L.D.: Poetry is around us. Poetry in the newspapers, poetry on the street, anywhere. I have many kinds of inspiration….the nature, the life, the ideas of the philosophy, our experiences, the stories of other people, etc. Which is the inspiration of your texts?
G.T.: I lost my sight 10 years ago from diabetic complications. Having written poetry as a sighted person too I find my poetic influences come from pretty much the same avenues, with the one exception being how things look. Sighted people often think that when somebody loses their sight then their other senses suddenly become heightened — that is a fallacy! Blind people do not, contrary to what superhero films would have you believe, suddenly gain the ability to hear a pin drop on the other side of town … we just learn to pay attention to what we are hearing.
I do miss the ability to catch sight of something out of the corner of my eye and know instantly that it is a picture I want to somehow capture in a poem; it could be the way sunlight is catching the hedgerows on a quiet country road, or the gathering of pigeons in a park in London, there is no way I can see those things for myself. Similarly it would be accurate to say that most of the things I know about are things that other people have observed and told me about. That initially made me question why I wanted to continue to write poetry, but I realised that my perspective on a scene was just as unique as anybody else’s.
My main focus in my poetry are the contrasts in the world. The things that make humans different from each other, the way nature and industry co-exist — be it a collection of weeds and grasses springing up around the shell of a rusty abandoned car — no, I cannot see that scene but I can imagine it and, if I walked to that car I could touch the car, detect the rust, feel the plants slowly colonising it, and feel the warmth of the sun on its roof. The world is poetic in its very nature and I try to capture that in my writing. I have a curiosity. Have been fascinated by Romania for over 20 years. I learned a little of the language and visited Bucharest in 2004. The Romanian and English languages are very different in sound and structure and I
wonder which you prefer to write your work in.
L.D.: I am really glad you were fascinated by Romania. It is a wonderful country, with a wild nature. However, talking about languages, especially about English and Romanian languages, yes, these are very different. Romanian is a Latin language and English is a Germanic language. Of course both of them suffered a lot of linguistic influences. Western Germanic languages are the main languages within Germanic languages. These are: English, German, Dutch, Yiddish, Afrikaans (which is a derived language from non-Dutch language, Afrikaans being spoken in Namibia and South Africa), and Frisone languages as Frysk and Fraisch.
The Romanian language is part of the Romance languages as French, Italian , Spanish , and Portuguese. All of these languages have evolved from popular Latin, the spoken Latin. Romanization of Romanian language was complex and developed over
time. It was knit with our history. Our ancestors , Dacians, were conquered by the Roman Empire. Dacia (our old land ) was transformed in a Roman province. This massive colonization transformed, in time, the Dacian language in a Romance language. But Romanian language has other influences too, as Slavic words, Turkish words, Finno-Ugric words, etc.
But your language, English language also isn’t a clean Germanic language. Because of your history. The first tribes were named Angles (the Jutes and the Saxon) , and they spoke an Anglo- Saxon language. But this language was a mixture of dialects of west Germanic languages (the Saxons in Germany and the Jutes from Northern Denmark). But we should not forget the first farmers arrived in Britain 6,000 years ago. These first farmers came from south-east Europe. The language they spoke was part of the Celtic language family, similar languages were spoken across Europe in the Iron Age. And again, we should remember the Roman period in Britain, of course it was a short period, not like in Romania to transform a language in a Romance language. Julius Caesar led a Roman invasion of Britain in 55 BC. Of course it was unsuccessful. But in AD 43 the Emperor Claudius occupied almost all of Britain. After Claudius was Emperor Hadrian who built a wall in northern England to keep out the Picts (ancestors of the Scottish people). Other influence on the language was The Norman Conquest. Norman French, the language of the new ruling class, influenced the development of the English language as we know it today. Your language which we speak today is a blend of many languages.
But , when the linguists talk about the historical relationship between languages they use a metaphor , an image of a tree. The ancient root, which is Proto-Indo-European, has different branches. Yes, our languages are so different, but, in subsidiary, all of them have the same prehistoric root. Some linguists speak about a possible Babylonian language. It says that our first writing is the Sumerian archaic (pre-cuneiform) writing.
The history of language is so, so complex, and beautiful because each language has a story. Because of my syndrome, Asperger’s Syndrome, I understand deeply the language in an artistic pattern , like our pre-ancestors who drew the message on the wall. When I write, I like to invent words, because my mind is full of linguistic patterns. Particularly, I like to play in my poems with Latin , ancient Greek, Hebrew, and other languages, inventing new words.
As a demonstration I put here a poem in an invented language. It isn’t Romanian, it isn’t Latin, it isn’t any other language, it is my language, invented by me. But everybody can understand it, if they understand French, Latin, Romanian, Hebrew, Greek, because the roots of my language are here. But this poem, in my language way, which I named Limelfian language, is part of a novel – Cortegiul Mieilor (The Cortege Of Lambs) when, the main character , Hannya, creates a fantastic world – Limelfia.
