Wednesday, 12 April 2017

The Closing of the CEU: the Closing of Hungary




We are deeply concerned about the passing of the disgraceful law intended to shut the Central European University in Budapest.

The law, intended for this one specific purpose, is the latest step taken by Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán to close out democratic institutions in the country, including press, media and NGOs.

Please note we do not say opposition institutions since the CEU is in no way a political opponent of the government. It is simply an independent university.

On 10th April, the president of the country, János Áder, signed the law and, that night, for the second night running students were out in the streets protesting in their thousands and tens of thousands. Those students are the last bastion of hope against the establishment of an authoritarian state in Hungary.

If that should happen it would be a serious blot on the EU's conscience to have permitted this act of the Orbán government to pass without response. It reduces Europe. It weakens it. It takes it one step further to the edge of disintegration.

It is vital to act quickly. We ask for a period of intensive fact-finding into the legality of the Hungarian government’s law in this specific instance and its consequences for freedom of education, and for a process of mediation, bringing the parties together around the principle of European rule of law.


George Szirtes, poet and translator
Ottilie Mulzet, translator
W. N. Herbert, Professor of Poetry and Creative Writing at Newcastle University, FRSL
John Sears, Independent Scholar and Curator
Colm Toibin, writer
Toby Litt, novelist
Carolyn Forché, poet, professor, Georgetown University
Christopher Reid, poet, London
Sean O'Brien, poet
Michael Nyman, composer
Nicholas Lezard, critic, London
Rosie Goldsmith, journalist, presenter, director European Literature Network
Meg Rosoff, writer, UK
Sarah Churchwell, critic and author
Professor Menna Elfyn, poet 
Daniel Hahn, translator
Richard Smyth, writer, UK
Terry Glavin, columnist, National Post and Ottawa Citizen
Pascale Petit, poet, Cornwall, UK
Jacob Polley, poet
Tiffany Atkinson, poet, UK
Bill Swainson, freelance editor and literary consultant
Annie Freud, poet, artist, teacher
Choman Hardi, writer, Kurdistan
Mangaleh Dabral, Hindi poet, India
Ludwig Steinherr, poet, Germany
Alex Preston, writer, Senior Lecturer, University of Kent
lène Cardona, poet and actor, US, France, Spain
Mauricio Montiel Figueiras, writer, Mexico City, Mexico
Liam Carson, literary festival director, Ireland
Professor Robert Archambeau, literary critic
Amal Chatterjee, Writer, Amsterdam & Oxford
Claire Ramsey, Professor Emeritus, University of California
Michael Augustin, poet & broadcaster, Bremen, Germany
James Hopkin, writer, Europe.
Koyamparambath Satchidanandan, poet and academic, India
Fionnbharr Ó Duinnín translator / communication trainer, Budapest
Nicola Murphy, School of Law, National University of Ireland, Galway.
Ophelia Benson, writer
Natalie d'Arbeloff, artist and writer, London
Selina Guinness, writer and lecturer
Lee Yew Leung, editor,-in-chief, Asymptote journal
András Gerevich, poet, Hungary
Ana Silvera, composer
Alison Croggon, writer and critic, Australia
Margo Berdeshevsky, poet, USA
Prof Riri Sylvia Manor, writer and Professor of Neuro-opthalmology, M.D. Sackler University
András Laszlo, cancer researcher, USA
Tom Bowden, University of Michigan, Ann-Arbor, College of Engineering
Eric Henze, Professor of Law, Queen Mary University of London
Kit Kelen, Professor of English, University of Macau, China
Annemarie Mullan  Queens, Belfast, New York University
Penelope Shuttle, poet, Cornwall, UK
Kevin Jackson, writer, United Kingdom
Robert Eaglestone, Professor of Comparative Literature and Thought, Royal Holloway, University of London
Moniza Alvi, poet and tutor, Norfolk
Hannah Lowe, poet and lecturer
Julian Evans. Writer, Bristol
Linda How, teacher, London
Alica Kavounas, writer
Dr Rimas Uzgiris, poet, translator, lecturer
Katherine Groves
Veronika Krasnova, UEA
Priya Sarukkai Chabria, poet, writer, translator, India
Andrea Holland, poet and tutor UEA
Dr Alexandra Loske, art historian and eeditor, University of Sussex, UK
Maria Koliopoulou (Magda Kapa), writer, teacher, photographer, Greece and Germany
Mark Robson, writer and academic, Professor of English and Theatre Studies, University of Dundee
Sergiusz Bober, Jesuit University Ignatianum, Krakow, Poland
Professor Janet Montefiore, University of Kent
Richard Ashcroft, Professor of Bioethics, School of Law, Queen Mary University of London
Catherine Czerkawska, novelist and playwright, Scotland
Tsead Bruinja. Poet, Netherlands
Tom Deveson, MA (Cambridge) Teacher at London Centre for Young Musicians
Susan Walker MA Corporate Governance Kingston University and MFA University of the Arts London
Gregory Woods,  Professor Emeritus, Nottingham Trent University.
Charles Lambert Università di Roma Tre
Dr Antony Shuttleworth
Lesley Burt, Southampton Solent University
Bette Adriaanse, writer, Netherlands
Robbie Travers, University of Edinburgh
Peter W Houlihan . PhD, faculty UMass Amherst
Myra Schneider, poet
Kees Klock, historian, poet, translator, Netherlands.
Gregory Dowling, Ca' Foscari University of Venice
Brian Johnstone, Hon President, StAnza: Scotland's International Poetry Festival.
Dr Omar Al-Kayat, Neurologist and writer
Terese Coe, poet, professor, New York
Erika Mihálycsa  PhD, lecturer in 20th c British literature, Babes-Bolyai University Cluj/Kolozsvár, translator.
Jacqueline Fear-Segal Professor of American and Indigenous Histories, UEA
Sasha Dugdale, editor MPT, UK
Victoria Musgrave, Educationalist. Exec Head Abbots Bromley School and International College
Thomas Karshan, UEA
Linda Ashok, poet, India
Colin Ventura, composer, UK
Benjamin Ramm OD/ BBC
