Seeing Double

One of the great things about going along to writing workshops is that it gives the opportunity to meet fellow writers, and this week, I have decided to share something about the work of one of the members of my recent peace poetry workshop experience.

Originally from Sicily, Antonio Chisari is now living in Derry and has created an interesting project inspired by his dual homes. This project is called Double/Doppio and is a collection of short stories written in both English and Italian. The ‘double’ aspect to his work, however, is mirrored in much more than just the title. As he explains on his own blog (link above), the stories portray the two sides to their narratives – for example, the consequence to ourselves of an action we take can also be of consequence to someone else, whether we realise it or not. There are hidden meanings and alternate ways of viewing the world and this, I think, is what ‘Double’ seeks to explore.



I am fortunate enough to have been gifted a version of the book to read, but have not yet read it in its entirety, for the usual reasons of work interfering with leisure. Suffice it to say, however, I am intrigued by the concept and like the two-language format. There is also a taster of Antonio’s writing on his blog, for those who want to check it out.

In my own writing, I continue to chip away at my peace-themed poems and have decided to tweak the format of one which is almost in a traditional poetic style. Almost. It is still probably more free verse, but rhyming is something that seems to come very naturally to me and it just always seems to happen with my poems! That said, the tightening up of the piece has improved its reading, in my opinion, which reaffirms the advice of writing something, leaving it aside for a week or so, and then returning to it. I tend to do this less with poetry as opposed to prose for some reason, but am beginning to be more meticulous with my poems and taking the red pen to them so that each word can indeed ‘fight for its right to be there’.

Of the two poems I currently have in mind for the project, both are individual responses to incidents which polluted peace – one told from the point of view of a fictional voice and one from my own voice – drawing upon a childhood memory which always sticks out in my mind when people mention the Troubles in Northern Ireland. They need a little more tweaking I think, but they’re getting there!

Prose has taken a little bit of a backseat but… with the launch of Northern Ireland’s new online journal, The Incubator, which celebrates the short story writer and their work; as well as the imminent re-launch of The Honest Ulsterman, there is plenty to motivate me into picking up that pen! I’m also still intending to write a short story a month (a sort of new year resolution which grew into being!) and have indeed, got a story for January and February already written. The hope is that with each one, improvement will be seen…

Oil painting workshop with Julian Friers (left of me)

Oil painting workshop with Julian Friers (left of me)

When it comes to the creative process in writing, inspiration comes from many things in life and this week, I ventured into the world of oil painting in a workshop arranged as part of Creativity Month in Northern Ireland. Would a blank canvas be akin to a blank page, I wondered – one waiting for paint, the other for words – both seeking, well, creative genius.

To be honest, the workshop – led as it was by the brilliant Julian Friers – was helped along by our talented tutor, who had primed our canvases for us and allowed us to attempt to mirror him in painting a tree-scape. As he said at the start, every picture would turn out differently and that is one of the things I most liked from the exercise, as it was physical evidence of how differently every person in that room interpreted the concept of a simple tree set upon a grassy landscape. Each painting was indeed varied, but was subsequently unique, and portrayed something a little different to the observer than the one next to it.

The expert's painting...

The expert’s painting…

The process of applying paint to canvas, it should be added, is wrought with technique and is, I would argue – like telling a story. It is telling a story – of what the painter wants to convey and of what the picture inevitably conveys to those who look upon it. As we all derive our own meanings from the tales we read, so too will we take away our own interpretations of the pictures we view.

It was nice to get an insight into another creative process and to see the similarities we all, as artists of any craft, face in our work. Will those colours/words work like that, or do they need to be re-painted/substituted and blended into the background – brought to the foreground? Is this the correct perspective we need for the tale? Is there depth to what we have created and where do we want to draw the eye towards? What is the lasting impression we intend it to make?

My tree-scape...

My tree-scape…

Perhaps it’s just me, being enthralled with writing and words, who sees the parallels in this, or perhaps it harks back to what Antonio has done with his creative writing project – and presents two sides to the singular concept of creativity….

(The problem is – now I want to add painting to my ever-increasing list of creative pursuits. If only one could paint a little extra time into the picture!)

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