“A line will take us hours maybe,
Yet if it does not seem a moment’s thought,
Our stitching and unstitching have been naught.
Better go down upon your marrow bones
And scrub a kitchen pavement, or break stones
Like an old pauper, in all kinds of weather—
For to articulate sweet sounds together
Is to work harder than all these, and yet
Be thought an idler by the noisy set
Of bankers, schoolmasters, and clergymen
The martyrs call the world. “

So there you have it: writing is hard work. Now, the question remains, what will you do with this condemnation? Will you pitter and patter and moan and groan (which is my general state): or, will you buckle up and DO the hard thing, the work?

Truly profound essay written in 1952

Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.
What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between the regions of kindness.
How you ride and ride
thinking the bus will never stop,
the passengers eating maize and chicken
will stare out the window forever.

Before you know what kindness really is you must lose things, feel the future dissolve in a moment like salt in a weakened broth.

Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness
you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho
lies dead by the side of the road.
You must see how this could be you,
how he too was someone
who journeyed through the night with plans
and the simple breath that kept him alive.

Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.
Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day to gaze at bread,
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
It is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you everywhere
like a shadow or a friend.

The Dying of Baal

In ancient Syria it was said
if the paid mourners did not wail
and play their flutes,
the fire snake of grief,
the demon Bhalak, would stir
and scorch the bereft
from the inside out.

I bury one hand in the dirt.
With the other I throw dust
over my head. I am barefoot.
I do not eat. My bloodless hair
I pluck and tear: Syria is dead
and all the professional
mourners have fled.

Oh Syria! With the god of Storm
and Dew now thunder-mute
in Homs, Aleppo, Damascus and Palmyra,
without the rip of shirt and flesh,
un-memoried, the thousand silences,
thick and slow, stand on the banks
of the Orontes, a living mist,
wordless as the dead.

I thrust one hand into my chest.
With the other I scratch black scars
in a lost language of Body:
some, any, every, no.
The earth burns my feet.
My blistered tongue swells
with seared and serpent breath. 

Helen Wing is a poet and fiction writer currently living in Beirut. She has worked as a poet-in-residence in schools in China, the UK, and the EU and runs creative writing workshops for performance and poetry book publishing projects. Her work has been published in UK, US, China, and Lebanon.

from Quo Vadis Fan Profile: Nicholas

An absolute pleasure to be interviewed by none other than Quo Vadis. I’ve been using their notebooks/journals for years now –*particularly for my literary endeavors.

QV: Please tell us a little bit about yourself.
NA: I’m a multi-genre novelist and explorer. A has-been archaeologist who exchanged trowel for pen. A Texas native, Kansas City transplant with a passion for the Middle East.

You can browse my body of work, read short stories and essays from the road, as well as stay up to date on future novels by subscribing to my website at nicholasandriani.com

You can also follow along on Instagram @nicholasandriani and Twitter @nickandriani

QV: How and when did you first discover Quo Vadis products?
NA: Back in 2012 I moved to the Middle East for work and as a parting gift from a buddy received a pocket Habana, this one became something of a trophy. Actually, this is the very pad that revealed my passion for writing (and painting). I’ve been been devoted to Quo Vadis ever since.

IMG_6381

*READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE

travel blog morocco zellij tile nicholas andriani

be confident — not sad sap, sipping quietly in corner bar.

be, act, speak with intention.

be finished, shop your novel. 

be-gin and finish the next one.

be published, and write freely.

be mindful and in tune with your environment

be kind

be gentle

be better.

be 29

be.

Just be – be OK with that. 


I wish you prosperity. I wish you health and wellness. I wish you success, and that all those dreams and whimsies come to find you.

How are your goals for 2018 coming along?

You know how it goes:] the blustery mornings. Watery eyed and minus-7. The frozen pipes and snowed in nights. The red faced wind burns. But look at that, the stars have never been so sharp –outlined in the thin air like diamonds under keen inspection.

So i’m being dramatic here, but such is the nature of winter. Winter is drama. Winter is pensive. Winter is in your face!

Over the course of 2018 I have been snowed in. Snowed out. Pipes froze. Face burned. Face froze. But good God it’s beautiful.

Thrown together with the right mix of tunes, winter becomes a romantics paradise. An adventurous escape.


These brooding, crisp winter nights are new to me -having grown up in Austin. Sao, whether it’s fireside, sipping warm brews or hovering over the Chemex at 5 am — my senseless procrastination has but one common solution, to wake up as at 5am — to fill my writing quota (this novel isn’t going to finish itself, right?) these are the songs which carry me through the darkness.

