As I write
Church bells tell
This sunlit day
Must pass away
And I must write
Whilst there is light.
As I write
Church bells tell
This sunlit day
Must pass away
And I must write
Whilst there is light.
In a half dream
On my changing screen.
Oh! sweet sleep
Make me free
But no, for poetry
In “A Letter On Justice And Open Debate” https://harpers.org/a-letter-on-justice-and-open-debate/, the authors JK Rowling and Margaret Atwood (amongst many other authors and academics), speak out against what they label as “cancel culture”. They condemn the growing tendency to silence (or attempt to silence) those who express opinions which offend particular groups or individuals. And argue that the best way to deal with views with which one disagrees is by engaging in free and open debate, rather than attempting to silence those expressing such opinions.
The letter has provoked controversy. Take, for example this response from a WordPress blogger:
“there is no such thing as cancel culture. This is fans deciding they do not want to associate with sexist, racist, ableist, bigoted authors/artists/what have you, and deciding to not purchase future works from them.
It is also not censorship because the government is not coming in and forcing these authors to remove their books from store shelves or anything like that. Fans are simply refusing to support these artists anymore. Publishers have that same right. So do booksellers.” (see https://amberskyeforbes.wordpress.com/2020/07/08/cancel-culture/).
Whilst the blogger is correct that the government is not forcing anyone to stop stocking, publishing or buying books and/or expressing certain opinions, the fact that some authors are, for example removing their books from JK Rowling’s publisher is intended to put pressure on said publisher to stop publishing Rowling’s works. The publisher has (quite rightly) not bowed to such pressure. However, where they to do so, this could have the effect of depriving Rowling (or anyone else who expresses a controversial opinion) of their source of income. Sure someone as famous as JK Rowling would, in all probability find another publisher, but what about lesser known writers? In the latter case such people might well be deprived of their source of income. Depriving someone of their (legal) source of income is a big thing to have on one’s conscience is it not?
I do, of course defend the right of people to spend their income as they wish, and withdraw their books from particular publishers, for we live in a free society. However, actively calling for others to boycott the works of particular people (merely because one disagrees with something they have said) can very easily spill over into bullying. Society (or a section of it) does not possess the power to censor and/or ban opinions. It can, however create a climate in which authors (and others) fear opening their mouths in case they offend a particular group or individual. This is a very unhealthy state of affairs.
I have been told by one particular blogger (via a comment on their blog) to “educate myself”, as I expressed an opinion with which they took issue. My readers wont be surprised to learn that my response (had I voiced it, which I did not) would have been unprintable! The blogger in question was, of course perfectly entitled to their opinion (as am I). however telling people to “educate themselves” is not the best way to gain friends and influence people. Such statements come across as arrogant and are not the best way of encouraging free and open debate.
An acquaintence told me that he was thinking of writing a book on HIV/AIDS. The main character in his novel would be gay and HIV positive. However, my acquaintence (not himself being gay) was worried that where he to write his novel he would be castigated for writing about a subject of which he has no (direct) personal experience. Consequently that book will, in all probability never get written.
Of course when one writes or speaks about a subject about which one has no direct experience, one should be sure to do research prior to doing so. However, if someone wants to make a fool of themselves by writing a poorly researched book, or speaking on a subject with little knowledge of said subject, they have the right so to do. Of course we the reader/listner have the perfect right to point out their errors. Indeed it may be our duty to do so. But what neither the state nor society should do is to call for poorly researched books to be banned. Nor should either the state or society prevent people from expressing offensive opinions.
The advocacy of violence to achieve political or other ends is a criminal matter and anyone advocating it’s use should feel the full force of the law. However disagreeing with someone is not violence and its dangerous when people contend that the expression of measured opinion constitutes violence. As someone who is disabled (I am registered blind) I would be offended where someone to say that disabled people have no right to be employed, and that all anti-discrimination legislation should be repealed, leaving it to the discretion of employers whether to employ the disabled. However me finding this view particularly objectionable does not mean that the person expressing it has committed an act of violence. They have not. They have expressed an opinion which, in a democratic society they are perfectly entitled to do, and the best way of me dealing with their perspective is to argue against it. I may feel angry but the person has done no violence to me and I should not hound them on social media, nor should I call for them to be deprived of their source of income.
