SirkkaKafka/Jean Findlay's 'Bringing out Mona McLeod and talking of 'Chasing Lost Time', on gr-grt-uncle Scott Moncrieff

Wand moving forward:

She is shy

Of living with a man/ Of living with a boy/ So she whispers to him/ She is a baby whisperer.

And sometimes he sits on the window ledge/ He has pulled on his boots and sits in /Only his nappies and coat.

Looks longingly outside.

Magnolias

Magnolias unfurling One by one Their wings curling giant butterflies Blink and they're gone

 

Is it harrassment to laugh at a love that is harassment?

Twenty call a day in May 2015

Theo plays games in which Mum Laura is excluded.

She is not allowed to follow through the gate at Kew,

Playground.

As it is she is always over him, so this is how he escapes

 

Jeremiah Wellbottom thinks his bottom holy

But really it is jelly and guacamole

 

 

By Kafkas Wife

The letter: It lay there.No, it’s not that simple.one could think about it for a while.The post arrives instantly, meanwhile flying over the need for a dark-haired beauty, in our mind of course, who with her yellow trolley fills up the whole of the pedestrian walkway, with her newspapers, catalogues, summons, warnings for overdue, penalty notices, family greeting cards and other unpleasant bills, towering over the street. If one wishes to go back even further, then one needs to enjoy looking at the wild suppositions, the knots of thoughts to the cafe where the piece of paper had to sit on the table between the coffee cup and the saltshaker, and to the fingertips which have to push the halting ink pen to meek, uncooperative letters.One must mention that I had a wish to reach the distant friend, my disappointment at the up to now missing answer to the other letters, which caused me to halt short of enthusiasm and exuberant openness and forced me to clam up.What is it about words on paper?Nothing is more uncompromising and divulging than a conversation without a spontaneous answer. A sort of monologue. As each dishonest written word is a stumbling block for the wished for flowing text. The reader of the letter can easily tell. Thumbs up, thumbs down, how redundant is: ‘I don’t know how to tell you what I think..’ In a conversation with a person in front of you, it would be easy to read it as as an unaccentuated, quick example of a person’s apology, looking for the right words. The empty phrases are easily forgiven as if by the attempt at conversation one might reach towards things one had not expected to say.A letter is different.How many of the incomplete thoughts end up in the dustbin, before one begins to think that one has attained expression of what one wished. No tone of voice, no pause, or gestures, or miming, but rather the running time, charting, repetition of word, sentence structure that is required of a conversational framework.Not to cross out small errors of choice of word in the general attempt to reach another.Now and then one reaches in writing a moment’s pause, as one considers if one has expressed a bit too close to bone, or ambiguous. The reader might not react, ultimately he might find it very binding, to read, it can make one feel panicked as driven into a corner, affronted, enforcing a decision which one might never have wished to make, or even in any case forced to react. Yes, yes, yes. How undependable, unforgiving is the written word. If the letter is actually read to the end, relieved, the name written with a flourish below the cheerful, farewell aphorism. Once finished the letter is then subject to reasonable consideration. With lipstick, biro, cough sweets it now shares its destiny. It is schlepped around, prudently past a couple of postboxes, and as the envelope is sealed, and one cannot change its contents anyway, at some point it is eventually in a high-spirited, generous mood dropped in. Yes.After a vigorous movement toward the receiver of the letter it commingles with the uniformly folded over hidden secrets, written revelations, forms, etc. becomes dogeared and attains a fine but grey patina. It reaches soon enough its goal. It has by now been several times superficially assessed, is thrown into an overflowing postbox, after it is opened it is filed away, and is put for a while on a perhaps dove-blue table.Mere speculation of course as to what will follow, perhaps it is a bit idle to think about the mood in which my reader picks it up. Perhaps he opens it hastily, or peels it back slowly, or skims across it, or reads every word, wonders, with a shake of his head, feels, understands or agrees. Whether surprised, or feeling near to me, who knows, I know I do not.The person waiting for a reply is in a fix.He awaits.He as a waiter can take it a bit lighter. Mind you in defence of my friend I should say: for the traveller it is difficult to regulate what is day, night or distance. It might best be described as a juggling, if one ball falls then another will soon be thrown in as a replacement.It is a difficult decision. Too much packaging is bad but also too much limitation.The dark-haired woman with the giant yellow trolley bag storms the last mailboxes and with a stoic calm shares out the important, unimportant and annoying lines. The hallway is full of the sounds of boxes clattering open as she stuffs the mouths of the boxes with monotonous rhythm, ending the wait or in some cases extending it.In my case the box remains empty, the errors of writing unreported, unanswered and so in my i magining alone I open the letter of a travelling friend.

