Svera Jang

A friend let me borrow the book Svera Jang written by Seema Gill. It seemed very promissing, written by a woman originally from India who later lived in Denmark, various countries in Africa and eventually in England. It also promised to be very personal.

I love reading. It’s one of my favourite things to do and a good excuse while commuting or waiting, to hold your book as a barrier against people around you. But I also know that when I start being reluctant to read, I don’t really like the book I’m lugging around with me. Svera Jang is unfortunately one of those books. It’s one where I wonder why I even decided to continue reading with so many books on my wish-list. I suddenly prefer my mp3 to keep me company on the tube rather than my book.

I really wanted to like this book. It’s well written and in a very unusual style, with poetry to complement the story. Gill must have lived an extraordinary life but the book only gives a glimps of it and as I near the end of the book, I’m still wondering what her life story is and I feel a little bit let down that I have grasped so few of the facts.

A writer as good as Gill, should be appreciated and I hope that I’m simply not her reader.

GFMA Poetry and Spoken Words

I’m due again, to read at an open mic night. Thursday the 27th of July, next week, I will be part of the line up for Global Fusion’s Poetry and Spoken Word night at the Guardhouse Pub in Woolwich, London.

I have probably mentioned before that reading to an audience is not really my idea of fun. Although I don’t consider myself shy, I don’t really enjoy having the focus of attention drawn to me. I have on the other hand come to terms with that as a writer these events need to be attended, because if no one knows who you are then no one will follow your writing progress or buy what you publish. I would consider myself a successful writer if I have readers who like my stories and poetry, even if readers come in few numbers.

I tend to leave to the audience whether to like it or not. I think a lot of people feel self-conscious about their writing, that what they write is not good enough or that people won’t like it. There are so many writers out there though and I don’t feel that I’m either better or worse than any of them. Some will like what I write and some will not. If you try to please everyone, you’re in for a pitfall.

Tomorrow my business cards promoting my short-story “Let me tell you a story while you sleep” will arrive. Another promotional tool that may or may not work.

“Let me tell you a story while you sleep” is now available through Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Apple iBooks and other online stores in the Smashwords’ distribution chain.

 

I’m a Poet

At the end of last year I promised myself that this year, I wasn’t going to be so busy. There was hardly one evening in the week that I wasn’t booked up with something. Guess what, I’m right back to getting myself caught up in too many things – again.

Monday I joined a new writers group. I’m now part of three. Fair enough they are all different, which is why I find each of them interesting to participate in. The new one is poetry focused. I have never seen myself as a poet, although that is what I started out writing, but poetry for me has always been a way of venting what I feel at any specific moment. However, after 15 (or more) years of writing poetry, perhaps it’s time to take myself a little bit more seriously. Hence the new writers group.

Writers groups in general can be a very good way to improve as a writer. The first group I joined was Greenwich Writers. We submit our texts beforehand and everyone has read and is prepared to give feed-back when we meet. The feed-back is always very straight to the point and constructive although we can end up in the weirdes discussions sometimes. I’ve had enormous help perfecting texts with the help of this group.

The second group I joined was Global Fusion Music and Arts’ writers group. Global Fusion’s motto is to build confidence through arts, we therefore don’t give criticism in the sense of finding weaknesses in the texts. Instead we focus on what we appreciate. We pick a theme and write a text on that theme for the next meeting. Each person read their piece for the others to comment on afterwards. It’s a great creativity exercise. Often you hear the theme and think, “no way, I’ll be able to write something about that,” but somehow you do.

This last writers group, National Poetry Society’s Greenwich stanza group, worked in a similar way to Greenwich Writer’s with the exception that you bring your poem to the group to be read out load for the other’s to comment on. It works with poetry but I wouldn’t want use that format with longer pieces. The weird moment comes after reading when it goes quiet and you sit their waiting for the other’s to re-read your poem before they start commenting. I got some excellent comment though on a poem that I’ve considered finished for years.

