literary selection

Ves najboljoš

I’m afraid this post will be rather untranslatable, but I’ll do my best.

First Pooh:

This is a page from the original copy of Winnie-the-Pooh as “improved” by me as a child before I convinced myself that I sucked artistically (here you can find another example of my Pooh art). The language is Slovenian since I tend to swing that way. For everybody else here is a part of it in English:

 So Owl wrote…and this is what he wrote:

HIPY PAPY BTHETHDTH THUTHDA BTHUTHDY

Pooh looked on admiringly.

“I’m just saying ‘A Happy Birthday’,” said Owl carelessly.

“It’s a nice long one,” said Pooh, very much impressed by it.

I was very impressed too when two days ago on my bthuthdy (when I gave myself gelato) special presents came rolling in. Well, the messenger brought them, but they got opened live via Skype.

The messenger’s present were the original Pooh copy and a brand new one, and browsing through the old one I remembered EXACTLY how it felt to hold the book so many years ago and colour it in. Rather impatiently, I recall.

Here is a collection of other gifts, so dear to my heart.

Sister found an online offer of a book necklace with a key. The books are real!

This bag was amore’s gift, not bestia’s, but the feeling is mutual. (The other side of the bag in the featured photo above.)

Father’s own handiwork, a (n)jam made of home-grown žižole (Ziziphus jujuba, commonly called jujube, red date, Chinese date, Korean date, or Indian date).

The envelope bearing this photo of me on my 5th birthday (if not mistaken), together with both my grandmothers and my beautiful and VERY young mother (taken by father)…

…contained this poem written by mom. Even though the last line says: “Manči, translate!” I shall not do it, only reveal that it mentions Thursday Doors, and includes Pearl Jam and Kurt Cobain in the same line, hilariously written in the Serbian write-as-you-speak style as “Prl Đem” and “Krt Kbejn”.

Thank you all for all the lovely things, memories and wishes, and for bringing us together even when we are apart. ❤

Photo: a © signature mmm production

I am not responsible

This is what my phone wishes you to know.

I wrote this by starting with love and kept clicking the middle option among the three word suggestions given by my phone. When the loop began, I continued by clicking always the suggestion on the right. And then the one on the left.

I didn’t google to see if there are already pages and pages of this kind of “poetry”. But for a lazy poet it’s almost ideal.

This is practically unedited, I only put it in verse format to annoy those who say they don’t like poetry. The phone chose where sentences shall end and did its own punctuation.

What I find so mind-boggling is that I don’t deal in advertising and these words are not my regular words (except about resetting the modem, yep, we’re doing that a lot). And what about being a new one?

Do yourselves a favour. Advertise in the UK. And do your own, this is nuts!

Love, by Samsung Galaxy Note Trend Plus

Love
you too.

Still,
the Google Team To
in this email address.

Please note
that the information you need
to be a good idea
to advertise the UK.

I have been feeling
a bit of a new one. Wow.

You can also be used
to be a good idea
to advertise the UK.

I have been feeling
a bit of a new one. Wow.

You can also be used
to be a good idea
to advertise the UK.

I think I am looking
to buy the ticket.

Please wait.

This email has to do with a bit.

It has an amazing day
and the Three main thing I want you.

You are not responsible.

This email has to do with a bit.

I’m sure you have any queries
you’ll find it difficult for me
to reset the modem
or a person is unauthorised
and strictly for you
to be honest.

I’m sure you have any queries,
you’ll find it difficult for me
to reset the modem
or a person is unauthorised
and strictly email us.

I am not a good day,
but the most important things.

The only thing I can get
the most important things.

Photo: a © signature mmm production
Location: Mò Mò Republic restaurant, Monteverde, Roma

Year 3 Anno Domini

Three years ago today my prince in a dark Ford snatched me away from everything I’d known, together with most of my belongings, and delivered me from Slovenia to the south of Tuscany where I’ve stayed till this day. You who were willing to bet that I’d return quickly, I wonder how many cases of whiskey this makes by now.

