ARTEMIS POETRY

artemispoetrycoverissue9frontNo matter what happens on any given day, when the latest issue of a favored literary magazine crosses the threshold of my home, it’s a good day. Recently I received the November issue of ARTEMISpoetry for review. That was a very good day indeed. The writing and art is by women.The reading is for everyone. I venture to say that this publication of the Second Light Network, while not well-known, is making a mark and growing an audience.

Between the covers of ARTEMISpoetry, I found a rich selection of poems, features, reviews and interviews, biography, and art.

The journal opens with an interview of the Argentinian, Ana Becciú.

“I continue writing because I need to know and to understand … the voices within us, understand the surface of the words we use every day, voices that pronounce suffering, loss, the voices of all of us lost in this present society.”

There follows an exploration on the pleasures of reading and an essay by Myra Schneider on the “mystery of the creative moment.” I enjoyed the detail in Clare Best‘s engaging feature on her project and process for Self-portrait without Breasts. The project evolved from her decision to have a prophylactic double-mastectomy and to go flat chested and not have reconstructive surgery or use prosthesis.

“Cast me and I will become what I must.”

I think the feature I most enjoyed was Judith Cair’s piece on her experience translating passages from Homer’s Odyssey.

“The act of translating is beginning to influence my own writing. Even in writing poems far removed from Ancient Greece, I realize that there is an undertow of lines from the Odyssey, which may or may not be consciously acknowledged. And sometimes I am left with such a strong impression of a particular episode that I must re-imagine it for myself.”

The main course in this delightful menu addressing the interests of poets is the poetry itself. Among the many poems enjoyed is Anne Cluysenaar’s Hearing Your Words, offered here with the permission of the publisher and poet.

HEARING YOUR WORDS
For Ruth Bidgood, reading in Aberystwyth

by Anne Cluysenaar, © 2013, All rights reserved

I used, as a child, to imagine my death, or rather
beyond it. A ship setting out, in flames, at dusk,
counteracting the planet’s roll, on the sunrise path
to a waveless far horizon lit from beneath.

This came to mind, just now, clicking on close-up
through the café window – sea meeting that sky,
distantly smooth, arching high, up above
a jumble of chimneys and roofs backlit at sundown.

I found myself catching my breath, gravity’s curve
seen through such a small frame, from here where we sit
with our cups of tea. Vastness out there, our past.
But on planets elsewhere, other seas, other lives beginning.

Later, among the books, hearing your words,
it was waves I thought of – from land we may never see
reaching across the bulge of this little earth
to break, not one the same, on familiar shores.

taken from a poem diary From Seen to Unseen and Back by Anne Cluysenaar, forthcoming from Cinnamon Press, 2014.

ARTEMISpoetry is published  twice-a-year in November and May. Members receive their copy as part of their membership. Issues are available to nonmembers. For information, link HERE.  The next submission deadline is August 31, 2013. For membership and submission information, link HERE.

© 2013 essay, Jamie Dedes, All rights reserved
© 2012, journal cover and art, Second Light Network, All rights reserved – Many thanks to Anne Stewart for forwarding the cover and to Myra Schneider, Dilys Wood, and Anne Cluysenaar for the poem

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www-cover… For when I shut myself off the outer tick
I find myself listening to the quickening beat
of this dear planet as if it were my own heart’s clock.”
The Composition Hut, Myra Schneider in What Women Want

In this short collection of nineteen poems  – including the ten-page narratively-driven long-poem, Caroline Norton – Myra Schneider manages to cut through our many-layered lives. Her poems often move from the intimacy of  personal experience to a broader frame of reference. The opening poems are nature-and-spirit driven and bespeak a love of and concern for environment. The second part of the collection fulfills the polemic promise of the title to present hard lives and harder times in a clear and righteous outcry.

Among the opening poems is Losing, written for her publisher. Myra starts with the unimportant lose of socks and moves on to finding what is valuable:

“a sparrowhawk perched on your gate, eyes alert
for prey, words that toadleap from imagination,
from heart – to make sure every day is a finding.”

In two poems she hints at the symmetrical beauty of mathematics, “… the square root of minus one you once grasped, dumbfounded.” A visit to the Garden is bursting with color and movement and triggers speculations …

“but what does it matter? You know too well
how the years have shrunk your future,
that the past is an ever expanding suitcase.”

… and further along in the poem she closes with …

“to your feet, to the bees still milking
flowering raspberries. You free a frog
watch it hop back to its life.”

I was riveted by the story of Paula Schneider in Crossing Point, as Paula (probably Myra’s mother-in-law) crosses with her children from Germany into Holland during World War II. This is included in the second half of Myra’s book, which comes to the business at hand: injustice as it affects women and children.

Interesting that this book came my way when I am standing by two friends whose physical and emotional frailty are much entwined with their relations with fathers and husbands or boyfriends. It’s not that things haven’t been improved since our parents’ days…at least for many of us it has. It’s not that there are no kind and enlightened men. Certainly there are. It’s not because women and society are without culpability, because they are not.

