Dr Niamh On The Plum Tree

Childhood Imagination Sows Seeds of Future Brilliance

Images for Song Of Sahel

I have been extraordinarily busy in preparation for this event. I don’t think I realised just how much work would be involved when I started this project. First, there is the announcing of it, the call to poets, the hours spent interacting through social media sending out the message in the hope that it might grow wings.

Once people begin to respond, projects take on a life of their own. People become inspired, begin to share your post to their own blog, add their own words, share to their Facebook pages. The poems began flooding in. At this point, I asked a good facebook friend of mine, Wayne Tolbert, and a member of my Plum Tree Group, if he would mind keeping track of the poems. Some came in with accompanying pictures; many did not. My inbox is so cluttered (I am one of those people who do not file things away neatly), that I was afraid of losing a poem or two, here or there, misplacing, forgetting, or losing someone’s heartfelt, considered words.

Wayne took excellent care of all this for me. As I began to do the layout and design of the book, Wayne sent the poems two by two, so that I would not become overwhelmed. In this way, I was able to give each person’s submission proper value. The next task was to search for suitable images to accompany the poems. I considered this carefully.

Those of us who work in, (or in my case, have worked in) overseas Aid and Development, know how important are the images that accompany requests for support or financial  assistance. Although the situation is as dire as it can be in Sahel, I did not want to use horrific images of children starving and dying. Whilst trawling the Internet, I came upon such shocking images taken by expert, professional snappers who live in the field, are on the scene, whose living is made out of capturing such moments and shocking the world out of its complacency. After all, these are the images that sell newspapers. These are the images to which we respond, that tear at our heartstrings and remind us of our humanity. These are the images, however, that aid agencies such as Oxfam, SoSSahel and Save The Children do NOT use, as they are considered pornographic.

What does this mean? Don’t we need such images? Of course we do. But I decided that as this was a book of poetry with music and art to express inner feelings, our feelings, about what is happening in another reality very different from our own, I would not use images to shock, but to stimulate us into imagining. The focus was on “those who have; those who have not… emphasising comparisons.

Backing up…don’t we associate pornography with one thing and one thing only? The definition of pornography is graphic prostitution. Yet, in modern parlance within the world of aid, the term, pornography, is used to describe images that exploit the intense privacy of someone’s most vulnerable moments – to sell suffering.

Whether or not you, dear reader, agree with this, I decided to adhere to this highly considered ethos for our little book of poetry. I have not used really graphic images. I have used many images taken by my husband, Doug Johnson, whilst he was in Sahel recently to assist in setting up a refugee camp. These are mainly of parched earth, landscape, and practical images of work at the grass-root. I had fun being artistic with some of these photos and applying them to many of the submitted poems. 

We received some stunning images from Essam Emnay who visited Sahel also, and who works for IIED. IIED is one of SOSSahel’s donors. Many, many thanks Essam for allowing us to use your images. For the cover, and CD covers, I used a picture of a Samburu woman by Eric Lafforgue.  as I believe this image encapsulates the strength, poise, bravery and beauty of the nomadic, pastoralists that live in areas of Sahel.

I wanted to focus on some of the positive things that come from such tragedy.

This then, is the Book cover that will represent this project. I hope you like it!

Join the Event on FaceBook: 

Visit our Web-Site 

Event will be LIVE on 15th September on our Website and on on our FaceBook Fan page 

The auction will take place on 16th September on the web-site and on the Facebook Fan page. Don’t miss it!

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About Dr Niamh

When I was a little girl (a very, very long time ago), I used to love learning new, really big words like ‘discombobulate’. As I grew, my love of words grew too, until I loved them so much, I could not stop writing them down. One day, as I was scribbling a particular word, a very peculiar thing happened. The word shouted at me, “Stop! Don’t put me there!” As you can imagine, I was shocked and nearly fell off my chair. When I recovered somewhat, I said to the word, “Could you stop shouting, please? I am not used to it.” Can you guess what happened next? No! I thought not. The word said, “I might be small, but I will misbehave if you do not use me properly. I will not tell the story you would like me to tell. I will say something entirely different!” I dropped my pen. I hoped that by dropping my pen, the word would stop talking. Alas! It did not. It carried on chitterchobbling, even after the ink had dried. I was in a pickle. I could not allow my words to run away with my story, now could I? I don’t know about you, but when this sort of thing happens, there is only one thing left to do if you prefer not to spend your time arguing. “Very well,” said I. “I will do as you ask if you will just be quiet and allow me to concentrate.” Since that day, I have been paying special attention to every word I invite into my stories. After all, a story should say exactly what it means to say and not be led astray. With love from Dr. Niamh, Ph.D in Learning Through The Imagination and Founder of Dr Niamh Children's Books. www.drniamhchildrensbooks.com

29 comments on “Images for Song Of Sahel

  1. Ampat Koshy
    August 29, 2012

    lovely news – wonder what image my poem is attached to?

