Sunday, November 30, 2014

The Lindisfarne Gospels are Insular art, not Anglo-Saxon art

Folio 27r, Lindisfarne Gospels with incipit from the Gospel of Matthew. —Wiki

A Facebook site I dearly love,, posts scholarly papers on the the medieval world. Sometimes I find myself disagreeing with posts, and misleading headlines, and then, the next thing ya know, I'm posting a comment that turns into a lively rant (and several hours later, when I've come up for air, I've got what amounts to a bit of a blogeen—not that I usually bother to post them here).

What got my lather all whipped into a fine froth this morning was that, posted "A very beautiful Anglo-Saxon manuscript." I saw red....this is what ensued:

"Chi-Rho" monogram, the Gospel of Matthew—Wiki

Go hailin. Indeed the Lindisfarne Gospels are very beautiful Irish-Anglo-Saxon, or, more correctly, a joint Hiberno-Saxon manuscript, illuminated in the Irish style, The Lindisfarne Gospels, like the (later) Book of Kells, were once considered to be a relic of St. Columba. Calling it Anglo-Saxon art is to do it a disfavor; it's a much more cosmopolitan manuscript than that.

The Celtic monastery of Lindisfarne was founded in 635 AD, by Columban Irish monk Saint Aidan (d.651), from the Isle of Iona. Irish monks founded Celtic monasteries on most of the British, Scottish, and Irish islands, and Columban Irish scribes would've trained Saxon scribes in the the insular Irish style—right down to the red lead dots surrounding the letters (the Durham Gospels, and the Book of Durrow, being its predecessors). But first, the Irish monks had to convert the Saxons....

The beginning of the Gospel of Mark from the Book of Durrow.—Wiki

The Lindisfarne manuscript, an illustrated Latin copy of the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, was probably made at Lindisfarne, but it could've been made elsewhere, even Iona, as it has an Iona connection. The text is also written in (Irish) insular script.

The problem with tagging this manuscript as Anglo-Saxon, is that it's virtually impossible to tell the difference between Irish, Welsh, Scottish, and Anglo-Saxon illuminated manuscript art, because they were all created in Celtic Irish monasteries between 500-900; later in Ireland, to 1400 AD), and they share far too many similarities. It was also an incestuously small world.

A "safer" nomenclature would be to label these illuminated manuscripts as "insular." Ditto for the continental manuscript, also created in Celtic monasteries founded by Irish monks. (See "List of Hiberno-Saxon illuminated manuscripts" at bottom of page.)

And most 'scholars' writing of these things never delve beyond the current political border of a country when describing where an artifact was discovered, or attributed to, when labeling art. If it was made in St. Gallen, ergo it must be Swiss; or in Bobbio, it's Italian (Irish monasteries!)

The St. Gall Gospel Chi-Rho page, written by Irish monks ca. 750AD—from Irish Medieval History 
Irish manuscripts often display the first three letters, Chi-Rho-Iota, from the Greek ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ, as a monogram. In the Latin Vulgate, it reads: "[Christi (XPI) autem generatio sic erat…  Note the distinctive long left leg on the Chi/X—also found in the Book of Kells, Book of Durrow, St. Gallen Gospel, MacDurnan Gospels, Book of Lindisfarne and many more. The long "i"pronunciation in Christ, is a result of Irish missionary work in England during the 7th - 8th c.—from Irish Medieval History 

Some slovenly writer described this manuscript as an amalgam of Anglo-Saxon, Irish and German art—WTF? I couldn't figure out how/why Germany—then it dawned on me, they were referring to manuscripts found in Germany, made by Irish monks. And archaeologists tend to be even sloppier. Sometimes I wonder if they know any history at all.

Eagle-eyed John the Evangelist Wiki 

Some background on Lindisfarne, founded in 632, according to the Annals of the 4 Masters; modern articles say 635 AD. It was also the age of writing fancy Vitae to one's patron saints.

The three Lindisfarne bishops who followed the Irish founder, St. Aiden of Iona (590-651), were all Irish-born: St. Finan, St. Colmán, St. Tuda—43 years later, Eata, apparently he was not saintly fodder, but he was St. Aiden's student, and the first native Northumbrian bishop (678-685); then St. Cuthbert (though born in Scotland, he was also from the Cult of St. Columba school).

From what I can tell, St. Eadberht was the second ever Northumbrian bishop—he put up lead walls and a lead roof on the thatched oak church, I bet many monks were very grateful.

And then we get to oor man, St. Eadfrith (also a fine Northumbrian, b.?, who was bishop from 688-98) who was possibly the artist and scribe...the manuscripts are attributed to him, but they could've also been commissioned by him.

A little backstory: Things were not all hunky-dory between the Saxons and the Irish just because Christianity gained a tiny toehold, and the Lindisfarne monastery was established, ca. 635. Oswald of Northumbria, a king living in exile since 616, vowed to bring Christianity to pagan Northumbria. In 634, when he gained the crown of Northumbria, he invited St. Columba's monks to establish a monastery.

But things were still pretty woolly. In 683, the Saxons raided Magh Breg in ireland and took hostages. In 684, Eadfrith's contemporary, St. Adamnán (624-704), St. Columba's distant cousin and Abbot of Iona (679-704)... 
...went to Saxon Land, to request a restoration of the prisoners which the North Saxons had carried off from Magh Breagh the year before mentioned. He obtained a restoration of them, after having performed wonders and miracles before the hosts; and they afterwards gave him great honour and respect, together with a full restoration of everything he asked of them. —Annals of the 4 Masters
 (These were the apocalyptic plague years. After nearly all the children and animals died, I imagine any kind of miracles were welcome—including Columban monks walking across the Irish Sea to Scotland, it was that cold. But at least the cold snap must've killed off the plague fleas.)

Portrait of the artist benched as Matthew the Evangelist —Wiki

A century after Lindisfarne was abandoned because of repeated viking raids, a colophon was added to the Lindisfarne Gospels by a self-serving scribe and provost, Aldred the Glossator, who penned Anglo-Saxon glosses under the Latin text, between 950 and 970, and then he graffitied on the text that Eadfrith was the scribe and artist responsible for the work—some 150-70 years later... Lead-poisoning aside, there must've been some librarian apoplexy in the wings. Stories do change. There was also a viking raid or two in the way as well.
it is only from Aldred’s inscription that we presume Eadfrith created the manuscript and another monk, Billfrith, its original binding. Margaret Walker, The Lindisfarne Gospels: A Living ManuscriptUniversity of Edinburgh Postgraduate Journal of Culture and the Arts
But the illuminated mss. was probably a commission produced in honor of St. Cuthbert (634-687). It was probably made ca. 700, most scholars suggest 715, but Eadfrith died in 721—presumably while still in office, of old age as did most bishops—with their boots on (it was a very good gig). If so, then he probably didn't scribe the manuscripts himself, as he also commissioned three books on the Life of Saint Cuthbert as well. Calligraphy and advanced old age don't mix well—too many hand tremors, not to mention a profound loss of eyesight.

