Bau: A Favorite Poem

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This is one of my favorite dog poemsIt was written by Nobel Laureate Wislawa Szymborska.

 

 

Monologue of a Dog Ensnared in History

There are dogs and dogs. I was among the chosen.
I had good papers and wolf’s blood in my veins.
I lived upon the heights inhaling the odors of views:
meadows in sunlight, spruces after rain,
and clumps of earth beneath the snow.

I had a decent home and people on call,
I was fed, washed, groomed,
and taken for lovely strolls.
Respectfully, though, and comme il faut.
They all knew full well whose dog I was.

Any lousy mutt can have a master.
Take care, though — beware comparisons.
My master was a breed apart.
He had a splendid herd that trailed his every step
and fixed its eyes on him in fearful awe.

For me they always had smiles,
with envy poorly hidden.
Since only I had the right
to greet him with nimble leaps,
only I could say good-bye by worrying his trousers with my teeth.
Only I was permitted
to receive scratching and stroking
with my head laid in his lap.
Only I could feign sleep
while he bent over me to whisper something.

He raged at others often, loudly.
He snarled, barked,
raced from wall to wall.
I suspect he liked only me and nobody else, ever.

I also had responsibilities: waiting, trusting.
Since he would turn up briefly, and then vanish.
What kept him down there in the lowlands, I don’t know.
I guessed, though, it must be pressing business,
at least as pressing
as my battle with the cats
and everything that moves for no good reason.

There’s fate and fate. Mine changed abruptly.
One spring came
and he wasn’t there.
All hell broke loose at home.
Suitcases, chests, trunks crammed into cars.
The wheels squealed tearing downhill
and fell silent round the bend.

On the terrace scraps and tatters flamed,
yellow shirts, armbands with black emblems
and lots and lots of battered cartons
with little banners tumbling out.

I tossed and turned in this whirlwind,
more amazed than peeved.
I felt unfriendly glances on my fur.
As if I were a dog without a master,
some pushy stray
chased downstairs with a broom.

Someone tore my silver-trimmed collar off,
someone kicked my bowl, empty for days.
Then someone else, driving away,
leaned out from the car
and shot me twice.

He couldn’t even shoot straight,
since I died for a long time, in pain,
to the buzz of impertinent flies.
I, the dog of my master

 

Monologue of a Dog

 

Nobel Prize Laureate: Olga Tokarczuk

 

olga-tokarczuk-WikiWikipedia

Olga Tokarczuk is the recipient of the 2018-2019 Nobel Prize for Literature. Although this prize is awarded to Olga Tokarczuk in 2019, she is actually the 2018 nomination. The prize was held over because of sexual abuse and financial scandals which led to a series of resignations in the Swedish Academy.  She is the fifteenth and second Polish writer to win this prestigious prize.

Flights

 

Ms. Tokarczuk is no stranger to receiving prizes for her literary works. In 2008 her novel Flights won the Nike award, Poland’s top literary award. In 2018 Flights took the Man Booker Prize for its translation into English by Jennifer Croft. 

Tokarczuk’s work focuses on peace, democracy and activism. In an interview with Claire Armitstead in The Guardian, Tokarczuk had this to say about a two-year book deal on detective stories:

But just writing a book to know who is the killer is wasting paper and time, so I decided to put into it animal rights and a story of dissenting citizens who realise that the law is immoral and see how far can they can go with saying no to it.”

In a fascinating interview with Adam Smith – Chief Scientific Officer of Nobel Media – Olga Tokarczuk speaks of the 2018 Nobel Prize in Literature as a symbol of hope for those worried about the ‘Crisis in democracy’ she sees facing central Europe.

For more on Female Nobel Laureates for Literature please visit my series. 

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Bau: Not The Elizabethan Collar Again!

bau in the dumps

 

I am so much in the dumps. A few days ago I had surgery in my mouth. Right now I’m wearing that ridiculous Elizabethan collar, although it isn’t my first time and I’m kind of getting used to it.

Maltese are notorious for being late bloomers. Their baby teeth often come in far later than other breeds and take much longer to fall out – if they fall out at all. These toy dogs also suffer from crowding plus tartar and plaque buildup. They are known for gingivitis, periodontal disease and early tooth loss.

