Monday, July 15, 2013

Life of a Poet ~ Ninotaziz

Kids, I have a special treat for you today.  Ninotaziz has been a member of the Poets United community since the very early days of Poets United, when the site was begun by Robb Lloyd, (to whom I will be forever grateful). I am sure you have all enjoyed her amazing poetry. Over the three years I have known her, I have watched Ninot pursue her passion of preserving Malay legend, producing several beautiful books, that combine art and storytelling with magical results. I have been excited to see her work gaining recognition in the world of Malaysian letters, so that now I find myself interviewing not just a friend, but an emerging celebrity. It is a great honor to bring you this exciting update about our very own Ninotaziz.





P.U.: Ninot, I'm excited to be doing this interview with you. Would you prefer I address you as Ninot or Zalina ?



Ninot: I feel almost like two different people. Ninot for friends and the writing world. Zalina for family and my professional side. Please do call me Ninot.

P.U.: So tell us, kiddo, where did you grow up? Is there someone (as I more than suspect there is) who awakened your love of legends, the retelling of ancient stories?

Ninot: I was born in Tasmania, Australia, so I spent my first six years in Hobart. Both Mum and Dad were studying in Australia. We returned to Malaysia when I was about six.


With Dad (above photo) and Mum (below)

Even though we lived in the city back in Malaysia, I immediately took to the kampong life (village life) of my grandparents in Chenor, Pahang. My maternal grandfather, Tok Jaafar, was a headmaster, and my grandmother, his wife, Tok Rahmah, was a teacher in the same primary school. Their house was full of books and children. It was here I began to read Malay legends. And one Japanese legend – The Tale of Urashimatoro – which for a long time was my favourite fairytale. And yet, even before then, I was reading all sorts of fairy-tales, mainly western, whatever I could get my hands on. This was a direct influence of my mother. We grew up on Enid Blyton, Tin Tin and Noddy.

My paternal grandfather, Tok Salehuddin, was a representative of the people. His big house and the grounds were full of people coming and going, cooking and eating. There was a kenduri (big dinner) ever so often. 



Two very different grandmothers. Tok Jamilah (left) was the politician’s wife, her grand home was the centre of activities and gatherings. She instilled in me the love for the garden. She also taught me that one needs to be ruthless in the garden. Pest, weeds and fallen leaves must be dealt with. Tok Rahmah (right) was a teacher and through the Teacher’s Union was active in fighting for the country’s independence. She gave me legends and folklore. She taught me the power of words – when used correctly. This picture was taken during a visit home to Malaysia with Mum when I was about three.




With Mum recently

Telling stories, legends and folklore was really part of our own family tradition that goes on until today. My late grandmother, Tok Rahmah, told me stories until she became very ill. Then in turn, I retold the stories to her. This circle of life was very therapeutic somehow for me.

In our family too, stories of our ancestors are still told. I am Zalina daughter of Abdul Aziz, son of Tok Salehuddin, son of Awang Pekan, son of Tok Nik, son of Tok Tunggal son of Tok Ghafur son of Tok Haji son of Tok Sabur. And I still hear stories of Tok Tunggal until today!

My Mum is writing that family history, it is amazing! She reminds me, our movie icon P Ramlee said if we do not listen to our traditional music, it will disappear. And the younger generation will fill that void with something else. Likewise with our legends.

P.U.:  I can see how legends have always been an integral part of your life. What a wonderful childhood! I understand you received some of your schooling in Canada.  I’ll bet you remember the cold winters!

Ninot: It was in Ontario, and on my 18th birthday, we got to visit the Niagara Falls!

After one year in Thorold, Ontario, I moved to Ottawa for the next four years. Skating on the Rideau and cycling everywhere in downtown Ottawa are  reminders how safe a city can be  during the 80s (or how fearless the young can be).

P.U.: When did you begin to write, and when did you know you are a writer?