Christian Lux, publisher and translator, Wiesbaden, Germany
Christo James, author, UK
Kerry Shawn Keys, poet, Vilnius, Lithuania
James Perrin, writer, Hon Fellow of Bangor University
Chris Gribble, CEO Writers’ Centre Norwich
Danuta Kean, journalist, Tunbridge Wells
Helen Ivory, poet and artist
Carol Watts, poet
Rachel Appleby, ELTE university, Budapest
Steven Robert Carlson, writer, California
Judi Sutherland, PhD, MBA, writer and scientist
Keiron Pim, writer, Norwich, UK
Stuart A Paterson, poet, Scotland
Jacalyn McNamara, artist, writer, educator
Michael T. Young
Michael Dickel, writer and lecturer , US and Israel
Agnes Marton, poet and editor
Mihaela Ghita, translator, Romania
Anna Robinson, poet and senior lecturer, University of East London
Rosemary Grant, poetry editor, UK
Guy Dammann, Uppsala University, Sweden
Howard Curtis, Literary Translator
Katherine Gregor, Literary Translator
Dr Geraldine Green, poet, editor
Peter Eustace, translator and poet, Italu
Martin Figura, writer
Philip Alcabes, Professor, unter College, New York City
Pasco-Q Kevlin. Director NAC
Barbara Epler, editor, publisher, New Directions
Catharina Blaauwendraad, poet, translator, teacher, Austria
Nessa O’Mahony, poet, Ireland
Mary Ann McCarra, poet, Peekskillm NY, US
Antonia Lloyd-Jones, translator
Georgina El-Nagashi, librarian, human rights activist, former Green politician, Vienna
Sam Ruddock, programme manager, Writers’ Centre Norwich
Judith Palmer, Director, The Poetry Society
Daniel Szabo, English teacher, France
Zoe Brigley Thompson, Visiting Assistant Professor, Ohio State University, US
Nick Owen, LSE, Oxford, Reading, Oxford School of Psychotherapy
Nicki Heinen, writer, London
John Henshaw, artist
Hugh McFadden, poet & journalist
Ralph Dumain, independent scholar
Professor Said Leghild
Rose Anderson, poet, Leeds, UK
Fran Isherwood, poet, performer and teacher.
Stephen Pogany, Emeritus Professor, Warwick University
Joan Hewitt, poet, Tynemouth
Annie Wilson, freelance writer, journalist
Gordon Kerr, Scottish writer
Kriszta Szendroi, UCL
Edward Mycue, poet, San Francisco, USA
Mark Husmann, Northumbria University
Peter M Baroth, poet and novelist, US
Lou Robson, MA student, Birmingham City University
Richard Soloway, retired lecturer
Tyler Massey, songwriter, UK
Pauline Fayne, poet, Ireland
Bharat Ravikumar, writer, India
Mario Domínguez Parra, translator, poet
Jacqui Rowe, writer and educator UK
Max Wallis, poet and writer
Diana Hilliard, educationalist
Ravi Shankar, poet, USA
Alexander Gordon Smith
Karen Davies
John A A Logan writer, Scotland
Eva Szilagyi
Paul Hawkins, poet and text artist, Bristol
Jacqueline Saphra, poet
Ray Fisher
Steve Vowles
Fran Brearton 
Francoise Harvey
Diana Becker
Harry Smart, writer
Hugh McFadden
Pete Jordan
Adam S J Foulds, writer
Rosemary Dun
Laura Noszlopy, PhD
Ian Stasmore, artist, UK
Carla Palmieri, translator, Italy
Jane Draycott, poet and translator, UK
Karen J McDonnell, writer
Stacy Dianne Kennedy
Jeannie Wells
Dominic Gill, journalist, London
David Swann
James W Wood, poet and novelist
Dr Karima Brooke, Oxford, UK
Dan Wyke, MA, MBACP
Dr Irene Lampert, MRCPsych, MA Norwich
Christina Dithmar
Esther Gómez-Sierra, Lic Fil Hisp (Madrid Complutense), PhD (Manchester).
Kirk Parsons, UK writer and journalist...
Raphael Urweider, poet, Switzerland
Lydia Macpherson MA Hons Oxon, MA London
Gábor Gyukics, poet
Inez Baranay, PhD, writer
Bernice Reynolds, B.Ed
Anne Beer, PhD
James Harrold
Maria McManus, poet, Ireland
Cathy Bryant, poet, EU citizen
Claudia Daventry MA Hons Oxon, MLitt, (EU citizen, poet, teacher, linguist)
Jenny Yancey
Catherine Ann Cullen, writer, Ireland
Ilya Anski
Tim Gardiner PhD (Essex), FBNA
Jacob Ziguras, poet, philosopher, PhD
Penelope Kease
Michael Iossel, writer / professor, US/Canada
Jez Noond
Deborah Alma
Alison Armstrong, writer, teacher, musician, painter
Jonathan Hurley
Lena Clamp
Paul Vaughan (MA, Oxon)
Angela Topping, poet
Penny Sharman
Kálmán Faragó, Budapest
Dr Richard Slade, artist
Dave Garbutt,
Brett Hardman
Cristina Newton, writer and educator, UK
Juno Gemes
Claire Kidman
Julia Lock,MA Oxon, Budapest
Hanne Busck-Nielsen
Rachel Winter
Ruth Valentine, writer
Catherine M Brennan, writer and teacher
Jude Cowan-Montague, poet/artist, Resonance FM
Leslie Donovan, BSc, BEd, MA
Roberta Burnett, Arizona
Josephine Dickinson MA Oxon, LRAM, poet
Bernard Hurley MA MSc DPhil.
Anne Mullane ( retired Reader Development Manager)
Nancy Mattson, Canadian writer living in London, England.
Robert Mason, illustrator and writer
Hugh Waterhouse, poet, historian, storyteller
Maria Jastrzebska writer
Tim Collard, retired British diplomat.
Grant Tarbard, writer
Mei Lim artist
Lindy Barbour (B.A. Hons. Oxon) University of Edinburgh
Laura Sgarioto, translator, Budapest.
Frederika Randall  US/EU dual citizen, translator, Rome
Beatrice O’Malley, BSc, PPharm
Dr Catherine Nichols, Leeds university, UK.
Mark Carlisle
Natalia Zagorska-Thomas, artist and curator
Joanne Limburg, poet
Ranbir Singh Sidhu, writer
Reuben Woolley
Brian Flynn, writer, Washington DC
Paola Grenier, PhD Budapest
Susan Castillo
Vanessa Gebbie, writer
Josephine Corcoran, writer, Wiltshire, UK
Nigel Patrick Forde, poet and playwright
Carmelo Militano, poet, teacher, broadcaster
Harry Owen, poet, S Africa
Ruth Irwin, Secondary school, English teacher, London
Jim Lindop, retired businessman
Catherine Slusar Buck, writer ‘Being Human’ USA
Umit Singh Dhuga, publisher and managing editor, The Battersea Review
Victoria Herring, English language teacher
Andrew McDonnell, University Centre, Peterborough
Meirion Jordan, writer and editor
Bethany W Pope, poet, US and UK
Ruth Mullen, writer and editor
Professor Oz Hardwick, poet and academic
Marc R Sherland, President of the Scottish Association of Writers
Sue Millard, writer, singer, webmaster
Györgyi Voros, PhD, Senior Instructor, Visginia Tech University, poet