Here’s a link to an article about the ten dogs prone to dental disease.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jennifer Kelland Perry: Calmer Girls

In well crafted sentences Jennifer Kelland Perry traces the journey of sixteen year old Samantha Cross and her family through their different struggles: sister rivalry, parents’ divorce, moving to a new place, teen pregnancy, mother’s drinking, money worries, Alzheimer’s and death. Whew!

Jennifer Perry Amazon

Although the plot of Calmer Girls is far more dramatic than my adolescence ever was, I was filled with nostalgic moments as I found myself reminiscing about my own adolescence with its taste of first love and the confusion of young adult friendships.

The Coming-of-Age story takes place in St John’s, Newfoundland, a city and province I have always wanted to visit and, thus, appreciated the author’s descriptions of St John’s and what it was like growing up there in the 90’s.

 

II found the characters interesting and the author did a good job of portraying their faults along with the family’s dynamics. Although it is categorized as a YA novel, I thought the mother in the story added a domestic reality as she coped with being a mother to two teenage girls while in the midst of a separation and having to relocate to a new city. My interest was sustained until the end. Jennifer Perry makes us care about these broken characters.

 

 

 

 

 

Jacqui Murray: The Quest For Home

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Driven from her home. Stalked by enemies. Now her closest ally may be a traitor.

In her recent novel, The Quest for Home, Jacqui Murray ( using paleontological facts as backdrop) has written a well-researched work of fiction in which she brilliantly brings to life what it was like to live 830,000 years ago.

Through her main character, Xhosa, Jackie Murray provides the reader with the keys to survival: wit, strategy and perseverance. I loved that the lead warrior is a woman and that her characters come from diverse backgrounds such as Africa, Indonesia, China and Israel. Through them we learn how these people communicated, how they interacted with the animals in the wild and their struggle to survive. I was in awe by the physical and psychological strength of these people – our ancestors.

If you have followed Jacqui’s blog you know that she has a series of “how-to-describe” posts. For example, how to describe sight, how to describe pain, how to describe nature and so forth. Here, in The Quest for Home she applies her advice in how to describe similes:

Pan-do was like a river, curling over the land, sunlight glinting off its rippled surface, a welcome sight because it brought life. But underneath flowed fierce currents. Sharp rocks and treacherous plants filled its depths and it was home to vicious creatures that bit and tore without remorse. Pan-do, once riled, was no stranger to violence. He used it skillfully when he had no other choice, as a means to an end.

A word about violence. In her non-fiction introduction – which is an elucidation on prehistoric man – Jacqui Murray explains how the need to be violent was necessary in order to survive a treacherous world. In the novel’s opening, the violence was against Nature whereby  flood forced tribes to migrate; but the violence was also a means to survive against rival tribes. In this respect, we as mankind have not evolved all that much. We still have our wars, floods and hurricanes that force people to migrate, just as they did in prehistoric times.

The Quest for Home is book 2 of her Crossroads trilogy; however, it can be read as a standalone. Besides using her creative skills to craft a captivating adventure, Jacqui, also shines as an educator in sharing her knowledge of this period. If you are at all interested in learning about your prehistoric ancestors this is a novel you should pick up.

Bravo, Jacqui, for such a notable and sweeping novel.

 

Bau: Introducing Kip

My family has a new member. His name is Kip and is still a baby (4 months old). The problem is that Kip wants to play all the time. When you’re five – like me – you’re more interested in a good game of tag around a field than having Kip jump on my back, especially since he weighs the same as I do. Have a look at his paws. They are heavy.

 

Kip all swell

The other day I got a real scare as my Mistress came home with Kip, without Kip’s Mistress (my human sister). My immediate thought was Oh, no! don’t tell me that Kip’s coming to live here.

That put me in a sulky mood and so I jumped onto the bed, safe from Kip’s constant harassement. He barked because he couldn’t get on the bed but soon settled on the floor next to where I lay. As soon as I got up, he followed me around, nudging his head on mine, really entering my space. It’s very annoying.

It takes a great deal of tolerance and patience to endure him, especially when I watch him eating and drinking out of my bowls. But I say nothing. I am such a good doggie.

Later, Mistress left with Kip and returned without him. I jumped for joy although a part of me already misses him.