Tag Archives: David Hollywood

Squid

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A poem presented at Colours of Life 2017 – the annual poetry festival of the Bahrain Writers’ Circle.

Now I’m not vegetarian

Nor yet pescetarian

Not even a pure carnivore

I’m an eat-everything-atarian

There’s not much that I don’t adore

When it comes to the fishes

I can devour most dishes

But there is one thing I abhor

 

It’s that strange little creature

With a tentacular feature

It’s name down my throat wouldn’t slid

Although my ol’ teacher

Demanded that I just say ‘squid’

I shuddered, I quaked, I all but flaked

I felt my life, on it was staked

“Oh, please don’t make me!” I pled

 

“Why not squid, you’re so silly,” she said              

“Er…Ummm,” I so wished I were dead

“It’s so slimy, so squiggly, so terribly wriggly.”

“Oh child, it’s just all in your head.”

“No, ‘taint.” I retorted, albeit feebly

And blanched at the thought of the squid

My face on my desk I then hid

While my breath went all wheezy’n’queasy

 

Many years soon sped by

So I thought I should try

To dine on this marine delectation

So….“I’ll have calamari,” said I

With a measure of great trepidation

Along came this dish

Of the offending fish

All battered and fried to damnation

 

But…In spite of the batter

In spite of the crunch

In spite of the fact that I’d have it for lunch

The rubbery squid, it all but did

Me in… as it stuck in my throat

I gasped, I choked, I nearly croaked

And swore once more as I had before

That I’d never again eat squid!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To view the live presentation please click here.

A poem presented at the Colours of Life, Bahrain

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Two of the poems I presented at Colours of Life are already on FictionPals. I guess the third one should join them here.

Apologies to Maya Angelou

I will not go down in history

And no one will write lies

About my daily mystery

Or if, like dust, I’ll rise.

 

Am I sassy or even sexy

Do I upset you in any way?

The chances are you haven’t noticed

I’m wallpaper plain today.

 

But like the aged dying tree

I once was young and green

I’m not like the moon or sun or tides

And yet I shall be seen

 

Though my hair is white as hoar frost

Though my limbs hang loose with flab

Though my voice is hoarse and rough

You know, I have the strength of words

 

And if you will, or won’t or can’t

Hear what I have to say

Above the noise, the static chant

I know I shall be heard

 

For I speak of your tomorrows

Your coming ills and ails

Your aches and pains and hollow

Moans, just as your daylight fails.

 

So listen to me young ones

Hear what I have to say

No matter what you dream and hope

Just do it right away.

 

When you think that you have lots of time

The sun sets on another day

The hundred little things of life

Keep getting in your way

 

You think this will not happen

Who me? Oh, no! No way!

Your tomorrow it is coming

And that is me…Today!

Loser. Baby. Mend. Wet. Only

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Five words to create a story. Sometimes just one word will do. These five words were a prompt at one of the Creative Writers’ Workshops held by our Bahrain Writers’ Circle. We had to use all five words in no particular order. What story would you create given these five words and fifteen minutes?

If you’re inclined, send your story to me and I’ll publish it here.

Note: The words are in bold letters.

Only Anita knew how she felt. As far as the rest of the world was concerned, she was happy. Her smile was the biggest, brightest thing that greeted anyone no matter what, no matter when. In the rain, when it’s pouring buckets of the stuff, you’re so wet even your high spirits are damp. On days you felt that nothing could possibly bring a smile to your face, there she was: Anita, with her big, cheerful smile.

Everyone thought she was such a happy person. Why shouldn’t she be? She’d just had that lovely baby and he was all of six months old. He had a thick mop of hair that curled and flopped around his face. He was a happy baby with a gurgling laugh and he rarely cried.

All that was for the world to see.

Only Anita knew the pain and betrayal, the lies and the secrets behind the baby’s birth. In the darkest, quietest moments of the day, she knew the truth. A truth she pushed down into the deepest recesses of her mind. “How could I have done that with such a loser?” She thought. Her eyes clouded over with tears at the memory, her stomach churning with disgust. “How can I ever mend the damage I have done to my marriage? This will have to be my secret, one that I must take to my grave. Poor Jay, he must never know. It will kill him. It’s killing me. Every day I look at this beautiful child, I pray that he’ll look more like me as the years go by.”

