Maxine Beneba Clarke is the Saturday Paper’s Poet Laureate and a winner of the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for Poetry.
-Maxine Beneba Clarke 2019
Maxine Beneba Clarke is the Saturday Paper’s Poet Laureate and a winner of the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for Poetry.
-Maxine Beneba Clarke 2019
Today, I would like to introduce to you an amazing lady and friend, Anne Frandi-Coory. We connected on Twitter five years ago, when another equally lovely lady, Melanie Selemidis recommended Anne to read my short stories. It was from then on, we found we had not only a common interest in ancient history and mythology, but we also shared the same culture, an Italian heritage. I’ve since read her heart-wrenching autobiographical/memoir, Whatever happened to Ishtar? and more recently, read her latest publication, Dragons, Deserts, and Dreams: poems, short stories and artworks. Her latest book, is a unique collection of poetry, artwork and stories of her familial heritage. Click here for my review of the book.
I asked Anne if she’d honour me with an interview, and she said yes! In this candid interview, Anne is honest and her answers will make you want to reach out and hug her. Enough with my ramblings, and over to Anne…
For a few years after publishing Whatever Happened To Ishtar? in 2010 I felt a deep seated need to paint and write poetry incorporating some of the memories and family stories I’d written about. Writing Ishtar? helped me to organise my childhood trauma into some kind of chronological order and gave many of the fractured memories context and adult understanding. That’s when poems and brush strokes just flowed from me although I’d never written poetry or painted on a canvas in my life before. Any task or project I have embarked upon, be it career, marriage, motherhood, writing or painting, I have done with a passion, I know of no other way. Once a particular passion grips me, I let no one, or nothing, stand in my way.
I loved reading to my children when they were little and later I read to my grandchildren, whenever I helped out with their care. My grandchildren love to share their vivid imaginings with me so when I had completed the painting and poetry of the painful past, I was inspired to paint images of my young grandchildren’s imaginative stories, along with the natural world around us, and to write poetry to enhance them all.
Whenever family came to visit they were keen to see whatever painting I was working on and how it was progressing. I kept a record of these and the rest of my works in a folder. I had intended to write another book when I realised one day looking through my folder, that I had already written and illustrated another book! Somehow, all the different poems and stories just seemed to fit when I re-arranged them into a certain order. I felt that everything I’d written and painted summed up my whole life. I could see the pain of the past, and the joy that my grandchildren had brought into my life and how much we loved walking around the lakes near my home, watching wildlife and learning together.
There are two short stories in the book. One relates to my Lebanese grandparents’ emigration from Lebanon to Australia then on to New Zealand, based on my grandfather Jacob Coory’s diary. I wrote the other story especially for the book because I wanted to encapsulate all the research I’d done into my Italian family history which highlighted the heartbreaking lives of mothers and daughters, especially that of my great grandmother, Raffaela Mansi Grego. Compared to the Italian women in my family tree, my Lebanese grandmother and her daughters had a relatively happier existence. The poems pick up some of the hardships the women suffered, and how it impacted upon following generations. Catholicism featured largely in the lives of both my paternal and maternal families, much of it detrimental and in my view, added greatly to the suffering of the women and their daughters. The societies they lived in were patriarchal and certain cultures and conventions hadn’t changed for centuries. I believe that when a Christian god was installed as the Almighty One and Only God, and pagan gods and goddesses were relegated to nothing more than Classical Studies, life for females became much darker. In this way, the short stories and many of the poems are a literary reflection of my maternal Italian and paternal Lebanese heritage.
The tragic deaths of Daniel, Zahra and Caylee were front page world news during the years I was writing my first few poems, and their stories really affected me and stayed with me. I couldn’t get them out of my mind, so I sat down one day and wrote a poem especially for them. The words just poured out, and I dedicated it to all abused children. Only then could I get on with my other writings. My own childhood was full of fear, loneliness and gross neglect by family and others who should have been caring for me, and I felt deeply the horrors Zahra and Caylee had endured in their short lives from their own families. Daniel came from a loving family, but his last moments at the hands of the stranger who murdered him would have been terrifying. All because a bus driver decided not to stop and pick him up at the bus stop. Likewise, the cruelty that some humans inflict on animals I find deeply disturbing. Life can be fickle, children and animals so vulnerable. Humans have the intelligence and power to do so much good on this wonderful planet earth, but sometimes it seems to me that greed and evil are winning. I fight depression by putting my thoughts down on paper. Sometimes they develop into stories and poetry.
