Unlocked: final three audio tracks from Let Me Tell You A Story

So go on, let us do that – we’re ready and waiting.

‘Terminus‘; descent into a room of sly eyes.

‘Puddles Like Pillows’. When gravity stops holding things down & litter fills the skies.

Phillippa Yaa de Villiers exceptional poem, ‘Origin’. 

From Let Me Tell You a Story available from Amazon.

‘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. 

A Soft Day by Anne O’Brien

“THE RAIN RUNS in muddy rivulets off the pile of earth beside his grave. No softening of the edges of this funeral. No fake grass discretely covers the mound, just a heap of mud, a pair of dirty spades, and two reluctant gravediggers in fluorescent jackets leaning against the neighbouring gravestone, silently willing us to move on so they can get the job done and head to the pub. Of course nothing will do the Ma but she has to wait until the last shovelful is put on. They pat down the soil with the backs of their spades as though they’re on a building site.
‘Don’t worry that it’s a bit high Missus. It’ll settle down grand in the next few weeks…’
Settle down on top of him and in time, when the wood rots and the earth seeps in, settle down until it kisses his face. I wish I’d kissed him now.
We place the wreaths on the grave as the rain buckets down,
‘Sincere condolences from all at Fahey’s.’ I tear the card off and stuff it my damp pocket before she sees it.”

Read on in ‘Let Me Tell You a Story’ where you can also hear Anne’s own narration by scanning a QR code.

Available from Lulu and Amazon

 

Meet the Anthology Authors: Phillippa Yaa de Villiers

The last of our anthology authors is Phillippa Yaa de Villiers, a South African poet with a personal history as extraordinary as that of her country. There’s more here.

Let Me Tell You a Story – published today

“Sometimes I can read a poem on the page and I can’t quite make out what the author’s intention was: there’s something there, I can tell, but it’s hidden in the language-mist. When I hear the poem read aloud, (or accompanied by music, or acted out by a variety of voices: anything is possible once you start down this road) then the clouds are blown away and the poem does what it meant to say on the tin, to re-fashion an advertising slogan.” Ian McMillan.

Announcement here.

Support independent publishing: Buy this book on Lulu.

Meet the Anthology Authors: Nguyen Phan Que Mai

Nguyen Phan Que Mai is fast becoming one of Vietnam’s foremost poets and seems to have been everywhere touring and performing her work, including India, America, and China just this year. I reviewed her book The Secret of Hoa Sen here earlier and in Let Me Tell You a Story, you can read some of her other work and also hear it performed. Check out her bio. 

‘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.

 

 

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