 

 

 

The Pearl Divers’ Songs

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The following is an excerpt from an essay with poems that was published in Robin Barrat’s More of My Beautiful Bahrain

As gems, pearls hold a particular fascination for me. They come in a myriad shades and colours. When they occur naturally, they are formed by an accident. A tiny grain of sand, a little pebble, enters an oyster shell and irritates the mantle. In response the mantle secretes nacre to cover the irritant and in doing so creates a pearl. What a wonderful thing to do! What a beautiful response to an irritant. Instead of destroying the unwelcome guest, the oyster lovingly encases it to create one of the world’s most prized gems.

I can’t help think, that in some ways that’s a bit like Bahrain.

At one time the area referred to as Bahrain extended as far north as Basra and down to the Omani coast in the south1 its capital being Hajar1 . I had heard of Basra pearls even before I came to the Kingdom. So the mystique and magic of the island where the pearls came from, as well as the fact that this was the place where oil was discovered in the Middle East, added to the aura around Bahrain or as they called it, more accurately in the old days: Bahrein. That being closer to the meaning, two seas.

Long before oil became the mainstay of the region, Bahrain’s main source of income was its pearls. And, if certain sources on the Internet are to be believed, the region, if not the country, was ‘historically where the world’s best pearls came from.

As I understand it, fresh water aquifers beneath the seabed in Bahrain, contribute to the unique quality of Bahraini pearls. What made and continues to make Bahraini pearls particularly precious is the fact that back then the natural pearls of Bahrain were found and collected by ‘breath-hold’ divers. In addition, the pearl-diving season was short, lasting just over four months from June until early September.

The way it was done was that the divers would pinch their noses with a short peg made from the stem of a date palm leaf. They would then be let down on a weighted rope, remain submerged for about a minute, during which time they were able to harvest an average of eight to twelve oysters. These they would put into a bag, tug the rope and they would then be drawn up by the puller – a strong hefty man, who remained on the boat. After a number of dives one lot or divers would return to the boat to rest and recover while another lot were lowered to the oyster beds. Divers were not paid wages, instead they received a share of the profits from the sale of the pearls.

Given the nature of the work, the setting sail and staying away for around four months of the year it is not surprising that a unique and traditional music was developed that was exclusive to the pearl divers. This traditional music, known as fidjeri, is an age-old repertory of vocal music sung by the pearl divers of Bahrain, Kuwait and Qatar. The Nahham, or pearl diver singers, were backed up by a chorus of singers and clappers accompanied by the mirwas – a small drum – and the jahlah – a clay pot.

At one time Kuwait had, in its sound archives, some of the best collections of recordings of these aboriginal songs and music. These were sadly destroyed in the First Gulf War during what was called the ‘Fires of Kuwait’.2

To quote Bill Badley – an expert on middle eastern music especially as it relates to the Oud – ‘This music, strange and distant as it seems, is the most vivid recollection of the lifestyle of the pearl divers, singing praises to Allah, sometimes erotic poems, sometimes hymns to the sea; and with it we are able to imagine the boats and the annual pearl diving seasons, the rudimentary but elaborate pieces of clothing used by the divers that preceded the modern diving suits by many centuries, and perhaps conjure up images of the pearl divers – their hopes and dreams and their fears of the sea as well as their life, long before the oil economy.’

Water pollution resulting from spilled oil and indiscriminate over-fishing of oysters essentially ruined the once pristine pearl producing waters of the Gulf. Today, pearl diving is practiced only as a hobby. Still, Bahrain remains one of the foremost trading centres for high quality pearls.

While researching the songs of the pearl divers I was so moved by some of the material that I felt I had to write something about them. I have tried to capture the rhythms and movement of the gentle waves of the Arabian Gulf in my poems as well as subtly echo the strong drumbeat that was at the centre of the songs. In one of them I have imagined a mythical old pearl diver grown large and titanic in size beneath the waves rising one night and to his horror discovering the cause of the decline of the pearling trade – ‘cargo ships and oil tankers’, and in another I have asked the world at large and the powers that be in the Kingdom to resurrect the beauty of both pearling and this traditional music.

