Why write? Mere promise of immeasurably massive skies.

The urge to write - the wings within

The urge to write – the wings within

Writing is one of the most beautiful expressions of who we are. Writing is pure self-expression, an ordering of the mind, the making of patterns and rhythms that seem to breathe with us and create something that is of us and yet becomes its own without us, living in the world in a different sphere that is no longer our brain but a connective dart weaving into other minds, influencing other lives. Writing as a craft makes those darts with subtle precision and powerful energy.

Jennifer Lean is a Cape Town poet and writer who is internet shy in this crazy, noisy world – and so she has these quiet moments of brilliance that catch in the mind like tiny stitches in the tapestry of a busy life. She doesn’t know how to share her work with the world – so I have decided to do it for her. And here and there, now and then, I will bring you a Jennifer Lean poem that will prove that the human mind is infinitely astonishing and, for some, set in rarefied airs we can only admire.

~ Why write ~

The written word is a
reaching out.
It is competitively squawking, bulge-blue-veined,
brittle-boned, fluff-bare baby birds
within the nest, stretching scrawny necks,
reaching always upward,
enthralled by the thrill of self-sound,
indignantly demanding
substance for the throat,
something solid in a
nebulous, insubstantial world
of unfathomed, as yet
unfathomable needs.
It is the right to be
angrily hungry
for acknowledgement of fears in the face of
daunting, dizzying expectations of

for it is a huge leap,
a potentially painful fall.
It is mere promise of
immeasurably massive skies
of movement.

It is an inchoate compulsion,
the written word,
a reaching out
from the infinite reach
of irresistibly untested
wings within.

~ Jennifer Lean ~

The balance between creative desire and the moment of execution.

Balance is art - the exact 'enough'.

Balance is art – the exact ‘enough’.

I’ve introduced Jennifer Lean to you before. So here is another quivering yet precise observation from her eloquent pen. As creative people – whether artists, writers, designers, musicians – we have all felt that curious sense of anticipation before we begin the birth of something entirely new: the burst of excitement, anticipation, that tingle of apprehension yet urge to experience the process of creation, the emergence of a dream, that perfect moment before a single drop of perspiration when everything is in balance, in harmony, in tune. That moment when you know something magical is about to happen and it will be the perfect ‘enough’ to change your world in a matter of moments.

by Jennifer Lean

Enough is not honoured. It is ignored
and therefore hard to know
when it arrives.
The weight of it in the palm
is gently neither here nor there
simply, subtly positioned
between too little and too much.
It sits somewhere
in unacknowledged neglect
between having had and wanting more.
It is that silence between having the thought
and uttering it
the spaces between stanzas of poems
between the visitation of meaning
and giving it shape.
It is fingers that are
perfectly poised
suspended in expectant motionlessness
before music emerges.


The Lost Treasures of Bad King John (plus other treasures both found and missing).

Originally posted on Stephen Liddell:

Have you ever wanted to get rich quick?  Long before Nigerian spammers were in on the act there was the art of metal-detecting.  Often metal-detecting enthusiasts are derided as being a little bit odd and depicted as spending their lives wondering around barren fields with not much to show for it but then one of them discovers a lost treasure and spends the rest of their lives still being the subject of jealousy the rest of us.

The largest UK hoard of Anglo Saxon treasure was found in a field near Lichfield in Staffordshire in July 2009, by metal detector enthusiast Terry Herbert.  His 7th Century hoard of 1,600 items including sword pommels, helmet parts and processional crosses was valued at £3.285m!

It was announced yesterday that Paul Coleman from the Weekend Wanderers Detecting Club discovered more than 5,000 coins buried inside a lead bucket two feet under a field near Aylesbury.  The…

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Most perfect description of the human voice – ever.

Sometimes there are people in this world who understand language, words, form and creation better than others. I have many favourite writers and poets that fit into this description. But no one more so than Jennifer Lean, a Cape Town poet whose words will leave you breathless. Somehow, in the fewest words possible she manages to cut you to the bone, strip away all pretenses and defenses, and lay bare the human condition. Her point, sharp as a fencer’s blade, is always made with perfect weight and delivery in the last line. She reaches a core in a reader’s heart, soul and spirit in a way that is indescribable to us mortals. But you will know it when you read it. I will simply leave you to digest.

What must stay

I live dutifully in my sunlight liquid spaces.
Daily I rinse traces of myself away.
Wash imbibed memories down drains.
Sometimes I baulk. Watch for days
as a feather brought in on a breeze
whispers its way along stretches
of my carpet. Watch spillages of books
heap where they hope not to be
in the way. Am seduced by
the singular perfection of a fossilised gecko
on a windowsill.