Isadora Papadrakis, Art Historian, Rome
Rob A. Mackenzie, poet, reviews editor at Magma Poetry magazine
Karen Redman, journalist
Mab Jones, writer, tutor at Cardiff University
Balázs Szendroi, Oxford
Simon Hall, Professor of Modern History, University of Leeds
Helen Calcutt, writer and poet
Bori Németh, Egyptologist, Budapest
Martin Reed, author, London
David Savill, Novelist, University of Salford
C. Stene Duckworth, Publisher, Writer, Entrepreneur, United States
Cathy Dreyer, University of South Wales
Fiona Pitt-Kethley, writer.
Chrissie Gittins, pet, writer, playwright
Simon Williams, poet, technical journalist
Balint Bethlenfalvy
Stephen Payne, Professor of Human-Centric Systems, University of Bath
Sai Leighild, Professor, poet, beekeeper
Wendy McMahon, Senior Lecturer in American Literature and Culture, UEA
Kate Birch, publisher
John Freeman, writer and critic
Richard Skinner, novelist, Director of Fiction, Faber Academy
Éanann Mac Donnchadha, translator, Barcelona
Barbara Smith, writer and teacher
Alessandra Bava, translator and poet, Rome, Italy
James Milner, novelist, Creative Writing MFA Director, Kingston University
Ron Carey, poet
Shanta Acharya, poet, academic
Rosemary Major, BA Hons (Open) nurse, Oxford
Myrto Gondicas, translator, poet
Pam Bridgeman M Phil retired teacher
Rachel Rooney, teacher and poet
Edward Grdner, psychotherapist
Anthony Cox, Senior Lecturer in Clinjcal Pharmacy, U of Birmingham
Sally Evans, poet, writer and bookseller
Aline P’nina Tayar, conference interpreter and author
Tim Dooley, poet, visiting lecturer, University of Westminster
Paul Olchváry, translator and publisher
Emma Lee, poet, Leicester, UK
James McGrath, author and lecturer, Leeds
Helen Szirtes, writer and editor
Josie Crescent-Moon, writer
Fiona Larkin, poet, London
Bina Sarkar Ellis, editor, publisher International Gallerie
Steven Waling, poet, reviewer
Sandy Solomon, writer
Adam Horovitz, poet, UK
Nigel Parke, book dealer
Eleanor Hooker, poet, Ireland
Isobel Dixon, poet, literary agent
Georgia Varjas, speaker, writer
Donald Campbell, Retired social worker and social work teacher
Richard Copeland poet
Amaia Gabantxo, literary translator
Pippa Little, Royal Literary Fund Fellow, poet
Donald Gardner, poet and translator
Robin Buckallew
Eryl Shields artist, writer
Roland Nilsson
Rachel Hore, writer, university tutor
Padrika Tarrant, writer
John Eliot, poet, Wales
Judith Buckrich, historian, Melbourne, Australia
Eszter Molnár, literary translator
Steve Foulger
Clive Stubbs, playwright
Katie Flook
Susan Greenberg
Bethany Rivers, poet
Kinga Fabó, poet, Budapest
David Grant, teacher, Glasgow, Scotland
David Alcock, architectural conservation
John Kay, teacher
Jody Porter, poet, poetry editor Morning Star
Bob Hopcraft, headteacher
Khadim Hussain, Sacred Alien Comix
Caroline Gilfillan, poet and fiction writer
Jill Townsend, writer
Clarissa Upchurch, artist
Neil McCarthy, poet, Austria
Véronique Martin, writer, France
Carla Palmieri, translator, Italy
Davide Trame, teacher
Gary Moon, community support organiser
Daniele Pantano, poet, Switzerland
Julia Webb, poet, poetry editor, Lighthouse Literary Journal
Sue Hubbard, poet, novelist, art critic, London
Tina Gharavi, filmmaker and academic
Richard Livermore, poet, magazine editor
Pamela Robertson-Pearce, fillamker, Northumberland, UK
Zachary Bos, editor, New England Review of Books
Lyn Moir, poet, translator
Johanna Boal, librarian, poet
Ann Leshy Wood, writer, musician
Sandra Reed, librarian, London
Rachel Winter, psychoanalytic psychotherapist
Caroline M Davies, poet, pensions adviser
Pru Kitching, poet
Elena Remigi, interpreter and translator
Pierre Ringwald, teacher, Helsinki
Stephen Oliver, poet / voice artist
Sam Gwyn
David Robertson, Professor of Public Policy, Liverpool (retired)
Sally-anne Lomas, television director / producer
Jack Little, poet
Michael Prince, artist, Nottingham
Duncan McGibbon, poet
David Swann, teacher and writer
Lee Prosser, poet
Michael Rought-Brooks, gardener
Janet Smith, scientist, academic
Professor Suzie Hanna
Judith Baumel, poet, Professor of English, Adelphi University, New York
Jonathan Taylor, senior lecturer, University of Leicester
Alexander Cigale, poet, translator
Debra Lynn Pughe, writer, Fine Art Museum of San Francisco
Anatoly Kudryavitsky, poet, novelist, translator, Ireland
Charles Hall, teacher
Paul Hellyer, Wellington, New Zealand, Hungarian citizen
Alan McCormick, writer, England
Dawn Oei, health practitioner
Bob Wittock, Warsaw, Poland
Naomi Sachs, actress and poet, London
Tanvir Bush, author and lecturer
A. F. Harrold, poet, author, performer
Margaret Royall, poet
Kevin Reid, artist
Desmond McGrath, editor
Wynn Wheldon, author
Jane Roberts, writer, Shropshire, UK
Martin O'Connor, poet
Rania Hafez, senior lecturer, London
Rajan Naidu, community worker, UK
Agnes Eperjesy, management consultant, UK, Hungarian citizen
Jane Ponsford, artist, UK
Liz Nugent, writer, Ireland
Kinga Fabó, poet, linguist, essayist
Stephen Barnard, Advaitin philosopher
William Harvey, art director, UK
Neil Fulwood, poet, Nottingham, UK
Martin Reed, writer and performer
Meena Kandasamy, poet, India
Dray Zera, performer, poet
Cerasu Ceceep, painter and sculptor, Indonesia
Michael Prince, artist
Liz Lacey, lecturer and writer, Liverpool
Sarah Atkinson, musician / educator, Istanbul / Toronto
Mary O'Donnell, poet and novelist, Galway University
Michael Langan, writer
Janet Davidson, editor, Northern Ireland
Linda Black, writer, editor, teacher, artist
Francis David Rafferty, performance poet, comedian
Pauline Rowe, writer and tutor, Liverpool
Peter Daniels, PhD candidate, Goldsmiths, London
Professor Diane DeBell
Andrea Scrima, artist and writer, Berlin / New York
Leigh Jones, researcher
Ildiko Melis, college teacher, Michigan, US
Susan Greenberg
Elizabeth MacDonald, Pisa University
Andrea Porter, teacher and poet, UK
Sophie Plowden, teacher and author, London