Ninot: When I was 11, I wrote my first poem -  a five stanza poem on Florence Nightingale. I was lucky I was selected to enter an excellent all girls boarding school in Malaysia, one of the best really, if not the best, Sekolah Seri Puteri. Here I met Mrs Khaw Choon Ean, my English teacher, and also my gymnastics coach later on. She encouraged my poetry from day one.  Mrs Khaw is herself an award winning writer and she really made sure I pushed the limits,  both in writing and gymnastics - and she does that until today!

Left to right: Pic from 2012 - Mrs Khaw Choon Ean, 
Canadian Author and Storyteller Rukhsana Khan and me!

P.U.: What drew you to Malaysian legends in particular?  I think of you as a national treasure of Malaysia, so important is it that these stories be recorded.

Ninot: I was drawn to all legends of the world actually. I admired the fairy tales collected by Andrew Lang and Hans Christian Anderson. The Arabian tales of Shahrezade. And Egyptian mythology. I began to collect Asian tales – Chinese, Korean and Japanese. 

When my first daughter Iman was born, I noticed she began to devour my books on fairytales and mythology as soon as she could read. Then I realised, we hardly had books on Malaysian legends or Hikayat.

This was a tragedy for me, I felt. Our legends are very beautiful and highly complex. To understand the Malaysian psyche, it would be good to understand our folklore. This is exactly what the English colonial masters did when they arrived in Malaya. They studied and collected the Malay manuscripts almost religiously.

In 1996, I was organising an event for the King, and my boss at the time urged me to  organise an ancient  dance theatre called the Makyung. Now Makyung is difficult to understand for a mixed urban crowd, the language used is a local dialect of the north. To ensure everyone enjoyed the show, I prepared a narration in English, going through the rehearsals and copying all the words and songs used three days in a row to understand the whole flow.

The show was so well received, that was when I decided to collect and write a book on our legends so that everyone could enjoy them.

P.U.: That's really wonderful, Ninot. Tell us about your life now, and your amazing family.

Irani, Inas, Alysha (Iman’s best friend) Ikesha, Iman and Ilena

Ninot:  I live at the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia with my husband Rudy and two daughters, Ilena and Ikesha. Iman is in university. For the last two years, Inas and Irani live with my mother because the secondary schools in that part of Kuala Lumpur are just so much better.


Iman drove me to UKM for my first talk and organised 
my first exhibition of the artwork in my books. 

                                     

Inas drove me to UiTM and organised my presentation 
for my lecture to Architecture students on Hikayat. 
When I have such events, I prefer to think in the car on the way.

I am currently the Executive Director at TiE Malaysia, an NGO which is part of TiE Global which promotes entrepreneurship. We coach and match start-ups with the industry and investors. I enjoy my work tremendously but I am going to have to choose between work and writing soon.

I am very excited about my future in promoting Malaysian Hikayat and legends, especially to help promote unity. Malaysia is a highly multi-racial country and understanding the various folklores and legends helps us understand and appreciate the psyche of our people. 

Recent interview on BERNAMA Radio 24 with Gerard and Ilena! 

I now go on air every Friday night on our national radio BERNAMA Radio 24 for a little interview on Hikayat.  From August onwards, I will have a 'radio snack' nightly from Monday to Friday – just to share snippets of Hikayat and legends.  

In the upcoming months, I am gearing up on a joint campaign with Zubedy Sdn Bhd,  #SaySomething Nice  in conjunction with the Malaysian National Day Celebrations. This campaign promotes healing, unity and nation building, with many different parties organizing charity, feel good events and more. My contribution is A Hikayat A Day. I will feature one legend or folklore a day  on Facebook, my blog, twitter and other platforms. National radio BERNAMA Radio 24 and national newspaper New Straits Times will feature the stories as well. This way I hope that Malay Hikayat reaches the public, especially the children.                                             

P.U.: How fantastic! I am thrilled for you, Ninot!

Ninot: I am also trying to persuade the government and some sponsors to set up a Malay Heritage Centre.

P.U.: What a wonderful idea!

Ninot: I have been toying with the idea of a Malay Cultural Hub for about a year now. When I was in Jogjakarta, I stayed at the Balai Melayu Museum Hotel and dreamed it would be fantastic if we could have a similar place in Kuala Lumpur.


