Other People’s Flowers

OTHER PEOPLE’S FLOWERS Howard Gardener: Artist

Having been drawing and painting enthusiastically since I was a child in the
southeast of England, it came as no surprise to anybody when I then chose to
embrace printing and graphics as a career. After many years, however, its lustre
inevitably dulled and so, in 1994, I upped sticks to Bournemouth, retrained as a
chiropractor, and moved again in 2000, when I relocated to Chester.

Released from the necessity of doing graphics to earn a crust, I realised that I
was actually free to start producing the kind of work I’d been aching to do for a
long time, and soon found myself doing more drawing than ever. A childhood
obsession with the Beatles had spawned my lifelong fascination with music and
my father, until the day he died, was convinced that I only moved north in order
to be nearer to John Lennon’s ghost in Liverpool. Whatever the reasons, I liked
the northwest and stayed.

Consequently, when I first got to know David and Sylvia Selzer, it was while
grappling with them on a chiropractic bench. I did wonder briefly whether their
curiosity about my extra-curricular activities was just a ruse to make me go easy
on them but, since they continued to return, I had to assume that said interest
was a genuine one. The fact that I no longer pull them around and
they still show an interest (albeit no longer through gritted teeth) makes me glad
that I followed my instincts to the point where I am now proud to call them both
friends.

I’d like to say thank you to David for generously allowing me to step briefly
into the Other People’s Flowers spotlight – see PDF below. It was a challenge to know what to
put in and what to leave out because over the years I seem to have amassed so
much work in various formats. In the end I allowed a fuzzy chronology to
determine the content. Songwriting served as an apprenticeship for the prose,
and the predominance of drawings reflects its continued importance to me,
while the late inclusion of some ceramic work indicates a possible new
direction.

For interested parties, there’s more on my website at
https://howardgardener.co.uk

OTHER PEOPLE’S FLOWERS Harvey Lillywhite: Writer , Teacher, & Consultant

By Posted on 5 Comments2min read87 views

I met David through his contributions to Exterminating Angel Press: The Magazine, tod davies’ labor of love. From the beginning, I was taken by his poetry and have felt compelled to offer comments on some. From these comments, we connected and shared poems through email. Though we’ve never met or actually spoken, I deeply connect with the sinewy language in his landscapes, with his willingness to wrestle contentious political and social issues, but, most of all, with the intelligent, sensitive, and generous heart and soul that percolate through the lines of his verse.

I’m flattered that David found something interesting in my poetry. I’m happy to share a bouquet of five of my own recent poems:

I grew up in the 50s and 60s next to the Pacific Ocean in L.A. and then in the Wasatch Mountains, in Utah, in ballparks and art museums, in public schools and TV sitcoms and dramas, in trout streams and zen living rooms, in loving family kitchens and rock and roll concerts, Hollywood and ‘foreign’ movies, and libraries’ teeming hoard of words, seeing miracles wherever I looked. You have to admit, this brief flash of life we get is breathtaking.

My wife, Eileen, and I married in 1976, after which we earned MFAs in poetry from Columbia University and PhDs in literature and writing. We have a couple of sons, Jake and Andy, and, now, our first grandson, Simon.

I’ve been teaching literature and writing in a graduate writing program at Towson University in Baltimore since 1984. I published a textbook on workplace writing—Mastering Workplace Writing. As a writing consultant teaching the systems approach to workplace writing I invented, I’ve worked with writers at NASA, the Department of Justice, the Army Research Lab at White Sands Missile Range, and many, many others, including workshops with writers throughout the world.

I also recently published a second book of poems, Your Unfathomable Wardrobe, which is available through Amazon . My poems over the years have appeared in magazines in America, including Ploughshares, The Antioch Review, Poetry Northwest, Poetry East, The Missouri Review, and many others.