We kept cramming the car. So many boxes and bags. Slowly packing and waiting for amore I was sure that I had too much stuff to fit in the car. Therefore I packed winter stuff separately. After all, I was southbound. And it’s true – from April to November there is no need for socks, let alone anything else.

Highway stop near Trieste showing the first stage of our travel and the directions of winds. We are headed to where libeccio blows.

When amore told me via skype to measure my round table that I kept on my porch, which I’d already called “Tuscany table” much earlier than any talk of Tuscany was born, I didn’t have any measuring tape at hand so I took an A4 paper sheet and measured it with that. After that I had to google the measurements of an A4 sheet. I forwarded the results to amore and he proclaimed that the table is too broad to fit in the car by the palm of his hand (10 cm).

When he arrived and saw the situation with his own eyes, he immediately knew that the table would easily fit. It turned out that I’d been wrong in my calculation for exactly 10 cm. But by then I’d already said goodbye to the table in my mind. It is poor form to take the Tuscany table all the way to Tuscany.

As we were cramming the car, with back seats folded, I could not help but admire how much space there was. Everything fit: all my boxes and bags, even the winter stuff. We put my orchid in as well. Must be a potted plant when moving, I saw it in American films.

Orchid at the end of the road after much dust had been raised.

And in the end, since the car still seemed half full, I pushed my office chair in as well. (The orchid died a while ago, whereas in the chair I’m sitting right now.)

And off we went. Actually, it was me behind the wheel so we can’t call it whisking away. And I drove all the way to Florence, about 480 km, where he took over for the remaining two hours and a half.

Finally in new home: our volcano (nah) and the ford which could do it all.

And now? In a sense, it is still exactly like it was three years ago: I’m happy, not too homesick (especially since I visit about three times a year and I’ve got visitors even more often), exploring my surroundings, taking it easy. And yet it is completely different too: a few months after my arrival we got bestia, which changes everything and now I can’t even imagine not having him.

The first things I have unpacked in my new home. The framed photo is of one of the three dogs that our family brought up by the bottle. The story of how we found them is touching and you can find it in my blog if you are lucky (hint: it was posted in March last year).

Okay, I know a bit more Italian now (here I’ve written about my early language learning). Enough to explain to the vet any trouble, and defend myself when people think I don’t understand them. I find it typical that the words I use most often are allora, va bene, eccolo, and my favourite, tutto a posto.

So here I am, 260 photo folders later (not to count the photos but there are a LOT), with two years of blogging behind me (and one year on FB!), with red painted nails, on my hands too (!), with an e-reader (and I was SO against them!) but also with many new books, and with newly acquired taste for melanzane, zucchini and this fruit:

I took this photo on the day of my arrival, thinking – how cute, tomatoes are indeed considered fruit here: they put them in the fruit bowl! Then I saw the skull and bones, chuckled at the thought of my theory that natives let the settlers have all the plants from the nightshade family forgetting to inform them they were poisonous, and ran to take the photo.

Little did I know that in no time at all I’d learn to enjoy the best ragu, melanzane parmigiana (which is a COMPLETELY RED DISH, something I used to run away from) and pasta with tuna in tomato sauce. The only thing I (still) don’t eat are raw tomatos in salad. And cetrioli. Too much chlorophyll. 😀

In short, it’s been good for me here, and I’ve been good for it (that is to say he and him, well, bestia is alright too). There is no reason why it shouldn’t continue to be just so. Grazie per tutto!

First photo shoot on the roof in 2013.

(And you who had to say in the typically Slovenian malevolent, down-putting, jinxing, jealous manner how you were willing to bet that this wouldn’t last and that I’d return in no time – beware that I don’t return for real if only to collect those cases of whiskey you owe me by now.)

