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Monday, 1 September 2014

As August ends, I haven't given up on Summer here in my Lewes garden.





Just when I'd begun to think that summer had deserted these shores, the weather turned the heat up again.   I live in the small town of Lewes, UK and, after a couple of disappointingly cool weeks with a lot of rain and far too many black clouds, it all got back to how it ought to be here in my urban garden.


I'm told the temperatures are going to rise even more next week as high air pressure arrives from across the Atlantic. I'm glad about this not just because i like to spend as much time as I can out of doors but all those annual plants were beginning o think it was past their packing in time. Instead they've all perked up prepared to give flowering at least another chance.


The garden is looking just as I planned it - slightly mad, you might think, but I like that spirit of controlled chaos that is actually more difficult to achieve than you might think. It makes me happy anyway - especially when the nasturtiums go on their late summer rampage.



I was even content enough to sit out there without having to referee the battle between the dahlias and the gladioli. I hope the sun shines on you all too. I'm going to enjoy it while I can. My old Borsalino hat agrees.





-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

MY FICTION AND POETRY:

STEPHEN DEARSLEY'S SUMMER OF LOVE

My novel, Stephen Dearsley's Summer Of Love, was published  on 31 October 2013. It is the story of a young fogey living in Brighton in 1967 who has a lot to learn when the flowering hippie counter culture changes him and the world around him.




It is now available as a paperback or on Kindle (go to your region's Amazon site for Kindle orders)

You can order the book from the publishers, Ward Wood Publishing:


...or from Book Depository:


...or from Amazon:




BLUE NOTES, STILL FRAMES 


My second novel, Blue Notes, Still Frames, will be published in 2015 by Ward Wood Publishing. It begins with Joe Edevane, a Brighton street busker with surprizing powers who borrows a towel from well-heeled strangers, Alan and Rachel, for his Goth girlfriend, Victoria, and begins a chain of events that changes all of their lives.







COLIN BELL'S PUBLICATIONS:


FICTION:


Stephen Dearsley's Summer Of Love
Ward Wood Publishing
October 30, 2013


POETRY ANTHOLOGIES:



Genius Floored: Uncurtained Window
Soaring Penguin Press
June 15, 2013
Poetry anthology

Genius Floored: Whispers in Smoke
Soaring Penguin Press
June 6, 2014
Poetry anthology



Reaching Out
Cinnamon Press
December 2012
Poetry and short story anthology



Tic Toc
A Kind Of A Hurricane Press
June 2014
Poetry anthology



In The Night Count The Stars
Bittersweet Editions
March 1, 2014
An "uncommon anthology" of images, fragments, stories and poetry.




POETRY JOURNALS:

The Blotter
The Blotter Magazine Inc.
November 2009
Three pages of poetry in the American South's unique, free, international literature and arts magazine.



The Fib Review
Musepie Press
My Fibonacci poetry has appeared in this journal from 2009 until the present



Shot Glass Journal
Muse Pie Press
My poetry has appeared in various issues of this short form poetry journal



Every Day Poets Magazine
Every Day Poets
I have various poems of the day published in this 365 days a year poetry magazine.




Saturday, 30 August 2014

Reading Rossetti's poem, The Blessed Damozel, a Pre-Raphaelite moment here in Lewes.






I have been obsessing on the artist and poet Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828 - 1882) as I reported in yesterday's blog. Sorry about this but Rossetti's poem The Blessed Damozel (1850), new to me until this week, has continued to play around in my head. I read it at one of my regular online poetry events the other day and thought I would just have to get it out of my system by recording myself reading it here in my room.


Self-Portrait (1847) by Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828 - 1882)

The Blessed Damozel is dead. She has been in what the poet imagines as Heaven for ten years now leaving him, her bereft lover, on Earth pining for her. She is pining too even though she is meant to be in a state of bliss. She looks over the golden balcony of Heaven down to Earth and hopes (and prays) that her love will come soon to join her because then they will be able to continue their Earthly passion in Paradise.  She looks forward to the totally impossible time when she and her lover will fulfil their erotic desires in the garden Paradise protected, even more inprobably, by the Virgin Mary herself.  The Damozel imagines this reunited life just like any heart-broken lover down here on Earth. The poet, I think, does not really believe this literally of course but he succeeds in showing the power of love and romantic passion even in some imagined unattainable eternal bliss.  He was much influenced by Dante's La Vita Nuova (1295). Dante, of course, knew all about thr soul's suffering in both Heaven and Hell.   Rossetti worked on this poem for over twenty years and then made a painting of it too - also called The Blessed Damozel (1875 - 1878) - where the Damazel has lost her golden hair for pure Pre-Raphaelite auburn. Her lover, the poet, lies moodily gazing up towards Heaven from a lyrically beautiful English woodland.


