Friday, April 17, 2015

sky friday + international "light" haiku day

For sky friday: a sunrise moment from earlier this week, with clouds moving in.

And more skies:
In celebration of International Haiku Poetry Day, April 17, 2015, the haiku foundation is organizing an “EarthRise Rolling Haiku Collaboration”. Everyone is invited to join with a "light" haiku written at dawn at their time.

The collab is happening directly online, here's the webpage: EarthRise Rolling Haiku Collaboration

Below are my contributions, the first is from dawn:

single rain drops 
sunrise without color 
still the blackbird sings 

And the second from noon, noted while waiting to be picked up at the oncology centre after the next chemo session:

a blue bottle rolls 
in the wind
all the things 
that wait for us

Take a sky photo and/or write a "light" haiku to join the round-the-world collabs:

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

summer in April, or: in the mauric magnolia garden

It was summer in April today: sunny skies, warm air carried by southern wind, and the magnolias in the botanical garden near here in full bloom. Walking there felt like being in another world, a mix of Japanese cherry blossom festival and fairy tale.

The botanical garden started as mauric garden, and hosts the largest magnolia tree collection in Northern Europe, with dozens of different magnolia trees, and thousands of petals:


Also, there are pelicans, herons, and amazing buildings with storchs nesting on top:

And two additional photo. The first is from inside one of the green houses. Again the feeling: step through a door, and arrive in another world:

And here's a wider view of the botanical garden and the area:

The botanical garden belongs to Stuttgart city. At the horizon, you can see a mix of old houses, and the curve of the modern Mercedes stadium on the left side. And on the right side, there's currently a ferris wheel, for the "Frühlingsfest" (spring festival) that is starting this weekend.

for photo friday, "buildings"

Thursday, April 9, 2015

reading: stories from Japan + Basho poetry + the April Poetry issue (free) + Allen Ginsberg longread

Reading this week: Granta's "Japan" collection, and books + stories it leads to.

"Everyone knows this country and no one knows it. Here are twenty new Japans by its writers and artists, and by residents and visitors and neighbours. A special issue of Granta, published simultaneously in Japanese and English." - That's the introduction note of the issue, and like the other Granta collections I read, it offers a fascinating range of stories + essays + photos.

The issue is edited by Japanese author and editor Yuka Igarashi, For a peek into it, try: Granta 127: Japan, with 5 online stories. Or read the review in the JapanTimes: ‘Granta’ opens a window into Japanese literature

For me, the issue also brought some good cross-connection: it includes an essay by Ruth Ozeki, whose book “A tale for the time being” I read last year. It's one of my fav reads of that year, and itself conntected to previous reads, here are the reading notes: global reading: A Tale for the Time Being (or: Ozeki, Proust, Past, Present)

In the Granta issue, Ozeki has an essay that also is about connections. It's called: "Linked" and ends with a haiku dialogue between the past and the now:

Which fits perfeclty to the haiku-theme i blogged about last week, with the Folded Word haiku challenge: rain haiku effect

Following the theme, I visited lines from Matsuo Basho, the classic poet of haiku, and his lines:

“Every day is a journey, 
 and the journey itself
is home.” 
 ― Matsuo Bashō

More of his lines, here at goodreads: Matsuo_Basho


Basho + April Poetry issue + Ginsberg longread

...and when I looked for his work in Poetry magazine, I arrived at Basho's biography ("The 17th-century Japanese haiku master Basho was born Matsuo Kinsaku near Kyoto...")... and then saw in the sidebar that they April issue of Poetry is up for free download, in celebration of National Poetry Month:

"National Poetry Month Special: Download Poetry Magazine (with Audio & Video) for Free! The April 2015 issue of Poetry is largely devoted to the work of the BreakBeat poets..."

The issue, it probably connects to the Longread i started to read this week: “The Craft of Poetry: A Semester with Allen Ginsberg.” - the piece originally appeared in the Summer 1995 issue of the Paris Review.


And some more links / cross-connections:

Talking about classics: one story of the Japan issue mentions The Tale of Genji, which I dipped into some summers ago. "The Tale of Genji" was written by Murasaki Shikibu win the eleventh century, and is one of the world's first novel. I just looked, the collective reading notes are still online: The Summer of Genji - a joined approach to tackle this classic read.

