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Heritage

A WOMENS HISTORY BLOG

The Gals I’d Posted on My .com

I have elected to forego the fees associated with the upkeep of my domain at heroicvignettes.com and will therefore paste some of those blog posts on this site for the time being. Thank you for perusing, I hope you enjoy these brief notes on these few inspiring women:

I have been watching a couple of short videos on youtube about Cai Wenji and have found them so interesting that I felt overwhelmingly compelled to share her story on this blog. Of course, Cai Wenji’s heroic tale will appear in HEROIC VIGNETTES, Feminine Chinese, but until the book is released, let these interesting videos feed your curiosity.

As March is officially Women’s History Month in the United States, I will honor it with a blog post a day. Albeit a very short post, but a post nonetheless. These posts will be about, basically, whomever comes to mind first.

Today’s Heroic Vignette is a quicky-note about Irena Sendler. During World War 2 Mrs. Sendler was working as a social worker when she formed an underground organization, Zegota, in order to rescue Jewish children from the Warsaw Ghetto. The children were secreted out of the Ghetto in numerous ingenious ways; in packages, in milk urns, in tool boxes, and in burlap sacks. She had dogs trained to bark at the approach of soldiers in order to cover up the sounds of crying babies. Between October 1940 and April 1943, the group of 20 rescuers saved 2,500 children from the gas chambers. She had written their real names on slips of paper and stored the names in a jar buried under a cherry tree.

As March is officially Women’s History Month in the United States, I will honor it with a blog post a day. Albeit a very short post, but a post nonetheless. These posts will be about, basically, whomever comes to mind first.

As Queen Mother of Ejisu-Juaben district, Yaa Asantewaa watched with horror as the British exiled the king. Not content to let the oppressors systematically remove the leaders of this Ghana tribe, Yaa Asantewaa led the Asanti in a  revolt against the British for many months until 1,400 recruits reinforced the British troops and captured her. This is the last major war in Africa that was led by a woman.

This is an AWESOME speech! Love it, love it, love it!!!!

 

 

Within a year of earning her pilot’s license, the Russian aviatrix Marina Raskova, took part in two record-breaking flights. Raskova was content to continue breaking flight records until, in 1941, Hitler’s army was just 19 miles away from Moscow and Raskova managed to convince Stalin to enlist women aviators in the fight against Hitler. With 1,200 women making up the entire crew of aviators, mechanics, officers, and ground crew, this group was divided into regiments of night flyers who would greatly cripple Hitler’s attack on Russia. By 1942, Hiter’s troops were referring to these dangerous night flyers as nachthexen (night witches) because the night flyers were so deadly. Raskova commanded the 125th Guards Bomber Aviation Regiment, a regiment that was given the best of the Soviet bombers, the Petlyakov Pe-2, which is a point that did not settle well with her male counterparts who were flying less desirable aircraft. In 1938 She and two others were the first women to be awarded the Hero of the Soviet Union Award.  The 125th Guards flew over 1,134 missions. Raskova died in combat on January 4th, 1943.

Malala Yousafzai (b. 7-12-1997) is a young woman from Pakistan who not only wants to fight against terrorism, but also for women’s education. When she was eleven years old, she believed that the Taliban would not hurt children, that she was safe from persecution from the taliban because of her youth. Making the decision to not live in fear for her beliefs, she began blogging about the Taliban rule of the Swat Valley where she lived and about encouraging education for girls. Speaking against the prison-life that women in the culture were subjected to in the midst of the Taliban rule eventually led her to being shot by a Taliban gunman. Her book, “I am Malala”, is a must-read., just watch this video and you will agree.

Ligia Gargallo is a Chilean scientist who specializes in researching and teaching in the field of polymer science. The properties of polymers have a wide and diverse range, occurring in both the science lab as chemicals and in nature as DNA and proteins. Gargallo has published over 200 articles concerning her research gaining her the  L’Oreal-UNESCO award for women scientists in 2007. She has been presidential Consultant in Scientific Matter (1995-1999). Member of Chilean Society of Chemistry, American Chemical Society, Chilean Academy of Science and Latino -american Academy of Science (ACAL). Gargallo is an inspiration to female students, for she knows that they must work harder to accomplish their goals but she also knows that it is entirely possible to achieve those goals. Her confidence in her teaching and in the lab demonstrates her confidence to her students and to her lab partners.

The evolution of female artists into the art world was slow.  Prior to the Renaissance, the dominance of males in the artistic climate and the near exclusion of women altogether could give historians the impression that women just were not able to produce art. In the 16th Century, artist guilds were formed and training for artists branched out from the monastery, expanding the profession to craftsmen.  Being that art required the study of the nude male body, women were still excluded from the newly formed guilds and academies.  Some women did manage to paint their way into the history books despite their overwhelming odds; however, in the 16th Century only thirty-five women are known to have been artists.

One such artist was Sofonisba Anguissola (1532-1625) who was the first Italian woman to gain an international reputation as a painter.  Her reputation was such that she was summoned to Spain and commissioned as the official court painter of Phillip II.  Prior to her move to Spain, she spent time under the tutelage of professional painters.  Many of the earlier portraits that she painted are still on display today, but much of her later work has disappeared.  Possibly her most famous work is a portrait of her sisters playing chess, which is considered to be a precursor to the conversation piece.  This is a painting that demonstrates not only the woman’s ability to exercise strategic thought processes as in the game of chess, but also the painter’s ability to capture the scene with precision and elegance.

Anguissola was known to paint in a style adapted from Caravaggio, one of the initiators of the Baroque style, with her naturalistic depictions of ordinary people and her skillful use of chiaroscuro.  Her painting, Three Of The Artist’s Sisters Playing Chess, (1554) is a fine example of this.    In the latter half of the 16th Century, Lavina Fontana, Fede Galizia, and Barbara Longhi all became practicing artists in the wake of Anguissola’s success.

Juana Galan (1787–1812) held a key position in the Valdepenas uprising when the French were en route to attack during the Peninsula War in June 1808. The men were scarce so Galan organized a defense of the town using whatever means could be attained. From frying pans to boiling oil, Galan and her makeshift troops gave the invaders more than they bargained for and sent them whimpering off to never attack the town again.<a title="Valdepeñas"

Hailing from Canada to eventually settle in California for a time, Joni Mitchell hit the music scene with energy. She is heralded as not only a complex poet and clever innovator in the music industry, but she has also earned much acclaim as a painter.

Amelia, Joni Mitchell

I was driving across the burning desert
When I spotted six jet planes
Leaving six white vapor trails across the bleak terrain
It was the hexagram of the heavens
It was the strings of my guitar
Amelia, it was just a false alarm

The drone of flying engines
Is a song so wild and blue
It scrambles time and seasons if it gets thru to you
Then your life becomes a travelogue
Of picture-post-card-charms
Amelia, it was just a false alarm

People will tell you where they’ve gone
They’ll tell you where to go
But till you get there yourself you never really know
Where some have found their paradise
Other’s just come to harm
Oh amelia, it was just a false alarm

I wish that he was here tonight
It’s so hard to obey
His sad request of me to kindly stay away
So this is how I hide the hurt
As the road leads cursed and charmed
I tell amelia, it was just a false alarm

A ghost of aviation
She was swallowed by the sky
Or by the sea, like me she had a dream to fly
Like icarus ascending
On beautiful foolish arms
Amelia, it was just a false alarm

Maybe I’ve never really loved
I guess that is the truth
I’ve spent my whole life in clouds at icy altitude
And looking down on everything
I crashed into his arms
Amelia, it was just a false alarm

I pulled into the cactus tree motel
To shower off the dust
And I slept on the strange pillows of my wanderlust
I dreamed of 747s
Over geometric farms
Dreams, amelia, dreams and false alarms

Dika Toua from Papua, New Guinea, and her classmate, Jenly Wini, were the first female graduates of the Oceania Weightlifting Institute in New Caledonia. Long before attending the institute, Dika Toua (b. June 23rd, 1984) made history at the 2000 Sydney Olympics as the first woman to lift weights in the Olympics. She has participated in the Olympics games in 2000, 2004, 2008, and 2012. Toua has not yet won a medal in the games but she is training hard in preparation for the 2016 Olympics in Rio.

Throughout the course of recorded human history, storytelling has always been not only a favorite leisure activity, but also used as a method to convey moral attitudes. From the earliest known Cuneiform writing to the epic poems of ancient Greece, women have played substantial roles not only as heroines and villains, but also as writers of the literature which shaped and entertained their communities. Enheduanna, of Sumaria in 2350 B.C. is said to be the first identifiable poet to sign her writing with her action-packed epic, Song to Inanna, which tells  the story of a great and powerful priestess whose throne is ripped out from under her. Not long after, came the great stories of Greek Mythology, many of which still entertain and mystify us today.