At the same time, I teamed up with writers Nisah Haron and Zaharah Othman to do a Literary Trail next year in search of ancient Malay manuscripts which are housed in Holland, UK, the United States and other countries. I suggested that we end the Trail with a huge exhibition in Malaysia. After the elections, I wrote to the new Minister of Tourism about this idea.


Then a friend suggested that the artifacts and replicas should be housed somewhere in Kuala Lumpur. So really, a Balai Melayu Heritage Centre would be perfect for this!

It looks like a lot of activity, but all  this started with the first sentence, the first story, the first book, Sherry.

P.U.:  That is very true, Ninot, and is what I will take away from this conversation. How does a busy mother of five who works full time manage to be so productive? 



Ninot: I really do not know. What I do know is that I stopped writing for a LONG time when I started work and raising a young family. We kind of lose ourselves in apparent normalcy, I guess. I was shocked when my marriage fell apart.

Then I met Rudy, my husband today. From the moment I met him, I began writing everyday, two or three poems a day, actually. This went on for about a year until we got married. Then, for a while, I stopped writing again as our family grew. And work was getting hectic.

Luckily I found the Magpie Tales, Microfiction Mondays and Poets United, followed by One Stop Poetry, Haiku Heights and dVersePoets, which really set me on track again to writing poetry. I love Tess Kincaid, Robert Lloyd, the Poets United team today, yourself and Mary, Susan at Stony River, Brian Miller and Leslie Moondustwriter for that.

At the Calistro Awards with Rudy

Rudy, and my Mum, Puan Kamariah Jaafar, have been the strongest supporting pillars in my work. Rudy is my biggest fan, when my first book was out he spoke to everyone he knew about it. And Mum is my biggest critic, she keeps me on my toes. She edits my work and did the introduction for all the stories in HIKAYAT – From The Ancient Malay Kingdoms.

I have two very able assistants in Iman and Inas – From very early on, I could rely on them to type, exchange ideas, organise my book sales, exhibitions, translate and now, even drive me around! Irani took the very first video I did to speak about Hikayat. We worked on it in our garden for a whole afternoon, uploading it onto Youtube while my friend in India, Apratim, sent back feedback how to improve it!

The younger ones learn very quickly to receive and welcome guests in the house, entertain other children. If I have events, I try to involve them, either in a photo shoot, a video recording etc. My sisters also play a strong role, with Khadijah helping me with typing and administrative matters, and Farah, my youngest sister giving tips and feedback in my writing especially with NAGA. My other sister Zuraidah lives too far away in Qatar and my only brother Mustapha is very sickly. But really, I am lucky my family rallies around for each other.

P.U.: You have wonderful support. Involving the girls must inspire them to set their own sights high. The sky is truly the limit!

Ninot: When I started out, I sent my manuscript to 11 publishers. I had 2 flat rejections, 3 encouraging rejections, and 2 queries. Thank God Utusan Publishers accepted my manuscript in 2004 and my foray into the publishing world began.

I am lucky I found Mr Malek who works on all my illustrations except for the cover of Hikayat which was done by Raduan Man, and cover of NAGA, which was done by Inas. 

The cover of HIKAYAT was designed by Evelyn Lam who is now in Australia. I am now working with her Dad on a book on gardening! And Apratim from India, and his team Entercerebrum who designs beautiful banners like this for Hikayat and designed the cover of NAGA. 


 
Illustrator Mr Malek Rahim


    

Collaborating and working with others is an important part of what I do. That is why I chose to work with XLibris on NAGA. I wanted to see how self-publishing works. And it is great. They are so professional and if you have a good book, they can open up the world for you. I also work with Entercerebrum from India because they are strategists, borderless and absolutely creative.

I only have so many hours in a day. As with work, I plan a poem or a letter in my mind long before I sit down to type it. Writing takes too long. When I am ready, it all just pours out. Then comes the editing, which is the fun part because you get to see something beautiful emerge.

