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‘Fragments of Inheritance’ by Karin Heyer (Fragment 3, FreeSpace #3)

17 Dec

Fragments

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‘Whatever else it is autobiography is not non-fiction’

(Timothy Dow Adams, Modern Fiction Studies, 40)

Welcome to Karin’s last FreeSpace on ArtiPeeps  in which she has been exploring the relationship between autobiography and fiction through her own autobiographical story ‘Fragments of Inheritance’. Within her three slots on ArtiPeeps she has offered up, in sequence, a part of her story along with an audio reflection of her response to the particular fragment that we have featured. This week it’s Fragment 3 and the concluding part of her story. Karin lived through a very particular part of European history (WWII) and her work engages with very significant subject matter that is universally meaningful and individually personal. We hope you enjoy Karin’s last exploration.

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Fragments of Inheritance

Fragment 3

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**

She needed distraction from her thoughts. She chose to go to the City of Ely and visit Ely Cathedral. Along the winding road to this ancient place, suddenly, this magical building rises out of the flat landscape on the right-hand side and after a while the road bends and then strangely the cathedral appears to be on the other side of the road!!! There she is, Ely Cathedral, story of survival, beautiful and wise. She enters with a serious heart, it is Remembrance Day. She walks to the Octagon, turns left into the heart of the place reaching the ‘Showcases of Remembrance’, where on this day the letter ‘M’ mourns the lives of soldiers who lost their lives in WW2.

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She lights a candle and remembers them.

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living for the evidence of remembrance 1995
mourning: the dead
madness of persecution
lunacy of war
the irreparable destruction of children in war
disrespect for the preciousness of human
life of all kind
forgive or not forgive
but tell your story of that dark time
for the sake of time to come.

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 You can find Fragment 1 here and Fragment 2 here

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Biography

I was born on the 4th of November 1937, just one day before Gun-powder Day! So, I celebrated my entrance with a BANG, yet far away from England then, in fact, in Leipzig, Germany. After the end of the Second World War, Leipzig in Saxony became part of East-Germany, which I left, illegally, in 1953. My family and I settled in West-Berlin, where I went to High-School, when finished there I left Berlin for Cambridge, England. I was a student of English for a while, took a BA Honours Degree in European Thought and Literature and English History at Anglia Polytechnic University, where I also took a MA in Women’s Studies with a Dissertation on German History. I became a teacher of the German Language,Literature and History during my working life. I have now retired from teaching and find myself writing, reading and enjoying life to the full.

As yet Karin does not have a website, but you can make contact with Karin via ArtiPeeps through the comment box on this post or contact form on the ‘What’s On’ Page.

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* FreeSpace offers any creative or group from any discipline  3 post slots on ArtiPeeps which can be taken in sequence or in a cluster for showcasing, self-expression or projects (encouraged). If you are interested in taking up a FreeSpace slot in our next run of work please do get in contact via the comment box or contact form on the What’s On Page  You’d be welcomed.

‘Fragments of Inheritance’ by Karin Heyer (Fragment 2, FreeSpace #2)

11 Dec

Fragments

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‘Whatever else it is autobiography is not non-fiction’

(Timothy Dow Adams, Modern Fiction Studies, 40)

Welcome to Karin’s second  FreeSpace on ArtiPeeps  in which she is going to be exploring the relationship between autobiography and fiction through her own autobiographical story ‘Fragments of Inheritance’. Within her three slots on ArtiPeeps she will be offering up, in sequence, a part of her story along with an audio reflection of her response to the particular fragment that we have featured. This week it’s Fragment 2. Karin lived through a very particular part of European history (WWII) and her work engages with very significant subject matter that is universally meaningful and individually personal. We hope you enjoy Karin’s exploration.

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Fragments of Inheritance

Fragment 2

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Now she returned to Leipzig after an absence of 34 years. She is on her way to visit a friend to whom she only had written or sent parcels at Christmas-time, because that was all she could do. The car turned a corner, here she was: Karl-Liebknecht-Srasse, 91, Leipzig, Germany, we are one country again. One country. East-Germany had seized to exist, but the houses and the ruins told a different story. Hitler’s legacy was still visible here and she recalled the horrors of war, the Holocaust, the destruction of men, women and children of all races, beliefs and talents, whose lives she mourned.

This was not a country of which she could be proud.