I wanted women, especially mothers, to soak in my words, to be able to relate to them and for those of us who were raised within strict Catholic institutions, to know that others share the harm done to us and understand. I would like readers in general to see the balance in my works…that love and the kindness shown by others can overcome tragedy.
Of course I have also written poems which celebrate the imagination of children and the allure of animals and the natural world. I hope readers can share the joys I have found in my affinity with animals and children, and the solace that the natural world can bring to our lives if we can accept that we are a part of nature and that we must live in harmony with it.
It was much easier than writing Ishtar? because then I was confronting a jumble of fractured memories without any context. Each time I discovered new information it was another emotional hit and it left me exhausted, depressed and emotionally troubled. However, painting always leaves me in a state of equilibrium and the poems are already formed, seemingly, in my subconscious, so that I am merely transferring them onto an empty page.
Did I learn anything? If I did, it was that much of the emotional pain that I had carried around with me for most of my life, had largely dissipated.
When I was a child incarcerated in various Catholic institutions, the natural world and animals did not feature in my life at all. Any reference to animals or nature were in abstract, that is, told through the prism of religion: God made everything on earth, Noah saved animals on the Ark during the great flood and St Francis of Assisi loved animals. Most of the children’s books we were given to read were illustrated bible stories, the images always of perfect human beings and animals. We knew nothing at all about the actual world outside. When I was a young mum, we had a menagerie of many different animals; as my children grew up and learned to cherish animals, so did I. There is no doubt in my mind that animals taught me so very much about motherhood, life, death and loyalty. For instance, as a child, I was terrified at the thought of death. My nights were filled with nightmares of my own and others’ deaths. Having witnessed many times the death of beloved pets due to old age or accident while bringing up my children, I realised how animals accept death as a part of life. Not for them the maniacal scenes of death and destruction nuns and priests often imposed on us as a warning against sin. At first, I could not believe how peaceful death was when our first pet cat was euthanised after a long and happy life. I expected writhing and meowing in agony and as the tears streamed down my face I waited in trepidation; instead our beloved feline died quietly in my arms. I had paid for the vet to come to our house so our pet who had never left our gardens could be surrounded by that which he loved. The vet too had tears in his eyes, witnessing my distress. Not everyone I come into contact with is so gracious about my emotional states or as understanding of my passions. It has been a long process, but yes, the happiness and contentment reflected in Dragons, Deserts and Dreams, is real. I remain a bit of a recluse, preferring to strictly control who comes into my life because I still live with trust issues which prevent me from having a normal social life.
I have correspondence from hundreds of readers, and both Lebanese and Italian descendants living around the world which has the potential to be transcribed into a very powerful book.
I’ll await and see what spirits contrive to move me.
Dragons, Deserts and Dreams can be purchased worldwide from Amazon and other online bookstores or if readers live in Australia or New Zealand they can purchase a signed copy directly from me through my blog here
I’m always happy to receive comments and correspondence from readers either through comments on my blog or via email at email@example.com
True life and make-believe
I love this colourful little book Dragons, Deserts and Dreams containing poems and short stories, written and illustrated by Anne Frandi-Coory.
She has cleverly woven her poems into evocative, self-contained vignettes and portraits; brief episodes that are obviously dear to her heart. The short, true life stories, in beautiful prose, convey a passion and a vividness that make you feel as though you were right there when the events were actually happening. Readers will meet Ms Frandi-Coory’s paternal Lebanese grandparents in the hills of Lebanon and later in the story, join them on their sea voyage to Melbourne then on to New Zealand in ‘Immigration And The Promise’. On the other hand, the life of Ms Frandi-Coory’s maternal Italian great grandmother is very different. ‘Raffaela’s Last Dream’ is more of a drawn out nightmare which begins in Rome when Raffaela is 13 years old. In this short story, Raffaela is on her death bed surrounded by family, and as her long life flashes before her; readers are there to accompany her every step of the way.
