Monday, October 3, 2016

BLOG OF THE WEEK - AN UPDATE WITH NICHOLAS V.

We have a special treat in store for you today, my friends. Nicholas V., who blogs at Intelliblog is sharing with us his poetry, photography, art and music. Nicholas has travelled the world and, as you know from visits to his blog, has a wealth of photos and memories of his world travels to share. We will have the pleasure of hearing Nick read one of his poems, plus enjoy a very beautiful music video which accompanies his beautiful photos, with music he composed himself. Draw your chairs in close. You won't want to miss a minute!










Sherry: Nicholas, it is lovely to be chatting with you again. Bring us up to date, won't you? How are things since we talked in 2015? 

Nicholas: I am glad to be “chatting virtually” with you again, Sherry, and thank you for this opportunity to bring you up to date with what is happening in my life since the last time we caught up last year. My cordial greetings to all the poets of “Poets United”.

I am still living in Melbourne, Australia, still in a happy stable relationship and still working for myself in higher education consulting. My area of specialty is medical education and online learning. I love living close to the centre of the City in the inner suburbs and fortunately still in a house with a fairly large garden.






Sherry: And a lovely garden it is. I remember it, from last year. An oasis, in the urban centre. 

Nicholas: As you probably know from our last “chat,” I tend to keep a low profile and I was raised in a family whose maxim was the ancient Greek proverb: “Τα εν οίκω μη εν δήμω.” (Ta en oíko mi en démo – “what is private within the walls of your home must not be shared in public”). Hence my reluctance to bare all and do an Oprah moment here or in other social media outlets. This explains why no member of my family nor I have a Facebook account…


Sherry: No worries, Nicholas. We're happy with whatever you are comfortable sharing. I know you are in love with Melbourne. Tell us a few of its joys, won't you? What places draw you, again and again?




Nicholas: Melbourne has once again been voted as one of the "Most Livable Cities in the World" (number 15, in fact - 
http://www.traveller.com.au/worlds-most-liveable-cities-2016-vienna-sydney-and-melbourne-rank-in-top-20-gn1vug). 

Unfortunately, we have slipped and we are no longer the number one "World's Most Livable City" as occurred in the past. We are currently seeing rampant over-development throughout the city, with huge apartment buildings being erected, increased traffic, pollution, noise and poorer infrastructure.






However, Melbourne is still a fairly safe, friendly, cosmopolitan megalopolis that has much to offer both the resident and visitor. One of my favourite places to “hang out” are the City laneways. These criss-cross the city and are full of cafés, bars, restaurants, boutiques and quirky old shops. See:

Other favourite places are Melbourne’s parks and public gardens. These are plentiful, extensive, well-maintained and look stunning all seasons. See:

The other places I love are Melbourne’s historical buildings, galleries and museums; See:

And also the large number of interesting and beautiful places around Melbourne one can take a day trip to: See:



Sherry: Thank you for this virtual tour. You have a wealth of wonderful day trips close to home. But I know you also enjoy travelling farther afield. Is there a favourite place, aside from Melbourne, that you especially love? Anywhere on your Bucket List you still hope to see?

Nicholas: Yes. I love to travel and have been in a great many places around the world: to nearly every European country, many Asian ones, Mexico, USA and Canada, Africa. Highlights include USA and Canada (really enjoyed every time I visited there), India, Egypt, Britain, Germany, France, Spain and, of course, Greece and Italy!

On my Bucket List are Antarctica and South America. Argentina and Peru would be lovely to see.

Sherry: Yes, they would, especially Antarctica. Wow. You have seen the world. Now let's turn to your poetic journey, shall we? When did it begin?

Nicholas: I remember writing poetry while in primary and secondary school as part of “creative writing” assignments. I enjoyed it even then. However, it was only when I was in my late teens that I began to write “seriously”, a need sparked by young love!

With poetry I can say things that I cannot say in any other way, except perhaps through music (I also compose music). Poetry can be very economical in the way it can completely encapsulate, in a few lines, deep feelings, a variety of attitudes, many experiences and a wealth of observations. I also think that a good poem can get the reader to resonate with the poet’s point of view and feelings in a more immediate fashion than other ways of expression.

Sherry: Well said, Nicholas. Do you have a set routine for writing?