She greeted her friend with a full heart. She talked, but she was burning to see the centre of the city again. She wanted to discover her childhood at will. She wanted to meet the long-buried other. She walked along the streets, where she knew she had experienced this architecture before, saw the trams rattling along, ‘kling’, ‘kling’. She does not take a tram, she savours the walk, she fathoms the atmosphere, slowly reaching the centre of her birthplace. She stands bemused on the Karl-Marx-Platz, the clock is on the hour, sombre bells suddenly sound, hit her ear: the bell-ringers strike the hour. Back, back, backwards I go. I stood here before! I have heard these bells long ago. Yes, when I was little, just seven years old, 1944. I remember this song, this melody of bells. I glide backwards into my past. It was war then, when peoples purple blood burst, bells weep, where she learned the meaning of ‘Angst’.

And there she was once again amidst a familiar sound-scape and heavy inheritance, facing her fears still living and breathing in the Now, still vivid, visceral…

…and all the memories and circumstance melted through once again…

Cellars of Fear

This 4. December 1944, NIGHT, sounds of sirens, get the children, house shaking, lights fade, people running into cellars, trying to save their lives.

I choke because of smoke in the cellar, the cellar an awesome place, huge pipes run through it, modern technology – a central heating system, it could burst.

It is utter darkness, will I get out of this cauldron of misery seven years old, having lost a just war against Hitler when I was born in 1937. Evil starting under the guise of progress in 1939.

I am still speechless now in 1995, thinking of cruelty, the holocaust, suffering that need not be.

My memories of war are horrific: stifling smoke in the cellar, my granny-aged, my baby-sister in pram not conceiving this lunacy or innocence conceiving lunacy, my mother trying to rescue some possessions from our home above burning. An old man – not fit for fighting in the war came to our cellar. He took me into his arms, carried me covered with a wet sack through the burning streets of Leipzig. All streets around us burning houses, full of lives trying to survive. Flying burning beams fell beside our distracted heads seeking safety in a street blocks away which did not burn yet. No thought of my mother, sister, grandmother, just being saved for some saner place in this burning inferno. My mother, baby-sister, grandmother were saved the same way.

All I can remember are cellars of fear, but escaping into what? What kind of life could there be after that.

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Yes, what life? This burning inferno was deeply buried into her subconscious. But now she must live forwards. A sun-beam struck her, today there was a blue, kind sky above her, the dominant sky of the Fens of East-Anglia, where she now lived.

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Biography

I was born on the 4th of November 1937, just one day before Gun-powder Day! So, I celebrated my entrance with a BANG, yet far away from England then, in fact, in Leipzig, Germany. After the end of the Second World War, Leipzig in Saxony became part of East-Germany, which I left, illegally, in 1953. My family and I settled in West-Berlin, where I went to High-School, when finished there I left Berlin for Cambridge, England. I was a student of English for a while, took a BA Honours Degree in European Thought and Literature and English History at Anglia Polytechnic University, where I also took a MA in Women’s Studies with a Dissertation on German History. I became a teacher of the German Language,Literature and History during my working life. I have now retired from teaching and find myself writing, reading and enjoying life to the full.

As yet Karin does not have a website, but you can make contact with Karin via ArtiPeeps through the comment box on this post or contact form on the ‘What’s On’ Page.

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Karin will be returning with Fragment 3 of ‘Fragments of Inheritance’ on Tuesday 17th December.

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* FreeSpace offers any creative or group from any discipline  3 post slots on ArtiPeeps which can be taken in sequence or in a cluster for showcasing, self-expression or projects (encouraged). If you are interested in taking up a FreeSpace slot in our next run of work please do get in contact via the comment box or contact form on the What’s On Page  You’d be welcomed.

‘Fragments of Inheritance’ by Karin Heyer (Fragment 1, FreeSpace #1)

4 Dec

Fragments

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‘Whatever else it is autobiography is not non-fiction’

(Timothy Dow Adams, Modern Fiction Studies, 40)

Welcome to Karin’s first FreeSpace on ArtiPeeps  in which she is going to be exploring the relationship between autobiography and fiction through her own autobiographical story ‘Fragments of Inheritance’. Within her three slots on ArtiPeeps she will be offering up, in sequence, a part of her story along with an audio reflection of her response to the particular fragment that we have featured. Karin lived through a very particular part of European history (WWII) and her work engages with very significant subject matter that is universally meaningful and individually personal. We hope you enjoy Karin’s exploration.