Haruki Murakami is inclued, too. Two years ago, I read his Tokyo story "After Dark" (reading note), and before that, his book on running and writing.

The Japan issue also features an essay by Tao Lin, who once contributed to BluePrintReview, so I went to re-read that one, too: Tao Lin: Something Happened

One of the most fascinating stories for me is "Arrival Gates" by Rebecca Solnit. It leads to a place I hadn't know of: The Fushimi Inari-taisha shrine: "There are multiple routes up the mountain, and the routes take you through thousands of rjther torii gates.."
The photo is from wiki, here's a whole page of photos. And a link: the story isn't inlcuded online, but there is a Granta Posdcast with the editor Yuka Igarahsi and the author Rebecca Solnit. 

So I will listen to that now while going for a visual trip along photos from Japan - such a variety of atmospheres, just like in the Granta collection. And then move from Japan to the BreakBeats...


Global Reading Challenge 2015 + Currently Reading:

For 2015, I try to read books / authors from different countries, the idea is to visit all continents. If you want to, join the reading challenge: 7 Continents, 7 Billion People, 7 Books - or just join the international facebook reading group.

In the previous book post, I put together some reading statistics and book memories of 2014 - so if you are into geeky reading statistics, try this link: A year in reading in geek statistics +  book memories

For more reading notes, click here: life as a journey with books. A reading list by regions is online at: World Reads by country

Monday, April 6, 2015

Darkness, to a void

to a void

alone in a house. in the night.
shadows on a wall. on the move.
silence. listening to silence

to avoid the silence turn on the music the song
the song over and over and over

to avoid the shadows turn on the tv the
light the candles the night

to avoid the loneliness
to avoid a void

play with motions with the flickers of the flame
with the sound of syllables scattered in sentences

yet you are alone.
alone in this house in this night.

you will be alone, tomorrow night.
you will be alone, the night after tomorrow night.
and the next. and the next.

the house. it has so many doors, so many windows
opening to the outside, letting the light in
the wind, the echoes.

the window in front of you, it is flickering while you type this.
it's the wind touching it.
wind on window.

is that where the word is coming from?

wind. it is the same in German.
der Wind. the wind.
Wind and wind.

not many words that stay the very same.
roses do. eine Rose. a rose.
it even is a rose in France. la rose.

a rose is a rose is a rose.

maybe that is what she meant, after all. Gertrude Stein.

Stein. stone.
lang. long.
Kuss. kiss.
Wort. word.
Ozean. ocean.

change a letter
change the language.

sometimes you try to imagine
what would happen
if you were alone in a house
for a whole month.

just you the house and pencils and paper.
maybe you have to try it

one day


about + links: 
Inspired by the current photo friday theme "Darkness" ...

...which made me remember this night story I once wrote, The story was first published in Empty Mirror magazines: to a void - and nice to see that Empty Mirror is still running.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

plans, or: rain haiku effect

"Introducing our new monthly Folded Word-Lab. This month you can read, write, and win with Ben Moeller-Gaa's haiku workshop. It's free. It's online. Give it a try? Folded Word-Lab: Haiku"

Reading the lines made me remember the plan i had in mind while in December, to start January with noticing and writing a daily small moment. I even had prepared the blog tag for it back then (see sidebar): smallstones - tiny moments

I wrote a stanza for the collab 2015 of Leaf Press, though, which is rather telling:
...every day h/our pattern of life: 
 this c/age of possibility—
until life happens
 while we were sk/etching plan(e)s.
So: plans.
If the moments didn't work out in January, why not try again now in April?

And, following that thought: Why not finally revisit that file that I once started? That was another plan I had in mind. To put together a small collection of those January smallstones, just for me. The first idea was to add photos, too. But now I tried the other way: instead of adding photos and make it complicated, simply make a word file out of it, and send it to myself, or rather: to my e-reader. So that those moments are easy to reach.

So the rain today, which is pouring since this morning, at least had a poetic effect: the first two new haiku are written. And there now is a simple file full of moments on my e-reader.