Nicholas: I need about 5 hours of sleep daily. This means I can work well into the night when all is quiet both outside and inside the house. At my desk, with the lamp burning, I can work on my various interests – writing (prose or poetry), drawing, writing music, processing my photos, posting on my blogs.

Sherry: I am very impressed with the frequency and caliber of your posts. They always inform and entertain, with daily posts on poetry, food, music, travel, movie and book reviews. I saw a stat on your site saying you have had close to six MILLION pageviews, which is just mind-boggling! How do you feel about your reader response? It seems like a mutually positive exchange.

Nicholas: I think creative persons create because they must create. Creativity is an awfully self-indulgent process. However, wise creators will always be mindful of the effects their creations have on others. An artist, poet, writer, actor, playwright will interact with the audience and be further inspired to create more works if the reaction of that audience is a constructive one. Yes, reader response is important but I shall continue to create even if there is no audience. For example, very few people have played or listened to my music, yet I continue to write new pieces and I develop as a composer – my harshest critic and audience being myself.

Sherry: I agree; we create because we must, audience or no. But friendly visits are certainly appreciated!  Tell us about your art, Nicholas. What style of painting do you enjoy most? What medium do you prefer?



Nicholas: I both draw and paint and I certainly enjoy both. Drawing is quick and I have several “visual diaries” that I fill with drawings when I am in the mood or when inspiration comes, or when I see something that stimulates my “drawing fingers”. 



Sitting down to paint takes more planning and there is a “studio” in the house where we have our paints and canvases, and where we often sit and paint. I enjoy both watercolour and oils, although my first preference is oils. I like painting landscapes, although symbolist elements are also included in these.




Sherry: Your work is quite wonderful, Nicholas. Beautiful! Is there a well-known painting (or artist) you admire above all others?


Landscape with the Fall of Icarus by Brueghel


Nicholas: One my favourite paintings of all time is the wonderful Pieter Brueghel’s “Landscape with the Fall of Icarus” ca 1558. You can read why I like it here:

Sherry: A beauty! But I prefer your landscape, personally.

Nicholas: I have included an art video I shot many years ago, and for which I wrote the music.



Sherry: It is incredibly beautiful, Nicholas. Thank you for this. What a pleasure. Your musical composition is gorgeous. 

Are there a few poems of yours that you would like to share with us today? And please share your thoughts on each one?

OK, here are four:

The first is a Winter poem. We are still in late Winter here in Melbourne, but Winter in this poem is about absence of the beloved. How often we need to part from the one we love and how distance makes us long for their return! All the more so in the dead of Winter, when even the season and the weather seems to mimic the coldness in our heart:




Winter

A winter morning:
Cold, wet and the sky blacker now
Than in the dead of night.
The car headlights
Reflected on the moist tarmac;
My breath in steamy clouds,
As I wait to cross the street in falling rain.

A winter morning:
The sidewalk deserted,
Empty, just like my heart.
Your absence lingering
Like the smell of fallen leaves;
Your face, glimpsed as it were,
On a window as a passerby is reflected.

A winter morning:
A steaming cup of coffee
Warming my hand.
Thoughts of our shared breakfasts
Your ardent hand on mine,
The sound of your laughter,
The taste of fresh, warm buttered toast.

A winter morning:
The dawning day, grey and cold
The sun, absent, like you.
I linger expectantly for your return;
Spring thoughts in deepest winter,
Flowers made of the few yellowed leaves

on bare twigs; warmth imagined of our reunion.


Sherry: I can feel the anticipation of the loved one's return in this poem, Nicholas.

Nicholas: A poem on a similar theme is “Absence”, which you can hear as I recite it on YouTube:






  Absence

They say that absence makes the heart grow fonder,
But ever since you left, my heart is smaller, colder.
Now by myself, all of my time is mine to squander;
But so much time is worthless and I feel inert and older.

They say that absence from our love is worse than death
And feeling all that distance separating us, I sympathise;
My life is empty, cold, each gulp of air a dying breath,
A heart that’s stopped, a silent mouth and closing eyes.

They say that absence lessens small loves, increases great ones;
How true that seems, as my love for you grows evermore;
With absence watered, my rushing river of love, swells, runs
And takes all with it, till it reaches welcoming far shore.