The Blessed Damozel (1875 - 1878) by Dante Gabriel Rossetti

Anyway, here it is - recorded yesterday here in the recording studio that is my desktop computer at home in Lewes, UK. I hope you get at least some of its haunting Romantic flavour.






-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

MY FICTION AND POETRY:

STEPHEN DEARSLEY'S SUMMER OF LOVE

My novel, Stephen Dearsley's Summer Of Love, was published  on 31 October 2013. It is the story of a young fogey living in Brighton in 1967 who has a lot to learn when the flowering hippie counter culture changes him and the world around him.




It is now available as a paperback or on Kindle (go to your region's Amazon site for Kindle orders)

You can order the book from the publishers, Ward Wood Publishing:


...or from Book Depository:


...or from Amazon:




BLUE NOTES, STILL FRAMES 


My second novel, Blue Notes, Still Frames, will be published in 2015 by Ward Wood Publishing. It begins with Joe Edevane, a Brighton street busker with surprizing powers who borrows a towel from well-heeled strangers, Alan and Rachel, for his Goth girlfriend, Victoria, and begins a chain of events that changes all of their lives.







COLIN BELL'S PUBLICATIONS:


FICTION:


Stephen Dearsley's Summer Of Love
Ward Wood Publishing
October 30, 2013


POETRY ANTHOLOGIES:



Genius Floored: Uncurtained Window
Soaring Penguin Press
June 15, 2013
Poetry anthology

Genius Floored: Whispers in Smoke
Soaring Penguin Press
June 6, 2014
Poetry anthology



Reaching Out
Cinnamon Press
December 2012
Poetry and short story anthology



Tic Toc
A Kind Of A Hurricane Press
June 2014
Poetry anthology



In The Night Count The Stars
Bittersweet Editions
March 1, 2014
An "uncommon anthology" of images, fragments, stories and poetry.




POETRY JOURNALS:

The Blotter
The Blotter Magazine Inc.
November 2009
Three pages of poetry in the American South's unique, free, international literature and arts magazine.



The Fib Review
Musepie Press
My Fibonacci poetry has appeared in this journal from 2009 until the present



Shot Glass Journal
Muse Pie Press
My poetry has appeared in various issues of this short form poetry journal



Every Day Poets Magazine
Every Day Poets
I have various poems of the day published in this 365 days a year poetry magazine.




Friday, 29 August 2014

Rossetti's The Blessed Damozel inspires the eroticism of a young Claude Debussy and a new era is born.



The Blessed Damozel (1875 - 1878) by Dante Gabriel Rossetti 

I have written before on this site about my enthusiasm for the so-called Pre-Raphaelite artists, my favourites being Edward Burne-Jones (1833 - 1898) and Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828 - 1882) but last week I was drawn back to their particular charm when I started to listen to a piece of music, previously unknown to me, by the French composer Claude Debussy (1862 - 1918),  La Damoiselle élue (1887/88), a setting of the youthful Rossetti's poem The Blessed Damozel (1850 with several revisions until 1873). Rossetti himself had been obsessed by his poem throughout his life and, in the 1870s, revisited the theme for one of his best known paintings, also called, The Blessed Damozel.  How wonderful, I thought, that this poem should also have a life as a painting and as a gloriously beautiful piece of music - the young Debussy's first truly characteristic composition.


Self-Portrait  (1847) by Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828 - 1882)

The poem, apparently famous, was new to me and I was immediately drawn to its theme of the, now dead, beautiful love-lorn maiden leaning over the balcony of Heaven hoping that her lover will join her up there where they could continue their very physical relationship. It is a headily exotic piece of mystical eroticism, one of the Pre-Raphaelites classic themes. The young Rossetti is the bereaved young man witnessing what seems like an erotic and slightly irreligious dream of his lost love. This young man's fantasy drew the piece to the testosterone-charged Claude Debussy who was in his mid-twenties when he wrote his music.   Here are two excepts from the poem to give you some idea of what I mean.

The Blessed Damozel

by Dante Gabriel Rossetti


The blessed damozel lean'd out
From the gold bar of Heaven;
Her eyes were deeper than the depth
Of waters still'd at even;
She had three lilies in her hand,
And the stars in her hair were seven.

Her robe, ungirt from clasp to hem,
No wrought flowers did adorn,The Blessed
But a white rose of Mary's gift,
For service meetly worn;
Her hair that lay along her back
Was yellow like ripe corn.