Sophia Bartleet,  writer and teacher
Eloise Miller, publisher, UK
Katrin Mäurich, painter, UK / Germany
Mark Roper, poet
Anna Dreda, bookseller, Wenlock Books, Shropshire
Paul Perry, writer, Ireland
Melanie Williams, writer, UK
Ellen Sokolow, architect, New York, USA
Sally Crabtree, writer
Michael Bartholomew-Biggs, mathematician and poet, London
Domenico Iannaco, teacher, Italy
Maria Taylor, lecturer, Loughborough
Rosie Jackson, writer and lecturer, UK
Dr Nathalie Teitler, arts activist, London
Oliver Stanton, designer
Mari Alföldy, translator, Amsterdam
Alexandra Buechler, cultural manager, Aberystwyth, UK
Sandy Solomon, writer, Vanderbilt University
Olga Serebryanaya, journalist and literary translator, Prague
Kathryn MacGregor
Thomas Humphrey, gallery proprietor, Norwich
Peter Chaltas, entrepreneur, poet, Toronto
John Phillips
Elizabeth Macklin, writer and editor
Andrew Ervin, novelist and critic, Philadelphia, US
Stephen Morrissey, poet
Daniel Gustafsson, literary translator
Denni Turp, Disability Arts, Officer, Wales
Susan Young, journalist, UK
Keith Lander, software engineer and writer, UK
Dr Alyson Hallett, poet and Advisory Fellow with the Royal Literary Fund
Dr Gyorgyi Voros, poet, Senior Instructor, Virginia Tech  University, USA
Anthony diMatteo, poet
Dr Peter Ryley, University of Hull (retired)
Victoria Clegg
Karen Margolis, author and translator
Anne Cooper, writer, poet, educator
Márton Dornbach, visiting assistant professor, Johns Hopkins University
Selina St.Clair Mills, author MPhil Cantab
Katy Ewing, writer and artist, Scotland
John Holyer, avionics engineer
Lydia Towsey, poet and performer
Graham Mummery, poet and psychotherapist
Stephen Hyatt-Cross, nurse, UK
Irena Makarewicz, translator
Clare Allan, writer, lecturer, City University, London
Fiona Hanley, art director, graphic designer, illustrator
Frank Dullaghan, writer, poet, business consultant
Kitty Gifford, USA
Hannah Jane Walker, writer
Rebecca Byrkit, Clinical Professor, Creative Writing, ASO, poet
Peter Street, poet, tutor, writer
Miki Byrne, poet, writer, Gloucestershire
Briony Bax, editor Ambit Magazine
Trevor Joyce, poet, Cork,  Ireland
Aaron Deveson, academic, National Taiwan Normal University
Nadia Kingsley, publisher and poet
Maria C.McCarthy, writer, Kent.
Francoise Robin, INALCO, Paris
Sue Hardy-Dawson, poet and illustrator, UK
Katia Buffetrille, EPHE, Paris
Anne Pollert, sociologist, Leamington Spa
Sarah Wedderburn, poet and freelance copywriter
David Ian Ross
Rowyda Amin, poet
David Smith, literary agent, London and Kent
Danica Ogjenovic, weiter and gallery co-ordinator, UK
Oxana Yakimenko, translator, university lecturer, St Petersburg, Russia
Kathy Page, writer and professor at Vancouver State University
Mike Gallagher, poet, Ireland
Patricia Mullin, author, tutor, mentor
Linda Feldman, associate professor of German, University of Windsor, Canada
Jo Erbacher, concerned European
Edit Weigl-Gibby, teacher, director, London
Jean Morris, writer and translator
Jennifer Wong, poet and translator
Todd Swift, editor and publisher, Eyewear Books
Dr Geraldine Green, poet, tutor, editor
Dr Carly Holmes, writer and editor
Andy Ching, editor and publisher
Ben Borek, poet, Poland
Peter Fredlake, eeducator and photographer, USA
Marieke Piggott-Boswinkel, translator and editor
Andrew Fentham, poet and translator from Hungarian
Laurie Stone, writer
SJ Butler, writer, UK
Michelle Madsen, poet, journalist, theatre-maker, London
Samia Malik, singer / songwriter
Dr Alena Oberfalzerová, head of Mongolian and Tibetan Studies, Charles University, Prague
Lucie McKee, poet
Bobby Parker, poet and artist
N J Hynes, writer
Rob Hay, scientist and acoustician
Max Dunbar
Morelle Smith, writer and translator, UK
Peadar O'Donoghue, poet, publisher
John Fitzgerald, poet, attorney
Graham Burchell, poet and teacher
Ashley Louise Fox, writer, poet and artist
Jane Burn, poet and checkout operator
G. R. Livingston
Ruth Philo
Diane Cockburn, pet and teacher
Agnes Somlo, literary translator
Gabor Hellyer, CEU graduate and descendant of 1956 refugees
June Nandy, poet
Maria Heath Becket, writer
Denise Burchard
Leslie McGrath, poet and educator,  Central Connecticut State University
Hannah Vicek
Robert Shaw, theatre and opera director, hungarophile, London
Jan Fortune
Deirdre O'Neill, editor
Allison Hope
Dr Leila Farnes, RCSI, Norway
Moira Forsyth, author and publisher
Peter Adair, poet
Marion Kelly, Ireland
Nick Hilditch, animator, Budapest
Lee Moore
L. E. Usher, author, Australia and UK
Szilvia Schmitsek, doctoral researcher, The University of Warwick
Jacqui McMenamin
Jé Maverick
Györgyi Jakobi, journalist, Budapest
Michel Queue, France
Eoin Barry
Stephen Varcoe
Dr Rob Miles, poet, lecturer University of Hull
Georgina Kuna, teacher, access to music, Norwich
Katrina Naomi, poet, Penzance
Angela Carr, poet and architect, Dublin
Maurice Devitt, writer, Dublin
Ross Wilson, Lecturer in Criticism, University of Cambridge
Humphrey Astley, writer, Oxford
Eunice Yates, freelance writer, Belfast and London
Brian Kirk, writer, Dublin
Nicholas Birns, writer and academic, New York
Haworth Hodgkinson, composer and writer, Aberdeenshire
Michael T, Young, poet, US
Chris Meade, PhD student, University of Bath Spa
Katy Evans-Bush, writer, London
Jaimie Shorten, architect, London
David Hirsh, Lecturer, Goldsmiths, University of London
Jennifer Mackintosh, conference interpreter, teacher
Felicity Evans, writer and editor, Cambridge
Theophi Kwek, writer, Oxford
Anne Berkeley, Cambridge
Rishi Dastidar, poet and copywriter
Scott Barley, filmmaker, visiting lecturer, Winchester School of Art
James O'Fee, Northern Ireland
Iain Robinson, writer and academic, Norfolk
Marilyn Francis, poet, Radstock
Edmund Prestwich, retired teacher, Manchester, UK
Aidan Semmens, journalist and poet, Suffolk
Josephine Balmer, poet and translator, East Sussex, UK
