Yaroslavna’s Lament

(Oxana Poberejnaia, Anonymous Old East Slavic 
Epic Poem “The Tale of Igor’s Campaign”)

Yaroslavna’s Lament is the first track on my album Echo.

Yaroslavna’s Lament by Vasily Perov

I like to think I channeled this tune as I was reading the 12th century’s tale of the unsuccessful military campaign by Prince Igor.

The extract from this anonymous poem is about Igor’s wife Yaroslavna.

She comes out on the city wall of Putyvl and pleads for her husband’s safekeeping with Wind, the Dnieper River and the “thrice-light” Sun, whom she calls her Lords.

Mini-album Echo

I have released a mini-album entitled Echo, on which I had been working with my husband Duncan for some time.

I have dedicated this album to the late Layne Redmond, from whom I learnt frame drumming and women’s spirituality.

Echo reflects the voices from the past. Sounds from the Slavic and Middle Eastern lands interweave.

This mini-album contains a traditional Russian song, a traditional Ukrainian song, a fantasy based on an Medieval Old Slavic epic poem, a take on a classical piece, and vocalising to a frame drum.

On the album, I play frame drum and domra, and sing. Other than that, the album is largely electronic, apart from Duncan’s playing guitar for the bonus track.  I learnt domra in a Soviet music school, from a wonderful teacher Tamara Aleksandrovna Petrova. Two of her pupils became professional musicians – and that’s just from my year and one above.

On the cover photo, I wear a traditional Ukrainian shirt, which was hand-embroidered by my late Grandmother, Efrosinya Matveevna. She lived in a village in the Vinnitsa Region of Ukraine, where she brought up six sons.

For the cover image, I used my watercolour that I call “Mediterranean Peace”.

I thank Duncan for composing additional music and electronic effects in addition to recording and producing the album. I thank Miranda Rondeau, a prominent frame drum musician and teacher, for giving me permission to record her composition. Furthermore, my thanks go to Andrew for taking the cover photo.

The Seventh Quarry Issue 25 Winter-Spring 2017 and my poems

Issue of 25 of The Seventh Quarry is once again filled to the brim with the gentlest, most meaningful poetry one can find under the present poetry sky.

I appreciate it also for including as much translated poetry as possible. This issue features Dutch poet Germain Droogenbroodt with his poems, reminiscent of the graphic yet fleeting images from Oriental ink paintings.

I liked Kevin Carey‘s “This is a Dream or I Could be Lying” for its cinematic editing between supermarket reality and the reality of dreams.

I feel affinity to the poets who explore the issues of blood-life-death, as Sally Spedding, who wrote “Recipe of Growth” on these issues in gardening, and Czechoslovakia’s Milan Hrabal, who discusses rebirth in “Primal Grounds”.

Clive Donovan had several poems published in this Issue of The Seventh Quarry. Again, I saw a soul mate who feels for first daffodils in February and cut flowers in general (“Daffodils”); and the finishing lines from his “A Private View”:

A modern woman wanting a baby
Sobs with emotion but just can’t give herself

To a man

are excellent.

I found it amusing to read James Palmer‘s take on William Carlos Williams’ famous plums poem, (titled “Temptation”) because I once wrote a little parody myself. My reaction to Williams’ creation had anti-patriarchal notes, whereas Palmer’s is more reverential.

Jane Blanchard‘s “Non-Seuitur” is a heart-breaking story of a controlling husband who abandons his wife on her deathbed. Yup, say I, that just about sums up patriarchy.

Reproductions of Carolyn Mary Kleefeld‘s paintings were wonderful. I particularly related to “Women Worry Over Wounded Warrior”. What’s poignant in it is the longing look of the wounded warrior at one of the women. He seems to yearn for help, support and healing.

Which brings us to Carolyn Mary Kleefeld’s poem “The Calling to Heal” – which is written in her usually straightforward, prophet-like style. Kleefeld links, very truthfully, bloodshed to economic profit. She also says

Yet from our deepest wounds
come our deepest callings.

From the bloodshed
comes the rebirth –

This is so true. At the moment, the whole world, including and maybe particularly the capitalist countries, wake up to the truth of the destructive nature of capitalism. Communism, after decades of slander, is making a come-back in Russia, where young people start serious study of Hegel’s Logics and Marx’s Capital.

Peter Thabit Jones, a devoted knight of poetry and the Editor of the Seventh Quarry, kindly accepted some of my poems for publication.

I wrote What Poetry Is About as a response to what I read in contemporary poetry magazines. Thus, it’s self-explanatory. I can only be thankful for the fact that one can talk in poetry in a voice that is more blunt than one can in everyday life.

In The Dark rests in the same space as the previous poem: that of the truth, or one way to the truth, through the dark, red womb of the Goddess.

Missed You is much lighter and happier, although it’s also about love. He who has ever loved London will understand.

Realisation That Has Come With Time is not original in its composition: it is a journey, an evolution of love from passion into comfort. The poem is infused though with the same images of the Goddess: the long sleeves, the dance, the swans.

