Posts Tagged ‘friends’

Life is Good.

September 5, 2014

My beautiful picture

Except for war, except for women in India and Pakistan…hell, all around these more ‘backward’ countries where the rights of women are non existent…..except for Ebola, terrorists, threats, attacks on the children and innocent.

Well, this summer has been quite an adventure.  It’s been a sharp learning curve but things are working out.  The blinders have come off my eyes on any number of issues, and for that I am grateful.  My dear Aunt Jean dying hasn’t really hit me yet, but it will.  I am slow on some of these things.

It was hot this summer at times.  But the good news for me is  I finally finished a novel…..”A Kapitany”…..a Hungarian themed….art thieves, insurance crimes, bdsm, redemption, etc.  LOL!  Not the novel I wanted to finish, but one that was most completed.  Spent the summer  changing tense and tightening up the book.  Will publish it next spring with Createspace….

Talked with my dear friend Bill Penrose last week.   He is well and silver smithing and rock climbing still.  Bill formatted the first three of my books with  He is an amazing writer and man.  He believed in my writing when I didn’t have a clue.  You can’t buy friends like that and he will always be at the top of my list.

No cats or dogs here died, which is a very different circumstance than last summer when we lost three darlings to old age.  We have three more, a dog at 15 and two cats at the same age, but they are doing great.  We are preparing for winter this fall with a new woodstove:  it’s our 30th wedding anniversary, and we thought to go on a long vacation, but then decided that a new woodstove would last longer…and be more comfortable.  LOL!

I am planning a new and expanded version of “Boundaries, Setting them and meaning them”…..for the blog.  Things happened this summer that brought back to me the importance of such issues.  In particular, a meeting with a fool of a man after more than 40 years.  We will call this man Bubba, because he acted with all the finesse of a lout.  Bubba overstepped every boundary known to women, and he did it with glee.  Or perhaps thoughtlessness.  But I think he thought he could get away with a very self-centered and polluted agenda, so it was purposeful. (Though he couldn’t believe that I would ‘take offense.”  Hah!)   Boundaries are something that every one needs, and why is it so damn hard for most of us women to remember them and put them into action at the immediate time and proper place?  I think it is because our shock that the Bubbas Of The World  would violate them without thought or consideration. It’s because some very stupid men think that they can and it’s acceptable to do so.  Showing me a picture of his naked wife on his phone was just the beginning of the offense.  What a wanker! His poor wife.  And this man thinks he can be taken seriously???  Jesus, good thing this badly aging man didn’t meet my husband.  He would have summed up the offense to me and taken care of the situation, probably in the usual way men deal with insults.  With their fists. Primitive but effectual.  But we don’t usually travel around with our husbands so we have to be alert and faster on our feet. And depend upon ourselves.   Applying boundaries again and letting the chips fall where they will.

But the fall is coming and I love the change of seasons….especially this one.  There is expectation in the air, a cooling of temps which is welcome in the Deep South, and I am ready.  The garden gave a lot of tomatoes and that is about all, but I am planning next year’s garden already.  A better one.

Except for the writing, nothing really new here, except I have slowly gone back to belly dance and the feared flamenco …..mostly for exercise…..with weights.  LOL! Ambitious a bit,, but it’s working.

Life can be a sharp learning curve.  I guess the point is to keep learning and pushing forward.

Lady Nyo



The soil has lost its excellence.

Worms hide in the

Deep sullen earth

I imagine curled up,

Embracing worm castings

And each other,

Desiccated former selves

Pale little ghosts

Awaiting the fertility of spring

The watering of a hard rain.


I squandered the bloom months

Thinking paper and pen

Would bring its own blossoming

Scarcely seeing the vitality outside


Allowing cabbage moths and beetles

To dominate

My nod to farming

To self-sufficiency,

My tithe to the earth.


The soil is hardened

By the sins of the season.

Sharp winds make


The cold buries down,

Deep, deep down

Torments, teases life

Who would show a feckless head.


Especially those hopeful worms

Now bundled in worm-sleep.


The words, verse,

I chose to cultivate

Over cabbage, collards,

Failed to bloom.

Better I had plied the hoe

And bucket to that

Than a fevered pen to paper.


It is now winter

And the fallow earth

Plays a waiting game

Knows I have failed

In pulp and soil

And mocks with a barrenness

I feel inside and out.