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Fragments of Inheritance

Fragment 1

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‘standing in the shadow of Hitler

born 1937

condemned 1939, just two years old

attempting redemption 1983

living for the evidence of remembrance 1995′

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She was born with a heavy inheritance. She felt her moon-baked icy heart wanting to melt the shock of recognition of deeds done between 1939 – 1945. That scar rested upon her. This bloody war weighed on her creating a violent hatred of war within her heart. This in turn nurtured a deep love of peace, and fueled her need to work for reconciliation between the two nations she most cherished, England and Germany.

Now, she lives in England.

It was a splendid, warm early spring morning when she looked around her sun-lit room, a milky way of memories rushing through her: her books standing upright as a witness of times gone by, like friends in certain hours of need; a still candle of remembrance burning; a piece of rock , insignificant to look at, but it is a tiny part of ‘The Berlin Wall’ coming down in 1989, a precious symbol of an irrepressible need for freedom. This forceful voice of resistance still echoed in her mind. ‘ Totalitarianism can only be defeated if many people unite and fight against it.’ The word-call still had meaning.

Much courage rushed through Europe and Germany on that day she never thought she would ever see. The 9th November 1989. Freedom had triumphed, ‘The Wall’ had fallen. The Berlin-Wall was a sight of joy. She witnessed the coming together of people who had been visibly forced apart for 28 years. These amazing days had an almost dream-like quality.

She suddenly believes in miracles! Leipzig, too, where she was born, had become an active instrument in the struggle for freedom. The ‘Monday Demonstrations’, which had began in September continue. The door of the ‘Nikolai Church’ long open to the people of Leipzig before the heated autumn days of 1989 had become the symbol for peaceful gathering of men and women. This House of God was: open for all After many years of oppression it was possible to say: we want free elections; we are the instruments of peace; we are standing here; down with the Stasi; we are the people; the ‘Wall’ must go. It was in Leipzig where history was turned up-side down. And it all happened peacefully. ‘I write and think as a woman against war, I write and think as a woman for peace’. The word-call still had meaning.

Yes, she remembered it all so well, these heady days. She was now able to return to the place where she was born without visas or other difficulties.

**

She is now sitting in a car moving forwards, being driven from a small town, Pottenstein in West-Germany, to Leipzig in the former East-Germany. The landscape near the industrial town Karl-Marx-Stadt, now Chemnitz again was grey, the fields with their products are covered by a faint, shadowy substance, which came from factories, where no concerns for the environment reigned. The smell of the ‘Trabi’, with its two-stroke engine hung in the air, but no Stasidogs were barking. She could not believe that this was real, but it was! There grew an awareness of time having stood still, arrested under a regime that thousands of people had fled from in the hope of finding a better life, like she had done. As a young girl she had left Leipzig illegally from East-Germany to West-Berlin, and later, moved on for England, off to Cambridge.

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Biography

I was born on the 4th of November 1937, just one day before Gun-powder Day! So, I celebrated my entrance with a BANG, yet far away from England then, in fact, in Leipzig, Germany. After the end of the Second World War, Leipzig in Saxony became part of East-Germany, which I left, illegally, in 1953. My family and I settled in West-Berlin, where I went to High-School, when finished there I left Berlin for Cambridge, England. I was a student of English for a while, took a BA Honours Degree in European Thought and Literature and English History at Anglia Polytechnic University, where I also took a MA in Women’s Studies with a Dissertation on German History. I became a teacher of the German Language,Literature and History during my working life. I have now retired from teaching and find myself writing, reading and enjoying life to the full.

As yet Karin does not have a website, but you can make contact with Karin via ArtiPeeps through the comment box on this post or contact form on the ‘What’s On’ Page.

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Karin will be returning with Fragment 2 of ‘Fragments of Inheritance on Thursday 12th December.

* FreeSpace offers any creative or group from any discipline  3 post slots on ArtiPeeps which can be taken in sequence or in a cluster for showcasing, self-expression or projects (encouraged). If you are interested in taking up a FreeSpace slot in our next run of work please do get in contact via the comment box or contact form on the What’s On Page  You’d be welcomed.