The Email: He found me: I had first looked for him in google mail. That sounds like on Mars, or in the Matrix. He lives in London. I in Dresden.So now I sit in front of a bright monitor, in a bleak room, and the text seemingly jumps right out at me and has a presence as of a break-in. The spy on my laptop. Above middle to the lower right the message.It plops onto my computer display, instantly there, we are up-to-date, ready, nimble-fingered and amazingly intelligent. I hardly have the time to pause and wonder if I really am, it is taken for granted and then it leaves me wonder if everyone is cleverer or whether I am the one to fail to see that everyone is in a chorus and that is why no one notices I don't understand.Though maybe I am sitting in front of a giant monster that is controlling the world, so that we ants all run in the same direction. The IPhoneX. Everyone runs to the latest at the scent-brand, as though it were an extension of one's body, which once it has been mounted cannot be removed, only extended. A body part that is there solely to allow one to remove all, stand naked, in public, imaginatively, in public imaginatively, an octopus' arm of useless communicating. A tool for us in a fog of accountability.Wait though, before I give in to anxiety and self-doubt at what could be progress as a fast communication. Charlie wrote to me. And I start to resolve the text as it compresses in my brain. What does an email have that is so different? Why do these questions and answers appear overlapping. What is happening is a sort of impatience, a carelessness or is the mail actually advancing my ability to interpret at speed, so that by the end I have actually realised I forgot the start.It is as though the email would be a kind of outfoxing, associations, a card box even of smells as I remember the winter of 1991. See myself at Gatwick, without a penny in my pocket and the first person I ask the way speaks a strange dialect. But what is Charlie actually writing?Content!So to justify myself I must admit that I'm not sure at all, what is written because of my lacking English. At the same time I'm working on a translation of his pages of a long text, and am seriously wondering how we ever communicated 26 years ago?Maybe words are overvalued? Language at all? Do we all have to talk so much? Can we longer be silent? With each other and unconcerned about status and cognitive abilities.The letters in sentences, in paragraphs, in Times Roman, size 9, in an advised format, the log in, the google logo, that is displayed in the left top corner, there are hundreds of variations and thousands of synonyms, as though one were listening to music, as higher timbre they flood into one's head, not with sensual or haptic appreciation, but of a form of rationality, concerned only with knife-blade, sharp perception. I feel like I've had sugar, way too much sugar, the subtle hum of adverts, the addition of news, fakes, electronic triggers, my head is growing fatter and fatter, my brain collaborates with the sugar, without making any sense, digestive ability in flow.I'm off on a tangent.Yet that is exactly the point. The email cannot be held, I'm pulling it apart, but only answering in bits, yet there is the circle of confusion. Half-English, half-German, with a lot of subjects, relating to one mail, then replaced by another so we are stuffed with satellite-mail.No. No prose can develop, the whole thing is empty of meaning, the button for rubbish hovers on the screen.I try to lift myself out of chair, my brain clicking on assimilating stories that pop like soap bubbles.I play a long note on my flute, a d would be best and then a chord, on and on and on..and on.

Jean Findlay spoke and is still talking about Proustian memory and healing wounds...for Refugee Week

Jean is descended from CK Scott Moncrieff forced into exile,after being a fearless fighter in War, as homosexual (she was nominated for LAMBDA Award. This is particularly relevant with gay murderers still in Russia), with Bob Cooper, a passionate campaigner for rights and a Minister.

 

A letter Jean recently received which she talked of in Centre for Fiction, NY from a man relating working with war wounded from Iraq and Afghanistan, at Walter Reed recovery centre, said he read of Chasing Lost Time and CKSM's wounds with great interest..perhaps "beauty and rendering commonplace things that illuminated their beauty may have been important to Scott Moncrieff" So we "knit ourselves back together through memories, a creative process Re Membering," as Jean gently puts it.