With the legacy of the heroic and mythical in mind, I am including in today’s post a few tributes to the characters in literature of long, long ago. These pieces by yours truly, were intended to be written in tanka forms.

NARCISSUS

Beautiful
forever longing
for the gentle touch, myself
satiny smooth skin against my skin
feeling the graceful ebb, flow
of my own desirous
reflection

APHRODITE

From heaven
Aphrodite came
enchanting lover was she
the Trojan war was greatly leavened
crying the stark beauty’s name
foam from the great sea
Aphrodite

PALLAS ATHENA

jealous she
of youthful psyche
imprisoned her to blindness
eros she was forbidden to see
but the love she had for he
overpower’d Aphrodite
with psyche’s kindness
will’s strength

Zeus you pleased
victory you seized,
mighty courage Athena
but you hid your dance
amidst chance

wisdom great
conquered evil states
mighty knowledge Athena
forgot all the while
how to smile

PERSEPHONE

Hades deals
Hermes comes to steal
what death couldn’t even hold
a strong woman beautiful and bold
pomegranate seeds seven
kept her from heaven;
ate free will

NYMPH

Aggressive
fine wine suckling lips
guides a powerful river
to and fro, directions path taken
no turn without her
leading love
to herself

Today marks the release of KeriLynn Engel’s book, “Amazing Women In History: Inspiring Stories Of 20 Women The History Books Left Out“. amazing

The book is informative and entertaining as it portrays the lives of amazing women who are not commonly in the history books. For instance, from the first chapter:

Admiral “Amazing Grace” Hopper, pioneering computer programmer

(Davis, 1984)

United States Navy Admiral Grace Hopper (1906–1992) was one of the first programmers in the history of computers. Her belief that programming languages should be written to look like English and be easily understood were highly influential on the development of one of the first programming languages called COBOL. It’s largely due to Grace Hopper’s influence that programmers today use “if/thens” instead of 1s and 0s.

From a young age, Grace had a curious and analytical mind. When she was seven, she decided she wanted to figure out how clocks worked. To find the answer, she took apart every single alarm clock in the house. When her mother found out, instead of scolding Grace she limited Grace to taking apart only one alarm clock at a time.

Grace’s parents encouraged her curiosity in other ways, too. Her mother, Mary Campbell Van Horne Murray, had been very interested in math as a young woman, but hadn’t been able to study anything beyond geometry because it wasn’t considered proper for a lady at the time. She made sure to encourage Grace in her interests and not to limit her based on her gender. Grace’s father, Walter Fletcher Murray, wanted all of his children to be self-sufficient and made sure his two daughters had the same education and opportunities as his son, which was unusual for the early 20th century. With this encouragement, she went on to study math and physics at Vassar and then Yale, earning her PhD in mathematics in 1931. After graduating, Grace stayed at Vassar to teach mathematics for the next ten years.

Be sure to get yourself a copy and why not pick up a copy for a friend while you’re at it.  Buy it at smashwords or Amazon today.

And be sure to visit Kerilynn Engel’s website!

A great video about the inventions of many things, not the least of which is paper. Paper for recording history, writing poetry, and painting art.

http://documentaryaddict.com/What+the+Ancients+Did+For+Us+The+Chinese-11534-documentary.html

Paper for sharing stories beyond the immediate time and space, paper for block printing the thoughts of sages, philosophy of the learned and even likenesses of individuals. Paper is something that without which we would only have word of mouth or TV blurbs to rely on for information on decision making, quests for discovery, and for entertainment.

Sure, paper is something we take for granted as we sit in the waiting room at the Doctor’s office and read free pamphlets on various conditions or magazines about leading a healthy lifestyle. We don’t give paper much thought as our insurance companies send us yet another invitation in the mail to make an appointment to update (increase) our insurance coverage. Paper is not something we give much thought to as we purchase the newest release of the book series we are devouring practically before the ink dries on the pages.

As you would probably guess, I prefer paper to digital media. Though one may not deem paper information more trustworthy than the fleeting digital images of the same information, I do trust paper more. I can file paper information away in my filing cabinet for future reference so that in, say a legal matter or a discussion of facts, I can pull that paper from its folder and present it to the parties who need the facts. It is not a broken link, a downed website, or a missing URL. Paper is not a thumb drive chewed up by my dog or a hard drive eaten by worms.

Aside from the fact that paper can be used as proof for various trails, mapping a neat and tidy route from “he said” to “she said,” it is also a great tool for thinking. I like to doodle while talking on the phone. I make these silly little circles on paper (usually the back of the envelope of the aforementioned insurance company letter) and it calms me, helps me keep my head in the conversation. I don’t know why or how this circular inking works, but it does and it has ever since I can remember using a phone. Also, I like to write poetry. I use paper for writing my poems; there’s a connection I’m making when I hold the pen against the paper and fan ink-breath into words.

A big plus about paper. Although the internet can be accessed and scrutinized by the world, the NSA does not know where I have hidden my journal.

At any rate, though the video above only mentions the invention of paper for a minute or two, the entire piece about the inventions of the Chinese people is worth watching. For one thing, it is my assertion that it is the use of paper among the individual people which keeps a  nation’s citizens free in their hearts – China is a nation which ranks 175 out of 180 in the Freedom Of Press Index. I find this statistic interesting on a couple of levels. For one, China invented paper! Another point concerning the freedom of the press rankings is that China is where nearly all of our e-readers are made. Readers that come loaded void of Chinese history,philosophy, religion, art, or culture. Irony – something else that was likely invented by the Chinese, I’m fairly certain.

Not only is Wu Zetian the only female emperor in the history of China, but she also greatly expanded the boundaries of China’s territory during her relatively short 15  year reign (690-705, AD). In the midst of the Tang Dynasty, Emperor Wu Zetian renamed this time period the Zhou Dynasty, perhaps in an attempt to reinstate her ancient family name into the hierarchy of Chinese civilization. To the detriment of historic records concerning female propriety, Emperor Wu was known to be as ruthless, cunning, and ambitious as any male emperor before or after her.

 

File:A Tang Dynasty Empress Wu Zetian.JPG

 

 

I had an electric typewriter when I was younger. I thought it was the coolest thing since, well, since the manual typewriter. Though I knew that the ribbon would have to be replaced if I used all the ink, I would sometimes type letters onto the page just to watch the arms strike against the ribbon and leave ink’s footprint upon the bare white of the paper. I was caught in a seemingly magical vortex of randomness and control, of keys controlling letters pounding ink from ribbon to page. At one point letters began huddling together to form words, the words grew into sentences, and so on. The mystery of the fascination solved itself, proclaiming absolution from the abyss of nothingness when at long last an entire page of progressive thoughts had been typed. I gave the platen a quick turn with my right hand, pulled that page free of the typewriter with my left, and I held up to the light one of the most amazing things I had ever seen in my young life. Me. My heart spelled out in reality. Thoughts that were inked onto paper. Feelings that could be touched by way of fingers tracing over the already dried ink. From that day forward I knew that as long as I had ink, I could live forever, or at least believe in the possibility of doing so.

The thought process that brought me through my teenage years; the realization that I could put ink to paper and work through difficult times, was my victorious grasp on life itself. I would type troubles and struggles onto the paper and sometimes an answer or a consoling idea would find its way onto the page within a few sentences, paragraphs, or pages. Sometimes there were no answers. That’s why I’m still typing.

I still use ink as a consoling medium, but I have gone back a bit further in the technical department. These days I use an ink pen and lined paper quite often because I like to see the evolution of letters to words to sentences. I like to see the cross-outs, the circling of words which indicates I should replace them with a better choice. So many cryptic and mysterious things happen between my ink and paper while I hold a pen in my hand. It is a mystery to decipher, and I am happy to hold the pen that solves the puzzle.

Let’s make ink!

April is National Poetry Month, Read a Poem!

It is national poetry month and though this blog is intended to celebrate the achievements of heroine’s throughout history, this first poem-post for National Poetry Month concerns those who battle against the hero within and find themselves lost in a struggle for life itself. It is written in the form of a Cyhydedd Hir (Cuh-hee-dedd heer), a classic Welsh poetry form.

