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Please note: I am currently having a break from writing this monthly newsletter. You can read back on all previous issues in the tabs 2014, 2015, and 2016.
#28 – August 2016
This month I received my first payment for a poem. After a Study of Lizards, originally published in Axolotl, was published in the first issue of Into the Void. I was paid a token amount and was very happy about it!
This month Helen Mort sent Lisa and I a copy of her new collection of poems, No Map Could Show Them, which we were thrilled to receive. Many of the poems are inspired by mountain climbing, especially female climbers. There is a focus on the strength of women, which is very powerful.
There was a lot I enjoyed about Helen’s collection. I really loved her poem Loutro. There is a lingering force in the poem that reflects the harshness of life there. I also really enjoyed the strength of Sherpa, as well as the poem, Lil’s Last Word, and its line ‘Nothing touches Hull except the sea’. Overall, all the poems relate well to the title, and emphasise the resolve and vision required to live ‘without a map’.
We have been in Drama, northern Greece, for the whole month of July. On arrival, we were greeted with a fridge and pantry full of all we needed to start our stay here. This included a whole tray of home-grown tomatoes, homemade olive oil and olives, a spinach and cheese pie, homemade frozen chocolate treats, wine, fruit, and a basil and marjoram plant. The owners, Nikos and Roula, had gone out of their way to make us feel welcome.
We have a small but clean and fully-equipped modern apartment, just outside the city centre. It’s our best accommodation yet, as it’s peaceful and we have all the comforts we need. We have a supermarket, as well as the Thursday bazaar, only a few steps away. The markets sprawl throughout the old Turkish streets, with lots of fruit, vegetables, nuts and affordable clothing and homewares.
Surprisingly, the name ‘Drama’ has nothing to do with the theatre. It comes from the word ‘hydrama’, which means an abundance of water. Two of the city parks have lots of small lakes, and you can see water bubbling up in them. In the past, the town was actually named Hydrama.
In our first couple of weeks, there was a festival here. We attended a traditional Ponti dancing event (Ponti are the Greeks who were forcefully repatriated from the Black Sea coast in Turkey early last century). We also saw a play showing a typical Ponti wedding, and a traditional Greek puppet show. Not only was this all free, but all events were well attended.
We’ve met some wonderful people here, including the local tailor, Panayiotis. Lisa had some alterations to do, and Panayiotis did it all for free. We came to him three times, and he even said we could bring more. He would not take money from us, even though he has told us many times that there’s no business! Now we’ve made a habit of visiting him to share coffee and sweets.
Till next month, live authentically and write with integrity.