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2014, from “Pitcher of Moon”, published by Createspace, Amazon, 2014

“Winter Widow”…..

February 11, 2014

My beautiful picture


For Gay.

I was unhappy with the opening line….and wrote to Dr. RK Singh in Mumbai about this.  He suggested “Winter’s naked trees” for the opening, and it works.  He also wrote of too many adjectives.  I took some out.  Perhaps it reads better.

Lady Nyo



Winter’s naked trees,

Lit by a slivered crescent moon,

Casting shadows upon a frigid ground,

Skeletons in the moonlight

Dark ghosts.

A fresh widow

Little flesh about her,

Resembling  those brittle branches

 In the sullen night.

There was a time when she was juicy,

Ripe with swelling life,

Velvet of skin.

She lapped at life with full lips,

Embracing passions.

Speared on her husband

She moaned, screamed with laughter,

Sheer joy.

Her life had been full,




A portrait of promise.

He died and life turned surreal,

The reason for living gone.

Life’s temperature  grown cold,

Like him under the soil.

It started to snow,

A gentle covering of branch

Bush, ground,

A tender benediction,

A white blanket to her pain.

She knelt in the garden

Suddenly grateful to feel anything

Even the cold.

She would live,

She knew this now,

But he must be so cold under the snow.

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2014

Love Letters….

November 25, 2011

This is a sorrowful month for me.  My father, many years ago, died, right in the full swing of Autumn, the most glorious of seasons in the North.  Then my dearest of friends, Marge Chester died unexpectedly the other day.  They were both wonderful and similiar people in many ways. This is just a little letter of love to them, now so gone. 


Dear Daddy,

This month of your death so many years ago –feeling like a blurred yesterday—you would have loved this month, this glorious autumn.

The drought of the past few years has made the colors brilliant, longstanding.  I can’t remember a fall season, now sliding into the earliest of winter, so beautiful.  The reds of the maples are like the slashes of summer’s red cardinals, the oranges and golden leaves, bushes, long grasses as vibrant, as glowing as the sun refracting off broken glass in the grass.  The air is brushed clean with strong seasonal rains, a further blessing after a dry summer.

But the winds! They come out of the north, like bellows, or a bull bellowing. They blow everything before them, and trees, these large pecan and live oak so prominent in the south, are like swaying troupes of dancers.  When this happens at dusk, before the heat of the day cools, when the sky darkens and there is a roiling of clouds in a balmy sky, the winds come marching in like Storm troopers and this spectacle of nature is awesome, fear inspiring.

Thanksgiving was too warm for our holiday: 60 degrees; there is something wrong about this.  Pleasant, but wrong.  Better a cold dreary rain. I’ve been playing Copeland, conducted by your buddy Lennie, and I thought you would be pleased.   At least the music follows tradition if our weather won’t.

I miss you so much.  It took years for me to understand why. I only hope I can be as generous and loving to my own child as you were to me.  I didn’t appreciate you then. It took years for me to understand. But you were, are….loved deeply by me.  All the cousins and remaining dear aunt say I take after you.  I couldn’t be more pleased with that opinion.  Dear Aunt Jean was reading a letter from you from 1943, when you were up to your eyeteeth in WWII.  She said she could well understand where I got my writing ‘skills’ from.  I hope she will share your letter.


Your daughter


Dear Marge,

I still can’t get my head around your death.  We were talking the night before for Christ’s sake!

You died in the same month as my dear father.  You were born in the same month as my dear father.  But the strongest commonality here is  you had such a gentle generosity to you, such a love of life  and good, Talmudic wisdom.   LOL!  We would joke about that last thing, as I knew how much you were bent in life in dividing the wheat from the chaff.  And because of how you looked at life, you lived a beautiful one.  I haven’t been able to ‘properly’ mourn yet, sweetie.  That first hour of sobs scared me, as you know how I react to death, but I think the grief will come: it just hasn’t sunk in yet. 

You were my rock and my best friend.  Now I have to write to your mate, and I can’t get my words straight.  But I do have them in my heart, but I just can’t yet believe t they are needed.   I don’t believe you are gone.

In time, I will know but for now, I am holding you close to me, remembering the sound of your voice, and the years of compassion and solace…and good wisdom, from many streams.

