Nature Insight: In a Cold Climate

Am working on a new post, but, in the meantime, something to help you pause and reflect, first shared a few years back …

 

yew-1With shorter days come slower nights,

more time to settle for solitude.

Love is gone and is here still,

more in the heart than can be lived.

For all there is a season and this is mine,

evergreen, and woven into wintery cobwebs.

Somehow I resist the temptation to brush them away.

 

I prefer winter…when you feel the bone structure of the landscape – the loneliness of it, the dead feeling of winter.

Something waits beneath it, the whole story doesn’t show.

Andrew Wyeth, American Painter (1917 – 2009)

holly-with-bird-winter-border

©Artwork and writing, unless otherwise indicated, are the property of Diane M Denton. Please request permission to reproduce or post elsewhere with a link back to bardessdmdenton. Thank you.

Alessandro Stradella: Fascinating, Flawed, Forgiven, and Unforgettable

Back in March 2015 Andrea Zuvich hosted me on her beautiful site The Seventeenth Century Lady. Andrea has long recognized the excellence of the music of Alessandro Stradella, who is, of course, the focus of my novel A House Near Luccoli and, hauntingly, its sequel To A Strange Somewhere Fled.

I hope thou will take a few minutes for a little time travel and indulge thyself with a visit to this beautifully designed, intelligent, and entertaining website, and, whilst there, have a read of my post:

Alessandro Stradella: Fascinating, Flawed, Forgiven, and Unforgettable: A Guest Post by DM Denton | The Seventeenth Century Lady.

Most of the readers of The Seventeenth Century Lady are not only fans of 17th-century history, but also of the Baroque music of that time. It is therefore my pleasure to have DM Denton here with a guest post about Alessandro Stradella – a commonly (and sadly!) overlooked composer of wonderful Italian Baroque music.

In June of 2002 I found myself expectantly listening to the music of Alessandro Stradella and an engaging encapsulation of his story replete with romance and intrigue, triumph and tragedy, like an opera drawing on the divinity and failings of gods and men. I live in Western New York with access to Canadian TV and radio broadcasts, and in those days, while commuting to work, I often tuned into a fascinating program on CBC Radio 2 called In the Shadow, which highlighted the lives and works of musicians and composers who had been largely ignored or forgotten. That morning the host Tom Allen featured a certain 17th century Italian maestro.

Read entire guest post at The Seventeenth Century Lady …

 

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The azalea flower was suggestive of the new lodger, with a passion for color itself, spraying out from its dramatic center like a cat’s whiskers for effect and purpose, rising stealthily through the shade to reach for the wind as much as the sun. After a nap and persuading her grandmother to try a little broth, Donatella spent the afternoon where buzzing wisteria and honeysuckle blurred the angles of walls also stepping up with budding hibiscus and geraniums to larger terracotta pots of bay and lemon trees surrounding a sunny plateau. A city sky was more available there than in the street, flat baskets drying basil, a rusty ironwork table and several chairs reminding how lunch or supper used to be taken for granted.

***

“There you are. What a mess those trees made here” Her aunt was predictable.

“They should be cut down.”

“No.”

“Well, any overhanging branches at least. But if you keep the path neater I won’t think about it.”

When Despina had gone inside Donatella fetched the broom from the shed near the steps leading down to the cellar.

“Instead you could find me a flower.” Signor Stradella proved he was a master of near misses as well as melody. “A return is a sort of encore and needs ornamento.”

He had grown taller until Donatella realized it was the styling of his wig, the straight length of his blue velvet coat and buttoned vest, his legs posed in barely a glimpse of tasseled breeches but mostly unwrinkled hose of burnished gold, daring heels on his shoes. His positioning with one hand on his hip and the other in mid-air made him look like a funzionario claiming importance, but his pronouncement was a smile anyone would easily agree to.

“So what do you think?” he saw her choice before she made it. “Ah. Perfetto. The colore of the heart.”

His ballooning sleeves twisted an azalea cluster into an also cumbersome cravat. All that creamy lace cascading down his breast accented by the bursting red of his heart was so pretentious she quietly laughed.

He did too, showing his teeth as he probably wouldn’t in the company he was returning to, although there was a sense he didn’t intend to live longer with them in mind. Or maybe it was just the truth when he said, “Così, there’s no cause to flatter you.”