‘Keep Your Chin Up’

1 Jul

keep_your_chin_up_by_bloobat101-d39okbe

 

‘Express yourself in as many ways as possible without fear. There is nothing to fear,. There is nobody who is going to punish or reward you. Express your being in its truest form, in its natural flow, you will be rewarded immediately, not tomorrow but today, here and now…. ‘(Osho, The Book of Understanding)

‘Sometimes the best way to express yourself is to shut up and stay quiet’ (Nicky, aged 13)

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I was 13. There was a knock on the front door of my house and I rushed down the hallway to open it. It was a Summer’s day, and the door swung open to reveal  podgy, kind-hearted Frida our next door neighbour standing brightly silhouetted in the frame of the door.  I was in my mid- teens at the time, quiet, and’ shy as a church mouse’ and going through a very, very difficult time. The last thing I wanted in the world, IN -THE -WORLD was lovely kind, caring Frida being nice to me.  I just stood there and watched her and it seemed like an age, even though it was probably merely a beat. As I watched her it was like her mouth was in slow-mo, every syllable stretched out, elongated. As I watched her gloopy mouth I didn’t say a word, I kept ‘stum’ and waited until the clammy feeling of vulnerability and shame vanished. Then she smiled at me, dusted down, cleared her throat and said:

‘How are things? Alright?’

I said nothing.

She smiled.

I just kept on staring down.

She sighed, she shuffled her feet again, breathed in, waited a bit and said:

‘Keep You’re chin up dear’, a whispy smile quickly retracting as she saw me start to tear up,  and she turned away in a swirl of do-goodery and swept off down the road.

As Frida left  I just continued to stand and stare watching her walk up the street and something inside me seemed to zip up for good. It was the final straw, and from that moment and for a good long while into the future,  I let any need of mine to express to just stay inside, to just stay within.

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A Ponderance:

Sometimes it is easier to keep the words inside, to not communicate and to let the words rest within. This can be a form of expression  and a creative act. Sometimes words aren’t enough to say what you feel;  or they are not the right words; not the right words to describe the complexity of your situation,  dream or fantasy. Sometimes one can’t find the right words,  to express that particular emotion deep within or to communicate that circumstance to someone else who cares.

Up until that point in time, I had always written down what I was feeling, that’s how I kept myself safe. I expressed myself on paper because I had never really been good at communicating orally. Saying things out loud made things more real and I don’t think I liked that. It was easier to write down that I wasn’t okay than to say it , have it out there vibrationally and in front of someone who was a kind soul and who cared. And as I said previously, I’m not sure what it was about her words at that present moment but for a long while I sealed up for good and that was okay. Even today, looking back, it was the right thing to do.

In an age where we are told that self-expression and emoting are good for us; that it’s important to express like Osho says ‘everything and without fear’; to communicate with clarity and with individuality, to put it out there and to put it out there with gusto, it becomes very difficult to choose silence (and to be okay with that), or to choose not to write for a while; or to express nothing at all (what ever your ‘nothing’  is).

Now admittedly in the  scenario above I was a child (to all intents and purposes) and I couldn’t have really expressed myself with any great clarity even if I had wanted to;  I didn’t have the lexical and verbal skills I have now for starters.  But I  do remember that in that moment I did make a choice. I chose not to mould and shape what was going on in my inside and put it out there for her. I remember choosing.

How we express, what we express and to whom we express is a choice, an act of  either sometimes the intellect or the soul.  And what I mean by that is expression can be sourced from what is in our heart or what is formulated through reason and is in our heads. As children because we haven’t developed our vocabularies or our reasoning power we create and communicate from a unformed, intuitive place, a place that is perhaps more brave and unprocessed. There’s may be no worry, no prevaricating before we act. As adults most of our forms of expression are processed and sorted and cultivated and honed so we protect ourselves.

Now I write relatively regularly, and I don’t mean I sit at my desk tossing off sonnets and short stories on a daily basis, nothing like that, but every day I consider what matters to me. I don’t call it journaling, it isn’t journaling, its more of a written practice. It’s not a stream of consciousness either. It’s more of a list of fundamentals that I check in with.  I try and express something about my world and how I receive and respond to it. I try and communicate something that hasn’t been edited to death or constrained. It’s easy for me to do the cultivated, clever-clever stuff.  It’s how I used to protect myself.  But I’d rather be connected to something different now. That isn’t to say, I don’t enjoy creating something that is cultivated and honed but  I’m just saying that expression can be attached to something less formalised, something totally individualised that doesn’t necessarily have to even be communicated. To withhold is one way to express. To be silent (like teen Nicky) can be as potent a means of expression as a writerly or artistic roar.