*

Around her, lovers, newly met
'Mid deathless love's acclaims,
Spoke evermore among themselves
Their heart-remember'd names;
And the souls mounting up to God
Went by her like thin flames.

And still she bow'd herself and stoop'd
Out of the circling charm;
Until her bosom must have made
The bar she lean'd on warm,
And the lilies lay as if asleep
Along her bended arm.






I was, of course,  pursuing my slightly obsessive journey through the history of classical music in chronological order from the year 1100 onwards (begun fifteen years ago) and now reaching the year 1887.  Listening to Debussy's first musical masterpiece, La Damoiselle élue (1887/88), opened my ears to a new era and, maybe for the first time on this project, showed me the dawning of the 20th Century. I have tried over the years to block out memories of any music written after the date currently studied but now that I'm nearing the end of the line (I'm finishing in 1897 with the death of Johannes Brahms), I can't help but hear how Debussy would flower into one of the early geniuses of 'modern' music. It was also a thrilling return to one of my favourite composers, long missed over the 15 years. If you want to see what I mean, you can hear an except from the piece at the bottom of this page,taken from the inspiring CD with Esa Pekka Salonen conducting the Los Angeles Philharmonic. I can't stop playing it. It's true that you can hear the influence of Richard Wagner (1813 - 1883)  and, one of Debussy's teachers, Cesar Franck (1822 - 1890), as well as sweetly sensuous echoes of music of Jules Massenet (1842 - 1912), especially his opera, Manon (1884), but the intangibly physical mysticism, and the pure sexiness of Debussy's later work is already here. No wonder his conservatoire teachers warned him "He should be beware of this vague Impressionism which is one of the most dangerous enemies of artistic truth." How right they were without realising it.



Claude Debussy (1862 - 1918) as a young man

So I have reached the year 1887 and I can feel the earth shift beneath my feet. There are new kids on the block and there's no denying that this new generation of composers, learning from the past, would change the future of music. Until now, I hadn't realised that three composers, in particular, all born within a couple of years of each other, formed, almost single-handedly, the voice of the next great period of classical music. They were, of course, Claude Debussy (1862 - 1918), Gustav Mahler (1860  - 1911) and Richard Strauss (1864 - 1949). My listening list for 1887 - 1888 included not only Debussy's first masterpiece but also Strauss' first symphonic poem, the wonderfully confident Aus Italien, and Mahler's exciting Symphony No. 1. Hang onto your seats, music lovers, it's going to be a bumpy ride.



Gustav Mahler (1860 - 1911) as a young man




Richard Strauss (1864 - 1949) as a young man

So one young man's poem led me to the work of three more young men but from a very different era - thank you Dante Gabriel Rossetti for your own work but also for inspiring this young French maverick to invent his own way forward. When still a student, he was rebuked for disregarding time honoured compositional traditions. 'What rule do you follow?' asked the bemused conservatoire Registrar. 'My pleasure,' young Claude replied. It has become our pleasure too. Here is the opening of La Damoiselle élue. Something for the weekend, I suggest.





-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

MY FICTION AND POETRY:

STEPHEN DEARSLEY'S SUMMER OF LOVE

My novel, Stephen Dearsley's Summer Of Love, was published  on 31 October 2013. It is the story of a young fogey living in Brighton in 1967 who has a lot to learn when the flowering hippie counter culture changes him and the world around him.




It is now available as a paperback or on Kindle (go to your region's Amazon site for Kindle orders)

You can order the book from the publishers, Ward Wood Publishing:


...or from Book Depository:


...or from Amazon:




BLUE NOTES, STILL FRAMES 


My second novel, Blue Notes, Still Frames, will be published in 2015 by Ward Wood Publishing. It begins with Joe Edevane, a Brighton street busker with surprizing powers who borrows a towel from well-heeled strangers, Alan and Rachel, for his Goth girlfriend, Victoria, and begins a chain of events that changes all of their lives.







COLIN BELL'S PUBLICATIONS:


FICTION:


Stephen Dearsley's Summer Of Love
Ward Wood Publishing
October 30, 2013


POETRY ANTHOLOGIES:



Genius Floored: Uncurtained Window
Soaring Penguin Press
June 15, 2013
Poetry anthology

Genius Floored: Whispers in Smoke
Soaring Penguin Press
June 6, 2014
Poetry anthology



Reaching Out
Cinnamon Press
December 2012
Poetry and short story anthology



Tic Toc
A Kind Of A Hurricane Press
June 2014
Poetry anthology



In The Night Count The Stars
Bittersweet Editions
March 1, 2014
An "uncommon anthology" of images, fragments, stories and poetry.




POETRY JOURNALS:

The Blotter
The Blotter Magazine Inc.
November 2009
Three pages of poetry in the American South's unique, free, international literature and arts magazine.