Time for a re-write

 

Let Me Tell You A Story While You Sleep

Last weekend, my long term project of self-publishing my short story Let me tell you a story while you sleep, came to its first conclusion. It’s been a long time coming, as I looked back and realised that the first draft for this story was written three years ago. It has been a steep learning curve and at times it has seemed impossible to get to “published” as life constantly threw things in the way. It therefore feels like a great accomplishment that it has now been completed. The ebook (only ebook this time) is available through Smashwords who also distribute to Barnes & Nobel, Kobo, and Inktera among others. I am still hoping to find my name on Apple ibooks. There are also several library services listed as their distributors. It was a difficult decision to use Smashwords instead of Amazon but in the end I preferred Smashwords’ services. The ideal would be a Smashwords located in the UK or at least in Europe with distribution all over the world.

Now I go into the next phase, to try to drum up interest for my book, or at least let possible readers know that it’s available. A new challenge and a new learning curve have begun. It also means that I can again focus more on writing new pieces. More about that in the next blog post.

If you wish to buy Let me tell you a story while you sleep visit Smashwords at the below link or check with one of their many distributors. At Smashwords you can read 35% of the book before buying. Happy reading! I hope you enjoy my story and stay put for what my next writing project will be.

 

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/726968

Let Me Tell...You Sleep.A

A young woman, newly arrived in London, finds herself drawn into a romance she wasn’t looking for. Will this man prove her wrong about staying unattached, or is he going to be yet another empty promise?

Whispers in the Mists of Time

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I am continuing the trend of reviewing my friends’ artistic endeavours. This time, a poetry collection by Louisa Le Marchand. Louisa is one of the founders of Global Fusion Music and Arts as well as part of one of the writers groups I attend. I was therefore familiar with her writing even before I started reading Whispers in the Mists of Time. I love her short-stories – always with an unexpected twist at the very end – and you always wonder whether it is really fiction or if she’s writing from her own experience.

Whispers in the Mists of Time is a lovely collection of poems. Interestingly, the poems are arranged in alphabetical order. One would think that might create jarring themes and rhythms, but instead the book has a natural flow that makes it easy to read. What I especially like about the book is that it feels like a collection of one person’s life wisdom – one who has lived an extraordinary yet ordinary life. The book feels like a trusted friend whom I can turn to during my own life journey.

Many of the poems are existentialistic, dealing with themes of what it is to be human, to live life on your own terms and what we learn through the rougher parts of life. It also celebrates being alive, being part of this world and it has a few really witty, funny poems thrown inbetween.

 

Your Birthday

Your birthday is special,

Though others may not always remember, you should never

forget.

 A celebration of the day you were born,

The moment of your first breath,

Life may not have been easy, no one said that it would,

But you have lived in a world filled with wonder and morning

breaks every day.

———

The book is self-published and sold by Global Fusion Music and Arts. You can get in touch at globalfusionarts@yahoo.co.uk

 

Coffee as a way of life

My Global Fusion writer’s group has started up again after the summer. Our theme this month was coffee cultur which made me write this very subjective little piece about the café scene in Gothenburg. Do you fellow Gothenburgh habitants, past or present, agree?

There are about 900 cafés in Gothenburg, the second largest city of Sweden with a population of about 550,000, but Gothenburg is not even considered a café city. There are other much smaller towns that claim that title.

There are the trusted chains like Condeco, Le Pain Francais or Espresso House, where you can drink any kind of exotic coffee you can think of and you have a selection of teas that could rival a tea shop. There are the famous cafés in the old part of town, like the one that sell cinnamon buns large enough for four people to share. There are the traditional patisseries where you can only get tea in coffee cups and filter coffee with or without milk. To eat, there are the traditional open sandwiches with prawns, cheese and slices of peppers, or meatballs with beetroot salad. There are the new bakeries that also want in on the coffee crowd. The sweet smell of newly baked bread that mix with the more tangent smell of coffee. They will of course also happily provide you with your sandwich cake for those special occasions.

You have your favourites of course. My favourite used to be on Avenyn, smack in the centre of the city. Cramped in between all the nightclubs and bars was this little tiny place on two floors. All the furniture was picked up from the second hand shop, looking nice but proper old and eccentric. All the plates and cups were different with the only thing in common that they had blue details in their patterns. As a teenager, my friends and I would pop in there before or after going to the movies to have a bowl of tea and something sweet, usually a chocolate cake or a berry crumble.

