaster university. Rapture was First published in the 2013 anthology For Rhino in a Shrinking World (Ed Harry Owen).

Shadow by Lyn Jennings, poet and past Educational Psychotherapist for children with learning difficulties. Shadow is ‘dedicated to our neighbours at Shoreham with respect and sympathy for all who died or suffered in the Air Show disaster [West Sussex 2015]’.

Ducks in a Row by Suzanne Conboy-Hill, short story and flash fiction writer. This was also written after a Hawker Hunter jet ploughed through traffic waiting for the lights to change or standing on the verge watching the display.

Wood by Tracy Fells, short story and flash fiction writer with novels on the production line. Wood is a relationship story that sheds a different light on the idea of going back to one’s roots.

 

All material taken from the Anthology Let Me Tell You a Story (contributing editor, Suzanne Conboy-Hill) available from Lulu (print and ebook) and Amazon (print only). Listen to Ian McMillan’s foreword:

‘Let Me Tell You a Story’ – the eBook version

book coverOut today in ePub format, Let Me Tell You a Story is now a download for eReaders with additional links to sound files.

Problems with the ePub format? Try Calibre’s free converter to make a MOBI file and email it to your Kindle account. 

‘Let Me Tell You a Story’

cover 10.5This anthology, which links voice recordings of the short stories and poems directly to the text on the page, is due out in late April. Despite being very simple, this application of the technique may be a world first and has implications for the delivery of essential information to populations whose reading skills are not as perfect as the material often requires. There’s more here at Readalongreads.

Book review: The Secret of Hoa Sen by Nguyen Phan Que Mai

UPDATE I’ve just received this link to Que Mai’s readings at the Lannan Foundation this March (2015) 

 

When we talk about poets writing from the heart, it’s because we feel their integrity. When I say that Que Mai’s writing hands you her heart and lets you hold it, still beating and bleeding, while she tells her stories, it’s because she keeps nothing back and she trusts us to attend.

And you do have to attend, especially if you are coming to this with a Western ear, because the language is more musical, the metaphors more earthy, and the characters and messages more deceptively simple than one might expect.

Read Que Mai’s history and you will see why this is. Born in North Vietnam just after the end of the war and at the beginning of the reunification that brought with it recrimination and huge social upheaval, Que Mai’s voice is an unfamiliar one because it is female, embedded in family and traditions, and uses the language of dislocated, traumatised, but gentle survivors clinging to their roots and sowing the seeds of new ones.

Adjust yourself to this style and you will find lines like this:

…the purple summer bang lang flowers, the aromatic lotus buds

all conspire to nomad me into the night markets of Quang Ba …

                                  from Ha Noi

Vowels, consonants

engraved by the shaken rhythm of a naked heart,

I touch the hair of sunrise,

my lips the morning’s nightingale.

                                                from Touching the Hair of Sunrise

The ‘right’ word in Vietnamese does not always translate into an equally right word in English but instead  gives rise to an utterly unusual word that is perfect in its place and in its old and new meanings[1].

Or this:

Immense, immense the sound of your laughter and speech,

tweeting your pouting voices.

You are the adults, and I am the child.

                                    from Speaking with My Children

The undertow of rhythm here is not reflective of Western pounding bass, thudding feet, trains, or machinery, but the bells and chimes of Vietnamese music which must surely be the unconscious river that carries the language.

My personal favourite is Quang Tri which begins:

The mother runs towards us,

the names of her children fill her eye sockets.

She’s screaming “Where are my children?

It describes in minimalistic stanzas the lifetime impact on one woman of the battle at Quang Tri, one of the bloodiest of the US-Vietnam war.

I was lucky to meet Que Mai during our course at Lancaster. I heard her read both in English and in Vietnamese and I learned new things about poetry and the value of difference. If you get a chance to hear her, do so. If not, read these works and think of bells.

UPDATE I’ve just received this link to Que Mai’s readings at the Lannan Foundation this March (2015) 

BOA Editions ltd.

Amazon (UK)

[1] In a prose piece, Que Mai refers to a woman ‘luggaging’ her children along, the evocation of which is perfect for its setting. I hope to find it still there in her forthcoming novel.

