Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Pyramus and Thisby, or How We View Slang in Literature

You may recall the play-in-a-play, performed by the rude mechanics at the end of Midsummer Night's Dream, aptly described in their own words as 'The most lamentable comedy, and most cruel death of Pyramus and Thisby.' These would-be actors, whose ability to express themselves is unabashedly mocked by their audience, are used by Shakespeare mainly for comic relief. The play they perform is merely a farce of the Romeo and Juliet love story. Why, you may ask? Because like most artists and playwrights of that era, the bard knew only too well that he ought to entertain and complement his patrons, the most important of which where members of the royal court. This is the reason that characters who speak in slang were nearly never placed center-stage, as the hero of the story. Such characters were portrayed as simpletons, and by no means were they given any depth of feeling. 

It was only later in the history of literature that characters of the lower class were taken seriously, and their point of view began to resonate, despite much controversy, with readers and theatre goers. For example, Between 1961 and 1982, The Catcher in the Rye was the most censored book in high schools and libraries in the United States. And yet today, it is recognized as an American classic, giving voice to teenage confusion, angst, alienation and rebellion. I suggest to you that in even today, there are two clashing views about the use of slang-talking characters, one from those who see themselves as 'upscale, educated nobility'--and the other, the more 'democratic' one, from the rest of us.

Recently I was reminded of this clash, when I posted an excerpt from My Own Voice in Anita's voice. You would be hard-pressed to find a three-syllable word in anything she says. The lack of long words is compensated by descriptive sequence of short words (see the replacement for ‘magnifying glass’ below.) You can spot a liberal use of the dreaded double-negative, and of the word ‘like’. In the excerpt she describes the memory of her first kiss with Lenny. Some readers told me, tongue-in-cheek, that the would need a cold shower by the time she completes her story. But one reader found the style of the excerpt inconsistent. He complained that at times Anita is lyrical, and at other times her thoughts are expressed in slang.

As a side note, let me share a little secret with you: even though that reader rejected the excerpt on intellectual grounds (which he is entitled to do) he did get it on an intuitive level. How do I know this? Because the very same day I got a 'romantic' invitation from him to join a social network for setting up dates. So, Anita's hot description did its charm on him, and for some reason, he must have combined to two of us in his mind. I had a little chuckle about this, as did my loved one...

So I ask you: why can't a character combine both? Are we still bound to write for the Pyramus and Thisby audience? Even if your grammar is atrocious, even if your vocabulary is somewhat lacking, does that mean you can't feel the throes of pain, or the exhilaration of joy? Does it mean you can't paint what you see, feel and think? As you form your own answer, I invite you to sense the texture and the power of unrefined language, by listening to Anita's voice once more:

"What matters is only what’s here. I touch my skin right under my breasts, which is where the little one’s curled, and where he kicks, ‘cause he has to. Like, he don’t feel so cosy no more. Here, can you feel it? I reckon he wants me to talk to him. He can hear me inside, for sure. He can hear every note of this silvery music.
It ripples all around him, wave after wave. I can tell that it’s starting to sooth him. It’s so full of joy, of delight, even if to him, it’s coming across somewhat muffled. Like a dream in a dream, it’s floating inside, into his soft, tender ear.
I close my eyes and hold myself, wrapping my arms real soft—around me around him—and I rock ever so gently, back and forth, back and forth, with every note of this silvery marvel. You can barely hear me—but here I am, singing along. I’m whispering words into myself, into him."

“A very passionate book! Gripping, riveting, and fascinating!”

Monday, July 30, 2012


Written by Zeev Kachel

Translated by Uvi Poznansky

When the past becomes your present
And follows you everywhere
Like a hunting dog, it's so intent
Then memory becomes despair
Memory, by a sudden spell
Then becomes your daily routine
Reality turns into hell
A crazy race to the unseen
You set your ladder on a ripple
No wonder that you fell, you cripple 

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Sunday, July 29, 2012

Better than 50 Shades of Grey? You Decide!

