The Lost Art of the Greeting

My guest today is Magdalena Ball who runs The Compulsive Reader. Her short stories, editorials, poetry, reviews and articles have appeared in a wide number of printed anthologies and journals. She is also the author of the poetry book Repulsion Thrust, the novel Sleep Before Evening, a nonfiction book The Art of Assessment: How to Review Anything and three other poetry chapbooks Quark Soup, and, in collaboration with Carolyn Howard-Johnson, Cherished Pulse and She Wore Emerald Then.

The Lost Art of the Greeting

by Magdalena Ball

Sending a quick greeting is an easy thing these days.  Just pop a line or two onto an email message (eg HAPPY BIRTHDAY JOSH), and off it goes.  Do we even need to bother with that?  After all, we’re all connected on social networks these days.  On my birthday this year about 30 people I didn’t know (and a similar number that I did) wished me a very happy birthday.  I could wish my whole family Happy Chanukah with a single status update on Facebook.  Or maybe I could pop down to the shop and pick up a card to say it for me: “On Valentine’s Day/just wanted to say/you make my life special/in every way.”

But what does “special” mean?  Do I really mean “every way” (maybe not every single way…).  The problem with greetings is that they really can’t be done without effort.  If you dash off something slapdash and fast, the meaning behind the action gets lost.  In other words, passing on easy cliché may be less meaningful than no words at all.  The whole point of taking the time to say something important to someone is to make a connection.  It’s easy to miss those connections in this fast paced, multi-tasking world of ours.  Let’s see – I’ll cook dinner, finish a business report, bathe the kids, and send off a greeting card to my mother in the next hour.  If you don’t personalise or try to say something that really captures how you feel in a way that is powerful and moving, the whole point of taking the time to make that communication is lost.

When someone gives me a gift or card, what I really want is for them to have spent a few minutes thinking about me.  That’s the gift – the little bit of thought.  A gift or card that says – you actually are in my thoughts.  It’s very difficult to do that with cliché.  Much better to use poetry, where each word is carefully constructed – thought out, pulled together to create meaning that is entirely novel.  That was the thinking behind the Celebration series of poetry that Carolyn Howard-Johnson and I began pulling together some years ago.  We wanted to create little, beautiful gift books of poetry that wasn’t cliché ridden or syrupy, but instead looked closely at particular themes like “love”, holidays, fatherhood and motherhood, and captured something distinctive and new about that theme.  Although the books feature lovely, full colour artwork, most are only $6.95 – about the price of a high end greeting card.  This is definitely a cliché free zone!   The book features a beautiful Poinsettia painting on the cover by prize-winning artist Vicki Thomas, and the books can be bought in packs of 25 for only $3 each (Put HOLIDAY ORDER in the subject line and send an e-mail to hojonews@aol.com to organise a set).  The individual book can be found at: http://www.budurl.com/BloomingRed

Here’s a sample poem, which can also be listened to (in the author’s own voice) at The Compulsive Reader.

Silent Symphony

Though it’s calm in the dark room

where you sit on Christmas eve

reaching for familiarity

I’ll take you down

to that imperfect place

of tone and sound

beyond culture’s skin, language

hard wired clickity clack

auditory parasite

multiples of frequencies

simple-ratio harmonies or complex

carols of memory

down there

in the consonance of memory

walking the cobblestones of imagination

your black heart finds light

melodic intervals

of sensation more pervasive than chance

open your ears into the silence

a symphony

vibrating  the universe of your illusory body.

More on Magdalena Ball can be found at her website.

To learn more about another author, check out Kathy Stemke’s blog tomorrow. She’s featuring Stephen Tremp who has just had his first action suspense novel released: Breakthrough.

Published in: on November 13, 2010 at 6:00 am  Comments (9)  
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