"Plum-Picking with Niamh Clune."
When I began this project 5 months ago, I never imagined how it would take over my life…
My husband had been called upon to offer his expertise to Plan International in Niger, where they were setting up refugee camps to cope with those pouring across the Malian border in hopes of escaping the civil war. Niger could ill afford these exiles, as it was already starving.
I have written several blogs on-the-plum-tree about the situation in Niger and about Doug’s time there, so no need to repeat, as those of you who are interested in the details can read them in my archives.
Song Of Sahel developed because my Plum Tree group of poets responded to hearing about Doug’s activities in Sahel. Wayne Tolbert was the first of the poets to respond by posting a poem of great feeling and beauty in the group. I decided to send out the call across my social networks for poets, musicians, artists and photographers to submit a piece of work encapsulating the feelings of artists. After all! It is the job of the artist to tell it like it is and to speak for the collective soul. Through poetry, soul is exalted, the essence of a thing captured, the extraneous pared away; until all that remains is the polished gem. I urged us to write our poems, express our talent. After all, it is the best we have to give. Poetry is not a luxury but a necessity. It tempers civilizations and keeps them sane.
Plum Tree Books is project orientated. I love projects; they involve collectives and are participatory. Poets had become used to me asking them to submit poetry by way of supporting a cause. The theme for Song Of Sahel was ‘those who have; those who have not.’
I had been in a British supermarket that day, listening to people complaining about the rain. The English are always complaining about the weather! They won’t mind my saying that. It is a local joke! My shopping moment reminded me of those times, when returning back to the UK after a stay in Africa, I was suddenly confronted, once again, by the reality of an English supermarket, by the choice, extravagance and mind-boggling plenty. I couldn’t help but compare our seeming excesses to where I had just been. That particular day in May, worried about the safety of my husband being in Niger and aware of the reality there, the supermarket scene seemed, once again, incongruous, considering that there are those who die for lack of rain. What would they give for a trip to one of our local supermarkets?
I had worked in East Africa back in the nineties, during the war-torn years, when I was fortunate enough to do some contracts for Oxfam and UNICEF in my capacity as a psychotherapist. My African experience has always stayed with me; that fascinating and challenging continent holds such a special place in my heart, not least, for the great souls I met there, those humanitarian practitioners engaged in every level of rehabilitation and development.
Song Of Sahel was born. Plum tree Books, (me and my facebook friends who help me promote our projects across our social networks), committed to doing another anthology. I wanted it to be a new kind of poetry experience for kindle, as it would contain pictures and links to music. (I will tell you about the music in another post). (P.s. I could not have managed the technical side of this with you, Claudio)!
I would like to take the opportunity to thank all those of you who have submitted your poems to serve this cause. In the course of the next few weeks, I will be featuring some of you on these pages.
Here is the roll-call!
Meet the Authors
Sue Lobo, Spain:
Tonia Marie Harris, Midwest, USA:
DiAnne Ebejer, Florida, USA:
Claudio Fiore, London, UK:
Shirani Rajapakse, Sri Lanka:
Irene Gowins-Sowells, New York, USA:
Beverley Hoyles, Newfoundland, Canada:www.feetfirst-book.com
Susie Bertie, USA:
James W Roberts, Australia:
Cher Duncombe, Pennsylvania, USA:
Yasmine Barry, Ireland.
Wayne Tolbert, Surprise, USA:
Andrew Scott, Canada:
Jennifer Kiley, USA:
Harriet Grace, UK:
Dr A. V. Koshy, Saudi Arabia:
De Ann Townes, Arizona, USA:
Amy Barry, Ireland:
Susma Sharma Gurumayum, India:
Melinda Schoch, Australia:
Douglas St., Ours, Maryland, USA:
Dani Heart, California, USA:
Maeve Henegan, Ireland:
Chrissie Morris Brady, UK:
Helga Raesfeldt-Mings, Ireland.
Marta Pelrine-Bacon, USA:
Catherine Farrer, UK.
Giorgio Mostarda, Italy:
Elizabeth Castillo, Antipolo, Rizal:
Tony Mutton, Australia:
Erik (Aged 10), USA:
Margaret Phelan, Ireland.
Niamh Clune, UK: http://www.plumtreebooks.co
Douglas Johnson, UK:
Larry Turner, USA:
SOS Sahel, UK:
Janet Young Beasley, Florida:
Essam Emnay, UK:
Maria Antonietta Terrana, Sicily:
Sally Rowland, Canada:
Yasmine Barry, Aged 12: Ireland
Cher Duncombe, USA:
Marta Pelrine-Bacon, USA:
Xavier Lobo, South Africa: xavier.lobo @hotmail.com
Christina Beller, Illinois, USA:
Josie, Aged 8: USA
Tahira Lubrano, Netherlands: