The Door to Colour … Part 2



Yesterday in Part 1 of this piece I closed with …

“Painting is silent poetry, and poetry is painting with the gift of speech.”
~Simonides of Ceos (556-468 BCE), Greek lyric poet

I chose that quote for two reasons.  First, Myra Schneider‘s way with poetry lends truth to Simonides’ observation that “poetry is painting with the gift of speech.”  Second, Simonides was known in his day for presenting the human condition in terms that were basic yet moving. I’ve never been able to find enough of Simonides’ work to confirm that for myself. I suspect that not much of his work survives for anyone to really know. However, I have read a great deal of Myra’s work. I can say with confidence that her canvas is lively and colorful, her poetic sensibility accessible and affective.

There is nothing that does not seem to lend itself to poetry in Myra’s mind. Nature. Art. Music. Beauty. Humanity. Events great and small. Even those things that some would see as too pedestrian to inspire are ink in Myra’s pen, inspiration for meditations on larger concerns. For example, from Circling the Core (Enitharmon Press), the poem Milk Bottle shared with readers in the May 2015 issue of The BeZine. These are subjects to be explored and savored in Myra’s poetry … and never more so than in her newest collection.

The Door to Colour (Enitharmon Press) came out last November.  (I’m sorry to present this review so late. Life sometimes gets in the way of intention, but the operative word is “life.”) Short story: I enjoyed it. I recommend it. It is worth – in fact it calls for – frequent and careful reading. And, if you find yourself recuperating from some devastating event, you will surely find balm in the artistry of this collection and its shared experience of life with all its colors and shadows.

The Door to Colour starts with a simple piece, Le Citron, after Monet’s painting of the same name and includes several poems inspired by works of art or music.

There’s the human element, of course, and one of my faves, His Room, which everyone who has ever raised a child will appreciate. “On the door: posters, cuttings/and a warning: Parents Keep Out,/I knock, Am admitted . . .’I’ve got to find out if life/has any meaning,’ he tells me/He is fifteen, I am forty-five …/and the meanings I’d thought I’d found/have vanished. But behind him/I see myself at fifteen overwhelmed …”

And then there’s the poem Silence, which asks “what colour is noise?” It’s one to post above your computer. In Panic you’ll likely recognize yourself.

The narrative poem, Minotaur ends the collection. It is an alternate view of the Greek myth of Theseus and the Minotaur and it will stay with you long after reading. This poem moves, moves, moves.

I thoroughly enjoyed The Throw, for its details. The Throw is “kind to my uncomfortable body,” It is a poem to which you’ll relate if you are of an age when discomfort is your constant companion.

The poem, Cloud, made me think of Rilke for its concern, not its style. “I can’t believe/the divine exists in a fixed place overhead-/isn’t god the energy driving the universe/the dimensions of its mathematics visible/in patterns on this planet …” And let me whet your appetite with this tidbit from Garden: ” . . . Go/into the garden where dandelions pit themselves/against primroses …” 

The door to color turns out to be the door to transformation and transcendence and no doubt the reading is as deeply felt as the writing was … Each poem asks to be devoured . . .

… and so to close this piece – with Myra’s permission – the gift of two poems for you to read from The Door to Colour … Enjoy!


after Chagall: Adam et Eve chassés du Paradis

There is no music now in paradise.
The garden’s ripped by cries of consternation,
a blinding white circle of face belongs

to a figure whose body is flower-blur
and stems twinned with leaves, a figure
inseparable from this place, its din.

There is no music now in paradise.
Tranquillity is a shrivelled fruit, trees
wrenched from roots are hurtled to the sky,

birds plummet to ocean, stampeding hooves
smash grasses. The tempter’s vanished,
panic-bitten humans are in flight.

There is no music now in paradise.
The word sin hisses in ears, guilt
lays its eggs, hearts work like clappers,

selves are in tatters. Though daisies
will rise again, moments gleam with sound
there is no music now in paradise.

– Myra Schneider


Sometimes when the computer’s in sulk,
when you’ve failed to appease your partner,
mother, child or cat, when you’ve hurried
down roads hoping to escape the conundrum
of yourself or limped from the dentist’s to daylight
with all the stuffing knocked from body and mind
even though pain is no longer boring into your teeth,
all you can do is climb chilling flights of steps,
clamber on board and thank god or your lucky stars
that no one’s bellowing the obvious into a mobile.
All you can do is gaze at the backsides of houses,
their clumsy sheds and drooping lines of washing,
at hoardings, factories, and outbursts of October leaves,
at glints from sudden streams, interludes of grass.
All you can do is accept the sumptuous dark of chocolate
melting in your mouth, gaze at the magenta lipstick
filling a double-spread in the magazine you picked up
at Whistlestop, imagine buying it though you never
colour your face, then feel inferior as you read
about the woman who rules the National Trust.
All you can do is smack shut the complacent pages
and look at the everyday girl who’s sitting opposite.
Her pinkish high-heeled shoes are fragile as slippers,
her face is creased with fatigue. You doubt she could rule
a pocket-sized kitchen or a stack of pots in a shed
but you can’t take your eyes off her handbag,
its amber clip, the silvergold lustre of its fabric,
the zips to its many enticing compartments.

– Myra Schneider

IMG_0032-1” . . . reading, writing and sharing poems is healing and if one is to be fully involved in writing it is crucial to read poetry and read poems closely.” Myra Schneider in an interview with me, February 2011.

© 2015, review, Jamie Dedes, All rights reserved; 2015, poems and photographs, Myra Schneider, All rights reserved

The Door to Colour…Part 1


I don’t want to appoint myself to the position of apologist for blogging and social networking. I think there are others who could do that job better than I can, but I do believe these tools have a place and a value.

We all have fabulous people in our lives . . . friends, coworkers, neighbors and cherished family . . . folks who share our values, history and place in the world but not necessarily our zeal for a particular cause or art. One of the intrinsic benefits that comes with the ability to easily connect over distance is that it facilitates meeting and sometimes befriending others who share our passions . . .

And so I come to the way an American poet living in Silicon Valley met an English poet who lives in London.  It was over a red dress.  Myra Schneider had written a poem – part of a collection called Circling the Core – and I loved it. In the poem Myra tells about wanting a red sheath, how it didn’t fit comfortably and how in the end she was glad to shed the dress and retrieve her body despite its “flaws.”  You see, Myra’s a survivor of breast cancer. It so happened that around the same time I discovered the poem, read up on Myra and found some more of her work, I found myself sitting in a doctor’s office with a friend. I was there as her moral support and as a sort medical amanuensis. My friend was diagnosed with breast cancer.

I’ve had a number of friends who have survived breast cancer and a mother who succumbed to it and colon cancer.  I know about the fear, pain and the mutilation.  I had to post the poem for the others and I did so on September 28, 2010, THE RED DRESS by Myra Schneider . . . a poetry reading.

Somehow Myra happened on the post and wrote to thank me.  She sent me some of her books, which I eventually reviewed and she introduced me to Second Light Network of Women Poets, a group I appreciate and enjoy very much.  Thanks to Myra and Second Light, I’ve become acquainted with the work of quite a number of accomplished women poets I might never have encountered.

Myra subscribes to my blog. I read her books and articles. We are Facebook friends. Myra has generously contributed poems and feature articles to The BeZine, which I founded and edit. As you can see, blogging and social networking are not just the domain of philistines. They have their place among the artful … I know I am mostly preaching to the choir here. So many of us are WordPress, Facebook and Twitter friends based on our love of literature, art and music … most profoundly, our love poetry.

Now on to a review of Myra Schneider’s latest poetry collection, The Door to Colour (Enitharmon Press) … Look for it here tomorrow in Part 2 …

“Painting is silent poetry, and poetry is painting with the gift of speech.”
~Simonides of Ceos (556-468 BCE), Greek lyric poet

© 2015, article, Jamie Dedes, All rights reserved; 2015, photograph, Myra Schneider, All rights reserved

God, are you the one who is living life?


In honor of Penticost Sunday, a little something of Rilke’s for Cousin Dan and The Congregation of the Holy Spirit. Love ~

And yet, though we strain
against the deadening grip
of daily necessity,
I sense there is this mystery:

All life is being lived.

Who is living it, then?
Is it the things themselves,
or something waiting inside them,
like an unplayed melody in a flute?

Is it the winds blowing over the waters?
Is it the branches that signal to each other?

Is it flowers
interweaving their fragrances,
or streets, as they wind through time?

Is it animals, warmly moving,
or the birds, that suddenly rise up?

Who lives it, then? God, are you the one
who is living life?

Rainer Marie Rilke (1874-1927), Bohemian-Austrian poet and novelist, from The Book of Hours, Book 2, Poem 12

© 2015 photograph, Jamie Dedes, All rights reserved

Stewing Dinner, Spinning Stories


“The place I like best in this world is the kitchen.  No matter where it is, no matter what kind, if it’s a kitchen, if it’s a place where they make food, it’s fine with me.  Ideally it should be well broken in.  Lots of tea towels, dry and immaculate.  White tile catching the light (ting! ting!).” Banana Yoshimoto in her 1988 novel, Kitchen.

Today I am off to the pre-transplant clinic support group for those in the lung program.  It’s quite an adventure, requiring two tanks of oxygen and other paraphernalia and it takes some time to get there.  Best take a book, eh?  We were at the library yesterday and I found this one. The lines quoted above are the opening lines. Wow!   I couldn’t agree more.  Some of my best times – simple but sweet times – have been spent in kitchens.

I love to write in the kitchen. I often wonder how many women over time have practiced multiple creative arts in that most basic room . . . the heart of the home … the hearth of the home.  At least one fictional writer … Jessica Fletcher of Murder She Wrote … plied her craft in the kitchen.  It seems so natural to stew dinner and spin a story at the same time.

For those who are interested, here’s what lung transplant is about … and my own wonderful physician is featured here.

© 2015, words and photograph, Jamie Dedes, All rights reserved