The Cyhydedd Hir (Cuh-hee-dedd heer) is a poem of 16 lines comprised of two sets of eight line stanzas with two quatrains each.  The first three lines of each quatrain consists of five syllables, the fifth  word of each line rhyming.  The fourth line of the first stanza has four syllables and rhymes with the fourth line of the second stanza.  Thus, the fourth lines are the main rhymes of the poem, while the other three lines are rhymes amongst themselves.  The second set of quatrains contains a new rhyme at the end of line four, just as each quatrain contains a new rhyme for each of the three five-syllable lines above it.

 

 

LIFE IS MEANT TO BE LIVED
 
—Tami Richards
 
 
Arsenic’s song
Plays smoothly along
All that had gone wrong,
Why didn’t you flee?
You’ve muffled the tune,
The lie will end soon,
A crying of loons
From naked trees,
 
Poison’s easy pill
At first made you ill,
But you just sat still
Awaiting death,
Impotent, I cried
Watching as you died,
Fearing death had lied
Near your warm breath
 
 

ORIGINAL ARTICLE @ WRITING-WORLD.COM

April is National Poetry Month, Read a Poem!

.The love song of J. Alfred Prufrock is one of my favorite poems of all times. On the surface it tells an interesting story, is whimsical yet serious, and of course contains some quite memorable one-liners such as “Let us go then, you and I,” or “In the room the women come and go talking of Michelangelo,’ and my personal favorite, “I have measured out my life with coffee spoons.” The yearning for love is not a new observation for poets to make, and it has certainly been a subject of discussion for philosophers and scientists alike since time began. Love is a subject that each individual person grapples with at some point in their lives, and Eliot’s poem of a middle aged intellectual worrying about his ability to attract love, is ideal for such moments.

The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock

—T.S. Eliot

Prufrock_Page_1 Prufrock_Page_2 Prufrock_Page_3 Prufrock_Page_4

April is National Poetry Month, Read a Poem!

 

Dorothy Parker (22 August 1893 – 7 June 1967) is known for being sassy, satirical, humorous. Of all the things she’s known for, I believe she was quite a word-clever gal indeed.

The Passionate Freudian to His Love
by Dorothy Parker

Only name the day, and we’ll fly away
In the face of old traditions,
To a sheltered spot, by the world forgot,
Where we’ll park our inhibitions.
Come and gaze in eyes where the lovelight lies
As it psychoanalyzes,
And when once you glean what your fantasies mean
Life will hold no more surprises.
When you’ve told your love what you’re thinking of
Things will be much more informal;
Through a sunlit land we’ll go hand-in-hand,
Drifting gently back to normal.

While the pale moon gleams, we will dream sweet dreams,
And I’ll win your admiration,
For it’s only fair to admit I’m there
With a mean interpretation.
In the sunrise glow we will whisper low
Of the scenes our dreams have painted,
And when you’re advised what they symbolized
We’ll begin to feel acquainted.
So we’ll gaily float in a slumber boat
Where subconscious waves dash wildly;
In the stars’ soft light, we will say good-night—
And “good-night!” will put it mildly.

Our desires shall be from repressions free—
As it’s only right to treat them.
To your ego’s whims I will sing sweet hymns,
And ad libido repeat them.
With your hand in mine, idly we’ll recline
Amid bowers of neuroses,
While the sun seeks rest in the great red west
We will sit and match psychoses.
So come dwell a while on that distant isle
In the brilliant tropic weather;
Where a Freud in need is a Freud indeed,
We’ll always be Jung together.

map

(Reaching toward Chinese readers one country at a time)

April is National Poetry Month, Read a Poem!

The Tang Dynasy (618-907 AD) was a period of tremendous growth and learning in China. Poets, calligraphers, painters, and historians, were encouraged to expand their knowledge and their passions. There were two female rulers during Tang Dynasty, one of them an Emperor who renamed the Dynasty for a short stint. Also, there are three female poets whose work has made its way to the 21st century, one of them is Yu Xuanji, who’s book of poems can be downloaded at this link. Though Yu Xuanji’s surname of Yu is fairly uncommon, her given name of Xuanji can be translated to mean “Profound Theory.” I have included a few of her poems from her book in this post. Profound Theory may indeed prove to be spot-on, as the expression goes.

Something to keep in mind as we peer through the historical/cultural spyglass. Though a person may have been a concubine, second wife, or held any other seemingly less-than-flattering position, it is not as if the gals of the past had many career choices. So, the fact that we are able to enjoy the poetry of three tang dynasty females is cause for celebration. Xue Tao and Li Ye are two other poets that we can read all these years later.

 

A poem for the willows by the river

赋得江边柳

翠色连荒岸,烟姿入远楼。
影铺秋水面,花落钓人头。
根老藏鱼窟,枝低系客舟。
萧萧风雨夜,惊梦复添愁。

Jade green stretches by the river’s barren banks;
misty clouds dance themselves into distant mansions.
Reflections unfold upon the autumn river;
flowers fall on the heads of fishermen.
Old roots hide the haunts of fishes;
branches bend to moor visiting boats.
The night sighs and sighs with wind and rain,
and unsettling dreams only deepen my gloom.

 

Sent to a neighbour girl

赠邻女

羞日遮罗袖,愁春懒起妆。
易求无价宝,难得有心郎。
枕上潜垂泪,花间暗断肠。
自能窥宋玉,何必恨王昌?

I block the shame of daylight with a silken sleeve,
too listless to get dressed this melancholy spring.
It’s easy to come by a pearl without price;
what’s hard is to find a lover with a heart.
Hidden teardrops fall on my pillow,
my heart breaks secretly among the flowers—
but still I can peep at Song Yu;
why then regret Wang Chang?

 

 To Guo Xiang

寄国香

旦夕醉吟身,相思又此春。
雨中寄书使,窗下断肠人。
山卷珠帘看,愁随芳草新。
别来清宴上,几度落梁尘?

From dawn to dusk I’m drunk and singing,
lovesick with every new spring.
There’s a messenger with letters in the rain;
there’s a broken-hearted girl by the window.
Rolling up beaded blinds, I see mountains;
each sorrow’s renewed like the grass.
Since last we parted, at your feasts
how often has the rafter dust fallen?

 

四月是全國詩歌月,讀一首詩!

唐代官(公元618-907年),是一個時期的巨大增長和學習在中國。詩人,書法家,畫家,歷史學家,鼓勵擴大自己的知識和他們的激情。當局在唐代,其中一人誰更名為王朝為短的限制一個皇帝是兩個女的統治者。此外,還有三個女的詩人,其作品已經作出了這樣到了21世紀,其中之一是魚玄機,誰的詩歌的書可以在這個鏈接下載。雖然宇魚玄機的姓是相當少見的,她給璇璣的名稱可以翻譯的意思是“深刻理論。 ”我已經包括了幾個她的詩從她在這個崗位本書。深厚的理論可能確實被證明是現場上,因為有雲。

事情要記住,因為我們通過歷史/文化望遠鏡窺視。雖然一個人可能是一個妾,二奶,或持有任何其他看似低於奉承的位置,它是不是像過去的姑娘有很多職業選擇。所以,事實是,我們都能夠享受3唐代女性的詩是值得慶祝。薛濤和李冶是兩個,我們可以把這些年後讀其他詩人。

April is National Poetry Month, Read a Poem!

It would be a shame to celebrate National Poetry Month without including a poem from Dr. Maya Angelou on this blog, the blog about heroic women. I saw Dr. Angelou a few years ago at a local historic theater. She was around 80 at the time and quite engaging as a speaker.

Though Dr. Angelou experienced heavy racial discrimination as a child, she overcame her many battles and grew to be one of the most popular renaissance women of modern American history.

A Plagued Journey

BY MAYA ANGELOU

There is no warning rattle at the door
nor heavy feet to stomp the foyer boards.
Safe in the dark prison, I know that
light slides over
the fingered work of a toothless
woman in Pakistan.
Happy prints of
an invisible time are illumined.
My mouth agape
rejects the solid air and
lungs hold. The invader takes
direction and
seeps through the plaster walls.
It is at my chamber, entering
the keyhole, pushing
through the padding of the door.
I cannot scream. A bone
of fear clogs my throat.
It is upon me. It is
sunrise, with Hope
its arrogant rider.
My mind, formerly quiescent
in its snug encasement, is strained
to look upon their rapturous visages,
to let them enter even into me.
I am forced
outside myself to
mount the light and ride joined with Hope.