 

©Harvey Lillywhite 2022

 

OTHER PEOPLE’S FLOWERS Sizwe Vilakazi: Writer & Performer

In 2003 I joined Vulavulani Theatre Company (based in Soweto, South Africa) in my early 20’s after an extensive engagement in community theatre, which was largely protest in its nature. They were doing their second co-production with Action Transport Theatre Company (based in Ellesmere Port, UK) – http://www.actiontransporttheatre.org/. That is when I met David Selzer. He was part of the Board at the time. I worked as an actor on two productions that introduced me to the idea of making theatre for children and young people.

A few years later, when I was given an opportunity to work as a writer for Action Transport, David became a huge support for me because we share a common love for writing and literature. He loved the ‘chalk poem’ I wrote in my teens and that was eventually included in my one man show TIKA:

The rising roar from your screeching sound reveals the dark.
Your every day sacrifice from your powder is much better than gunpowder.
Every day I long for your sound to expand my horizons.

TIKA is a contemporary township piece that is designed to give hope to the youth about their future and also to create a theatre piece that will reflect a changing society in the fairly new democracy of post-apartheid South Africa. Tika is young boy who lives in a township shack alone.  He has no source of income.  That creates a struggle for him through school until he finishes matric.  The challenge begins when he is out of school because all the support systems fall off and survival becomes a daily struggle for him.  All this turns him into a criminal.  The play is about him, the challenges he goes through and the choices he makes – see https://www.sylviaselzer.com/2014/06/07/tika/.

David also appreciated the many other poems and plays I wrote for myself as a way of documenting what I was going through at the time.

When I travelled to the UK for the first time I brought my book full of handwritten poems, most written in my teen years. I think that was when David  got to familiarise himself with my work. When Action Transport visited Soweto they came to watch the show which I had developed together with a group of young people I worked with. We called ourselves Renaissance Theatre and the name of the show we created was RENAISSANCE, a play about the Atlantic Slave Trade.

For over seven years we exchanged both artistic and cultural experiences by traveling between the United Kingdom and South Africa, and David has been a valuable mentor and life coach. We are still pen pals even long after my contract with Action Transport Theatre is over. We still find time to talk on social media and to me he is like a sweet fountain of refreshing knowledge that I, from time to time, draw inspiration from. He is affectionately known only to me as Mkhulu (grandfather in Zulu).

Here are four more poems:

I am an actor/writer/clown/workshop/play enthusiast/facilitator based in Soweto. I use my work as an artist to advance social work in and around my community. I began my work as an actor doing community protest theatre during the late 1990’s when south Africa was in transition towards a democratic dispensation. After joining the Soweto-based Vulavulani Theatre Company I changed direction from protest into a more children-based theatre, touring work to schools (mostly supported financially and professionally by Action Transport based in the UK), day care centres and theatres across South Africa and other countries.

In 2005 I started Lets Play children’s theatre and also founded Renaissance Theatre for young people in Soweto, which gave birth to a young writers’ forum to instil the love of writing in young people. I have written many plays for youth including my one man show TIKA, which was developed and performed both in South Africa and the UK. I continue to work in South Africa as an actor and writer. My love for history and information is what drives my passion to write.

I also facilitate arts-in-education workshops working with ASSITEJ South Africa – https://assitej.org.za/. I work as a story teller for various children’s institutions, museums and schools. Four years ago I was trained  by DR HEARTBEAT as a part time clown and puppeteer for children on the oncology wards in Johannesburg hospital. I have recently joined Sounds Of Azania, an online radio show, as a talk show presenter because I always have a lot to say – https://soundsofazania.com/

 

©Sizwe Vilakazi 2022

 
 

OTHER PEOPLE’S FLOWERS: Monsieur D’Atouffe, Tortoise of Taste – words by Sylvia Selzer, illustrations by Evie Chapman

SYLVIA SELZER I wrote part one of Monsieur D’Aouffe more than forty-five years ago to entertain my nine year old daughter Sarah on a rainy Sunday afternoon. Many years later, a friend working for a well known childrens’ publisher, advised that, extended, and illustrated by a colleague, it would stand a very good chance of being published. I wrote part two and completed the piece. Sadly, the publisher reduced staff and projects at this time and D’Atouffe was abandoned.

