Crossing a Sea

We can’t be afraid of change. You may feel very secure in the pond that you are in, but if you never venture out of it, you will never know that there is such a thing as an ocean, a sea. Holding onto something that is good for you now, may be the very reason why you don’t have something better. 
C. JoyBell C. (author of poetry and literature books delving mainly into the mysterious, the philosophical and the esoteric.)

Blank for sea effect-page0001_pe

I’ve been absent from blogging – both posting and visiting other blogs – for a little while. I’ve been busy working with my publisher and editor on getting the sequel to A House Near Luccoli ready for publication. Also, as the audience for my offerings has diminished, I decided to take a breather and step back in order to reevaluate this forum and ready myself to take it freshly into 2015.  I’m hoping that my next post will initiate its new direction.

That post is “in the oven” of my thoughts but not yet fully cooked.

For now, I’m excited to reveal the finished cover of To A Strange Somewhere Fled, which will very soon be released by All Things That Matter Press.

My appreciation to the readers of A House Near Luccoli who believed in my interpretation of the inimitable 17th century composer Alessandro Stradella, his world, music, associates, and the place of a fictional character like Donatella in a crucial part of his story. You encouraged me to continue with the sequel I had begun before A House Near Luccoli’s publication in 2012.

To A Strange Somewhere Fled has taken me forwards and backwards, my sources for information and inspiration regarding the novel’s main setting of Wroxton village and its Abbey in Oxfordshire, England demanding I investigate its history more thoroughly while allowing my experience of living there and some of the people I encountered to influence it.

After the sudden end to her collaboration
with the 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.

Below are a few pages of the opening chapter that will, hopefully, wet your appetite and make you hungry for more.

Please contact me here
to be included in an email list for notification of the novel’s release

To A Strange Somewhere front cover

Settling

Chapter One

 Wroxton, Oxfordshire, England, May 1682  

There was music in the house, not entirely imagined. Mama was playing the spinet and singing a little like Nonna, but with less exclamation than anticipation. She stopped as the clock in the front hall chimed half-past six, and called her husband and daughter to supper.

For the second time that day she insisted on more fatty meats than soggy vegetables accompanied by glazed breads and followed by sharp cheeses as well as a fruit tart layered with thick cream or a pudding made with raisins, cloves and dates. Such a heavy meal for late in the day, but Mama believed, as many Genoese did, the digestive powers were stronger during sleep.

She usually shrugged off the Captain complaining they spent too much on food. On that particular evening she implied it wasn’t enough. “Tomorrow we dine in style with the Baron.”

Was it the confinement of English rain and consolation of English suppers that changed her from being a woman worried over losing her looks and lover and willing to sacrifice for both into one who wouldn’t even give up a second and thicker slice of roast beef?

The Captain shook his head. “We’re not invited for eating, Julianna, but dancing and other nonsense.”

“Then I must satisfy myself beforehand.” Mama laughed as she wiped her wide mouth. “Leftovers.” Her hand waved over the table and landed on her daughter’s arm. “It seems Donata won’t have much.”

“Little bread … cheese,” Donatella struggled with three words as if they were ten.

“You should have some meat,” her mother spoke so it was just between them, “or your blood will thin.”

Donatella’s father raised another issue with his eyebrows.

“But Edward, I must for my girl to understand me. She’ll learn more English soon enough. Also, Lidia. Dear child. Why aren’t you dining with us? Since we can’t afford another servant, I won’t have her treated like one.”

The Captain didn’t react to his wife, but vaguely smiled at the little maid who needed something to do.

In his company Lidia was deaf and dumb and lowered her eyes, perhaps reminded of her own father lost at sea although he still lived on it.

