World Poetry Day 2015, United Nations, Geneva
While teaching English as a foreign language, I published two textbooks, one for the Swiss Railways and one for pilots preparing their international aeronautical radiotelephony license. For five years I was on the editorial committee of the Swiss journal Ecrire and in 1993 I became a founding member of the Geneva Writers’ Group and part of its steering committee for fifteen years.
In 2008, I published Blowing Feathers, a memoir in my mother’s voice. A year later, I was the editor of Offshoots 10, the Geneva Writers’ Group’s anthology, which celebrated it’s 20th year of publication with that issue.
My poetry collection Transition was published in Switzerland by Editions du Madrier in December 2011. In March 2015, I was invited to read two poems at the United Nations in Geneva in celebration of World Poetry Day 2015.
This is Tiki, a Maori woodcarving, which hangs on the interior wall opposite the main door of my home. In Maori mythology, Tiki is often related to the first man, as well as associated with the origin of the procreative act. However, the spiral forms on the carving, curved and undulating, are feminine. The earliest deities were fertility-mother-goddesses and one of the most persistent of rain symbols is the spiral. Tiki, a humanoid sculpture, is neither man nor woman. Its glaring paua shell eyes and exposed tongue frighten away evil spirits.
Tiki is my house spirit and it not only serves to mark the sacred boundaries between the outside and the inside of my home, but it also allows the ancestor spirits to enter and dwell among us. Tiki reminds me that the land of my birth and childhood remains an essential source of my creativity. The woodcarving also haunts my thoughts when I encounter Mystery, which never has answers, only questions. I try to be open to its presence and share with others.
From My Mother's Story
“We went to our daughter’s home in September when the warm still days of mellow lingering sunshine created a balm over the pregnant vines and across the breadth of tranquil lake. It softened the stern alps in Haute Savoie before drifting onto the ancient, crumbling Jura Mountains, far over towards the hidden elbow of Geneva. In Jo Ann’s garden, bees droned among clumps of purple Michaelmas daisies, bacchanalian roses and stiff, yellow goldenrod. Autumn bonfires painted a fine haze over the hollows of the valley and even the steamers, plying across the dreaming water, and the tiny jets, pencilling their highways in the sky, seemed a natural part of the landscape.”
Excerpt from Blowing Feathers, chp. 8, pp. 185-186