The complexity of the gender and social issues examined are clear in Myra’s long poem, Caroline Norton, about the nineteenth century writer and poet,  social reformer and unwitting feminist. Caroline came to the latter two occupations, not so much by choice as necessity. As the poem folds out, we see that the brutal husband who separated Caroline from her children (with tragic results for them), was abetted and aided by the women in his life, influenced as they were by a social context in which women and children are property with no legal rights of their own. No doubt those women were numb to the implications, threatened by the hint of change, and anxious to bolster the sense of surperiority they got out of putting this woman down.

Myra stands firm in her poetic commitment to continue the fight started with Caroline Norton, since half the world is still under siege and the other half still begs improvements. We read about the child-bride (Woman) and the woman who is stoned (Her Story). One wonders what happens to the children – boys and girls – of such women. The short story here is that: What women want is justice.

For two years, I have enjoyed Myra Schneider’s work and appreciated her commitment to encouraging others to honor their inner artist, through her books on writing, her classes, and her support of Second Light Network (England), an association of women poets over forty. I suspect that her work doesn’t have the audience it deserves. I hope the day comes when that is remedied.

The closing poem in What Women Want:

WOMEN RUNNING
by Myra Schneider, 2013, All rights reserved
posted here with Myra’s permission

after Picasso: Deux femmes courant sur la plage
Look how their large bodies leaping
from dresses fill the beach, how their breasts
swing happiness, how the mediterraneans
of sea and sky fondle their flesh. Nothing

could rein them in. The blown wildnesses
of their dark animal hair, their hands joined
and raised, shout triumph. All their senses
are roused as they hurtle towards tomorrow.

That arm laid across the horizon,
the racing legs, an unstoppable quartet, pull
me from my skin and I become one of them,
believe I’m agile enough to run a mile,

believe I’m young again, believe age
has been stamped out. No wonder, I worship
at the altar of energy, not the energy huge
with hate which revels in tearing apart,

in crushing to dust but the momentum
which carries blood to the brain, these women
across the plage, lovers as they couple,
and tugs at the future till it breaks into bloom.

What Women Want, publisher (Second Light Publications)

© 2013, essay, Jamie Dedes, All rights reserved
Cover art and poetry, Myra Schneider, All rights reserved

Victoria at the Palm Springs Writer's Expo March 2012

Victoria at the Palm Springs Writer’s Expo March 2012

Victoria Slotto, fellow poet and blogger, had her first novel – Winter is Past – published last year. Her second novel is in progress as is a poetry chapbook. Victoria is a gifted writer and poet, and I am proud and delighted to feature her here. Victoria and I have much in common in terms of values and life experience. It was gratifying to see how well she incorporated important insights and ideals into the narrative flow of her novel. You will fall in love with and not soon forget her heroic character, Claire. Jamie  

“See! The winter is past; the rains re over and gone. Flowers appear on the earth.” Song of Songs: 2:12

2940013445222_p0_v1_s260x420Enter a world where achieving inner strength and surviving the odds are possible

With a talent and voice unlike any other, Victoria C. Slotto captures the reader’s heart and mind with a tale of overcoming personal hardships and struggling with one of life’s most difficult questions, “What if…?”

What does a woman—a fearful woman—do when all she holds dear is in danger of being lost? Victoria C. Slotto’s romantic drama, Winter is Past, explores the depths of joy and sorrow women face and the paths that women find through fear.

Winter is Past explores Claire’s story, a woman with a perfect life—a husband she loves, friends, and meaningful work. As life changes around her, she shows us the strength of her spirit, as well as her belief.

Victoria C. Slotto, a former hospice nurse and a kidney transplant survivor, speaks from experience as she writes Claire’s story. But Winter is Past is not a memoir by any stretch; it is a story written by an accomplished poet and essayist.Victoria’s poems and short stories have been published in several magazines and journals since 2005.

The Plot of Winter is Past

After receiving a kidney from her best friend, Claire has a renewed delight in life. This newfound happiness is put on hold when she discovers Kathryn has cancer in her remaining kidney. To cope with a possible loss, Claire is forced to face a source of fear that has haunted her from early in life. Throughout her journey she will uncover an inner strength and survive the unthinkable. Claire’s fear is every woman’s fear. Her question is every woman’s—can she survive?

Critics Weigh In

Critics have already weighed in with reviews. Jean Davenport describes the novel as “A beautifully written and purposeful exploration of the meaning of life through love, loss and rebirth. The journey of Claire makes us all appreciate the fragile string our lives are attached to and how each event makes all worth living. A great read!”

Winter is Past was released December 2011 and is available in both print and e-book formats via most online retailers, which are listed HERE.

© 2012, 2013, photographs, Victoria C. Slotto, all rights reserved

Victoria and Dave Slotto

Victoria and Dave Slotto

Victoria C. Slotto attributes her writing influences to her spirituality, her dealings with grief and loss, and nature. Having spent twenty-eight years as a nun, Victoria left the convent but continued to work as a nurse in the fields of death and dying, Victoria has seen and experienced much. Because of her experience, Victoria is able to connect with her audience on an intimate level. She resides in Reno, Nevada, with her husband and two dogs and spends several months of the year in Palm Desert, California. Winter is Past is her first book published by Lucky Bat Books. Victoria is also an accomplished blogger, sharing her fine poetry with us HERE.

The Rrroarrs

rrroarr

With a nod to Phillip K. Dick, author of the canine short-story RoogGrandkitty Gypsy decided that felines need their own such story. Hence, as dictated telepathically by Gypsy, here’s one for the kitties.

They made her shudder, those big-rig delivery trucks passing along Pacific Avenue, a busy stretch that runs parallel to the street on which the new apartment is located. They  – a good three or four at a time – stopped at the grocery directly across from Py’s building. Given the trucks’ mighty roar and intimidating size, she was amazed to see the humans gathering round, diving into the back of the truck and moving boxes on pallet jacks.

Py tried – dare we say it – doggedly to alert her human to the potential threat. She looked pointedly at the scene unfolding outside the window and bobbing her head up and down she growled “rrroarrrrroarr.” Unfortunately her human doesn’t speak Feline. When the human finally did take a look, she didn’t appear at all perturbed by the frightening perspective, though Py recognized it as abject terror. Soon though she began to feel her terror give way to interest. Food! She could smell food in the air, food that disappeared into the store’s receiving area.

Pensive, she studied the humans swarming about the trucks. One thought lead to another as thoughts are want to do. Suddenly she realized why feline foods are so poor: dry, boring, tasteless, “scientifically formulated nuggets” recommended by Dr. Annie. “For weight control,” she says. Humph! Ffffup! thought Py. The truth is we have to substitute good flesh food for dry prefabricated crunchables because the rrroars make sure the good stuff is hidden away in the humans’ grocery store. Her nose told her there was fresh fish to be had and – Bastet willing – some of that fish would be hers.

Pywacket (Py)

Slowly a strategy began to form in Py’s mind. Her dear but scattered human was forever forgetting something when she left for work. It was her habit to leave the front door open while she ran back into the apartment to find her misplaced keys or to grab her almost-forgotten lunch. For once, Py decided, I’ll take advantage of that. High stakes call for high risks.

Her chance came the very next day. When her human so predictably left the door open, Py escaped. She did her best to stay out of sight and for a while camped out behind a dryer in the laundry room.

Time passed slowly, Py slept, and then waking with a start, she listened to the stillness. She sensed all the humans in the building were gone for the day or settled down to watch their soaps on TV. Now’s my chance! She shot across the street like a Roger Clemens‘ pitch and scooted behind some bushes to assess the situation. It was there that she met a handsome red-coated fellow of her own kind.

At last the rrroarrs were empty and gone and the humans disappeared into the store. Py and her new-found friend, Fluffernutter, high-tailed it into the store’s receiving room.  They maneuvered past the stacked boxes of canned food and cleaning stuffs, their sensitive noses tracking the sweet scent of wild Alaska salmon in the fish monger’s section.

Fluffernutter (Nutter)

Once out of receiving and into the store they knew they were vulnerable. They decided Py would be the distraction while Fluffernutter went in for the kill. Py wrapped the luxury of her softly furred self around the leg of the fish monger. She purred seductively. Naturally he bent down to pick her up. Who could resist? The man immediately adored her and fed her a scrap of sea scallop in gratitude for her attention. As planned, the fish monger was so taken with Py that he never noticed the theft in progress.

Fluffernutter nabbed a hunk of salmon and made his way unobtrusively back to receiving and on to safety. When the monger gave Py another bit of sea scallop and regretfully set her free outside, she headed straight for the apartment house where Fluffernutter – whom she soon came to learn is more nutter than fluffer – was waiting for her. What a feast they had and it turned out to be just the first of many …

* * *

It’s been almost four weeks now. Py and “Nutter” – as she calls him affectionately – have their routine down. The silly fish monger is still deeply enamoured of Py and has no sense of her cunning. It’s hard to tell who is more devoted to the little feline goddess, man or Nutter.

Earlier today Py went with her human to visit Dr. Annie, who chastised the human for overfeeding Py and not keeping her safe inside. She’s now up from a petite eleven pounds to a voluptuous thirteen and pregnant to boot.

Pywacket & Gypsy

© 2012, story, Gypsy Rose and Jamie Dedes, All rights reserved * Gypsy blogs at The Cat’s Meow

© 2012, Pywacket (Py), from the family album, please be respectful – Jamie Dedes, All rights reserved

© 2012, Pywacket and Gypsy, from the family album, please be respectful – Jamie Dedes, All rights reserved

Photo credit ~ rrroars and Fluffernutter by Junior Libby, Public Domain Pictures.net

 

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