Tuesday, October 31, 2006

not another october blog post!

another walk - a very, very windy one. more photos. just what you were waiting for, right?


oh and happy halloween where it applies ... from the wicked witch of the east. the veil between the worlds is thin tonight. i might just slip out for a bit ... *S*

it's november in less than two hours - the month of fog and storms. the month of maybe-snow. the month of unexpected sunshine. the month before christmas-madness. the month of the dead. the month of the season's first mulled wine. the month of my birth.

song of the day: the blower's daughter by damien rice.

Monday, October 30, 2006

outside / inside, yes / no

we've gone back to standard time - it is five and almost dark. yesterday it was worse - after a dreadfully windy, rainy morning and some hours of kitschy blue sky, we had a short but violent thunderstorm with hail around five. it just turned pitch dark within minutes.

it was quite amazing - the wind whipped the rain and hail against windows, off rooftops, like huge sheets. lots of lightning that looked almost pink - beautiful.

i did not expect it to be nice today, but it was. i forgot to bring the camera, so there are no pics of today's walk on donauinsel, which is a shame, really, because the light was perfect. more barren trees after the storms of the weekend, and more red in treetops. the danube looked almost blue today. temperatures have dropped, but it was warm enough to sit in the sun for 20 minutes or so, the same spot where i saw on friday. a half moon was rising - huge and white, like some leftover cloud. beautiful.

it's supposed to get *really* cold on thursday, with a chance of sleet and a few snowflakes - please, no! :(

my current students seem to be warming to me - one of those groups that are really quiet at the beginning, not talking among them, not interacting much. but they're (yes, this is for you, arlin and natch!) opening up now. much more fun. they're a homogenous group, no real beginners, and fast learners. three of my former students who are in another class now, still come to see me to tell me they miss me. aww. *S*

poetry-wise: a yes from (the poetry)worm - and what's amazing here is that they have chosen a sonnet! i've only ever written about four in my life, so that's not bad. it's, once again, part of the now almost legendary nigel series, and called Desperate Times, Desperate Measures.

a no from tipton poetry journal. standard rejection letter - and rather impolite, IMO, that they don't even bother addressing recipients by name. what i *really* don't get is this bit included in the rejection:

If you are not familiar with the kind of work we publish and would like to know more, current and previous issues as well as subscriptions are available for purchase on-line by credit card, through our website:
wouldn't you assume that people have read the zine? i felt like they were suggesting i had sent a blind sub, which i never do.

reading corey mesler's chapbook, dipped into frank matagrano's, and that clean sheets anthology that ms angling sent. received one of the PSH prizes today, too, a chapbook by wendy grosskopf.

song of the day: doctor blind by emily haines & the soft skeleton.

Friday, October 27, 2006

in the sun & in the mail

vienna has been glorious this october. it's just breath-taking. all the colours. the picture-book blue sky. day after day. and it's been so warm too! today people were sunbathing in shorts and t-shirts - 25C (77F)!

i'd been feeling poorly the last few days, so i could not come out hiking yesterday (national holiday), but this afternoon i could not wait to finish work and go for a walk on donauinsel (the artificial island in the danube). i cross the danube twice every day, going to and from work, and although i am always reading on the train, i look up every time we come to the river. it's been wonderful to watch the colours change lately.

i took my time walking, i sat in the sunshine down by the river, and i took lots of pictures, some of which i simply must share with you (click to enlarge, esp aardman & mcclam):

for more, visit my yahoo photo album.

being optimistic, i went to my place after the walk, to pick up mail, and double yay! frank matagrano's chapbook There Is Nothing to Love about Los Angeles has arrived! and - a surprise from the naugh... one-track-mi lovely ms nag! goodness knows why she thought of sending me a publication called From Porn to Poetry 2 - Clean Sheets Celebrates the Erotic Mind, but i am sure she meant well. she just assumes everybody is like her. thank you, darleneg, for what i suspect might be a belated wedding present. :)

speaking of clean sheets and dirty minds - temperatures over at the itws forum have not only been rising, but soaring. steve's cabin feels like a sauna, and my newly, um, erected cabin is already steaming up like a tropical rain forest. i can't believe what's been going on. i can, however, believe that as soon as something WAS going on, *i* was in the midst of it all ... it's been the most fun week i have ever had there. it is contagious. really. ask arlington. or mcnate. i don't know which of the two is worse.

oh and yes, we are still writing poetry, too. *nodding vigorously* i am on day 18 of round 8 today, but if it weren't for reports, i don't know whether i would have lasted. sometimes i feel like a duracell bunny, i swear. i keep going and going and going although i'd much rather drop dead. *L*

viii.12 - Report without a voice
viii.13 - Report with pink sky
viii.14 - Report - Still Life With Poetry
viii.15 - report with dry spell
viii.16 - report with jarring sound
viii.17 - poem with possibilities and uncertain outcome
viii.18 - cabin fever

song of the day: the maid needs a maid by emily haines & soft skeleton.