The author also enters into a world of make-believe, giving readers a glimpse of her affinity with children and animals in her poems about childish imagination, the antics of animals and the value of Nature here on earth.
This is a book to treasure.
-Zita Barna … firstname.lastname@example.org GOODREADS, AMAZON Book Reviews 2017
Unique, thought-provoking and heart-wrenching is how I describe Ms. Frandi-Coory’s latest book, Dragons, Deserts and Dreams. It is a collection of poems, short stories and endearing artwork. The author has compiled extraordinary creative prose and artwork that compliment and evoke an emotional response.
I am not a big poetry reader and have only recently begun to appreciate the nuances and beauty in poems, and after reading Ms. Frandi-Coory’s poems, I applaud her for the imagery that is evident in her works.
Some are tributes to those who were wronged or abused, other poems were reminiscences, and then there were the personal and painful expressions of a life experienced none too pleasantly by those who inflicted physical and psychological trauma.
The personal short stories, is how I perceive them, especially having read the author’s first book, Whatever happened to Ishtar? – A passionate quest to find answers for generations of defeated mothers, a memoir come family history. The stories are windows into the back-story of her family’s plight, especially the women. It also gives insight into the person who wrote this book.
As for the artwork, they complement the poems and short stories, and demonstrate the remarkable creativity and gift of the creator of this book.
I did not know what to expect when I started reading this book, the mix of poetry, artwork and short stories is an unusual blend, however it works really well. This book will make you smile, angry, and saddened. This is an amazing endeavour undertaken by the author, and a fabulous book that I highly recommend to readers who appreciate and enjoy something a little different.
-GOODREADS, AMAZON book reviews…Luciana Cavallaro, Perth. 7 March 2017
Wow! That ‘Raffaela’s Last Dream’ in Dragons, Deserts and Dreams, is just so, so beautiful, and I love it. But then again I love everything you do, my darling Anne. You have put me by her bedside. You have me holding and squeezing her hand as I read and hear her, drifting through the pages of her life, with all the love and emotion of a woman who knows she will soon be flying through heaven, alongside the author of all things in the universe.
For beautiful Raffaela has already experienced hell on earth. And I, the reader was there when it was all happening, so cleverly condensed in, ‘the present tense’. You’re such a great writer Anne, you always have the ability to stir up my emotions.
After I finished reading, in the dark now, I closed my eyes and wept and sobbed out loud, as I often do, when I awake from such dreams. Dreams I have of my grandmother, the one person who never stopped loving me.
Dreams, nowadays in my secret place I call ‘La La land’. A place I find myself a lot lately as my body too, is almost worn out. A place where I’m not really asleep, but then again I’m not altogether awake. All I have to do is remain quiet, usually in the afternoon, close my eyes as I rest alone on my sofa, and I’m there, in my beautiful ‘La La Land’, where anything can happen.
Thank you so very much for introducing me to your wonderful, courageous and most lovely, ‘Raffaela’ Anne, I am so grateful to find her at last. She, like you will remain forever with me, as I know I will never forget you both.
-Arabella Marx, @thatmarxtart Australia 2017
is an authorised biography by Sylvie Simmons published 2012, four years before Leonard Cohen’s death on 7 November 2016.
I have just finished reading this wonderful book which I bought at the Clunes Book Fair earlier this year.
What a book, what a man Leonard Cohen was. Poet, philosopher, author, scholar of the Hebrew Bible and Jewish Kabbalah. Simmons, a renowned music journalist and award winning writer, has written the ultimate Leonard Cohen biography of 531 pages, incorporating his life, his music, poetry and prose, and his deep spirituality. She records word for word, many of the dialogues she had with him, which add to the intimacy of the book. He was a humble man who valued his solitude, a frugal way of life hidden from the limelight, and of course, his love for women. A man with a magnetic personality, he had many lovers, most of whom he remained close friends with. He could not live too long in a relationship with a woman though, not even with Suzanne Elrod (not the Suzanne who inspired his most famous song), the mother of his two children. But she says that he was a devoted father, generous and loving, although there were recriminations, for a time, following the breakup of their relationship.
