Thursday, 17 April 2008

Wednesday, 16 April 2008

The further you are...

"The further you are, the closer a dream of you caresses my soul, as untouchable as rays of the sun, unassailable as Eden. If you are now not the one I think you are, then let my damaged heart be wrong, for it needs you like the white angels need heaven. Allow my love to burn this strange pleasure that fills a sea with waters of sadness. Allow a belief in the delirium which is a miracle of love, a holiday from truth."

Galaktion Tabidze (1891-1959)

Sunday, 13 April 2008

A day is not a day in eternity...

Lines from Prologue

The sky cried honey that day, when I thought I saw you in the river.

The droplets that weighed your blue eyes closed like Roman coins, shot sparks into the Thames. Reflections.

You looked beautiful then.

(From We lay here slowly sinking, 2004).

Wednesday, 9 April 2008

Little Lana Riding Hood

The most magical photo of my friend Lana in Moscow as a child... I think we would have been friends had we been the same age and known each other then...

Stories from Mount Kazbek

In honour of my impending journey to Georgia I thought I'd write about the most famous of the Caucasus Mountains - Mount Kazbek. In the Kazbegi region of Georgia this mountain is a place of legend not only in Georgian culture. It is locally believed that at the summit of the mountain rests Abraham's tent (or an inaccessible citadel) within which sleeps a child in a cradle held up by unseen hands. There is also thought to be a sacred tree surrounded by treasure at its base that allows only certain people to see it. But the mountain's mythic quality stretches to further reaches of the world as this was where Prometheus was chained by Zeus to have his liver plucked out daily by an eagle. However there is a Georgian legend with similarities to the tale of Prometheus - the legend of Amirani, and it is this wonderfully bizarre tale within which one can see a lot of the foundations for the Georgian psyche that I would like to tell here. This summary is copied from Peter Nasmyth's wonderful book "Georgia - in the mountains of poetry":

"Amirani was born in a dark forest, the son of Dali, goddess of the hunt. He grew up displaying prodigious strengths and the capacity to outdrink and outeat three ordinary men. During his first quest for treasure he encountered a three-headed monster who, just before Amirani slayed him, begged the hero not to kill the three worms that would come from his mouth on his death. Amirani agreed. After he'd dispatched the monster, the worms grew and were transformed into three dragons: white, red and black. Amirani killed the first two but was swallowed by the black dragon, leaving his brothers to cut him out from its stomach.

Amirani then began his quest for a beautiful maiden called Qamari - 'covered in silk as gold as sunbeams,' and 'so beautiful even the sun daren't look at her.' He found her in a magnificent celestial castle suspended from the sky by a chain. Cutting the chain, he entered to find Qamari in the middle of her domestic chores. Begging her to run away with him, she agreed - but only when the dishes had been cleaned. Amirani stared to help her but quickly lost his temper with a dish that refused to stand upright and smashed it with his heel. At this point all the other dishes cried out in alarm and rushed up into the sky to alert Qamari's father.

A terrible pursuit and battle ensued. At one point, hearing of the deaths of his two brothers, Amirani committed suicide (by cutting his little finger), only to be bought back to life by Qamari, who discovered a magic herb after listening to the advice of a mouse.

After Amirani had rid the world of nearly all its dragons, monsters and wild animals, he finally threw down the gauntlet to God himself. God warned him of its futility, that it constituted a punishable offence, but Amirani stuck doggedly to this quest for omnipotence. So answering the challenge, God plunged a stick into the ground and asked Amirani if he were man enough to pull it out. Amirani wrenched and wrenched but the stick had secretly sunk roots deep into the world and refused to budge. For punishment Amirani was chained to a pole sunk into the side of Mt Kazbek. As he struggled to free himself, each day God sent a raven to feed him a piece of bread and a glass of wine. In his fury Amirani would hurl a stone at the raven, miss and knock in his pole ever more firmly."

Tuesday, 8 April 2008

Things written about me I cannot understand

ČITANJE I RAZGOVORI O POEZIJI - u organizaciji Trećeg trga, večeras od 21 sat u prostoru Casa Garsia (Beograd, Kraljevića Marka 19): Alis Medikot (Alice Maddicott, London), engleska spisateljica koja piše poetičnu prozu kao i scenarija za TV serije za decu. Učestvuje u mnogim zanimljivim literarnim projektima kao što su Minijaturne knjige koje su postale svetski projekat, kao i projekat Sakriveno blago, koji je 2007. urađen u saradnji sa londonskom opštinom Kenzington... Piše i imaginarnu knjigu putopisa i radi na svom novom romanu, drugom po redu. Živi na relaciji London-Kornvol-Bat i mnogo putuje

Of car dens and tree jewellery...

