30 May 2008


The linebreaks have not come out right in that last post! Grrrrrr. This program often does that, but I don't have time to change them now. I have to go back and put in hard returns by hand. Blogspot, why don't you respect the hard returns I put in the first time????

20 May 2008

About 'ceci n'est pas une cuisine'

The title originally came from an idea I had to do a food blog. Since I am living in Belgium, I naturally turned to Magritte for inspiration. The food idea turned out to be a bit more than I felt I could pull off, so for a while I had the title without the blog. Then I thought, when I was thinking about doing this blog, "Why waste a perfectly good title?"

So I didn't. This blog was born. And now I've written the poem, and did it at last week's reading.

UPDATE AUGUST 2009 -- It looks as though the poem is going to be published! More info (and a link, I hope) as soon as this, fingers crossed, happens.

UPDATE OCTOBER 2009 -- My poem, 'Magritte and Maman', has indeed been published! It is in the Oct-Nov-Dec 2009 issue of Mslexia magazine, chosen by guest editor Patience Agbabi. The poem is not available on line, but here is what Ms Agbabi said about it in her introduction:
There’s a real edge to ‘Magritte and Maman,’ a quirky take on the artist Magritte’s ‘Ceci n’est pas’ series in which there is a distinction made between the actual thing and its depiction. The poem makes no such distinction, instead displaying a flamboyant feminism and a nascent sexuality: ‘And the gap in the front of her bathrobe, too –/like a door left ajar….’
See, I told you I write about sex!

19 May 2008


The plan today was to post a poem that uses the title of this blog, but now I don't feel like doing that. Now I feel like writing about Lucy.

When we planned the reading we did last week, we decided to ask an admission fee to cover the cost of the venue. We then thought that if there was any money leftover, we could donate that to a charity.

Various charities came to mind but in the end it hit us: fellow writer Lucy has been battling cancer for more than a year, so why not give it to the Institut Jules Bordet, where she is being treated?

Ultimately we raised about €150.

Which feels like a lot from something people often think "makes nothing happen."

Lucy had surgery last week. She has to have chemo, and then more surgery. She says she is taking one day at a time, and I think she is incredibly courageous.

While "one day at a time" is all that any of us can ever do, most of us don't have to actually face it.

And what can I write that brings comfort in the face of that?

16 May 2008

Yesterday Evening's Reading

Had a fantastic turn-out to the reading last night. At least 50 people. Many of them were strangers, too -- and it's a shame we will probably never know exactly how they heard about us, because we didn't think to put out a sheet to sign up for more information, or something like that.

I really love reading out my stuff. I would have done it for an audience half the size, or a quarter. Or even less, tobe honest! I did 5 poems: "bird broken wing", "Alternative Lives, #1", "Magritte's Mother"
(a work in progress I will post soon), "Uncle Dean" (that perennial favourite), and "Hole".

Unfortunately, I have no photos -- technical malfunction. A friend, Margit, suggested afterwards too that we should have made a recording.

Definitely something to consider for the next time.

13 May 2008

No time to talk...

I've been "all systems go" for the past 10 days or so, and now gearing up for a reading!

It's "An Evening Of Prose And Poetry", on Thursday, 15 May. There will be 5 of us: John, Alice, Loretta, Simon and me. It all got started because Simon is coming to visit Alice, and wanted -- really wanted -- to do a reading while he was here. So, we're doing one! We're charging admission to cover the cost of renting the venue, with anything leftover, we've decided, to donate to a local cancer charity. We met last week to look over the venue and plan the night. Pressure's on now (in a good way though) to come up with the poems I'll be doing; I think I've got them where I want them, but I've got to be sure, because I'm up first.

04 May 2008

A Sunday

I dropped the girls off with their father and cycled from his place to the mini-Delhaize, a grocery store that is open on Sundays. I did my bit of shopping, then cycled home. It was not yet 11 am and the streets were still calm and mostly shady, and it was sunny but not too warm, and there were hardly any cars. What a fine feeling that is: cycling through the quiet city streets. Right up there with swimming in the sea. What is it about motion, that provides this sensation of freedom?

As I approached my building I crossed paths with a woman I'd seen earlier this morning -- I'd bought croissants from her at another little store. Now she was walking down the street with a little girl of about 3 years, and pushing a smaller child in a pushchair. We recognized each other and said hello. And I felt a twinge of guilt about my lovely freedom -- I'm free, I'm nobody's mother for the next eight hours, and here's this woman who was up at god knows when to work at a shop, and now with her kids...

I know, it's a little crazy: this woman looked perfectly happy. And here I am, perfectly free for a day, practically reaching for straws of maternal guilt.

When in actual fact, I've paid my dues: I've had those Sundays, countless Sundays, on my own with the girls, one on foot and one in a pushchair, walking very slowly. And I go to work and worry: how in the world it will all come together? Somehow it does, or at least it has been; somehow it seems to be holding all right. I can't look at that part too closely, though, it's like looking down from a great height -- I'm afraid it's like in the cartoons, you know: walking on air between two cliffs, and it's OK so long as I don't realize that I'm not walking on a bridge...

So if I now unpack the groceries, make an egg salad sandwich and listen to some Bach, it isn't as though I'm not grateful. Believe me: grateful I am.