Carpet page: possibly based on early Coptic manuscripts depicting Islamic prayer rugs. Can you see the embedded cross?—Wiki

The next bishop, (last) St. Æthelwold of Lindisfarne (721- 740), took the raw manuscripts that St. Eadfrith had prepared (note the word "raw"), had them bound and gilded, and commissioned a jewel-encrusted gold cover made by St. Billfrith (ca. 8th c.), which the Dane-vikings literally ripped iff, of course.

The Lindisfarne Gospels had to wait until 1852 to get another decent cover.  But that's another story. And this is the end of my story.

Gospel of St. Luke—Wiki 

The Old English name, Lindisfarena, was not recorded until 793, probably from the Irish (lin/d-pool/stream); the 9th c. Welsh Historia Brittonum, records Lindisfarne as Medcaut; the term Holy isle/Insula Sacra was commonly used until the 11th century, and is alternatively used to this day. Cumbria, northern Umbria, Lothian and the Kingdom of Strathclyde formed the diocese of Lindisfarne.

DISCLAIMER: My sources, alas, are from Wiki—yes, not very scholarly, you might sniff—but that's merely my jumping-off point. Call it an opinion piece, if you must. Besides, there are always myriad references listed at the bottom of the pages if you want to do your own fact-checking. And the images are in public domain! I try and fill in the missing links, but I often view 20-30 pages before i settle in with an idea, so sometimes it's hard to go back and reconstruct all the links.

This is my first blog draft (I figure I must go through 20 mini drafts before a piece even reaches this stage...and still it isn't done). I can only write through the process, purl-blind; I can't get distance to see what it needs until I get to this stage. I envy those writers who make neat little outlines and plug in the info. My mind is far too convoluted, tied up in Celtic knots, as it were. Sometimes I think I take thes things on in order to learn what I need/want about a particular subject, but the path is never straightforward.


PDF link: Margaret Walker, The Lindisfarne Gospels: A Living ManuscriptUniversity of Edinburgh Postgraduate Journal of Culture and the Arts

Lindisfarne Gospels

St Cuthbert Gospel

Book of Kells

Aidan of Lindisfarne

St. Adamnán of Iona

Adamnán: Life of St. Columba
 St. Cuthbert

Merovingians notes

Olaf the Peacock's Irish Mother

ANNALS OF THE 4 MASTERS (many dates are about 3 years off...)

Thursday, November 27, 2014

York is not a Norse name, it was called Eboricum


York comes from Norse Jorvik? I thought it came from the Latin, "Eboricum", and before that, from a Celtic place name. York is most definitely not a Norse placename, it is a Norse pronunciation of a much older placename, Eboricum, founded in 71 AD, the Roman legionary fortress and capital of Brittania Inferior, when the Ninth Legion conquered the Brigantes. During Anglo-Saxon times, it was known as the trading port of Eoforwic.
The word York (from Old Danish Jórvík 9th century AD) derives from the Latinised name for the city, variously rendered as Eboracum, Eburacum or Eburaci. The first mention of York by this name is dated to circa 95–104 AD as an address on a wooden stylus tablet from the Roman fortress of Vindolanda in Northumberland. —Wiki
The old Brittonic name was probably Eburacon which was Latinized as Eburacum (with the same vowel quantities and stress sounds as the Brittonic pronunciation).
It is thought that Eboracum is derived from the Brythonic word Eborakon, a combination of eburos "yew-tree" (cf. Old Irish ibar "yew-tree", Welsh efwr "alder buckthorn", Breton evor "alder buckthorn") and suffix *-āko(n) "place" (cf. Welsh -og) meaning either "place of the yew trees" (cf. efrog in Welsh, eabhrac in Irish Gaelic and eabhraig in Scottish Gaelic, by which names the city is known in those languages); or less probably, Eburos, 'property', which is a personal Celtic name mentioned in different documents as Eβουρος, Eburus and Eburius, and which, combined with the same suffix *-āko(n), could denote a property. —Wiki
The Classical Latin spelling was Eburacum; the alternate spelling Eboracum reflects the Vulgar Latin change of u to o; but the stress remained on the sound. Some of the earlier instances of Eboracum mentioned in Ptolemy may be 'corrections' by later copyists, reflecting a shift in language sounds. Bede, writing in the 8th century, used both spellings. Besides, exact spelling was a relative concept even during Shakespeare's time.

That Norse J in Jorvik is trying to simulate a Celtic eu sound (as in ewe tree)—there was no y letter. In Irish orthography, the pronunciation and written Irish are not identical, nor do the sounds correlate with English pronunciation rules. They are closest to Latin, with their own peculiar twists of lenited vs long sounds. For example, the letters b and v within a word in Irish tend to gather a swallowed ya sound, or sometimes a w sound, like Samhain (Sowen). But there was no Y or W in the Irish alphabet.

What I found on the internet:

Yew in Old Irish is written as ibar/ibhar and (edad, edhadh), from Old Irish é(o). meaning either the tree or the weapon. Another Irish word for yew, is eo.

"W" is unknown to Latin or Greek writing. Old Irish, the language of the earliest sources in the Latin alphabet, takes place during the 6th century. Long before the Vikings came to York, I might add.

The morpheme aco /a:ko/ denoting a "place" still survives in modern Welsh as -og (earlier -awg).

There is debate as to the meaning of the root ebur(o)-. Some people insist that it is an old root meaning "yew" (Old Irish ibhar is glossed as 'taxus'), and thus Eburacum is "place of yews".

But Ebruros is also attested as a personal name in Gaul, so some think it meant: "Eburos' estate". On the balance the evidence seems to favor "place of yews", but it is not certain.

If the Romano-British name had been taken over by the English, then the modern English (after Norman spelling 'deforms') would be something like: Everock. And certainly not Jorvik.

See Theiling Online Conlang: From Eburacon to York  (Most of my linguistic bits came from this list-serve post by Ray Brown.

And I used:

The Irish Archaeological and Celtic Society: Irish Glosses, 1860

York - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

I found the PDF edition of the Celtic Guide magazine that spawned this mini rant. It's the November 2013 issue (vol 2, Issue 11; Celtic York, p. 12. It's a painfully slow-loading page.