Frog Princess by Viktor Vasnetsov

Video: Miserlou

This is the tune that played at my Initiation ceremony at Tomsk State University. I played Honey Bunny. And now I play the rhythm.


We turn this composition into a little quiz game with our audiences. We ask the name of it and where they have heard it before. See if you can tell.

Oxana, of course, had known Miserlou only as an opening titles tune for Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction. Oxana is a huge Tarantino fan and played Honey Bunny in a skit for Initiation Day in her University.

Andrew and Steve, being better musically educated, knew that Miserlou had been recorded many times before Tarantino had an insight to use the song for his seminal piece of cinematography.

In fact, Spotify has hundreds of versions. But it was Dick Dale’s American surf rock version of Miserlou that took flight to fame thanks to Pulp Fiction. Steve does a bit of riffs on his mandola in honour of that version for us.

Trivia point: the word Miserlou means “Egyptian.”

The history of…

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Video: I Shall Find You

Incidentals where I formerly played frame drums no longer performs. Sandi and I of Incidentals now play in a world music band Soma together with the marvellous Andrew and Steve.


I Shall Find You is a song by Tori Morrill&Al Newman. Inanna Sisters in Rhythm, who has originally played it, kindly gave us permission to perform the song and even shared their score notes! Inanna Sisters in Rhythm also count the late Layne Redmond as one of their teachers.

Sandi and Oxana made a couple minor changes in frame drums’ patterns, but overall it’s what our sisters across the ocean play. Andrew with his clarinet and Steve with his mandola make the magic complete.

Andrew also play a set of ankle jingles – something that Oxana and Sandi found impossible to do while playing frame drums at the same time – so kudos to Inanna Sisters in Rhythm for performing that feat! We all try to do our share in singing, and intend to use our voices more and more in the future.


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Watercolour Exhibition in Saker Cafe Todmorden

See and buy my two landscapes inspired by Portsmouth (Cornholme, Todmorden) scenery in Saker Cafe, Burnley Rd, Todmorden.

The framed watercolours, A3-sized

Heather in Bloom £45


Willow Gates £45

will be on exhibition in the cafe until end of September 2017.

The Seventh Quarry Issue 24 Summer-Autumn 2016 and my poems

Mirrors to the other side

The Twenty-Fourth issue of The Seventh Quarry magazine edited by Peter Thabit Jones flowed like a meandering river. One turn of a page reflected the previous one. Themes sank in and resurfaced further downstream.

For instance, Bill Wolak interviewed William Heyen. William Heyen’s poems were followed by a photo of William Heyen and Stanley Barkan. and the poem “Who is Stanley Barkan?” by James Palmer. An interview with Dileep Jhaveri is preceded by Bill Wolak’s poem “After a Photo of Dileep Jhaveri.”

One theme that resonated with me kept emerging in this issue’s interviews. It was the idea of poetry as a portal into the timeless, a key to the transcendent.

As Dileep Jhaveri put it:

“The role of the poet is to take the reader along to discover spaces where this magic is innate. [The poet] then becomes a mirror or a river for the reader for a similar adventure.” Continue reading “The Seventh Quarry Issue 24 Summer-Autumn 2016 and my poems”

The Seventh Quarry Issue 23 Winter-Spring 2016

Rigveda_MS2097Issue 23 of The Seventh Quarry had an Indian flavour. It featured interviews with not one but two renowned Indian poets: Hassanal Abdullah (by the Editor Peter Thabit Jones) and with Dr. H.K. Kaul, by Mandira Ghosh. Both poets earned my admiration with their lofty goals and their understanding of the role of poetry in modern society.

Both amaze with the scope of their work. Hassanal Abdullah wrote 29 books, among which is a 304-page epic about relations between people and the Universe. Dr. H.K. Kaul is the President of the Poetry Society (India) and his 200-page long poem Firdaus in Flames deals with political and social upheavals in India’s recent history.

One cannot help but be amazed by these two poets, who confess in their respective interviews that it is the highest aspirations of human spirit that are worthy writing about and that poetry can and should change society for the better. This, at the time when most English language poets normally reach as high as the attic, for a box marked “Grandmother”, in order to commit to poetry an old glove. Continue reading “The Seventh Quarry Issue 23 Winter-Spring 2016”

Watercolour: Portsmouth Rocks

The title for this painting is obviously a play on words. It portrays some rocks in the hills above the village of Portsmouth (by Cornholme by Todmorden) and at the same time expresses my admiration for the place.

My favourite features in this view are: the new wind turbines on the top of the hill to the left, the forest that frames Portsmouth so beautifully in deep emerald colour in summer and the house on the hillside, tiny from this distance, although it is actually a whole terrace.

The rocks in the hills of Portsmouth protrude out of the ground, here and there, small and big. They look too me like the brittle bones of our old Mother Earth.

I used sweeping semi-circular lines in drawing, throughout. I hope this helps to express the idea that Portsmouth is a like a little earth, and, at the same time, it is part of a much bigger world, connected to everything in it.

Buy this painting for £50 at the exhibition in Todmorden Tourist Information Centre, until 29 May.