Apart from Love is currently listed on Goodreads as number 10 in Indie Book Better than 50 Shades of Grey. If you read my work, and wish to move it up the list, you'll know what to do...

The Ticklish Point under her Chin

"I try to avoid looking at her body—but still, I can see the ticklish point under her chin, and the long line of her neck, which is plunging into the collar, and the jugular vein fluttering there, and the nipple, half of which is peeking out from the shadow, down there under the opening of the shirt. 
Her ribcage starts flaring up now with rapid, disorderly breathing, as if to escape a nightmare. This, I figure, is something she must face alone."

I painted this watercolor with yellows and greens that I rarely used before, because I wished to give this figure a glow. Her fleshiness is accentuated with the perspective I chose, looking up at her from a vantage point at the level of her knees. I named her 'Butterfly' because despite being heavy, she has a twisting, swinging motion across the paper. 

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Friday, July 27, 2012

In the Company of Athletes, Belly Dancers, Performers

He brings athletes, belly dancers, performers each Friday
Right into your bedroom, for you to hear, honey! 
So when Cameron called me I knew, I just knew, right away 
That with him, I'll find myself in such great company!

He asked: if your novel would turn into a movie

Who'd play Ben--immature, insecure and naive?
Who'd play Anita--sexy, edgy, and groovy? 
What my answer was, you just wouldn't believe!

Cameron Datzker, a veteran of sports talk radio for over 20 years, asked me to come on his show, Sports and Life on LA Talk Radio. I had great fun coming to the studio, talking to him and seeing him in action, juggling the conversation with me about Apart From Love with current affairs and local news. The clapping in the background is Cameron himself, overflowing with enthusiasm and cheering me up!   

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Loved that Book

A 5-star review has been posted for Apart From Love on Amazon by a reader named Rachel:

5.0 out of 5 stars loved that bookJuly 26, 2012
This review is from: Apart From Love (Paperback)
I enjoyed every minute reading Apart From Love; most of all I delighted in the last chapters and the surprise ending. The way the characters developed was incredibly well described, and made me change my attitude toward them several times throughout the story. But by the time I reached the end, I stopped vacillating and came to see them in a positive, but sad, light. Towards the end I could not put the book down! This is a great work, and I am going to introduce the book to my book club.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

How can I Reach Your Temple?

At first I snarl, snaking 
In the dirt around your foot, 
I wish to shoot up, lifting 
My body from the soot 

I coil up, all around you  
Weaving shadows into your light 
Your white, now brushed with my blue  
Is no longer pure--not quite--  

And as I reach, your neck to clutch    
And lean in with a hiss  
Your head floats off, now out of touch  
So far out of my kiss  

How can I reach your temple?  
I can't, now I know  
You are so high, so gentle  
You tremble in the flow... 

Here I imagine myself as a transparent snake rising up, one scale after another, one facet after another, around this paper sculpture. The sculpture is made of four parts: 

  1. The foot at the bottom, which I shaped as an elegant, curvy pedestal 
  2. The faceted design in the middle, which I created out of a single sheet of paper, with no cutting or glueing at all (merely by light scoring and hand pressure)
  3. The faceted 'neck', which I brought to a single point; 
  4. And the crown on top, which I set afloat above that point.  
Curious about my paper sculptures? Take a look at my Plucked Porcupine or my Paper Peacock

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Paper Peacock

If you have been following my posts, you might have noticed that I have a feel, a deep appreciation for paper: its texture, pliability, and all the ways it allows you to use it, from writing to painting, from crumpling to origami and paper engineering. Here is a project I did together with Jess--the loveliest little five-years old girl you'll ever meet... Together, we googled images of peacocks online; she preferred the tail feathers to be hanging down behind, rather than spread out, so that was the way this paper peacock came into being.  

On another day, we created wings for Jess, and a rose-shaped wand, the top of which can be seen down there, at bottom center of this image. The contemplative bird seems to ponder the meaning of the designs on the wings--but whether it came to any conclusions, it is hard to know.