CELTIC YORK  Author/editor is Jim McQuiston

Back in 1999, on my very first trip to Scotland, I sat with my son in an Irish pub in the middle of the town of York, England. As if that wee bit ‘o juxtaposition wasn’t enough, the duo that was performing was playing American folk rock type music. I remember, in the middle of their take on the Eagle’s ‘Desparado” how my son commented on the strangeness of it all. The crowd, however, was enthusiastically singing “You better let somebody love you,” as we snickered at the sight . . . and sound.

The York street, shown above, is known as Shambles Street and that is not an optical illusion. The buildings were built to lean inward, supposedly to block the hot sun from ruining butcher’s meat hanging along the walkway. During that period there were no hygiene laws as exist today, and so guts and the like were thrown into a gutter in the middle of the street. Today, any scene of total disorganization and mess is thus referred to as being “in shambles”.

I suspect many an Irish or Scottish person has sat and listened to Americanized versions of their music somewhere in the ‘states’ and thought, “Ach, this is not how it’s supposed to sound! These crazy Americans.”

Yorkshire was populated by Celts pre- and post-Roman invasion. The same thing happened again during the Anglo-Saxon invasion.

York is not far from the ‘Scottish’ border and it now seems more obvious to me that there should be a large amount of Celtic influence in that region. In fact, there was!

An army of Vikings invaded the Yorkshire area, in 866 AD. The Vikings conquered what is now modern day York and renamed it Jórvík, from where the modern name comes.

It seems, in fact, Yorkshire has seen as much Celtic and Viking influence as just about any part of Scotland or Ireland.

On Rabbits and Linguistics

On a linguistics forum, a user with the handle Maciamo wrote: "Quite a few [Wallonian] words have direct Germanic roots."

If Maciamo hadn't used the word "roots," I would've never even flinched. But I'd just read a long treatise on a Facebook site, Irish Medieval History, and had spent an afternoon tracking down all manner of leads on rabbits—double-checking their information. The Irish have no word for a rabbit nor do the English or the Germans! 
In Irish coinín (kun een) is the word used for a rabbit. It derives from the Latin “cunīculus”. Similarly in English the word used was “coney” which was correctly pronounced like the Irish as “cunny”. Rabbits were not native to northern Europe which is why there was no Germanic or Celtic word for them.
Well, I wanted to share my wealth of new-found knowledge (see below). I even joined Eupedia, a feat that took far too long, only to find that I couldn't post a comment anyway. So I'm posting it here.

conén (or conin) => rabbit/lapin (Danish/Norwegian/Swedish = "kanin", Dutch = "konijn", German = "Kaninchen")
robète => another Walloon word for rabbit (from Middle Dutch "robbe", obviously sharing a root with the English "rabbit")
Maciamo, you erroneously assumed that because there are similarities between certain Germanic words and Walloon words, ergo, Walloon borrowed words from the German, or the Dutch.

In the case of coney, or rabbit, you couldn't be more wrong. I suspect your other examples wouldn't hold up to close linguistic scrutiny either.

Both are loan words—as Iberian coneys/rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus) were not native to northern Europe. (Hispania, from the Phoenician, means 'the land of rabbits.') There is no native word for coney or rabbit in Celtic or Teutonic, nor mention of coney or rabbit in England before the Norman period.

You need to trace words back to their earliest sources before you can make that kind of declarative statement. Had you done your homework, you would've discovered that rabbits are not native to northern Europe and that the words (and rabbits) were borrowed from iberia.

The word robète does NOT sharing a root with the English word for rabbit, because that too was borrowed from the Latin. There were no native rabbits in Britain, they arrived during the 12th c. with the Normans. Rabbits were first domesticated by monks during the 5th c. in what is now France. (And the word ‘rabbit,’ from the French, means a young conin, or coney.)

OED a. A rabbit: formerly the proper and ordinary name, but now superseded in general use by rabbit, which was originally a name for the young only.

TheFreeDictionary:[Middle English coni, from Old French conis, pl. of conil, from Latin cunculus, possibly from cunnus,cunus, female pudenda.]

Coney used to rhyme with bunny, was a slang term for a red-light district, so it fell out of favor, so to speak.

English Language & Usage: OFr. conil, connil, cogn. w. Pr. conil, Sp. conejo, Pg.coelho, Ital. coneglio:-L. cunīcul-us rabbit, according to ancient authors a word of Spanish origin. The OFr. pl. (with l suppressed) coniz, later conis, gave an Eng. pl. conys, conies, and this a singular cony, conie. The ME. cunin, konyne, conyng was a. OFr. conin, connin, Anglo-Fr. coning, a parallel form to conil, which gave also MDutch conijn, Dutch konijn, and, with a for o, LG. kanîn, whence mod.G. dim. kaninchen. In Eng. the form cunyng, cunning came down to the 16th c.; but from the 12th c. onward it varied also with cunig, conig, connyg.

It has no native name in Celtic or Teutonic, and there is no mention of it in England before the Norman period; in the quotations the fur, perhaps imported, appears before the animal. The Welsh cwning, cwningen, is from ME.; the Irish coinnín, and Gaeliccoinean, coinein from ME. or AFr." 

I had posted this to Irish Medieval History:
An interesting morsel. So they're desert creatures. Sounds like the Romans bought them to Britain which would go a long way in explaining the Latin loan word. So, what did the Iberian Celts call rabbits, not conejo. (I wondered why Iberia was referred to as the land of hyraxes (shaphan/ rock-badgers), it appears that there's a common thread.

Cunny rhymes with bunny...(and the words rabbit means little cunnys...) This opens up a whole new line of questions for rabbit folklore. How many of you say "white rabbit" before you get out of bed, during the first day of the month?

And what about hares? Were they also called cunnys?
"...The European rabbit, widely kept in ancient Rome native to southwestern Europe (Spain and Portugal) and northwest Africa (Morocco and Algeria).... first recorded by the Phoenicians prior to 1000 BC, when they termed the Iberian Peninsula i-shaphan-ím (the land of the hyraxes). This phrase closely resembles modern Hebrew: i (אי) meaning island and shafan (שפן) hyrax, plural shfaním (שפנים). Phoenicians called the rabbits 'hyraxes' because hyraxes resemble rabbits, and were more common than rabbits in the Levant. One theory states that Romans converted the phrase i-shaphan-ím, with influence from the Greek Spania, to its Latin form, Hispania, which evolved into the modern Spanish word España. 
...they were first introduced to Britain by the Romans following their invasion of the British isles in AD 43. 
Portuguese National Authorities have classified the rabbit as Near Threatened in Portugal, whilst Spanish authorities recently reclassified the rabbit as Vulnerable in Spain."
Then, there are hares, is there a different word for hare? Or were they conflated as one species? re: While rabbits burrow (not sure that they had to learn to burrow—it seems they already knew how to burrow, but...

Lesley, I think your burrowing information is conflated with that of hares. "All rabbits live underground in burrows or warrens, while hares live in simple nests above the ground. Hares do not bear their young below ground in a burrow as do other leporids, but rather in a shallow depression or flattened nest of grass called a form. 
...In Irish folklore, the hare is often associated with Sidh...
The hare has given rise to local place names. An example in Scotland is 'Murchland', the Scots word for a hare being 'murchen"
I found this: Murchen 'hare' in Scots Gaelic. But it was an odd site.
European Hares: "They may have been introduced to Britain in prehistoric times. ... bucks are fertile all year round except during October and November." (Nae baws!)
"The words "rabbit", "hare", or "coney" (is translated as) hyrax in some English translations of the Bible. Early English translators had no knowledge of the hyrax (Hebrew: shaphan), and therefore no name for them. There are references to hyraxes in the Old Testament, particularly in Leviticus 11, where they are described as lacking a split hoof and therefore being not kosher. The NIV translation incorrectly claims that the hyrax chews its cud. Some modern translations refer to them as rock badgers."
(I know it's all Wiki links, but it's a place to start... something about Wiki articles brings out the battleaxe editor in, for brevity's sake, I chopped out extraneous words so they're not exact quotes but links are below if anyone wants to hunt them down—the links, not the rabbits.)

 Here is the online etymology dictionary entry for coney/rabbit.

coney (n.) 
c.1200, from Anglo-French conis, plural of conil "long-eared rabbit" (Lepus cunicula) from Latin cuniculus (source of Spanishconejo, Portuguese coelho, Italian coniglio), the small, Spanish variant of the Italian hare (Latin lepus), the word perhaps from Iberian Celtic (classical writers say it is Spanish).
Rabbit arose 14c. to mean the young of the species, but gradually pushed out the older word 19c., after British slang picked upconey as a punning synonym for cunny "cunt" (compare connyfogle "to deceive in order to win a woman's sexual favors"). The word was in the King James Bible [Prov. xxx:26, etc.], however, so it couldn't be entirely dropped, and the solution was to change the pronunciation of the original short vowel (rhyming with honey, money) to rhyme with boney. In the Old Testament, the word translates Hebrew shaphan "rock-badger." Rabbits not being native to northern Europe, there was no Germanic or Celtic word for them.
All the English language dictionaries with etymologies state that the origin of CONEY - Middle English conies, plural, from Anglo-French conis, plural of conil, from Latin cuniculus.  First Known Use: 12th century (Miriam Webster)
Someone posted that hahn is the German word for rabbit, but it's the word for cock! (OMG let the puns roll).  And so they did: "Cunnies" love to Tickle Cock.
in English the word used was “coney” which was correctly pronounced like the Irish as “cunny.” In the 19th century rabbit gradually takes over from coney (cunny) when the latter became a punning slang word. The c-word was very common in medieval England and was found in many street names like Grope(c-word) Lane. Today we might call such a street the red light district. Search Google maps for Tickle Cock Bridge! It is a pedestrian underpass in Castleford.
Someone else wrote: German does have a word for rabbit, it is kaninchen and the word for a hare is hasa. "Hahn" is a fowl, NOT a rabbit. Haas is Dutch for hare. In eastern Dutch dialect the word for rabbit is kenien, which is pronounced exactly the same as Irish kuneen.....

And someone named Bunny liked my posts...LOL

Van Morrisson song Coney Island…
Coming down from Downpatrick
Stopping off at St. John's Point
Out all day birdwatching
And the craic was good.

A real Coney Island mindfuck.

really really rough notes:

aiwe => river
Later you equate the Wallonian word for yes to Germanic.'... it is in fact closer to the Scottish "aye". Both are probably syllable reversal of the Germanic "ja" or "yeah". 

Walloon is classified as an oïl dialect of Gallo-Romance languages, based on the way the word for "yes" is pronounced. The Walloon for "yes" is "ayi". It may sound vaguely similar to "oïl" (pronounce "oi" as in "oil" without the "l"), but it is in fact closer to the Scottish "aye". Both are probably syllable reversal of the Germanic "ja" or "yeah". 

The Walloon for "no" is "neni". It is again much closer to the German "nein" than the French "non" or southern Romance "no". Likewise the negative equivalent of the French "pas" (as in je ne sais pas) is "nin". It is probably a nassalised version of the Dutch "niet" German "nicht", derived from the local Frankish dialect. In any case it is completely different from "pas".

So despite the big chunk of Romance vocabulary, many basic words in Walloon appear to be of Germanic, Celtic or unknown origin (possibly pre-Celtic).

It surprises how little studied the language is. After all, it covers an area with more traditional speakers than Welsh or Scottish Gaelic.

"yes" is "ayi". That's oui in French, vs the -oc of Langdoc, Scottish AND Irish did not suddenly take up German words to says yes, and dyslexically reverse the letters.  If anything, Walloon probably predates the French language since it was comprised of Gauls speaking a foreign language (Latin).

Hard c  because of germanic influence, that c remained k?  predates French,,,
its pronunciation "tsh" is typically French : what you have there is the affrication of the latin [k] before [a] after palatalisation. This process is French, and occurs nowhere else. During the XIth and XIIth centuries, when most English borrowings from French occurred, the grapheme "ch" (from Lat. "c") was pronounced "tsh" in Old French. Only during the XIIIth century, the pronunciation was reduced to "sh". Therefore, the English words with an initial "ch" pronounced "tsh" are are mostly French loanwords with a rigorously accurate Old French pronunciation ("chance", "choice", "chamber", "chair" etc.). On the contrary, the phonetics of "castle" is Germanic, albeit being a Latin word.

Here is another example of why Walloon might be considered a Germanised Romance language. The Walloon word for castle is tchestê, which is almost the same as the English 'chester' (as in Manchester, Winchester Chichester, etc.). Chester is the Anglo-Saxon pronunciation of the Latin word castrum, which gave castello in Italian, castillo in Spanish, château in French, and of course 'castle' in English. The fact that the Walloon word is closer to the Anglo-Saxon than to the French or other Romance languages is, I think, a clear sign that Walloon was originally the language of the Franks who adopted Latin after settling in the Roman province of Gallia Belgica.