Aroza nante in carmentul heu
Cian azora letovian prin rema
Exilul florilor mustuieste zeu
Hearida, hearida intasfa luna
Bumbum sineza roshasnituri
Fluae, fluae perlua fresca
Cine esti tu, cine esti tu? sarut de fluturi
Vint de argint ingurgitind cuvinte
Prin aer roze, miros de ingeri
Cercuri heraldice, visuri violete.
Aroza nante in carmentul heu
Cian azora letovian prin rema
Exilul florilor mustuieste zeu
Hearida, hearida intasfa luna
Bumbum sineza roshasnituri
Fluae, fluae perlua fresca
Therefore, I like to write in all possible languages. For me, The Poetry is the life itself. What is The Poetry for you? ….your experience is important?……but what about other experiences of others?
G.T.: The thing I like most with my poetry is that it gives me a chance to experience lives I have not, and may never, live. Sometimes I read something or hear about a story and try to put myself into a similar situation and turn the result into a poem. I don’t often put my own experiences directly into a poem … when I finished my course of chemotherapy and radiotherapy to treat a brain lymphoma, I wrote a gangsta rap style poem in which I swore at cancer and proclaimed that I wasn’t ready to give up everything for it; another time I wrote a poem that responded to a painting titled Study in Red, in which my poem uses the same title and reflects on the finger tip blood tests, the love of cake (for the purposes of this poem it was red velvet cake) which led to my blindness and kidney failure.
At high school I studied biology, chemistry and English language and literature. At university I studied chemistry but spent more time practising piano and attending concerts and poetry readings than I did making explosions and nasty smells. The result of this is that my chemistry was very poor but my poetry embraces scientific research.
L.D.: Do you want special conditions for your work, your creative process? What is the relationship between your speaking voice and your written voice? I am interested in this because personally I have Asperger’s Syndrome and my relationship with the world is a little different than that of other people. Is your blindness a matter for your inner poetry?’
G.T.: Yes, I prefer to write in my bedroom where there is little noise from other parts of the house, only the birds chirping outside my window can be heard and I find that very pleasant. My screen reading software speaks every word as I type it, so I need to listen as I’m typing and hear what I’ve written the same way a sighted person would read what they are writing as they write it. When I participate in creative writing groups I take my tablet computer with me plus a pair of headphones so that I can type without anybody in the room having to listen to my words until it is time to read the work aloud, at which point I unplug my headphones and let the tablet’s speakers play to the group. The speed of my screen reader when only I am listening to it is far faster than the speed I use when sighted people need to listen too!
L.D.: Let’s talk about women. I use to write in my poems and my prose about the condition of the woman. What about your work? Do you think that women have a role in society? How many faces has a woman? I will give you one of my poems about woman. Feel free to give me one of your poems about women.
A Puzzle Woman
by Lucia Daramus
the woman is a puzzle
she is feeling blue —-
she is feeling in colours
black, blue, red, mauve,
mauve… like a rainbow
because , because she is so, so complex
her feelings have
thousands of holes
coloured holes in her
I am a woman
a writer use to be
feeling blue and red
like other women
like Virginia Woolf
‘ A woman must have (…) a room
of her own if she is to write(…)’
or like Sylvia Plath
with sadness and happiness.
I feel in images
full of colours, I feel.
and you….like you!
you are a woman too
pieces of suffering
pieces of joy
of glamorous life
are you like Sappho
full of life, full of love?
…love of poetry, love of man
love of woman
lovers for lovers.
you are so complex
with thousands of holes
coloured holes in your maze life
you can not change anything
you love another woman
the mother loves her daughter
the daughter loves her friend
the friend loves another friend
another friend loves the grandmother
the grandmother loves other women
it is like a kingdom of love
because all of us are puzzle women.
our hands caress other women’s suffering
our lips kiss our daughters
our thoughts think at joy of others
our tears fall in coffee, black coffee
for all women, girls in the world.
we are full of kindness
and joy, peace , and love
because we are women
with thousands of holes,
coloured holes of our maze life
a maze life of empathy.
nobody changes us
ever nobody changes us
we are women, puzzle women.
Let’s go back to our initial discussion. What do you say about women?
G.T.: I am at an advantage here because I am part man, part woman … my kidney transplant came from a lady and I’m sure it is the best part of me. I do not believe that human beings are binary, meaning 100 percent male or 100 percent female. My brain enjoys the poetry of female poets because it addresses topics I find more engaging then those male poets tend to engage with. Obviously this too is not binary and there are male poets that I enjoy as much as there are female poets I do not enjoy, but on balance, if I could only read poetry by only women or only men, it would be the female poets I’d pick every time. I’ll share with you a poem that is in my debut pamphlet, Dressing Up, published by Cinnamon Press in January 2017. It is about a girl at her very first adult job interview:
Breakfast is the Most Important Meal of the Day
Effervescent green is the morning
oscillating with butterflies
flutter or fight.