We live in a liberal society and long may we continue to do so.
Being visually impaired, all of my writing takes place on my laptop, using Job Access with Speech (JAWS) software, which converts text into speech and braille enabling me to use a standard Windows computer or laptop. (For anyone interested in finding out more about JAWS,please visit this link, https://www.freedomscientific.com/products/software/jaws/
Given my reliance on computers for writing, reading the news and carrying out other tasks, I was fascinated by a recent post on Interesting Literature concerning the origin of the word “computer”. The word computer is much older than the 20th century, as you will find if you read this interesting article, https://interestingliterature.com/2020/02/origin-word-computer-etymology/.
Gabriela M, a writer whose work I admire, has been awarded Author of the Year 2019 by Spillwords Press. You can read Gabriela’s interview here, https://spillwords.com/author-of-the-year-2019-interview/.
A fascinating review of a book about authors and their pets, https://interestingliterature.com/2019/11/08/alex-johnson-famous-writers-pets-review/. I knew about Edward Lear’s cat Foss, but had no idea that Byron took with him to university one bear (and not the kind of bear one buys in a toy shop)!
I grew up with dogs and still remember with great affection my first dog, Jet. Jet was a black lab/alsatian cross and loved people. He was though not fond of other dogs and (if he got out of the house) would chase cars!
I am now working with my fourth guide dog, a brindle lab/retriever called Trigger, who has just reached the grand old age of 10.
Trigger has featured in several of my poems, including “The Hungry Hound”, https://kmorrispoet.com/2016/02/03/the-hungry-hound/, and “Dog and Ball”, https://kmorrispoet.com/2019/02/18/dog-and-ball-2/.
A spirited defence of the use of the word “said”, for which I have considerable sympathy, https://theimaginativeconservative.org/2019/10/literary-value-ten-cent-word-maura-roan-mckeegan.html.
Whilst it is, of course, good practice to use alternative words for “said” where appropriate, in many instances this simple, 4 letter word is the best choice for writers.
As always, I would be interested in the views of my readers.
Hi everyone. This is Lilie the Westie.
You know what? I love friends! My Cavapoo brother, Logan, and the squeaky things in cages do too. So… Are you a bird, cat, chinchilla, degu, dog, gerbil, guinea pig, hamster, rabbit, rat, or other non-human creature? Do you share your life with a human calling themselves a writer? Yes, blogging counts. If you answered, “Yes,” to both of those, would you like to become a friend of Furkid Friday? If the answer is still, “Yes,” here’s how to do it:
Send an email with the subject, “Friends Of Furkid Friday,” to email@example.com asking to be interviewed (you have to do the subject thing, or Mummy might accidentally delete it). One of us will then send you the questions you need to answer for us to set up the post. Simply fill out the document, and send it back to us. Once we have all the information we need, we’ll set up and schedule your post, after which we’ll let you know the date it will
go live, and provide you with a direct link (which will only work once the post is live). Then it’s just a case of waiting for your post to go live, and sharing it around once it is. It would be great if you could comment on it, if possible, too. We love comments!
Interviews are posted on a first come first served basis. Also, we won’t chase you for your responses, because I’m too busy chasing balls, Logan’s too busy chasing his tail and anything else that moves, Mummy’s too busy chasing her next story idea, and the squeaky things in cages… Well, I’m not sure what kinds of things they chase. The point is, though we want you to come be a friend of Furkid Friday, if you want to have your interview show up on our blog, after we send you the questions, you have to remember to send us your answers yourself.
After each interview post goes live, they will be shared in all the places Mummy shares all our blog posts, and a link for the post will be added to the list at the bottom of the “Friends Of Furkid Friday” page too.
Do you want to see some examples of the posts? Check out the friends already featured on the “Friends Of Furkid Friday” page at https://ziglernews.blogspot.com/p/blog-page.html
Lots of licks,
I am honoured to post the below interview with Gabriela M, a writer I greatly admire, and I’m extremely grateful to Gabriela for her kind words regarding my own work. You can find Gabriela M online here, https://shortprose.blog/
1. What is the first book you remember having read?
Kevin, before I answer your questions allow me to thank you for this interview. I greatly admire your poetry. I am honored to be your guest.