The ‘Frida’s’ of this world who stand before you when you are in need but have chosen not to communicate, maybe don’t need to know the subtly and the specifics behind your reasons to not express in that moment, at that time.  And even if you did express it,  the reality is that maybe people don’t really want to know what is really going on or maybe can’t even take it.   Maybe, it’s easier to fling out a truism than to respond to someone who has had all their words taken away from them; it’s sometimes  easier to turn your back away from an act of creative silence than it is to greet it and meet it in its truest form.

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N.b . I wrote this piece several weeks ago and reading it back today I’m not quite sure what I’m trying to get at, if I’m honest. It feels difficult to truly define what the correlation is between my childhood memory and its difficulty and the need for me to relate this to expression in a wider sense. I’m slightly at a loss and it leaves me pondering but I thought I’d post it anyway.

>>>>

Conkers

10 Dec

Old man

The old man hauled on his worn, smudged overjacket, turned to his wife and said,

‘I wont be a minute Win ‘

He smiled inside as his hand touched the three conkers in his pocket.  He could feel their smoothness, and imagine their shine in his mind’s eye. He grinned, knowing what he was about to do.

 Vincent had four  sons,  one  of whom, the youngest,  had died in the  second world war (his mother’s favourite Vivian, known as Bunty). But he still had Edwin, John and Dougie,  he thought. He knew that and his heart warmed as he stepped into the cold morning air. He took a deep breath in and the ice-chill filled his lungs. Good clean air. He looked out over his large, ordered garden and worked out where he was going to plant  the smooth,  glossy autumn orbs. Vincent rolled the conkers around in his hand. Interlacing them between his fingers. It made him remember.

‘Right’, he said, ‘job to do- for me and my boys’.

He picked up his trowel from where  he had distractedly thrown it yesterday, and marched off to the first spot he had chosen (too near to the house, probably) but what did he care. He’d be long gone before this beauty reached maturity. He tittered and made a hole in the dark brown earth and pushed the chocolate-brown conker deep within the broken soil.

‘For you Dougie’ he whispered.

He repeated this ritual with the other two conkers,  quietly murmuring the names of his other two sons- ‘This is for you…Edwin…This is for you John….’

His sons so much more than their names, he thought, but their names would do for now. He turned back towards his house, and walked homeward towards his wife (who probably by now was baking a 100 weight of fruit buns) and smiled imagining the small green root emerging from the conkers and rooting, rooting deep just like his love for his sons (but he’d never tell them that…..)

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Conkers

That was my grandfather and I now live in the very house that he lived in, and look out each day on the very trees he planted for my father and uncles (now, sadly all dead). This story was told to me when I was a little girl. The history of the conkers. The reason why there are 3 hugely oversized, completely inappropriately chosen, trees in my back garden.

I can’t remember a time when I haven’t heard the story of the conkers being told. It informed my childhood and it still informs my adulthood for I’m writing about it now aren’t I?  So it runs deep.  And that’s what I want to address in this post. The importance of stories and the stories we tell ourselves and how they inform who we are and what we do.

I don’t know if I would have felt so strongly rooted in the house I live in had I not heard that story. If my grandmother had not sat on the edge of my bed just before I went to sleep  and told me the story of the conkers; and it’s interesting isn’t it because I’ve chosen to dramatise this scene for you;  I’ve gone back over this related, oral ‘truth’ and re-interpreted it for you in a way that probably; no,  not probably, does embellish the actual act itself. When we retell something that means something to us we use artistic licence because we want to bring the listener in. We want to make them part of our reality. and if it’s done orally then the effect is instantaneous. We hear, we feel, we take it in. If it’s via words on a page there’s an extra process of filtration we have to go through.

This story has shaped my life. Living here in this house I can’t escape from my history. This house is so full of stories related to me and my family how could I live anywhere else?  It’s in my genes. The house is part of my inheritance. 

And  now I’ll let you in and explain  how I got to be re-telling this story to you today; what inspired me to write about the conkers. One of my favourite podcasts is RadioLab a curious, ever imaginative podcast aimed at curious souls, and they always, aways produce intriguing pieces, and their latest was entitled ‘Inheritance’ (See  podcast link at the bottom of this post) , asking the question:

blueprintCAN YOU FIGHT THE STORIES IN YOUR LIFE? 

CAN YOU RE-WRITE YOUR BLUEPRINT? 

How does what you do get passed down and get retold through your children and the stories you tell? 

