Sunday, October 26, 2014

United Nations Day II

After I had posted my poem a few days ago, I realized I should translate it. So, I put it into French, Hawaiian, and Persian. This last was the most difficult. Fortunately, I had the help of a Persian professor, Ladan Hamedani, at the University of Hawai‘i to smooth out my "wrinkly" Persian. 

Perhaps in the coming weeks, I will add more translations. Perhaps I will post the poem on Facebook and ask for translations. I wonder if I will get any volunteers, any responses. The blogosphere is so saturated these days. 

We'll see. Click to enlarge.

Monday, October 20, 2014

United Nations Day

This coming Friday, October 24, is United Nations Day. I remember celebrating that when I was a kid in school. I don’t know if anyone celebrates it anymore, but I thought I would by posting this about a poem I wrote.

Last week, my poem was read at the United Nations Plaza during the award ceremony held by the Jane Addams Peace Association. I was delighted. (Each year the Jane Addams Peace Association recognizes those children’s books which promote world peace.)

I have two people to thank for getting me to write this poem in the first place. 

The first is a woman who contacted me last May about judging the best short stories submitted by Muslim children living in the U.K. and about writing a poem for their magazine Young Muslim Writers Awards, which is funded by a charity called Muslim Hands. 

I was a bit hesitant. What kind of organization was Muslim Hands? What kind of magazine did they put out? And most important, did I feel up to writing a poem for children, thinking that it needed to be in rhyme? 

So I checked out the organization and the magazine: religious in nature and a promoter of such social values as harmony, truthfulness, and responsibility. That sounded ok to me. As for writing the poem, I decided, after talking with my writer-friend Sue Cowing, that it didn’t have to be in rhyme. That sounded ok to me, too. Even so, I didn’t have a clue what I was going to write about and without that I knew my muse wouldn’t come calling. 

The second person I’d like to thank is Maya Soetero Ng, the President’s sister, who provided the subject for my poem. In June, I was part of a panel discussion which Maya chaired. The panel was on writing children’s books and relevant topics for such books. One of those topics was the importance of using children’s books to promote peace. After the discussion, I told Maya about the poem I had to write. We both agreed that it should be about peace.

All I had to do now was wait for my muse to show up, which would be last minute, if I knew my muse. (As expected she showed up the day before the deadline.) I wrote the poem and sent it off. About two weeks ago I decided to illustrate the what I had written. Then on a whim I sent it to the Jane Addams Peace Association, from whom I had received two awards. And thus it happened that my poem was read during last week’s ceremony.

Here’s the poem [click to enlarge]:

Sunday, April 27, 2014

The Black Orchid Code

After such a long silence, I wonder whether I will connect with any of my former readers. Eight months is a long time. 

During that time I have busied myself with pursuits other than blog writing. I wrote a book about the Latin poet Horace, which you can read about here:

I also "reconnected" with a box of oil paints that had once belonged to me as a teenager, my father before that, and his father before that. The result has been a series of seascapes that is fast filling up my house.

And, I found time around Christmas to write a chapter book, which I am self-publishing through CreateSpace and which is available at their online store and on

The book is called The Black Orchid Code. Here is the front cover of the paper back.

And this is the back cover.

About seven or more years ago, I came up with the idea for this story. The idea seemed fun, and I shared it with my mentor Harriett Oberhaus, who immediately loved it.

We spent the afternoon thinking of all kinds of plot points. We even came up with the main characters and the locale: Long Beach, California, where I grew up and where there was a park, an old pine tree, and the streets I knew so well. My notebook was filled with ideas. 

But actually sitting down to turn these ideas into a book didn’t seem fun but hard work. So, the years passed until last Christmas, when I stumbled across a half-written first chapter. As I began to rewrite the chapter, I could see the other chapters in my mind and in no time I had a first draft of the entire book. 

I have always loved languages and this book fits right in with this passion. In fact, I remember a Reader’s Digest article back in the 60s about plant communication and plant feelings. Perhaps I wondered then what it would be like to communicate with a plant, that is, have a real conversation with it. And thus it was in the 1960s, I suppose, that the real germ of The Black Orchid Code began to take root. 

Here is the title page, table of contents as well as the first chapter of the book. You can also order the book on for less than $9.

Happy reading! [Click on each image to enlarge.]