Kathryn Gray, writer, London
Louise Lotz, complementary therapist, poet, Welwyn Garden City
Rachel Burns, writer, Durham
Robbie Burton, poet, North Wales
Jennifer Grey, London
Frederick Taylor, historian, West Cornwall
Cutter Streeby, poet and translator, USA
Irena Szirtes, retired, Worcestershire
Katherine Rosen, arts consultant, Monte Sereno, USA
Andrew Philip, poet, West Lothian
Jackie Gorman, poet, Athlone, Ireland
Julia Seiber Boyd, retired lawyer, Chair Cambridge Szeged Soc, and Mátyás Seiber Trust
Sally Craythorne, writer, Norfolk
Anders Howerton, software engineer and poet, Oakland, USA
Pamela Ireland Duffy, La Rochelle, France
Crysse Morrison, writer, Frome
Victoria Neumark Jones, associate professor, journalism, London Met. University
Sandra Banawich, ex-Councillor, poet, St Helen's, UK
Cath Drake, poet and writer, London
Maggie Harris, writer UK
Gill Stoker, London, UK
Robert R. Calder, University of Strathclyde, editor Lines Review
Tom Hubbard, Scottish novelist, poet, editor, was visiting professor ELTE, Budapest
James Knight, poet, Wells, Somerset
Anne-Marie Creamer, artist, lecturer, University of the Arts, London
Rebecca Farmer
Janet Sutherland, poet, Lewes, UK
Nell Sartain, teacher, Cambridge, UK
Patrick Williamson, poet and translator, Paris
Elenor Knott, academic, London School of Economics
Sean Fraser, writer, Galveston, Texas
Emma van Woerkom, poet, Wales
Zoltán Rozgonyi, director, Euroexam, Budapest
Dr Michael G. Stevens
JustinCoe, poet
Breda Wall Ryan, writer, Ireland
Lyn Moir, poet and translator, St Andrews, Scotland
Lemuel Ibbotson, retired academic
Theo Best, teacher, Norwich
Marie Hudson (nee Rudas) yoga teacher, Powys
Rinzing Kelsang, musician, photographer and Buddhist monk
Robert Fitzmaurice
Isobel Urquhart, retired lecturer, Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge
Philip O'Neil, poet, writer
Luise Valentiner Moulin, graphic designer, letterpress artist, Scotland
Clare Cox, university administrator
Louisa Adjoa Parker, writer, Dorset
Ben Richardson, bookseller, Norwich
Helen Farrell Simcox, writer and artist, Cork
Irina Shkolnik, banker, Miami
Adrian Green, poet, UK
Dr Martin Smith, academic editor, artist
David Spiller, Higher Education Consultant, Australia
Maria Clara Paulino, art history professor, USA and Portugal
Lillian King, writer, Scotland
Julia Sherwood
Habie Schwarz, photographer and consultant
Dan Duggan, poet, outsider artist, London
Barbara Cumbers, poet, UK
Susan Gunn, artist, Manchester
Dick Jones, teacher, poet, translator
Andrea Fisher de Cuba, musician and English trainer, Vienna
Ambrose Musiyiwa, facilitator, CivicLeicester
Suzannah Endfield Olivier
Silva Zanoyan Merjanian, poet, USA
Patricia Allmer, Senior Lecturer, Edinburgh College of Art
Sue Healy, playwright
Susan Bernofsky, Columbia University School of the Arts
Jill Galvan, Associate Professor, Department of English, Ohio State University
Zoltan Zubornyak, actor
Christopher Hawtree, writer and library campaigner, Hove, England
Prof. Toby Walsh, Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science, Guest Professor TU Germany
Klara Szentirmay, translater, publisher, editor, Wellington, New Zealand
Edward Vanderpump, teacher / writer, Norwich, UK
Rebecca Tamás, British-Hungarian poet, UEA
Pauline Levis, retired teacher, London
Marysia Wojtaszek, Scotland
Ed Luker, poet
Elizabeth Rimmer, poet, Scotland
Tim Cumming, writer
Kieran Ryan, artist, poet, student,  University of the Arts, London
István Kolozsi, designer, Hungary
Sonja Benskin Mesher
Ed Cottrell, London
Maggie Alexander, teacher, London
Peter Sherwood, Emeritus Professor of Hungarian, University of North Carolina
Professor Stephen Harnad, Universities of Southampton and Quebec* resigned from Hungarian Academy in protest at failure to resist Orbán
Nigel Quinton
Claire Potter, poet
Julia Keddle, education writer
Hisham M Nazer, poet, Department of English, Varendra University
Sarah Tyler, office manager, Devizes
Alison Stewart, writer and teacher
Naomi Kerans, retired teacher
Merryn Williams, poet, North Oxford
David Lefeber, Dorset
Jackie York, artist, Banbury
Rakesh Bhanot, teacher, freelance writer
Matthew Falaize, writer
Lenke Kiss, concerned Hungarian, St Albans
Benedick Grant, writer
Emma Farrant, physician of Chinese medicine
Tamás Szelei, software developer, Hungary
Dr Jo Catling, University of East Anglia
Gábor Gasztonyi, photographer, writer
Prue Chamberlayne, poet, retired researcher and academic
Anne Caldwell, Open University, poet
Barton Young, songwriter
José Maria Peréz Fernándes, English Department, University of Granada, Spain
Jenny Swann
Andrew Oldham
Lena Camp, European Association for Jewish Culture
Adam Strickson, Teaching Fellow in Theatre and Writing, University of Leeds
Jonathan Jarrett, Lecturer in Early Medieval History, University of Leeds
Ivan Vince
Jen Webb, academic, Australia
Kim Baker, concerned friend of Hungary, Paris
Mary Clarke
Csilla Toldy, Rostrevor, Northern Ireland
Sarah Watkinson, scientist, poet, Oxon, UK
Anne Phillips, teacher
Zia Haider Rahman, author
Helen de Cruz, Senior Lecturer in Philosopher, Oxford Brookes.
Jane Hattatt, BSc
Claire Steele, writer, teacher, Buckinghamshire
Lance Hattatt, BA
Dorothy Allan
Catherine Ayres, teacher, Alnwick
Chozo Tull, musician
Sue Guiney, writer, Cambodia
Dr Robert Mayer, Oriental Institute, University of Oxford
Katy Carr, European and citizen of the world.
Joel Davie, librarian, Nottingham
Carolyn O'Connell
Richard Sheehan, editor, Leicester, UK
Erica Sartor, Krakow, Poland
Pat Winslow, poet, Oxfordshire
James Ellis, writer, Bath
Patricia Horgan BD, nurse
Mark Wingrave
Kay Bentley, teacher trainer, Norwich
Becky Cherriman, writer, UK
Sarah Hymas, writer, UK
Dr Suzanne Fairless-Aitken, academic and editor, Hexham, Northumberland
Prof E. S. Shaffer, Series Editor, The Reception of British & Irish Authors in Europe

