Fear not! Just read!

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November Night. Painting by Alexey Zuev (www.fineartamerica.com)

Friday the 13th is, in popular culture, an inauspicious day. If you’re at all superstitious, you might want to stay home all day. Because, what if a black cat crossed your path to compound the dangers of this ominous date? Or what if you inadvertently walked under a ladder? Or, heaven forbid, broke a mirror? I shudder to think of it.

Just kidding.

For some people, though, it’s not a laughing matter. There’s actually a word coined specifically to describe this persistent, irrational fear: “paraskevidekatriaphobia” (para-skev-EE-dek-a-tri-a-PHO-bia), from the Greek words Paraskeví (Παρασκευή, Friday), and dekatreís (δεκατρείς, thirteen).

The various explanations…

Medium Publications by ILLUMINATION Writers

A publication by Keta Nachi (Editor-in-chief), Elisabeth Khan, and team LI

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Autumn often brings “Hiraeth” — Photo by Beth Jnr on Unsplash

Last month I accepted an invitation to join the editorial board of Literary Impulse, a dynamic online literary journal. To my delight, I also found quite a few of my Illumination peeps already writing there.

The magazine is only about six months old; however, the journal’s website https://www.literaryimpulse.com/ is truly impressive and so is the quality of its offerings.

What we are looking for

Literary Impulse is specifically looking for accomplished poets and writers, people who are as passionate about good writing as we are. What we don’t care about is your age, bio, or publication history.

Challenge & prompt: Hiraeth

An invitation to write your heart out

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Illustration by Erica N

Hiraeth is a word from the Welsh language that has no exact equivalent in English. It refers to a kind of nostalgia, similar to homesickness, but somewhat more complex. Akin to the German Sehnsucht and the Portuguese saudade, it evokes the longing for a home you may never be able to return to, and the connection with the loved ones you left behind; or, perhaps, the longing for a place that never existed, the tribe that you haven’t found yet...

You can find various pronunciations on Google, but in my humble opinion, the most authentic one is something like HEER-eye-th…

Poetry/ Focus and commitment

One-sided conversation with a legendary music teacher

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Nadia Boulanger teaching a group class (http://oiseauxmigrants.com/)

“The essential conditions of everything you do must be choice, love, passion.“ — Nadia Boulanger

October-born like me, you look
a lot like my grandmother Céline
And if what I heard is true
You were one tough cookie, too!

To those arriving for a class, I read,
Ringing your doorbell a few minutes late
Meant being left on the street, denied access,
they say, to your flat and your art, that day

They called you “Mademoiselle”
They feared and worshiped you
Young or middle-aged or old
They were the students, you the Master

You remained in the shadows when They…


and feeling sorry for the weeds

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Photo by Bill McBee on Unsplash

A weed is a flower that grows where it is not wanted — Source unknown

Go tell that to the pretty pansies
springing self-seeded from the cracks
between the paving stones,
their pleading little velvet faces,
so eager to please; their scent so sweet,
and yet they have to go…

Just like the suckers of the weeping cherry
boldly popping up around its flowering umbrella
and the advancing outposts of the lawn grass
that plots to invade my flowerbeds
with its underground army of roots,
only to be ruthlessly defeated by me!

Not to mention the prickly thistles the ubiquitous…

Book review /Foreign Publishing/Translation

Translating my sister’s novel!

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Christine Van den Hove reading at her book launch in Antwerp in 2019 (copyright @kartonnen dozen)

The long road to publication

My sister Christine had her first novel, Colombe, published in Belgium last November. The story is set in the Pyrenees, a mountainous region that straddles the French-Spanish border, and the book is written in Dutch. One reviewer described it as “a pastorale with a twist,” and that’s a pretty apt description.

I’m incredibly proud of my talented younger sister, who also writes poetry and short stories! Actually, Colombe is the second novel she completed, but her previous book had not yet found a publisher at the time. (The response was usually something like, “Highly accomplished but not sufficiently commercial for…

A poem about Time

A response to the never-ending poem prompt: Time

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Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash

Time is that thing that slips through our fingers
Like fine sand, impossible to hold

Time is what we look forward to when we are young
and they tell us, “Your time will come!”

And what we look back at over our shoulder
When we are old, wondering, “Where did it go?”

What is time? Does it flow downhill like a river
Or circle in loops like a vortex?

Is it real or imaginary, finite or infinite?
Time is what we waste and then regret.

This poem is my response to a challenge by Mia Verita

Thank you for inviting…


Meet Biscuit, our pet hibiscus

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Hi! My name is Biscuit and I’m a “Hi-biscus.” (Photo by author)

We always refer to Biscuit as “him” although “they” would be more appropriate. (Wikipedia tells me that the hibiscus rosa-sinensis has both male and female parts on the same flower.) He doesn’t mind.

Sometimes his mood is subdued, though. Then we talk to him and help him keep his leaves shiny and green, and free from infestations. But when he’s really happy, he breaks out in flamboyant red flowers that each last only a single day. Sometimes one or two at a time, sometimes six or more. Right now he has literally dozens of buds ready to bloom.

When my…

An ekphrastic poem of love and longing

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Heroine Rushing to Her Lover (Abhisarika Nayika) — Museum of Fine Arts, Boston / Public domain

She cares not for the creaking hinge
The servant sleeping by her door
Tiles cold under her bare feet. Hush!

Now she has left her home behind
The trail is muddy, puddles abound
She lifts up the hem of her dark blue skirt

Thunder and lightning in the sky
Treacherous snakes in the grass
Trees twisted in ghostly shapes…

Her perfume rivals the night-blooming jasmine
Gossamer stole caught on a thorny twig
Gold-shot silk rent by her impatient tug

Heedless of danger, as love gives her wings
Guided by moonlight she finds her way
Her tinkling anklets startle tiny creatures

Elisabeth Khan

Insatiably curious. Sometimes I fancy myself a writer.

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