As the poet Rade Šerbedžija says (I’ve translated the entire poem here):

we are still here
we have yet to be scattered by beasts

≈ Manja Maksimovič ≈

You and me – best of all worlds. 🙂

Photo: a © signature mmm production

WPC: Sexing the Cherry, no half light about it

What follows are three out of twelve dancing princesses telling their stories about what happened after they married three of 12 princes, from the book “Sexing the Cherry” by Jeanette Winterson. They are one of the reasons why this book is my favourite.

***

We all slept in the same room, my sisters and I, and that room was narrower than a new river and longer than the beard of the prophet.

So you see exactly the kind of quarters we had.

We slept in white beds with white sheets and the moon shone through the window and made white shadows on the floor.

From this room, every night, we flew to a silver city where no one ate or drank. The occupation of the people was to dance. We wore out our dresses and slippers dancing, but because we were always sound asleep when our father came to wake us in the morning it was impossible to fathom where we had been or how.

You know that eventually a clever prince caught us flying through the window. We had given him a sleeping draught but he only pretended to drink it. He had eleven brothers and we were all given in marriage, one to each brother, and as it says lived happily ever after. We did, but not with our husbands.

I have always enjoyed swimming, and it was in deep waters one day that I came to a coral cave and saw a mermaid combing her hair. I fell in love with her at once, and after a few months of illicit meetings, my husband complaining all the time that I stank of fish, I ran away and began housekeeping with her in perfect salty bliss.

For some years I did not hear from my sisters, and then, by a strange eventuality, I discovered that we had all, in one way or another, parted from the glorious princes and were living scattered, according to our tastes.

We bought this house and we share it. You will find my sisters as you walk about. As you can see, I live in the well.

“We bought this house and we share it. You will find my sisters as you walk about.” Roma.

***

You may have heard of Rapunzel.

Against the wishes of her family, who can best be described by their passion for collecting miniature dolls, she went to live in a tower with an older woman.

Her family were so incensed by her refusal to marry the prince next door that they vilified the couple, calling one a witch and the other a little girl. Not content with names, they ceaselessly tried to break into the tower, so much so that the happy pair had to seal up any entrance that was not on a level with the sky. The lover got in by climbing up Rapunzel’s hair, and Rapunzel got in by nailing a wig to the floor and shinning up the tresses flung out of the window. Both of them could have used a ladder, but they were in love.

One day the prince, who had always liked to borrow his mother’s frocks, dressed up as Rapunzel’s lover and dragged himself into the tower. Once inside he tied her up and waited for the wicked witch to arrive. The moment she leaped through the window, bringing their dinner for the evening, the prince hit her over the head and threw her out again. Then he carried Rapunzel down the rope he had brought with him and forced her to watch while he blinded her broken lover in a field of thorns.

After that they lived happily every after, of course.

As for me, my body healed, though my eyes never did, and eventually I was found by my sisters, who had come in their various ways to live on this estate.

My own husband?

Oh well, the first time I kissed him he turned into a frog.

There he is, just by your foot. His name’s Anton.

“Oh well, the first time I kissed him he turned into a frog.” Il giardino dei tarocchi, Niki de Saint Phalle.

***

When my husband had an affair with someone else I watched his eyes glaze over when we ate dinner together and I heard him singing to himself without me, and when he tended the garden it was not for me.

He was courteous and polite; he enjoyed being at home, but in the fantasy of his home I was not the one who sat opposite him and laughed at his jokes. He didn’t want to change anything; he liked his life. The only thing he wanted to change was me.

It would have been better if he had hated me, or if he had abused me, or if he had packed his new suitcases and left.

As it was he continued to put his arm round me and talk about building a new wall to replace the rotten fence that divided our garden from his vegetable patch. I knew he would never leave our house. He had worked for it.

Day by day I felt myself disappearing. For my husband I was no longer a reality, I was one of the things around him. I was the fence which needed to be replaced. I watched myself in the mirror and saw that I was no longer vivid and exciting. I was worn and grey like an old sweater you can’t throw out but won’t put on.