Friday, 2 December 2016

China Journal 5

Hall in preparation


Huang Lihai hands over the prize statuette


Reading one of three poems


5 November

23:15 in Guangzhou. Received my Poetry and People award tonight. What a ceremony, Chinese style! Red carpet, glamorous hostess, photographs of me at different earlier periods, a eulogy by the poet and awarder Huang Lihai in which, to go by the impromptu English translation, he clearly understands what I am doing as a poet, a lovely choir to sing to me. the presentation of the award, (a big statuette about the size of a small child and weighing about the same) and a print I haven't yet opened. 

I say a brief thank you. Then music. Bits of film. Then I read two poems, then more music by a guitarist who has set 'After a Line of W H Auden' from Mapping the Delta (in Chinese), then Melindra launches the book with a short speech, more music, three of my fellow poets read from Mapping the Delta, then a small drama group perform their interpretation of The Yellow Room from the book, more music, a discussion...it's long, some two hours to a big audience and lots of press.




Then a lot of book signing, because there is a whole selected poems from the last three books in translation ready done. I sign far more books than I have ever done in one place in England.
It is exceedingly grand and I am not sure what to make of it all except be flattered and sane. 

The prize is, of course, an enormous honour. The previous winners are a parade of stars (Transtromer, Zagajewsky, Dove, Walcott etc.) I am not one of those. But just for tonight, in Guangzhou and South China, I am offered as a pretender to such thrones and have a child-sized statuette I am tempted to call Del Boy now sitting next to the electric kettle in the university hotel room. How we'll get Del Boy home is another question. (Answer: send by what I thought was shipping but turns out to be air mail costing over £100). Still there is a money prize too.


Del Boy at home with post-it from Lukas whose favourite word at the moment
is poo which is to be taken as a compliment


Thankful and tired.


6 November

Yesterday a big indulgent dimsum for all the group at 11:30 including black eggs and Chinese custard pies, followed by a tour of the university but first the memory of the journey by Maglev or 'bullet train' from Yangshuo to Guangzhou the day before.

After the mountains and plains the hills and the road to the airport. The coach negotiates a narrow unfinished road with stones from landslides sprinkled on it. There are new unfinished houses either side arranged to no obvious plan but with families living in them.

The road gets worse. Rough, unsurfaced, with big drops on one side and passing places with holes on the other. We wind upwards very slowly behind two trucks carrying rubble. It's all uphill and traffic down must gauge the space available.

When we get to the Maglev station it is fully modern and international standard. It is as if the development around it was an afterthought. There are a lot of stairs to climb with heavy luggage. The bullet train arrives.

Once on the train it is wonderfully smooth. All the buildings we see along the way look to be standard, constructed like Lego. No difference anywhere. When we move towards Guangzhou the same standard blocks grow into enormous high uniform estates. Very Brazil à la Terry Gilliam. Daunting, vast, military, convenient, monsters of anonymity, becoming more varied and pleasant as we approach the university which is a long way - Guangzhou has a c12 million population - in a crawl of traffic.

*

Sun Yat Sen university verges on luxury with marvellous tree-lined (eucalyptus, acacia etc) avenues, ponds, passages of dense vegetation and birdsong and, at the core of the old university, a group of hundred year old buildings that forms a suburb of its own. There is a bust of Darwin before one of them. Cyclists and electric scooter-riders weave through in silence. Some trees are being pollarded.

After the tour, the bookshop, a four floor emporium of beautifully produced books. The owner introduces us to the store. Books on all subjects, mostly designed to an understated delicate aesthetic, as well as gifts and a decent café with proper, though expensive coffee. You can buy a book for the price of a cappuccino.

*

Rúnar and I read in the evening along with our leader and inviter, Fan and - as a surprise - Jiang Shumei, a beautiful 80 year old woman who was illiterate till the age of 60 but who has since written five books and is teaching herself to paint.

Rúnar and I do our stuff then we listen first to Fan then to Jiang Shumei. Fan has written, in English, about her schooldays at the time of the cultural revolution and Jiang Shumei reads a recollection of the practice of foot-binding. Both are marvellous. Rúnar and I are literature, but Fan and Shumei are first-hand life, the realism of the real. It's spellbinding.


Shumei after reading with Barbara, Ravi, Fan and Daan in the background


Then, to end, a junior school children's drama group perform, in English, a piece with music, singing and dancing, that they themselves wrote in English. Their spoken English is impeccable, their dancing sweet and one of the girls has a hell of a voice on her. I can't imagine an English primary school capable of doing the same in a very foreign language with the same panache, if at all.







We learn more about China from Fan, Shumei and the children.



Then we break up. Rúnar, Gudrun, Clarissa and I pop into MacDonalds for a small burger. We need something plain after all the rococo dimsum.


Macsonnet
for Runar Helgi Vignisson

Samuel Jackson and Travolta in a car.
I’m starving, says Jackson. Travolta agrees. Me too.
There’s a Big Mac round the corner, not too far.
A man’s gotta eat, he says. OK for you?

Ain’t nothin’ better in a fuckin’ jam,
Jackson replies. With plenty sauce. Too right.
Best wipe the blood off yo’ lapel. Goddam,
says Travolta, just too much blood tonight.

They bomb down the M and slip in through the door.
A queue at the counter, fat guy at the head,
behind him a dozen customers, maybe more.
Move, muthafuckas! says Jackson. Or you dead!

McChicken, says Travolta. Side dish of French fries.

The cops burst in, big shoot out. Jackson dies.



Tuesday, 29 November 2016

China Journal 4




3 November

A quiet day, no excursions, just redrafting the book based on Daan's excellent advice. It all works better and hangs together more coherently. The risk in the third part is reduced by a short introduction. It is fascinating and exhilarating to learn.

We go to the usual 3 minute restaurant for lunch and sit outside this time because there is a shaded table, the sun is out and there is only the lightest breeze. We are facing the river. It is very smooth. A raft comes by, then another. The passenger on one raft is singing a song. The girls at the next table join in and wave. They don't know each other. Not something we see much in England. They don't know each other but love the song. Then a whole flotilla of rafts punts past. The butterflies are pairing, two black ones with white markings are fluttering next to each other, almost touching as if about to kiss. A little further on two more butterflies are similarly engaged, oblivious to the rest of the world. The waitress hesitates on the step as they tumble and flit before her.


One more day here then we leave and this will be a dream. The great sugar loaves that hedge in the area will seem unlikely inventions. The sense of being outside time will have melted back into time.
At 4 o'clock it's time to celebrate Alison's birthday. Merlinda has ordered a cake, Clarissa has painted a card and I have written a verse for it. Everyone has signed and now waits to surprise her as she comes down. The Chinese students sing a Cantonese song, then Happy Birthday in Mandarin, syncopated, then we sing our English version. The candle is blown out, the cake cut into pieces and consumed but first the Chinese students bring a dish of noodle soup, noodles being an emblem of long life.

Alison

Tonight a Chinese scholar and an English speaker scholar translator will arrive, ready to give us a talk on Chinese poetry tomorrow morning.

I still can't quite believe the book is finished.


4 November

10:20pm. The evening of the last night in Yangshuo. A sad thought since it has been so beautiful and productive.

The morning was taken with two talks on modern Chinese literature, a fascinating, almost enigmatic subject that sometimes dares to speak its name but can never be sure it is safe in doing so. We learned about the revival of classicism, about dedicated Party literature (no love stories except between the Party and the hero), the tales-over-dinner kind of story and many others including more avant garde experiments. I listened and made notes and hope to read some of the authors mentioned.



THE FIVE GOLDEN RULES OF CENSORSHIP
A Guide for Beginners

1
You know and I know but you also know that I don't officially know. Officially, you don't know I know either. Is that clear?

2
You can't do that in front of me. You can do it behind me but be aware there are others behind me. So don't do it.

3
What you say may be true but it isn't a truth we recognise, therefore it isn't true. Why don't you just write the truth?

