Saturday, February 11, 2017

Archer! Of Arrows in Shadows of Nottigham Castle


Lurking in the shadow of the walls at Nottingham Castle, Robin Hood's statue upholds the legend of the masterful archer and his merry men.

It is a place where legend and history cross paths, and within the strong pull of the castle wall, it's every man (or tourist, maybe)  for him/herself as imaginary arrows whizz by.

Caught between modernity and medieval times, the verses of a poet from another time and space, fit the bill here:

"I shot an arrow into the air,
It fell to earth, I knew not where;
For, so swiftly it flew, the sight
Could not follow it in its flight."

(Henry Wadsworth Longfellow - The Arrow and the Song)

But let's stroll over into the castle, past the gate.

Intra muros - the former ramparts of the medieval bailey have given way to a place of a recollection where an ununiformed archer inhabits a peaceful garden.

The proverbial "straw man",  which I thought was left behind at corporate meetings back home, greets me in the guise of a warrior armed with a bow and arrow.

Now upwards into the mystery of the middle bailey:

 Finally at the top of the castle, I am rewarded with what the French call une vue imprenable,  a stunning view, but as well a view of something that cannot be conquered....the very definition of these castle walls towering over the adjoining grounds.

 As I make my way at the top castle, another surprising encounter, this time, face to face with Lord Byron:

Speaking of is a Byronic rendition of a poking wound:

"But ever and anon of griefs subdued
There comes a token like a scorpion's sting,
Scarce seen, but with fresh  bitterness imbued;
And slight withall may be the things which bring
Back on the heart the weight which it would fling
Aside for ever: it maybe a sound -
A tone of music - summer's eve's or spring -
A flower - the wind - the ocean - which shall wound,
Striking the electric chain wherewith we are darkly bound;"

(Lord George Gordon Byron - Childe Harold`s Pilgrimage - XXIII)

And it is all downhill from here, past the Ducal Mansion and back out of Nottingham's castle gates and the slightly melancholic tone of music Lord Byron alludes follows me around...

...or is it yet another arrow cut loose by the enigmatic Robin Hood?

Monday, November 07, 2016

On Days Without Seasons

Today we reverted from daylight savings time.

I turned back the clock by 60 minutes, finally admitting  that summer's alert pace has disappeared, giving  way to a less rigorous and rather unpredictable stretch of time, if we are to agree with George Bacovia.


"A day without season and without military order."

    (From Sunset - by George Bacovia)

Autumn benefits from a mysterious je ne sais quoi which seems to keep in balance the past and the future without any plans for either.

  Hence, it behooves to us, on and off poetry aficionados, to decide what mindset to adopt once snowfalls begin.

Here is a possible alternative, eloquently argued by Canada's beloved author, Lucy Maud Montgomery:

"Come, for the dusk is our own; let us fare forth together,
 With a quiet delight in our hearts for the ripe, still, autumn weather, 
Through the rustling valley and wood and over the crisping meadow, 
Under a high-sprung sky, winnowed of mist and shadow."

(From November Evening by  Lucy Maud Montgomery)

The final suggestion belongs to French poet Guillaume Apollinaire:

"How bored I am between these naked walls
Painted in pale hues
A fly, in quaint and measured steps 
Digresses over my paper and its unequal lines."
(From A la Santé by Guillaume Apollinaire)

Monday, September 05, 2016

"Hiring A Clown" by M. Visniec - Toronto (September 30th, 2016) and Montreal (October 2nd, 2016)

An exciting cultural event coming to Romanian-speaking audiences in Toronto and Montreal this fall: the play "Hiring A Clown" by Matei Visniec, directed by Daniel Bucur. 

Three amazing Romanian actors: Ionel Mihailescu, Magda Catone and Paul Chiributa will be starring in a performance filled with much-anticipated  innovative theatrical moments.

Not to be missed, one of  this fall's creative highlights - Toronto (September 30th, 2016) and Montreal (October 2nd, 2016).


Sunday, April 24, 2016

400 Years Old - Gargoyles of Shakespearean Poetry - The Truant Disposition


I'm sure that quite a lot of folks have clicked today (April 23rd, 2016) on the Google main page link referencing Shakespeare. 

A momentous anniversary – four hundred years since Shakespeare’s death (on April 23rd, 1616) a crateful of words and centuries to sift through what remains one of the most enduring legacies of the human spirit.

Floors of the  Folger Shakespeare Library

It’s highly unlikely that within the span of my life I will ever get to experience another similar ‘magic’ number as it pertains to Shakespeare…hence today feels like a special milestone in my life.