Including the one that I wrote this January after a walk through the snow, and found again in twitter (so much for organizing my own words well...):
Underneath the skin of white
The landscape of yesterday:
All the things that are there,
Beyond our sight


Thursday, April 2, 2015

April sky, Cuneiform moon, Digital Moma Underground & The moon is still up

First of April brought storm here in Germany, but also this blue sunset moment with the moon standing in the sky, above a churning and glowing cloud.

The moon, it was up on thursday evening, too, while I read a different kind of trip report: "Six Trees and Two White Dogs ...  Doves?", from Tom Sleigh, a writer/poet who spent some time in Irag to talk with Iraqi writers, professors, and students at Iraqi universities about literature and creative writing workshops, and about the situation of contemporary Iraqi literature. His lines freely move between the now and the past, between recent history and writing.
Here ia a quote from the first paragraph:
"The plane leveled off at cruising altitude, and through the pitted glass I saw the Tigris winding through Baghdad, the city hazy in the morning light. ... Underneath us, I watched the shadow of the Dash ripple across the vast green plain between the Tigris and Euphrates. Mesopotamia means “the land between the rivers”...  I was astonished to actually be seeing what I had known since grade school as “the cradle of civilization.” I remember reading about cuneiform writing, and thinking that it looked like the marks that a flock of crows’ feet would leave in our muddy garden if it froze solid overnight..."

"Cuneiform writing", I had to look it up, then realized I know it, and have seen it museums: "Cuneiform script is one of the earliest known systems of writing, distinguished by its wedge-shaped marks on clay tablets ...Emerging in Sumer in the late 4th millennium B.C.E., cuneiform writing began as a system of pictographs." (wiki/Cuneiform)

Now I just googled "Cuneiform, moon", and arrived at the MoMa Online Collection: "Cuneiform tablet: procedure text for the moon". It sounds curious - it doesn't give any further explanation, though. And makes me want to visit the MoMa...

I didn't know they have so many blogs, here's a link from the Moma Digital Underground that I just bookmarked, to return to: "Moma: Our Year in Blogging: A Few Highlights"

Back to Iraq - reading about the trip made me think of a series of poems from there, from the BluePrintReview archives. Now to find the link .. well, it turns out, the poem is not about Iraq but about Afghanistan. But starting with the moon, so it fits on a lunar level:

In Afghanistan: The Moon's Still Up
When we first set out – it seems like days now,
though surely it's only hours – the moon hung heavy in the sky,
an insistent luminescence in green
while, through night vision, we picked our way
precisely through the desert night.

more sky moments from around the world: sky friday
more sky moments in this blog: life as a journey/sky diary

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

forms of being & 7100 languages

"Miracles of Human Language: An Introduction to Linguistics" - this new online course about language started this week at Coursera. I watched the first videos. So good, with an atmosphere that is both personal and global. It is astonishing to explore the complexity of language, and all the different languages that are out there, each with an own set of words.

One of the course videos is about "Why isn't there only one language?". Another is: "What defines a language". Here's the course page:

And a second link: Ethnologue is an online database of the languages of the world: "Ethnologue contains information on 7,102 known living languages. Begin by clicking World Languages in the page header...."

While browsing Ethnologue, I remembered the language installation I once put together. The photo above is a screenshot of it, here's the moving version: "forms of being",

And here's the original publication in qarrtsiluni's "Translation" issue: forms of being


On another note, I think I will go and revisit links from the past more often. So much out there, or rather: so much back there.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

intense, or: anger, hope, spring & the larger picture

"Intense" is the theme of the new photo challenge. It also is the tune of the recents days, which brought a time of anger and frustration, but also days of light and surprises. The photo above - it could be a far-away place, but it is the botanical garden near here. Walking into it felt like stepping into another world. And so good, to finally be able to go out into the world a bit more again.

Some thoughts and reflections, and: anger 

From treatment, I am now in the second phase of chemo, with medication that is easier on the immune system, but has other potential side effects which add up during the cycle (for example: dryness of skin, numbness of feet, arthritis-like symptoms...).

It's also a time of stronger emotions, reaching from negative to positive. My horoscope summed it up pretty well at some point: "Obstacles: This may be a somewhat difficult time, full of frustration and irritating occurrences. Your energies do not have the necessary vigor or power. You feel angry, but this influence does not often give you the opportunity to express your anger.” 

