Looking back at early summer

EarlySummerFieldsNow that we already had a full day of rain, now that the rowan berries are starting to line our pavements and I face the choice of either sporting my summer dresses or keeping my nose snot-free, it is high time to look back at how it all (meaning summer) started.





My creative friends: poets, play wrights, potters and musicians invited me to a haiku walk above Hebden Bridge, invitation that I was happy to accept.


Guided by the most experienced of us, we entered an enchanted valley where only birds lived, on ruins of abandoned barns above a cold river.





We came to a spot on which a photograph was taken that inspired Ted Hughes to write his poem “Six Young Men”



The idea of the walk was to stop at beautiful or otherwise significant places and to write haiku.


Here is mine:


It’s just me on a rock,

And a million drops,

And a billion bubbles



My friends were so engrossed in connecting with the spirit of the place, and with the spirit of poetry, that I had time to write another poem:




Feminist mythology

The river could have roared

Like the bulls of Zeus

And cascade, squirting,

Like the light rain of Zeus

Yet it flows

Like a river over rocks

That are like stones

And rushes

Like a waterfall.

White Horse



We followed our winding path and equally winding conversation, which flowed into nooks of anti-capitalism (Graham was preparing his poem about money for Edinburgh fringe Festival), bio rhythms and dreams. We looked warily at some bulls  at the field, and with awe – at this white horse who appeared like an avatar of Pegasus on this plane of existence.



We ate wild garlic on a mossed bridge.


And admired bluebells – forest joys of our Northern English summer.





I’ve got the sun-

Says the right bank.

And bluebells.

But I’ve got the shade –

Says the left bank.

And flies.

And then we shared our creations over traditional English glass of water (Just kidding, we were actually innovators in drinking water rather than tea)



Orbis and Kudos magazines

Orbis poetry magazine
Orbis poetry magazine

I received a lovely message from Carole Baldock, editor of the poetry magazine Orbis, saying that she is considering my flash fiction “Warrior Monk” for publication for either issue #162 or #163.

I am very excited. That piece was inspired by a performance of Tibetan Buddhist monks from Tashi Lhunpo monastery.

Carole asked me to pass the word about her magazines Orbis and Kudos.

Here is what she says:

“You may find Kudos of interest, our subscribers include several magazine editors as well as institutions all over the world, such as New York Central Library and Harvard.



Plenty of opportunities for publication, and also an excellent resource: information about magazines, Small Presses, festivals, literary events etc.”

Wenlock Poetry Competitions
Wenlock Poetry Competitions

Carole hopes you will find these facebook groups interesting and useful. Take a look at these announcements of poetry competitions.

the Orbis group

and Kudos for Writers, for writers who prize writing

Kent and Sussex Poetry Society Competition
Kent and Sussex Poetry Society Competition


World Poets in Hebden Bridge: Brazil and The Punjab

Amarjit Chandan reads his poetry in Punjabi at Hebden Bridge Library*
Amarjit Chandan reads his poetry in Punjabi at Hebden Bridge Library

I love world poetry – and ancient poetry. I feel ancient poetry has the freshest taste, the most direct approach. The world poetry more so than English poetry does not shy away from “grand” questions – and answers – of life. It is not afraid to speak about life, Universe, and everything.

My last point was proved by Antônio Moura (Brazil) and Amarjit Chandan, who writes in Punjabi as well as English. I listened to their work, in original languages and the English translations, at an event at Hebden Bridge library, under its black wooden beams.

Captivated by foreign sounds*
Captivated by foreign sounds

Before the readings though we had this wonderful poetry translation workshop run by Amarjit Chandan. He presented his poem “Uncle Mohan Singh”, and first read it out in Punjabi, which sounded magical. Then I had a go at that.

Later we watched a Cuban film about people watching cinema for the first time – which is a theme related to that of the poem. The film can be found here.

The handout had the text of the poem printed out in Punjabi, and as we learnt, the first thing lost in translation has to be the script, as there are no capital letters in Punjabi.

One of the most fascinating things about the workshop was listening to the translation word-for-word (not literal translation), but having English words stand in the same places where they stand in Punjabi sentences. Those end in verbs, like in German or Japanese, and so the poems’ lines often end with “hai” or “hann” (is, are) in Punjabi.

Antônio Moura and Amarjit Chandan at the translation workshop*
Antônio Moura and Amarjit Chandan at the translation workshop

Amarjit Chandan told us about phonetics of Punjabi, and how even subtlest and most tender emotions can be expressed by harsh, glottal sounds lacking from English.

I decided to write a poem inspired by “Uncle Mohan Singh”, rather than a translation of it. I kept the length, the uneven lines, flowing rhythm of a hillside brook, rather than of the sea. I also concentrated on the play of sounds, whereby a poem starts with a concentration of a sound, and then ends with even more of it. I chose the sound “cr”, whereas in the original poem it’s the “ha” sound. The result is my poem “Translation workshop”.

*Photos by my 4 and a half-year old daughter

Sherlock Suite

Moscow, Smolensk Embankment. Sculptural compos...
Image via Wikipedia

People ask me: ‘Oxana, what is this Sherlock Suite you are going to perform at Not Part Of Festival?’ Well, they don’t, really, but let’s pretend. And I say to them (arranging my artistic beret and looking at the distance). Well, it’s really a confession. Of my love for Sherlock Holmes in general and the affect the BBC’s drama Sherlock had on me. I even wrote about it in my Russian-language blog about life in England. I described as as a display of the fact that British spirit is still alive, despite global capitalism’s seemingly complete victory over people’s pockets, minds and souls.

Growing up in the Soviet Union, one of my favourite TV dramas was Soviet Sherlock Holmes starring Vasily Livanov MBE and the late Vitaly Solomin. At that time before we had a video recorder, I tried to catch every re-run of the series on TV and was heart-broken when, for example, my parents’ plans were to go collect wild mushrooms in the forest, and that meant I would miss  Sherlock Holmes.

I never liked any other adaptations of the stories, be they American or British. They just never lived up to the humanity, intensity and humour of the original stories. This fact is recognised by the international community as well. Vasily Livanov’s photo is at the Baker Street’s Museum, and he is one of a handful of not-British nationals to have been awarded MBE.

When Benedict Cumberbatch mentioned it on some daytime TV programme that he is the next Sherlock, I didn’t give it a second thought. It could work, or it much have not worked, my intention was to give it five minutes when it’s on, and then see.

Well, I was hooked from second one. It was everything: the style, the pace, the tone, the acting, the sweet and clever references back to the stories. (I sat with my mouth open through the mobile phone summation and laughed like mad at the final twist about Watson’s brother.

I forgot to mention. In contrast to most people in the West, most people in Russia actually read all of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle‘s stories (and Ian Fleming’s novels, as well, for that matter).

So… yeah, I became addicted and this is what the eleven poems in Sherlock Suite are about. Food, family, the weather (obviously, otherwise it wouldn’t be British), Hugh Laurie, who left us for American pastures, crisps and everything else that gets a mother and a wife through the day – it’s all there.

My brother and a gifted composer Alexander Poberezhny has written the original music score, to which you can listen for free here. We collaborated before, when he wrote the score for my performance of Mayakovsky‘s Cloud in Trousers in the Contact Theatre.