P.U.:  I understand you have an exciting plan regarding further schooling. Fill us in!

                      With Master of Architecture students at UiTM, Malaysia.

Ninot: I have been invited to give talks to university students on Malay Hikayat and how they can inspire various disciplines of study. Being involved at the university level seems like a natural extension to my genre of writing because I need to do so much research.

But I really do not have any formal training in Malay Literature so at the suggestion of Professor Ding Choo Ming and the Director of ATMA, professor Dr. Abdul Latif Hj. Samian, I decided it is a good time to pursue my Masters in this line. Time permitting, this is my goal within the next two years. 

P.U.: You continue to inspire and amaze! You are totally Going For It! How wonderful! And you have just had NAGA, your first novel, published. I love that its gorgeous red cover was designed by your talented daughter, Inas,  that the story was first told to you by your grandmother, and you wrote it with assistance from your mother. What a talented family. A true labor of love.


NAGA Tasik Chini is a legend that was a favourite of my grandmother Tok Rahmah. I wrote a shorter version of it in From The written Stone. Last year, after writing 366 Legends, I was thinking to myself, am I going to write anthologies forever?

Then I watched the Chinese movie The Sorcerer and The White Snake which featured Jet Li. My girls watched this movie every night! I approached a Malaysian movie director, Mr Lim Beng Teik whether he would be interested to do the movie based on the Lake Chini legend of two dragons and showed him my two page story. He was encouraging and asked me to expand it to 20 pages.

By the time I stopped the first draft, it was 40 pages long.  The story just fell into place. I drew upon all the legends on the Lake Chini Naga, and studied the interconnectivity between kingdoms in South East Asia in the 9th century like Champa and the Tang Dynasty. As the story flowed, I called upon Mum to help out with the facts for she was really the History major in the family. She became my chief researcher. 

But who knew what happened in the Malay Peninsula during the 8th and 9th centuries? We do not have ancient monuments or the like to refer to. That is when I came to a conclusion that helped me greatly – and inspired my writing NAGA –

Legends and folklores are the memories 
of ancient civilizations.

This really was the turning point of my writing. All the legends I had researched became my guide in writing NAGA. My mentor Dr Ding wrote :

When I read through the mss of NAGA: A legend of Tasik Cini by ninotaziz, I could not help but wonder how different the tale of Tasik Chini have turn out in her wondrous retelling and adaptation of an ancient legend from Bhumi Semenanjung Melayu, linked with Inderaputera, Java, China, Champa and others thousands of years ago, before the coming of Islam in the 13th century.  Her retelling and adaptation of the story of great and nearly forgotten mythical past sets this retelling of a fairytale apart by ninot taking a different narrative approach.

Its engaging plot, opulent setting, and all the key elements in classic Malay hikayat are cleverly recreated to be something of pure magic with a dash of her powerful imagination and beautiful English language. This is another classic Malay story with the key elements of loyalty, betrayal,  friendship,  resentment, jealousy,  vengeance, fantasy, omen, war, assassination, wise king,  love,  prophecy, birth, death, separation and reunion, among many others, one after another, have given rise to not only entertaining legends, but also all the historical events that withstand the test of time. 

Professor Ding Choo Ming
2nd June 2012

P.U.: A wonderful review from your mentor. How was writing it more (or less) challenging/difficult/different from creating your books of legends?

Ninot: Totally different. For legends, the plot of the story was already there, I just wanted to retell and reintroduce them in a more contemporary style with beautiful language and illustration.

For NAGA and later, Onangkiu, my second novel, I had to reconstruct a totally new plot, with strong and impressive new characters and a historical backdrop that was believable.

When I wrote Onangkiu, Inas created the character of the princess's bodyguard Darwan to make it more interesting for young adult readers. Her input hit the spot. I have young ladies who read the manuscript telling me how they love the loyal and dashing Darwan.

Onangkiu is still in manuscript form, as I have submitted it for a Lit. prize. But I am so excited about it!

P.U.: Keep us posted! Of poetry, prose, legends and novels, which is your first love?