As  novelist Reynold Price states:

‘A need to tell and hear stories is essential to the species Homo sapiens – second in necessity apparently after nourishment and before love and shelter. Millions survive without love or home, almost none  in silence; the opposite of silence leads quickly to narrative, and the sound of story is the dominant sound of our lives’.

Stories are how we give our lives meaning. It’s how we shape our identity and as one blogger stated in his blog  (Identity and Belonging)  ‘Who I am is so much more important than what I do’. Stories are the tools that allow us to interpret what we are experiencing and to do so with individuality and with imagination. We might not be able to override our genetic make-up but we can certainly help ourselves along a bit by the retelling of our lives to our children, with the intention of helping them overcome the inadequacies  of the blueprint we have passed to them. We try and alter history to make up for it. All the stories told to our children so they can learn and move forward and be the best possible people they can be. To have what we didn’t have and do what we didn’t do. 

 

Infinite Worlds

Shekhar Kapur the director of the film Elizabeth says , ‘I tell a story therefore I exist. If I don’t. I don’t exist’ . He suggests, in the video at the bottom of this post, that stories are the vehicles through which we develop a connection between ourselves and the infinite world. It’s how we reach beyond ourselves and create mythologies just like my conkers and my grandfather. I’m not alone. I’m part of a story handed down over 80 years. I am part of history and that’s a comfort. 

 

Now, for another story. Are you sitting comfortably?  This is a very different tale.  Edgy , rooted in a more difficult time within the history of the holocaust. 

 

I had an uncle on my mother’s side, a lovely gentle man by all accounts, who was forced into the German army, as was the case for nearly every man at that time. The story goes, and so goes the story, that X was  given orders to shoot the concentration camp prisoners into the huge body pit dug specially for them. Day-in-day-out- human beings were shot and buried, shot and buried. My uncle was a peaceful man and was at a quandary as to what to do. So the story my grandmother told my mother, was that that Onkel X refused, he shot to the side of the prisoners, his bullets glancing off the muddy ground and not in to warm flesh. He went against his orders.  And then one day somebody then pointed a gun to the back of his neck and said:

 

‘If you don’t do this. It’s you. It’s your turn. ‘

This is how the story runs, according to my mother. Onkel X then mysteriously disappeared. He vanished. The family suspected he had been shot for going against federal orders. But nobody is 100% sure…..  What actually happened to Onkel X? 

And only recently my mother admitted how she wasn’t even sure of the whole story. Had it been made up in its entirety to defend a certain position towards war and what happened at the time? We tell stories to reinforce our beliefs too, don’t we?  We embellish to ram the point home?  Don’t we?  Shekhar Kapur says ‘A person without a story does not exist’ . He says the process of storytelling is a process of contradiction and that the ‘acceptance of contradiction is storytelling and not resolution’.

If that is the case my family and I have to accept that we’ll never really know what happened to Onkel X, that we, perhaps,  have ourselves shaped this story so that we can create the form of family with which we want to  associate.  The truth might be secondary to the storytelling, the perception we want to convey. It’s difficult to tell.  And also maybe I have to live with the fact that I never really experienced the warmth from my grandfather that he clearly felt for his sons when he planted those 3 conkers 80 years ago. But what I can say, what I can say with my hand on my heart, is that I’m glad these stories are in my life because they have made me what I am today; a sometime-storyteller trying to tell a story to you. And maybe it’s just the communication of that story that counts.

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*RADIOLAB: ‘INHERITANCE’:

 http://www.radiolab.org/2012/nov/19/

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* SHEKHAR KAPUR ‘WE ARE THE STORIES WE TELL OURSELVES’:

 

 

Do you have any similar family stories that you’d like to share? We’d be interested to hear them. 

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ARTIPEEPS NEWS

  • NEW ! ‘FRENZY’S FLASH FEATURE’…. Your  fortnightly Thursday Photo/Poetry Combo with  GREG MACKIE.  Starting this Thursday 13th December. Let the Frenzy Commence!
  • ArtiPeeps will soon be launching full details of its 10 + poets collaborative poetry project called TRANSFORMATIONS. Details will be posted out this Wednesday (12th). If any poets who are not involved already would like to join us, please do let me know via the reply box on the post or via Twitter @ArtiPeep. Participation is open to anyone ! 
  • Watch Out for our guest blogger KATE GARRETT next Monday 17th December on her involvement with Sheffield Speak Easy and Performance Poetry. 
  • ArtiPeep is also about to completely revamp the finefocus page into a wondrous, dynamic arts page. watch this space. This will be launched in the new year. 
  • Oh yes, and there’s always our Xmas collaborative blog 3 poet-3 artist combination due out on the  Friday 21st December!