I am the coca cola Red Admiral
with skinny arms
It’s tough landing a job
when you’re uncomfortably skin and bone
behind a dozen anaemic replies.
Like being back at school pupating –
was my denim too faded?
was it not distressed enough?
A young girl
struggling to separate fashion from fears
even now am I too uptight?
Across the swanky table
the power suits
staring at me
staring at my pink shoes.
L.D.: …what about the thousands of the faces of the writer? When a writer writes she or he is assuming the faces of the characters. I really like experimenting with traditional forms and draw inspiration from avant-garde poetics. Do you have poetic influences?
G.T.: Yes, my first influences were Thomas Hardy and T. S. Eliot when I was a teenager. I was studying Hardy’s poetry for the language part of my English exams and it really spoke to me. I also found a copy of Eliot’s The Waste Land and other Poems at the back of the classroom so I devoured that and was helped by the notes written in the margin that explained all the literary connections. Reading the poetry of Gertrude Stein was also fascinating for me — it’s not my style of writing but I love her poetry. I have written in traditional forms and do love the sonnet. I love villanelles too but my attempts at writing them never work very well! I have written many haiku over the years and I love the conciseness of that form, though I don’t like the modern approach of calling any short poem with under 17 syllables a haiku! I have read many modern haiku with 10 syllables or less and, for me, it fails to live up to the standard of a traditional haiku; the part I dislike most is the variation that when a poet writes a 12 syllable haiku and then a 8 syllable one and then a 10 syllable one — for me this loses the whole sense that there is a defined syllabic structure to the form.
L.D.: Please , put here another one of your poems.
G.T.: I will share another poem from Dressing Up that considers a girl’s place in the world. This one is an Inuit (Eskimo) girl and it uses three Inuit words, which I’ll explain first. The word kapluna in the title means foreigner or ‘white man’; the word qulliq is a lamp that uses seal blubber as fuel, and is used for light, heat, and drying clothing; the third word is Aama, which is translated where it is used, it is the Inuit word for mother.
The Kapluna Effect
Light seeps in
dusting its knuckles on the smoky pane,
hitting the walls
tessellated icy white,
curved like a golf ball
gutted of its stringy elastic insides.
You can feel the warmth
an emanating promise
from the sleeping furs,
a little matted
a little ragged.
Outside the blizzard blows,
it did yesterday
it will tomorrow.
The bone-chilling wind,
restrained by caribou hide
stretched across the tunnelled door,
howls like a demon,
rasping and raw.
At night the picturehouse-like-shadows
dance in the qulliq’s glow
like ghosts taking fright.
And then the youngest says,
“Aama, Mum, I wanna be vegetarian,”
and I’m like,
“And what will you eat child, snow?
The only language I write and speak well enough to use for poetry is
English and, as a result, I submit to magazines and competitions in
the UK and USA. Through this dialogue I realise it is possible to
participate in the poetry world further afield but could more be done
to raise awareness and encourage poets to expand their horizons?
L.D.: Yes, unfortunately, knowing only English language you are restricted to only one story of language. But learning languages it is so, so intelligent because each language you know structures your mind. You can touch a new culture, you can touch a new history. Drinking from others cultures, is like a cultural labyrinth.
But you can have access to other cultures via translators, or visiting other countries, or you can meet the writers from around the world at festivals. There are a lot of possibilities. But now, I am glad you can be part of Romanian culture dialogue.
We had a wonderful talk. Thank you.
Giles L. Turnbull is a blind poet living in south Wales. His poetry
and articles have appeared with Rockland, Fair Acre Press, Corncrake
Magazine, Poetry Wales, Sabotage, and in anthologies by Disability
Arts Cymru, Three Drops from a Cauldron, and Nine Arches Press. His
poem, Pooh Sticks, was shortlisted in the 2016 Live Canon
International Poetry Competition and he was shortlisted in the
Bridport Prize in 2017. His debut pamphlet, Dressing Up, was published
by Cinnamon Press in January 2017. He is the blindness advisor to the
Scottish Poetry Library and he blogs at http://gilesturnbullpoet.com
Lucia Daramus is a Jewish Romanian writer who is living in England. Daramus has Asperger’s Syndrome. She was published in some magazines in Romania, France, Germany, England, Canada, USA, etc. She published poetry, essays, short stories, play, novels.
She won same Prizes for Poetry, Romanian Prizes and International Prizes like Canadian Prize for Poetry (Gasparik.)
Many literary critics wrote about Lucia Daramus in a positive way.
In one of her essays – ‘ When The Colours Flow Over The Universe’ – she said: You can lose your country, you can lose your land, you can lose all of your wealth , but you remain with something: you remain with your language to lament your sadness, your blue feelings; you remain with the colour to reflect the anxiety of your soul; you remain with the dance which can imagine your struggle.
If all of these are kidnapped because of an ill-luck of an illness of mind, you remain with the memory of these types of creation which come from subconscious.