They say the joy of meeting pays the pangs of absence,
But all I feel is pain and torture; no thought of future bliss
Will now console me, and your lack is my quintessence;
I abide your deficit, only to live again when we shall kiss.



Sherry: Nicholas, what a beautiful video!The combination of words and images is really breathtaking. What a treat! 

Nicholas: The next is a poem about old age. We all travel relentlessly towards it and unless our journey is cut short, we shall all become old. The lucky amongst us will gain wisdom, the unlucky amongst us will be lost in the fog of oblivion and dementia. Having experienced dementia in elderly relatives and friends, this poem is a reminder that many elderly people will unfortunately have to face this terrible disease (as will their families and friends)…

My Foggy Brain

The fog creeps and covers the landscape
In a pall of gray – like a winding sheet
Around a corpse recently dead.
My mind dulls, and ashen woolly thoughts
Flit in and out of my consciousness; now like butterflies,
Now like strange visitors, intruders in one’s house.

The wintry mist obscures and blunts perception,
The cold numbs me and the wetness seeps in,
Drenching my clothes, chilling me to the marrow.
Sunlit memories of childhood are vivid, with scents, aromas,
The woody, resinous smell of newly sharpened pencils
On the first day of school… Last week, wasn’t it?

The twilight yields its realm quickly to night
And as darkness falls, I am disoriented, yet strangely alert,
Feeling like a nocturnal creature: I must go out, go there!
The days all merge into one and no matter how hard I try
I cannot remember what I had for lunch, if did have anything,
Where I was five minutes ago, or who the person I talked to was.

In darkness I wander, searching for some unknown goal,
My random peregrinations having some higher purpose
That I cannot divine; yet its all-important gravity, overwhelming.
I see my wedding day clearly, attended by my adult children,
I hear old familiar songs, sounding new and fresh;
And who is this strange child calling me “Grandma”?

Summer falls heavily this year and freezes everything it touches.
Snow falls and merges with the white hair of the old woman
Staring at me reflected in some shop window, waving to me as I wave to her.
Who is this person who apes my every move? Where am I?
I wore a pink chiffon dress yesterday at my birthday party, I turned seven…
I was so happy…Why is this old woman staring at me crying?

Sherry: This is very affecting, Nicholas, especially to those of us in this age demographic. So sad, to lose one's memories and history. So sad for the family members to lose someone in this way who is still alive.

Nicholas: The fourth poem is about our planet and the terrible things we are doing to it. It is a dire warning and a message of hope too. Can we stop destroying the environment and learn from the mistakes we have made?



I come to you in peace,
My star so far away,
A pinpoint of light
In your night sky.
I come to your distant world
And find myself in paradise.

I’ve travelled long and far,
Away from the dry deserts
Of my homeland –
An arid planet, red and barren
Where water’s most precious
And wars are fought over a well.

Your blue-green world
Hanging in space
Like a gemstone, beckoned,
And I came, succumbing
To its gentle insistence
Like a lover’s gaze.

I come to you in peace,
And seek only repose,
The luxury of drinking my fill,
Eating the lush vegetation
With my wide open eyes,
My sight not sated by the green.

Your oceans brimming with life
Remind me of our distant past –
As our history writes –
When we too inhabited such a world:
Blue-green, drenched, bedewed,
Immersed in crystal waters.

Your forests, drinking the rain
That falls so regularly,
Are priceless beyond compare.
The flowers costlier than jewels bright –
What use to us are our diamonds,
Common as pebbles on my world?

And yet I see vast deserts, here,
I see the rainforests cut, extinction,
Your oceans polluted, animals dying.
The signs are here that you too
Have set a course that will make
Your earth a world like mine.

I come to you in peace,
And seek only a brief respite.
I bring a message from Hell
To your blue-green Eden:
Time runs short, destruction’s close
Unless you become wise, soon…


Sherry: You know how pertinent I find this poem and the statement it makes, Nicholas. I suspect we might listen to an extraterrestrial with this message, though we have failed to heed the warnings of scientists and environmentalists for decades.

Is there anything you'd like to say to Poets United? We are so happy to have you here among us!