The Fib Review
Musepie Press
My Fibonacci poetry has appeared in this journal from 2009 until the present



Shot Glass Journal
Muse Pie Press
My poetry has appeared in various issues of this short form poetry journal



Every Day Poets Magazine
Every Day Poets
I have various poems of the day published in this 365 days a year poetry magazine.





Thursday, 28 August 2014

It's not racist or irreligious to condemn the guilty or to support the oppressed.




I like to see myself as one of those much sneered at people, a white, middle class and rather liberal male and I've mostly been proud of living in my native home here in the United Kingdom. I often look West across the Atlantic at another liberal democracy, the United States. Recently, I have been unsettled by the news both at home and in the great Nation Of The Free. I mostly defend 'Western' values against the hurled abuse and hatred that has been bellowed in our direction from murderous, so-called Islamic fundamentalists. I listened to their words about how we, in the West, are degenerate blasphemers and recoil from their unjustified murdering in the name of a God who must be in despair at what is being perpetuated in his name. These haters mostly look to the USA and the UK when they shake their blood-stained fists and I have to admit our societies are by no means perfect. We discuss these things, here in the UK, us liberal folk, usually over coffee or the odd beer or two, and shake our heads at our own government and anguish over the many reforms that we would like to see implemented in our own country.




No one can look forward to September any more without remembering the atrocities committed by Al Qaeda in the name of their God and, if we thought militant Islam's dream of a Worldwide Caliphate was over,  then this year in Africa and in Asia, we learnt that this is far from true.




The brutality of the American journalist, James Foley's murder in the blasphemed name of Islam has been merely the latest outrage to ricochet around the largely benevolent, caring and ethical peoples of the World.  At the centenary of the First World War, is 2014 bubbling over in hatred and bloodshed just to show us how little we have learnt in this time?




So no wonder, people are horrified by the violence and unfairness of the modern World. We have watched the slaughter in Africa, the Middle East and in Asia . Here in Europe and the USA, some people felt justified in demonstrating their own revulsion by looking for obvious targets. There will be no answers in 'Islamophobia' or anti-Semitism for the atrocities committed by soldiers, brain-washed adolescents and unbalanced religious fanatics under the instructions of their political leaders. Apart from a few but very noisy religious sects, most religious leaders share the disapproval of us democracy-loving liberals so it so very unfair for synagogues and mosques to become targets for ignorant but angry demonstrators.



We in the West, if we are to stand up for our principles, need to abjure all prejudices based on religion, race, sexual orientation or gender and to do our best, even if it's only writing the odd blog, to remind people that prejudice is ignorance.



We, in the UK, have been watching the news from Ferguson, USA, recoiling from the evidence that America is still split by racial tensions exacerbated by very real unfairness where being a young black male appears to make you automatically suspect in the eyes of the law. I visited a Chicago jail some years ago and was shocked to discover that all the faces behind bars were black. Not much has changed it seems.



The UK has similar racial tensions but they are nowhere near as extreme as in the USA. Our multicultural state might actually be beginning to work but I am not suggesting that young black males in this country are any less likely than their American cousins, from being automatic police suspects. There is still a long way to go.  Our laws, our politicians and most of our media, reinforce the errors of racism and, there is a groundswell of opinion that this has had an effect.



Great if true. Then, a new set of problems emerge. In Rotherham, we discover, a group of Pakistani men have been operating a paedophile circle, raping and abusing teenage girls whose cries for help were largely ignored by the police and the local council leaders. It appears, there was a political panic on behalf of the authorities, that if they moved against this group of presumably Islamic Pakistanis then they would be accused of racism and incite a race riot. Excuse me but the racism is in the fear of identifying the perpetrators regardless of their race.

Let's not blame Islam for Al Qaeda or ISIS, nor Judaism for Israel's bombing of Gaza. Let's not blame black Americans for standing up for injustice and let's not blame innocent Pakistani residents in the UK for the crimes of a few sexual monsters.  There are offensive people professing to follow all belief systems. We only help them by seeing them as anything other than criminals.




-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

MY FICTION AND POETRY:

STEPHEN DEARSLEY'S SUMMER OF LOVE

My novel, Stephen Dearsley's Summer Of Love, was published  on 31 October 2013. It is the story of a young fogey living in Brighton in 1967 who has a lot to learn when the flowering hippie counter culture changes him and the world around him.