The leading rabbi of Montreal’s Jewish community who knew the Cohen family well, understood Cohen’s devotion to a Buddhist monk and to Buddhism, and believed that Cohen would’ve made a brilliant rabbi because of his poetical way with words and his authoritative knowledge of the Hebrew Bible. Cohen was a very disciplined man who also loved to fast. He enjoyed vegetarian food and was always very slim, of quite a slight build; ‘There’s no excess to him at all” observed Simmons.
This is a riveting read for Leonard Cohen fans and anyone who is interested in the music scene of the 1960s through to the 1990s. Such artists as Janis Joplin, Jimmy Hendrix, Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Judy Collins, Jeff Buckley and various music entrepreneurs; people like Phil Spector, John Lissauer, Nick Cave, and background singers such as Jennifer Warnes, Sharon Robinson, the Webb sisters, and Anjani Thomas to name a few. Cohen preferred subtle musical instrumentation to accompany his works, and many of his songs feature him playing his beloved synthesiser, and his Spanish guitar. He had a ‘good ear’ for the sound he wanted; simple, so that his voice, poetry/lyrics were enhanced, not drowned out.
When Cohen began recording an album with Phil Spector, it developed into a worst nightmare for him. Simmons recorded a dialogue she had with Cohen:
There were lots of guns in the studio [during the recording of the album ‘Death of a Ladies’ Man 1977] and lots of liquor [and drugs]. It was a somewhat dangerous atmosphere…he liked guns. I liked guns too, but I generally don’t carry one. There was no firing but it’s hard to ignore a .45 lying on the console. The more people in the room the more wilder Phil would get. I couldn’t help but admire the extravagance of his performance. But my personal life [before he entered the monastery] was chaotic, I wasn’t in good shape at the time mentally, and I couldn’t really hold my own in there [the recording studio].
Almost without exception, people who came into contact with Cohen describe him as being very kind, a gentleman and very generous; a seductive man. His friends and family told his biographer that Cohen was constantly writing and sketching. Many of his books and album sleeves are enhanced with his sketches and paintings. Cohen was always beautifully dressed, and he loved wearing suits, with his shoes always highly polished. Cohen’s extended family were tailors and owned up-market clothing stores, and he worked in one or two stores for a short time, but he really hated being involved in the family business. He once said to his biographer, Simmons, “Darling, I was born in a suit”. But Cohen was too trusting of others. He signed one his most famous songs, Suzanne over to a record label, believing he was just signing a ‘normal’ recording contract and later in his career, his then manager stole all of his money (approx.7.5 million) while he was living in the Buddhist monastery after he had given her power of attorney over his affairs. He then had to go on tour, which he never enjoyed in the past, to earn money for his retirement years. He was at that stage, aged in his early seventies. The tour, with handpicked musicians and background singers he felt comfortable with, lasted over three years. He and his band played to packed global audiences and he made much more money than had been stolen from him. At that time he had a personal friend, Robert Kory, as his very competent tour manager, who understood Cohen’s shyness and his need for solitude. Only those who had to be backstage were allowed there, no interviews were arranged, and there were plenty of breaks for Cohen to recharge his batteries somewhere in solitude.
A deeply spiritual man who was proud of his Jewish heritage, Cohen spent about five years as a monk (he was ordained) in a Buddhist Monastery, and he felt that Buddhism and Judaism complimented each other. Cohen lost his lifelong depression after his sojourn in the monastery, belatedly in his sixties. For years Cohen had used a variety of drugs like maxiton/speed, LSD, Mandrax, acid, amphetamines to lift him out of his dark depression, and many of his poems/songs reflect his angst and those dark periods. Then there were his experiences in the famous Chelsea Hotel in New York City, his home away from home in the early years, and which could fill a book on their own. Simmons also explores this time with Cohen throughout the book.