 

 

Poetry mnemonics – singing up your iambics

I am just getting round to the idea that rhythm in prose is a thing and that poetry might hold some clues as to how best to apply it. The trouble is, iambic means nothing to me no matter how many times I look it up; trochaic – same thing, and don’t get me started on anapestic which I still think of as a kind of wallpaper. Whoever invented these monikers surely wanted to keep the whole business in-house like a kind of holy catechism that novitiates have to prove they have learned before being allowed to voice any opinion. But this doesn’t help if you need a kind of shorthand, a word that covers the bases and that you can use at least in your own head to bring to mind and flag up a rhythm so you can use knowledge and strategy in your writing instead of just instinct.

Well, I like music and although I can barely tell a three-four-time from a – ok, I’ve no idea what the others are called – I can play them in my head. So I found some tracks that seem to exemplify the impenetrable poetic terms that slide straight out of my brain the minute I’ve stopped reading the definition. Here we go, the sections of verse are from Rhythm and Meter in English Poetry:

Iambic: That time of year thou mayst in me behold. That’s the chorus of the Quartermaster’s Stores. Go on, try it, ‘My eyes are dim I cannot see ...’

Trochaic: Tell me not in mournful numbers. My Darlin’ Clementine, yes?

Spondaic (I kid you not): Break, break, break, On thy cold gray stones, O Sea! Try ‘Original’ by Leftfield.  It looks like it might leave ‘O Sea’ dangling a bit but let’s not get picky, we’re on a roll.

Anapestic: And the sound of a voice that is still. The Mexican Hat Dance, for sure.

Dactylic: This is the forest primeval, the murmuring pines and the hemlock (the last foot is a trochee, but then you knew that). I’m hearing Oompah band for this so I dug out an album of Tyrolean music (bought after a skiing holiday, as you do) and found a track. Right or wrong – and it’s a close thing – you’re not going to forget your dactylics once you’ve seen Your Man in the lederhosen dancing to Auerhahn-Plattler. 

So, that’s my list, what’s yours?

For National Poetry Day: ‘Philosopher Stoned’

I wrote this in a poetry workshop so it must be a poem, yes? But when I sent it out into the world to be appraised for publication (I know, delusional) they said it wasn’t really. It’s been hanging around on my blog ever since, puffing out its chest and posturing to make up for its perceived inadequacies. So in honour of, or more likely a threat to, National Poetry Day, I give you:

Philosopher Stoned

He is brazenly, brilliantly, brassed off by the polished politics of the righteous right.
He heats arguments on pupils bright as buttons of molten jet in eyes alive with intellectual trickery.
He rolls concepts and ideas over the strop of his tongue like globules of mercury, loosed from the tedium of measurement.
His love of chase is betrayed by tiny garnet blushes on nose and cheeks; cooing infants to his icy fire of victory.

He scrubs the thoughts of neophytes with the steel wool of Socratic questioning.
Deftly iterating incantations of hegemonies, he hides exquisite diamond cuts in the woollen clouds of distracting verbiage.
He wears iron filings on his chin and calls them his beard; a professorial promulgation of proletarianism.
His wisdom does not come in glossy spheres to be cast before swine, but in the weft and warp of knit-one-purl-one patchwork blankets of the Workers’ Struggle.

Ideas settle like wise moths in the old, gold grail of his ancient and modern mind, to feed on dusty nets of idealism.
Like neglected and slowly rusting scaffolding, his body is there only to house the sapphiric laser of his intellect.
He chisels and chips at the coal face of complexity, mining for perpetuity in the legacy of runes.

©suzanne conboy-hill 2011

Brace yourself, it’s a poem

Cool grey

Shady Lady

 

Ethereal prose of shining

Linguistic

Jewels, where

Artistry goes pining for

Masochistic

Expression in

Sadistic blows.

♦♦♦♦♦

Oh, acrostic! That’s not the same as sarcastic then?

Ether poetry challenge October 19th.

Climbing for Jesus

Stained glass at St John the Baptist's Anglica...

Image via Wikipedia

Climbing for Jesus

I went

Up Pen-y-Ghent

I was spent

Dumb wit!

A fool

From Sunday School

A mule

For Christ

There was a fox and

Horses’ hocks

Up there on the rocks

No shit!

Stupid boots

Catholic roots

Home to roost

In wet tights

Aren’t they all bent,

Hunters of souls’ rent?

Tally ho

I went

©suzanne conboy-hill 2011

Pen-y-Ghent is a fell in the Yorkshire Dales. This happened. Even the fox.