And here is why.

I am lucky to have lived through this time - April 2016 - and crossed paths today with a 400 years old comet of wit and melancholy that swirls around this planet since the Bard’s passing away.

Granted, the comet - as most Shakespeare readers know - is a capricious manifestation of a  despondent aura that plays on puns and preys on our intellect with inescapable dark charm: words, words, words.

Shakespeare’s wordiness though is one of a ‘truant disposition’ – as Horatio might talk of it (in Hamlet) - and it brings about some memorable, 400 years old poetic gargoyles:

"Looking on darkness which the blind do see:
Save that my soul's imaginary sight
Presents thy shadow to my sightless view,
Which, like a jewel hung in ghastly night,
Makes black night beauteous and her old face new."

                            -   from Sonnet XXIVII

I call such aggregations of intense and dizzying metaphors Shakespearean gargoyles, an incessant gurgling of ideas and images which continue to flood our imagination and to haunt us after we've absorbed them.

In a previous post I likened Shakespeare’s inclination to insert an episode of fantastic poetry in a dramatic scene with a gargoyle-like spouting mechanism, a relief valve meant to balance the tension in the play - a slight variation on the Shakespearean gargoyle theme.

Whatever figment of imagination a Shakespeare verse may invoke for you on this four century long month of April 2016, take solace in it.

“For we, which now behold these present days,
Have eyes to wonder, but lack tongues to praise.”

                             -   from Sonnet CVI

Friday, June 14, 2013

Waterfall Poetry. Erland Lee (Museum) Home Poetry Reading

  Sunday, June 16th, 2013 - poetry reading at the Erland Lee (Museum) Home in Stoney Creek, Ontario.

The reading, organized by Mr. Conrad Didiodato, poet and literary blogger, is dedicated to the "themes of nature and Canada's rural poetry traditions."

I am very glad to be part of the Erland Lee Museum Home poetry reading and have written a cycle of six mini-poems to respond - in a lyrical manner - to the theme of the reading, which is very near and dear to my heart.

The title of the cycle of the poems is An Invitation to Niagara Falls -  since the Falls are relatively close to the location of the reading. 

Needless to say - but here goes:  waterfalls that are part of poems are usually marginally true to the waterfall form, since they are mostly an exercise in word play, water and imagination. 

Saturday, January 19, 2013

The Art of the Novel: Jean-Pierre Milovanoff

Jean-Pierre Milovanoff is a contemporary French novelist, dramatist and poet whose elegant writing may have eluded - for an unfathomable reason -  editorial plans of English language publishers.

At least for now, and hopefully not for long as Milovanoff’s fiction, which has garnered numerous French literary prizes, stands out in a mantle of its own in the star-studded gallery of contemporary French novelists such as Muriel Barbery, Nicolas Fargues, Annie Erneaux and David Foenkinos.

Born in 1940 in Nîmes, France, Jean-Pierre Milovanoff is a  prodigious writer, at home in most literary genres, including children’s books; he was also a radio producer for France Culture

 Milovanoffʻs most recent novel ″The Winter of a Selfish Man and the Spring That Followed″ (LʻHiver dʻun égoïste et le printemps qui suivit - Grasset, 2012) evidences several of the author’s strengths as a novelist: characters who, similar to old china, are chipped at the edges; short and well-tempered chapters and the precise delineation of a contained geography, inspired - possibly - by the counties in which the author grew up. 

Misha Miriaki, the protagonist of the novel, is a Frenchman who returns to his natal Languedoc after having spent several years in Japan. His first person narrative, both sombre and hilarious, carries us through the story, glittering with subdued irony.

One might readily agree that the tour de force of ″The Winter of a Selfish Man and the Spring That Followed″ is the layered and haunting description of Montpellier’s surroundings:

″We arrived within sight of the lighthouse at Bélugue which had gone out of service in the 1960s. 
The wind had pushed enormous quantities of sand against its base.  
More dunes had built up further out in the distance.   
The carcass of a seagull bore witness to a fight lost to a hungry predator, a half wild cat or a fox. The winner had left behind only a ball of feathers, the ergots and the yellow beak.
We turned around and returned to the city following the shoreline.″

To top it all off, the last page in the novel is a poem, whose final stanza might be translated as follows:

″The night falls on us, inescapable.
The sun is an ox in its stable.
Our childish hands seek each other out under the starry table
Where death pours out grains of sand and gravel. ″

 (Cover Page Credit:
with my thanks).

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