The first book I remember reading apart from Snow White and other children’s books is Jules Verne’s Around the World in Eighty Days. I was fascinated by it.
2. In relation to question 1, What impression did the book make on you?
It had quite an effect on my life. I was very young when I read it. After reading it I got this idea that I must travel to see the world. The desire to see the world caused me to attempt to run away from home.
My parents loved me very much. I had a happy childhood. Can you imagine my parents’ shock when I first ran away from home? I was a little girl walking the streets by myself, talking to myself, and marveling at every new thing I saw. The police found me not too far from our home. Even though my parents started to lock the front yard gate I managed to do it again. My mother asked me why I was doing it. I don’t remember what I answered. According to her my response was invariable: “I want to see the world like those guys in that book.”
Until this day my desire to see the world is still alive. There are quite a few countries to which I still have yet to travel. However, today I know that it’s not only about seeing the world. It’s also about looking for something, something that I cannot define. It is an externalization of that for which my soul still looks.
3. Do you recall your first literary composition and, if so can you describe it?
My first novel. One morning, out of the blue, I told my mother: “I am going to write a book.” She looked at me incredulously. Anyway, the book has two plans: one reflects the experience of traveling; the other a night conversation with one of my friends. It’s like watching two movies at the same time.
The scenes alternate with apparently no connection. After I finished, I did not have a title and I had no idea what to do with the manuscript. My mother, who read every page and honestly marveled at my writing – well, after all she was my mother – took the manuscript and sent it to a publisher. I got a simple reply: “I am publishing, and I have a title for you.”
The preface was written by an university professor. It was very laudatory. I was very grateful, yet ready to move on. However, one thing written in that preface stayed with me: “This book urges us to find an answer to an important question: Quels sentiments combleront jamais l’existence inexistante des hommes de notre temps? [What feelings will ever fill the non-existent existence of the men of our time?] The book was not written in French. I am pretty sure that was a quote. The funny thing is that I’ve never found the quote anywhere. I’ve never asked him about it. However, the question is timely, which is why I mention it.
4. What inspires you to write?
Pain, love, devastation. I answered this question in another interview. Nothing has changed.
5. What, in your view constitutes poetry?
I do not know what constitutes poetry. Yet I learned from Socrates what enables us to write poetry. I am quoting now: “I decided that it was not wisdom that enabled poets to write their poetry, but a kind of instinct or inspiration, such as you find in seers and prophets who deliver all their sublime messages without knowing in the least what they mean.”
6. Where, in your view does poetry end and prose begin?
I do not know where poetry ends, and prose begins.
Some people argue that poetry utilizes the language for its aesthetic and evocative qualities in order to hide real feelings. Antithetically, it is argued
that the banal language is used to write prose, i.e. to tell a story. I disagree on both counts.
I quoted Socrates when it came to poetry. I am going to quote my favorite novelist, Lawrence Durrell, when it comes to writing a book: “A novel should be an act of divination by entrails, not a careful record of a game of pat-ball on some vicarage lawn!”
7. Do you prefer to write in free verse or rhyme? If you have a preference, please can you explain it?
I have absolutely no preference. Good poetry is good poetry. I write in both.
8. Could you share a poem or other written composition with my readers, please?
Meadows where trees sleep, and rivers stretch like cats.
Fairies dance tarantella in the air.
Your purple lips reflect the shadows of the women you will love.
Your eyes as thirsty as the surface of the moon.
9. Do you have any advice for people who would like to write but are not sure how to start doing so?
I hate to advise anybody except for my students. Most people who think they advise others end up lecturing them. It’s terrible. All I am going to say here is that there is always a way. Those who want to find it will find it.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
Kevin, I want to thank you again for your kindness. It means a lot to me. Equally I want to thank everyone who reads this interview and wish them a fruitful journey in the world of writing.
Sometimes I write at night
And come the morning light
I take up my pen again.
I shall lay aside
And not take it up again,
And the night
Shall take what I write,
For the landlord must call time
On my rhyme.