He admitted he was in love with her, but he said he loved me.

Translated, that means, I want everything. Translated, that means, I don’t want to hurt you yet. Translated, that means, I don’t know what to do, give me time.

Why, why should I give you time? What time are you giving me? I am in a cell waiting to be called for execution.

I loved him and I was in love with him. I didn’t use language to make a war-zone of my heart.

‘You’re so simple and good,’ he said, brushing the hair from my face.

He meant, Your emotions are not complex like mine. My dilemma is poetic.

But there was no dilemma. He no longer wanted me, but he wanted our life

Eventually, when he had been away with her for a few days and returned restless and conciliatory, I decided not to wait in my cell any longer. I went to where he was sleeping in another room and I asked him to leave. Very patiently he asked me to remember that the house was his home, that he couldn’t be expected to make himself homeless because he was in love.

‘Medea did,’ I said, ‘and Romeo and Juliet and Cressida, and Ruth in the Bible.’

He asked me to shut up. He wasn’t a hero.

‘Then why should I be a heroine?’

He didn’t answer, he plucked at the blanket.

I considered my choices.

I could stay and be unhappy and humiliated.

I could leave and be unhappy and dignified.

I could beg him to touch me again.

I could live in hope and die of bitterness.

I took some things and left. It wasn’t easy, it was my home too.

I hear he’s replaced the back fence.

“I was the fence which needed to be replaced.”

***

Photo: a © signature mmm production

Related: My open letter to Jeanette Winterson

I have never thought to add my photographs to a literary work. I’m glad I did it now for Jeanette and:

In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: Half-Light

Storygathering

I’ve never felt like writers who invent stories must be feeling. It was always impossible for me to imagine being somebody else.

The latest reap of what they sowed. Some of them were recommended by you, kind bloggers, and some other people far away. 

Once I got this advice from an experienced writer whom I met in Denmark but was Irish: “Write the things you wish to tell the people around you.”

I looked at him while whispering on the inside: “But I tell them all the time. Aloud. Instead.”

I guess I’ve liked being me too much. I like my beliefs, what I stand for, my preferences, my taste.

I like my patterns, there is nothing in my past (and barely anything in my present) that I’d like to change.

Once I took part as a test bunny in a seminar for healers, and they asked me to state one thing about myself that I’d like to change.

That made me a bit angry. Why everybody supposes that we would like to change? Advertisers, sellers, fellow beings, therapists.

Except dogs. They are pretty sure in their unsupposing.

So I said: “Maybe we could work on my anger.”

Then came the past lives talk. Designing my own death in a Stefanel-inspired skirt with my neck on the chopping block in a forested area in Highlander times was fun.

But I’m not a writer. So it must have really happened. 😀

It’s true though: the only stories I gather are my own.

Luckily at least one is happening at all times.

Now – photography, on the other hand…

≈ Manja Maksimovič ≈

Photo: a © signature mmm production

Wherever you are is called Here

For anybody who might be lost, a lovely poem for World Poetry Day. I have never been more found myself.

Lost
by David Wagoner

Stand still. The trees ahead and bushes beside you
Are not lost. Wherever you are is called Here,
And you must treat it as a powerful stranger,
Must ask permission to know it and be known.
The forest breathes. Listen. It answers,
I have made this place around you.
If you leave it, you may come back again, saying Here.
No two trees are the same to Raven.
No two branches are the same to Wren.
If what a tree or a bush does is lost on you,
You are surely lost. Stand still. The forest knows
Where you are. You must let it find you.

Photo: a © signature mmm production

The only thing that makes life worth living is the possibility of experiencing now and then a perfect moment. And perhaps even more than that, it’s having the ability to recall such moments in their totality, to contemplate them like jewels.
—John Bowles

Six friends doing their own perfect take on Village People for sister’s 30. Photo: MM

In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: Dance

Soul with the capital

Today celebrates mom’s cousin, our Soul with the capital S. She paints, designs jewellery, sows and learns Italian, to name but a few.

