Thursday, 19 October 2017

WRITERS ON WRITING #100: Ford Madox Ford

Carefully examined, a good –– an interesting –– style will be found to consist in a constant succession of tiny, unobservable surprises.  If you write –– 'His range of subject was very wide and his conversation very varied and unusual; he could rouse you with his perorations and lull you with his periods; therefore his conversation met with great appreciation and he made several fast friends' –– you will not find the world very apt to be engrossed by what you have set down.  The results will be different if you put it, 'He had the power to charm or frighten rudimentary souls into an aggravated witch-dance; he could also fill the small souls of the pilgrims with bitter misgivings; he had one devoted friend at least, and he had conquered one soul in the world that was neither rudimentary nor tainted with self-seeking.'
  Or, let us put the matter another way.  The catalogue of an ironmonger’s store is uninteresting as literature because things in it are all classified and thus obvious; the catalogue of a farm sale is more interesting because things in it are contrasted.  No one would for long read:  'Nails, drawn wire, half inch, per pound…; nails, do., three-quarter inch, per pound…; nails, do., inch, per pound…'  But it is often not disagreeable to read desultorily:  'Lot 267.  Pair rabbit gins.  Lot 268.  Antique powder flask.  Lot 269.  Malay Kris.  Lot 270.  Set of six sporting prints by Herring.  Lot 271. Silver caudle cup…' for that, as far as it goes, has a quality of surprise.

Joseph Conrad: A Personal Remembrance (1924)

THE FORD MADOX FORD SOCIETY is an international organization founded in 1997 'to promote knowledge of and interest in the life and works of Ford Madox Ford' which can be visited by clicking HERE.  You can also click HERE to watch a short clip from the new feature length documentary It Was The Nightingale: The Unreliable Story of Ford Madox Ford, directed by PAUL LEWIS for Subterracon Films.

You might also enjoy:
FORD MADOX FORD A Call: The Tale of Two Passions (1910)
JOSEPH CONRAD The Secret Agent: A Simple Tale (1907)
WRITERS ON WRITING #50: Ford Madox Ford

Thursday, 12 October 2017

POET OF THE MONTH #43: Bejan Matur



While you talk about sleep like someone
who grew up in two dreams
my heart splits.

The light reflected on the wall makes words ––
perhaps while I slept they appeared ––
still swirling around me.
Mountains, they say
the mountains stand still
with the blood of belief.

Because it’s morning after all
that will shake us awake.
Earth and our birth-right
have been stolen.

You walk a mountain road.
A house with a smoking chimney ––
like colour dispersing in water ––
doesn’t tell the truth.

The one speaking to us
is still invisible.
Who is it?

History has already opened these wounds.
Fragile, the scars, thickened
with anger.

Our voices are our only shelter in the lit night.
Who can we turn to?
What words can we use to speak of pain,
in what language can we ask to be forgiven?
We need a clean slate,
a sunrise of words,
dawn of the soul.

We need the gentle home with chimney smoking.
To walk by its walls on forgiving soil.
We decide this is somewhere
we can take refuge
and fall quiet
we fall quiet

Date unspecified


The Poet:  The following biographical statement appears on the Poetry Translation Centre website.  [It is re-posted here for information purposes only and, like the poem re-posted above, remains its author's exclusive copyright-protected intellectual property.]

Bejan Matur is the most illustrious poet among a bold new women’s poetry emerging from the Middle East.  Her poetry engages directly and concretely with the struggles of her people, and yet there is also a mysticism in her writing, a closeness to nature, an embracing of mythology –– a dialogue with God.