Monday, October 23, 2006

so i didn't win ...

... the poetry super highway contest, but my poem conversation with a wooden spatula came 9th out of over 550 poems, which i think isn't too bad. i'll get two prizes (books), too! congrats to the winners whose poems you can read here.

vienna mornings are ...

song of the day: i drove all night by cyndi lauper.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

poetry book tips

my birthday is coming up next month, sooo ... i might ask for some reading material - which poetry collections do you think are a must-read, and why? tell me. you have my undivided attention.

music of the day: don't forget by martha wainwright.

Friday, October 20, 2006

life is good!

i've had a good week. i'm in a good mood, and laughing a lot. even my colleagues noticed. not that i am normally a grumpy old person, but this week was just - better.

i said goodbye to the group i have been teaching the last five weeks (how time flies!), and i am going to miss them. it's been fun. the last two hours together were spent chatting, and eating, and laughing a lot. they gave me a huge bouquet of flowers today, with some extras thrown in that won't mean anything to anybody else, but they were our very own inside jokes. here are a few pics - smell the roses! and sunflowers, too, my favourites (as i had told one of the ladies ...)!

things at the 30:30 forum are just ... oh, FUN! it's buzzing with creativity, and even though i am finding this round tough, i am sooo glad i decided to do another one. it seems that ideas are buzzing around, and we are picking up buckets, oranges, and, er, sizzling vibes, as well as forms, from each other. it's just a lot of fun, and a lot of lovely lines have been written lately. i'd actually love to meet the 30:30s in person, i have a feeling it would be terrific, and we'd probably all be in stitches all the time. at the moment, there are mostly "old" regulars - john vick, arlene "auntie" ang, lisa prince, sharon hurlbut, keith bris, fast-becoming-regulars - annie bien and liz gallagher, and also 30:30 newbies - nathan "innuendo" mcclain (who has contributed to, um, global warming) and jude goodwin. freada had to drop out due to a death in the family, cheryl disappeared, lauren is busy with her new job, dave seems to be taking a break, but i am sure they will be back.

here are my round viii titles:

viii.01 - harvest moon haiga
viii.02 - how much ground would a groundhog hog ...
viii.03 - what is the sound of one hand clapping?
viii.04 - who's keeping time with the timekeeper's daughter ...
viii.05 - last night
viii.06 - a driving instructor has a recurring nightmare
viii.07 - In writing
viii.08 - report with a damp patch
viii.09 - weather report
viii.10 - Report with waning moon
viii.11 - Report with morning dew
about half of them could be called erotica. hmmm. blame it on the 30:30 vibes ...

i have read nearly all of john siddique's the prize. if there is one thread running through all poems, one thing they have in common, it is love: a love of family, friends, and - above all - life. a passion for life. i like that a lot. his poems are very "real", very like life.

vienna is beautiful and warm. blue skies. terrific pre-sunrise clouds.

music of the day: did me good by the elected.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006


oh yes, that weekend has done me a world of good! i feel energised, and am kind of happy with vienna, and being in vienna, more than last week, or the weeks before. autumn is still beautiful - blue, blue skies, sunshine, and though the mornings are getting chilly, it is warm during the day, up to 20C (68F)! if only it could last ... but, life is good.

* * *

speaking of the festival:

john siddique is sharing his vienna photos with everyone. there are a couple of pics in which you can find me, too, at his workshop, looking for the muse. *G*

a few pics can already be viewed at the vienna lit website. (and yes there is one of me, but, well, there are better. somewhere. *L*)

* * *

i have almost finished reading the vienna:views anthology (and enjoyed the different takes on "my" city), but have only dipped into john siddique's the prize, and not even opened kristy bowen's archer avenue or corey mesler's short story. (thanks for swapping chapbooks!)

music of the day: vienna by ultravox. what else.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

lit fest!

the vienna lit festival is almost over - and i am SO glad that i went to some of the events, it's been great fun, i've met lovely people, and heard some terrific wordswordswords.

on thursday evening, i hurried from teaching tongue twisters to my english class in vienna's 21st district to replugged in the 8th district where the presentation of the vienna views anthology took place.