She was offended and relieved, all further exchanges between them decided. He moved through the garden with the flirtatious restlessness of a butterfly.

from A House Near Luccoli

Copyright by DM Denton 2015

Illustration by DM Denton Copyright 2015

Thank you for taking the time to visit and read (and listen!)

Some Feline Understanding

Copyright 2012 by DM Denton

Copyright 2012 by DM Denton

For National Cat Day (10/29/16):

Where is it? I asked,
that gift I gave you,
perfect for your imagination
and paws to throw around.

For days it’s been missed,
not missing;
your eyes playing with
my questioning
like fate
hiding what it has in store.

But, really.
Do you understand what I’m asking?

It seems so, when
you deliver
all that I wish for,
laid at my feet—
as instinctively
knowing to leave me to
my wonder
and that it’s time to
take a nap.

Play-N-Squeak-Play-N-Squeak-Mouse-Hunter-Cat-Toy







 

 

Cats are always present for me, including in my prose writing: novels and short stories. Here are some samples:

 

Signor Stradella enjoyed a bowl of broth as though he had never eaten at a better table, laughing at Golone’s drooling, and breaking off a steamy piece of bread, complementing Cook with his mouth full. He was amused, not unkindly, when Despina, leaving, almost tripped over the cats who had decided the kitchen was where they should be. They rubbed the men’s legs, as enticing as enticed by oyster stock that eventually found a second table on the floor.
~ from A House Near Luccoli

 

She reached for the eiderdown to wrap herself in, Bianchi whimpering and darting under the bed, Caprice leaping onto it to catch the unseen. They were expected to be a little crazy, even magical, conjuring a great life out of a small one. When they slept, their whiskers and eyelids quivered for their wildest dreams. Were they back in Genoa, too, in Nonna’s darkened room and big chair where falling asleep was required? Or wandering down to the kitchen so Cook would scold and then reward them? Or, as their legs extended, sneaking up towards what was off-limits but inviting, were their thoughts about how they escaped but never got away? Would they wake to the confusion of why bells weren’t ringing from every direction and the sea wasn’t close by? Did they miss not knowing what was beyond the window, the view of the street, or smell of the bay?

No, they just stretched and yawned and accepted that all they ever needed had come with them.
~ from To A Strange Somewhere Fled

 

One or more cats might defy exclusion from the parlor, a little nuzzle pushing its door already open a crack to allow them access to whoever welcomed their leg rubbing or not. Rose did, especially once the reading was done, bowing to escape any reaction rather than acknowledge it. Gathering them up was a reason to crumple to the floor without seeming to faint or rudely reveal her relief. Taking them out was a way to escape before she might be asked to recite more or even sing, and disappear until no one expected to see her again that evening.
~ from The Library Next Door

Illustration for Kindle Short Story: The Library Next Door

Copyright 2014 by DM Denton

 

Maudy excused herself to baste the ham and continue what was left of the Christmas she had planned. She didn’t say anything about needing to be alone, which she wasn’t for long. A kitten had slipped into the house and then the kitchen, interrupting Maudy’s self-pitying for a little canned tuna and place on her lap to curl gratefully.
~from The Snow White Gift

Copyright 2013 by DM Denton

Copyright 2013 by DM Denton

 

 

donatellasmallest©Artwork and writing, unless otherwise indicated, are the property of Diane M Denton. Please request permission to reproduce or post elsewhere with a link back to bardessdmdenton. Thank you.

Wisely Mingled Poetry and Prose

I’m a storyteller and a poet. Storytellers need someone to listen; poets need only whisper to themselves.

I wrote that over five years ago, when I was first setting up this blog. I continue to have this duality as a writer. I won’t call it a conflict, because there is no war of words in me, only an integration of their use lyrically and narratively.

Always be a poet, even in prose. ~ Charles Baudelaire

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Charles Baudelaire by Claude Courbet, 1849

I have to confess that, whether reading or writing it, I become more engaged with prose that has the sensitivity, sound and cadence of poetry. No matter its subject or objective, be it fiction or non-fiction, light or dark, joyous or tragic, as it unfolds a character or events, describes a room or landscape or sunset, is active or contemplative or emotional, I need a sense of the exploration of language’s possibilities in what I read and write.