4
The truth is complicated. Life is complicated. You are complicated and I am complicated. Let's keep it as simple as that.

5
That is allowed but not precisely in the way you want it allowed right now. Once you have done it it will have been allowed.


Both Clarissa and I had a bad night last night (I slept two hours at most) so we passed on the afternoon trip to another beautiful place and stayed here instead, working and sleeping, taking lunch by the river in beautiful hazy sunlight. The rafts glided down. I downed some tofu, Clarissa had a noodle soup, light food since it was partly our stomachs that had kept us awake. I drank jasmine tea, Clarissa opted for ginger. The butterflies billowed drunkenly around us. For the first time I really thought of these two weeks as an idyll. That is how it will seem once we have gone.




Then the party returned from the excursion and a group of Chinese artists arrived to put on a demonstration of painting and calligraphy. There was fan painting, landscape painting, the painting of a table and chair under the trees, with a chessboard laid out. After the demonstration we were invited to have a go ourselves so we did. The products of the evening were offered to us as gifts and I now have the calligraphic version of an old poem about the West Lake (about which I myself was invited write a poem five years ago while visiting the West Lake) and Clarissa has the head of the local art school's drawing of a landscape by our own River Li.

I also have offers from two, possibly three publishers for a selected poems in Chinese translation. That together with the prize and the finishing of Time Runs Out (my mother book) has left me feeling like one of the local butterflies, pleasantly tossed on the breeze in warm sunlight.

But a proper sleep would be nice since we are travelling tomorrow.


Butterfly

1
Butterfly net, sonnet. You’ll not succeed
in making butterflies of your own. Your blacks
and blues are frittered away. Your rhyme scheme lacks
the wings, the manoeuvrability. You feed
literature not this continual mobility,
this hurling and blundering, this mad flurry
of excitement by the river. You can’t hurry
nowhere in particular. You lack the ability
to shift and return and describe invisible air
with a flutter of caesuras. Why not just give up
in line eleven, break from the grip of meter
and tumble into something looser, unbuttoned, sweeter
than syntax, something without let or stop.
Why should your closing couplet not open like a palm,
extending freedom, voluptuous, luxuriant and calm.

2
Black, black, black and more black. All
flashed or fringed or filigreed, one bat-sized
fluttering force, all darkness, the rest surprised
into light, now sharp, now blurred into a ball
of random flaking looking to divest
itself of tags in sober Linnaean Latin
and shift gear into a realm of pearl and satin,
of flag and banner, flower, stitch and crest.
This fancy footwork won’t do. Counting feet
is boring with just two, three, four or five.
They beat against the air and are alive.
The best I can do is keep these verses neat.
The butterflies of hell are flecks of soot

that settle on my grossly human foot.


One of my favourite wayside signs. There were quite a few.



A Note on 'Song', a poem for Helen Suzman:
2.The Lever




The poem consists of three parts. The first and the third parts are reflections of each other and contain a repeated quatrain, one at the beginning the other at the end. The shapes and rhymes of the second verse are echoed but not fully reproduced in the second-from-last.

The first verse, a quatrain, is about activism itself, how an idea or movement begins with relatively few people who don’t seem to be accomplishing much until their activity reaches a break-through point when it becomes fully effective. The quatrain expresses admiration for such people. It uses the same rhyme with one repetition. Such repetitions are typical of song and I was aware from the start that a common song-like quality was the way to go.

From the buzzing of the first verse to a series of instances in the second whereby small, apparently insignificant acts lead to great unexpected effects, especially in the case of the feather and the sinking ship. The sinking ship has some relation to the old image of the state as a ship, in this case one about to go down.

The third verse looks for precedents, suggesting that this is how change has always come about. The misery of the poor and oppressed reaches a critical mass articulated by spirituals, anthems and rebel songs.

The fourth verse uses the example of the lever. The source is Archimedes who said: ‘Give me a lever long enough and a fulcrum on which to place it, and I shall move the world.’ He was referring to physical reality,  the laws of mechanics,  but the phrase has often been used in a metaphorical sense. The idea appeared in the middle of the poem and I decided to run with it. It wasn’t going to be there from the start.

The fifth verse (a partial mirror of the second) joins the image of hands applauding to that of the lever and fulcrum and refers to the sense of encouragement, the physical raising of the heart, which is the point of the verse as a whole.

Funnily enough I think it is the curious notion of the heart as a physical object that may be raised by levers and fulcrums is what makes the verse a poem. It is a faint echo of the Metaphysical poetry of Donne and Marvell.


The last verse is simply the chorus restated.

The poem aims to avoid the heavy-handedness and predictability of dull verse by leaning as fas as possible towards poetry, so that despite having an apparently strict form and firm rhymes, ideas should arise and develop organically. I genuinely didn’t know where the poem was likely to go (think of Robert Frost’s idea of surprise) but I did know what I think. 


I was recently asked in interview what the message of my poems was. My answer was that I don’t have a message and that (to echo someone else’s answer) if I did I would write a letter not a poem.

In the case of Song however there is a pretty clear message: persist, act together, you can do more than people think, you can change the world. Indeed I could just have written that. But by introducing form and imagery (an improvised imagery) I hoped the message might carry some of the freshness of discovery. Rhyme, stanza, imagery and wit can lend freshness. They can turn a message into an anthem or at least a kind of inner music. But it is the physical raising of the heart that is the discovered truth of the poem. It is the poem’s ‘nightingale’.

Nevertheless, I still feel slightly uncomfortable with it because I distrust simple messages. I began as a poet by distrusting the broad and simple, hoping instead to discover more complex, more contradictory truths, truths that actually were true. I wanted the nightingale in the middle of the dark wood not the rhymed prescription.

This poem is not about a dark wood: it is about people putting their shoulders to the wheel. But above all it is about levers that raise hearts.



A Note on 'Song', a poem for Helen Suzman:
1. The Nightingale




Song was written on request for a magazine, The Liberal, to commemorate the death of the South African political activist, Helen Suzman who had worked tirelessly for black rights and was several times nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. It was, in other words, a commission and the poem is, what is referred to as an occasional poem, that is to say a poem written for an occasion.

The occasional poem is a problem from the traditionally romantic point of view according to which a true poem arises spontaneously from the heart or spirit and takes its destined but unpredictable course, carrying the discovered urgency of its undeclared and unarticulated mission. A poet may be inspired by listening to a nightingale but would not deliberately go out into a wood to seek out a nightingale in order to praise it for qualities he already knew it possessed. A proper poem has to be a surprise: no surprise for the poet no surprise for the reader, said Robert Frost and I think that he and Keats (the poet with the nightingale) were essentially right. A proper poem should arise out of a naked unguarded experience that elicits surprise in the imagination by extending the consciousness in some way. Poetry is not what one knows but an adventure into what one apprehends.