If you haven't seen my other paper projects, click here for my Plucked Porcupine.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Amazon Categories, Keywords and Tags

As a writer or publisher, you get to choose Categories, Keywords and Tags for your book. How do you do it? For example, if you have published a Kindle edition of your book, select the book from your author Bookshelf, select the action Edit Book Details, and under Target Your Book to Customers, you will find the Add Categories button and the Search Keywords field. As for Tags, anyone can add a tag on your Amazon book page by typing into the Your Tags field.


How many? Up to two per book. 

How are they used? The categories you chose are listed at the bottom of your Amazon book page. In the past, Amazon allowed you to choose up to five of them, which is why some books have more than the allotted two. By choosing a category for your book, you are in fact choosing a browsing-path for readers, a path which consists of a hierarchy of sub-categories, indicating how your book can be searched and discovered. In the case of the paperback edition of my book, Apart From Love, I have just updated the categories as follows:

Books > Literature & Fiction > Drama > United States
Books > Literature & Fiction > Women's Fiction > Contemporary Women


How many? Up to seven per book. 

How are they used? You can assign phrases, as they can be more than a single word. For example I used terms like love triangle, alzheimer's, family drama, father son relationship, mystery, forgiveness, guilt. Amazon uses these phrases in their search engine, in combination with words in your title, and your product description. 


How many? No limit.

How are they used? Tags are listed on a book’s product page under the heading Tag this product. They are designed by Amazon to help customers--in our case, readers--describe and find products. Anyone, not only the author, and not only the publisher, can add tags to a product page, and indicate that an existing tag is useful. Therefore, tags allow the book to be defined by your audience.

Hope this helps.

Sports and Life

Cameron Datzker is a veteran of sports talk radio for over 20 years. His background starts back as a play by play announcer calling both college football, and minor league baseball and hockey. He has spent his broadcasting days as a host for various radio stations in both New York and Chicago and Oklahoma City. Being a man of controversy he tells it like he sees it.

Cameron had the highest rated public access shows called, "it's a sports thing" which appeared on the Time Warner TV Network, this show featured various no name singers, dancers and performers as well as it featured belly dancers and  celebrities in the community.

Not being a belly dancer, I am still very honored that Cameron asked me to come on his show, Sports and Life on LA Talk Radio. The show will air Friday night, July 27, 2012, at 8:00pm Pacific Standard Time. Later this week I will let you know how to call in the show, so you and I can engage in conversation. Stay tuned...

Memories Are Fragile

Damaskcat, a Top 50 Amazon Reviewer (ranks 19 in the UK) and participant in Vine Voice program, posted this 4-star review for Apart From Love:

4.0 out of 5 stars Memories are fragileJuly 23, 2012
This review is from: Apart From Love (Paperback)
Ben returns home when he hears his father, Lenny, has suffered a bizarre accident at his wedding to Anita - his second wife. Ben has never really stuck at anything and he has been estranged from his father because he blames Lenny for his mother, Natasha, leaving them. The story is told by Ben and Anita - two completely different characters who speak with different voices. Often if you read a book with different narrators it is quite difficult to tell them apart but this isn't the situation with this book. Both voices are distinctive; the educated but not really adult Ben and the uneducated but self aware Anita.

Ben and Anita are attracted to one another even though Ben does not approve of his father's remarriage. How both Ben and Anita deal with the discovery that Natasha has Alzheimer's and Lenny is looking after her makes interesting and at times poignant and upsetting reading. Memories are fragile as Lenny says as he records conversations and attempts to turn them into a book.

I really warmed to Anita as a character. She tried to make sense of what to her was an alien world. She truly loves Lenny and wants to fit in with his world. She has common sense and an understanding of people which Ben seems to lack. I found Ben an annoying character and frequently wanted to shake him and tell him to pull himself together even though I could understand where he was coming from. Anita was at least trying to make something of her life, but Ben wasn't even trying - or that's how it came over to me.