Verse is everywhere in language where there is rhythm, everywhere …in truth there is no prose: there is the alphabet, and then verses more or less tight, more or less diffuse.
~ Stéphane Mallarme, real name Étienne Mallarmé,
French symbolist poet

portrait_of_stephane_mallarme_manet

Stéphane Mallarme by Édouard Manet, 1876

As opposites attract, poetry and prose enjoy a special intimacy. Their union challenges the intellect, seduces the senses and imagination, and speaks between the lines. It appeals to the wanderer who is also a lingerer. It requires readers who prefer an unhurried, indirect route to those who just want to get from “A” to “B” in the fast lane.

In North Carolina driving from Asheville to Boone presents a choice. A driver can stick to the interstates or opt to take the Blue Ridge Parkway. The latter decision takes an extra hour or so, but along the way there are opportunities to stop at overlooks and enjoy scenes that are among the most magnificent in America. DM Denton’s writing presents a similar choice. It takes a little longer to read than most books of a similar page length, but along the way there are breathtaking moments which make the choice a wise one.
author Steve Lindahl from his review of my novel To A Strange Somewhere Fled

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Reading without reflecting is like eating without digesting.
~Edmund Burke

I can’t help myself. I have an insatiable appetite for the deliciousness of words: the order in which they’re added, how they’re blended to subtly flavor one another, their capacity to create a succession of complementary courses.

When you write in prose, you cook the rice. When you write poetry, you turn rice into rice wine. Cooked rice doesn’t change its shape, but rice wine changes both in quality and shape. Cooked rice makes one full so one can live out one’s life span . . . wine, on the other hand, makes one drunk, makes the sad happy, and the happy sad. Its effect is sublimely beyond explanation.
~ Wu Qiao, Chinese Master

qu-yuan

Cooked rice and rice wine may be enjoyed at the same time. Why not opt for a full and sublimely nourishing literary feast and satisfy the need for knowing and wondering?

srwine30

Creativity is a wild mind and a disciplined eye. ~ Dorothy Parker

I love to write prose for the layered, rhythmic, aesthetic aspects of language, just as I do when writing verse, but neither comes easy for me. I’m an artist straddling detail and abstraction, who moves from lines and colors to the written word with the same concentration on each stroke in order to achieve whatever vision I have for the whole canvas. Poetry can illustrate prose, draw its breath more vividly, and give its words individual lives in the crowds of thousands.

Creative writing is an art beyond the ability to communicate correctly and clearly; it’s about resisting what is safe, even defying what is safe, going out on a limb, even, for the bravest or craziest, out further than that limb has ever been tested.

Just as the virtuoso musician knows that perfect technique is no substitute for imperfect expression …

The author’s style takes the conventional and then begins the deconstruction, the rearrangements … This deconstruction and rearranging is what an artist does. Rather than imitate reality, he selects what is important to him, and abstracts what is essential to achieve a new reality. People, relationships, emotions and ideas are put through this process of reordering. The artist abstracts what is vital and compelling, and releases it as a living thing. From the moment of inspiration until the intuitive flow has ceased, expression is more important than communication.
~ author Mary Clark from her review of my novel A House Near Luccoli

Wisely mingled poetry and prose, to quote Louisa May Alcott, takes years to achieve, which is probably why, although writing since my childhood, I was in my fifties before my work was “ready” to be published.

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Louisa May Alcott

Of course, some aspects of poetry, like rhyme, can seem out of place in prose. Alliteration has to be used sparingly; sometimes it organically creeps in and is allowed to stay, other times it’s too consciously clever and must be sent regretfully but appropriately away. Repetition can have a place here and there for necessary emphasis. Metaphor and simile can be either form’s friend or foe. Of course, grammar is more autocratic in prose; the rules are there, but …

I can’t allow what we learned in English composition to disrupt the sound and rhythm of the narrative. ~ Elmore Leonard, American novelist, short story writer, and screenwriter

calling-grammar-police_pe

It could be argued that poetic prose is overly descriptive (or flowery, as detractors like to address it), producing writing that is verbose and lengthy. From what I’ve seen, the opposite is true. Straight narratives often result in many more pages than those focusing on the shape, sound, and implication of almost every word. Poetry tends to be concise, needs organization and carefulness in crafting, and, therefore, doesn’t lend itself to four hundred page novels. Well, not to be achieved in a year or two, anyway.

“I suppose that’s how it looks in prose. But it’s very different if you look at it through poetry … and I think it’s nicer,” Anne recovered herself and her eyes shone and her cheeks flushed, “to look at it through poetry.”
~ Lucy Maud Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

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Lucy Maud Montgomery

My writing drips rather than gushes onto the page. Where other writers set and achieve goals of getting down a few thousand words at a sitting, I’m grateful to my muse – and my stamina – if I accomplish five hundred or so. Sometimes it’s frustrating, mostly it’s about having patience and persevering, finally it’s an accomplishment that has listened to the (begging) storyteller and (whispering) poet in me.