The term Walloon is derived from *walha, a Proto-Germanic term used to refer to Celtic and Latin speakers

Walloon originated in Romance languages alongside other related terms, but it supplanted them. Its oldest written trace is found in Jean de Haynin's Mémoires de Jean, sire de Haynin et de Louvignies in 1465, Walloon evoked a constitutional reality, it originally referred to Roman populations of the Burgundian Netherlands and was also used to designate a territory by the terms provinces wallonnes or Walloon country (Pays wallon), from the 16th century to the Belgian revolution, and later Wallonia.[10] The term 'Walloon country' was also used in Dutch viz. Walsch land.[11][12] The term existed also in German, perhaps Wulland in Hans Heyst's book (1571) where Wulland is translated by Wallonia in English (1814).[13] In German it is however generally Wallonenland : Le païs de Valons, Belgolalia, Wallonenland, in "Le Grand Dictionnaire Royal" Augsbourg, 1767;[

Since the 11th century, the great towns along the river Meuse, for example, Dinant, Huy, and Liège, traded with Germany, where Wallengassen (Walloons' neighborhoods) were founded in certain cities.[27] In Cologne, the Walloons were the most important foreign community, as noted by three roads named Walloonstreet in the city.[28] The Walloons traded for materials they lacked, such as copper, found in Germany, especially at Goslar.
he root of the word Wallonia, like the words Wales, Cornwall and Wallachia,[4] is the Germanic word Walha, meaning the strangers. Wallonia is named after the Walloons, the population of the Burgundian Netherlands speaking Romance languages. In Middle Dutch (and French), the term Walloons also included the French-speaking population of the Prince-Bishopric of Liège[5] or the whole population of the Romanic sprachraum within the medieval Low Countries.
Julius Caesar conquered Gaul in 57 BC. The Low Countries became part of the larger Gallia Belgica province which originally stretched from southwestern Germany to Normandy and the southern part of the Netherlands. The population of this territory was Celtic with a Germanic influence which was stronger in the north than in the south of the province. Gallia Belgica became progressively romanized. The ancestors of the Walloons became Gallo-Romans and were called the "Walha" by their Germanic neighbours. The "Walha" abandoned their Celtic dialects and started to speak Vulgar Latin.[7]
The Merovingian Franks gradually gained control of the region during the 5th century, under Clovis. Due to the fragmentation of the former Roman Empire, Vulgar Latin regionally developed along different lines and evolved into several langue d'oïl dialects, which in Wallonia became Picard, Walloon and Lorrain.[7] The oldest surviving text written in a langue d'oïl, the Sequence of Saint Eulalia, has characteristics of these three languages and was likely written in or very near to what is now Wallonia around 880 AD.[6] From the 4th to the 7th century, the Franks established several settlements, probably mostly in the north of the province where the romanization was less advanced and some Germanic trace was still present. The language border began to crystallize between 700 under the reign of the Merovingians and Carolingians and around 1000 after the Ottonian Renaissance.[8] French-speaking cities, with Liège as the largest one, appeared along the Meuse river and Gallo-Roman cities such as Tongeren, Maastricht and Aachen became Germanized.\

angue d'oïl refers to the mutually intelligible linguistic variants of romana lingua spoken since the 9th century in northern France and southern Belgium (Wallonia), since the 10th century in the Channel Islands, and between the 11th and 14th centuries in England (the Anglo-Norman language). Langue d'oïl, the term itself, has been used in the singular since the 12th century to denote this ancient linguistic grouping as a whole. With these qualifiers, langue d'oïl sometimes is used to mean the same as Old French (see History below).\
In the 9th century, romana lingua (the term used in the Oaths of Strasbourg of 842) was the first of the Romance languages to be recognized by its speakers as a distinct language, probably because it was the most different from Latin compared with the other Romance languages (see History of the French language).
A good number of the developments that we now consider typical of Walloon appeared between the 8th and 12th centuries. Walloon "had a clearly defined identity from the beginning of the thirteenth century". In any case, linguistic texts from the time do not mention the language, even though they mention others in the Oïl family, such as Picard and Lorrain. During the 15th century, scribes in the region called the language "Roman" when they needed to distinguish it. It is not until the beginning of the 16th century that we find the first occurrence of the word "Walloon" in the same linguistic sense that we use it today.

By late- or post-Roman times Vulgar Latin had developed two distinctive terms for signifying assent (yes): hoc ille ("this (is) it") and hoc ("this"), which became oïl and oc, respectively. Subsequent development changed "oïl" into "oui", as in modern French. The term langue d'oïl itself was first used in the 12th century, referring to the Old French linguistic grouping noted above. In the 14th century, the Italian poet Dante mentioned the yes distinctions in his De vulgari eloquentia. He wrote in Medieval Latin: "nam alii oc, alii si, alii vero dicunt oil" ("some say 'oc', others say 'si', others say 'oïl'")—thereby distinguishing at least three classes of Romance languages: oc languages (in southern France); si languages (in Italy and Iberia) and oïl languages (in northern France).

"interdialectary" langue d'oïl had emerged, a kind of koiné. In the late 13th century this common langue d'oïl was named French (françois in French, lingua gallica or gallicana in Medieval Latin).
. The Picard language is first referred to by name as "langage pikart" in 1283ïlïl

raspoie (Old Walloon) => raspberry/framboise (like robète, spraute and sitouve, only English has a word related to it)
raspberry (n.) 
1620s, earlier raspis berry (1540s), possibly from raspise "a sweet rose-colored wine" (mid-15c.), from Anglo-Latin vinum raspeys, origin uncertain, as is the connection between this and Old French raspe, Medieval Latin raspecia, raspeium, also meaning "raspberry." One suggestion is via Old Walloon raspoie "thicket," of Germanic origin. Klein suggests it is via the French word, from a Germanic source akin to English rasp (v.), with an original sense of "rough berry," based on appearance.

raspberry: 1623, earlier raspis berry (1548), possibly from raspise “a sweet rose-colored wine” (c.1460), from Anglo-L. vinum raspeys, origin uncertain, as is the connection between this and O.Fr. raspe, M.L. raspecia, raspeium, also meaning “raspberry.” One suggestion is via Old Walloon raspoie “thicket,” of Gmc. origin.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Strange Bedfruits

Neil Astley who publishes Bloodaxe Books in Northumbria, posted a BBC link on Facebook: Stop eating cats and dogs say animal rights campaigners in Switzerland "Time to boycott everything Swiss? Barbarians!"

Many usual fuzzy bambi posts ensued, including boycotting Toblerone, but then there was a curious role reversal when the meat eaters chimed in and said if you're going to eat meat, then don't be a hippocrite (stet). By that point, I was on a roll. 