And here are two poems that are adaptations of the original songs,

Pearl Divers’ morning prayer

(Adapted)

Today again I sail out to dive

To the deepest blue of the sea below

Today once again you know I’ll strive

For a pearl, a pearl that I can show.

So heave you rowers heave, I say

Today is that day, today is that day!

 

O morning sun, come bless our dive

Make fortune smile on us today,

Pardon our sins and bless our lives

In the name of Allah, we do pray.

So heave you rowers heave, I say

Today is that day, today is that day!

 

Your mercy is unlimited, Lord

And from our sins we’ve turned away,

And so we pray that you afford

A following wind and a clear, calm day.

 

So heave you rowers heave, I say

Today is that day, today is that day!

 

Pearl Divers’ evening prayer

(Adapted)

From the depth of the sea

I have risen O Lord,

Twice times ten I went down below.

The date palm peg it held my nose

The weights on the rope,

They anchored my toes.

 

We thank you O Creator

That you have made our lives so easy.

We thank you O Creator

For making a generous sea.

 

Our riches and hopes and prayers

O Lord, they come from you.

Today we bring good tidings

To our neighbours and families.

 

The sun, the sea and the wind

O Lord, they sting my hands and skin.

But these are like nothing, O Lord

When we see the pearls within.

 

Reference:

1 Manama People & Heritage by A. Karim Al Orrayed

2Reference: David Douglas’ Film ‘Fires of Kuwait’ / Bill Badley Wikipedia

 

…a very special Lady graces my blog today… Authoress and Poetess Supreme… Rohini Sunderam…

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Thanks to Seumas Gallacher, intrepid blogger, writer, speaker, Scots…

Seumas Gallacher

…at the risk of repeating previous blog openings, I’m the most fortunate of bloggers inasmuch as my terrific Guests come from all corners, and in all guises… since this ol’ Jurassic arrived in Bahrain, I was invited to join the excellent Bahrain Writers Circle

bahrain wrters circle

…started a few years ago by Robin Barratt, who still offers great support from his home base these days back in the UK, the group has gone from strength to strength on the broad and willing administrative shoulders of David Hollywood and Rohini Sunderam… David is an accomplished Poet in his own right, and may appear at some time on this ‘ere blog…. meantime, the effervescent Rohini offers splendid illumination to my page… let me stand aside and allow her to speak for herself and her unique CORPOETRY collection…

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From Corporate Laughter to Corpoetry

Rohini Sunderam

This collection of poems came into…

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David Hollywood of Bahrain Confidential reviews Corpoetry

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David Hollywood, my friend and fellow poet from the Bahrain Writers’ Circle (BWC) has the happy post of being the resident poet for one of Bahrain’s best known lifestyle magazines, Bahrain Confidential. David, as all of us in the Second Circle Poetry Group know, is an impassioned and accomplished poet with his book Waiting Spaces available in both print and Kindle editions. And, of course he has been writing poetry for Bahrain Confidential for several years now.

You can imagine, I was overjoyed when Bahrain Confidential told me that he was going to review Corpoetry, my collection of poems published by Ex-L-Ence Publishing. I was also a little intimidated. Now that I’ve seen his review – which I hope you’ll check out – I am absolutely and utterly delighted.

David and I share approximately the same vintage, so he picked up on references that were old hat but which I’ve explained in notes to those who are of a younger persuasion. The one poem that he, and a number of others, particularly enjoy is Big Cheeses.

Which poem or poems resonate with you? Do let me know. Also, if you’re inclined, do please send in a corporate situation and I can create a poem for you. If you prefer to write your own poem, leave it here in the comments section where it can be featured.

Here’s the review!

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With the link: http://www.bahrain-confidential.com/home/bookreview-corpoetry-by-resident-poet-david-hollywood/

Enjoy! And once again thank you David Hollywood