I did enjoy this book and thought it made both sad and amusing reading and I laughed and cried while I was reading it. I thought the passages about Natasha and her illness were very well done. I would recommend this book to anyone who would like to read something a little bit different from the normal run of fiction.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

I Can Tell That His Side Of The Bed Is Empty

"Later, when I wake up, it takes me a while to grasp where I am, and even longer to figure out that I’ve lost time, that time has passed. The last thing I remember is like, making breakfast for him—and now, somehow, it’s late afternoon.
I’m lying here on my side, with the bedside lamp shedding a dim light behind me. I can tell that his side of the bed is empty. Why am I here? How did I get here? Why am I so dazed, so confused?"

This is a a watercolor painting I created a few years ago, on a non-absorbent sheet of paper called Yupo. It allows for lovely water puddles to happen on the page, which can drive you crazy if you have a meticulous, careful character. It is a great exercise to use this paper, because it invites you to relinquish control of every aspect of your creation. Only then can you discover the beauty of 'happy accidents'. Only then can you, as well as the watercolors, flow.

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Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Take a Listen

Uvi's too short, Poznansky--too long
So learn my name before the sound of the gong!
It's already too late, the interview has begun
With Patrick Walters and me, it's just too much fun

The host of Triangle Variety Radio, Patrick Walters, has interviewed me this Friday, July 20, 2012, at 8:00PM Eastern Standard Time. 

This interview was just over one-hour, which gave me a great opportunity to talk about my writing and art at greater depth than my previous radio interviews. What's more, this interview format lends itself to a broader discussion--not only between Patrick and me, but above all, between you and me! It was my pleasure to respond to questions about my work and about the creative process, and I was overjoyed to talk to one of my very first readers, Angela Davis, who called in to talk to me.   

You can listen to the show at Triangle Variety Radio

A Finely Crafted Debut Novel

Marcia Quinn Noren, the talented author of the non-fiction book Joan of Arc, the Mystic Legacy, has just posted a beautiful 5-star review of Apart From Love on Amazon. In it, she says:

5.0 out of 5 stars Finely Crafted Debut NovelJuly 18, 2012
Amazon Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Apart From Love (Kindle Edition)
This debut novel's characters are still with me, locked down in Jungian psychoanalysis. Uvi Poznansky's writing penetrates the subconscious, where dreams are ignited and poets find words.

As Anita and Ben reveal their innermost thoughts, the lives of Lenny and Natasha, linked tightly with theirs like the ropes in a Celtic knot, become increasingly vivid. This complex family of secret keepers triggered an avalanche of emotions in my mind and heart. Reading the book felt more like standing before a fine painting, worthy of being hung by itself on a museum wall, so that its detail can be taken in without distraction.

Highly recommended, especially for those whose tastes lean toward innovative literary fiction.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Dragon My Feet

A native of Colorado, Pat Bertram is the author of Light Bringer, Daughter Am I, More Deaths Than One, and A Spark of Heavenly Fire. She graciously invites authors to publish excerpts of their work on her blog. 

Tonight she posted an excerpt of Apart From Love. I have to admit, this one it is a particular favorite of mine, please check it out. It appears on her blog, whimsically named Dragon My Feet.

Friday, July 13, 2012

With Passion at Heart

Let me give you the dearest gift that I can
Do not refuse me, for my story began 
With passion at heart, guilt down at the gut
And sentences that I weave, then turn and cut
Now I give it to you, and this is my plea
Hold my book in your hand, it is yours, it is for thee!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Double, Double Misfortune, Trouble

Double, double misfortune, trouble 
Burning coal and blackening rubble
Let the blood in my caldron come to a boil
Let me feed the flames; oh, such a toil!
Don't you dare fear me, come over here
Ever so gruffly, I'll whisper in your ear
Listen, dear, no need to fret
And I promise, no regret:
My Own Voice is here at last.
Get it now, and do it fast!