Panji Semirang, 
an illustration from Hikayat

Ninot: Poetry. Poetry will always be part of what I do. That is why my novels and anthologies all include poetry as a feature or highlight, even chapter breakers.

P.U.: What do you love about poetry? What makes a poem sing for you?

Ninot: When I gave birth, I wrote poetry. When I love or cry, I write poetry. Poetry needs that high and low – it is not a normal state of mind that gives birth to poetry. That is why the result is often profound or meaningful.

P.U.: So well said! You have recently returned from a trip to Indonesia, where you presented a paper on your book NAGA. Tell us about that? The highest moment? The pinch-me moment? 

Ninot: I had 12 long Facebook postings on this visit alone and I am not done. I can’t pick or choose – it was an amazing trip. However, the International Congress of Asian Folklore offered many momentous incidents. Here are the top three:



Firstly, my mentor Prof Ding Choo Ming was a keynote speaker and in the midst of his talk, he introduced me to the audience as the Malaysian storyteller and champion of Malay Hikayat.


Meeting the giant of the Malay Literature world, Prof Muhammad Hj Salleh who was also Dr Ding’s PhD professor and supervisor. A poet and foremost expert on Malay Literature, he was inspirational.


                                At Balai Melayu Museum Hotel - A writer’s haven.




Presenting my paper – Reviving Hikayat through Historical fiction and being applauded by academicians and experts in the field was a humbling experience.


P.U.: The most beautiful or impressive thing you saw or experienced?




Ninot: Really, the best part was spending six days with Inas, who attended with me. She was my assistant, protector, guide, partner and friend throughout the trip! We experienced a gamut of culture and an intoxicating journey of sights and smell on a trishaw. Little towns like Mulintang. Temples like Prambanan and Borobodur. Finding that corner of the temple I was looking for. It was unbelievable. And to think I almost did not go.

I thank all who made it happen for me.

P.U.: An utterly wonderful experience. See where writing our words can lead us!!! If you were to select a poem of yours that you feel best expresses who you are, which one would it be?

Ninot: Hikayat - the poem that is ninotaziz

THE HIKAYAT QUANDARY

All my life, I play hard, write poetry with passion, love deeply. And since I was a young child I wanted to be three things – a writer, a better writer, a best-selling writer


Words - a trailblazer
Going out on a limb
Flying high


For a while, I forgot my dream. In the quest for the ordinary life, I forgot my burning desire to write, the poet and writer buried deep within a place dreams did not visit, hopes did not sing

Lost, I fell
From paradise at the tip
Of a pen


Then sparkling moments, the birth of my firstborn, finding my muse - the love of my life, me – embracing life as never before, moment upon moment leading me to this point in time

Awaken!
The writer within
Grasp your destiny


In the blanket of the bluest of nights, despair engulfs me, I know within me lies a poet of fierce nationalistic pride. Yet my country lies sleeping, unaware of the beauty of our land, our history, our people, our legends, our forest and skies. Sees only glimmering towers, eco-tours and jungle treks without understanding the turtle’s song of regret upon the waves of the ocean or the story of Onangkiu of Kota Gelanggi.

Tears like
Pearls escaping from
The broken necklace


I press on… for in this quest, my children’s children will continue the dream of the pomegranate – a story within each translucent seed of awareness.

Words by ninotaziz. Copyright 2010 © ninotaziz. All rights reserved.

P.U.: A spectacular poem, Ninot! Kids, you can hear Ninot reading her work on youtube here, as well as checking out some of the videotaped activities of events we've talked about in this interview.

Here is a clip of the Hikayat Book Launch, where you can feel the excitement of the occasion, and see Ninot's beautiful and accomplished daughters in action. I predict we soon will be hearing more about them, when they are launched into the world!




Sigh. This is wonderful, Ninot! Congratulations on your achievements. Your daughters all show signs of being creatively gifted. How does this make you feel?


Ninot: I enjoy their gift but I do not push it. I let them explore their creativity at their own pace. Music, dance, bakery, art and theatre all have a place in our lives.

P.U.: What sorts of things do you do to replenish your energies?

Ninot: I drink tea with honey and cinnamon stick.

And enjoy a traditional bath my grandma taught me when I was about 12 years old, Mandi Serum. I boil a mixture of several leaves – all from my small garden – citronella, pandanus, kaffir lime leaves, turmeric and galangal leaves and mixed it with water to have a most refreshing bath. Traditionally, we do this after giving birth, but my grandmother did it every time she needed a pick-me-up. So I do the same until today.



P.U.: Tell us about your beautiful garden, another legacy from your grandmother.

Ninot: My garden is a haven, a sanctuary where I rest my mind and dig in to more physical activity. I plant small fruit trees that are synonymous with Malay legends like mango and pomegranate, and Malay herbs like citronella, lemon-grass, turmeric, wild ginger and more.

P.U.: Lovely. I remember enjoying your post, entitled Inheritance from the Garden. Anything else you’d like to say to Poets United?

With Prof Ding Choo Ming, Fellow at the Institute of Malay World and Civilization, 
National University of Malaysia (UKM Malaysia) 
and students from Malaysia, China and Hong Kong.

Ninot: Do not be afraid of what appears to be a daunting task. Take that first step. We have a saying, Work like you will live for a thousand years. Pray as if you will die tomorrow.

Faith is a very strong thing. And inspiration is divine. I do not have things easy – I am a difficult person by nature. But I try to be a good person inside.

I also believe that writers need mentors. I am lucky I had my grandmother, and still have my mother, my English teacher and gymnastics coach, Mrs Khaw, my mentor, Prof Ding, who introduced me to the academicians of Malay Literature, friends from childhood, Seri Puteri and Canada, who are more than family, and a multitude of blogger friends locally and internationally who cheer me on, it is amazing.

To the world, I invite you to explore the Malay Hikayat.

Thank you from ninotaziz daughter of Abang Tik daughter of Chu Rahmah daughter of Yang Chik daughter of Bebunga, storytellers all.

P.U.: Thank you, Ninot. Wow. Storytellers, all. Kids, are you as blown away as I am that our hard-working and so-generous-hearted Ninotaziz has flown so high, from her pen to the sky? Ninot, you shine, not only in your writing, but in the golden chambers of your heart. Thank you for allowing us to ride along on your wings for this part of your journey. You have inspired us, and we applaud you.

Wasn't this a wonderful visit, kids? Every week, a new adventure, another fantastic pilgrimage. Do come back and see who we talk to next. Who knows? It might be you! (This is how Robb Lloyd always ended his interviews, and I have upheld the tradition!)


19 comments:

  1. This interview is the best yet! I had tears at the poem THE HIKAYAT QUANDARY--I've been writing lately about getting to my dream, also writing. I love the extended family support you speak of, Ninot, and the presence of the herb garden--both important in your work. You give a lot to us, with so many illustrations. What beauty in an an amazing life, and really just beginning!

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    1. Dear Susan,
      I am glad you enjoyed the poem - it is really my journey. And yes, I can see the quest of your dream, I particularly enjoyed your Sixth Sense and The Bread and Wine - but the comment box wouldn't accept me!

      I always say this to Sherry - everything starts with that first word, first page.

      Writing scares me, it doesn't allow me much room for anything else, but I try to put everything in place - and save Sunday mornings for the garden!

      Mum is the best, she tells me I work all the time, and yet somehow I get to play.

      Thank you, and thank you Sherry!

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  2. wonderful interview and a treat to learn even more of you ninot....have enjoyed traveling in similar circles these last several years...you are a wonderful writer...both in blog and book (on my shelf, smiles)...

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    1. Dear Brian,
      I was just whizzing through my blog to see when did we start to get to know each other. And my, it was almost as soon as I started poetry blogging at Magpie Tales (I was blogging for a very long time prior to that without knowing anyone!). Thank you for being there always. So between Poets United, Magpie Tales, One Stop and dVerse, it's been a pleasure to know you and I do hope we get to meet one day!