the call for contributions earlier this year had been "how do you write vienna?" (in prose and poetry) - and i'm one of the people who answered the call, with a few poems about the city i live in. i was thrilled when i heard that how to survive in vienna had made it into the anthology.

if you are interested in seeing vienna through the eyes of people who live here (having grown up here, or moved here from places around the globe), do buy the anthology. it is available from the german amazon website, and from luftschacht publishing house, or you can get in touch with me and i can get you one and send it.

harriet anderson and bond benton read their texts from the anthology, very enjoyable.

after that event, i met bond benton (my first new contact through the festival apart from the team) and we chatted a while before labyrinth, a writer's group based in vienna, performed, but i left halfway through it, because it was getting late and i still had stuff to do before bedtime.

on friday i was getting more and more nervous all the time, because i had promised to read at the open mic that evening - a first for me. i am shy when it comes to that. i am not too crazy about my voice either, although everybody keeps telling me there is nothing wrong with it. and then microphones. ugh. so far, they are not my friends.

i am forever grateful to nathan who "kept me company" in a chat session before i went to the reading, and to stevie ronnie, an english poet i met about 15 minutes before stepping on stage. he must have realised i was nervous, and started talking to me, which meant i had no time to work myself into a state of utter stage fright. of course he was right, i survived, notwithstanding my sweaty palms and weak knees. i told the audience it was my first time, and that i was very nervous, so if i fainted, it was not part of my routine - they even had the decency to laugh. *phew*

i read the poem from the anthology, how to survive in vienna, and one from my chapbook, eva to adam. i tripped up once halfway through the first poem, but so what. what i found most irritating in that setting was the spotlights, and not being able to see the audience directly in front of me. it was like they had been sucked into a big black hole. scary. *G*

a few people told me that i'd done well, and there had been no need to apologise at all.

i had not intended to stay too long, because i'd had an upset stomach all day, and i was tired, but i ended up leaving around midnight. first i was talking to stevie, who bought me a drink in return for my chapbook, and then i met peter waugh, co-founder of labyrinth. he invited me to the next labyrinth reading / open mic, and told me about a writer's group meeting once every two or three weeks. he did look through my chapbook and say something nice about my "control of the language". *S*

on saturday, another first for me - a poetry workshop, with john siddique from the uk. i'd talked briefly to john on thursday evening and was impressed that he remembered my name from a comment i had left on his blog. he is a lovely person. i came to the workshop after another pretty sleepless night, and he managed to wake me up alright. what i like about him is that he seems very down-to-earth, and he can laugh at himself. there simply was not enough time, only 2 hours, but we managed to do a few exercises (tapping the vein of creativity) - certainly food for thought. in the beginning, i worked together with a very sweet lady, victoria oscarsson, (who, it turned out, also has a text in the anthology). i came away with a fragment of a poem, and a few vague ideas, which is not bad for a two-hour session.

one thing that will stay with me, is john's answer when asked what influenced him most, as a writer: "love." he said. paused. added "and death." what else is there really?

i think most of the participants realised that there are others out there who, just like them, regret there is not more happening in vienna, as far as poetry / writing in english is concerned. this festival has been a great for networking, because to be networking, you need events where you can actually do it. there might be a few beginnings in this. we'd love to bring john to austria for a longer workshop - and since he found that vienna is not the worst place in the world and has the advantage of displaying schiele and klimt paintings in several galleries, i am quite sure he'd come back.

i had considered another workshop that afternoon, but i was just too tired. my brain basically shut down. and i did want to be fit for john's and jay's reading that evening.

erm. me.

john siddique read (mostly) from his book the prize - some wonderful poems. his poem yes, which he claims was written in 30 seconds, and just begs to be read aloud, made me want to cry, but in a good way, in a YES! kind of way. i told him so, too. john has a blog and a website - do read his poems. (he also has a really nice english accent, i am such a sucker for that. *G*)

next was the amazing jay bernard - 18 years old and wow, that girl's hugely talented. she certainly has something to say and does so quite successfully in slams. if you are in england, you should keep your eyes open and go see her if you can.

john siddique and jay bernard

it was actually really nice to go there yesterday evening - the first day, i did not know anybody, and that evening i kept bumping into people i'd met at the lit fest - stevie, peter, victoria and a few others from the workshop, ...