The anger, for me it came up in a mix of frustration and powerlessness: why do I have to go through this? Why does chemo have to be so painful and full of side-effects - can’t someone have developed another treatment by now for God's sake? And why am I there, in this situation at all?

I know it’s irrational, and it helped to go for a long walk with my partner and talk about these feelings. He has irrational feelings, too, feeling guilty for feeling good and healthy, and for being helpless. “But you are there for me,” I said. We also talked about life and growing older. How this illness brings the realization closer a of how vulnerable we are, that we can make plans, but that life is finite, and that the older you get, the more likely getting ill is.

Plus, going through chemotherapy brings ongoing encounters with other patients. I guess I never before met that many people on a regular basis who are ill. Including some who know that there won’t really be a cure for them, who are in a more complicated stage of cancer with tumors that have spread, who would happily exchange their diagnosis with mine. Luck, it turns into something rather relative.

World moments
In contrast to the difficult emotions, there is this string of lighter days and hours, even some art moments. Now that the tough first phase of chemo is complete, and my immune system is not that low and vulnerable any more, I can go to public places again. Plus spring is there, bringing some sunny and warm days every week so far.

It is such a special joy, to be able to go to places again. I started carefully, with a smaller museum during the week. On another day, I bought new flowers for the garden. And again on another day, I went to the botanical garden for an hour.

The key to these new phase of chemo for me so far is: finding a new balance of getting rest, figuring out when I feel better during the week, and then try to go with the flow. Right now, I try to include one "highlight" to each week. And catch some of the sun when it is there.

The larger picture
So seen a bit from distance, going through chemotherapy currently comes with two directions: it limits the things I can do, the way I can plan. But it also brings a new angle to things, and lets me see things in a different way. Appreciate the good days. Be more aware of the number of people who have to deal with difficult of chronic illnesses.

Another thing that has changed: there have been some touching conversations, with people I hadn't known that well, but also with friends. Knowing that I am dealing with those difficult themes seems to make it easier for others to address difficult things they are dealing themselves with, of have gone through.

Even going through the musuem to visit an art exhibition, or going to the botanical garden and see all those different shapes of nature reflects the larger reality of life: that all this is part of life. Hope, growth, illness, joy, pain, acceptance, anger, beauty, faith, frustration. The ups and downs. The happy and sad times. It all is connected.

These days also brought the thought that I want to somehow have a blog that is more about the chemo time – that impulse comes from the wordpress-cancer-tag, which makes it possible in an easy way to find blogs of others who are going through cancer treatments, and of science articles (and unfortunately, some “wonder drugs” too), but it's a good way of connecting: 

So the thought came up to start a new blog there, in addition to the photo blog - or rather, shift the photo blog to a more open format. So I tried a different template and am now blogging there in a different way: once upon each day

Will see how this shapes out. Maybe this blog will turn more into a blog of revisiting journeys and stories.

Hairs and Moments
And there is hairy news :) My hair is starting to grow again. Slowly, and just some first hairs, not the full scope. But it is sweet to see that the hair still knows how to do it. And my eyebrows and eyelashes are still there, too (well, they thinned, but maybe half of them have survived. So now I hope the remaining hair stays and keeps growing, and isn't affected by the next chemo sessions (you never know. That is one main clue to the whole treatment. Every body reacts differently. So it is more about: enjoy the upside moments. Don't worry too much. When you have a good day, be happy about that. Which, in the sum of it, might be a teaching for the life after the illness, too. To not take that much for granted. To appreciate the small moments more.

The final photo for this post.. is from the first museum visit, in February.


The shadow/light journey:
I now started to mark all blog posts about this shadow journey with a tag: C is for cancer, and for courage, too. Here's the sorted list, starting at the beginning:

Diagnosis & Operation
17. October: life is what happens to you while... 
26. October: this translucent state of fear and hope...,
28. October: the day before, "Serious was last week"..
02. November: november roses & not knowing..
17. November: hope + fear

23. November: "we're sorry, it's chemotherapy"
13. December: getting to know the Emperor of Maledies
20. December: from last island day to first chemo day
11. January: second round of chemo & my hair, falling
02. February: paradise, counting my blood cells & ...
22. February: chemo milestone & healing and reading
14. March: first short trip, me with a wig, and a friday scare