Nicholas: Poets United is a special place on the net. It is a wonderful nest for birds of a feather to roost in. I have met lovely people here and have been exposed to many types of amazing poems that I would otherwise have not read. I appreciate being a member of this creative community.

Thank you, Sherry, and all of the other hard-working people behind the scenes of Poets United that make this such a great site!

Sherry: Thank you, my friend, for this rich sharing of poetry, art, music and photography. We look forward to enjoying your interesting posts for years to come. 


This was certainly a memorable visit, wasn't it, kids? Such chats are especially enjoyable for we armchair travellers who don't get far from home.  Do come back and see who we talk to next. Who knows? It might be you!



37 comments:

  1. It was a pleasure to read your interview and get to know you, Nicholas. Wow...don't know what to comment on....music, poetry, arts, travel...I love it all! :) You're a true creative. Thanks you also, Sherry, for the great questions.

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    1. Thank you for your kind comments, Stacy!

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  2. I always love visiting your blog Nicholas so it's great to get to know you a little more. To echo Sherry I come away with questions as well as little nuggets if your creativity.. What can be better, and I always appreciate your comments in turn - thank you both for this tour and Melbourne looks quite the ticket!

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  3. I am listening to the gorgeous music video right now again, and am wondering....Nicholas, is that you playing the violin so beautifully? Sigh. Absolutely gorgeous.And is that a harp?

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    1. Hi Sherry, I've sent you an email. Somehow the wrong video seems to have been posted... Alas, not mine1

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    2. Not sure how that happened, Nicholas but it is all fixed now. So sorry. There's many a slip twixt the cup and the lip, LOL. So no violin, but some very peaceful music!!!!!

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  4. This interview is absolutely wonderful. Nicholas you are very creative and I will def have to get over to your blog to visit more. I had no idea of the beauty I was missing poetry, art and music. I am sitting here listening to your composition and it floats effortlessly and brings me a sense of peace after a long day at work.

    Nicholas thanks for sharing and Sherry another great choice!

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    1. Thank you for your kind comments and appreciation of my work, Truedessa!

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  5. Hello Nicholas it is good to see you here. I loved your paintings and the one with trees and waterhole is so reminiscent of the Australian Impressionists. What a great selection of you poems are featured here I particularly liked "My Foggy Brain" but all are so good. It makes me feel quite glad that Aussie poets are getting featured on PU regularly.

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    1. yay! Lots of talent Down Under!!!!!! Smiles.

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    2. Thank you, Robin. I love the work of the Australian impressionists of the Heidelberg School. As you say, Australians are wonderfully creative and artistic!

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  6. Some beautiful paintings and poetry...thank you for sharing all your work with us and Sherry thank you for all the time you spend bringing poets forward...bkm

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    1. Thank you for your kind comment.

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    2. It is my pleasure, Barbara. I love peoples' stories, and the wealth of talent in this community is truly amazing.

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  7. http://rallentanda.blogspot.com.au/2016/06/poetic-gems.html

    I am a numero uno fan of Nicholas, so much so I featured him on my Poetic Gem series in June this year. He is multi talented and his blog is a treasure trove of artistic delights.
    I find his poetry very moving, revealing a great sensitivity and depth . Also I would like to thank Nicholas for his music section on a Saturday and for the introduction to many unknown composers of the Baroque period.. I have even tracked down and purchased the Brescianello (import and expensive but worth every cent)

    Without Poets United we would have never (not met:)so as you rightly say, we are very fortunate to be part of this talented and generous group of poets . Thank you Sherry for another great interview.


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  8. Now I'm blushing, Rall. Many thanks for your kind words and thoughtful (often humorous!) comments on my blog. It is a pleasure to "know" you virtually :-)
    Glad you liked the Brescianello, he is a fave of mine.

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    1. As three of the five Aussies who visit here are Melbournians, I thought you and they would appreciate this joke just heard a minute ago.
      What is the difference between Sydney and Melbourne?
      In Melbourne people sit around discussing philosophy and the deeper meaning of life;in Sydney all you need to know is to have a waterfront:)

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  9. wonderful words, music and art..a real treat Nicholas and Sherry.. thank you...

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    1. You're welcome, Sumana. Thanks for reading.