This year, while researching material for OTHER PEOPLE’S FLOWERS, David rediscovered the forgotten file and suggested that our granddaughter, eleven year old Evie, would be the perfect illustrator – and my interest in the piece was rekindled.

On the writing of Monsieur D’Atouffe, I have absolutely no idea where the story came from. I have spent my professional life in education as a teacher, head teacher and university lecturer. During that time, I wrote plays for and with young people. I also was an active board member and in-house photographer of Action Transport Theatre where I had the opportunity to have a short play professionally produced. I have also written a full length screenplay. All this time I have been surrounded with children and young people and their enthusiasms.  

Monsieur D’Atouffe is my first poem…

 

 

EVIE CHAPMAN I have been interested in art for as long as I can remember. I mainly enjoy doing drawings, though I am still interested in doing other forms of art such as painting or online artwork. However, even as I do enjoy most types of art, I do not have a specific art role-model to look up to. I see different artworks that to me are anonymous and I get my inspiration from them.

I have enjoyed working on Monsieur D’Atouffe firstly because it has been my first ever time illustrating for a book, and secondly I have no other experiences to compare it to. Nevertheless, I know in the future it will always be an experience that stands out to me.

In my illustrations of Monsieur D’Atouffe the materials I used were various watercolours, pencil (for the sketches), graphic markers for the line art and a gold pen.

 

 

SYLVIA SELZER
PHOTOGRAPHER STORYTELLER
www.sylviaselzer.com

 

©Evie Chapman 2021

©Sylvia Selzer 2021

OTHER PEOPLE’S FLOWERS Tricia Durdey: Writer

By Posted on 3 Comments4min read72 views

I first met David and Sylvia Selzer – www.sylviaselzer.com – many years ago when, as a child, I would go to watch my parents rehearsing plays at Chester Little Theatre. At first I saw them as newcomers (if younger) joining a group of eccentric and opaque would-be-actors, producers, and set designers, who were also surrogate aunties and uncles to my sister and me. Gradually, as I grew up, I became more aware of their vitality, curiosity and creative urgency, and I no longer thought of them merely as two in a crowd, but as my own special friends. I loved to spend time with them in Hoole, a suburb of Chester. (I still think of their house as the perfect place to be – where I feel deeply rested and at the same time awake to all that’s good in life). I wanted to be a dancer, and a writer, and I would take David’s collection of poetry Elsewhere from my bookshelf, and read with awe and wonder. It spoke to me of a world beyond the narrow existence of my life so far.  Maybe one day I would have my own work published?

I left Chester for London when I was 18 to study on a new Performance Arts degree course, based at Trent Park – the home of the poet Siegfried Sassoon. It was a wonderfully free and creative time and I loved being near London, travelling to see shows every weekend and attending dance classes during the week. From London I went to Amsterdam to attend the State Theater School for a year, inspired a performance I’d seen at Riverside Studios by the Dutch dancer Pauline de Groot. I lived for six months in an 18c Dutch merchant’s house round the corner from Anne Frank’s secret annexe, where my bedroom window looked over the same tree and church tower that Anne wrote about in her diary. It made me aware of how recent German Occupation had been, and how different it felt in the Netherlands from home.

On returning to England, I formed a small dance company in the East Midlands, touring dance theatre in schools, arts centres and theatres, but I didn’t forget my time in Amsterdam. In many ways that year formed a foundation of experience from which I could teach, choreograph, perform – and, years later, write.

I began writing fiction twenty years ago, during a hiatus in my dance career. Over a period of ten years I was published by Chester University Press, Mslexia, Cinnamon Press, Shoestring Press and Radio 3 website, for The Verb.

In 2013 I graduated from Sheffield Hallam University with an MA Distinction in Writing, and won the Blackfriars Open Submission in 2015. You can read more about my dance, and writing life, on my website www.movingthemind.co.uk

For many years I lost touch with David and Sylvia, until one summer day, when I was in Chester looking after my aging parents, Sylvia turned up with another old friend to visit my mother. It was a joyful reunion. I had the biggest smile on my face, and years of memoires flooded back. I went round to visit the next day, and it was as if we’d never lost contact.

