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Check out the adorable story that [personal profile] aldersprig  wrote based on my birthday prompt during her latest Giraffe Call!

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Yes, [personal profile] ysabetwordsmith  is once again again hosting her monthly Poetry Fishbowl and this month's theme is "anti-heroes and anti-villains", characters who put the grey in 'shades of grey'. Go check it out and leave a prompt!
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*chuckle*  In the midst of cleaning and reorganizing after the flood of a few weeks back, I found a stack of my old high school poetry (written almost exclusively in Grade 12). I've begun putting the OCR software that came bundled with my scanner/printer to use, reclaiming my writing from those old dot-matrix printouts (yes, dot-matrix). Much of the poetry is dated, some of it is cringe worthy, and a few are... revealing. 

Take, for example, this poem about Death, in which I discovered I had some understanding of a fundamental pagan truth years before I actually became pagan:


I am Death. 
I am not Evil. 
I am not Good. 
I am feared, and hated, 
Yet I bring lasting peace 
I am an agent of Destruction, 
And by destroying, 
I become an agent of Creation: 
Allowing change, renewal, 
And rebirth. 
I am a destroyer. 
I am a creator. 
I am a bringer of change. 
I am Death.

Yes, not my most brilliant work (I was 18, cut me some slack!), but, yeah, the concept of Death being intimately tied to Rebirth is one I did not realize I had rolling around in my brain for so long.

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[ profile] aldersprig is now hosting her crowd-funded, micro-fiction Giraffe Call and the theme is SPOOKS, CREEPS, GHOSTS AND GHOULS! 

Veddy sceddy, kids!   <-(Done in my best Count Floyd voice.)

And if you haven't got a clue who Count Floyd is, just watch below...

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Prior to the poem being funded and fully posted, I had emailed [ profile] ysabetwordsmith with some of my thoughts about the poem “‘Stained” from the ‘Path of the Paladins’ poetry series. The conversation, conducted through a number of emails and PMs, went something like this:

Me (near the beginning of August): You know, I could write an essay analyzing this poem. It's so rich in multiple levels of meaning and symbolism.

Her: I think you should flesh this out. We can always post it as an essay after the poem is fully sponsored. I'm scholar enough to admire your analysis, and really, there just is not enough good literary analysis of speculative poetry. More is good.

Her, again (about three weeks ago): "Stained" was fully sponsored this morning… If you're still willing to flesh out that lovely essay for public posting, that can be done at your convenience now.

How could I refuse?  :) 

I apologize for the lack of cuts, but the journal entry editor is being stupid today.

The Symbolism of "Stained"

The poem "Stained", by [ profile] ysabetwordsmith, presents a number of interesting symbols and parallels to further enrich the meaning of character and story elements found with the serial poetry series 'The Path of Paladins'. Key among them is the characters Ari and Johan, the Bright Temple and beams of sunlight in both material and metaphorical forms, conveying a powerful message of hope. 

In this poem, Ari is proving to play a greater role than that a typical sidekick for the primary protagonist to play off of. As has been established in an earlier poem, there are some important parallels between Ari and Gailah, the goddess of the principle character, Shahana. Both Ari and Gailah have survived a brutal attack and rape by male antagonists. Both, however, also show resilience and growing strength. In taking Ari under her wing, Shahana is not only rescuing the girl, but, in educating Ari in the ways of her faith, she is also in the act of rescuing the religion of Gailah. In this poem, Ari comes to represent divine presence, stepping beyond the parallels and seeming to act in the stead of the Goddess Gailah by displaying disapproval for Johan’s actions early in the poem and later reaching out to him in forgiveness. In particular, Ari consciously attempts to speak on Gailah’s behalf, upon Johan’s departure, when she whispers “Gailah knows,” planting the seed for Johan’s possible self-forgiveness in the future.

The topic of forgiveness is explored in an interesting fashion by the actions and statements of Johan. Outwardly, he claims no interest in rejoining the path of Gailah, claiming that She is weak. He even attempts to refuse Shanana’s much needed assistance in healing his injured arm. His actions, however, tell another story.  Shahana and Ari find him in a small roadside shrine dedicated to Gailah. The statue has been brushed clean by hand and a branch of blackberries has been laid in the offering. It may seem meager service, but it must have been dedicated and difficult effort for Johan, given the state that he was found in, with one arm crushed. Furthermore, the descriptions of him silently mouthing the prayers sung by Ari, and being found curled up beside Shahana in the morning, betray a desire to return to the fold. This contrast between his spoken and unspoken behaviour reveals an inner conflict. Between Ari’s thoughts on the situation, and Johan’s own admissions, it would appear that he feels unworthy of Gailah’s forgiveness, though this seems to something difficult for this previously proud man to deal with. His path to redemption, being further explored in the poem ‘Will Not’, will be interesting to follow.