 

Poet Bob Cooper is also coming with his new collection Everyone Turns

We all have a female and a male component, with

 

Feel very humbled by meeting and working with Ugandan Jade Jackson, who although she suffered torture, writes gratefully of "Freedom from Torture", formerly Medical Foundation as "a Mother to Millions of all colours" with PEN's Lucy Popescu she is now published and her moving poetry relevant to all; she writes of her forgotten country

Last spring we were interviewed for Women's Week Radio, invited all to play a piano on the beach,to Edinburgh, bringing many thousands to play music. We wish to continue building works in the South: Morphe is London, Crawley Brighton.."You won't heal anyone unless you have respect for their dignity" Jean Findlay, Jenny says in 'Enemy Territory' to doctor. She met legend Tadeusz Kantor, who let her uniquely study a year with him in Krakow, and she publishes beautiful memoirs, of those of perception

She with friends Sally and Lala supported some war veterans I met, inspiring me in my direction to show real life, as perceived and unadulterated..

Great, inspiring change,forward-moving:bring a poem or thought of your own

 

Event at Waterstones Piccadilly June 5th, Brave women and perspectives: 'Enemy Territory' by Jean Findlay and her 'Chasing Lost Time' and Ugandan writer Jade Amoli-Jackson

 

Hear Jean Findlay,at Waterstones also with Isis Olivier in conversation as wise women, self-reflecting on the world we inhabit..and its abuse..

from enemy territory: 'definition of piety; that which is beloved by the Gods, for the Gods, to the Gods; yet the Gods are constantly at war, constantly fighting. Wish they'd stop, don't you?' review "impossible to put the book down"

Scott Moncrieff was poet, writer, published by TS Eliot in the highly regarded 'Criterion' as well as GK Chesterton. His war Poetry is

unique, for defying the glamour or ennoblement which exudes from lesser writers' pages,

a disconnect

feminists and

activists need apply

 

 

Without doubt one of Edinburgh's strongest unique voices, Jean Findlay's plays absorb,as does rereading her account of her great-great-uncle, CK Scott Moncrieff "Chasing Lost Time".

 

Jean has found her voice, sharing his scorn for wars in her

harrowing, but ultimately uplifting account of her central character Jenny's illness, brought on by war:'The definition of piety; that which is beloved by the Gods, for the Gods, to the Gods; yet the Gods are constantly at war, constantly fighting. Wish they'd stop, don't you?'('I wish they'd drown themselves.')/'They are after all at home fighting, quarrelling, disputing territory. That's why Mount Olympus is in Cyprus. Gods have the same petty jealousies as us, only more glamour and fame, and that's what turns them into monsters. The problem of perception is to know which side of the camera you are on.'

 

A good writer is a friend, who tells you the truth on life, and both Jean and CK do this, they are Scotland's least-known intellectual lion/ess.

 

He not only was a lifelong friend of Vyvyan, Oscar Wilde's son, but also praised to the skies by Joseph Conrad: " I was much more interested and fascinated by your rendering than by Proust's creation", while Virginia Woolf copied his turns of phrase, in her major work, 'To the Lighthouse' and Joyce utilised some of his coinages in Ulysses. These are three of the best writers of the Twentieth Century, clearly consumed by his work. One might quote John Lennon on Yoko Ono, he is "one of the world's most famous, unknown artists".

 

At first sight Joseph Conrad's remark appears wonderful literary esprit de corps; but on closely examining the comparative French and English texts one grows aware how genuine, honest an appreciation and mark of respect it reveals. The work as translator especially of an 'intentionally dubious' work, is also interpreter, and a prize is named for Scott Moncrieff for French translation. His work is revolutionary, in the best Zeitgeist of Dada, as he sees himself as poet, not robot,imbibing fragments of consciousness coming fore, with qualities of cubists, or life's broken shards, differing angles adding dimensions.

 

A friend in the army remarked also of what was common knowledge of his bravery leading also:

"He would spy out German positions himself and would occasionally lead his men into battle, even though officers were supposed to remain behind (to shoot deserters). One of his men remembered him in these terms: “I can see him strolling about No Man’s Land as cool as if he were on the parade ground, seeking information and the position of the enemy … . On one occasion he brought back, as a souvenir, a German sandbag.” Over the course of the war, he won a Military Cross, the British War Medal, the Victory Medal, and other awards for service.

Jean has his panache for drawing others centre stage, his selfless integrity, and satirical wit.