Bejan Matur was born in 1968 to a Kurdish Alevi family in Marash, South-east Turkey. She studied law at Ankara University.  Her first collection of poetry, Rüzgar Dolu Konaklar (Winds Howl Through the Mansions, 1996), stood out from the contemporary mainstream of Turkish poetry and won several literary prizes. She is the author of four further collections: Tanrı Görmesin Harflerimi (God Must Not See the Letter of My Script, 1999); Ayın Büyüttüğü Oğullar (The Sons Reared by the Moon, 2002) Onun Çölünde (In His Desert, also 2002); and İbrahim’in Beni Terketmesi (How Abraham Abandoned Me, 2008). She has also written prose books and works for the stage.

Bejan Matur's poetry has been translated into 28 languages including French, Spanish and Chinese. She has two collections in English translation, both with Arc Publications: In The Temple of a Patient God and How Abraham Abandoned Me (which was selected as 'best translation of the year' by the Poetry Society in 2012).

From 2005 to 2012 Bejan Matur wrote regular opinion pieces for major Turkish newspapers. Her subjects of interest were Kurdish politics, Armenian issues, day-to-day politics, minority issues, prison literature, and women's issues. She is a former director of the Diyarbakır Cultural Art Foundation.  She currently lives in London and is a consultant on Kurdish issues for the Democratic Progress Institute. 

Click HERE to read more poetry by Kurdish poet BEJAN MATUR posted on the website of the Poetry Translation Centre.

You might also enjoy:
POET OF THE MONTH #42: Farzaneh Khojandi
POET OF THE MONTH #30: Ayten Mutlu 
POET OF THE MONTH #24: Nazim Hikmet

Thursday, 5 October 2017

THINK ABOUT IT #29: Woody Allen

I feel that life is divided into the horrible and the miserable. That’s the two categories.  The horrible are like, I don’t know, terminal cases, you know, and blind people, crippled.  I don’t know how they get through life.  It’s amazing to me.  And the miserable is everyone else.  So you should be thankful that you’re miserable, because that’s very lucky, to be miserable.

Annie Hall (1977)

Click HERE to visit The Woody Allen Pages, a blog devoted to celebrating the life and work of US writer, actor, director and former stand-up comic WOODY ALLEN.  His 1975 Oscar-winning film Annie Hall remains widely available on DVD and BluRay in most regions of the world.

You might also enjoy:
STUART HAMPLE Dread and Superficiality: Woody Allen as Comic Strip (2009)
THINK ABOUT IT #4: Lenny Bruce
THINK ABOUT IT #13: Marlon Brando 

Thursday, 28 September 2017


The best part about being a writer is the experience of learning, gradually, what it is like to be a person completely different from me.  The hard part is that for years on end, I am working in a vacuum.  Is this a story anyone will believe? Anyone will care about?  I won’t know that until I’m finished… I would rather read the writer, not hear him or her talk.  I know that from being a writer myself: what I have to say, I have already said through my stories… I map my books out in a very cursory way — say, about a page for each novel — and I always think I know how they’ll end, but I’m almost always wrong.  In the case of The Accidental Tourist, I actually began a chapter in which Macon stayed with Sarah.  But it didn’t work; something in the characters themselves persuaded me the ending would have to be different.

A Conversation with Anne Tyler [published in the 2002 reprint of The Accidental Tourist (1985)]

Click HERE to read a February 2015 interview with US novelist ANNE TYLER published in the online archive of The Guardian.

You might also enjoy:
WRITERS ON WRITING #89: Eudora Welty
WRITERS ON WRITING #39: Deborah Eisenberg

Tuesday, 12 September 2017


If you live in Australia and your name is entered on the electoral roll you'll shortly receive a ballot paper in the mail, asking you to cast your vote on the issue of permitting same-sex couples to marry and be granted the same legal and social rights currently enjoyed by their heterosexual counterparts.

Unfortunately, this ballot –– or survey or plebiscite as our Government also likes to call it –– is being undertaken at a cost $122 million to the taxpayer because our Prime Minister, the not-so-honourable Malcolm Turnbull, lacks the courage to allow the question to be decided by a free vote in Parliament.  Turnbull is doing what politicians do best –– sitting on the fence until the country he purports to lead tells him how he should behave, thereby increasing his chances, as he sees it, of retaining power come the next Federal election.