In the poem, Ari brings up the topic of the Bright Temple, which served as home for the paladins of Gailah. Shahana mentions that the Temple is always open should Johan choose to return to it, to which he replies, “The bright temple was destroyed.” From here, Shahana brings up the point that only the physical temple was destroyed. This brings up the theme of where the heart of a faith lies. The founder of Aikido, Morihei Ueshiba, once wrote “One does not need buildings, money, power, or status to practice the Art of Peace. Heaven is right where you are standing, and that is the place to train.” For both Ueshiba and Shahana, the most important ‘temple’ that any religion possesses, is the one built within the spirit of its practitioners. Johan may currently see Gailah’s religion as being as being in ruins as the Bright Temple, but Shahana reiterates that, so long as there are those who hold true to the faith, the religion can always rebuild. The true temple is, in essence, one’s own faith.

Rebuilding is touched on in many other ways throughout the poem. There are mentions of tangible reconstruction, such as Shahana’s statement that the Bright Temple will be rebuilt one day, and the healing of Johan’s arm. Interestingly, these are both events that would be, or are, enacted through the power of faith, be it the resolve of more numerous future worshippers or divine intervention via the faith of Shahana. However, there is more subtle discussion of rebuilding through faith that is brought forth in this poem and others in the series. In this poem, Johan begins his journey in rebuilding his spirit, a process that will require him to renew his faith in Gailah and, perhaps more importantly, himself. This is suggested in the dialogue between Ari and Shahana towards the end of the poem where Ari states that whatever Johan is holding against himself will eventually be resolved by the knowledge that Gailah knows his struggle and understands. However, both Shahana and Ari, in their discussions with Johan, point out that nothing can be rebuilt as it was, something that Johan seems to be fixated upon as one reason not to move forward. Ari’s analogy of silk being dyed to match a stain is an eloquent description of this concept.

At the end of the poem, all of these themes and ideas are tied together with a single act. As Ari states that being aware of Gailah’s understanding of Johan’s inner conflict will eventually be enough for him to forgive himself (and, thus, rebuild his spirit), she smiles in a fashion described as being as “sudden as a sunbeam through clouds.” This gives a suggestion of the Bright Temple, which is earlier described as being “like yellow fire in the morning light.” Also, given how Gailah often reveals herself through beams of sun and moonlight, as well as other natural phenomena, throughout other poems in the series, this act also shows Ari as a surrogate for Gailah with another parallel. Finally, in being described as a beam of sunlight through clouds, this act becomes symbolic of hope; though things may be currently gloomy, a brighter future is in store. 

It is this message of hope, shown through the expression of faith, forgiveness, reconstruction, and divine presence, that seems to drive this poem and lends it power. As the characters from this poetry series battle against darkness and fight ever closer to a brighter tomorrow, we can not only see our own struggles within theirs, but also that beam of golden sunlight piercing through the clouds to shine upon our own world.

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[ profile] aldersprig is currently holding a call for story prompts based on the theme of 'lost, abandoned, left behind'. Go check it out!  :)
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For the last year or so, I've been pleased to serve as a patron for the work of [info]ysabetwordsmith . I do so for a number of reasons. First, this is one of the ways that I try to keep creativity alive, especially when so many have to turn away from creative endeavours. Second, the relationship between us, as artist and patron, is one that has been fostered to provide mutual benefit and friendship. Finally, and perhaps most important, by not only giving action to my creative input (i.e., taking prompts for poetry), but also by inspiring and encouraging my own literary output, I'm allowed to taste a little of that creative magic.

Read more... )
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Yes, I've managed to transplant one of my favourite public pagan events from the West Coast to the East (though it did take a few tries). Last month, we had a blast doing a bunch of collaborative poetry whilst sharing good company and good cheer. This month, the event took on its own flavour, bringing in collaborative story writing, with often hilarious results.

I iz pleased!  :D
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Snagged from [personal profile] itsjustc ...

If you read this, if your eyes are passing over this right now (even if we don't speak often or ever) please post a comment with a completely made up, fictional memory of you and me.

It can be anything you want - good or bad - but it has to be fake.

When you're finished, post this little paragraph in your LJ and see what your friends come up with.

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[Error: unknown template qotd]"NOOOO!!!!!" screamed the horrified NASA scientists.
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Yep, now that we have good weather again, I'm back to watching Blue and Red haul off loads of dirt. Oh yay. As the excavator is carefully digging the ditches, it's taking them a long time to load the trucks. This is the second day of it. I'm so really, really glad I have access to a computer during all this. 

Granted, being forced to stay in one place has given me LOTS of time to do sit down things. With it, I have:

  • Done a lot of work transferring my favourite journals from PDC to here
  • Tagged a number of postings from my memories
  • Tweaked my resumes some more
  • Applied to a few more jobs online
  • Started getting involved in an e-mail RPG
  • Gotten more deeply involved in Scarybirds - a dark fantasy fiction collaboration site
  • Started a short story at said site
  • Engaged in a lot of correspondence
  • Finished off Knife of Dreams, by Robert Jordan (The Wheel of Time series rocks!)
  • Played far too much Zuma for my own good
  • Recorded a little work on my didge and a try out for a bit of voice acting

Yep, lots done! (Oh, there goes Blue.)

