Last year I took part in a small symposium in Wollongong, south of Sydney. The title of the gathering was In All Languages: Translingual Cultural Production. I had been invited by Michael J., an academic who has a strong interest in transnational writings, and who was the first person to show an academic interest in my book, Lalomanu. I still remember the moment his email appeared out of nowhere (as only certain emails do and actually change your life, don’t they?) inquiring about how he could purchase a copy of this very intimate book of poetry I wrote and published myself. Lalomanu was not for sale, I explained in my reply. I sent Michael a copy, naturally.
Michael presented his paper a couple of years ago; it has recently been submitted to a journal and might see the light of day soon. Michael has also very gently and convincingly suggested that I write a paper about my own writing, particularly on the topic of translingual literary production. Michael is of course aware of the emotional toll it does involve for me, yet on the other hand his appreciation is that I have a lot to say. And I obviously thank him for that.
Talking of writing: a couple of weeks ago I found a totally unexpected comment in my literary blog. It was left anonymously, but the person who wrote it has obviously known me for many decades (at least since high school, which he mentioned in the message) and more than likely used to be a friend of mine. He is not any more. Contact was interrupted for good (pun intended) more than a decade ago. It was not my decision. Anyway, the comment addressed me personally and pointed out how I had changed my mind with respect to tobacco being a drug since the days of high school, in the late 70s and early 80s.
It was a mildly abusive comment, one whose tone was mean and embittered. I deleted it, of course. What I find the most puzzling about this is the fact that whoever this person is (of course I do have a very good idea of who he is), he was incapable of acknowledging my daughter’s death by means of a message of condolence or some sort of attempt to get in touch. The question is: what is the point of re-barging into someone’s life (albeit in cyberspace) after almost twenty years, if all you’re going to do is taking such a bitter pot-shot? How low can people get? And why do they? There may be no answer.
A friend of ours recently remarked that we (my wife and I) had stopped writing in our blogs. She wondered whether we felt we have nothing left to say. That’s certainly not the case. I feel I still have lots to share, to write both about Clea and about myself. A small yet significant aspect in the rationale for having a blog is to receive responses to what you write (especially if you allow responses – not everybody does). I guess one of the reasons I write less frequently here is because I do not get as much of a response as I might have expected.
“Giving shape to a painful experience is powerful because it helps us to see first, how we got through it; second, how we can share it. The experience doesn’t stay trapped within us, unspoken, curdling — instead, the art of arranging and transforming it reduces the burden. It no longer belongs to only you. […] Each sentence contains the chaos — our experience becomes what we perceive. And the honesty in these perceptions, whether true or invented, creates a bridge to another person.” Karen E Bender, ‘The accidental writer’, The NY Times, 25 January 2013.
He, the embittered one, has certainly burnt that bridge. But I think I will write something for Michael, though.