About this blog

My only daughter's name is Clea. Clea was six years and nine months old and she was enjoying a family holiday in Samoa when the ocean surged as a wall, ten metres high, and drowned her. Many other people died that morning of 29 September 2009.
The other four members of her family survived the tsunami.
Life has never been the same since. It will never be the same. This blog features memories, reflections, poetry, etc...
Just let me stay with her under this moon,
hold her in my arms, spin her in the air,
with my dear daughter in some timeless swoon.

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Sell Your Story!

Quite a few months ago I took part in a Saturday day-long course designed to provide some guidance, encouragement and ideas to people of NESB [Non-English Speaking Background] who seek to publish their literature.  Considering it a posteriori, attending may have been a lapse on my part; perhaps I’m still not prepared for attending such events. However, I cannot deny I have always loved literature; after all, I do like writing; I have created a few things I think I can be proud of.

There’s Lalomanu, of course, but also the Four Sonnets and a few other poems in English (Words for a Dead Daughter, or Whisper Her Name in the Wind, or even these poems, which I wrote before September 2009); I have also written some poetry in Catalan (Una mena de rutina or El teu arbret), and there is a couple of short stories I have published in Spanish (Duende and Olor a muerte).

There was some commotion in the room when I was asked about my story. Everyone was shocked (understandably, I suppose); they were appalled and of course saddened by Clea’s death, by what happened to us in Samoa. The facilitator, after the initial shock, appeared to become quite positive, almost enthusiastic, about the story. The idea was, basically, that I had a book to sell if I was prepared to sell my story.

My response was (and still is) that I do not want to ‘sell my story’. No, I do not want to sell my pain. I am well aware there is a market (one of those words whose meaning I choose to despise). The facilitator then asked why I had come to the course. ‘What are you doing here?’. Indeed: what on earth was I doing there?

Yet I did not really feel like replying. The question was, I felt, a little intrusive. The thing is: I like writing, I like literature. That should be a good enough reason to attend a one-day course for aspiring NESB writers.

I know there are people who have sold their stories of survival in catastrophes. I know there is a market for grief literature. But I have never bought a book of that kind. The closest I have been to something of the kind is probably Anh Do’s The Happiest Refugee (NB: the review is in Spanish), which I found had more things I disliked than I liked.

In fact, I'd say I have already written the story: it is called Lalomanu, because that was the name of the place where it happened. It is the Samoan placename that appears in Clea's death certificates (yes, you get two when the deceased has dual nationality). I have told my story, our story, but not the way the market wants it.

As far I'm concerned, the market can get stuffed.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for your beautiful poetry. I hope that by linking it on my site
    other grieving parents and family members and friends will read it.
    I think your poetry is a beautiful and lasting tribute to Clea and should be shared with as many people as possible.


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