Sometimes you just eat what you're served. Even some of us (occasional) carnivores have moral issues eating endangered species, though. Sometimes it's unavoidable, our Guatemalan hosts proudly prepared us a regional dish: kebabls—which turned out to be a medley of wild creatures from the jungle. 
My new friend wrote: It is surprising however what people will/do eat. Cannibalism comes to mind when we eat animals. What is the difference?! Being a vegetarian is not without its dilemmas either.
Sometimes one eats what is available. (I can't eat legumes, a huge handicap in S. America, and fresh vegetables are out). However, not wanting to offend our hosts, I went through the usual list: pollo, vaca, puerco, oveja? No. Serpiente? No venado, y como se dicie—los otros animales de la selva. 

By that point, I desperately searched my meager Spanish vocabulary for the word monkey...and learned a new Mayan word: tepesquintli. It took me decades to discover what it was: agouti. OK. Other stories about Baja sea turtles, and Peruvian cuy, too. 

Fodder for my poems, no? A historical note, during WWII, cats were called roof rabbits in Holland. Is the strange Swiss appetite somehow related?
She posted: Eat to survive vs eat to be polite. My father ate sheep's eyes as guest of honour in the Middle East and had to and in front of everyone. We could conceivably live on beans and rice. As far as I can tell everything has been eaten at least once by someone or something!
What a story. In Russia, I was in a similar dilemma with rooster feet in my borsht—a local delicacy. After living there one winter, I had to seriously change my squeamishness. I quit eating most things, and began to spontaneously bruise. The doctor said I needed to eat protein. How I learned to eat smalow—smoked fat.
Then she had to go there, the lower depths: How many trips have I been on where I had no idea what was in the food and never ever want to know! Ever. Enough said I got parasites! It was the best diet I have ever been on would recommend it to anyone wanting to loose weight and fast! 
So sorry to hear you were a hotel. I've been a host fruit, not fresh veggies, can't eat any form of beans...and my partner wants to go to India...a dilemma. When traveling in third world countries, I eat... not much? Traveling can seriously challenge one's first world notions... Got sick once from ceviche, and I thought that would be safe with all the lime. hahaha! 

My partner at the time (poet-translator) would take us off the grid, meeting up with poets...crazy times. Isla Amantani, our host, an Aymara family, offered us bitter native black potatoes and cuy (guinea pig and fleas). 

Nothing else to eat, other than a local herb for tea...and water doesn't boil at that elevation—so rice and quinoa are out. No stores, no restaurants... an off the beaten trek island in the middle of a vast lake, waiting until the next mail boat came. I kept waiting for seals to appear as we overlooked the vast lago Titicaca, Potosi shining in the distance. Think I was hallucinating from hunger by then. 
She said: That is exactly where I travelled extensively with my son some years ago as well as in Mexico, Bolivia and Guatemala. Amazing our best trip ever! We often reminisce my son and I. Ceviche yes that sounds like a familiar horror. Lobster carpaccio in Lima Peru was our nemesis! 
Didn't the word carpaccio give it away? Yet, I wouldn't trade the experiences for anything, though they were hairy, to say the least... Never got yo Bolivia, sad to say. Then you understand the eating dilemma first hand as well. Travel is not a vacation.
It took me years to recover from bad Vienna sausage. It was an eyeball story: our Peruvian Chinese host brought out a delicacy—those blasted sausages. I'll say no more, other than I couldn't eat food for weeks—not even bananas. Or drink juice. 

I managed to hike over the Andes on a strange bevvy concoction of Lipton tea, sugar, lime juice and steeped coca leaves...but I made it to Machu Picchu the long way...over (ahem) Dead Woman Pass.
She said: Well what can I say?! We had to try something new, in a new place on the Pacific, the final know life on the edge...Cataccio and dogaccio is where this all started!
Maybe we'll meet again somewhere on the Gringo Trail, see what's on the menu. Poor Neil will wonder how his post got so hijacked (it's her fault, Neil!)... Good job closing the circle. Cataccio and dogaccio! Are there cat bits in the Toblerone? just say no to fugu, OK? Yeah, if the pufferfish is prepared wrong, it's all hats off—there'll be no comment—ever again.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Viking Tribes notes


A Facebook site I often visit, Medievalist, which is a gateway for their blog of delightful medievalness,, which posts medieval art, book reviews, videos, the adorable "Five-Minute Medievalist} column, and abstracts of scholarly papers on the medieval world. 

Sometimes I find myself disagreeing with posts. Especially when it comes to misinformation about vikings and the blatant appropriation of other cultures. (I guess it's fitting, considering they were raiders, but they're still raiding other cultures long after they ceased to exist.

This one particular paper, Norsemen And Vikings: The Culture That Inspired Decades Of Fear by Alexandra McKenna and John Broom, a paper given at the West East Institute International Academic Conference, October 2014, was not only rife with typos, it was loaded with wrong information. (The overall consensus was that it was a generically bad academic paper.)

So naturally, I posted a teeny comment. Four hours later, I'd traversed every Wiki post ever written on vikings and norsemen, from the Nordic Iron Age to the end of the viking era. This compaction is what follows. I really do need to revisit it but not now. I'm kind of sick of it.

Re: "...not all Norsemen were Vikings." And not all Vikings were Norsemen either. (And, oh, the typos... I thought papers were supposed to be proofread before publication.) "In one sentence, Medieval Britain was a land dominated by people of Norse decent, ..." Really?

And the in another sentence, (via Alby Stone), the paper attempts to co-opt the British Grail stories as stories inspired by Odin? Bah! Terrible paper. Truncated history at its worst.
Someone replied to my post saying: In the paper they said that not all Norse were Vikings. It was more of an occupation. Warriors would go on Viking expeditions. Many of the Norse were peaceful farmers just trying to make a living.
Nothing like revisionist history in the making.
Another more enlightened soul wrote: On the contrary, farming was rare in Norse Scandinavia due to landscapes and forests. In fact the nobility of the Norse were the few who had farms.
So I was on a roll. Not all Vikings were Norsemen.There were many nordic tribes and "Scatinavia" was comprised of thralls (slaves), karls (farmers), and Jarls (nobility—merchants). 

Slavery (from across Eurasia) was the central hub of Norse society—and not all Norsem were even Norse! The thralls, for instance. Slaves were often sold to Arabs for silver. Slaves made really good rowers...

Scandinavians of Thule were comprised of many tribes (modern terms: Nortmanni/Norwegians, Swedes and Dane) Rhos, Geats, Heruls, Dani, Jutes/Gutes/Gotlanders, Goths, Hallins, Suiones: Suehans/Suetidi (aka Varangians); and even Finns/Fenni (Hämenites/Tavastians Kvens, Karelians; possibly Sáami) who were radically different groups/tribes. 