She did glance at Donatella who was her confidant in feeling awkward and out of place. It wasn’t long since they had disembarked the cutter bringing more mail sacks than passengers from Calais, and stumbled tired and dirty into a weeping sky and welcome by Donatella’s mother. A friendly sailor was trusted with their trunks but not the cage purchased in Marseille, which Lidia carried until the Captain met them on the pier with a thin-wheeled wagon. He covered the cat cargo with his own coat, Mama’s Italian chatter compensating for his silence as they walked to the inn where they would catch the coach to London. A snowy stag on The White Hart’s whining sign encouraged him to finally say something, if only to quickly explain and wait for his wife to translate that ‘hart’ was an ancient term for a mature male deer. There wasn’t time to explore the castle presiding in falling clouds behind the town, but at least it was more distinct than on its chalky pedestal in a foggy first view from the channel. A few hours were enough to have an early dinner under low-timbered ceilings and near a brass laden fireplace, Mama devouring half a roasted chicken and a glass of port wine, the Captain savoring a minced-meat pie and kegged ale. Donatella and Lidia shared a platter of steamed oysters with the cats and each other, as though they hadn’t had enough of the sea.

If they had known how estranged they would soon be from it, the Captain wouldn’t have seemed irresponsible insisting on one last look at Dover’s harbor before the coach arrived with only ten minutes to spare for loading passengers inside, luggage on the back and hardier riders than they were on top.

Donatella and Lidia held the heavy carrier between them, Caprice and Bianchi quietly but pitifully complaining about their prolonged captivity. Mama sat next to Lidia and the Captain opposite her, a frail man and sizeable woman squeezing in to his side. Everyone was guarded, with limbs touching, body odors mixing and coughs possibly infectious. It didn’t help that Lidia, Mama and Donatella saying anything to each other pronounced them foreigners.

Fortunately, Donatella was next to the window and set her sight on stretches of woods and clusters of cottages, spired churches, the approach of towns and the clutter and curiosities of their streets, and even a cathedral where the couple got off and no one got on. The vacancy they left was just wide enough to allow the caged cats their own seating, but not for long. Before leaving Canterbury, the coach made another stop to pick up two musk-scented men who didn’t seem to notice the inconvenience they caused.

“Once we get to London, it will be easier,” the Captain said and Mama brought unsympathetic attention to them again. “The North brothers have offered their personal vehicle and driver to take us the rest of the way.”

They stayed overnight in Cheapside, the promised carriage arriving on time early the next morning. It made for a quicker and friendlier journey, and smoother, too. As the Captain pointed out, steel springs meant less bumps and jolts while glass windows fogged but didn’t leak.

A little over a week later the rain was still falling. Donatella lost track of the days since she had seen the sun.

ATTMPress Logo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

New! Kindle Edition of A Friendship with Flowers

“Nobody sees a flower – really – it is so small it takes time – we haven’t time – and to see takes time, like to have a friend takes time.”
~ Georgia O’Keeffe, American Artist (1887 – 1986)
Cover Front Only ImageIn February 2013 my Illustrated flower journal, A Friendship with Flowers, became available in print. The 58 color images made the selling price of it in paperback rather high. I must thank those who purchased it in print and hope that others will do so, especially as the holiday season is coming up. It could be a perfect gift for the flower lovers and gardeners on your giving list.

Now it is more affordable at $5.99

 in its

 Kindle edition

 

On Kindle Fire devices or using the downloadable app for your tablet, smartphone, or computer, the images are in color.

On basic and Paperwhite Kindle devices, the images are as beautifully detailed in black and white.

 A Friendship with Flowers Kindle Cover

Click here for a preview of it.

 

Reviews:

In A Friendship with Flowers, the gifted American author and artist Diane Denton invites us to share a healing journey she took when the flowers that surrounded her in a very English part of England gave her solace, hope and inspiration.

This beautifully produced book will not be left on a bookshelf for long; and as if the exquisite paintings (you’ll never look at a dandelion in the same way again) are not more than enough in themselves, the author also includes her unique commentary on the natural world as she studies and interacts with it while coming to terms with an unspecified experience in her life.

This combination of artwork and poetic observation, that is both personal and universal, creates a unique alchemy that calms and comforts while still leaving open the essential mystery of the natural world and our place in it. Sometimes, the author seems to suggest, it’s OK for there to be no answers; there may be no pat solutions, but there are insights and realisations, looking back to move forward (This holy rose/is another reminder/of the summer past/and yet/to come…), and new ways of seeing things (I found the snow didn’t drop/from above/but sprung from below/to cover the ground…).