The trees started glinting – catching the sun and throwing it back at me. I looked up to see what was causing it and saw a pile of stuff. Got up and walked towards it – jumped up to knock it down. A load of my belongings fell at my feet – an old pink paisley eiderdown that had been my gran’s, a pile of necklaces and a picture my little brother had drawn me of our old house. The Spanish moss brushed it towards me – hung as if mimicking the willow trees I loved so much, weeping. I crouched down and gathered it all together. Picked it up and walked back towards the car.
I took the eiderdown in first. Pushed its soft quilting into all the crevices in the back seat. Made a nest. That’s what it felt like I was doing – nesting. I curled in a ball on my side to test it out. Started to drift sleepily so I knew it was okay. Then I sat up and poured the bag of jewellery out in front of me. Sifted through my old necklaces and shiny baubles I’d collected like a magpie since small. I leant out the unhinged rusting door and hung some green glass beads from a branch. They caught the sun and glinted just as pretty as any emerald would be. Like precious eyes they reflected all that sparked around them - twisted softly in light breezes.
I strung them all up then. Draped them haphazardly in clusters drooping down like metal beginning to melt. The whole tree sparkled, weighted in glass and metal. It was not that easy to tell what it looked like from the outside though – the sun might catch them glinting in a certain way, but this was my den – it was inside where it really shone. Necklaces hung like coloured icicles around the roof. If I sat up too quickly they caught in my hair – clinked together like drinks at parties or children’s xylophones.

(From my novel "Farewell for you are changing")

Monday, 7 April 2008

Elusive Butterfly

I love Bob Lind and I wanted to put some old footage up - I tried to find "You should have seen it" the best heartbreak song for those who've done the dumping in the world, but I couldn't find it. "Unlock the door" also eluded me with its perfect line "the way your fingers touched me as I lit your cigarette, is not the kind of feeling I find easy to forget, but now you've faded back into the crossword puzzle night and left no hints of how you feel to shield me from the light." However his arguably best known song "Elusive Butterfly" was available in abundance, but I like this performance best, though mainly for the truly surreal stage set I have to say...

Sea Tractor!

I recently had the most blissful day on Burgh Island, but sadly the tide was low so we could simply walk to the beautiful art deco hotel rather than take the sea tractor on stilts. This short clip shows said intrepid vehicle pushing its way through the incoming waves. And there's a nice view of the hotel. This one's for the lovely Michael.

Sunday, 6 April 2008

Chevalier of the Order of Loneliness...

Galaktion Tabidze was one of the greatest Georgian poets. A symbolist and loner who sadly killed himself in a mental hospital in Tbilisi in 1959, after he, but sadly not his wife and friends, avoided Stalin's purges. His funeral was attended by tens of thousands and as a national hero the Georgian church official forgave him the sin of suicide. Here is a youtube video someone has made about him...

If anyone knows where I can get his poetry in translation let me know...

Saturday, 5 April 2008

New hobbies for spring part two - bluebell woods...

It's almost my favourite time of year when the bluebells come out and the landscape feels like it is breathing out new life (and they're my favourite flowers along with wild poppies). In folk lore bluebell woods were seen as dangerous places - faeries were said to live in the flowers themselves and this was in the days before they had wings and were pretty - the days when they lured you to their domain with distant music and short-glimpsed dancing never to return again... I've always thought they were the most peaceful, beautiful places on earth - many a teenage afternoon was spent roaming the countryside then falling asleep for a blissful nap in the middle of them...

Latin Hip-Hop (and that's as in ancient Roman language)

Ista are trying to make Latin cool by the medium of Hip Hop (as if it needs that - I have long known Latin was cool - but hey...). Oh and even better, they are German... Click here to listen!

New hobbies for spring part one - waterfall bathing...

Delhi 1938

This is another great film for the BFI archives - I love old tourist films - there's an amazing one I once saw on late night bbc of Beirut in the '60s which I've never managed to track down again, but this one of Delhi in 1938 is also extraordinary...

On the subject of India here is an amazing panoramic shortfilm of Calcutta in 1899:

1940s Tibet

This beautiful old footage is kind of poignant in view of current events... Includes footage of the current Dalai Lama with his family as a child...

Wednesday, 2 April 2008

Places I want to visit: Lalibela, Ethiopia...

I also have a particular fondness for the outfits of priests in the area:

Places I want to visit: Samarkand, Uzbekistan...

Come on WIlliam and Lana - you know one of you wants to come with me...!

Songs for Springtime

A proper west country band - that one's for my big brother who I first stole that album off when I was 11.
And this one's the song of Spring when I was 14 and in love for the very first time...