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 EDIT: Yeehaw! Hotel room booked! I picked up a nice little bed and breakfast in Dover for less than £40. All told, lodging and travel should cost me less than £70! It'll give me two days to kick around both Dover and Calais. Yes, I'll be sure to take many, many pictures.   

I do so enjoy Sundays like this, when there's no pressure of tomorrow to worry about. I can sleep in, stay up late, be as lazy or as active as like, and just enjoy the day.  

And I have! 

Today, my lovely other read to me from her favourite novel wherein the author spoke of her childhood passion of gathering stones. These stones, as the author claims, only tell part of a story; they serve as a mnemonic.  

Whilst this was being read to me, I could not help but smile at the little stones which adorn my altar. How true were her words! 

Other events of the day include receiving my grocery order. This, in itself, isn't exactly a thing of great importance, really, but, to me, stocking the larders full has a reassuring effect upon me. Perhaps this is an echo of times when my larder has been much, much more bare and macaroni and cheese was a luxury to break the tedium of ramen noodle soup. 

As mentioned in an earlier post, one joyous highlight was discovering a means of getting my feet upon Europe with little hassle and expense. In some ways, I look more forward to the upcoming short visit to France than I do about April's possible week long visit to Germany. It has a lot to do with knowing the language of the place I am visiting and the independence that grants. It means I can wander as I wish, something I fear I might not be able to do so readily in Germany. Hmmm... I must make sure to walk the beaches of Dover, in England, and Calais, in France; perhaps I may be able to find a few new stones to add to my stockpile of memories. 

Today also saw a decent, and thankfully uneventful, run of about 2.5 miles. Perhaps I should have done a longer distance, but I was feeling mildly under the weathe and didn't want to push it. Besides, methinks I might be better off doing more shorter runs during the week; doing six miles on the Sunday seems to take it out of me for the rest of the week. *chuckle* Yeah, I really need to work to get back to where I was. 

And now, methinks, 'twould be a good time to say "good night."

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For the last several weeks, I have been a slave to Betty, Ugly Betty. Yes, I am now catching up to everyone else on that television show and, I must say, there is some outstanding writing for that show.  

The most powerful piece, thus far, has to be the opener for season 2, which I just saw today. 

Last season closed with fiance of Betty's sister, Hilda, getting shot during a convenience store robbery. The last scene from the season finale seemed to indicatet that Santos, the fiance, was dead. 

However, this episode featured him alive and somewhat well, recovering from the bullet wound and being benignly imprisoned by his wife-to-be, who has been intent on doting on him and ensuring his full recovery during the last three weeks. Though he is humouring Hilda, it's pretty clear he would actually like to leave the house, but Hilda seems quite opposed to that, fearing possibly losing him again.  

The scenes of the two, in her sunny bedroom, are filled with romantic and tender moments, with him convincing her to model the wedding dress and she getting him to read the vows he prepared. 

After he read the vows (quite moving in their own right) he states that he has to leave. She wants him to wait one more day, but he insists, explaining that they have to get on. They embrace passionately, just as Betty knocks on the door and asks if she might be able to get some help cooking dinner. The camera cuts to the door as it opens, with Betty standing there.  

The camera cuts back. 

The room is dark. 

Hilda is alone. 

She weeps as she clutches a pillow in place of Santos. 

"He's gone!" she cries, and Betty races to her to comfort her. "That's the first time I've been able to say that," she tearfully explains. 

The sheer poetry of that scene, and the setup for it, really gripped me. I haven't seen that kind of power in script writing for quite some time.

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So I'm into my first proper week back at school and, I tell ya, these kids are wretched. I've been given the bottom of the bottom for three year groups and it looks like it's going to be a long, hard slog. If I finish this year, my English department is SO going to OWE me.

What really sucks is when I put a lot of work into making a fun and entertaining lesson that involves something I'm passionate about and that I know the kids would appreciate, but they don't give the damn lesson a chance.

For example, I've been putting a lot of work into a GCSE original writing project that revolves around the Hero's Journey (as put forward by reknowned folklorist Joseph Campbell) and involves looking deeply at the commonalities within many epic hero stories to create one's own. I've broken everthing down into quick, bite size pieces (my year 11s are very weak) and I'm involving all sorts of interesting clips from films such as Star Wars, The Matrix and Shrek. Today, we were supposed to look at a clip from Star Wars to get an idea of how heroes start in an "ordinary world" setting. The clip was to be shown at the beginning of class before setting into the discussions and work. Would the damn class settle down so the clip could be played? Hell no! Apparently, Star Wars is too "boring" for a number of these wretches, so they'd rather evoke my wrath and the consternation of their fellow pupils, rather than shut up for a few minutes. 

Damn ungrateful snots!


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