TIL: Poetry Behind the Veil

Last night on Cambly, I met a poet, a real one. He was born in Saudi Arabia with passion and agony etched on his tongue and a hole in his heart. We spoke for an hour through the veil of a black video screen–as many people from the Kingdom do to preserve modesty in the nakedness of the Western World.

He shared his poetry with me English, then in Arabic. His work is patient and melancholy like a desert wind. It aches of  life observed but not lived.  It bleeds beauty.  He prefers classical Arabic words to modern ones. Says the modern words don’t have the same feel. He is right.

Unfortunately, I am one of a handful of people have ever heard his verses.  As a child in he frolicked in literature, dreaming only of poetry. When he turned 16, his parents told him he was to be a surgeon. Poet is not a profession, they said. So he went to medical school. He would scribble verses in his journal or on his phone. He would discard most, other he’d forget…he was a surgeon after all.

But his body began to crack under the weight of his drowning spirit. He is still in the medical field, but no longer a surgeon.  He sounds happy about that. He is writing more poetry now; he shared those sparse verses with me with the intention of deleting them as well.

I begged him to save them, perhaps publish them in English under a pseudonym, so his family wouldn’t freak out.  He agreed to keep them, but that was all. He sent me a link to the song, the Coffee Cup Reader, which an essential song in Arabic culture. This is the short version, the full version is about more than two hours long.

Needless to say, I am quite interested in learning more about Arabic poetry and perhaps learning Arabic as well.  I think it will make me a better writer.

Eryka

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NaNowrimo Week One

Hey Y’all,

The first week of  NaNoWriMo is over and let’s just say my progress has not been great. I’ve been working hard to finanowrimonish this creative nonfiction piece called “Salvage” while battling an upper respiratory infection.

However, I have worked on my novel. I’ve added maybe 50 words to it. Yikes! Even calling it a “novel” is daunting for me. Makes it feel so massive and unwieldy. I feel like getting my mind around it and developing each scene into the full and robust images in my head is damn near impossible.

Okay so now we’ve got that little freak out out-of-the-way, it’s time to get down to business. In truth, I am not as concerned about hitting 50,000 words this month as  I am with developing better, more productive writing habits and learning to use writing tools like Dragon and Scriveners.

By far the most important thing for me is to develop and maintain a writing schedule. I don’t have a dedicated writing time: I squeeze it in between work and other “important things” I have to do.  That needs to change.

So I will get up an hour earlier ( then two) to write in the mornings before I do anything else, except make a cup of tea of course.

As I said finishing Salvage is the top priority, but I will make more progress on the novel.  It’s really time for it to take center stage anyway.

Eryka

Nanowrimo 2017 Prep

Note: I wrote this last week, but held it back it because I didn’t consider it good enough to post. I do that a lot with my writing. So one of my goals is to get out as much content as possible and let it speak for its self.

Hey Y’all,

It’s just a week away now. Nanowrimo. I’ve registered on the site and am gearing up to finish this really long fiction story that is so dear to my heart. I’ve cleared a few things off my plate in anticipation of the commitment needed to write 1500+ words per day.  I’ve let go of a part-time job and I am wrapping up a personal essay I started last year but put aside because of the emotional strain of it.

In fact, I should be working on said essay right now but I am at one of the sticky parts so I’m about Nanowrimo instead. Is that simply a redirection of energies or procrastination?  Not sure, but I wanted to talk about procrastination anyway, so segue…

I procrastinate. I decide either a task will take too long and must be done later or won’t take much time at all and well…I can do it later. Perhaps it is a function of our multitasking society. Or maybe I just have commitment issues—I don’t want to stick with one task too long for fear I won’t get to something more important.

So I was quite grateful for the email this morning from Novel Now about how to stay focused and in procrastination. Novel Now is one of my favorite writing sites and lots of great writing tips and insight on how to push forward with this long-term project that I’m working on.

Eryka

TIL: The Power of Poetry

imagesI’ve often wondered how Iran held on to its language and culture after the Arab invasion in 633 AD. Arabic is the dominant language throughout the Middle East, yet somehow Iran still speaks Farsi and held fast to its culture.

Well, I learned how this was possible last night. I was on Cambly talking to a student from Iran and he told me the story. He said that while Iran did adopt the Arabic writing system they kept Farsi shahnameh 1as their primary language because of a poem called the Shahnameh.

 

 

The Shahnameh, which took Persian poet Ferdowsi 30 years to write, is the longest epic poem written by a single author in the world. It details the history of the great Iranian kings. It is written entirely in Farsi and is held with such national pride, that after the Arab invasion, the Persian people clung to this poem as a pshanameh for kidsart of their national identity and some say it is the sole reason that the Farsi language is still in existence today. While they did adopt the Arabic writing system, they were not letting go of Farsi because of the Shahnameh.

Children are taught to read and write using the Shahnameh. Older students memorize passages from it.

Power to the poets y’all. Power to the poets!

Eryka

 

Computer Blues

After Prince died last year, I was determined to start writing again. But every time I sat down at my laptop, I couldn’t manage more than a few sentences before having a panic attack. I judged my writing not merely imperfect, but a condemnation of what I’d done with my life.The-benefits-of-handwriting-full-infographic-1

I was determined though, so I picked up a copy of Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones. My answer was on page 5. Handwriting. I bought a cheap notebook and started writing. I have actively journaled since then. I can handwrite forever–fiction, non-fiction, grocery lists, you name it.

I love handwriting. It’s one fluid motion: pen on paper, my words from my own hand. I am braided into the creation process.  I know the content because my body remembers every turn and loop of each letter. And it doesn’t matter if no one can read it (not even me sometimes) because I remember the passions that scratched each stroke into the page. Even if I scratch it out, my reasons for doing so are in the squiggly lines masking their forbearers.

Is it possible to have that type of relationship with digital content? I’m not sure, but I feel like I need to get faster, produce more content…I left this too late. I no longer have panic attacks at my computer but are not quite besties yet. Maybe we can start as acquaintances and grow into friends.

So I am trying to “free write” on my computer again. I need to get past this obstacle so I can finish an important project that is just taking waay too long.

I go into “edit” mode the moment I sit down. Perhaps it is the red and blue lines of misspelled words and grammar issues. Or the finality of the delete key.

With a digital medium, I feel like I have to get it right the first time. Logically, I know this isn’t true. It is so much easier to revise on the screen than by hand.  But my creative mind frequently gives logic the middle finger.

Dancing shitI also think about the consequences (catastrophizing I think it’s called.) Once digital words are out there, you can’t take them back.  Plus, where once people would just think your writing or opinion is shit, now they can not only tell you it’s shit, they can make a dancing shit gif and share it with the world.

 

But, I won’t let that deter me any longer. Bring on the dancing shits.  I’ll dance with them.

Eryka