Through all the bright hours
I cling to expectation, until
darkness comes to reclaim me
as its own. Hope fades, day is gone
into its irredeemable place
and I am thrown back into the familiar
bonds of disconsolation.
Gloom crawls around
lapping lasciviously
between my toes, at my ankles,
and it sucks the strands of my
hair. It forgives my heady
fling with Hope. I am
joined again into its
greedy arms.

Watch this interview with Dr. Angelou:

April is National Poetry Month, Read a Poem!

Searching for poets hailing from the vast continent of Africa is quite an undertaking; Africa being a continent of 55 countries and home to so many languages I don’t speak or read that I don’t even know how to begin searching for poems written by people from that diverse continent. I did find a beaut by Fatiha Morchid which Poetry International Web was kind enough to translate into English and post on their website. I think it translates beautifully.

Fatiha Morchid

Absence

Do not say “absence tastes like madness”
Close your eyes
Wherever you are
You will find me . . .
Immovable as the sea
Wandering about
In the ebb and flow
Never absent. 

April is National Poetry Month, Read a Poem!

A few years ago, I had the privilege of meeting Ms. Cass Dalglish at an event being held to promote her new book, Humming The BluesDuring the informal gathering, we had the opportunity to not only hear Ms. Dalglish read from an ancient text written by Enheduanna and translated by Dalglish, but we also delved into translating cuneiform writing ourselves. It was at this event where I learned that the earliest known signed piece of literature in the world known to exist was not only written by a woman who was a High Priestess, Princess, and Poet in the Sumerian city of UR. (modern day Iraq), but the work is quite lively and entertaining as well, being rife with drama, politics, and myth.

NIN-ME-SARA

Translated by Dr. Annette Zgoll 

I, also, would like to celebrate
the good wishes of the queen of battle,
the eldest daughter of Sin

Since it [Ebih] didn’t kiss the ground in front of me,
Nor did it sweep the dust before me with it’s beard,
I will lay my hand on this instigating country:
I will teach it to fear me!

I’ll bring war [to Ebih], I’ll instigate combat,
I’ll draw arrows from my quiver,
I’ll unleash the rocks from my sling in a long salute,
I’ll impale it [Ebih] with my sword

April is National Poetry Month, Read a Poem!

From the chaos known as the collapse of the Soviet Union came the poet Nina Iskrenko (1951–1995) who’s exploration of pen to paper not only broke through customary standards of poetry writing, but also spread a bit of free thinking throughout a land which found that it was no longer under the rule of the iron hand. Pasted below is Another Woman, which is an amazing piece. As I read this piece, I nearly heard the sound of a camera shutter snapping and film advancing. The poem is not about photography, but it is how I “heard” this piece. So. I read it again. And yet again, discovering that this poem demonstrates nothing less than the work of a word genius.

Another Woman, Nina Iskrenko

Translated by Stephanie Sandler

When I cannot stand
to muster strength against misfortune
when I cannot sleep
and face an entire tank of dirty laundry
when I
mistake my children
for dinosaurs
but take the favorable disposition of luminaries in the sky
for a simple act of courtesy
when at a quarter to
eight I have to go
and at a quarter to nine I have to go
and at a quarter to eleven I
have to go
and the radio
is saying all manner of bad things
when the telephone finally tunes out
because it can’t take this any more
and a piece of butter brought to mind
does not spread on an imaginary piece of bread
and what’s more I stumble in the dark of night on
the bicycle in the hall

the sleepy and slightly irritated striking of a match is heard
and smoke reaches under the door
This is you
starting to talk on and on to me about another woman

Another woman in your place
Another woman in your position
Another woman at our level of civilization would pay no attention
to these regular monthly whims would not pay attention
would not pay

My forehead tenses up with the effort to imagine the seductive
adaptability of a n o t h e r woman to o u r level of civilization and
when finally I succeed I smile the trustingly disdainful smile of the
Cheshire cat or of Julio Cortazar gladly giving up my place at the stove to the other woman and in sleep and in all of my horizontal-verticaltrigonometrical knee-eared cold-nosed spiral-eyed positions and while she masters them paying me no attention whatsoever I steal up to the front door feeling for my shoes and thinking only about how not to get snagged by the bicycle in the hall

The doorbell rings
I open the door
Another woman with a plaintive voice jumping out of her dress asks me to call the police her husband got drunk and she hit him with a skillet full of cutlets you wouldn’t have any valerian would you thank you what is this disgusting stuff I’ve never taken anything like it good God some people have proper lives, quiet and calm and happy

Coming back into the room for a handkerchief I notice that another woman resiliently-weightily has collapsed onto something brown-red and dirty-blue She has a splendid golden almost masculine torso cut off by a frame and blind eyes smeared over in black It seems in my position she is pretty satisfied although Modigliani does not like being looked at

The television flickers
Another woman on the screen
whispers and wails into an invisible microphone
fatally shuts her eyes revelling in her
shrewish gait and animal longing
for another man
For you probably

In half an hour another woman in a crooked veil
and work boots
suddenly falls off the book shelf onto my head
and lies on the floor all open in a swoon
at that page where the enemy has just burned down a Russian village
where Catholics ceaselessly butcher Huguenots
and Turks do it to Armenians
and the bronze horseman wears down the bronze steed
riding from Petersburg to Moscow
trying to get there for the morning execution of the Streltsy

Bunchberry sauce for meat and chicken
is something we never have
Bunchberries do not grow at our market
probably another woman is in the kitchen looking through
the cookbook she turned to me with her
tasty bunchberry butt pasted on a cardboard
wrapper of German-made stockings

Blue twilight is soaked
and its contours are lost in the little river and for hours and minutes the suffering cello squeak of the doors
winds around the digital lock in the entryway

In the yard wheezing children work hard to carve from snow
another woman
Her head keeps falling apart
it’s like some sort of punishment to make this stupid head
who ever thought it up
you could just cut the eyes in her stomach

Growing dark      Starting to drizzle      Growing light
Stretching out
Peering through      It started to freeze

Another woman in my place looks in the mirror
turning her face so that
the circles under her eyes aren’t seen

Another woman in my position sorts through the spoons
and climbs up to the top shelf to get washing powder

Another woman at our level of civilization
walks along the sidewalk in dirty tattered jeans
looks through magazines at the kiosks
gets bored talking with friends
figures out the story’s ending after the third
paragraph although it only has two

and she comes out of the metro
walking toward the Pushkin monument at that very moment
when the poet with his stiff stone face
takes off his top hat
and turns toward Tver Boulevard
listening wearily to the noise of airplanes
to the light clatter of carriage wheels
and to the squeak of floorboards in Mikhailovskoe
He is watching with feigned indifference

another woman
who pays him absolutely no attention
as she melodically moves across the street
Her face turns pink in the shining warning light
of the traffic signal   Brakes squeal
She shrieks and runs
without looking back choking on the frozen air
mechanically reading signs and being reflected in
every face until finally she falls
flat in the dark of night
accidentally tripping on a bicycle
in the hall

April is National Poetry Month, Read a Poem!

Francis Jan (Fanny) Crosby (March 1820-February 1915) was blind since infancy due to an illness which was treated by an errant pseudo-physician who prescribed a hot mustard poultice application to her eyes. Having been raised by her Christian grandmother, Crosby grew to love poetry, God, and sharing the gospel. In her lifetime, Crosby wrote over 8,000 hymns. 8,000! So many hymns that she used practically too many pseudonyms to keep track of.

Christ the Seal of Death has Broken
Words: Fanny Crosby

Christ the seal of death has broken,
Forth He comes with power divine;
Heavenly guards behold Him rising,
Heavenly glories ‘round Him shine.

At the tomb that cannot bind Him,
Angels linger robed in white;
While the watchmen, pale and trembling,
Fall in terror from the sight!

Ye who bore the joyful tidings
of a Prince and Saviour born,
Higher raise your song of triumph
on the resurrection morn!

Refrain:
Lift your heads, ye saints, and hail Him,
hail the mighty Lord of all.

Happy Easter, He is Risen!

April is National Poetry Month, Read a Poem!

When yet an infant, Shangguan Waner (664-710) was taken to the royal palace. Shangguan Waner’s male family members had been imprisoned for treason, and her mother and herself made slaves to the emperor. Waner was educated by her mother and by the age of 13 displayed such a talent for writing poetry and essays that Empress Wu Zetian awarded her the position of being in charge of all the official documents, a secretarial position which she held until the death of Wu Zetian. 32 poems of Shangguan Waner are said to be in circulation today.

Reproach in a Letter on Colored Paper
Shangguan Wan’er (trans. Su Zhecong)

When first leaves fall on Lake Dongting,
I long for you, thousands of miles away.
In heavy dew my scented quilt feels cold,
At moonset, brocade screen deserted.
I would play a Southland melody
And crave to seal a letter to Jibei.
The letter has no other message but
This misery in living long apart.

