Monday, November 22, 2010

New Writing Group and the Sutherlands

Such a dilemma, two good things going on at the same time!  Too many choices can make life complicated.  Which one to go to!  This was on Wednesday, November 18th and as you can see, I am behind in my blogging.

In the end, I opted to go to The New Writing group and have my controversial religious poem critiqued.  I also wanted to go to the Readings at ArtWord/Artbar and managed to do both.

For those who are unfamiliar with critiquing, there is a nice way to do it, and then there is the sledgehammer approach.  I personally opt for the nice way to do it.  It is my belief that people can learn better when they don't feel "put down" or "threatened".  Above all, authors have the perfect right to not change one word if they do not agree with their fellow writers.

It was a good session with a smaller group this time, so everybody got their work evaluated.

Three of us walked over to ArtWord/Artbar and were in time to hear the featured readers from England.

They were Afifa Ematullah Sutherland and her husband Paul.  What a real delight it was for the assembled audience to hear these two writers read their work.

They also publish a literary magazine called "Dream Catcher".    For more information on their work, please type in

I took some pictures of these two artists and will post them here. I regret that the pictures are not as clear as I would have liked them. 

Paul Sutherland

Afifa Ematullah Sutherland

Paul's work spoke of English countryside, of family, of the poet Tennison while Afifa's work spoke of God. I particularly liked his poem about the granddad and grandson.

Having written religious poetry myself, one of which was published in the newspaper, I particularly appreciated the work of Afifa as it spoke to my inner self. 

I was in seventh heaven, so to speak, as I listened to her words.  The evening ended all too soon for me.  Afifa and I will keep in touch as we hit it off right away.

I purchased her book as it spoke to me so strongly and each night read a little bit of her poetry. 

This couple follow the Naqshabandi Sufi tradition. 

Sufism is a mystic part of Islam, and there are different orders within the Sufi traditions.  In some ways Sufism is similar to the mystic Jewish tradition of Kabbalah.   For more information on Kabbalah, you might like to read the book "The Essential Kabbalah"  by Daniel C. Matt.

For more information of Islamic Sufism, you may enjoy reading the book called "In the Tavern of Ruin" Seven essays on Sufism by Dr. Javad Nurbakhsh. 

I have been given permission by Afifa to put her poem on this blog so that you may enjoy her work.  Work from both of these wonderful  poets is available on their website which is listed above.


                                                         What I was afraid of -
                                                          standing alone in silence
                                                          I am in it,
                                                          in the terror of utter aloneness

                                                           ABSOLUTE SILENCE

                                                        I stand, as though on a cliff's top in the wind,
                                                        My back is to the sheer edge, the drop
                                                        fathoms deep

                                                        There is no one to catch me -
                                                         I am bereft of all definition.
                                                         disorientated in a world of strangers.

                                                                I AM FALLING!

                                                          Such Love I feel, such Beauty...!
                                                          There is only God and whether He catch me
                                                           or not
                                                           I belong to Him.

By poet Afifa Ematullah Sutherland  from her book RETURN, Sufi poems and Art.  Dream Catcher Books.

I hope you enjoyed reading her wonderful poem and that you will check out their website when you have the time.

Thank you for reading my blog.

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