No one with an ounce of compassion or intelligence can deny that granting Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning and Intersex people the right to make a binding legal commitment to the person they love and have those unions fully recognized under Australian law is the sensible and humane thing to do.  Similar legislation has already been passed in the fiercely conservative USA and even staunchly Catholic countries like Ireland and Argentina now allow and recognize same-sex marriage.  

Why not Australia, which prides itself on the concept of giving everyone 'a fair go'?

Sadly, there are many Australians who feel threatened by any form of sexuality and would have you believe that voting YES will be tantamount to 'encouraging homosexual behaviour' and 'enticing children' into adopting such behaviour before they're old enough to graduate from kindergarten.  These people are generally fundamentalists –– Christians, Jews or Muslims, the choice of religion is secondary to the prejudicial and narrow-minded attitudes they espouse –– who also believe that God watches over them, and only them, from a big fluffy cloud in the sky and that He created the planet Earth for their exclusive benefit and enjoyment.  Many also support the hard right faction of the Liberal Party led by our attention-starved former Prime Minister Tony Abbott –– someone who won't be voting YES even though his own sister is in a committed same-sex relationship and has been for many years.

These same people are currently spending $35,000 per day to convince their fellow Australians that this issue doesn't concern them and, even more insultingly, that it shouldn't matter. 


I support marriage equality for all Australians regardless of their sexual preference or gender identity.  This is a right –– not a privilege –– which must and should be recognized by any Government, Australian or otherwise, which presumes to describe itself as democratic. 

No one should be discriminated against because they happen to be a Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning or Intersex person.  Sexual preference and gender identity have nothing to do with an individual's capacity to love and commit to another human being.  To suggest LGBTQI people are somehow unworthy of this right based solely on their sexuality maligns and stigmatizes them, causing them and their families unnecessary suffering while at the same demonizing and marginalizing them. 

Do we want ours to be an inclusive or a divisive society?  A society where LGBTQI kids can feel comfortable being who and what they are or one in which their sexuality becomes a problem which leads many of them to harm themselves and even commit suicide?  I implore you to think of the parents and siblings of these kids, all of whom would rather attend their weddings and celebrate the love they’ve found with the partner of their choice than attend funerals to mourn their tragic and entirely preventable deaths.  

Voting YES will save lives.  Voting no, on the other hand, will perpetuate stereotypes and continue to send the message that it's okay to hate and vilify anyone the religious right perceives as being 'sinful' or in any way different to itself.

No one currently has the power to tell a heterosexual person who they can and can't marry.  Why should any Government or religious institution have the power to apply these restrictions to the lives of LGBTQI people?  The short answer is that no one –– no Government, no civil or religious authority, no citizen or individual –– should presume to dictate to a fellow human being when it comes to deciding who they can and can't love. 

Love should not be subject to caveats and exemptions any more than eating, breathing or sleeping should be.  Marriage should not be described as the union of 'man and wife' but as that of 'two people
.'  This is what marriage really amounts to in the end –– two human beings making a public commitment to love, respect and support each other throughout the many vicissitudes of life.  It's an individual choice that must be recognized and respected as such.

If you're Australian and you're reading this, I hope you’ll act on the wishes of 5 million of your fellow Australians and vote YES to make ours a fairer, more tolerant nation.  

The time for change is now.  Vote YES and show the bigots and the hypocrites they can't win, no matter how much they spend spreading lies about LGBTQI people and their lifestyles in their idiotic television smear campaigns.

Click HERE to PLEDGE YOUR YES VOTE at the website of the EQUALITY CAMPAIGN.  You can also click HERE to read a list of Frequently Asked Questions about the plebiscite and HERE to read a list of Frequently Asked Questions about the issue of Marriage Equality and why it's such an important one for all Australians regardless of their sexuality.