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  10. I enjoyed this interview very much! Nicholas, as you know, I have been reading your poetry since you participated over at Poetry Jam. Smiles. I always enjoy your unique takes on prompts & can always sense the time that goes into preparing one of your posts. What a wonderfully multi-faceted artist you are -- poetry, painter, composer. Thanks for highlighting so well your city of Melbourne for us. I do check your blog other days of the week periodically as well & especially your FOOD posts. Looks like cooking is another artistic talent you have. "My Foggy Brain" gives me a lump in my throat as I read it. SO very true, I think, and so very sad. You have indeed captured the disease so well with your words..... And "Absence" is another very poignant one...the kind of poem I like, one that really gets inside a subject! Thank you for your participation in PU, Nicholas; and Sherry, thank you for another wonderful and insightful interview!

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    1. Thank you, Mary, I appreciate your very kind words and comments on my poems in my blog that are always thoughtful and insightful. I also enjoy your poems very much and that's why Poets United is such a great site!

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  11. This was wonderful Sherry! And thank you Nicholas for sharing some of your world with all of us--how talented you are! And how kind---your work is always so beautifully rendered --and as as musician, I believe in the relationship between poetry and music--

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  12. Thank you for your kind comment, Audrey.

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  13. That's great Sherry and Nick V. There is so much richness in Nick's writing especially the travels episode. Hank likes the travels blog. A different location will naturally make it a new experience every time.The insights into places will make it a personal triumph very much different from a mundane travel brochure. Hank is also fascinated with Nick's paintings as Hank also draws and sketches but in acrylic and pastels mainly . Nick had mentioned Antarctica on his bucket list perhaps Nick can take a look at Yusuf Hashim's PhotoSafari expedition scheduled for early Jan/Feb 2018. Yusuf is currently offering places for the said expedition this October 2016

    Hank

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    1. Thank you, Hank! Travel is certainly a great experience, a source of wonder and knowledge and wonderful inspiration for creativity. Thank you for telling me about Yusuf Hashim.

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  14. Great choice, Sherry! What riches – every aspect of this so enjoyable. Nicholas, I think you know by now I like reading your poetry, but I had not fully realised how talented you are in other ways too. I am interested that you live in Melbourne. Although I have now been in Northern Rivers, NSW over 20 years, Melbourne is still the place I've lived longest, and I visit family there from time to time – in fact was just there this last weekend for a special birthday party. I wonder if you participate at all in the poetry performance events around Melbourne? (I used to, long ago, but never seem to get to them these days on my flying visits.) We may have offline friends in common.

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  15. Thank you for your kind remarks, Rosemary. No I tend to not participate in any live poetry events - generally because I am quite busy and find that participating in this online forum fulfils my needs at the moment. Maybe in the future... :-)

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    1. I'm the same these days. Where I live now it would mean driving long distances at night, which I am not so keen on any more. So I too have embraced the online poetry world instead, and find it very rewarding. :)

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    2. I'm the same these days. Where I live now it would mean driving long distances at night, which I am not so keen on any more. So I too have embraced the online poetry world instead, and find it very rewarding. :)

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  16. it was really a marvelous poem. A deep thought and enjoyable too.I also Like writing poems but i am not good as you are.you really inspired me to write the poem.

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  17. Thank you for your kind comment. I am glad that you were inspired to write your own poem after reading mine.

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  18. I don't see my comment, so here is a briefer version: The beauty of your gardens matches the beauty of your poetry. It's good to get to know you better. You have an amazing capacity for creation.

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    1. Thank you for your kind words, Susan.

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  19. Sherry thanks for another up close session, I truly enjoyed reading about the person behind the poem, as Nicholas has visited and commented at my blogs,
    I was particularly struck by this

    "I think creative persons create because they must create. Creativity is an awfully self-indulgent process. However, wise creators will always be mindful of the effects their creations have on others"

    I see Nicholas as a true true artist

    Thanks Sherry
    Thanks Nicholas

    much love...

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    1. Why, thank YOU, Gillena. I always enjoy your poetry and I thank you for your very kind comment.

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  20. Extraterrestrial brings pause for thought. If he is like us, he may well come in peace - but after that? How did the Caribs fare after Columbus - we only recall them now in the name of their sea, the Caribbean.

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