Welcome to my A-Z 2018, for which I am revisiting Africa, the continent of my childhood and my dreams. The posts are, as always, infoheavy and opinionated, but they are sectioned off - some music, the day’s topic, couple writers, a slideshow from the safaris – plenty ways to cherry-pick. So you may consume just as much, or as little, as you're cool with. Zero obligation to agree with any of my views either, feel free to air yours :)

Sunday, 26 March 2017

Remiss




You get remiss, the fanlight, the wide doors,
the colours on the walls - nothing is yours;
still the steps are swept every day, kept clean,
a mat laid in rough welcome on the floor.
Heartaches, headaches over the right décor
for only a few days, then - as before -
either the grass beyond turns out too green
or walls close in, aren’t enough anymore.


But even the grass isn’t yours, never -
you dip your toes in it, never possess
a square inch of lawn, not even a blade;
and those blades themselves aren’t forever
all grass is flesh, lasts a minute or less
not too long before entire gardens fade.






Still on my rubai binge only the two above combined somehow, and then added a sestet - does that make it a valid sonnet? :)


Recently, at my local Poetry Circle, there was a debate on whether a poem should stand on its own, or have the context explained alongside it. I have always been in the 'stand-on-its-own' camp - I mean, if I have to explain the whys and wherefores of my poem, then obviously the poem's not doing its job!


Besides, a writer writes something with a certain meaning in mind, but often times the reader interprets it in a totally different way, and that is equally valid. And it's sometimes an a-ha moment for the poet too, to see the poem in a completely different light.  The whole process adds extra layers of meaning to the original writing, why narrow it down and lose the richness? That's been my take so far. In fact it could apply to any writing, not just poetry. 


In the Circle, most people (who are poets themselves obviously) thought the same as me, i.e. standalone, no context won.  I'd love to know what people here think?


Excitement for the A-Z building up, preps on, just a few posts left, I know I would do better if I stopped going back and tweaking and editing ad nauseum the ones already done and research/write the ones that need to be written...this is why writing 'as it comes' is so much easier, things are so much simpler when the post's rough and untidy :) Wow, end of this week we're into April and A-Z!  






Monday, 20 March 2017

Blogging from A-Z April Challenge : Theme Reveal!








This year, the A-Z Challenge is changing things – doing away with the sign-up list.   I like that! - the team keep innovating and improving the Challenge. My own take is that it’s better to initiate the change yourself, rather than have change thrust upon you. Much better crisis control! 


With that idea, I'm changing for my A-Z too - last  year-end I chalked up 20 years of living in the MENA region, though it didn’t feel like that. One minute we were newcomers and the next it was two decades, how did that happen?! Terrible at tracking time!


Anyways, this feels like an excellent moment to step away from poetry, which is what my A-Z’s have been about so far.  This time, something new and different. Yup, you heard that right.  Nope, no rhyming, no limericks.  Not even a cheep of free verse. Poetry, you're officially on notice for this A-Z!


So...I'm going to dig into my memories and experiences, come up with some regular paras and punctuation (always keeping a strict eye on the exclamation marks, of course!) And share with you the things I have seen and learnt as an outsider in my time here.


To sum up...my theme for the Challenge is.... 



~ Arabiana ~




All through April I'll be putting out a smorgasbord of Arab culture  - art, architecture, design, films, history, music and whatever else  fits the letter of the day! This will be a way to mark this personal milestone, and also thank my Arab friends and the Arablands.


Let me take you to places of formidable beauty and millennia-old histories! Of exquisite craftsmanship and amazing art and mind-boggling architecture, foot-tapping music and mesmerising dance and theatre.  Of philosophy and folklore and traditions and customs  at once captivating and complex, heartfelt and hospitable. Come with me on a Arabian adventure!





Posted for the A-Z Challenge 2017 Theme Reveal

Created by  Arlee Bird @ Tossing it Out



     and 

Co-hosted by

Alex J. Cavanaugh @ Alex J. Cavanaugh

J
eremy Hawkins @ Hollywood Nuts

Heather M. Gardner The Waiting is the Hardest Part

Zalka Csenge Virág @ The Multicolored Diary

John Holton @The Sound of One Hand Typing


J Lenni Dorner @ Blog of J. Lenni Dorner









Monday, 13 March 2017

Random rubais





Even if the lamp's made from gold
it cannot burn without a wick
which is from modest cotton rolled -
crucial is rarely aesthetic.

***

The heart shatters with the mirror, it’s old -
precious the memories more than the shards,
but together they reflect a thousand-fold
the flame and wick, the dark, the whole courtyard...

***

The tree wears a ring of birds like a diadem
and a few fireflies on itself - without the glow
they look just plain insects, ugly, not much to them -
a little dark is needed for their light to show.








That's what I've been doing this week, apart from trying to schedule A-Z posts that is - I've been writing rubais, which is the Arabic/Urdu/Hindi word for quatrains. Each quatrain or rubai is supposed to be complete in itself, at least that's the traditional rule, there are others too about syllable counts and such, those I happily ignore as per convenience.  These were written independent of each other, and at different times, do they seem connected? 



Monday, 6 March 2017

Different rules



Take nothing but photographs, the sign says
so the strange miracle of the tree’s coaxed
into the camera, the weird, gaunt knots
an odd angle of branch in desert haze


defying understanding. Things will grow
in their rightful places, and photographs
will fade of course, and days, and words, and maps,
not every poem leaves an afterglow -


transience and change, and a certain heave
at turns, the conflict of balance, and light.
Will it be enough - this capture of roadside? -
this effort to take nothing, quietly leave.


The window quickly reconfigures the sky.
The rules are different for passers-by.








I've been looking at old photographs, lots and lots of them., and one of them made it to this poem here.