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  3. What a wonderful interview, Sherry. And, Ninot, I have the utmost respect for you and your writings. I love how involved you are with Malaysian legends. I am sure your career is just beginning, and I wish you success with your worthy endeavors.

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    1. Thank you Mary for your very very kind words. I take off my hat to both you and Sherry and the team for the work you do here. I am glad Poets United has remained steadfast - while having the discipline to warn us from time to time, if we do not behave, out we go ;-)

      I love the closeness poets here share. My old friends from Poets, sometimes we drift apart, yet we always recognize each other when we bump into each other again. Ad new friends keep Poets United fresh and exciting.

      Your warm wishes will spur me on, Mary!

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  4. Ninot and Sherry, thanks for the wonderful interview. The best of luck to you, Ninot.

    Pamela

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    Replies
    1. Pamela, you are among my earliest friends on PU! How are you doing in Mexico? Thank you - I was thinking of you when I was replying Mary, and here you are!

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  5. A lovely interview ladies! I love the stories you shared and allowing us to see your inspired view! Congrats Ninot on all you do~
    I am happy for you :D

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    1. I have always gravitated to Elle's Edge among your blogs. Thank you for always leaving kind words whenever you drop by. I connect with the word view, for I love to way you view the world - through a daughter's lens , and your mother's laughter!

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  6. Ninot Ma'am!
    A classic interview, certainly is! So much thrust entrusted onto delicate feminine shoulders. The passion and resolve to succeed is most astounding. The energy from the home-made herbal cure is working wonders. From the interview it's testimony of how much you had accepted onto your plate. Keep the good flag flying Ma'am. It was a privilege to have been under your wings when I first started. Pakcik could spot a guy in distress. Thanks to you and thanks to him! Selamat Berpuasa!

    Hank

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    1. Dear Sir Hank,
      All you needed was a little nudge - but I failed miserably to get you to write pantun! Glad to see poetry take you round the world!

      Your framed artwork has a place of pride in my living room - next to Rolf Harris's caricature no less!

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  7. What a wonderful interview, thank you Ladies.

    Love this:

    Tears
    Like pearls escaping
    From the broken necklace

    Yes, poetry driven by emotions, high or low, becomes meaningful and profound.

    Happy about your success, Ninot, congrats :)

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    1. I am only halfway there Loredana, and working hard. I always love revisiting New York at your site Loredana, and cherish our little exchanges.

      Thank you...

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  8. A 'special treat' ~~~ a huge understatement! I learned so much about the charming Ninot. Her family, her work, her life. Thank you, thank you sharing her with us.

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    1. Dear dear Helen, you are a delight always, at Poetry Matters or halfway round the world! Shall we exchange partners again at the Willow Ball?

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  9. It was truly my pleasure. Like Hank, I remember Ninot's encouraging words to me, when I first arrived on the doorstep at Poets United. That a poet so busy still has time for kindness says so much about her heart. Ninot, I really think you are about to become a celebrated poet in your home country, and you so deserve that recognition. I hope the cultural centre comes to be and I applaud you for preserving those wonderful legends so they will not be lost.

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    1. I certainly hope your thoughts come true, Sherry. I always love it when you send poets around and my life has been made much richer by knowing you, your compassion and love for Tofino. Like Ella, I know sometimes it is strange when we talk about our poetry blogosphere friends - but it is true, there is a real connection.

      I always look out for Carrie, for Arian, Madeleine, Mystical Teacher and Tumblewords and Sir Anthony North and Gavin and Sir Berowne with his quizzes and Leslie - and smile when I see a familiar name wherever I go. Until today, I wonder about Susan at Stony River and wonder how she is doing...

      I am blessed, so thank you Sherry. And Robb, if you are reading this - we think of you always!

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  10. I come late to read this interview, and I'm so glad I didn't miss it! How wonderful that these tales are not only being preserved but given new life and made more widely available. And what a brilliant and loving family! It brought joy to my heart to read it all. And yes, I have already dipped into Ninot's blog with great enjoyment.

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