When she last visited us (pridi cai is still standing!) she brought me a very special gift (well, not only that, there was also her painting!): a fifty-year-old book titled “Nuova poesia Jugoslava” (“New Yugoslav Poetry”) with poems of ex-Yugoslav, that is to say Slovenian, Croatian, Bosnian, Serbian, and Macedonian poets, in original and Italian language side by side.

She already requested one poem from there to use in her Italian class, and here is another by Slovenian poet Kajetan Kovič, in English (found online) and Italian (from the book). I loved this poem growing up and had it in my scrap book which has since been replaced with this blog. I dedicate it to her cleaning robot. 😀

Robots, by Kajetan Kovič
Translation by Veno Taufer & Michael Scammel

Robots are on the march.
The first robot is rectangular.
The stone in his hand
is a cube.
And a cube is a cube from time immemorial
and all that is, is a cube.
Robots are on the march.
The second robot is round.
The stone in his hand
is a sphere.
And a sphere is a sphere from time immemorial
And all that is, is a sphere.
Robots are on the march.
The stone in the sky, the stone on earth
has no choice.
Today it is stone, tomorrow a cube.
Today it is stone, tomorrow a sphere.
Today it is stone, tomorrow a robot.
Robots are on the march.
The cube smashes the sphere.
The sphere kills the cube.
For the cube is a cube forevermore.
For the sphere is a sphere forevermore.
Robots are on the march.
For as long as the cube is rectangular.
For as long as the sphere is round.

I robot
Translated by Giacomo Scotti

I robot marciano.

Il primo è quadrangolare.
Il sasso nella sua mano
è un cubo.
E il cubo è sempre cubo e tutto
quanto esiste è cubo.

I robot marciano.

È sferico il secondo.
Il sasso sulla sua mano
è una sfera.
E la sfera è una sfera sempre e tutto
quanto esiste è sfera.

I robot marciano.

Sasso in cielo, sasso in terra
non ha scelta.
Oggi è sasso, domani è cubo.
Oggi è sasso, domani è sfera.
Oggi è sasso, domani è robot.

I robot marciano.

Il cubo frantuma la sfera.
La sfera uccide il cubo.
Perché in eterno il cubo resta cubo.
Perché in eterno la sfera resta sfera.

I robot marciano.

Finché il cubo sarà quadrangolare.
Finché la sfera sarà sferica.

Here is another text that she can use for her Italian class, the song that is currently everywhere in Italy. Francesca Michielin ended up second in San Remo and will represent Italy at this year’s Eurovision Song Contest. Indeed, there is no degree of separation.

Francesca Michielin: Nessun grado di separazione

È la prima volta che mi capita
Prima mi chiudevo in una scatola
Sempre un po’ distante dalle cose della vita
Perché così profondamente non l’avevo mai sentita
E poi ho sentito un’emozione accendersi veloce
E farsi strada nel mio petto senza spegnere la voce
E non sentire più tensione solo vita dentro di me

Nessun grado di separazione
Nessun tipo di esitazione
Non c’è più nessuna divisione tra di noi
Siamo una sola direzione in questo universo
Che si muove
Non c’è nessun grado di separazione

Davo meno spazio al cuore e più alla mente
Sempre un passo indietro
E l’anima in allerta
E guardavo il mondo da una porta
Mai completamente aperta
E non da vicino

E no non c’è alcuna esitazione
Finalmente dentro di me
Nessun grado di separazione
Nessun tipo di esitazione
Non c’è più nessuna divisione tra di noi
Siamo una sola direzione in questo universo
Che si muove

E poi ho sentito un’emozione accendersi veloce
E farsi strada nel mio petto senza spegnere la voce

And here, let me give Soul back a little present that she made for me and I have it right here at all times. (It’s NOT limoncello!)

Tanti auguri e cin cin!

Photo: MM + VS (the tree)
Featured photo: newlyweds (well, almost) in Capalbio