No matter how cold, no matter how my teeth chatter and crack, the lyrics and musicianship found within these ten tracks fill my body and soul with such warm feelings to last me all winter; until Spring blossoms and they recede back into the earth, only to emerge next winter.

  1. Open, Rhye
  2. Dissolve Me, Alt J’s Summer Remix
  3. I’ll Try Anything Once, Julian Casablanca
  4. Sunset Coming On, Damon Albarn
  5. Nara, Alt J
  6. Untitled 4, Sigur Ros
  7. Low, Trace
  8. Winterbreak, Muna
  9. The Fox In The Snow,  Belle And Sebastian-
  10. Raouri, Souad Massi (Bonus! Tiny Desk Set)


What’s you season? When do you bloom?

“I rose to the window, unlatched the frozen pane and pushed it out. A sudden burst of birdsong blew through the cottage, so loud Shay withdrew from the dream realm and fell through the clouds.”

Will Write for Food. Or Coffee!

Being an artist, whether poet or ventriloquist, violinist or Beck, it's a taxing gig. Low pay, long hours. Sleepless nights,spotty work. If you find that my writing provides any pleasure, any sense of joy at all, I hope you will consider throwing me a bone, or an espresso.

$5.00

Don’t do it.

For he love of all things Didion!

I mean, I get it, there is this undeniable sex appeal. This intrique: scattering your notes across that old bistro set, the heady demitasse begging for your lips: what’s the WiFi code? Nah, I write longhand.

I fall prey to this allure now and again. Loading my satchel with pencils, paper, notes, books. Stalking southbound traffic to my favorite watering hole. Order a Gibraltar, catch up with barista, discuss life. By the time I’m sitting down to write, like an hour later, my coffees cold and the cafe packed.

Cling-clang cutlery. Blah-blah-blah business meeting. “Well I just don’t know about Johnny Depp anymore, why is he so… extra” “Girl, that latte art though.” “Third quarter” shakes head “third quarter, down, down, down.” Steaming, always grinding. Cling-clang. Blah-blah-blah.

Meanwhile my fingernails are digging into the wood of my pencil and just before I think I am going to… SNAP! the pencil breaks. Crickets. Everyone stares. The business man, the gossip girls, the mustache twirling hipster, even the pour-over pauses in its drip, letting out a hesitant sh*******t!

And I scurry home, past the bookstore. Down 39th Street, by the old folk artists coop that may or may not double as a junk yard. Climb the two flights of stairs to my apartment, counting the first, wooden set stapled with AstroTurf, and the second wooden set awaiting carpet that may never come.

I brew up a fresh cup. Sit down. And that’s when it happens…

When

I

Write

It

Out

Never again, I tell myself. But next week, I’ll try once more…


I’m curious: what’s your writing habit? What fuels you’re creativity? Boosts you morale? What get’s you going? The more self aware, the more writerly I become, I find that solitude is key. Quiet. Voiceless and calm.

How I used to be a travel blogger is beyond me. The world kept closing in…

Will Write for Food. Or Coffee!

Being an artist, whether poet or ventriloquist, violinist or Beck, it's a taxing gig. Low pay, long hours. Sleepless nights,spotty work. If you find that my writing provides any pleasure, any sense of joy at all, I hope you will consider throwing me a bone, or an espresso.

$5.00

New Series. Composed of stream-of-consciousness writing and photoessays, thoughts on life, music, love and everything in between.


spontaneous combustion: #1

It’s your daily fix
Fresh ingredients.
Something new.
It’s not an ad.
It’s not for sale.
It’s not easy to digest.

I’m not here to pretend to be some guru or act like I know anymore than you do because, believe me, the older I get, the less I know.

Funny how that works when the world is running wild with “twenty-somethings” peddling Nirvana and life-coaching: really just give me $99 and I promise you’ll feel better. Go ahead, try it.

Try.

It.

You ready for this?

(more…)

SCENE:
I landed in Andalusia, via Morocco, a few weeks/scenes before. In this text I’ve just met the Belgians Ingrid and Petra, We’ve been traveling together for a few days now and i’m beginning to feel a sort of tugging deep down, in my heart of hearts whenever she appears. Ingrid, that is. Of course, this feeling conflicts with my already strained, long-distance relationship (with Shay), yet I allow myself to be swept away by Ingrid’s presence. 

I remain unable to confront my own feelings. Therefore, before I say anything to Shay, before coming clean to Ingrid, I, selfishly, want to feel out my options.