HAPPY DAYS !

 

Lost and Found

29 Oct

This is a story of words.

I began as a word. I grew into a sentence, that formed into a paragraph, that turned into a story, that turned into a  life

You know how I said last week that I was putting a story about creativity aside  for the sake of Edwina’s tale. Well now’s the time for me to tell  the other story, the story I could have told you last week and chose not to. But the time feels right now. My blinds are drawn, my computer a-glowing and my fingers are itching. It’s a tale about the power of words  found, lost, destroyed and found again.

1967-1970

Once upon a time there was a little girl. She lived in a slightly scruffy terraced house in a University town- what could only be described as middle class suberbia. She had a mother and a father (luckily) and a cat. She was shy, drippingly shy. At school  in the lunch hour she would sit each day on a red-cracked bench in the playground and imagine all sorts of amazing things in her head. She would use her imagination like a shield.  Behind the shield she would shape images into words and let them grow into stories.

She used her imagination to create spider-web connections, connections she did not have with other people of her age. She felt distanced, removed, not normal. You see when she was born, her scream did not come when it should. Just not quickly enough. The oxygen molecules did not go to her brain fast enough, and there was brain damage- the-cerebral-palsy-physical- brain- damage kind-  a wonky gait, a spasming hand, a limp left side. But it wasn’t ‘that’ bad she could pass for ‘normal’. But she never did feel normal: never felt normal inside.  She felt-o-so- different;  and the words,  sentences and paragraphs she formed helped her address her difference.

The words were like a thick syrup or tincture to her;  they helped her cope with the sadness that had started to fill her up inside.  The sadness of who she thought she was. A sadness that set up residence and of which she became afraid. She became afraid of the world and the darkness began to seep into her very core and slip-showed in her little brown eyes.

As she grew the words became more and more important to her. They would sit in her mind for hours and want to burst forth. They needed an outlet and as she got older she found she could put them down on paper. The words could take a form and exist outside of her mind. This was quite often the only time she felt at peace.

1980:

She continued to write – through her  parent’s divorce, through broken friendships and through an increasing darkness that had started to manifest itself within her. (O the mind, mind has mountains, cliffs of fall/Frightful, sheer, no-man-fathomed*) Her words started to get darker and nastier. Teenage-hood beckoned and the gloom nestled deep within. She began to offer her words up to the gloom. A supplication. Her words, rather than taking her away, began to validate all that she thought was bad within her and all that was different.  She wrote about glass and shards and sunsets. The words became dead to her even though she was letting them live on the page. The girl, then the young woman, was getting depressed.

Drip. Drap. Drop. 

The big black-drop sheet came down. And the words and the darkness began to save her: BUT THEY WERE THE WRONG WORDS. 

Words used in the wrong way. If you take my meaning.

The words continued to form but as quickly as she put them on to paper they began to zip themselves up again. They settled back in her head and rested there pulsing, waiting for an outlet. Slowly they began to dry up. She lost her voice.

The hurt grew.

She told no-one about this, and she hid it all behind a huge grin and a mass of curly hair. She became the person everybody wanted her to be, and she began to vanish, just like her words.

She lost herself. O.

But then, as the late 1990’s beckoned and she made the decision to study another energy started to emerge- it was exciting, fierce, disinhibiting and unique. She began to be filled with a sparky force, something kinetic, and she found she could write again. In fact words poured forth from her like water from a out-of-control hose. They pressured out, and her sentences and paragraphs were extremely articulate, praised, and she started to succeed. This feeling she loved, and it helped her fight against the darkness. But inside she always knew, something uncomfortable was happening. But she couldn’t put her finger on it, and the burning light that she had become, grew and grew, and GREW. She became the light, and she didn’t give a damn.

Her output was extraordinary. It was easy: the plays, the magazines, the essays. For the first time she felt like a star in the cosmos. A big burning, beligerant star. Like she could. So far away from little red-cracked-sad-eyes-bench- girl. It was fantastic. But she kept on crashing. Up and Down. Down and Up. Then there were only downs.

NO more light. No more words. At all.