stevie told me he'd read half of my chapbook and had some very nice feedback for me - doesn't that go down like honey? *G* and eric, part of the vienna lit team, basically made my day by saying this: "you read yesterday, didn't you? i just wanted to let you know that you didn't come across half as nervous as you said you were!" aaahhh. i might just do it again some day ... *G*

the next event was a school slam - inspired by john siddique's poem yes, there had been a comeptition for high school students, to write a poem called no, and the top 18 performed their poems. some of them were quite good - and i totally agree with the decision of the jury. the winning poem was different from most of the others in that it was not just a list, and it was also performed in a lovely way. good fun, the slam.

we even stayed for the final peformance, the fugitives, a canadian group combining story-telling and poetry with music and song, quite cool.

the fugitives

i had the chance to chat with john some more, also with jay, and peter, and victoria, and stevie ("for some reason i don't think i will be able to forget you ..." - after a quite possibly particularly insane remark of mine) ... and a few others. a very good evening.

late that night: me & stevie

and i'll shut up now. it's not like i am still high on adrenalin or anything. ;)

music of the day: butterscotch by cocorosie.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

in the last 24 hours, i've had

stress ~ less than four hours of sleep ~ a slice of cake ~ the welcome opportunity to speak English ~ trouble to finish a poem ~ a text message from arlene ~ to overcome my nervousness and shyness ~ lovely feedback from a student ~ two taxi rides ~ compliments ~ fun at work ~ very little to eat ~ love ~ ca 60 pairs of eyes on me ~ a bit of a reconciliation with vienna ~ seven emails from people i know ~ an EFL workshop ~ a couple of lovely chats ~ to answer the question "what do you do for a living?" five times ~ poetry ~ doubts ~ a violent attack of the jitters ~ encouraging words about my poetry ~ the chance to meet new people, many of them poets/writers ~ a glass of red wine ~ my first (and very inspirational) poetry workshop (with john siddique) ~ lust ~ stomach problems ~ to step up on a stage ~ spotlights on me ~ an adrenalin high ~ three native speakers tell me that i have no accent ~ reason to congratulate someone ~ john siddique sign his book for me ~ fun ~ inspiration ~ someone tell me they care about me ~ giddiness ~ applause ~ to sign my chapbook for someone i'd just met ~ a few moments when i felt strong, beautiful, centered ~ sunshine

sometimes it just hits me how much i love this life.

(and you?)

this morning, enhanced.

music of the day: more than i can bear by matt bianco.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006


click to enlarge.

music of the day: piano concerto no. 21 in c (elvira madigan) by beethoven.

Monday, October 09, 2006

where do i begin?

perhaps by patting myself on the back for finishing round VII over at 30:30 - since i last posted, i have added these poems to the list:

vii.22 - argon - south of io, eighteen minutes past three
vii.23 - hydrogen - girl, breathing in
vii.24 - arsenic - wikipedia entry for arlene ang
vii.25 - cobalt - the story of blue mondays and a three-quarter moon
vii.26 - nameless man with girl and dog
vii.27 - haiga (satellites)
vii.28 - arlene (from mrs m garbage's encyclopaedia austriaca)
vii.29 - nate (from mrs m garbage's mencyclopaedia austriaca)
vii.30 - mcclain (from mrs m garbage's mencyclopaedia austriaca)
as you can see, the madness continues. there are innuendoes flying around and certain vibes in the air over at the forum. it cannot be a coincidence that this started with the arrival of mr nathan mcclain. it's great fun there at the moment, and i am seriously thinking about doing another round (yes, erm. i know. call me nutcase.), even though i am having a very, very busy week (apart from the regular teaching, there are two afternoons at the atp tennis tournament, a book presentation, an EFL teachers' workshop, an open mic, and my first-ever poetry workshop - with john siddique - on saturday morning). i suppose i'd have time to scribble a few lines, but i am not so sure about the commenting - it's crowded at the forum!

i love doing these crazy imaginary-encyclopedia entries for the 30:30 round - perfect for my mad brain. and yes, armandine, i am going to record it. i just don't know whether i will post it on the blog. i am so *shy*. and you, dear reader, listen to army's recording of her michaela encyclopedia entry.

i have finished my collaboration poems with a) allie and b) mr innuendo (aka nate). it's been fun. now the poems don't win that contest, there's someone i can blame. :)

for some reason i seem to be getting married to angstine on the weekend, too. and all because she was not using her hearing-aid, when all i was saying was "give me your hand in the carriage". C-arriage! tsk. for the official invitation, click here, if you must.

it's been a sleepless few nights for me. possibly that huge harvest moon.

her, this morning, through glass.

after two nights with only 4 and just under 5 hours sleep respectively, i was getting really s-l-o-w and unfocused yesterday, kind of like a zombie on remote control (i imagine). wah. spoiled my sunday. also, am not feeling 100%. hope i won't become ill.