Cohen’s father died when he was nine years old, and he didn’t believe that his father’s death had a profound effect on him, because he was often ill in hospital or away somewhere else. But after having read this book, I believe his father’s death did have a profound effect on his life, even though he had very strong male role models within his family and the Montreal Jewish community. He was very close to his mother, and was also surrounded by loving women, in his private life and later in his musical life.
Cohen liked to live in simple cottage-like homes, and he spent his last years living in Los Angeles in a small sparsely furnished duplex where he lived upstairs while his daughter, Lorca lived downstairs. He also owned a very small cottage on the Greek island, Hydra which he bought in his thirties with money left to him by a relative, and in which he wrote many of his works and spent many happy days with Marianne, his lifelong muse and one time lover.
Always nervous on stage, Cohen preferred to be supported by musicians he knew well and who understood his type of simple music; music that didn’t drown out the lyrical poetry of his songs. He won numerous global and Canadian awards during his lifetime, for literature, poetry and music albums. He didn’t always believe he deserved them. He has written 12 books of poetry and prose.
Something Leonard Cohen said stayed with me while I read his biography. He said he didn’t rebel when he was growing up because essentially he had a privileged life brought up as he was in a wealthy and close Jewish neighbourhood in Canada, and that he had nothing to rebel against. But maybe he was too much the dutiful son, and maybe if he had rebelled, he wouldn’t have spent most of his life taking all manner of drugs to get him through life, the desperate need to spend so much of his time alone, and his fearfulness of making any kind of commitment to another person. He was too polite, too shy, too forgiving and far too hard on himself. But then we wouldn’t have his legacy of poetry and songs, would we?
-Anne Frandi-Coory 1 December 2016
Painting and Poem Blue Ishtar Copyright To Anne Frandi-Coory
All Rights Reserved 19 August 2016
Painting Blue Ishtar 100cm x 100cm acrylic on canvas
Lucida Mansi sold her soul to the devil………find out more……..
Painting and Poem Silhouette In Bagni Di Lucca Copyright To Anne Frandi-Coory –
All rights reserved 4 November 2013…..
Painting by afcoory – acrylic on canvas 100cm x 75cm
Read my poem *Silhouette In Bagni Di Lucca *
Dedicated to my great grandmother Raffaela Marisi Mansi Grego (Greco) -the Mansi name probably originated in Saxony. Mansi ancestors moved to Italy as wealthy silk traders when Italy was ruled by Germany.
I will always remember Ezra Pound;The Solitary Volcano by John Tytell for two reasons:
This is one of the most comprehensive and interesting biographies I have read, and I have read many.
The second and far less important reason, is a more tactile and visual one. The book was published by Anchor Press, Doubleday, USA and printed in 1988. A few pages had not been cut through along the bottom of the book, and the bottom edges of all the pages were so rough, they looked as though they had been cut with a chain saw. Normally I wouldn’t have bought such a book, but I spotted it at a book fair and was afraid I might not find another copy. I am surprised this edition was ever released for sale. The previous owner either didn’t bother to read the book at all or just read the accessible pages;either way they missed out on an exceptional biography!
However, I am happy to say that once I began reading about Ezra Pound, I soon forgot about the physical aspects of the book itself.
According to Poets.Org; From The Academy Of American Poets:
Ezra Pound was a profoundly complicated man who didn’t listen easily to those whose opinions differed from his own; he could be very dogmatic and nasty, especially about political issues. He ranted and wrote throughout his adult life about his hatred of usury, Jews, banks, American politicians (especially Roosevelt) and America itself. Pound’s vitriolic attacks against his own country began when as a student he alienated himself from the American university community with his strong political views and his sometimes outrageous behaviours. Later, he reveled in his powerful erudition and used it to discredit his country and its leaders.
