Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Through an Open Window

For my mother, open windows invite
thieves, even small windows
upstairs. In summer
suburbia, we slept
with first floor bedroom windows closed
though any housebreaker would know
how to pick the lock
on the back kitchen door.

Open Window for Poetry Thursday

Another interpretation on the theme can be found at Crafty Green Poet

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Edinburgh International Film Festival - I'm a Cyborg but that's OK

I'm a Cyborg, but that's OK is the new feature film from renowned Korean director Park Chan-wook (Old Boy; Lady Vengeance). The heroine is Young-goon, a cyborg who tries to connect herself to the mains and is then taken into a mental hospital where she makes a connection with Il-sun, who has a tendency to steal people's belongings and their souls. Its a wonderful exploration of identity, mental balance and human connectedness, full of humour and insight, as well as the occasional scene of fantastical violence symbolising Young-goon's inner turmoil.

I'm a Cyborg, but that's OK will be showing as part of the Best of the Film Festival on Sunday 26 August. The film will almost certainly get a good release in cinemas across the UK and elsewhere and all I can say is go and see it when you can!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Edinburgh International Film Festival - The Last Dining Table

The Last Dining Table is a South Korean film made up of short episodes from various characters lives, including a grandmother who wants to divorce her dead husband, a mother trying to contact the spirit of her recently dead son and a young woman starting out as a telephone sex operator. Dialogue is minimalist and the viewer is left to infer a lot from the action and visual clues, which is probably easier for those familiar with Korean culture. The Film Festival brochure claimed that all the characters were united in a shocking conclusion, but in fact they all met in a railway station, nothing happened and then the credits rolled. Hmm.

Monday, August 20, 2007

haiku - daybreak

my alarm clock
shatters quiet sleep -
day breaks.

For a quieter daybreak, please visit Crafty Green Poet.

Daybreak for One Deep Breath

PS - Haiku Scotland recently accepted five of my haiku to appear in their September and December 2007 issues.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Edinburgh International Film Festival - The Legacy

In The Legacy, A group of French tourists and their interpreter are travelling through the former Soviet republic of Georgia. While they are on a bus, a young man and his grandfather get on carrying a coffin. The coffin that will be for the grandfather when his enemies have killed him. The tourists are fascinated by the story of two feuding villages and follow the two men. What follows is a journey not only into the traditions of blood feuds in the mountains of Georgia but also a critique of tourist attitudes to foreign cultures, and the dilemmas facing an interpreter who doesn't approve of tourists but relies on them for his income. The film is beautifully shot in stunning mountain scenery and understated in its treatment of its themes. I found it particularly interesting given that I had recently read Ismail Kadare's novel Broken April, which is set amongst blood feuds in Albania.

The Legacy will show again at 16.45, Monday 20 August at the Filmhouse.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Edinburgh International Film Festival - The Old Garden

The Old Garden is a South Korean political drama, centering on the character of Oh Hyun-woo, a poet and political activist in the 1980 anti-government riots. He hides away in the beautiful mountainous countryside with Yoon-hee, an artist who becomes his lover. Then he inexplicably decides to return to Seoul where he faces certain long term imprisonment. While Oh Hyun-woo is in prison, Yoon-hee gives birth to and raises their daughter and dies of cancer.

It's a beautiful film, full of sadness and regret and offering interesting insight into the politics and labour relations of South Korea in 1980.

The Old Garden will show again 22.00, Sunday 19 August at Cineworld

Friday, August 17, 2007

Edinburgh International Film Festival - Aria

For cinema lovers this is the best fortnight in Edinburgh as the Film Festival comes to town. This is the last year that the Film Festival will happen in August, in future years it will take place in June. I saw my first film today, Aria a Japanese road movie. The film is beautifully minimalist and sometimes surreal. The story involves a piano tuner who is searching for the right beach on which to scatter his wife's ashes, a Kabuki puppet master who leaves his puppet to the piano tuner and a mysterious woman who claims to be the Kabuki master's daughter, who is searching for a particular piano. The film is made up of snapshots and fragments which fit together like pieces of a jigsaw.

Aria shows again tomorrow, Saturday, 18 August in Cineworld.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Monogamy? (Booking Through Thursday)

From Booking through Thursday - One book at a time? Or more than one? If more, are they different types/genres? Or similar?
(We’re talking recreational reading, here—books for work or school don’t really count since they’re not optional.)

I'm very monogamous as far as novels go, I can only read one novel at a time. However at the same time I always have a book of poetry next to my armchair, and a book of short stories or essays too. Usually I only read short stories/essays between novels, though I dip into the poetry book regularly. I also have a book in my handbag, usually a slim volume of poetry, sometimes the novel I'm reading if its a small book (I don't like heavy books in my handbag!). I read a fair amount of non-fiction, sometimes I'll have a non-fiction book by my armchair to dip into as I read my novel, sometimes I'll read a non-fiction book as if it were a novel. I also read quite a lot in foreign languages. If I'm reading a novel in a foreign language, I'll probably read a light non fiction book in English at the same time, I get tired easily reading in foreign languages, especially German.

Current reading:

Novel: Dictionary of the Khazars - Milorad Pavic
Non-fiction - Linguistics for Students of Literature (yes this is recreational reading!)
Poetry - Staying Alive - edited Neil Astley
Foreign Language - In meinen Traumen lautet es Sturm - Mascha Kaleko (poetry)
In my handbag - Aboriginal Legends - Animal Tales - collected by A W Reed

How about you? Are you monogamous?

Booking through Thursday

Monday, August 13, 2007

Le voyage de Slaboulgoum - Pierre-Robert Leclercq

J'ai reçu cet livre petit d'un autre Bookcrosser. C'est un histoire d'un vieux griot africain, qui raconte toujours les mêmes histoires embellies. Pour moi, le choses plus interessants sonts les questions de la role d'un conteur. J'ai trouvé deux citations:

'Le doute n'a pas place dans les legendes. Pour un conteur, la vérité est un support, elle ne doit pas être un fardeau.'

'On ne demande pas a un poète d'être historien.'

Cette citation deuxieme peut-être est un idee pour un poême!

Si tu veux lire cette livre, seulement dites moi!


I received this little book from another bookcrosser. It's the story of an old African griot who keeps telling the same stories, but embellishing them. For me the most interesting aspects of the book were the questions it asked about the role of the storyteller. I have taken two quotes:

'Doubt has no place in legends. For the storyteller, truth is a support, it does not need to be a burden'

'We do not demand our poets to be historians'.

This second quote could be a great starting point for a poem!

If you would like to read this book, please let me know!

Monday, August 06, 2007

This Evening

This evening I went to my first show in the 2007 Edinburgh Festival Fringe - Flesh.

slave traders
steal a boy from his village -
darkness falls.

Through song, dance and drama, Flesh explores the personal stories of David an African slave in eighteenth century London, the people he meets and their opinions about slavery. The stories are powerfully moving, but ultimately hopeful. Parallels with current issues are clearly, but subtly drawn. It's a very energetic production with excellent performances, dancing, singing and drumming from the young cast and muscians, though the acoustics and straining spoken performances mean that some of the narrative is lost.

Flesh is on at St John's Church, Lothian Road, 7.30pm, 7-11 August. £7/£5.

Evening for One Deep Breath.
I've posted another evening haiku on Crafty Green Poet.