The early Irish scribes distinguished between the different types of vikings Finn-Gall and Dubh-Gall. Generally speaking Norwegian vikings raided Ireland, Scotland, Faroes, Iceland, and Greenland; the Danes plundered Ireland, England and France; and the Swedish vikings raided Russia. All were different viking groups (aka Ascomanni, Lochlanach, Dene, Rus, Varangians).

The Vikings practiced an austere form of primogeniture, the eldest son got the entire farm, cattle, wealth, everything. There was also political unrest, not enough farmland, and all those landless younger sons (not firstborn) were encouraged to go a plundering (or kicked to the kerb).

This was also true of the landless younger sons of noblemen of 14th c. Spain, who plundered the New World with an equal vengeance. Perhaps it was because they were the offspring of vikings. Visigoths were considered the forefathers of Spanish nobility—A Spanish saying: an arrogant man is: "haciéndose los godos," acting like a Goth.

Wald [ruled] the Woings, 
Wod the Thuringians, 
Saeferth the Sycgs, 
Ongendtheow the Swedes, 
Sceafthere the Umbers, 
Sceafa the Lombards,

I don't know if I'll ever get back to this and turn it into a blog, add all the lost links—I never thought I'd put this much time into it, so I didn't save my urls. But then I said that about the Viking Redhead Myth post too. It doesn't hold up as well as a standalone blog entry, not like the Lindisfarne post. It needs context, but I'm tired.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Bay Area Generations Reading, Hotel Rex

For my birthday I read poems at Bay Area Generations 15th reading at the Hotel Rex, on Sutter Street in San Francisco. My intergenerational partner in crime was Bruce Moody.

It was one of those rapid turnaround events, when you no sooner applied, you were accepted, no sooner accepted, and then it was time to read. A whirlwind romance. It was also the evening of the first of the big freeway shutdowns—the protests. But we didn't know that at the time. Bruce, who was driving in from Vallejo, had to abandon his car in Richmond, and he hopped onto BART as there was a mondo traffic jam. Even so, he barely made it to the reading on time.

It was sweet to have childhood friend Micaela Wall and Scottish friend Margretta Campbell in the audience. I rarely have overlap from my myriad other lives. In fact, it was a fluke to even be reading with Bruce Moody.

An old flame, John Oliver Simon had asked me to apply to the reading committee but I couldn't think of a partner who was significantly older than me. Suddenly Bruce loomed on the horizon of the psyche. I remembered something he had said at his 80th birthday party—he didn't want gifts, he wanted people to read his poems. And so I have. I'm on his email list. Sometimes I comment on them, sometimes I let them sink into the void. (Yes, I am writing this piece post-mortem, but I wanted to post something on my birthdate. At the very least, a passing nod to a new publishing credit.)

A lot of water has passed under the bridge tonight. Being in the same room as John, and no longer hurting at the mere sight of him. I thought I'd never get to this point. Time heals all. I am glad to be at this place and time. But it did rather add up the psychic ante during the reading. Especially with Neil sitting there too.

I had a rather strange and disturbing interaction with co-reader Ellery Akers who thought I had dissed her as a teacher in this blog. It was a piece of raw reportage from a workshop she had taught for CPITS at IONS Earthrise Institute in 2012. I had no idea what she meant. I was broadsided. Then it dawned on me, she must've googled herself, and my blog post came up. I also reported on the workshops of several other poets as well. It wasn't about her. It was about my writing processes.

I thought about ameliorating it, even taking the post down but then I decided not to, as it was an honest evaluation of my reaction to her workshop. I loved meeting her, but I didn't like the way she was rushing us, nor could I read the sloppy copies of the model poems that were presented at 6 and 8 point type.

Apparently I haven't the right to say in public that it bothered me. I can safely say that she was hurt, and now I'm hurt. A sad little black raincloud for my birthday. I do apologize to Ellery, for unwittingly hurting her feelings. That was never my intention. But, after rereading the post, I've decided that I'm not taking it down.

A Cross Generational View: Transgressive! That’s the word that comes to my mind in relation to Maureen Hurley. I don’t know why that is, except that for me she embodies the democratic spirit of the Democracy in being so. An encompassing embrace. Fair-mindedness. Committed to challenging the rules when injustice rules them. I am in my 9th decade. She is timeless. —Bruce Moody
Bruce Moody: One of the original Manhattan Mad Men, he ad-libbed his way around asphalt jingles, he invented the Cheerios Kid, wrote for Look Magazine, The National Lampoon, then chucked it all for the west coast, lived on the road, where he took to playing the stage, discovered all the world’s a stage, still wordsmithing all along, he wrote plays, a novel or three: Will Work For Food Or $ won awards, and of course, poems. Whether by stage or screen, his voice transcends. On his 80th birthday he wished not for health, nor wealth, but to be read. He is quintessentially forever young.  —Maureen Hurley

Poems published:


Special thanks to all the poets who made this reading possible: Charles Kruger, Sandra Wassilie, Candy Shue, Deborah Steinberg, Fred Dodsworth, and guest curator John Oliver Simon, for insisting that I enter the contest. And of course, to Bruce Moody, and my co-readers.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Why I Teach, or Why I am a Writer. 1st draft

MY MANIFESTO first script/draft of final project images, gesture, poem, more formal. roots of pedagogy Open. for 11/19 need one page;
12/10 script page to stage/performance w/ theatrical elements
12/13 SAT 5 min presentation/performance.'


It's hard for me to choose or to make a distinction between teaching and writing as each process informs the other.

I was a poet before I became interested in teaching for California Poets in the schools, but just barely. The two events were nearly twinned. I arrived to poetry all out of breath, with things to say and nowhere to channel them. I wasn't a writer and I was a below average student in high school and college. I couldn't retain or access the information I learned in school. It was like a hive of bees swarming inside my head.

I didn't know parts of speech, but I loved to read. Art was my saving grace, it was through art that I found my passion, or, rather, I found something I could excel at. I had no idea at the time that I was dyslexic, I hid it from the world. Because i could read for pleasure, no one thought to test me for learning disabilities.

When I entered community college I was assigned remedial bonehead classes. Classes for dummies. But my counselor disappeared, it was the 70s, and the school either lost, or misplaced my SAT scores and aptitude tests (computers were a new science, they were the size of houses). So I was placed in Biology 1 A and English 1 A classes, first half of the semester I was miserably failing at both, but then the teachers were both replaced.

My college biology teacher was in a plane crash, and I'm not sure what happened to my English teacher, Jim Heig, who was gay, other than he ran off to Europe and married my grade school classmate Adair Daly (aka Adar Lara). Like I said, it was the early 70s and everybody was busy finding themselves. Mid-semester, they were both replaced by women teachers, and weirdly, I began to excel. It was also during the birth of Women's Studies. Our teachers were guest speakers, Margo St. James, sex worker and founder of Coyote, Gloria Steinem, our guru-goddess, and Our Bodies, Ourselves, our tome, with lots of experimental behavioral psychology classes as well.