He didn’t think much better of the British, informing Bertrand Russell that he was glad “you know your lousy country has paralysis” and wrote that the British Parliament was a collection of ‘six hundred apes’, and British universities were full of “hired pimps”. During WW2, Pound relayed fascist propaganda across Italy’s radio waves, and openly wished that American and British politicians had the intelligence of his friend Mussolini (‘old Mussy’), whom he met only once and who actually believed Pound to be a nutcase. Pound was convinced that because of Britain’s stupidity, Hitler and Mussolini were going to win the war. He was incensed that America would even consider entering the war. His reasoning for this might find favour with some readers.
That Pound’s friends and contemporaries were in awe of his works, and their sheer volume, there is no doubt. Apart from his poetry, prose and cantos, he translated Chinese and Japanese works into English, studied and translated Confucius (he believed Confucius to be infallible) and spent his early years in Paris and Italy supporting fellow poets and writers and promoting their works. Pound neglected his own work at times to find benefactors and publishers for his contemporaries such as James Joyce, WB Yeats, TS Eliot, and Marianne Moore, to name but a few. Not surprisingly, followers were well aware of Pound’s mercurial moods. It can’t have been easy listening to his long hateful diatribes on anything from anti-Semitism to miscegenation to Western economics. He could also be very insulting about his friends’ friends and relatives. Even his letters to his friends and acquaintances consisted of pages of his views on what was wrong with America and Britain. He didn’t think twice about writing to men in positions of power to offer advice on how their country should be run. Pound’s friends, fellow writers and poets nevertheless were loyal and were always there whenever he needed help, especially as he aged. Pound could be very entertaining when he chose to be, and people would sit for hours listening to his recitations. He received hundreds of letters from young poets and writers and ordinary citizens, addressed with such titles as ‘Dear Fatigued Prophet’.
In the last months of his life (he died in 1972 on his 87th birthday) he suffered from depression, and barely spoke. He was full of regret for the way he had neglected his children; a daughter by his lover Olga Rudge, who as an infant, was placed in the care of peasant farmers; and a son by his wife, Dorothy Shakespear. Their son lived with Dorothy’s mother almost from birth and scarcely knew his father. Dorothy ‘understood’ that Pound’s numerous affairs with other women were a part of his ‘romantic, artistic nature’. Pound was also regretful about his strong political views and his public support of fascism and what it cost him: incarceration in a cage with iron bars for months, guarded by American soldiers in Italy, until he could be taken to America to be tried for treason. While in the cage, Pound suffered a complete mental breakdown and was never again the strong physical and mentally robust person he once was. Upon arrival back in America psychiatrists assessed that Pound was insane and should not be imprisoned, so he was transferred to an asylum. He had his own room at the asylum and ran it like a Paris salon with all his books and papers on shelves around him. Poets, writers and followers visited him often under the watchful and caring eyes of his faithful wife, Dorothy.
It’s a testament to the respect fellow literati had for Pound in the way they rallied to have him released from the asylum. It’s interesting to read how for months they pressured powerful figures in America to have Pound’s indictment on treason charges dropped so he could be freed. Two of his psychiatrists at the asylum were also in sympathy with Pound and had ensured that their weekly assessments of his mental condition would keep him from being transferred back to a high security prison and subsequent trial. Though all agreed that they would ‘hate to see Ezra die ignominiously in that wretched place where he is for a crime which if proven couldn’t have kept him all these years in prison’, they were also realistic… ‘neither you nor I would want to take him into our family or even into our neighbourhood’. He was finally released from the asylum after spending over twelve years there.
Soon after his release was finally secured, Pound set sail for Naples, declaring upon his arrival to assembled journalists “All America is an insane asylum!’. His friends were dismayed at Pound’s fascist salute and his ‘refusal to submit to forces more powerful than any single man’.
Pound outlived his friends Ford Madox Ford, Ernest Hemingway, Wyndham Lewis, TS Eliot, EE Cummings, WB Yeats, and William Carlos Williams. He died a semi recluse in Venice in the care of Olga, his mistress; his wife Dorothy was by then living in the UK with their son, Omar.
–Anne Frandi-Coory 30 August 2013