For example, as talented with her unravelling of mental illness in a pregnant woman in the war, which draws on her family's pain at a lost member...

 

The exploration of these themes relates also for me to working with refugees, as well as migrants.

There was a story told by Jade Jackson, I heard, of the Ugandan genocide. I was amazed to hear of her bravery and positive outlook, it seems to be an ace in the pack of miserable stories, for it highlights how someone learns and grows.. She has seen her life in Uk as a blessing, and although still unaware of where her children are, so glowing a face filled with life, not with loss, filled with a faith in future and present it makes the mutterings of political elites in Parliament, or of disturbing racists so tiny-minded.

 

"I ran out of the house

Without packing anything

Not even my sanity " she wrote in a poem of her abuse, and emotional rape.

 

'No-one leaves her home unless she is running away from something, or someone has driven her away.'So Ugandan refugee Jade Jackson tells.

'There was a man in my village who had 'many eyes' as they say.

 

His ego earned him a spear in his backside'

She is by turns, wise, funny and witty, so to hear first hand recollections is a humbling.

With Jean and Isis Olivier, granddaughter of Sir Larry Olivier,we hope stories of transformation and wisdom will help bring fresh insights into life as a woman, fleeing mental walls or physical abuse.

 

Appreciative reviews of Jean's book: 'I found it impossible to put the book down.' 'To all of my fellow readers of the C.K. Scott Moncrieff translation of Proust's great work (which, many of his contemporaries claimed was a work of genius in and of itself):this lovely biography is for you.'

As a student I worked on a story about Grassmarket Project the theatre company that has often been noted as the inspiration for theatre ensembles of the marginal in Paris, and Berlin 'the Ratten007', who who won an 'Academy of Arts Award (they still tour internationally with People's Stage, Volksbuehne)

we encouraged collecting poetry from some of those participating,

as it seems a last resort for people without resources to express what they feel.

 

What also interests is the way that people who are seriously shaking up theatre from Grassmarket Project putting people from the street or young offenders on stage or Belarus making theatre about taboos is that they do not see themselves as political. 'That would be boring,' as Nikolai observes. 'Our theatre does not have a single political play in our repertoire' He prefers in fact to talk of 'uprightness', a much more adventurous, interesting topic which also reflects itself in the work of Isis Olivier who did our stage and fundraising; in spite of being eldest grandchild of Olivier she worked on an organic farm, spent time in Africa during the famines, and worked as a shepherdess before committing to her feminist painting. Or another Kate Smurthwaite who was part of our team at Chelsea who as well as being a feminist activist on Radio 4 adds comedy to her work. She has been subject to threatening tweets, even death threats which Rupert has been supporting her with legal advicem as he does for a vast array of endangered and vulnerable people. (It is only in later October that he is able to take time to visit London for a reading, having allegedly rallied locals against a vicious landlord trying to evict innocent elderly and others but this is something he could not comment on.)

 

If as people committed to work by those often marginalised we give a poetry award it is worth making it one that commits to helping those who are in distress either from a government or in deprived circumstances, trying to express themselves.

 

We attended the annual party of the Belarus Free Theatre which has made a record of being the first theatre company under a dictatorship to tour internationally and in their own country. It is worth also considering that they invited actors who would have to return to Minsk to be involved which

meant the freedom they experienced was limited.

Why do people talk of political theatre knowingly, when people who really need support have not interest in pure politics? Would it not be interesting to create a prize that demands

people should endeavour to do some service to community? Inspired by Natalia Koliade of Belarus Free Theatre being hacked we thought our Poetry Competition this year should look at how dictatorship conceals itself, whether with those on the edges of our society or of Eastern Europe: £500 first prize to be judged by Kate Smurthwaite, Isis Olivier, Rupert Ferguson as well as Editors Laura and Charlie Wiseman, with second prize of £300 and two more £100. The best poetry by people from young talent will be read at a venue to be announced, with a publication of the material to encourage them to further develop their work.

Inverse Narnia/Pacifists and Belarus

Is there a wooly dream of love beyond dictators?

Of wooly hats sewn full of dreams?

We normally expect to

Be able to find/A world where we can walk out of

Our bedroom

Sleepwalk through a wardrobe Into a better reality

It means Carrying the Cupboard/around looking for a room to set

It in where one can then/Feel hushed and Dressing gowned/

Dream like Oblomov