The illustrations and the accompanying poetry, which is controlled, understated and pared back, combine to create a companion book that will reveal a little more each time you dip into it; you will feel (to borrow the author’s words): here’s a friend/I just got to know — /suddenly,/by the roadside,/as I was going/nowhere.

This book also includes a detailed glossary listing all the flowers shown in the beautiful illustrations throughout the book. This glossary includes the everyday and Latin name of each flower plus brief information about its habitat and the time of year that you’ll be able to spot it (easily recognisable in real life from the painstaking accuracy of the artist’s depiction). ~ Deborah Bennison, Bennison Books

 

In A Friendship with Flowers by D M Denton, very talented author, poet and artist, we are taken on a gentle meander through the Oxford countryside where she not only lived for several years but breathed, absorbed and became part of her beautiful surroundings. This gorgeous book contains the author’s own exquisite illustrations of a variety of flowers from hedgerow and garden, all accompanied by mellow poetic verses in her own inimitable style. Here is an example – of The Honeysuckle, the author writes: By the back door/the night comes in as sweet/as honey is to eat, like nectar/to the moths and bees/who suckle all they please;/while I can never get enough/of the scent/that can climb trees.
This is a book to treat yourself to or give to a loved one as a very special gift. It uplifts and delights at the turn of every page and is, without doubt, one to treasure. ~ Christine Moran, Journey into Poetry

 

A playful collection of thoughts about the names of flowers found in England, paired beautifully with the author’s delightful illustrations. My favorite, floxglove: “I am inclined to believe fairies hang up their thimbles when a sunny day is as right for dreams as a day-lit night makes idle hands.” ~ Barbara Rogers, By the Sea

May all your friends grace and heal you with

their beauty, wisdom, and playfulness!

 

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.

Simply Speaking…It’s May! It’s Daisy May!

Another re-post, but hope you enjoy again or for the first time!

 
Copyright 2012 by DM Denton

Copyright 2012 by DM Denton

In forgotten places
  there are daisies
  to love
  whether I am
  or not
  call them dogged or
  ox-eyed or
  Marguerite
  by any name
  they are still
  a treat.

 

Cover Image Front Only ResizedThis illustration and poem is from my publication, A Friendship with Flowers, available at amazon.com and now 10% off.

Here’s a new review by Christine Moran of journeyintopoetry and perfectimperfection:

A delightful exploration of the Oxfordshire countryside in a book of exquisite flower illustrations and delicate verse

In A Friendship with Flowers by D M Denton, a very talented author, poet and artist, we are taken on a gentle meander through the Oxford countryside where she not only lived for several years but breathed, absorbed and became part of her beautiful surroundings. This gorgeous book contains the author’s own exquisite illustrations of a variety of flowers from hedgerow and garden, all accompanied by mellow poetic verses in her own inimitable style.

Here is an example – of The Honeysuckle the author writes:-
By the back door/the night comes in as sweet/as honey is to eat, like nectar/to the moths and bees/who suckle all they please;/while I can never get enough/of the scent/that can climb trees.

This is a book to treat yourself to or give to a loved one as a very special gift. It uplifts and delights at the turn of every page and is, without doubt, one to treasure.

Happy May Everyone!

©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.

A Friendship with Flowers (New Publication)

I have a new publication

incorporating poetic musings

and flower illustrations.

Cover Front Only Image

This journal was originally created by hand while I was living in Oxfordshire, England in the 1980’s, during the year or so after my father suddenly passed away. I spent a month in the States with my mom, and came back to a time that proved more difficult than I expected.

One of the things that helped was the TV series “The Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady” (also an exquisite book) that was airing on the BBC . I unashamedly admit that it inspired my undertaking of this work.

The book was done with gratefulness for the flowers that graced and healed me with their beauty, wisdom, and playfulness.

At this time, it is available through lulu.com,
where you can also see a preview.