    Like

  2. Harriet Grace
    August 29, 2012

    I’m so glad to read your blog about the images you will be using for Song of Sahel, and wonderful to hear that they will portray the strength, poise, bravery and beauty of this nomadic people, which will send out such a message of hope. Essam Emney’s picture of the tree is stunning and will say so much more by not, as you say, showing these people’s intimate, private suffering. I feel very moved reading your blog and very privileged to be making a tiny contribution to this project.

    Like

    • ontheplumtree
      August 29, 2012

      The tree is mine, Harriet. The woman is Essam’s. Thank you for the compliment!

      Like

  3. DiAnne Ebejer
    August 29, 2012

    Having seen many of the wonderful images that Doug took on his trip I am more than confident that the plight of the Sahel people will come through loud and clear without sensationalizing their suffering. The images and the cover are brilliant!

    Like

    • ontheplumtree
      August 30, 2012

      Thank You DiAnne…I take that as a great compliment from you, as you are always so particular about the images you choose to accompany your poems.

      Like

  4. Patricia Tilton
    August 29, 2012

    I am delighted with your reason for choosing the artwork. It shows integrity and a compassion for the dignity of the people of Sahel. I teared as I read this. I love the cover as it does show strength! I will look forward to the finished product and the launch. I may not be a poet, but I can promote SOS.

    Like

  5. Uncle Tree
    August 29, 2012

    Love your tree and your work, Niamh.
    You are good people! I so wish you great success
    in this arena that has no need for dirty words.

    God bless this project! Luvz & Hugz, UT

    Like

    • ontheplumtree
      August 30, 2012

      Thank You, Uncle Tree…always lovely to hear from you. You are always so generous in your support.

      Like

  6. the secret keeper
    August 30, 2012

    I support Niamh Clune in her brainchild and monumental efforts on pulling this all off. Plum Tree Books.co is Spectacular. The Art Page on Plum Tree Books.co is like walking into an elegant Art Gallery. The whole Site is Vibrant and so Beautifully designed. Thank you Niamh for all your hard work. It is so much appreciated. I, personally, am enthusiastically looking forward to seeing the unveiling
    of the results of all your efforts at The Event and the release of The Anthology Song of Sahel. I know you have outdone your self and are in need of many long leisurely nights of sleep. You are so appreciated for all that you do in all your efforts and support of all around you. Thank You Very Much. All I say comes from Love and my sheer Amazement on all that you have accomplished so far in your life. And your unending support of those who are in need of support as those in Sahel. And your generosity of giving encouragement to others who are creative and need that extra attention. This makes them feel good about what they have created and spurs them on to their next creative endeavors.

    Like

    • ontheplumtree
      August 30, 2012

      WOW! jennifer. Thank You for such support. You are always so generous.

      Like

  7. the secret keeper
    August 30, 2012

    You are deserving of much more. And guess what I think I have found more. You know how I feel about all the work that you do and how much of yourself you put into it. I have a surprise for you that I hope you will like.

    Like

    • ontheplumtree
      August 30, 2012

      many many thanks, Jennifer. And I do like and ma humbled by your generosity

      Like

  8. Tonia Marie Houston
    August 30, 2012

    Niamh Clune is the kind of spirit, thinker, and poet and I hope to be one day. Niamh, you set the standard for artistry and productivity. When I flail, I think of the long hours you put into every project, and each project bears your heart as its stamp.

    I’m delighted that “shock and awe” pictures won’t be used. In addition to portraying the strength of Africa over its despair, the general public has become desynthesized to such tragic images. It’s unfortunate, but true.

    Thank you for allowing me to be part of this. 🙂

    Like

    • ontheplumtree
      August 30, 2012

      Thank You for sharing, Tonia. Much appreciated. I always think it interesting to know the process that goes into the creation of something. Images are so important, don’t you trhink? A picture paints a thousand words…sorry about the cliche or is it a truism?