Since that day I see both David and Sylvia as key – with their openness and positivity – in supporting the development of my writing. They were also with me during the difficult months leading up to my father’s death, which I’ve written about in my memoir Upside Down in a Hoop (to be published by Cinnamon Press – https://cinnamonpress.com/ – in 2022)

Shortly before my father’s death in 2016 my first novel The Green Table https://cinnamonpress.com/the-green-table/ – was published. It was inspired both by my time in Amsterdam and by the true story of the choreographer Kurt Jooss’ fleeing Germany with the rise to power of the Nazi Party and Hitler. My second novel The Dancer at World’s Endhttps://cinnamonpress.com/the-dancer-at-worlds-end/, published in May 2021, is, in part, a sequel to The Green Table. It continues my preoccupation with Germany, the war and post-war period, through the eyes and voice of my main protagonist, Gregor von Loeben, the son of a high-ranking Nazi.

I write at a desk in Haarlem Arts Space in Wirksworth, Derbyshire, alongside three other writers, often gazing from the window at the calves frolicking on the hillside. We share the Arts Space with many visual artists, and several dogs who come along with their artist owners. I leave my own dog at home as he has a habit of visiting everyone’s wastepaper bin.

To earn a living I teach movement and ballet, mainly for older people. As a challenge I’m learning aerial arts at Circus School in Sheffield and Derby, and I hope to create a performance involving text, dance and aerial work, as a development from my memoir Upside Down in a Hoop.

Thank you to David for offering this platform for sharing the opening section of my second novel The Dancer at World’s End, and memoir Upside Down in a Hoop.

Click to open .pdf in new window:

©Tricia Durdey 2021

OTHER PEOPLE’S FLOWERS Mary Clark: Writer

By Posted on 3 Comments3min read72 views

David kindly asked me to contribute to ‘Other People’s Flowers‘.  I’ve enjoyed his poetry for more than half a decade now, having linked up on LinkedIn. His encouragement while I was writing one of my more complex books, Community, was invaluable. Community is a political memoir, tinged with urban scenes and community activism. For David, though, I included several excursions into the art world, including a brief description of a book signing and reading at New York University’s student center in 1986. In it, Germaine Bree and actress Irene Worth read portions of Marguerite Duras’ work.

During the pandemic I began writing memoirs of my insignificant life. I hoped to convey the tenor and the ethos of the times in each book. Tally: An Intuitive Life harkens back to the idealistic and sexual-political revolutionary 1920s, quiet by comparison to the 1960s and more vibrant than the 1980s when the aging, impoverished Bohemian artist looks back critically at his life.

Into The Fire: A Poet’s Journey through Hell’s Kitchen is the story of my years at the New York Poetry Festival at St. Clement’s, a midtown Manhattan west side church. The program was founded in the late 1970s when the “anything goes” 1960s and early 1970s were fading and the arts becoming less grassroots and more corporate run. I came to the program in 1978. Many poets, both well-known and less established, read or had their work performed there until the Festival’s end in 1983. Changes in the church and my transition into the community outside its doors led to the next phase of my life.

Chapter 2, Culture Review, of Into the Fire…, includes a description of the church sanctuary and theater space, bits of my poetry, and some of the characters rolling through town, as well as two recommended poems and references to others

Chapter 2, Culture Review – view here

The book I’m currently working on also revolves around art and artists, the inner and outer drama of our lives, and the perceptive and honest analysis that drives us forward, if we have the courage. It doesn’t have a title yet, but it is the most intensely personal of my memoirs. It takes place in the mid-1970s amid moral and ethical unmooring, a lost world in more than one sense. The attached section is one among the several points of view or ways of telling stories juxtaposed within the text.

Whether I – view here

©Mary Clark 2021

 

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