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Thanksgiving, 2011

”The Peace that Surpasses All Understanding’, Part 2

August 27, 2011

I’m using this title for an entry because it seems to be a continuation of the previous entry, dated August 20th.

I have a friend, who happens to be a neighbor, close enough so we can work out together during the week.  I’ve known her about a year, and we have circled each other carefully.  She’s a high powered woman, and in the beginning she had little filter to her mouth: what she thought came out with little consideration about subject or audience.  I didn’t know her well, but I called her on it.  I was surprised because she immediately apologized  and from there we relaxed.  We’ve become good friends, and I value her highly.  She’s the sister I never had.

This isn’t to say that I haven’t done things that annoyed her; I did, and after a rough spell, we realized   we had much more in common than not.

She’s a decade younger but she has an energy about her that can be exhausting; it also can be invigorating.  As I got to know her better, I saw such worth and also such pain.

We get together to do the Callanetics dvd, laughing at the 80’s hairdos and the funny leotards.  B. was doing something called ‘bootcamp’ for the last year, serious 5 times a week running, serious exercising, push ups, crunches, and she was tearing up her joints. B. is also a breast cancer survivor. She was having to go to physical therapy to recover from the bootcamp.  We decided to do this dvd together. 

Isometrics versus Bootcamp.

So far we do the ‘Stomach’ dvd, only 20 minutes, but we both are groaning and sweating at the end.  I am awaiting the full hour Callanetics dvd, something I had in vhs 10 years ago  and recently dumped. Vhs was on the blink.  It is a killer exercise regime, and  Callan Pickney is part sweet, Southern Nazi,  part ballet dancer. 

When it finally arrives we are in for it.  I remember not being able to reach down and tie my joggers because my stomach muscles were screaming.

So we manage to get that 20 minutes in, but we spend about an hour (or more) just talking.

B. is an amazing graphic artist.  She’s been at it for 27 years, and did my bookmarks and cards this spring for the three books published by  They are so beautiful.  I really admire her abilities.

We’ve been exchanging stories but  I have been listening closely.  B. comes from a very abusive childhood home.  Her mother’s abuse is only now muted by senility.  She still has a foul and berating mouth on her, and uses it to instill control and power over B.  I won’t repeat the language this elderly woman uses on her daughter, but it’s shocking enough that a mother would  say these things so easily.  She was like this, however, before the clouding of her mind.

B. is  a dutiful daughter.  She is patient with her mother, she seems to accept what is nothing but abuse and she has been deeply impacted by a lifetime of this narcissistic behavior. 

And that brings me to a point: When a woman has such  a parent, especially a mother, who abuses her, allows no independent opinion, tears down her self-worth with cruelty, what is finally left of that person?

Well, for all of us, until we get ‘wise’ to the issues….women who make bad choices in life, women who can’t set boundaries, women who sometimes have to hit rock bottom before they can begin the recovery process.

B. is finally blessed, as I am, with a good and knowledgeable therapist.  Actually, it’s not easy to find a therapist who is versed in the issues of Personality Disorders, in particular Narcissism, and many will try to make you ‘swallow’ the abuse of a parent because we are so indoctrinated to take abuse from parents.

A mother’s love is the earliest and most influential part of a child’s life. And when we are children, we have few options.  When we are adults, we have choices.  But the influences stick, and we come from these ruinous relationships with many issues. (These are called ‘fleas’ by some) Bad choices are very much part of this; setting boundaries seems to be the very hardest for women.

Perhaps it is hardest with our mothers.  Recently, I realized this and just gave up. I also realized that I lived in ‘fear’ of her. (this fear is many faceted.  Still working it out)

 I had hoped  there would be some ‘half-way’ ground where my mother could acknowledge my boundaries; where I could express my opinions without her contempt or rudeness. Her rudeness, when it isn’t  outrageous dismissal of an opinion,  usually is expressed by her turning away and showing her impatience with anything said. She doesn’t want to hear you.  This is where narcissism shows it’s ugly head.  If it isn’t about her, it doesn’t have value.

The problem really came down to this:  I never really set boundaries with this woman.  I didn’t know how. I was still hoping  as my mother, she would wake up someday, change.  But she’s a narcissist; in fact, she’s an ignoring narcissist.  In a way, it made it easier for me to walk away.  And that is what I did: I just gave up any hope that things would change between us. I faced a reality that she wasn’t  capable as a human being of any change. She liked the way she was. Narcissists have no inner self-compass.  They don’t question what they do or their effects.  They don’t really have the wiring because they are devoid of empathy.  They may make a show of great emotion and tears, but it’s usually about themselves, or rage that they aren’t getting something.  They really function like 6 year old children, retarded emotionally to this age.

 Six decades of no change, so what was I expecting….the Second Coming of Christ?

Over the years, I have changed.  It hasn’t been a straight line progress, more like the Russian Army: two steps forward, one step back. Or something like that. Hobbled by many things.   Perhaps becoming a writer, and applying myself enough to publish three books so far, and having a good and stable marriage, and certainly this blog helped.

It’s also having a great and comfortable therapist.  Over the past 5 years, she has become the “good” mother.  She has set an example of what motherhood should be, without any preaching.   She’s elderly, too, enough so  I can see her as my mother….and I can mourn all   those years of disruption and grief with my ‘real’ mother.  I can get past the anger and lose because she wasn’t capable of so  many things.  I can’t  really get angry anymore because I feel pity for her. Coming to that was a process. You can’t get angry at a cripple. 

Having the good therapist was so helpful because a mother raising a child needs good influences around her. My child is in the Navy, and almost 24. I feel  I made so many mistakes when he was younger. He survived my rotten parenting, and is thriving and making us proud. So something went right in those early years.  Now I understand so much more about being a mother, and I wish I had the chance to do it right, with what I know now.

No I don’t, I am enjoying my freedom.  He’s a great kid, and somehow the human spirit is so resilient.  I take hope from this.

What I have learned is this: empathy is the key issue in our relationships.  Being able to truly feel what the other feels, to put yourself aside and listen, to try hard to connect with that other person, to be there when they need you most.  Perhaps this is what it means most to be human.

I am hoping my friend B. will find the strength within to walk away from her mother’s horrid abuse.  Like me, once she does, she will start examining very closely all the other relationships in her life: friends that are verbally abusive, friends that are users, friends that really don’t come up to the standard of friendship.  Family, too, will come under this microscope.  Luckily for her, B. has some great sisters.  And she keeps me laughing with the stories of confusing and diverting the mother’s constant abuse.

She’s a good friend, and she deserves support and encouragement.  Mostly, she deserves peace.

Lady Nyo

Out in the marsh reeds

A bird cries out in sorrow,

As though it had recalled

Something better forgotten.

—Ki No Tsurayuki

“Mystery of the Moon”

March 19, 2011

A friend, Bren, has challenged me to write a poem this weekend, given that the Moon will be 14% larger appearing, and close enough to touch. I’ll try tonight, when it rises like an orange VW in the eastern sky, but there are no guarantees with poetry. But I’ll make the attempt for my friend. The poem below is in the new “White Cranes of Heaven”, just released by

Lady Nyo

Mystery of the Moon

Tarnished moon,
Cottoned in dark, settled clouds
Still-wintery branches striated against its gleam,
A ghostly beggar’s light spills
Upon a fallow ground.

This pale spring orb,
Cast on a placid lake,
Mirrors mysteries of countless years
Reflects an empty alone-ness,
Yet pulls at the courses of women
And opens the womb to need.

Jane Kohut-Bartels
Copyrighted, 2010

from “White Cranes of Heaven”,

“White Cranes of Heaven” finally to be published

February 24, 2011

Update:  We’re working it out.  A few more  turns and we should have a book.

Thank you all who have written with your encouragement.


Lady Nyo

It’s been a while to get this work  done, but it looks like it’s finally going to be published by

My dear friend, Bill Penrose, who is an excellent writer and a master at formatting, has taken on this project.  He formatted and produced both of my first books, “A Seasoning of Lust” and “The Zar Tales” in 2009 and 2010 with  Without Bill, these books would not see daylight.

Last night I called over a computer whiz friend and neighbor and we made a hash of what Bill had started on Lulu.  We screwed it up completely, and I ended up deleting the file from Lulu to start clean this morning.  Bill has received a few rather hysterical emails from me this morning as to ‘what did I do wrong, and can you fix it?’

I have to say that isn’t user friendly.  We realized that with the first book, and it seems to be getting even worse with them.  Of course, they are selling their professional services and making it easy for the public isn’t exactly good for their bottom line.

But in a few days, with Bill’s magic, “White Cranes of Heaven–Fifty Seasonal Poems” will be available from

There are a number of my paintings to illustrate the poems in this new book, mostly watercolors and mostly landscapes.

There are also a number of people to thank for this book: Nick Nicholson in Canberra, Australia, Marge Chester in North Carolina, Katie Troutman in NC, Bren Goode in Maine and Steve Isaaks in California all took poems and did critiques.  Their talent and eyes were invaluable in this production.

I tried to follow the seasons in cycles, but then lost the trail. There were too many poems of a mixed seasonal nature to do this in format, and also there is a section of “Moon Poems and Tanka”.

I hope those who get this book from enjoy the poetry.

Lady Nyo


Sharp brittle winds

Sailing like clipper glass

Cutting the skin razor thin,

Flaying off winter’s gall.

This spring can‘t wait.

It lies, promising comforting warmth,

Yet delivers the opposite.

I hear the laughter in the pines.

They moan and echo an evil chuckle.

No matter.

This argument will be over

Once the earth

Pirouettes  on point.

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2011, from “White Cranes of Heaven”, to be published by….soon.

“White Cranes” Get Feathers with a LOT of help from my Friends!

September 10, 2010

I know…a baaaad title for anything.  But it’s 5am and I’m not really that creative this time of the morning.  It could be titled “White Cranes” Continue to Moult”, and that would be the truth of the matter.

I just got the text done…organized….the poems arranged for this new book.  The “a LOT of help from my friends” part comes from various friends taking clumps of the poems and reading them and returning them with their crits and comments.   I’m not that territorial about my poetry, though Nick Nicholson would disagree…. but what the hell….these friends are writers and good ones, too…and IF I can’t trust these friends…who?

Compiling poetry is so different than going over chapters.  I had 90 plus poems, and decided that this was too much for anyone, including me…to read.  So I got them down to 50….and they are all seasonal poems.  None of them are love, erotica, etc, though there is a thread of erotica in many of them…just not a blatant thread.

Bill Penrose yesterday…the fellow who does all the really hard work on my books: the formatting for the publisher….suggested illustrations to make the book ‘more interesting’.  I think he’s on to something here, dear Bill.  I used to be a painter…and have lots of pix of the paintings..mostly landscapes and birds , so some of these paintings hopefully will make it into the new book.  We can try this and see how it works.  It will make the book more expensive I am told, but it will be ‘more interesting’.

Lady Nyo


The chilling rains

Have blasted leaves

From black-barked trees.

Too soon has this happened

Thinking there would be yet time.

Time to marvel

At Nature’s robust palette,

To fill the eyes and senses

With ethereal beauty

No man-made tints can challenge.

But like most of life

We are behind

And lose out to clockwork

Not of our making.

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2010

The Power of Detachment….

August 5, 2010

That sounds like a funny title.  Sometimes essays start with funny titles that don’t seem to have much resonance to the text, but perhaps they grow around it.

This issue of detachment has been on my mind lately: perhaps it’s the issue of trying to write, to finish a manuscript, to write without the attachment of friends, etc…. who are annoying.  They would not like to be labeled with such a sentiment, but they can’t help it.  Some are in the first flush of excitement over something, and they want to ‘share’ that personal excitement and drag you into their ‘ campaign du jour’.

I’ve been there…many times….I’ve instigated them over the years, so I understand the pulse of these kind of things.  But something changes over life, or perhaps you just get more impatient or tired or perhaps you become more ‘committed’ to a path you are determined to stay on.

Anyone who reads this blog knows I am trying to write full time.  That is what I try, but ‘other life’ gets in the way.  Marriage needs to be attended to, and I have the most wonderful husband in this respect:  he cuts me a lot of slack and doesn’t expect much of the wifely stuff.  He supports the writing efforts and is a dedicated reader  and when he does, is an excellent proof reader.

Over the past four years I have wasted a lot of time and energy on stupid stuff and some very stupid people, but I recovered.  I think the excitement and joy of writing saved me from a lot of crap.  It wasn’t so much the responses from other readers, or writers, but the sheer joy of words cobbled together that developed scenes, then progressed to  full blown stories.  The characters were ‘people’ who either thrilled, intrigued or disgusted me, but they were always interesting.  Terribly flawed, but aren’t we all?

I live in Atlanta, and there are always these political jackasses who demand time and attention.  Hell, our neighborhoods are so full of issues you can spend all your waking hours trying to find solutions…none that please most.  I guess I have learned something important over the past 40 years here:  you can’t change lives, nor really environment, regardless your good intentions and energy.  People will continue to do what they do.

The point of all of this is not to let it consume you.  I have a couple of friends and neighbors who let it consume them.  But then again, they aren’t writers.

And as to writing, you have to constantly read.  That’s probably 70% of writing.  It goes way beyond research for a particular story or novel.  It is something that never ends, this desire to develop your cobbling of words.  For in the end, this cobbling is what gives life and substance to it all.  Hopefully you go from a lower level to a higher level in your writing.  But that takes time.  It annoys me when people have blogs and they don’t try to develop their writing. They just think what they put down is ‘good enough’.  Well, it’s usually not, but they will either sink or float by the amount of work they put into their writing.  It’s not rocket science.  And I can spend hours cringing reading my own stuff.  That is what I think propels us forward, those of us who consider ourselves as ‘serious’ writers: we work endlessly at it.  And the improvements are incremental.  Maybe it gets easier down the road, but I’m not there yet.

I wanted to write about Lawrence Durrell’s “A Key to Modern British Poetry”, 1952 edition.  This is something I recently picked up, and thought there had to be something of resonance in there for me…since I was attempting to form my own poetry.  There was, and I was surprised at how much spoke to the issue:

(From Beyond the Ego, an essay in Durrell’s book)

To speak of reality at all is to limit and debase it; in understanding poetry it is always the words which get  in the way.  It is a great pity that we cannot inhale poems like scents–for crude as their medium is, their message, their content is something which owes little to reason.  The is why one should, if possible, allow poems to impact themselves without too much dissection of detail.  Let them be totals to experience first of all; then afterward see if your brains and reading cannot add to the first impression and support it.  The great enemy is the conceptual syntax and the dictionary meanings.  Yet used properly to supplement experience, they can become great allies.

….You should let the whole poem flow through you as a cinema film flows across your vision…..You do not think too consciously about it, you let the successive scenes flash upon you, surprising you.  Only when the film or poem ends should you begin to think about it and call up your power of judgment.  But while you are experiencing it you should be receptive–nothing more.  Do not blunt its impact by too much head-work.

There is a lot more here….especially good is Durrell’s essay “The Limits of Criticism” where he writes about accepting the poet’s word order as the clearest statement of what he means.

That doesn’t mean, which can be seen so much in modern poetry,….that the poet doesn’t work and work very hard to refine what he means to the best of his poetic ability.   He owes this work to his craft.

But perhaps in Durrell’s words above, this issue of detachment comes around more fully, or in a real sense for a poet and a reader.

Detachment is good.  It may allow for freedom and progress.

Lady Nyo


A stuttering wind blows across

Clouds tinted by the falling sun.

Brittle air is softened by colors of peach-gold

and a faded azure blue.

A late flock of Sandhill cranes flies over,

Pale bodies blending in the

White above with legs

Flowing like dark streamers,

Their celestial cries falling to

Earth like harsh, chiding rain.

The trees below in the valley

Are massed into graying darkness

As fading light steals

The color of nature,

Creeps from field to hillock

And all prepare for the

Rising of the Corn Moon.

Even the frogs in the pond

Listen between croaks

For the intention of the night.

“From “White Cranes of Heaven”, soon to be published.

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2009

With a Lot of Help from my Friends…..

June 16, 2010

“For writers, for those of us who write fiction, it is good to dip into history and other cultures.  The richness and beauty of these things can only add to our attempts.” – Jane Kohut-Bartels, from her online review of Khaled Hosseini’s novel The Kite Runner (

Steve Isaak (“Can’t Sleep”, poems, 1987-2007″, available from ID: 8482600) sends out a listing of quotes either from movies, new books or reviews he has come across.

His list of 6/15/10  included this quote from me, as I reviewed Hosseini’s “The Kite Runner”.  I forgot about this review, but I didn’t forget about “The Kite Runner”.  I’m reposting this review, because, hey…it’s almost summer and I need a vacation.  I’m posting Isaak’s comment at the end of the review.

Steve Isaak is one of my favorite writers and also an incredible poet.  Check out his new book from  It’s a slim volume of 94 poems but one you will revisit  over and over.

Lady Nyo

“The Kite Runner”, by Khaled Hosseini


For two years or more, I have had this book, stuffed on my shelf and I haven’t done more than to read a few pages.  For some reason I took it down and started to read it a couple of days ago and I couldn’t put it down.

Although a work of fiction, it really isn’t.  It is more a contemporary historical work, with an old-fashioned storyteller style.

I have been stumped lately.  Not blocked because when you are preparing a manuscript for any publication, you aren’t really creating something new, you are going over what has already been written and you are refining it.  Hopefully.

Perhaps to say there is nothing ‘new’ is wrong.  You are doing so, even in the rewrite.

Where I have been stumped is the ‘why’ of my stories, especially those written for “The Zar Tales” and also the novel, “Tin Hinan”.  They are written in the framework of cultural issues and a place I have no experience or knowledge.  But that didn’t seem to stop me and I wondered about the ‘why’.

I borrowed from my experiences in Belly Dancing, but that is just part of the issue of the ‘why’.

Reading “The Kite Runner” I fell under the spell of what Hosseini was doing: he was weaving a wonderful, elaborate, moral and timely ‘tale’:  Perhaps the Persians, the vastness of the history and literature, the poets Rumi, Khayyam, Beydel, Hafez, the Shahnamah, (book of 10th century Persian heroes) can turn our hearts and minds from the horrors of what Afghanistan and those parts of the Middle East have become to us in the West.  It is more than terrorism.  These writers and stories are part of the heartbeat of humanity that knows no walls.

“If thou art indeed my father, then hast thou stained thy sword in the life-blood of thy son. And thou didst it of thine obstinacy. For I sought to turn thee unto love, and I implored of thee thy name, for I thought to behold in thee the tokens recounted of my mother.  But I appealed unto thy heart in vain, and now is the time gone for meeting….”

(From the Shahnamah, a story about Rostam and his long-lost son, Sohrab who he mortally wounds in battle.)

For writers, for those of us who write fiction, it is good to dip into history and other cultures.  The richness and beauty of these things can only add to our attempts.

Funny. In writing one of the final chapters of  “The Zar Tale”, I took the sense of  “Now is the time gone for meeting” for the poetry of the stumped, second-rate poet Emir, who finally (after ten centuries of mulling over the same three  opening lines) gets it together in his indictment of the three Mullahs.  Then his poetry soars and he is able to complete it.  I must have read something of the Shahnamah somewhere, but I don’t remember.  It’s funny how the mind holds onto something in secret and then gives forth when needed.

“Take to delight the presence

That from this two-way abode

We would not meet each other

Once we pass through.

For our chance meeting is but

A reflection of life’s mysteries

Not to be counted upon,

But to acknowledge the wonder.


You have barred our spirits from Paradise!

You, and your One God, have condemned us

To wander the earth inconsolable to human kindness.

Now is the time for our answer!

Now is the time for the quick slash

Of a sword!

Now we delight  we will not

Meet again

Once you pass through this

Vale of tears you have created.

Heaven or Hell-

You have made it the same!”

–From “The Zar Tales”

And perhaps the real reason of the ‘why’ is that humanity suffers the same issues all over the map. When we do read and understand at a deeper level these human issues, we begun to understand ourselves.

If the upshot of all this means  our writing is fuller, the colors richer, well, that is good. When  we understand that alien cultures are no barriers to the human heart and compassion…well, that is even better.

Lady Nyo

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  1. Steve Isaak Says:
    December 8, 2009 at 10:05 pm editThis book review transcends the usual book review in that it’s more philosophical in its view than the book reviews that focus on the nuts n’ bolts of the writing: characterization, structure, theme, taking it into a more PERSONAL realm for you, and us, the readers.I tend to be less philosophical in my book reviews — I’m a nuts n’ bolts guy, because, at the end of the day, writing is not a mystical experience, it’s everyday grunt-through-it, deal-with-the-writing-elements work. There’s delicious inspiration, and moments of glee (especially during the plotting/characterization phase), but you’re more spiritual about it.

    I sometimes wish I could be that way, but we’re built the way we’re built, right? Might as well celebrate our strengths in a world that would tear us, as individuals and groups, down. :)

    That’s why I enjoy your writing, and why I could appreciate why you appreciated “The Kite Runner,” a novel I couldn’t get into.

    Hosseini has plenty o’ mood, and he’s done everything right (in terms of building characters, structuring the story), but it felt too technical for me — like he was trying to build up to some momentous event that would be less-than-momentous for me, the reader.

    Bear in mind, I’m mostly a crime and horror-fiction reader, with occasional reader-forays into non-fiction books.

    Your take on it has me admiring the novel a bit more than I did, but I think my cultural differences with the author were too much to surmount. Other readers, thankfully, felt differently. :)

    Thanks for the recommend, Jane. Any experience that prompts us to think and appreciate beauty (that is, become better people) is a worthwhile one, and you’ve certainly added one of those to my daily life.

“Take a Breather”

March 22, 2010

I was thinking of doing so, but then remembered there were a couple of things that would go against this.  Age for one.

I am getting older.  Not old/old, but old enough.  I think of what I want to do, and write is on the top of the list.  I am supported in this by my husband who only asks for paired socks, dinner and that I continue to write.

I add things to his  ‘wish list’, but I write now for my ‘profession’ or at least that is what I am trying to see this time  set aside as.

I am still piling up corrections on “The Zar Tales” but dear Bill has guests so I know he won’t be getting to them soon.  LOL!

THAT’s my breather.  Calling Mary in Ohio was another one as we gossiped and had a good time on the phone.  Email is fine, but a phone call is much more fun.  Especially with a long term girl friend.

It’s Spring, and the Spring Forward Festival is going to actually happen in Perkerson Park this Saturday.  It’s the brainchild of Vern, a great guy here, a social worker who goes back up to his farm and drives his deceased father’s tracker around and around  the fields.  That’s HIS breather.

Vern is a hoot.  Half country, half urban man with a lot of golden heart gilding his insides.  I have composed and will read the “Spring Forward” poem to open the Festival.  I will also be wearing a formal black kimono, with a pink under- kimono, and an obi sash that is a riotous mix of spring flowers and colors.  I am supposed to wear a crazy Spring/Easter Bonnet….but I think it would insult the kimono.  Perhaps I will go home and change into jeans and sheepskin boots and then wear the bonnet.

A less complicated cultural statement.  LOL~

It’s Spring, though it is dark and gray outside with a few snow flurries this morning, but I am turning my energies to “White Cranes of Heaven”.  It’s to be an all poetry venture, and I am curious.  I am curious to see all the poetry of the last 2 years at least in one place.

Over the year I have moved from erotica to more poetry.  Of course, sex still figures in my stories and novels….God Forbid that ever stops….LOL!….but I realize that striving for an erotic content in most writings is a bore…and not really a good thing.  I think thinking with our heads between our loins will limit our view of the world.  There is erotic poetry, and there is poetry that expresses other things….views.  I’m doing something different now, and I feel a sort of liberation.

I made the break from some sites where I learned a lot about the craft of writing…..but the sites were (rightfully so) limited mostly to erotica.  But a class is over in a few years…and you have to look up and outside and find other things to write about.

I feel a sense of freedom.  Liberation.  I have left an old stomping ground and I have made a precious handful of friends.  They are the core of ‘respected writers’ and a great influence and hell…just damn good friends.

Spring is a time of rebirth, and right now…..I feel a quickening.

Lady Nyo

Opening Poem for Spring Forward Festival

Hush! Listen!

Do you hear it?

It is the sound of Winter limping off,

Ice falling from desiccated limbs,

the rattle of old bones grown too brittle

To support  further existence.


Look up!

Do you see the azure sky?

How clear and fresh with  promise!


Let’s go knock on doors,

Ring bells,

Call out to neighbors,

Gather our dogs,

And head into the soft, spongy

Grounds of Spring.

Let us marvel at the tight buds tipping  branches,

Tender greens that harken to a mysterious seasonal code.

Let us fill our lungs with fresh air,

Not stagnant with the too- close months of Winter,

But  a wind which blows away

The sadness and loneliness of our seasonal hibernation.

Let us welcome Spring, and spring forward

Into a season of rebirth, renewal and hope.

Let us welcome with upturned hearts and faces–

This great, promised turn of the Earth.

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2010

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