Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Launch of Gold Tracks Fallen Fruit

Kathy Kituai introduced me to tanka last year, with her splendid collection, Straggling into Winter, a tanka journal. I experimented with five-line poems but as they are not strictly tanka, I decided to give them another name – quinta. The idea of journaling in poetry [I have written prose journals for almost as long as I can remember] was also appealing. So the book, a selection from the many quinta I've written over the past year, has just been published by Cestrian Press. I was reading from Gold Tracks, Fallen Fruit, in Chester last Thursday. Kemal Houghton was also reading from his new collection, Pastizzi, and Edwin Stockdale played ethereal music on the harp.

Journal and journey of course share the same root, and within our long – or short - passage through time and space, our lifetime, a journey that everyone makes, there are also forays into the unknown, geographical, psychological and metaphorical, the wanderings and the stories, and how we are changed by the features of the landscapes we pass through.

As I was travelling back through Italy and France earlier this year, in the summer, I was thinking about the effects that travelling can have on us, very positive effects, so it seems to me, as one is removed from one's usual context and one's usual identity. With these familiar accretions of identity removed, who are we really? For although we 'identify with' all kinds of familiarities, it has been my experience at times, that there is another identity waiting in the wings. Our usual associations and patterns of thoughts and feelings are removed by some circumstance or other, either deliberately sought out, or seemingly accidental. Travelling in unknown places is just one way of making space, leaving a door open for this other to make its presence felt. In an extreme form it can be like Inanna's journey to the underworld where everything is taken from her. But that's not the end of the story. Death is followed by transformation and rebirth.

the journey strips us of possessions -

language, context, self-importance.

Sunlight on sea and bougeainvillea,

scents of lime – here our travelling soul

feels perfectly at home

Later, I came across this quote from Albert Camus which evokes similar feelings, describing both the fear and the treasure that we find on the journey.

.....For what gives value to travel is fear. It breaks down a kind of inner structure we have. ….......travel robs us of …..... refuge. [We are] far from our own people, our own language, stripped of all our props, deprived of our masks (one doesn't know the fare on the trams, or anything else) …...... But [we] also...... restore to every being and every object its miraculous value. A woman dancing ….... a bottle on a table, glimpsed behind a curtain: each image becomes a symbol. The whole of life seems reflected in it.....

From l'Envers et l'endroit - Amour de Vivre

And, from Nikos Kazantzakis (Odyssey – a Modern Sequel )

'My soul, your voyages have been your native land!'

The Christmas lights in Chester are already up, delicate nets of white lights strung between buildings in the narrow streets of the city centre. These lights are, of course, a celebration. But they also remind me of clusters of constellations, pinpricks of light, reflections of the night sky.


three sea horses said...

Love the photo! wish i could have been there too! congratulations.
as i read through your post, about travelling and how it changes one, it brought to mind that i have started on a sort of journey myself - although it is not a physical one, i could relate to some of what you said in my own context too. and then i decided to write a bit on my own blog - ispired by reading yours.
i appear to have become somewhat fearful of travelling - i assume it is a temporary phase, i hope so but i dont seem to be able to overcome it at the moment. and i am still, as ever, in awe of your on-going bravery in your ability to journey both inwards and out.
hope to see you soon. Txx

dritanje said...

Thank you! The pose in the photo was a deliberate spoof on the way politicians shake hands but never ever look at each other, but at the cameras! So I'm glad that some people caught the pose. It was a good evening, lovely audience. I look forward to reading about your journey. M xx

Forest Dream Weaver said...

Interesting post as always,seems like it all went well in Chester.
I love the reflections photo!

three sea horses said...

Thank you for your lovely comment, so warm and sweet of you.
at the moment things feel quite scary! i am interested in the book you are reading - who? what?
hope to see you soon, love Txx
p.s. love spoof pose of yours!!