I watch the sooty stain above my fireplace
grow year by year.
Some signs of what one cannot see
must not be wiped away.


And then this extraordinary comment on Salli Terri’s voice:

From this to those

(Salli Terri, Bachianas Brasileiras No 5 – Aria, Heitor Villa-Lobos)

Salli Terri’s voice is unearthly.
It gathers up the scorch
of these fireside coals,
this sky, indigo
beyond the colour,
this inscrutable substance
of moon.
It gathers up all yearning,
this sound within wings, and flies.
It stretches itself infinitely
upward, infinitely outward,
becomes thin, ever thinner,
eventually evaporating
into those unknowable silences
where the human voice


And here is that music that inspired these beautiful words: Salli Terri

Listen – and read. It will blow you away!

Amazon and the ‘foreign’ writer

Mystery thriller

Mystery thriller

I live in South Africa and have several books (10) published on KDP. Amazon is refusing to pay me for book sales in certain global shops because I have not reached the obligatory $100 dollars sales target. As I have been in these shops for 3 years now, with minimal sales in these areas, I am unlikely to reach their target until I’m 140 years old. So I cancelled those shops on my list of outlets and requested the money owed. And guess what? They refuse to pay me unless I close my entire KDP account and then – and only then – will they pay me all monies owed.

Does this in any way make sense to you? Would you classify this as fair? Would you call it good business relations? I find it bizarre – and also a framework of how large organizations so often become detached from the real world and assume themselves omnipotent and unaccountable.

Here’s the other interesting thing if you live beyond what Amazon considers the ‘real’ world – they pay you by sending a check through the post. I kid you not. They refuse my numerous requests to be paid via EFT or (even easier) PayPal. It is as though there is only America and Europe and no one else really counts. I have explained that South Africa has a very sophisticated banking system but a very untrustworthy postal system. I have told them I have a PayPal account specifically for receiving book payments. Their response (for months now) ‘we’re looking into better ways to provide you with a better service’ – or some such wording. A check through the post! It makes you want to weep.

A check through the post means I have to drive to the bank and find parking (petrol and parking fees). Then I have to wait to be attended to (sometimes up to an hour). Then I have to fill in pages and pages of forms – and then once this joy is over, the bank takes 25% of the money for the processing charges.

Psychological suspense thriller

Psychological suspense thriller

And then the other thing Amazon does to ‘foreign’ writers. They add $2.00 onto every one of my books selling in certain ‘foreign’ shops. Why? Because of ‘taxes’ and ‘operating costs’. Two whole dollars per BOOK! Consequently, my sales are compromised in these shops anyway – no wonder I will never make their $100 target. I have never felt so ‘punished’ for dealing with an organization in my life before. Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Smashwords and Apple never mess with my book prices (always $2.99) and they sell all over the world. Why is Amazon so different and peculiar and difficult?

So here’s the thing: I have closed all Amazon global shops for my books except for UK and US outlets – and of course, South Africa – otherwise I see a page without pricing details.

Why are writers outside of the US and UK treated like this? Why have GLOBAL shops if you haven’t got the wherewith all to manage things in an up to date and equitable manner?

A warning to all ‘foreign’ writers: Amazon will see you as an odd, quirky, weird, possibly of Martian extraction – and definitely with a mindset only capable of operating in the 1960’s.

But then maybe it’s just South Africans they single out for this suffering. And then, honestly, to be fair to Amazon – there are days when we do fit that description rather well.

But seriously, guys – a check through the post? Who does that in 2014?

Happy writing!




D-Day Commemorations in Pictures

Malla Duncan:

Stephen Liddell gives a stunning pictorial remembrance of D-Day – not to be missed!

Originally posted on Stephen Liddell:

Most of the D-Day veterans are sadly no longer with us but this past weekend has seen commemorations with some of the few more survivors.  All photos from BBC, Daily Mail, Daily Telegraph, Getty Images, AP.

Paris Guard of Honour A Paris Guard of Honour escorts The Queen down the Champs Elysees in Paris

The Queen in Paris The Queen is the only state leader who served during WW2 and here she is laying a wreath at the tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Paris

A number of events were also held in Portsmouth which was the Headquarters for D-Day planning including a Drumhead ceremony, commemorations and a special flypast by the Red Arrows acrobatic team.

Red Arrows The Red Arrows perform a fly-by and stunt-show at Portsmouth, the D-Day Headquarters.

Allied Flags Flags of the U.K. and U.S. are flown on the south coast of England.

British Veteran A British D-Day veteran visits the grave of his friend, killed 70 years ago today.

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