彩书怨
上官婉儿

叶下洞庭初,思君万里余。
露浓香被冷,月落锦屏虚。
欲奏江南曲,贪封蓟北书。
书中无别意,惟怅久离居。

 

四月是全國詩歌月,讀一首詩!

當又一個嬰兒,上官婉兒(664-710)被送進了王宮。上官婉兒的男性家庭成員被監禁的叛國罪,和她的母親和她自己做的奴隸到皇帝。婉兒被教育了她的母親和13歲的顯示這樣的人才寫作詩歌和散文的武則天授予她分管的所有正式文件,這是她一直保持到吳的死亡秘書的職務,即位置武則天。據說32詩上官婉兒今天是在流通。

April is National Poetry Month, Read a Poem!

Mary Gilmore (August 1865-December 1962) was an Australian activist seeking fair treatment for workers, women, children, and the indigenous people. Much of her activist work was done through her journalism platform, earning her the title of Dame Commander of the order of the British Empire in 1937. She was the first person to receive this designation based on literary merit.

The First Thrush

Dame Mary Gilmore

Though leaves have fallen long since,
The wagtails flirt and flit,
Glad in the morning sun;
While, on the knotted quince,
The dewdrops, pearled on it,
Bead to a little run. . . .

Soft as a breathing air
There came a lovely sound
Out of the branches bare;
So rich it was, and round,
Sense stood, in listening bound,
Stilled to its sweetness there!
It was the thrush’s note,

That seemed as though his heart
On some loved thing did dote;
As though he yearned apart,
Knowing some hidden smart,
Pain in the long sweet rote.

There, as the spider hung
Grey-breasted ‘gainst the brown
Skin of the quince, he sung
A song that o’er the town,
Rose up as though to crown
The tree-tops whence it sprung.

And now, it seems to me,
That long full breath he drew,
Like perfume shed on air,
Still dwells within the tree,
Though long ago he flew,
And left it naked there.

 

April is National Poetry Month, Read a Poem!

Akiko Yosano (Shō Hō (鳳 志よう Hō Shō?) was a renowned tanka writer and essayist of Japan during the early 20th century. Her first book, “Midaregami,” was published in 1901 and contained over 400 poems. It was not well received among the literary critics, perhaps because of its brazenness, offending so many, but the public embraced Yosano’s work with enthusiasm. Yosano’s tanka’s are passionate, bold, and sensual.  Although Yosano was married to a man who was a busy poet himself, raising 11 children, grieving the deaths of 2 of her children, and founding and heading a school, she still managed to publish 11 books of prose as well as 20 books of poetry by the time she passed away at the age of 63.

 

 

akiko_yosano

 

Yesterday is Another World (from “Midaregami”, 1901)

Translated by Roger Pulvers

Two stars deep into heaven
Whispering love
Behind the nighttime curtain
While down below, now, people lie
Their hair in gentle disarray…
夜の帳にささめき尽きし星の今を下界の人の鬢のほつれよ
 
Made to punish men for their sins
The smoothest skin
The longest black hair…
All that
Is me!
罪おほき男こらせと肌きよく黒髪ながくつくられし我れ
 
Her hair at twenty
Flowing long and black
Through the teeth of her comb
Oh beautiful spring
Extravagant spring!
その子二十櫛にながるる黒髪のおごりの春のうつくしきかな
 
Droplets fall from a young girl’s hair
Congealing on grass
Giving birth to a butterfly
In the country 
Of spring
わかき子が髪のしづくの草に凝りて蝶とうまれしここ春の國
 
The girl in a springtime window
Calls to awaken a young priest
Barely a man
His sutras toppled
By her dangling sleeve
うらわかき僧よびさます春の窓ふり袖ふれて經くづれきぬ
 
 
The tanka is one of my favorite forms of poetry. For fun, click on this link and fill out the form to make your own.
 
Two excellent online articles about Akiko Yosano, here and here.
 

April is National Poetry Month, Read a Poem!

Born in Nicaragua in 1948, Gioconda Belli grew to be one of the most outspoken spokespersons for the Sandinista Revolution. Belli is one of the few Central American writers whose work has been translated and published in the United States and throughout Europe. Though Belli’s writing has taken many forms such as novels, articles, and essays, she believes that it is her poetry which makes the strongest literary statement.

AND GOD MADE ME WOMAN
And God made me woman,
with long hair,
eyes,
nose and a woman’s mouth.
With curves
and folds
and soft hollows
and dug into me,
and made me a workshop for
human beings.
God delicately wove my nerves, 
carefully balanced
the number of my hormones, 
composed my blood
and injected me with it
so that it would irrigate
my entire body;
and so ideas were born, 
dreams, 
instinct. Gently created
by hammer blows of human breath
and the drilling motion of love, 
the thousand and one things that make
me a woman every day, 
that make me proud when I get up
every morning and I bless my sex.

 

April is National Poetry Month, Read a Poem!

As a person who is terrified of public speaking and as a writer whose forays into humor are rarely spotted by the reader, I have much respect for those who are successful in these two endeavors (In my defense, though, I am HILARIOUS in person, and I do manage to string sentences together fairly decently in my daily speech).

Ms. Joanna Fuchs is the embodiment of success which I  can truly admire. A public speaker, novelist, poet, humorist, on and on – she is a veritable renaissance woman who exudes confidence, goodwill, and good business sense on her web page. Reading through Joanna Fuchs’ biography, one sees a person who has created a cornerstone and built from the foundation a personal and financial success.

Humor. I give you Ms. Joanna Fuchs.

 

How Come?

A pastor journeyed to heaven;
A cab driver followed him through;
The cab driver got a mansion;
The pastor got a lean-to.
“How come?” inquired the pastor,
“This seems like a charade.”
“They slept through your sermons,” said Peter;
“When he drove, his passengers prayed.”
 
By Joanna Fuchs

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For the month of March I made a grand attempt at a post-a-day in celebration of Women’s History Month. I began posting blogettes a few days before March began, just in case I would not, for whatever reason, be able to actually post a vignette a day. April came along directly on the heels of March, which can only be expected in a physically sane world, and WHAT? It’s National Poetry Month, to wit I attempted as many posts as I could about…well, about poetry. Both of these endeavors were greatly enjoyable and I hope to do it again next year. As can be seen by looking at the map above (see above), the greatest hope of this blogger is to take advantage of the www abbreviation of the internet’s search bar and yes, reach the world. Specifically, China, as that is home of the heroines in book two of Heroic Vignettes.

Now, about May’s blogging theme. When I attempted a search engine query about the month of May, there were many, many, many, (how many “many’s?” Too many!) references to May being an AWARENESS month for health issues and the like. It was exhausting, becoming so AWARE, so I decided  that we would all do well to take our cues from nature; Let’s spend this month celebrating the flowers and new life brought to us by all those April showers. To bloom is to flourish, blossom, become alluring. Life is spirit, activity, and verve. These are things we will dwell on during this month of May; let’s enjoy the beautiful things and people in our lives. Let’s list them, post them on our favorite social media sites, speak the words of them out loud to those we encounter, live with, and love.

Without further preamble, I give you our first inspirational Heroic Vignette for the month of May. Today we are celebrating the life of Elena Lucrezia Cornaro Piscopia (June 1646-July 1684), a Venetian philosopher and mathematician who was the first woman in the world to earn a Doctorate in theology. Piscopia was a beautiful bloom full of life; having been denied admission into the Benedictine Order did not dissuade her from excelling in academia, for she mastered at least eight languages, was a music composer, and was a brilliant astronomer. Piscopia was in great demand as a lecturer in mathematics, theology and music, and When she died at the age of 38, there was no doubt that she had lived her short life with great fervor and gusto.

 

piscopia

 

Universally, flowers are symbolic of human traits; the plum blossom is no exception. Having survival skills which carry it through the harshest of winters, the plum blossom is a symbol of strength and endurance. It blooms in mid-winter and the fruit ripens in early summer and is related to both the plum and the apricot.

plum blossom

In human terms, the wintertime is often associated with frozen hearts, or advanced aging, or rough times, but the plum blossom reminds us that no matter our circumstances or our age, we can not only survive, but even impart beauty and joy.

