I was so honoured when Peter Thabit Jones accepted two of my poems to be published in The Seventh Quarry poetry magazine. Peter Thabit Jones’ poetry is one of these rare phenomena nowadays. It is sincere, it is about something, and it is masterfully done. “Harry Pushed Her” makes me shed tears from my softening heart. And yet it is written with such a light touch, down-to-earth language and elegant, subtle rhyming.
His Lavacourt, Winter 1881: A Painting by Claude Monet is a gentle exploration of relationships between art and life, between colour, seasons and states of mind. In it, Peter Thabit Jones demonstrates his interest in interweaving images and words, which most recently manifested in the book Immagine & Poesia – Images and Poetry, in which Peter Thabit Jones is one of the contributors.
Issue 21 of The Seventh Quarry magazine also contains a review of The Divine Kiss by Carolyn Mary Kleefeld, where each poem is illustrated by the author. I must say, the paintings look gorgeous, reminiscent of Klimt and Chagall. The Seventh Quarry magazine is famous for its international content. It publishes works by poets literally from around the world. Reading it for me was so refreshing: I never knew what was coming around the next corner, and each poem was like another curious tree in an enchanted forest.
I found Johnmichael Simon‘s (Israel) poem “End Game or Beginning”, about a human chess master defeating a computer by sneezing, amusing and encouraging. I know it’s not rational, but I have always felt sour about a chess computer beating Kasparov. I know that the computer simply has more computing resources, but still I want the human to win.
The poem “Listening to the Trains” about Nelson Mandela’s death by Merryn Williams (England) appealed to me if only for the fact that it is difficult to find published contemporary poetry dedicated to political issues which matter to people. Merryn Williams’ other poem, “Australia” is accessible and sincere: it is about a Mother in the days of old who has not heard from her son for 15 years since he had gone to Australia.
The Seventh Quarry published a selection of poems by Aura Christi from Romania, translated by Olimpia Iacob and Co-translator Jim Kacian. Her poem “Ah, the Naked Trees” is like one of those paintings, where contours of objects only barely peek through delicate coloured mist. It did not capture me by its subject, but by its atmosphere which was unmistakably tangible, rising from the page and grabbing you. Really well done.
Aura Christi’s poem “Winter Pastel”, a surrealist painting this time, is even titled in visual terms. And her “How Large the Eye Is” is philosophically brilliant – and very akin to Victor Pelevin’s latest book The Love for Three Zuckerbrins, which has been occupying my thoughts and colouring my aesthetic perceptions recently.
Ada Aharoni‘s (Israel) “After Thirty Years” literally reduced me to tears – and in a public place, too! I was waiting for my child while she was in one of her clubs, when I came to this poem in the magazine. It is a story of a Jewish person returning to her house in Egypt, abandoned 30 years ago and meeting the present occupier, an Arab woman. What follows is an object and sense-filled story of sharing food and a Hanukkah miracle – when Monira gives the protagonist the Talit and prayer shawl of her Father, preserved in her grandmother’s velvet bag, which this Arab woman had stored for 30 years. Beautiful.
I liked both poems by Annabelle Moseley (America) very much. For one thing, she carefully constructs them using regular rhyming stanzas. So I just respect the work and care that went into the poems. The first poem “The Scapegoat’s Dream” is a take on epic poetry and reflects on the story of Joseph and the scapegoat tradition. I feel that we need more of these well-written, narrative and mythological poems nowadays that matter to community.
The other poem by Annabelle Moseley entitled “The Marionette’s Manifesto” is equally well-crafted, with each stanza’s last line repeated as the first line of the next stanza, each time in a different context and with a slightly different meaning. The first line of the whole poem and the last line are the same: “I’d like to shake your hand. Come, pull my string.” (p. 40 and 43) The whole poem is a delightful, light philosophical treatise on causes, conditions, and creating art within constrictive circumstances. Very Buddhist. Expertly done.
The magazine contains an interview with Kyung-nyun Richards, a Korean poet and translator by Peter Thabit Jones, which I read with interest. Kyung-nyun Richards writes poetry both in her native Korean and in her acquired English – similar to my situation with Russian and English. She translates her poems back and forth for a bilingual edition of her book of poetry. By now, I have written more poems in English than in Russian, and the tendency does not seem to be changing in the near future.
I appreciate the differences between languages, which Kyung-nyun Richards mentions. For instance, I feel the same way about English as Kyung-nyun Richards, when she says that “it has a wealth of verbs and abstract nouns, and conceptual words that cover large semantic areas”. And by a strange coincidence, I feel that Russian, like Korean “is more descriptive having a wealth of adjectives and adverbs of manner and quality.” (p.11) In addition, apparently, Korean is an infective language, just like Russian.
So crafting a poem using English for me is like building with Lego, whereas using Russian is more like sculpting with multicolored play dough.
Kyung-nyun also says she does not like to think that things are lost in translation. In my life, wonderful translations into Russian of Alice in Wonderland by Nina Demurova, Winnie the Pooh by Boris Zakhoder, and much of Shakespeare and English folk songs by Samuil Marshak played and are still playing a huge part. The magazine also contains a review of a lovely international and poets/artists collaboration Immagine & Poesia – Images and Poetry, available from this website – a genuine treat for poetry and art lovers.
I got two poems published in this issue of The Seventh Quarry. “Genesis of Frost” could only have been born in North England where I live, where matters of moisture and cold are closer to our hearts than almost any others. “Promise” is a desperate love poem to Crimea, now annexed by Russia. I was lucky enough to visit two years prior to that event and fell in love instantly. I end the poem with a paraphrase of the last lines of Shakespeare’s Sonnet 116 (obviously).