Young Diane at Typewriter

donatellasmallest©Artwork and writing, unless otherwise indicated, are the property of Diane M Denton. Please request permission to reproduce or post elsewhere with a link back to bardessdmdenton. Thank you.

Can it be four years already? 2 in 1 Book Giveaway!

To celebrate the fourth anniversary of the publication by All Things That Matter Press of my historical fiction A House Near LuccoliI’m running a Goodreads Giveaway!

This giveaway is for two signed copies—actually, each winner will receive two in one! Whoever wins this giveaway will also be sent a signed copy of the sequel, To A Strange Somewhere Fled.

goodreads-giveaway-sept-oct-2016-pptx-alt

 

Front with Spine and Tilted_pe croppedWhen Alessandro Stradella, the feted Baroque composer, takes up residence in her house, Donatella is drawn to him like a moth to a flame. The minuet of their attraction will keep you reading from the first page to the last. Full of lovely lyrical prose, ‘A House Near Luccoli’ gently transports the reader to 17th century Genoa, Italy to hear the exquisite music, smell the gardens, taste the food and wine, feel the summer heat, see the sunshine glittering on the ocean and the musical notes being carefully transcribed.

Casee Marie Clow, Literary Inklings ‘says’: A House Near Luccoli is as charmingly crafted as Stradella’s compositions, often mirroring their power, beauty, and delicate intricacy. It’s a novel at once intimate and expansive, quickly ushering the reader into the vivid 17th century world of Stradella and exposing the history of a lesser-known genius while enfolding them in a fictitious story of romance, friendship, art, and intrigue. ~

Front and Spine Tilted_pe croppedIn To A Strange Somewhere Fled, after the sudden end to her collaboration with composer Alessandro Stradella, Donatella moves from Genoa to join her parents in a small village in Oxfordshire, England. The gift of a sonnet, ‘stolen’ music, inexpressible secrets, and an irrepressible spirit have stowed away on her journey. Haunted by whispers and visions, angels and demons, will she rise out of grief and aimlessness? Her father’s friendship with the residents of Wroxton Abbey, who are important figures in the court of Charles II, offers new possibilities, especially as music and its masters ~ including the ‘divine’ Henry Purcell ~ have not finished with her yet.

The Historical Novel Society ‘says’: Music and passionate lyricism inform this book. Denton’s style of writing is poetic and musical itself … the book lingers in the mind like some elusive and beautiful tune heard through open windows on a summer’s day. Denton’s deep understanding and love for the music and musicians of this era are evident on every page and transport the reader. Lovers of poetry and music will enjoy this excursion to Baroque England …

What have you got to lose? If you belong to Goodreads, enter now!
If you don’t, join now (it’s free) and enter immediately after!

Good Luck!

 

Nothing Grows with Sun Alone

So the rain never left us, just hesitated to refresh us, while hoping to remind us

that nothing grows with sun alone; thirst is one moment closer to hunger, and heat can wear out its welcome

for those who look for the willowherb to rise in sight of water, and the lily pad to float and blossom further out of its depths.

 

Copyright 2012 by DM Denton

I originally posted this the summer of 2012, when, like this year, Western New York experienced a pretty severe drought. 

Now, after almost two and a half months of extreme heat and humidity, as September begins and summer winds down, some rain has come, enough to relieve and refresh. Today is most splendid: mid-70s F with bright sunshine, vivid colors, deep shadows, and a fresh breeze. Loving it! Did some gardening without sweating and windows are open! A day to be peaceful and content and, hopefully, productively creative.

Rain is grace; rain is the sky descending to the earth; without rain, there would be no life.
~ John Updike


©Artwork and writing, unless otherwise indicated, are the property of Diane M Denton. Please request permission to reproduce or post elsewhere with a link back to bardessdmdenton. Thank you.

Have a Moment?

Read uniquely. Ignite your imagination, open your intellect & heart.

Hope you have another moment to watch on YouTube and LIKE!

My YouTube channel

 The benefits of reading books include a longer life in which to read them.

According to research published in Social Science and Medicine the hours per week a person spends reading is a significant factor in increasing their longevity.

From article by  , British journalist