On the other hand it is customary to offer verses for particular causes or occasions: for births, for birthdays, for weddings, for anniversaries, for funerals.  People seem to feel that poetry, primarily as verse, is appropriate for such occasions. Its memorability, its concision, its perfect formulations seem to convey something of the ritual aspect of events.  There are times when poetry seems downright useful. Satires serve a political purpose. Song lyrics can maintain a community spirit: military marches, chants at football grounds, old campaigns and battles round the camp-fire.  Advertisements use rhyming and rhythmical forms to sell products. Verse may be used to explore rational ideas or describe processes. In all these cases the sense of deliberation, of precisely delivering what one knows, assumes prominence. Keats rejected poetry that ‘had a palpable design’ on us and preferred poetry that came as naturally as leaves to a tree. And it’s true: we don’t necessarily want rhymed advertisements for our views yet there is a kind of joy in the sheer sociability of occasional poems.

The poetry of unguarded experience provides adventure and excitement, ideally the shivers. The poetry of achieved purposes produces logical structure and satisfaction.  Both are valuable in their own ways

Song for Helen Suzman belongs more to the second category than the first, hence my original discomfort with it, even more in being represented by it as somehow typical of my work or being an instance of the best of it. But why should I feel that?  The poem, after all, has a clear function which is to draw attention to Suzman and to celebrate her work as an activist on a specific sad occasion.  Why, if I believed in he work - as I do - would I not want to do that? And isn’t it a delight to write something well-made for the sheer pleasure of writing it?




A Note on 'Song', a poem for Helen Suzman





I was encouraged to write this by Neil Bowen,  editors of the anthology The Art of Poetry. He said students would welcome it. So here goes, in two parts. But the poem comes first. Then the two posts.



Song
for Helen Suzman

Nothing happens until something does.
Everything remains just as it was
And all you hear is the distant buzz
Of nothing happening till something does.

A lot of small hands in a monstrous hall
can make the air vibrate
and even shake the wall;
a voice can break a plate
or glass, and one pale feather tip
the balance on a sinking ship.

It’s the very same tune that has been sung
time and again by those
whose heavy fate has hung
on the weight that they oppose,
the weight by which are crushed
the broken voices of the hushed.

But give certain people a place to stand
a lever, a fulcrum, a weight,
however small the hand,
the object however great,
it is possible to prove
that even Earth may be made to move.

Nothing happens until something does,
and hands, however small,
fill the air so the buzz
of the broken fills the hall
as levers and fulcrums shift
and the heart like a weight begins to lift.

Nothing happens until something does.
Everything remains just as it was
And all you hear is the distant buzz
Of nothing happening. Then something does.





Monday, 28 November 2016

China Journal 3



Mask by Clarissa!



Terrifying students!


Barbara and Larisa


Runar and Gudrun change genders and Barbara


Daan and Ravi as the night wears on!


1 November
Yesterday was Halloween and Barbara, the Mexican playwright, got together with Ravi (Indian-American poet) to arrange a trip into Yangshuo city to buy drinks and nibbles and prepare for a party. The trip to Yangshuo suddenly became very popular and most people went and spent the afternoon there as well as dinner in an Indian restaurant. We stayed behind with a couple of others, I to write the penultimate section of the last part of the book, Clarissa to paint and to prepare for the party by making me a vampire mask (eyes and top of head the rest rudimentary make-up combined with natural aptitude). Larissa, the German novelist continued working, as did Katherine, the American short-story writer. So those of us left walked round to the 3-minute restaurant (je the restaurant that is 3 minutes away) and ordered something quick and fast, a sandwich and a sode in my case. Then back to the house to prepare.

We were fully choreographed to make an appearance downstairs at 8pm. Clarissa wore the garland we had bought from the old woman together with a veil and with a bit of mean make-up looked like a beautiful haunted version of La Cicciolina, but with clothes (again, photos later). The turn out was terrific. Everyone was there, Runar and Gudrun in reversed genders, Daan with a sinister Good Farmer mask, Merlinda as half a pirate, Barbara as a form of Catwoman, the students as various ingenious zombies, warlords etc. After an initial awkwardness the dancing began and picked up pace, continuing solid for three and a half hours to anything from Bee Gees to Bowie to Gangnam Style, to The Ronettes. To my own astonishment I danced solid, with full energy throughout, without sitting down or resting more than once for ten minutes of conversation, Clarissa (Bride of Dracula) likewise. Everyone admired everyone's costume and make-up. It was the most fun we had had for years. We were the last to pack up and pack away.

Although I felt fine when dancing, once in bed my right hip was so stiff and painful it took a couple of hours to get to sleep. My hearty congratulations to my surgeon, Mr Ali. We're through the MOT with flying colours. Next step: hip replacement.

This morning I finished the book about my mother, now provisionally titled Time Runs Out (first draft)!!! Actually finished!!! I had given up hope of it at times but being here and simply working and thinking and working again has done it.

I am inwardly opening bottles of champagne.

Now, after checking drafts, we'll see how the world takes to it.



Domestic Science GCSE Chinese style


2 November
Yesterday four of us went to a cookery lesson in the afternoon. It was at Cloud 9 in Yangshuo where we ate after the Mountain Song festival. So we got a taxi into the city, that dropped us at an appointed spot ready to pick us up again and walked the short distance to the restaurant. Jenny, the chef and tutor, sat us down, offered us tea, then told us the first step would be to take us down to the market where we would see where the ingredients were bought. So we set off down the street to the big indoor market where she showed us the various vegetables remarking on what each was and its role in this or that dish. In the meantime people buzzed around on motorbikes conveying this or that from place to place. Along the way we pass a fish tank was jammed with fish. Later as we progressed to the meat market there were chickens and geese and rabbits in cages waiting to be slaughtered and, right at the back of the hall, cats and dogs too. I won't describe the scene here only to say that this clearly was nothing extraordinary to people. Not all of us could look at this. The sight was hard.

From there straight to cookery. Aprons and hats on. Fourteen gas rings, seven on each side, the implements and ingredients laid out. We made three dishes, one featuring aubergines, one featuring cuts of chicken (we didn't have to slaughter them ourselves) along with peanuts and onions etc, as well as some dumplings that needed to be pinched into shape. Clarissa's were very beautiful in the conventional way but mine would surely have got a prize for their conceptual references to twentieth century art, being a mixture of Picasso's early cubist work and Dali's melting clocks. There was a touch of Rachel Whiteread too in the spaces between them, but perhaps not enough because a couple of them insisted on clinging together while being steamed.

Did it taste good? I reserve judgment on that. I have enjoyed finer gastronomic treats but as conceptualists are wont to say, it is the process not the product that really matters.

Otherwise writing and, occasionally, talking. The talking most usefully about the finished book since Daan offered to read it and did so with marvellous care. I should add he was extremely positive about it too. All his suggestions were good and right. So I have more hope now and a great deal of encouragement.

*


Today's distraction was a bike ride to Moon Hill, that needs special description. I'll do that tomorrow morning. Meanwhile the arrangements for my literary prize event are becoming grander by the day. I feel myself shrinking under them as the weight grows. God help me if I ever take myself seriously. The exciting thing is the book I have just finished not the ones I have already written.