Mother Teresa of Calcutta (August 26, 1910 – September 5, 1997) b. Anjezë Gonxhe Bojaxhiu, lived a long, fruitful life of giving to others and promoting peace. Born in Albania, she became a citizen of India in 1948 where she had been living since 1931. Mother Teresa lived her life completely committed to the service of the poor and downtrodden, wholly believing that love has no meaning without action. In 1979 when she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, she did not attend the ceremony and asked that the $192,000 prize be given to the poor. A missionary through and through, Mother Teresa was not a wealthy woman, nor did she strive to be. She wintered all the same living conditions of those she cared for and when asked how to promote world peace, simply replied; “Go home and love your family.”

 

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(Reaching out to the hero’s of the world, one click at a time)

The Chrysanthemum is a flower which represents optimism and joy. In 12th Century China the greatest female writer in Chinese history, Li Qingzhao, was herself considered quite optimistic and joyful as she produced some of the most highly regarded poetry of not only her time but also in contemporary literary circles. By the time she was a teenager, Li Qingzhao was already producing remarkable ci poetry, a form with strict metrical rules. During her lifetime, this Song Dynasty Literati produced seven books of essays and six volumes of poetry. Fragments of her poetry are still in existence today.

 

Stephen Owen’s translation of this poem, in An Anthology of Chinese Literature:  Beginnings to 1911:

  Note After Note

Searching and searching, seeking and seeking,
so chill, so clear,
dreary,
and dismal,
and forlorn.
That time of year
when it’s suddenly warm,
then cold again,
now it’s hardest of all to take care.
Two or three cups of weak wine —
how can they resist the biting wind
that comes with evening?
The wild geese pass by —
that’s what hurts the most —
and yet they’re old acquaintances.

In piles chrysanthemums fill the ground,
looking all wasted, damaged —
who could pick them, as they are now?
I stay by the window,
how can I wait alone until blackness comes?
The beech tree,
on top of that
the fine rain,
on until dusk,
the dripping drop after drop.
In a situation like this
how can that one word “sorrow” grasp it?

 

Chrysanthemum

I am a big fan of wildflowers. Not only do I like them because they’re pretty, but because they’re also so easy to grow that even I can’t mess it up (usually). For the past few years I’ve purchased a packet of wildflower mix in the early spring, sprinkled the seeds on top of some loose soil out near the back fence, and let nature take its course. It’s a beautiful sight when the flowers begin blooming and it gives me a sense of accomplishment, for you see, I’m a bona-fide  plant killer.  These wildflowers are hearty! I pick them and bring them inside to display in vases and they live for a couple of weeks. When they do die away, they tend to retain their color for longer still.

Though one may not consider a dandelion to be a flower worthy of praise, and I do admit to killing off my fair share, they can be considered wildflowers in a sense; they’re hearty, arrive of their own free will,  and the insects love them.  I respect the dandelions’ tenacity, their perfect petals, the way their roots dig deep as if they were digging in for some mysterious event of apocalyptic proportions.  Much like Jane Eyre in Charlotte Bronte’s (1816–1855) novel of the same title, they struggle through all that is thrown at them and yet prevail again and again and again.

Charlotte Bronte demonstrates a strong will to not only survive in her novel JANE EYRE, but also a determination to reach for that which society tells her she is not entitled. Charlotte Bronte published “Jane Eyre” in 1847, it is a novel in which Ms. Bronte’s character stays true to herself throughout the entirety of the story. Through home-life hardships, dramatic confrontations, societal customs, and heartaches, Jane Eyre struggles through to solve problems, make peace, mend fences; whatever is needed to survive and hold her head up.

JANE EYRE is my favorite novel, and I’m not the only one who feels that way, so does this blogger at Romance Bound.

Listen to JANE EYRE here:

An excellent biography of Charlotte Bronte and overview of JANE EYRE here: http://youtu.be/dLlOSavurHQ

(A photo I took of a dandelion and a bee. Look at all that pollen that the bee has collected!) :

 

SONY DSC

It is Memorial day here in the United States. A day we remember, revere, and reflect on those who have served in the United States Armed Forces. Much like the heroic flower, the hyacinth, those who serve in the armed forces of the United States military come in many shapes, sizes, and colors. The hyacinth is said to represent playfulness and sportiness within a heroic attitude. An important fact about these seemingly innocuous looking flowers; the bulbs are poisonous.

220px-Hyacinth_-_Anglesey_Abbey

 

My first ever article posted on the internet was about Deborah Samson Gannett, hero of the Army in the 18th century.  Mr. Rick Brainard of 18th Century History posted it eons ago.

HAPPY MEMORIAL DAY 🙂

October is National Arts and Humanities Month,

Our first heroic vignette celebrating this month of artistic exploration is a snippet about the photographer, Berenice Abbott (July 17, 1898 – December 9, 1991) .

Abbott was born in Springfield, Ohio and attended Ohio State University. For over sixty years Abbott held her camera with the attitude that the lens would expose its own story, the story of a moment in reality. Most of Abbots work can be viewed at this virtual art gallery, but my personal favorites are the photographs involving science. Perhaps that is because I feel a kinship with Abbott along these regards; seeing just itty bitty pieces of the workings of things in my world.

October is National Arts and Humanities Month,

 

Italy. Renaissance. Cultural rebirth. Thinkers, artists, inventors – Oh MY, what an exciting time it is for Europe. Within the expansion of thought, artistic, and political expression, comes the notion that perhaps it is not only men who can create art. Though this is not a wholly welcome thought, many female artists during the Renaissance become so because of their familial connections. Bolognese sculptor Properzia de’ Rossi (1490–1530) won acclaim for her sculpting ability simply on her own merits, without having connections in family, but learning her trade under the tutelage of master engraver Marcontonio Raimondi.

Properzia won many commissions in her short life, but perhaps her most famous work is a relief for the portal of the Cathedral of Bologna representing the Old Testament story of the Chastity of Joseph.joseph

 

October is National Arts and Humanities Month,

Ada Andy Napaltjarri is a painter born in 1954 in western Australia’s desert region. Npaaltjarri’s mother is a painter and her three sisters are also artists. Indigenous peoples began to professionally paint in oils in the 1970’s, but the skill was largely afforded to men until the 1990’s when Napaltjarri was encouraged by her family and husband to pursue her art. She landed a job with an art company, then branched out to sell her work independently.

 

October is National Arts and Humanities Month.

Yanar Mohammad was born in Iraq in 1960, graduating from Baghdad University in 1983 with a degree in architecture. In 1992. Yanar’s passion for fair and humane treatment for women began in the 1990’s and she organized an Independent Women’s organization (IWO) which offers armed protection, safe dwelling and legal service to women who are being discriminated against.

From the OWFI website:

Women are the victims of violence and backward religious traditions in Iraq,  and are in desperate need of shelter and protection from random acts of aggression. These women are subject to continuous threat of being:
  • killed by their husbands or male relatives (honor killings)
  • Burnt or mutilated for suspicion of shameful acts
  • publicly executed or shot by the police
  • kidnapped and secretly murdered
  • in state of despair and see no other way than to commit suicide

middle east

 

Watch Yanar Mohammed here:

 

 

October is National Arts and Humanities Month.

 

In 2004 Wangari Maathai (1940 – 2011) became the first African woman and the first environmentalist to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for “her contribution to sustainable development, democracy and peace”.  Maathai became politically active in the 1970’s by forming the Green Belt Movement in Kenya, a movement that has become prominent all across Africa. Maathai formed this movement as a means to sustain the environment and to promote women’s rights. In the 1980’s, Maathai was elected Chairman of the National Council of Women of Kenya, a position she held until 1987. In the 1990’s she was an instrumental leader in campaigning for democracy in Kenya,

Map of africa.image

 

Watch this – be inspired!

 

 

October is National Arts and Humanities Month.

innewzzz
INDIA

Indian native Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw is the founder of India’s largest biopharma firm, Biocon. As an entrepreneur, this self-made millionaire has not only invested wisely but she has also donated greatly to the community at large. Within the walls of Biocon, Mazumdar-Shaw has fostered a foundation which focuses on health, education and infrastructure. Because many locations in India have one doctor for up to 2,000 people, Mazumdar-Shaw believes that her compassionate capitalism will aid the people of India more than philanthropy alone ever could, as education and resource-building are key elements to compassionate capitalism.

ellaNovember is known as National Novel Writing Month on the internet and in honor of NaNoWriMo, HEROIC VIGNETTES (uh-hum; This Blog) is going to feature as many wonderful, creative, exciting, heroic, novelized, fictionalized, heroines as time allows. This will be an interactive venture, as in; I am hoping for input in the comments section located at the top right corner, or posted on the HEROIC VIGNETTES FB page from YOU – leave comments about YOUR favorite female character in fiction, and if at all possible, a short/long/medium description of why she is your favorite.