The nights, dancing, tossing back jugs of Roja, the piles of Manchego, the furious foot stomping, hand clapping Flamenco, twirling through cavernous Gypsy grottoes and aimlessly, drunk on it all, wandering across the cobble stone markets. The old castle that was planted over the city have a millennia ago… this is all I’ve ever wanted. To be where I truly see excitement. To be where the world interests me and for the first time in my life I felt a purpose. 

And caught right there at the center of all that purpose nonsense were the two most extraordinary people I have ever met: Shay and Ingrid…


 From my working draft of The Outsider

     “I can hardly make out the old pointed steeple across the clay rooftops. A fog rolls in over the mountains and blanketing the village in that amber streetlight glow of Old World Europe. Church Bells pulsate through the clouds, as if echoing off canyon walls, a sort of wobbling, underwater sound. Even my own hands look strange in this light held before my face. The fog sweeps over the palm, through the fingers and the golden crown of Ingrid’s long curls. Blinking lights, something I can’t identify in the hazy distance, so foreign in this event –for haze so rich really is an event, isn’t it? Like a sunrise you never forget or the tail of a comet– glowing like dragons eyes… 

A sudden burst of red hits the rooftop as Ingrid’s glass falls to a shatter and wine washes over the Spanish tile where, beading at the edge of the terrace, it drips over the cobbles below.

“Shit.” Leaping up from the weathered futon, “–right back.”

When the coast is absolutely clear I dial the number.

“Hello?” It’s her. 

“Shay” My heart leaps, she’s answered!

How long has it been? A week, or two at least.

“Hi.” unhappy.

“Shay, how are you?” 

“Fine.”

Pause.

“I miss you.”

“Really? Because it seems to me that you’re having a great time on your own. In fact, I don’t know why you’ve called to begin–”

“–please don’t do this.”

“Do what? I’m doing nothing here. This is all you. If you want to go out and forget about me until it’s absolutely convenient then don’t even bother because I’m busy too y’now, i’m not sitting around, waiting for your call. This is all on you.”

“What are you talking about?” My voice cracks. Oh, how I revert to the desperate codependent puppy that I am. “I’m doing the best I can here. It’s not easy finding a phone, let alone a spare moment just when you’re available. The countless times I’ve called and gone straight to voicemail–”

“Words. Words, Nick. I want to see action. I need to feel you with me. To know you mean what you say. This is the first I know of these missed calls. You called this morning, well guess what, calling at 3 A.M doesn’t cut it.”

“Shay, please understand.”

“I do. You’re obviously onto bigger things and you should be. I’m not going to hold you back anymore. Don’t worry about me. Forget it. Go on and do you. It’s clearly what you want.”

“What I want? Would I be calling you from the other side of the world, busy and stressed and manic and missing you and in the middle of life, would I be calling you if this wasn’t what I wanted?”

“I don’t know what to say to that.”

“Be reasonable.”

“It’s never been so clear. You need to figure yourself out. Maybe someday that means us having something but now.” Shay pauses. “Now there’s just empty space.”

I can’t believe what she’s saying. A veil of darkness settles over my thoughts, muddling my vision. It’s all I can do not to crack this headset into the wall. To hurl my phone through the adjacent window across the chasms, stained glass raining over the alley below… but I hold tight. Oh, but to drain this bottle and hurl it through the window, wouldn’t that feel so good. I want to start a fire and watch something burn.

“Hello? Nick?”

I want to hang up. Give her a taste of what distance really feels like. But i’m still that codependent puppy in the throes of loneliness, hurling myself at the closest thing I know to be real.

Ingrid. On the stairs. She’s laughing and coming my way.

Shit.

“Nick? Hello?”

“You’re right. Maybe we’ve let too much air fill the space between “

Shay, hurt. “You really think that?”

Was she bluffing?

Now, agitated. “Isn’t that what you just said to me?” I let that sink in, feeling justified.

“Let’s talk about–”

“–how about I call you later. Let’s think about it. Email me. I have to go.”

“OK.”

I grab the bar as a wave of exhaustion crashes over. I need a drink.

“Hey Cowboy, how you holding up there?”

Ingrid’s cherry presence and brightness fills my cup once more. 

“I need a drink. Shall we?”

I mean, it’s not cheating if nothing happens. Oh, but emotions run deep. Which begs the question: What’s worse, an emotional or a physical affair?

“I’m now making myself as scummy as I can. Why? I want to be a poet, and I’m working at turning myself into a seer. You won’t understand any of this, and I’m almost incapable of explaining it to you. The idea is to reach the unknown by the derangement of all the senses. It involves enormous suffering, but one must be strong and be a born poet. It’s really not my fault.”

—Rimbaud

 

*Portrait by Jef Rosman

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