      Like

    • ontheplumtree
      August 30, 2012

      You submitted some very fine poems, Tonia. Well Done!

      Like

  9. Tonia Marie Houston
    August 30, 2012

    Reblogged this on Passionfind with Tonia Marie Harris and commented:
    What is SOS Sahel? Niamh Clune shares the story of the project’s creation and amazing growth. I’m delighted to inform you two pieces of my poetry will be part of this project. Please stop by and read the project’s story. SOS Sahel, the anthology, will be available September 15nth.

    Like

  10. cherduncombe
    August 30, 2012

    Niamh, the beauty of your spirit, the depth of your heart, and your unyielding integrity shine in your every effort. This blog is not only a testament to the Sahel, but it is a fitting tribute to all the work you produce. The majesty of your inner light glistens on all you do, making the world a much more magical place in which to live.

    Like

    • ontheplumtree
      August 30, 2012

      Oh My goodness. Cher! How lovely to hear from you. And of course, I will have the pleasure of talking about the artists that have contributed and who will be auctioning their work. You, of course, have contributed a marvelous painting: Unrelenting. I am unrelenting in my admiration of you.

      Like

  11. Beverley Ann Ball Hoyles
    August 30, 2012

    Amazing blog; Amazing work; Amazing Creativity for this project Song of Sahel. This will be helpful for Sahel. So happy to be a part of this!

    Like

  12. the secret keeper
    August 30, 2012

    Reblogged this on the secret keeper and commented:
    There are so many words to describe Niamh Clune but I think I will let her speak for herself in this instance. She has written a post about the Images for Song of Sahel. I’ve mentioned this everytime I have posted in one form or another. It is an extremely important venture that will aid the children, families and people of Sahel to have food so they will not starve. Their land is ruined from a continuous drought. The children are dying from starvation. They have so little in their small bodies to fall back on. So it doesn’t take much for their bodies to fail quickly. Niamh Clune came up with this project of an Anthology and Auciton to raise funds to help. Now I turn over to Dr. Niamh Clune to explain in her own words through this Reblog of her post Images for Song of Sahel. Follow back on the reblog link to read furhter on what she has written on her blog “ontheplumtree” about Song of Sahel and discover more. There are also many other Creative Projects that she speaks of and she is an author of several books that I, myself, possess that I am reading and rereading because there is so much subtance and crreativity in her imagination and in the non-fiction books, the depth of knowledge teaches you different ways of viewing yourself and the world. And an anthology on the entitlement of children to have innocence. Learn about this polymathic artist in more detail and find something new to discover about the generosity and creative talent of this marvelous woman Dr. Niamh Clune. by Jennifer Kiley

    Like

  13. Darlene
    August 31, 2012

    Congratulations to everyone who worked so hard on this project and especially to you Niamh, your energy seems to have no end. I haven’t been involved in this project but have been following it and promoting whenever I can. Well done!!

    Like

    • ontheplumtree
      August 31, 2012

      Thank You, Darlene. You are involved in spirit. I cannot tell you how much work this has been to pull together all the various strands. It is a difficult thing to do an anthology, as it involves coordinating so many people’s poems and details….

      Like

  14. duffybarkley
    August 31, 2012

    Ok Niamh, once again you lead the way. I finally have a WP account and can tell you here that I love your work and your books and think you and your energy are a gift to the world

    Dixie

    Like

    • ontheplumtree
      August 31, 2012

      Thank You…so much…I am soooooooooooo glad you have taken the plunge. It is so much easier to link to blogs as W/P does have a brilliant interactive set-up. And thank you for your generous and positive feedback about my books. I rarely get the chance to talk about them. So, Thank you for the mention.

      Like

  15. the secret keeper
    September 1, 2012

    https://ontheplumtree.wordpress.com/
    Has been nominated for a “Thought Provoking Blog Award”
    By The Secret Keeper
    Go to the following link to see what you have been awarded
    http://thesecretkeeper.net/2012/09/01/thought-provoking-blog-award/

    Like

  16. kdsommerset
    September 4, 2012

    A wonderfully moving song, thought provoking and inspiring; with the most beautiful lyrics and sound track. It’s really great that you are doing this work to raise awareness for what is such an important cause for all people on the planet.

    Like

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