my english intensive class (monday evening) had to be cancelled, not enough students. wah. that sucks. i need money! the winter is coming! i'll have to go gather firewood, and then i will get lost in the forest and the big bad wolf will come and get me, and then what will i do? (okay. deep breaths.)

i forgot to say last week: if *you* are interested in swapping chapbooks with me, why don't you drop me a note?

our autumn is beautiful. i love it. my hair is newly cut and newly dyed. i love it.

me, this evening, through photoshop.

song of the day: borderline by madonna. i am retro these days.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

luna-cy on a sunday morning

waning harvest moon over vienna this morning. (click to enlarge)

song of the day: goodnight moon by shivaree

Friday, October 06, 2006

earlier this evening ...

isn't she a beauty?

song of the day: luktar-gvendur by bjørk

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

SUMMER HOLIDAYS, day 11: good start, unhappy ending

thursday, 24 august. even though we don't get up too late, alex has already left for work. we finish packing, have some breakfast, clean up, and by the time we leave marling, we have a plan.

sir archibald takes us south towards bozen, but we don't stop there. we drive on towards lake garda (lago di garda) - at first it is still apple orchards all around, then there are vast vineyards (near kaltern, famous for its wine), before the landscape changes yet again; the mountains look very different from those around merano, more forbidding. the dolomites rise at sharp angles, clouds cover the peaks - quite stunning.

we leave south tyrol, entering another italian province: trentino. our destination, for now, is lake garda, where we have never been before. we stop in riva del garda at the northern end of the lake (which is huge: 370 sq km with a shoreline of about 125 km). i've actually pictured it a little differently. although i have of course seen pictures, i never realised that the mountains on its western shore are that close to the lake, practically rising from the water. very beautiful.

we take a walk along the promenade, the water looks inviting, the famous wind is blowing, people are sunbathing and swimming, children playing. it is quite the holiday resort, of course, and seems to be particularly popular with english tourists.

we consider staying the night and driving on to the adriatic coast in the morning, and in retrospect it would have been much wiser, but we could not know it then. so after a quick lunch and some more sun, we take the scenic route along the lake's eastern shore with gorgeous views of the area, past hundreds of cypress trees, and then we direct our archie towards verona, padova, venice.

the final destination for the day is supposed to be cáorle, a little town on the adriatic coast, just north of venice. sepp has never been there, but i spent many holidays there with my family between age 7 and 16, so it holds a lot of memories. it has been years since i have visited, and therefore we thought it'd be nice to stop there for a day. however, we don't quite make it that evening.

just after venice, the traffic comes to a halt. nobody knows what is going on. nobody knows how long it might take. there isn't any information. there is no chance of getting off the highway. so, all we can do is sit and wait. the annoying thing is that we are SO close. of course we don't really have anything to eat either. i think i have not been in such a traffic jam since about the mid-eighties, on some family trip to italy. it takes us about 2,5 hours to cover less than 7 km. apparently a section of the highway is closed off. the crazy thing is that there has not been any warning, or we would have taken a different road. by the time we get to that next exit, it is getting dark. we are near jesolo, another holiday resort, and decide to drive down to jesolo beach to look for a hotel for the night.

we do find something, and as soon as we've got our bags in the room, we head off to the main street in search of food - we are starving. jesolo is totally different from cáorle. quite frankly, i fail to see the attraction. the place practically consists of an overcrowded main street lined with tacky shops, ice cream parlours, restaurants, and souvenir shops. it is incredibly noisy. most people seem to be young couples (the guys often weighed down by what seems like tonnes of gold chains and gold rings, the girls by similar amounts of make-up), and there are hardly any families with little children, or older people. i don't feel all too comfortable, being pushed and shoved by the throng.

but we do get us some food, even an ice-cream for dessert, and we get two thunderstorms that night, yay!

pictures of day 11

Monday, October 02, 2006

vinegar, fossil, heedless, embroider

these were the words for the latest eclectica word poem challenge where poets are supposed to use all four words in one poem. i was grateful for the inspiration, and eclectica editors apparently liked my resulting poem - the secret meanings of greek letters: iota - enough to publish it in the brand-new issue. of course, this would be half the fun if harlene hang's poems weren't also present in the virtual pages of the magazine. enjoy!

the new challenge words are: bathrobe, plastic, juxtapose, and impediment. check eclectica for guidelines, grab a plastic pen and your muse (in her bathrobe, though other garments should be no impediment), and juxtapose a few ideas on a sheet of paper!

song of the day: gling-gló by bjork