It is now available as a paperback or on Kindle (go to your region's Amazon site for Kindle orders)

You can order the book from the publishers, Ward Wood Publishing:


...or from Book Depository:


...or from Amazon:




BLUE NOTES, STILL FRAMES 


My second novel, Blue Notes, Still Frames, will be published in 2015 by Ward Wood Publishing. It begins with Joe Edevane, a Brighton street busker with surprizing powers who borrows a towel from well-heeled strangers, Alan and Rachel, for his Goth girlfriend, Victoria, and begins a chain of events that changes all of their lives.







COLIN BELL'S PUBLICATIONS:


FICTION:


Stephen Dearsley's Summer Of Love
Ward Wood Publishing
October 30, 2013


POETRY ANTHOLOGIES:



Genius Floored: Uncurtained Window
Soaring Penguin Press
June 15, 2013
Poetry anthology

Genius Floored: Whispers in Smoke
Soaring Penguin Press
June 6, 2014
Poetry anthology



Reaching Out
Cinnamon Press
December 2012
Poetry and short story anthology



Tic Toc
A Kind Of A Hurricane Press
June 2014
Poetry anthology



In The Night Count The Stars
Bittersweet Editions
March 1, 2014
An "uncommon anthology" of images, fragments, stories and poetry.




POETRY JOURNALS:

The Blotter
The Blotter Magazine Inc.
November 2009
Three pages of poetry in the American South's unique, free, international literature and arts magazine.



The Fib Review
Musepie Press
My Fibonacci poetry has appeared in this journal from 2009 until the present



Shot Glass Journal
Muse Pie Press
My poetry has appeared in various issues of this short form poetry journal



Every Day Poets Magazine
Every Day Poets
I have various poems of the day published in this 365 days a year poetry magazine.




Friday, 22 August 2014

Wolfie, all ponced up for the Ship Of Fools, sets sail to Devon




I've been trying to catch up on my blogs after a summer of hugely enjoyable activities that kept taking me away from my desk. I don't normally write about the parties I go to but, this time, I just had to put up some photographs taken a few weekends ago when I went down to Devon for a fancy dress party on one of my oldest friends, Rachel's, Alpaca Farm. I don't usually go in for fancy dress but, this time, I went for it. The theme was Ship Of Fools - that merry ship where all the world's degenerates, misfits and lunatics were shipped off, in fiction and in reality, to get up to whatever they wanted out on the ocean seas.I decided, see above, to be a degenerate Jacobean courtier - well why not! A fair enough idea for a party in a barn in one of the remotest parts of England. Inevitably there was a lot of work involved in turning a working barn into a fantasy ship. I was travelling down from Sussex but a lot of other people were working very hard. I think the pictures tell the story but, needless to say, I had a great time.
























































-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

MY FICTION AND POETRY:

STEPHEN DEARSLEY'S SUMMER OF LOVE

My novel, Stephen Dearsley's Summer Of Love, was published  on 31 October 2013. It is the story of a young fogey living in Brighton in 1967 who has a lot to learn when the flowering hippie counter culture changes him and the world around him.




It is now available as a paperback or on Kindle (go to your region's Amazon site for Kindle orders)

You can order the book from the publishers, Ward Wood Publishing:


...or from Book Depository:


...or from Amazon:




BLUE NOTES, STILL FRAMES 


My second novel, Blue Notes, Still Frames, will be published in 2015 by Ward Wood Publishing. It begins with Joe Edevane, a Brighton street busker with surprizing powers who borrows a towel from well-heeled strangers, Alan and Rachel, for his Goth girlfriend, Victoria, and begins a chain of events that changes all of their lives.







COLIN BELL'S PUBLICATIONS:


FICTION:


Stephen Dearsley's Summer Of Love
Ward Wood Publishing
October 30, 2013


POETRY ANTHOLOGIES:



Genius Floored: Uncurtained Window
Soaring Penguin Press
June 15, 2013
Poetry anthology

Genius Floored: Whispers in Smoke
Soaring Penguin Press
June 6, 2014
Poetry anthology



Reaching Out
Cinnamon Press
December 2012
Poetry and short story anthology



Tic Toc
A Kind Of A Hurricane Press
June 2014
Poetry anthology



In The Night Count The Stars
Bittersweet Editions
March 1, 2014
An "uncommon anthology" of images, fragments, stories and poetry.




POETRY JOURNALS:

The Blotter
The Blotter Magazine Inc.
November 2009
Three pages of poetry in the American South's unique, free, international literature and arts magazine.



The Fib Review
Musepie Press
My Fibonacci poetry has appeared in this journal from 2009 until the present



Shot Glass Journal
Muse Pie Press
My poetry has appeared in various issues of this short form poetry journal



Every Day Poets Magazine
Every Day Poets
I have various poems of the day published in this 365 days a year poetry magazine.