At the end of August I travelled north to see my sons and their families. The weather was bright and warm, I had a lovely time with Violetta in the garden. We played with pinwheels and collected pebbles. She loved my rings especially the glass ones and liked the photo of my PhD graduation. She points at it every time we have a video call and calls me ‘nonna’ (grandma). I visited Whitley Bay with my other son Francesco and his girlfriend Molly. It was such a beautiful day and we had a wonderful time chatting while walking in the sun. I am planning on meeting them again in October half term in Newcastle and visit the city together.
At the beginning of September I attended a fabulous poetry event, Tears in the Fence Festival, ‘Bewilderment / Be-wildered / Be wild’, at the Stourpaine Village Hall in Dorset. I met fellow poets I am in contact with and bought their new books that I am reading voraciously. The readings, interviews and performances were engrossing. Here is the link to my review of the event:
At the end of August I also had my friend Valerie’s birthday party. She is a poet and writer who lives in Guildford and is now 96, so we organised a gathering of friends and family at her house. There was a lot of good food and good wine too. I made the birthday cake, a sponge filled with cream and berries. My daughter Irene decorated the top with white sugar roses and silver sugar balls. Valerie was overjoyed and talked with all the guests. I visit her from time to time and we chat about our families and our writings. She is currently working on a novel set in Roman Britain though she feels tired most of the day and can work only in the morning.
In Trafalgar Square the National Gallery organised the Summer on the Square free sessions again. You could sit, use an easel or a board and sketch a drawing taking inspiration from a picture, use a mirror to make a self-portrait or just draw what was around you. Chunky pencils and oil pastels were available as well as graphite sticks, charcoal and all kinds of pencils. I made a self-portrait and spent most of the time watching children around me drawing their incredible original pieces from famous pictures of the National Gallery collection. Their interpretations were so spontaneous, colourful and absolutely unique. In London I also visited some exhibitions and reviewed them: ‘Africa Fashion’ at the V&A and ‘Lubaina Himid’ at Tate Modern. Here are the links to my reviews:
I also had the chance to visit the Senate House which is near the British Museum. I was invited to an open reception with delicious, amazing food and a guided tour around the magnificent edifice. I didn’t know that the Senate House is a popular destination for films and TV snapshots such as Crown, Bodyguard, Miss Marple and Nineteen-Eighty-Four. I loved the stained-glass window with the coat of arms and the map of the universities of London in the Senate room. In a corridor there were also some drawings by David Hockney. There is a ghost story linked to one of the lifts of the house. One of the principal officers died tragically in a lift when some material fell on him. He shouldn’t have been on site as some works were being carried out. Of course, the lift in not in use now.
In October I took part in the Chobham Art and Music Festival attending a concert at St. Lawrence parish church, ‘Paris 1778’, featuring three famous musicians associated with Paris, that is, Mozart, Haydn and Saint George. I enjoyed the whole night and was enthralled by the music floating in the soft light of the church. I had never heard Saint George’s music before. He was the son of a French aristocrat and a slave girl. He was educated in France and composed a large number of music pieces, concertos, operas, symphonies, arias and sonatas. He was a director as well, a celebrity of his day. I took part in the Art and Craft fair too on the 8th of October at Chobham Village Hall with my art, textile and crochet works. Some of my pieces were purchased and I also had commissions for more works. A few days later one of my pictures was selected for the exhibition of the Woking Art Society at The Lightbox in Woking, which will be on from the 11th to the 23rd of October. I wasn’t selected last year and I am so glad that this year I made it.
At The Lightbox there was also the final exhibition of The Vision Project
(https://www.thevisionproject.co.uk/ ). Last June I wrote about it here:
This time they wrapped up all the activities: music, dancing, paintings and poetry. The beautiful poem by Greg Freeman inspired by his wife Gillian’s painting of a cornfield particularly moved me. Here are the poem and the picture:
We’ll be leaving this garden before too long,
saying farewell to the lazy foxes
that sun themselves by the summer house,
deer that venture in from the woods beyond,
occasional badger, evening jungle of birdsong.
Yellow iris flag up the canal close by.
This place has always been nature’s, not ours.
Bamboo, brambles, ground elder lead us
a merry dance. But nothing wrong.
The mower with only three wheels
still chugs along, except when it cuts out.
Fresh evidence of our resident mole,
owl and woodpecker in the woods.
The cat lives mostly outdoors, calls in
for meals, or to show us her foraging,
mostly mice or shrews. The old shed
nearly killed me when I swung a hammer,
knocked it down. Or maybe saved me,
gave a second chance. This place has been
a refuge for so long. Always thought
we’d remain. Now somewhere else is calling.
Time for others to enjoy. Time to begin again.
Here is also the link to the film and the documentary:
The Vision project will carry on with a Vision Project 2 with more art, dancing, writing, film, music and songs for everyone.
Reading Greg’s poem also reminded me of his departure. He is moving to Northumberland with Gillian to be near their son who lives in Newcastle. We will probably visit them as I often travel north to see my sons. We will all miss him in Woking as he hosted the Write Out Loud open mic on zoom and at The Lightbox and is the editor of WOL website too. In our September meeting of the Woking Writers Circle we celebrated his birthday and also his last attendance as he will be already in Northumberland for our next gathering. Rodney and Greg proposed for me to take over Greg’s role as co-compare for the WOL open mic. I am glad to do it and hope to be up to the role that they performed so well, entertaining and involving the audience with their witty poems and cracking jokes. Rodney also proposed me to take over his role as Woking Stanza prep, that is, the person who organises the Stanza, a poetry society group that meets regularly to discuss poetry. I will do it probably starting from next January on zoom.