Most cafés now a days serve proper lunches. There is the regular assortment of sandwiches that often come with a salad. There are quiches and couscous or quinoa salads. There are pasta and soup of the day. Usually, cafés are slightly cheaper too than going to a restaurant. Forget about Pret, Eat and Costa. They don’t exist. You have your mental list of where to go for coffee, where to go for lunch, where to go when you want a quiet space for a chat or to work on your computer. You know which cafés to go to that are open late; you know where to get your morning coffee on the go.

For lunch, I liked Kosmos, just off the main shopping street that served lovely Thai soups. There was the temptation to go to Steinbrenner & Nyberg for soup lunch and cake. They make the most fabulous cakes and if you go there for lunch, you get soup, freshly baked bread and can taste as many and as much as you like of their various cakes. The best part…their soups are actually amazing too.

As you might suspect by now, “having a coffee” is a way of life in Sweden. That is how I catch up with my friends. Whenever you want to meet up with someone and you don’t have any fixed plans, “let’s have a coffee”. You’ll meet somewhere that’s convenient and there is always a café around the corner. After the initial decision of having a tea or a coffee and whether to be sensible and have a sandwich or to treat yourself to something sweet, you’ll find yourself a corner to have chat. Tea often comes in the size of a small soup bowl and fresh hot water can usually be had for free. If you’re the Cafe Latte type, it can get expensive. ‘Cause, let’s face it, you’ll spend at least an hour there, catching up on life, love, work and whatever else might be going on. Issues will be discussed, dissected and turned over again. Tears might come, laughter for sure.

No matter how many cafés there are in Gothenburg they are generally busy. In the morning you have the early birds and the breakfast-and-coffee-on-the-go crowd. Then comes the self-employed and work-from-home people with their computers in tow. In between them, sit the diligent university students trying to do some homework before their classes. The Latte mums come at all hours with babies and their buggies blocking everyone’s way. Busy career women who can’t just stay at home and look after their babies, meet up with their maternity groups, having large Cafe Lattes and discussing how wonderful it is to be a mum, although I suspect most of them miss being at work. At midday come the office crowd and the shoppers to get lunch and a chat with their co-workers or friends. More students drop in, now of all ages and in groups. After classes it’s time for group projects and to help each other out with assignments. At 5-6 o’clock the after-work bunch starts to arrive, wanting to catch up with friends before going home. Better to have a sandwich and a coffee with a friend you haven’t seen in a while than to go home to the same boring stuff on TV. At eight, the first cafés start closing but don’t worry there are those that stay open until eleven at least.

There are things I miss about Sweden such as “having a coffee,” because, as I tried to explain to my American friend once, when she said Americans don’t like coffee enough for cafés, in Sweden cafés has nothing to do with coffee. There is always time for a coffee, that is to say, there’s always time to catch up with a friend.

 

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Condeco Östra Hamngatan

 

Bards Without Borders

Those of you who have visited my About page might have noticed that I am a supporter of the local charity Global Fusion Music and Arts. At the moment they hold, among so many other things, open mic evenings once a month. Yesterday’s opens mic had Bards Without Borders as the special guest.

Bards Without Borders are a group of poets and writers who all have the experience of being refugees or immigrants. Currently, they are performing a set in respons to the 400 year anniversary of Shakespeare’s death. It was really special to experience this group of poets. There was much to take in; their experiences of fleeing their home countries, their amazing poems and what kind of influence Shakespeare has had within their native cultures.

The most enjoyable part was to hear them read favourite passages from Shakespeare’s complete works in their native languages. It really brought out the beauty of Shakespeare’s words. Even if I cannot understand Swahili or Spanish or any of the other languages, there is a beauty in the rhythm, the word flow and the articulation of the text that makes it wonderful to listen to even when you don’t understand.

The next Global Fusion open mic night will be the 29 of July. Anyone near or far from Greenwich, London is welcome to come by. The special guest will be Cheng Yu, a Chinese Pipa player.

If you wish to find out more about Bards Without Borders you can find them on Facebook.

 

Bards without boarders