Saturday, 30 August 2014

What's next...

If you have read the posts below about my previous books I hope that they have been of some interest and not too self indulgent.

At this stage I am basically up to date and continue to work on future projects. I am about a third of the way through my work on the psalms and continue to edge towards completion. I will perhaps post a work in progress at some point soon.

I have also been spending every other spare moment working on a poetic interpretation of Ecclesiastes. This is something I have been holding back on because it was something I was looking forward to do. Sometimes I hear a piece of music and it just strikes a chord with my soul in a certain way. One particular example is Fratres by Arvo Part. It just resonates with me. And since I was a teenager Ecclesiastes has done the same sort of thing. As time has gone by I heard that other people held a special connection with Ecclesiastes. I don't know if it is the realness of it or the bitter rantyness of it compared to other books in the bible. I hope to tap into some of that with my version. Again, I may post something up soon but expect it to be ready sometime in the autumn.

But until then...

Thursday, 28 August 2014

The Book of Proverbs in Haiku

My first full encounter with the Proverbs as part of my daily life was again through listening to the Daily Audio Bible. Each day there would be a proverb and quite often they would be the most powerful reading but I also noticed that often if there was a more weighty passage then I would be caught thinking about that and the Proverb would just go over my head. I decided to listen to the DAB proverb podcast in the hope that there wold be time and space to sit with the proverb but instead it was a whole chapter read in a 5 minute session. This is a great way of listening to the proverbs in a month but it felt rushed.

I realised that this is often what happens when we approach the Proverbs. They become lost in their anthologised format and drown among each other or we see the full list and try to gorge ourselves on a whole chunk instead or siting with the single proverb for a while.

It seemed to me that the Proverbs were a lot like the short form Haiku poems from ancient Japan which were short, pithy and full of observation and wisdom but contained in only 17 syllables. I wondered whether the proverbs could be translated into the haiku format and so I started to experiment and eventually I kept working through the entire book of Proverbs.

The work on this book was different from Song of Songs. Instead of translating from source I armed myself with a variety of existing translations and dictionaries I set condensing the proverbs into haiku.

I learnt so much in writing this book and it was a great opportunity to write a lot of haiku. So many of the proverbs were surprising and full of wisdom. After I released the book I had a really good response to the book.

I have since thought about how I might get the book published. I would love to see it in print and to see it reach a wider audience but at this time I don't know it that will happen or if that is the future for the book. Having looked into it a bit it seems that the Christian publishing world of poetry is not much different from the non Christian world of poetry and even If the book did get into print I'm not sure if it would mean that it would find a much wider audience. There are more possibilities for this in the US with things like Createspace and Lulu but not being in the US and having a US tax code seems to be a hurdle.

Hopefully I will find a way. Any ideas let me know though...

Solomon's Song of Songs

After Besides I didn't have anything planned.

I always like to have something to work on and like to keep writing if only for my own sanity and enjoyment. I usually like to have themes in mind when writing but there wasn't anything that sparked with me.  And so I thought I would try and write a novel.

I had a couple of ideas, the first was about a vigilante masked hero which lasted for a couple of chapters before I lost hope in the idea. The second idea I had felt like it had some life in it and I began doing a fair bit of work on it but then something else grabbed my attention.

At the start of the year I had begun to listen to the bible (because I'm lazy and sometimes can't be bothered to read) through the Daily Audio Bible Podcast. As a Christian I always felt kind of ashamed that I had never read through the entire bible but it just seemed daunting, but this seemed like a good way of doing it (and would recommend it to anyone!) It occurred to me that there was so much of the bible that I hadn't read, especially the poetry in the bible.

As I listened to the Psalms and the wisdom literature I felt like it was something I wanted to explore deeper.
I wondered why I had ignored books books like Proverbs, Song of Songs, Lamentations and Job. I think part of it was the language but also I realised that I had missed the point that these were amazing poems that maybe just needed to break free and breathe. That isn't to say that the texts are stagnant, rather I felt that something was lost in the antholigised format of chapter and verse, crammed together to save space, especially with something like the proverbs.

When I was at university we looked at translations in poetry and it was something I enjoyed and so the idea of having a go at translating/ interpreting some of the biblical poetry appealed to me and it also provided a good opportunity to get into the scriptures a bit more.

I started working with the Psalms (which I will get into at a later post as it has proved to be a larger task) but in the mean time planned to look at other texts. The first of these was Song of Songs.

My intention with SSOS was to try and present the text as it might have been originally as a song or poem, without setting it in chapter and verse and to work from a literal word for word translation of the original Hebrew, referring to other translations for clarification and from that point to try and capture the passion and meaning in the text. There may be mistakes and errors in my interpretations but I wanted to make the translation my own, to get to know the text and primarily to make it something that I understood. If other people happened upon it then I hoped that they would find something in it.

I published the book through Amazon for kindle and thought I would see what might happen. My previous books had never really gathered any momentum. A few people had downloaded free copies in promotion or borrow and bought now and again but on the first promotional run of SSOS over 400 copies were downloaded and people continued to buy it. I realised that I had done something that connected with people. It was almost as if it had given me a purpose and calling for my desire to write poetry. It was the first step of an adventure.

We'll see if I come back to that novel one day.