But back to Biology and English, I went from failing the courses to receiving As and Bs. My counsellor couldn't figure it out. By right, according to my test scores, which they had later found, I shouldn't have been assigned to those classes, and yet, I had passed with flying colors. I was straddling genres.

I'm sure it helped that I adored my biology teacher, Dr. Fatt from Finland, who told us stories about her siamese cat. The reason why they have dark markings on their extremities was because they were colder—she proved it too by strapping frozen sponges to the cat's belly, and the poor kitty's fur turned black. She taught through stories and cause and effect. Her doctoral thesis was on the territorial behavior of stickleback fishes. They saw red when presented with something red. The stories stayed with me.

I don't remember if Helene, the English teacher, told us stories, but I do remember that a high school classmate, Dan Niblock, sang "Geordie" in a class presentation, and I was mesmerized. I loved Irish and English ballads. I still suffered while writing papers. I had to cut and paste everything. But the ballads told stories. She must've broken the mold, you will write a paper a week and you will like it, because I was suddenly liking English. I've a vague remembrance of being immersed in Shakespeare plays. That led me to the theater department, so while I was getting my AA in art, I was also immeshed in theater.

Too shy to try out for parts, my memorization process is non-existent (probably because of the dyslexia), I designed costumes, and helped paint stage sets, ushered, etc.

After three leisurely years in community college, my theater classmates moved on to Julliard (Robin Williams, James Harper, Joel Blum, Anni Long, Mark Rasmussen), and since theater was not my calling (my mother was a costume designer/actress, so I have rugrat stories of being babysat by the stars of stage and screen including Lloyd Bridges, and Sterling Hayden), it was time to leave the idyllic nest and graduate to the next stage of my life.

After three leisurely years in community college... (meanwhile protesting the Vietnam war, marching, and participating in civil disobedience—since high school: we were the only highly politicized high school in the nation to make the 6 O'Clock news and the cover to Time Magazine for protesting (our class president was Jared Rossman, baby brother to Mark, who was Abby Hoffman's left-hand man, and yes, I was there in Sproul Plaza, witnessing the famous Free Speech movement, naive but motivated. Many of our high school classmates older brothers and sisters boarded the bus at the San Anselmo Theological Seminary, and marched on Selma, Alabama. Some were drafted, and never came back. The times, they were indeed a-changin'.

I brought my college GPA up to snuff and, since all my classmates at College of Marin had moved on, I applied to a four-year college. I was accepted at San Francisco State, and commuted for a year from West Marin, but the shock of urban culture, and the violence at SF State—S.I. Haikawa was president—during my second semester, there were school protests, riots, chain gangs, a girl raped in the library stacks, a murder in a bathroom, and a guy dressed in tinfoil, selling plots on the moon.

So, I left, fast, and applied to Sonoma State, aka Granola State. The art department was as dismal as San Francisco State (Wayne Thiebaud, whom I was supposed to study with, took a year off). Sonoma State, was in the process of being built, so we were shoved in the basement of Darwin Hall. Art and science were rigidly divided. There was no community. But I was hungry for synthesis and drifted into an experimental discipline, Expressive Arts. And there I found my community and my life's calling.

During the first years of becoming functionally literate, it was a bootstrap effort, I was in a car accident and when I was tested for my motor skills, the doctor discovered I had major left-right issues. It was a relief to discover that there was some odd wiring in my head. It gave me a doorway to access my thought processes. I just had to figure out how to get through the door and into the house.

From there, I was able to unravel that tangled morass of thought and memory and I begin to put information into my head so that I could (sometimes) retrieve it. One must begin with what is interesting. Poetry was interesting as well as the stories and ballads of my childhood, the things my grandmother told me again and again. My mother was nuts, so I was raised by my Irish grandmother, who was a bearer of oral tradition.

Because poetry was my lifeline, I became involved with hosting poetry readings, art openings, and multicultural events in Sonoma County. Because I also needed to earn money, and I was trained as a poet through California Poets in the Schools, and an artist through Artists in the Schools of Sonoma County, I applied for, and was awarded seven California Arts Council artist in schools grants at Mark West School in Santa Rosa, and a pilot project at the client library at Napa State Hospital.

I also worked under the auspices of several artists in schools grants, including multi-arts residencies funded by the National Endowment for the Arts, and local arts agencies. I was teaching painting and drawing, as well as calligraphy to students with learning disabilities similar to my own. I also began to travel during this time, because I was teaching poetry and Sonoma County history, during 1989 to 1991, I wound up in the USSR, carrying art and poetry both directions. I was an accidental cultural ambassador, giving readings, teaching poetry in Soviet schools, and translating poetry.

Honing my craft, I also attended many poetry workshops during the early 1980s. One summer, we crashed Port Townsend's Centrum Foundation, slept in abandoned buildings, and on beaches. Sharon Doubiago, Tobey Kaplan, Leonard Cirino and I went to sit at the feet of Meridel LeSueur. They tried to throw us out but Meridel said: The California poets stay, or I go. Sharon read from her manuscript, Hard County. Meridel said it had to be published, and so it happened. The craft lectures began to filter down and settle in.

I also attended the Napa Valley Poetry Conference, first as a photographer, and then as a workshop participant. Dave Evens, the director, knew I had no money so I traded photo-documentation to study poetry with the greats: my teachers were Carolyn Forché, Galway Kinnell, Gerald Stern, Carolyn Kizer, Robert Pinsky, Robert Hass, Steve Kowitt, Linda Gregg (whom I went to grade school with), and Jane Hirshfield (who was my co-poet at CPITS, was becoming known), and many more. They were my tribe. We all ran off to the Bahamas one spring to create the first and last international Napa Valley poetry conference. Through the workshops, I was meeting poets from across America, and abroad, exposed to myriad voices.

It took another decade for me to fully arrive as a writer. Prose was not my strong suit. I began to work for alternative newspapers as a photographer and then I found myself writing captions, and soon poet interviews, and art reviews and stories followed. For someone who couldn't write and had no organizational skills inside the head, it was a huge achievement. The free form process of poetry allowed me to express myself, I had something to say—and a way to say it. Before that, I was mute. I was painfully shy in grade school and high school, afraid to speak out, afraid to be wrong. An yet, there I was…

Our Stories- Creativity, Writing and Storytelling for Educators class at Alameda County Office of Education, Aimee Suzara, instructor