The Original Journal

The Original Journal

I hope that it will bring a few others the soothing joy it offered me while making it once … and then again.

A special thank you to my mom and D. Bennison for continuing to encourage me to get this done!

Blessings to you all. 

©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.

Words and Music

Copyright 2012 by DM Denton

Copyright 2012 by DM Denton

I am listening to The Plaint: O Let Me Weep by Henry Purcell (1659 – 1695), playing it over and over, a mantra while I’m writing. Even vocal music doesn’t distract me if it’s fluid and expressive, like the current under a boat, sending a narrative on its way. In the liner notes of soprano Nancy Argenta’s Songs and Airs CD, Adelaide de Place writes that “Purcell liked to compare music and poetry with two mutually supportive sisters.” The 17th century Italian composer, Alessandro Stradella (1639 – 1682), the focus of my novel, A House Near Luccoli would’ve appreciated the comparison, perhaps smiling mischievously, preferring to create a little rivalry. Never discord. Even his Italian “sisters” would have bowed gracefully to his designs, side by side, arms entwined, differences reconciled as their voices blended into one sound so beautiful no man could put asunder.

English lawyer, biographer and “Renaissance man” Roger North (1653 – 1754), who figures prominently in the sequel to A House Near Luccoli, wrote that “poetry called” his grandfather, the 1st Lord North, “to music.” For me it was the other way around, music expressing almost everything I couldn’t until I picked up a pen like a violinist lifts his bow and interpreted it into something so personal, beyond thought and emotion. Without music I may never have written a word, never realized I had to write, never lost track of time until I found myself alone in its company having forgotten how to speak – except silently.

Both words and music are about playing with silence, like birdsong or breezes or rain or thunder, our breathing or someone else’s, heartbeats and heartaches, love-affairs and loneliness. As with the chicken and the egg, their collaboration employs a circular cause and consequence, no way and no need to answer the question of which came first or is more important. As music inspires me to write, I desire to make music of my writing.

As I write now I am thinking of ghosts and not minding the melancholy, for it sounds so pleasing I question there is anything more joyful. It’s as if I’m enveloped in a prayer. O let me weep … or smile … or dream … or despair as I please; let me never be at a loss for words and music. Amen.

The above is a repost from July 2011, the early days of my blog.

Although I knew the following article about my authorship of A House Near Luccoli was going to appear in a local newspaper, I was astonished by the beautiful layout. I share it here and greatly appreciate you taking the time to read:

A Literary Note
Batavia Daily News
December 15, 2012 

A Literary Note ArticleEAST PEMBROKE – The first time Diane Denton heard the music of Alessandro Stradella, she knew she was listening to something extraordinary.

She didn’t realize as she drove to work at a media consultant firm that morning in 2002 just how big an impression it would make on her life, or that she would spend years researching the artist and another three years writing a book about him.

A fan of the classics, Denton was listening to CBC Radio 2. The show, In the Shadows, highlighted the lives and works of artists – mainly musical – who for a variety of reasons had been largely ignored or forgotten.

“On this particular morning, a 17th century Italian composer, whom I and obviously many others had never heard of, was featured,” Denton said. “His music was stunning — fluid and melodic, with clear expressive vocals and distinct instrumentations.

“Set in 17th century Genoa, Italy, A House Near Luccoli is the story of the little-known, but brilliant 17th century composer named Alessandro Stradella. She described his story as “replete with romance and intrigue, triumphs and tragedy, like an opera drawing on the divinity and failings of gods and men.”

“The fictional Donatella in the book is a lot of me, although it wasn’t a conscious thing while I was writing the novel,” said Denton, who lives with her mother in East Pembroke. “I did want to express a point of view of a woman who is very self-contained, but rather insecure, perhaps too sensitive, artistic and talented, but who unvalues her life in a resigned sort of way. Donatella was a fictional female protagonist stepping out of my own hopes and disappointments.”

Denton said she has been writing since she was 12, but her mother remembers the first poem Denton wrote for Thanksgiving when she was only 6 – about a family Thanksgiving gathering and being grateful their family was all together.