To make this even more fun than it already is (if you can even believe that’s possible), at the end of the month a name will be drawn from all those who leave comments. The winner of the drawing will receive… a $10 gift card to Amazon, which the winner will presumably use toward a new book!

leonlettereyre time

kate

(November is known as National Novel Writing Month on the internet and in honor of NaNoWriMo, HEROIC VIGNETTES (uh-hum; This Blog) is going to feature as many wonderful, creative, exciting, heroic, novelized, fictionalized, heroines as time allows. This will be an interactive venture, as in; I am hoping for input in the comments section located at the top right corner, or posted on the HEROIC VIGNETTES FB page from YOU – leave comments about YOUR favorite female character in fiction, and if at all possible, a short/long/medium description of why she is your favorite.
To make this even more fun than it already is (if you can even believe that’s possible), at the end of the month a name will be drawn from all those who leave comments. The winner of the drawing will receive… a $10 gift card to Amazon, which the winner will presumably use toward a new book!)
 

In the book, Les Miserable by Victor Hugo, our strong feminine character is young Cossette. Born in 1815 Paris to unwed parents Fantine and Felix Tholomyes, Cossette was soon placed in the care of inn keepers, the Thénardiers, in order that Fantine could work. Though Fantine did pay the inn keepers to care for Cossette, the parents and the two children of the inn all abused her. Not only was Cossette assigned much of the sweeping and cleaning of the inn, but the daughters of the inn keepers teased her much the way their parents did. The daughters of the inn keepers had toys, clothes, and shoes, yet Cossette wore rags, had not toys, and was made to go barefoot.

When Jean Valjean visits Fantine in the hospital, he vows to retrieve Cossette for her. When Fantine dies in the hospital, Valjean keeps his pledge to her and, finding Cossette so ill treated, pays 1,500 francs to the inn keepers for her. Valjean takes Cossette to Paris and directly embarks on her education, and raises her as his own daughter.

Les Miserables is a wonderful novel on many levels, but my favorite theme in the novel is this relationship of Jean Valjean and Collette. It has been many years since I’ve read Les Miserable, but I still find myself marveling at how he loved her and she blossomed into a radiant, happy woman despite her early, horrible setbacks.

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Wendy Torrence in Stephen King’s “The Shining” is a fictitious heroine on a level that not all of fiction’s protagonists face. She was up against pure evil. Although Wendy did not understand what her son, Danny, was experiencing she did believe him and looked after him with all the parental heart she had. When her husband, Jack, began to lose his grip on reality, Wendy stepped up to the plate and tried to coax him into holding onto lucidity. Failing at this, she fought evil with all she had at hand and saved herself and her son when there was no one else around for many, many miles.

*Some foul language*
 
 
(November is known as National Novel Writing Month on the internet and in honor of NaNoWriMo, HEROIC VIGNETTES (uh-hum; This Blog) is going to feature as many wonderful, creative, exciting, heroic, novelized, fictionalized, heroines as time allows. This will be an interactive venture, as in; I am hoping for input in the comments section located at the top right corner, or posted on the HEROIC VIGNETTES FB page from YOU – leave comments about YOUR favorite female character in fiction, and if at all possible, a short/long/medium description of why she is your favorite.
To make this even more fun than it already is (if you can even believe that’s possible), at the end of the month a name will be drawn from all those who leave comments. The winner of the drawing will receive… a $10 gift card to Amazon, which the winner will presumably use toward a new book!)

In 1850’s gold-rush California, Sarah is a small child who is sold into prostitution. Growing up as a pleasure vessel under the name of Angel, the only piece of herself that she keeps secreted away is her real name, which she holds as a near and dear treasure only to herself. When Michael fairly kidnaps Angel and marries her, Angel is afraid, distrustful and non-believing in any of the love that he offers her. Her old life is something she is at least familiar with, she could trust it for its familiarity and though it was not a life of good repute, it was easier for her to accept that she was unworthy of love than it was to grasp the idea that she was truly lovable. Plagued by guilt and fueled by hatred, Angel’s battle is a tumultuous one.

Alas, our heroine begins to trust herself enough to let a little love in, and though she continues to struggle she eventually works through all her cripplingly painful feelings to accept that not only does Michael love her, but God loves her, and she blossoms into someone who loves herself.

 
 
(November is known as National Novel Writing Month on the internet and in honor of NaNoWriMo, HEROIC VIGNETTES (uh-hum; This Blog) is going to feature as many wonderful, creative, exciting, heroic, novelized, fictionalized, heroines as time allows. This will be an interactive venture, as in; I am hoping for input in the comments section located at the top right corner, or posted on the HEROIC VIGNETTES FB page from YOU – leave comments about YOUR favorite female character in fiction, and if at all possible, a short/long/medium description of why she is your favorite.
To make this even more fun than it already is (if you can even believe that’s possible), at the end of the month a name will be drawn from all those who leave comments. The winner of the drawing will receive… a $10 gift card to Amazon, which the winner will presumably use toward a new book!)

Jewish Psychiatrist and author Dr. Elsa Cayat (1960 – 7 January 2015), was a French Dr. and a writer who worked at the French magazine, Charlie Hebdo. She is said by her patients to have been a brilliant psychoanalyst. Dr. Cavat, 54, was the only woman among the 12 people killed in the January 7, 2015 terrorist attacks at the offices of the Charlie Hebdo magazine. Dr. Cayat used her skills as a psychiatrist to reach out to society not only in her practice, but also by writing helpful books and her bi-weekly column for Charlie Hebdo, Charlie Divan.

 

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Thirteen year old Zaharau Babangida was given over to the Nigerian Islamist militant group, Boko Haram, by her father for the purpose of carrying and igniting explosives to aid the group’s terrorist activities. Though Babangida did in fact wear the explosives into the market area of Northern Nigeria’s largest city, Kano, she did not follow through on the suicide bombing which she was instructed to commit.

on August 23, 2008, Canadian Freelance Journalist Amanda Lindhout and Australian freelance photographer, Nigel Brennan, were kidnapped on their way to conduct interviews at a refugee camp in Somalia. The kidnappers were teenage members of the Hizbul Islam group. Lindhout and Brennan were held captive for 15 months. Though there are discrepancies between Brennan and Lindhout concerning the events which took place during captivity, they both have written books about the ordeal.

In the years since her release from her captors in Somalia, Lindhout has founded the Global Enrichment Foundation, which aims to educate women in Somalia. Lindhout has also travelled to Africa on several occasions since her release, sometimes leading convoys of food into Somalia itself.

Lorraine Gersitz’ claim to fame, the one facet of her amazing life that would bring her fame, glory, and revenue for product endorcement is that she is known as “The croc runner.”  For years Ms. Gersitz has been running marathons, ultra-marathons, triathlons, etc while wearing, no I’m not kidding, CROCS shoes. At age 61, Ms. Gersitz has quite a repertoire of statistics to show for all her hard work. Work that she has accomplished despite the fact that she has a bogus left Achilles tendon and an atrophied left calf.

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(graphic from athlinks.com)

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Reaching toward the East

 

mapHow absolutely bowled-over I have been these past few months as I have begun researching for book two, “Feminine Chinese.” Not only have I discovered a new gratitude for the internet which makes material easier to find than ever, but I am stunned by the graciousness of some of the women I have met (again, thanks to the internet) who’s input and experiences will prove invaluable and necessary for this edition of the series.

I have no idea really how to conduct an interview, and to have found myself on the phone making the first international phone call of my life, speaking with a woman with several best-selling books in her wake, and not knowing what to say, ask, or otherwise converse about without stumbling over my tongue, made me more than a little surprised and thankful that she is continuing her interest in the book.

To date, that is where book two is at; filtering through the star-struck cranium of this humble writer.

So, to honor the kindness of the wonderful women I have met thus far, I am asking that you please look at this charity‘s website and see if you are drawn to get involved somehow.

A quote from a Mother’s Bridge of Love volunteer:

To support MBL Children’s Libraries in China , please send picture books and images of daily life, culture and heritage from around the world to the following address. Thank you from all the young readers.

Mrs ZhuLi (MBL volunteer)

Room 605, Building 71, Rui-Jin North-village,

Baixia district, Nanjing, PR China 210016

Julie +86-139 0515 0047

Thank YOU for being MBLer and helping MBL!