At the end of September I had a fantastic Maddogyoga retreat at a youth hostel in Totland in the Isle of Wight with my yoga group. I am writing a piece about it including all the exercising, activities and good food we had in the 4-day trip. It was an exciting and rejuvenating experience that made me feel fit and happy. I felt accepted and valued in the community and the connections we created during the retreat. We had walks together, helped each other in clearing up and setting dinner and had long relaxing chats about our worries and joys. We had great fun too, delicious dinners exceptional cakes and even a game night and a fancy-dress party. Shena Grigor, our yoga instructor, was entertaining and professional as ever. I read poems at the beginning and end of each yoga session which I collected from online magazines and printed them in a booklet. It was an enthralling experience I wish to repeat.
Two anthologies launch happened in September and October, Poems for Ukraine: An Anthology by Poetry Performance, edited by Annie Havell, and Finding our Voices: Write Out Loud Woking: The First Six Years 2016-2022, edited by Rodney Wood and Greg Freeman. I attended the launch of the Ukraine anthology at the Willoughby Arms and read two poems, ‘I have something to say about crochet’ and ‘Monitoring my body’, though they are not included in this anthology. Here is the link to a review and how to order a copy of this significant collection that speaks honestly about the devastating conflict:
And here is my favourite poem from the collection:
THE TROUBLE WITH WAR
The trouble with war –
It distracts me from vital things
like my phone charger and blusher.
I don’t know about this strange country
that sits vulnerably next to Russia.
The trouble with war –
are the Ukraine flag colours
that clash with my two piece
and my new designer shoes,I’m not properly attired for peace
The trouble with war –
inconvenienced by casualties,
and devastation and outrage
in the broadsheets and The Sun.
Please kindly leave the page
The trouble with war –
families have to flee for safety
from bombs falling out the sky.
Filing my nails, I catch myself saying
there but for the grace of God go I!
Finding our Voices celebrates Write Out Loud’s open mics and zoom meetings in which the poets of Woking and Guildford areas, and further afield on zoom, have met to read their poetry, shared their ideas and their books and connected to one another, which is what we really need. We had the zoom launch of the anthology last Wednesday and there will be the launch at The Lightbox in Woking on Thursday 27th of October at 8 pm. I meet regularly with most of the poets featured in the anthology, either online, on Facebook or in person. The poems are rich and diverse and express the inclusive, multi-faceted and entertaining spirit that Greg and Rodney promoted in the past six years. As they remark in the introduction, ‘We’ve called this anthology Finding our Voices, to try and encapsulate the founding principles we believe in about open mic poetry – that it should be open to all, that it can help people express themselves, develop self-confidence, exorcise demons, share stories.’ The cover picture is from a painting by Geoffrey Pimlott, a friend, fellow poet and renowned painter. Here are some links to his work:
The anthology can be purchased on Amazon here:
And here is my poem featured in Finding our Voices:
IN PRAISE OF RICE
To my husband
You stir the carnaroli rice in the pot with a wooden spoon.
The rice is overcooked, it thickens
in the receding boiling water.
You remove it from the hob and keep stirring
until the grains look fat enough,
ripe and glued one to the other.
You scoop small portions in bowls for me and our daughter,
then eat it straight from the pot
adding in plenty of olive oil and parmigiano,
heaven in your eyes.
Carla Scarano D’Antonio
My collection Workwear is ready. I have copies of the book at home and I have already sent some of them to friends and family. The launch will be probably at the end of November but I have asked my webmaster to prepare a webpage for my website before the launch. The book is already on sale at The Lionsheart bookshop in the centre of Woking, 67 Commercial Way, GU21 6HN (https://www.lionsheartbookshop.co.uk/ ). It will be on The High Window Press website too (https://thehighwindowpress.com/the-high-window-press/ ). Some of my fellow poets are also writing reviews of my new collection which I will post on social media and add the links on my website.
The apple harvest season has been abundant. Free apples have come from friends and neighbours, so I am cooking and baking apple recipes every other day. Here is a special apple cake one that one of my husband’s aunts, zia Angela, gave me. She has a wood-burning oven and maybe this is the reason why her pizza, biscuits and cakes come out so perfect. But she is also a good cook.
The perfect apple cake
You need: 350 g of self-raising flour, three eggs, 200 g of sugar, 1 and ½ tsp of baking powder, 1 tsp of bicarbonate of soda, ½ glass of milk, 4 tbsp of olive oil, grated zest of a lemon, four apples, the juice of a lemon.
Cut the apples, two of them in cubes and two in slices. Add the juice of a lemon and two tbsp of sugar. In a large bowl beat the eggs with the sugar add the rest of the ingredients and the apples cut in cubes. Pour the mixture in a greased cake tin and decorate the top with the apples cut in slices. Bake at 180 C for 45 minutes.
I have also realised that my name appeared in three articles on the Woking News & Mail (13th October 2022) regarding my pumpkin post-box crochet installation, my stall at Chobham Festival Art and Craft fair and my taking over as co-compare for WOL open mic. Incredible! I hardly believe it is happening. 😄