Denton was born in Buffalo and grew up in Tonawanda. During her junior year, she studied in England, where she met a young man, married and stayed for 16 years.

“I lived, for better or worse, right off the pages of Fielding, the Brontes, Austin, Hardy, DH Lawrence and even Dickens, surrounded by the beautiful hills, woods and fields of the Oxfordshire countryside,” Denton said.

In the meantime, her parents moved to East Pembroke, where Denton returned after her father Carmen died in 1986.

Although she has always been interested in history, particularly European history, Denton said her participation in and appreciation of music was encouraged through memories shared about her maternal grandmother Marion DiCesare (ne Allers), who was a concert pianist in Chicago.

Denton also shares artistic talent with her mother, and their paintings hang side by side on the walls of their home. Denton did the illustrations for A House Near Luccoli herself.

One reason Denton was intrigued with Stradella’s music is because his story reminded her of a modern-day musician she knew who, in many ways, sabotaged himself and the potential he could have achieved.

“By the time I pulled into the parking lot at work, I knew why I was listening,” Denton said. “I ‘knew’ Alessandro Stradella. I recognized his distinct voice, his swaying form, his infectious smile and his wandering heart.”

Denton spent the rest of that morning and many more hours in pursuit of Stradella. She said her writer’s urge “to do something with him” was easier stirred than accomplished. There was so little about him on the pages of Google searches and music histories, Denton’s desire to create something out of her interest in the man was soon frustrated and abandoned.

It wasn’t until 2005 Denton returned to her work on Stradella.

“The timing must have been right, for suddenly resources, although still not in abundance, were easier to find,” she said. “As I read my costly copy of Alessandro Stradella, the Man and his Music by musicologist Carolyn Gianturco, I found an opportunity for imagining my way into his story, focusing on his last fateful days in Genoa.”

Her intention, Denton said, was not to change history, but quietly humanize it; not merely to appreciate a great musician, but personalize him; to reveal the ordinary in the extraordinary and the significance of the insignificant.

The title and main setting of Denton’s novel reflect the strong possibility Stradella last lived in a house owned by Giuseppe Maria Garibaldi, just off the via Luccoli in Genoa. Records indicated this was where his possessions were inventoried after his tragic and untimely death in his 40s.

Although talented and cultivated, Stradella was something of a vagabound and messed up many opportunities to become rich and famous. He had a reputation for making messes, but also masterpieces, Denton said.

Copies of A House Near Luccoli are available at Present Tense Books, 101 Washington Ave., Batavia (NY); The Book Shoppe in Medina (NY); and online at amazon.com in paperback and Kindle edition, and at barnesandnoble.com as a NOOK book.

Denton already has two more works in progress. She has been asked to write a sequel to A House Near Luccoli, which she hopes to have completed in late spring. The sequel will take Donatella to England and the small but stately Oxfordshire village of Wroxton, where she hopes to settle with her Italian mother and English father, a retired seaman.

“Another thing about my Donatella connection is, I am also of Italian and English heritage,” Denton said. “So I have lived a long time with the personality contrasts, even the struggles that come with that combination.”

Another work is a book of poetry based on journals she kept about the flowers and gardens in England and their changes through the seasons. That book is expected to be released in early spring.

Article written by Batavia News Correspondent, Virgina Kropf

Read article online

img002©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.

Poem: Not Divorced from Daffodils

It might be
she had dreamed up
that courtship
following
an inclination
over such
green and pleasant hills.

A handful
of tightly
hopeful buds;
much better
to pick them that way,
some warmth to
open them slowly
into daffodils-
among her
favorite flowers
to this day.

 

(Author’s note: The writing of this poem just happened the other night. I realize for many daffodils are out of season. No matter. The nature of reflection is being out of place and time. The picture of wild daffodils is from a journal I did back in the 1980’s while living in England: a year of Oxfordshire flora and fauna in paintings and verse…no doubt inspired by The Diary of an Edwardian Lady by Edith Holden which was very popular at the time.)
 
©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.