Hunian jiankang ruyuan

The MBR is a nonprofit organization began by Xinran Xue which continues to grow in grace and geography with each passing year. It is an honor to work with Xinran, who’s heart seems to know no bounds.

I also consider it a privilege to be working with Haining Lui who has graciously agreed to contribute the personal essay at the beginning of Heroic Vignettes, Feminine China.

My Culture, Your Culture, Our History

To look at a foreign culture without understanding that the culture is bound to be different than that of our own is not only naive, but also shortsighted and egotistical. Of course it is understood that the eyes with which we view the world are our eyes alone and therefore all things we view are based on our own finite knowledge, but we must also keep in mind that the world is larger than our physical vision allows. To this end, Heroic Vignettes, Feminine Chinese, will be  presented with what is intended to be a celebration of the heroic spirit of a few women from China’s history. China is a culture that may sometimes take a bit of stretching of the imagination for us elsewhere in the world to understand, however, it is intended that the women written about in Heroic Vignettes, Feminine Chinese, become a part of our celebratory consciences not only because of their social/political/economic environments, but also in spite of them.

Some key words pertaining to the history of China are*:

Foot binding.

Struggle Session

Concubine

Ancestral Worship

Yin Yang

Filial Piety

*Definitions to be given in a forthcoming post.

Why Books?

One of the most fascinating things done with e-readers has been through organizations such as WorldReader.org, a group that donates e-readers to schools in third world countries. As those in the know are quick to point out, such as Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl Wudunnn, authors of “Half The Sky,” the road away from poverty and oppression is paved with education. Worldreader.org and other organizations like it are well on their way to proving that educating the masses is the cornerstone for building a successful society. Reading through the blog posts of those involved within the schools of Ghana and elsewhere reveals striking evidence that the project is not only helping these students gain a foothold on the right path, but is also expanding their regional and global outlooks.

In all honesty, I have no dire need for an e-reader. To me, it is a gadget, a toy, even an irony. E-readers are currently mass-produced in a country that ranks number 171 out of 178 countries on the Freedom Of The Press Index, and I just cannot reconcile that irony with the glaring ethical quandary that it entails. Living in a country that ranks number 20 on the same rating chart, it just does not jibe with me to buy a reader produced by people who do not enjoy the same levels of reading freedom as I do.

Walking into a bookstore is one of my favorite things to do, and not just me but countless other individuals who are not opting to exclusively read digital books. I like browsing titles, covers, and author’s names. I enjoy picking a book at random, lifting it from its shelf, fanning the pages, reading a few words, and setting it back, over and over again, all down the rows of books until I find just the one I want to read. On these treasure hunts, each and every time I browse a book I get a feeling as if I’ve met someone new, connected with my community.

I have purchased countless books that I did not originally intend to buy. For instance, I was not even aware of the book, “Wild Swans” until I chanced upon its dual-orange and red cover on the bookstore shelf. Finally, after thumbing through it on a few different occasions, I bought it. Reading “Wild Swans” has enlightened me greatly about several things, including but not limited to, Mao, Communist China, and telling insights into the fabric of relationships between mothers and daughters.

More important than this seemingly random plough through books though, is the fact that books represent a sharing of thoughts. I have loaned books to people, and they have loaned books to me, always with the excited proclamation that the books are a  “Must read.”

“Jane Eyre” was the first classic that I remember reading. I found it at a thrift store, turned it over a few times, bought it, and then dug in immediately. POW! I was amazed at the fact that the book was not boring and was, in fact, incredibly interesting. Not only is “Jane Eyre” the first classic I remember reading, it is also the first book that dramatically blew holes in many of my preconceived ideas concerning what is known as “the classics.” Found books have been either blowing holes in my ideas, or helping me put them to words every since.

Aside from a few series that I have read, most of the books that are gracing my bookshelves at home have been found by chance while kinetically browsing the tactile-stimulating bookstore or thrift store. Being a bibliophile, I have also scoured the online bookstores as well, but usually when I have something specific to search for, such as a book in a series I am reading. I have rarely clicked on the computer-generated recommendations because I know that clicking on links could draw me away from my original intention and I find this to be a laughable frustration at best.

I enjoy found words. A daily newspaper left behind on the table at the coffee shop, a weekly local tabloid discarded on the bus bench, or magazines that are either free or subscribed to at the doctor’s office. Years ago I found a monthly tabloid style newspaper written for the “senior” community. I was twenty years away from becoming a senior citizen, but I have read that paper every month for the past ten years. The news is relevant to senior citizens (some of my relatives and neighbors), the profiles are of senior citizens who are actively involved in the community in some way, and the personal ads always make me smile. Smiles are not only priceless and good for our overall health, but also contagious.

I feel that all of these happenstance reading materials have served to deepen my empathy, but more importantly have edged my apathy aside as I have viewed the lives of other people, both worlds away and down the street. As we grab “my” e-reader that is loaded with “my” books, are we likely to pass them along in any way?  Maybe occasionally, but probably not to the extent that we pass printed material along to one another. Does “my” e-reader constrict our worldview, as if “I” am privy to the material, but others are not?  Printed material is a shared element of society which electronic ink does not match. We can pass along URL’s to each other, sure, but it is a brief flash across the screen vying with other flashes across the screen, and it is not the same as leaving your newspaper for the next transit user. Electronic ink is less open, less shared, more secretive and selective than books, magazines, and newspapers that are splayed out on open shelves in bookstores, or left behind to bring a smile to the next reader’s lips.

It is amazing that the wonderful people at worldreader.org figured out that they could bring thousands upon thousands of books out to vast areas full of the people who would most benefit from them. E-readers are ideal, perfect, for accomplishing the goal of educating people who have no access to libraries or bookstores and setting them on the road headed away from poverty. Imagine, even five short years ago, what were the chances that high school students in Ghana would be reading a geography textbook and developing an expansion of their worldview?  As explained on the participant’s blog, a bonus benefit of e-readers for the students is their choosing of books for pleasure reading; they are falling in love with reading.

Thus, while using e-readers in the schools of underprivileged nations is expanding the worldview of those students, the use of e-readers in a society of “me’s” lends itself to constricting our worldview.  As for myself, a person who lives in a culture of relative affluence and choices, I will stick to ink-printed reading materials. Information that is transferable without compunction, with relative ease, and can be found either intentionally or quite by accident, which feels so much like finding buried treasure. I will remain a die-hard printed material reader until the bitter end, when they will pry my dog-eared copy of “Jane Eyre” from my fingers, and be amazed at what they have found.

Thus is my motivation for putting together the series titled, “Heroic Vignettes…” The books are small, hopefully inspiring, giveable, giftable, leavable; in other words, shareable. These mini-biographies are collected here in this series with the hope that they will inspire the reader.

WHY ONLY Women’s History?

The question begging to be asked here is, why a book of brief biographies about heroic women? Or, why are heroic men not equally gracing the pages of these collections? First and foremost let me assure you that I have no grand scheme to omit men from the pages of history. Also, I would be the last person to downplay or degrade the accomplishments of the men who are present in the annals of human history.

Simply put, I am merely a writer who’s interests lean toward women’s history and my work in these collections is merely a reflection of that passion. No gender bashing  for gender’s sake. no militant aggression, no name calling. Simply an elevation, an exposure of the feminine side of history as a way to reflect on the feminine hero.

 

Heritage

I am very excited to announce the release of my new book, Heroic Vignettes, on Amazon.com. What is this must-have book about? Well, it’s about a few things really, but succinctly it is a book of mini-bio’s about women throughout history who have done great things with what they were given in life. It is the first in a series, each book encompassing a country, so of course I began with my own country – the United States.

I made the book small for a few of reasons. One reason is that I want it to be portable in its print form, portable so that it is exchangeable or, especially important; giftable. The purpose of being giftable is that if or when your friends are having a tough time in their lives you give them a copy to encourage them. The second reason I am making the books small is because of attention span theory. Yeah, I made that up. Anyway, I think that our attention spans are shorter than they used to be. We’re reading a lot of our information electronically and we just want the writer to get to the point. Now. The third reason is that I have always wanted to publish a women’s history magazine. Big. Bold. GLOSSY. Ahhh. I would still love to, but I have never managed to get the finances and the skills together in the same hemisphere!

Below I have listed a partial list of the women who are portrayed in issue 1 of Heroic Vignettes. Issue 2 will out in January 2014, it will contain uplifting mini-bio’s of some of the women of China.

Toypurina

Deborah Samson Gannett

Mary Jane McLeod Bethune

Dorothea Lange

Katherine Sui Fun Cheung

Mildred (Babe) Didrikson Zaharias

 

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