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Reading for understanding

Wednesday, November 30, 2005
And I'm not talking about those horrible comprehension exercises we used to do at school.

No, this is the story of a group of women in the States who responded to September 11 by starting an inter-faith reading group. Around a dozen Jewish, Christian and Muslim women have been meeting for three years to select, read and discuss a mixture of novels, history, poetry, memoirs and religious philosophy from their different (and shared) cultural backgrounds.

"I wanted the benefit of how to guide my reading on this," says Rona Fischman, a real estate agent active in a local synagogue. "In light of what's going on in the world, it just wasn't acceptable for me to be ignorant of Islam. It's not acceptable for Muslims to have little idea of what Jews are about. Or for Christians, either."

The effect of the new understanding created by this collaborative reading has 'spilled over' into the group members' lives so that they share in one another's celebrations.

This makes me think of Azar Nafisi's Reading Lolita in Tehran. I'm wondering whether there are other similar groups out there - perhaps with secular members too?

Thanks to Moorishgirl for the link.

Coffee

Tuesday, November 29, 2005
Today started badly. I managed to set fire to the handle of our coffee maker. How is that possible, you might ask? I'm really not sure. It's true to say that it was very early in the morning and I didn't have my contact lenses in at the time.

But, to make matters worse, this was a brand new coffee maker. (Tom had ended the life of the previous one somewhat prematurely by forgetting to fill it with water before he put it on the hob... and the one before that by accidentally binning an essential part of it with the old coffee grounds... ) So, I'd only just bought this new one and I'd filled it with my favourite coffee and set it to simmer while I checked my emails... and I was really looking forward to a full-on morning of coffee-fuelled writing when... ... ...

It was not to be. And, as I tried to get all the bits of melted plastic off the oven and the walls and the floor, I had a momentary sense of humour failure, I must confess. But then I found these flickr coffee 'clusters'... The poem clusters are delicious too... They've almost made up for it.

Toilet Poetry

Monday, November 28, 2005

toilet poetry
Originally uploaded by lotsofbigideas.

I'm a big believer in the idea that poems shouldn't only be available in a rather expensive and hard-to-get-hold-of book format... After all, poems began as an essential part of our everyday culture; a way of communicating and recording the things that mattered to us.

So, this haiku toilet paper seems like a very sensible idea to me. Unfortunately, it's only available right now in Japanese, but what a brilliant idea! And it's with some relief that I've got to the end of this blog post without making any very obvious puns...(well, almost...)...

Poems on Flickr

Tuesday, November 15, 2005


Originally uploaded by romanlily.



From the Book of Rope

First, there is love. Secondly,
the square knot, a perfect binding
of two equal loops, useful

for fastening gifts to each other
or, in the extreme, for closing bandages
over wounds, expected or not.

The sheet bend hooks unequal partners,
originally a rope to the twisted end
of a sail, something fastened against wind.

The bowline's loop won't close, good
for saving yourself in mountain climbing,
or, in general, being lifted up, lowered.

Hitches bind us to things, thwarting
our drift, boat to tree, a horse to any rail—
two half hitches, hundreds of half hitches.

In the book of rope, three tests
for every knot—is it easy to tie?
Will it stay tied firmly in use,

and will it be, finally, easy to untie?
Which knot have we chosen?
And what else sadly should we know?

— Robert King



Romanlily has had the simple and stunning idea of pairing her photos with poems. Beautiful.

Six poems by Nnorom Azuonye

Monday, November 07, 2005

Nnorom Azuonye
Originally uploaded by lotsofbigideas.

Six poems by Nnorom Azuonye in the latest online volume of Other Voices...

'I mourn the land of light plunged into darkness
before the first gasp of my third birthday
condemning me to three decades of fugitive life -
even in the bowels of the whale
that crushed and swallowed my homeland,
entombed its banner of The Rising Sun.'


from 'Dead Sun'



Check out Nnorom's blog for more of his poems and lots of great links.