Eventually the darkness encased her and she retreated to her bedroom and never came out. She sat for hours and played miserable music and thought deathly thoughts. She stopped communicating and her mouth sealed up. Tombed in. Zipped right up. Then, then because she had nothing left to turn to, she started to write again. The words came back,  and she would hurtle towards her keyboard and her fingers could not move quickly enough to capture the anguish and stricture of her thoughts. The words began to run rampant.

They poured out, the words- into poetry (for poetry often can articulate the soul more than prose) and into free form;  and then she would wash herself clean, submerge herself,  because the words felt dirty, not hers but her mind’s. In the silence of the water, in the bath-depths below, everything would stop. And each day the words saved her, even though they were ill. They were her only hook on life. All she had-page upon page, letter upon letter.

2004

They said, ‘We have come to the conclusion, that you have bi-polar affective disorder, the sort that gives you increasingly worse depressions’

Bish. Bash. Bosh. Scoop these up: Lithium Carbonate. Sodium Valproate.

The words disappeared once more, and really for good she felt. Irrevocably gone. Sealed up. Diminished. Self-Eradicated. Zombified . The little lost girl again, but this time with no shield. Periodically she would try to write and no words came. So she started to paint. Still expressing but it was still not the same.

2004-2011

It took her 8 years of hard’ talk-talk work’ to see the light again. Words not paged but spoken. In-between times trying to write and create, and just getting frustrated at how she couldn’t. It came out in music and staves , but the elusive words; well, they were always just..out..there…….

*

I/NOW

Here,  Now.  I can honestly say that when I started this blog-site  my words truly came back. They flowed. I truly became creative again. It started off for my group but it’s now also become about you. And the words that I’m writing now are the right words. They feel right. They’re not formed to feed an illness; they are not a shield. They come from a healthy need to express and to share. There’s no sadness there. No need to use and abuse words. It’s just there in me beacuse I am me and I like to create.

This is a poem about my writing that I wrote at the time:

Bi-polar makes you think that life is black and white. It makes you think your creativity is black and white, so if it goes as it does when you’re ill (or the words turn into something shard-like and destructive) you think they wont come back, that the creativity is gone for good.  But as I’ve moved from darkness into light and into health I’ve come to realise that creativity isn’t constant. There is an ebb and flow to it. It’s not always there, and it comes when you are inspired, and  when you act upon it and share it, like for this blog each week.

Now ‘I am a Landscape’. I don’t need to hide behind my words or fear that they will vanish, even though I worry nothing will come out each time I think what I’m going to write about for you. It’s a matter of a growing trust in myself and my words. I don’t have to fear the act of creation because I can hold strong like a mountain  or  be soft like snow. Now my creativity is in me and given. Like my orange intent above. There is no illness-indulgence attached. It’s all there I’m lost and I’m found. My words were lost and are now found. And now I have only more words and creations to gain. I am a Landscape, and long may it continue!

‘Aren’t autobiographies born in a question we ask ourselves-how did I get to this point? Don’t we look back over this path and tell ourselves a story? This is how it happened. This is who I am. ‘ Friedrick Weisel

If you have ever experienced the loss of your creativity, I’d be interested to hear your story too….

Thanks once again for your interest!  All the very best.

n.b.

ARTIPEEPS CATCH-UP:

  • Hoo-Hooo! Watch-Out, Watch-Out ARTIPEEPS HALLOWEEN HOTCHPOTCH is about this Wednesday. Our first multi-collaborator Halloween-themed post will be unleashed into the world. Look at it if you dare………
  • Our Visitor Peep, Susan O’Reilly, has another 4 poems up. She is really keen for some feedback, so (if you do have time) do take a look and respond.
  • Flash Fortnightly Starts from the 7th, your dose of short fiction every other week from Laura Besley
  • And we’re shortly starting up a FabFiction Page, so if anybody would like to share their prose and/ or poetry  do let me know via the comment box or @ArtiPeep

Inspiration Point: Killer Empathy

26 Aug

Something to listen to if you’ve got a moment.  Yes, the story about ‘the killer’ is interesting but what is more moving, human and interesting is the effect following this story had on the researcher and how it affected him. Truly powerful…brought a tear to my eye!

'Sometimes being a good scientist requires putting aside your emotions. But what happens when objectivity 
 isn't enough to make sense of a seemingly senseless act of violence? In this short, Jad and Robert talk to an entomologist about the risks, and the rewards, of trying to see the world through someone else's eyes. '

http://www.radiolab.org/blogs/radiolab-blog/2012/feb/06/killer-empathy/

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http://radiolab.org/mobile
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