Friday, 26 August 2011

Bruges: Diary of an Escaping Poet

On a train
all aboard
Cambridge to London Kings
No camera in my pocket
Only paper, pens,
and the lively curiosity
of a mind
ready for travel.
We jet in and out
of tunnels
waiting patiently
for light;
And after Lille
the sun,
wide open
space of green,
and the sweet
forgetful vulnerability
of a girl on a birthday spree,
escaping, free!

Under the dome
of a Basilisk sky
pitted with cloud
and the charge of knights,
a brusque and brutal sun
the teeming hordes
the hungry leonine
summer hordes;
while the captive saints
mourning quieter days.
waking up
washing her streets
readying her lace
sugaring her waffles;

we leave
with little trace.
Most photographs by A.Edward, except occasionally, for Bear Necessities, by me :)

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Birthday in Bruges

Dear Beloveds,
I have packed myself off to Bruges - un petit birthday present to myself; since the last infusion I have been feeling rather blah, a stagnant river out of sorts with the current. So naturally I chose a land of chocolates, quaint cobbled streets, the Venice of the North... and accompanied by the lovely Angelina, I am having a memorable time. We are staying in a Gothic hotel perched on the edge of a canal... wish me luck so I don't fall in :)

(all photos courtesy A. Edward)

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Where The Wild Things Are

Carol: "Hey, weird little thing, I like the way you destroy stuff. Good technique."
Max: "Uh... thanks."

Bull: "Hey! What are you doing?"
Max: "I...I... I'm just helping."
Bull: "By smashing our houses?"
Max: "These are your houses?"
Bull: "Look, we worked very hard on these. Then you, sir, showed up and started 'helping'..."

- from the screenplay of Where The Wild Things Are, 2009
I attended a poetry workshop in London a few days ago; my first, and very interesting it was too. I learned that my poems can stand up and speak for themselves despite some critique. I had a sense that the poet who ran the workshop dismissed me slightly because I was younger than most of the poets present, but she suggested helpfully that I would 'mature in time' :) She also critiqued one of my poems 'Something Beautiful' for being too reminiscent of 'Warming her Pearls', a poem by Carol Ann Duffy. The other poets disagreed vehemently; and since I hadn't even read that particular poem, all I felt was chuffed to have brought the Poet Laureate to her mind!! One of the poets at the workshop, Jane Clarke, is an Irish poetess making wonderful ripples in the poetry world. I am very much looking forward to her debut collection.

From that quiet haunt of white rose petals and cups of tea, into the wild rumpus of London's boroughs being burned and looted by a haphazard mob of 'yoof'. Simple to understand their greedy hungry acts, and simultaneously depressing to compare the reality of the revolutions occuring elsewhere, where young people really do have something to say. And yet despite there being no relation, one furniture store tenderly built, destroyed in a single act of arson, invariably sparks off memories of other buildings burning, other mobs, other riots. One group of people alienating themselves from the Other. Which made me think of 'Where the Wild Things Are', and how anger can be tranformed by the imagination, and even softened by wilfully experiencing and understanding the lives of Others.

The looters did not loot the bookstores. They left alone the stories, the wealth of creativity and the imagination, the poetry, the plays, the life of the mind.

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

The Colour of Utøya

After the storm
and the gunmetal grey
burst into flame

seagull wings carve
into a desert floor

the colour of Utøya
fading so fast
my heart drops low.

I cannot keep up.

© Shaista Tayabali, 2011
Almost two weeks since Norway lost many of her beloved citizens. At Ivar Flaten's blog in Drammen, my childhood friend Arzanne de Vitre Vesthaug, who witnessed the reason for our flight from Bombay in 1993, has written a powerful piece on the Contemplation of Peace amidst decades of experiencing terrorism, directly and indirectly. She writes, of her piece,
Ever since the first attacks in 1993, I have dwelled on a latent fear I sometimes feel strongly, and at other times forget easily. With each new episode of terror or violence between groups, I am always equally astounded by how politics and religion, (which essentially teaches the same human values independent of who or what one believes in), can be the cause of so much hatred and misunderstanding. I cannot fathom how it is possible, and this makes me vulnerable to great anxiousness. For years I have wanted to write of these feelings, but I have never had the words. I think it is the negative rhetoric around me that has stolen my voice – the language of revenge, hate, judgement. I find it interesting that this piece finally came to me here in Norway, 15 years later. I needed to hear words of comfort and love to be able to write this – and then my words flowed, not in a moment of fear or angst, but in a moment of peace.
You can read her words here.