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The Three Witches

Here is how Anita, the girl in my story Apart from Love, describes the three aunts, who in her eyes seem like three witches:

Then I turn my head—just a little—and take a peak over my shoulder. I glance real quick at that standalone mirror, which is facing away from me. And what do I see reflected there, if not something that’s, like, so strange to my eyes, so unusual, that it makes me want to blink, or wipe them in awe.
Three squares of fuzzy wool are being held there, suspended in midair. Directly behind them hang three shadows, under which you can see three chubby old women, crinkling their noses—long, longer, longest. They’re straining their crossed, beady eyes with great focus, under three pairs of glasses, and clinking, clinking, clinking three pairs of knitting needles, like, all together now! 
And there, on the floor, you can see three balls of thick yarn chasing each other, and from time to time, getting tied in knots, every which way across them fat ankles. 
Anyway, at first glance them old women look kinda similar, like a rough, wrinkled copy of each other, what with those high arched, strange eyebrows. I pinch myself, but they’re still there—in the mirror as well as outside of it—no matter how long I try blinking and wiping my eyes. It takes me a while to tell them apart: 
The one sitting to the left, she’s toothless. The one in the middle has a pimple on her veined temple. And the one to the right, well, her nose isn’t only the longest, but also the knobbiest of all three.

The three witches appear in many mythologies, including the Greek one, where one spun the thread of life from her distaff onto her spindle, another measured the thread of life allotted to each person with her measuring rod, and the third was the cutter of the thread of life. She chose the manner of each person's death; and when their time was come, she cut their life-thread with her shears. Anita has a memory of the Norse version of the three fates:

He took me to some opera, Wagner I think, which was long and kinda difficult to get, but he told me to listen, and he explained it all to me, and from there I remember them, the three Norns: They spun the thread of fate, and they sang, like, the song of the future. 
Beware, they sang. 
Beware, I tell myself now, as aunt Hadassa holds up the yarn, and snips it.

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Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Be Still, Poet's Heart

Be still, poet's heart, this moment is rare 
Stop this hammering, why would you dare   
To set up a challenge, to write your own fate
Be still and accept, perhaps it's too late

Unlucky the number, unlucky the day   
Still, welcome the future, come what may
Set yourself free, Apart from Love
Change whatever was decreed from above

Sing out a ballad of passion and hate
Sing it out as you drown, and ignore that date
Someone may notice, may listen out there
So quicken the pounding, sing out with a flair

The flood is abating, release the dove
Pray to find yourself a part of love

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Let Me Read the Palm of Your Hand...

Here are a few quotes from Apart from Love, told in Anita's voice. She brings up some memories that haunt her, and an urge to unveil what the future holds:

"Years ago—before being hired as a cleaning lady—ma had worked in Venice Beach, down at the boardwalk, as a fortune teller.
I remember her eyes. They looked downright stunning under the false eyelashes. As part of her gig, she would read the palm of my hand and like, shake her head with great concern for my future, so the hoop earrings would tinkle, as would the beaded necklaces and the jangle bracelets. Then her fake crystal ball would light up, at which time she would take firm hold of my hand and like, raise it up inside her fist, to show the crowd gathering around us how my thumb looked, how stubby it was, and how my lifeline, there on the palm of my hand, had an unusual, split end...
But then, she didn’t explain what the trouble was, exactly, with the split end of my lifeline; which left me kinda wondering. For sure ma couldn’t tell, back then, that I would hook up with someone like Lenny: a married man who had a son a year older than me."

When Anita recalls her ma in later times, times of loneliness, when her marriage seems to fall apart, she wishes her ma was here: 

"Even if she would give me a good slap, still, at least I could feel a touch, which would be better than this sorry state of being here, in the back of beyond."

And later still, Anita brings back the street wisdom of her ma, using it as a way of bracing herself against the harsh realities of life:

"Like ma used to say, when she called her customers to offer her usual special—I mean, the three dollar palm reading special—she said, No, really? No warmth left? Trust me, it just looks that way—till you touch them embers. Red hot passion like that, it can’t never die out. But see, it can change its color and blacken him inside, and like, turn to hate, or contempt, or jealousy.”

In this last quote, I had fun crafting the phrase 'her usual special.' 

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