Friday, September 26, 2008

Kurdish Women's Rights Watch

One of the contributors to After Shocks: The Poetry of Recovery for Life-Shattering Events is Nazand Begikhani, who survived the chemical gas-bombing attack in Halabja by the regime of Saddam Hussein on Iraqi Kurds on March 16, 1988, which killed 5,000 civilians, 75 percent of them women and children. Begikhani escaped, though her two brothers died, and she now lives in London.

She is an incredible poet and scholar, a polyglot who translates her own poetry into French and English, and her poems have been translated into Arabic and Persian. She has also translated Baudelaire and T.S. Eliot into Kurdish. Begikhani is a founding member and coordinator of Kurdish Women Action Against Honor Killing. Her research into Kurdish gender issues is widely published in Kurdish, French, and English.

In an email yesterday, Begikhani asked me for comp copies of After Shocks to sell at upcoming conferences in Paris and London of the Kurdish Women's Rights Watch. Proceeds would benefit KWRW. The Paris conference starts next Thursday, so I am mailing her a dozen copies expedited. At that weight and speed, this is going to cost at or near $100, maybe more (gulp!). Can I afford this? Not really, but I guess I can afford it more than Kurds can. My incredibly insignificant contribution--can it help the cause of justice in this murderous world?

Anyway, I share this here because I am just totally overwhelmed by the unexpected turns in my journey of the past 18 months to compile and launch After Shocks. The surprises get more incredible each day. Whether I sell enough books to earn back my costs seems immaterial at this point. The fun I'm having is worth every dollar. Never in my wildest dreams would I have anticipated coming across Nazand Begikhani's poems and her causes.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Blog Interview about the Making of After Shocks

Today, blogger Jessica Handler posted her interview with me at Swimming in the Trees. The interview, conducted via email, focused on the conception of After Shocks: The Poetry of Recovery for Life-Shattering Events and the background of the making of the anthology. Here's the link:

Interview with Tom Lombardo

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Report on After Shocks Reading in Charleston: Sept 18, 2008

The readings in Charleston Thursday night from After Shocks: The Poetry of Recovery for Life-Shattering Events went very, very well. About 60 people showed up, helped by a Sunday news feature in the Charleston newspaper and two TV spots my publicist was able to line up for me that day.

The reading featured 8 Carolina contributors to After Shocks: Paul Allen, Linda Annas Ferguson, Barbara G.S. Hagerty, Richard Garcia, Kurt Lamkin, Susan Meyers, Gail Peck, and South Carolina Poet Laureate Marjory Wentworth. Things went very smoothly, considering the individual readings were quite short, 2 poems apiece. I was able to insert little bits of information about the anthology as a whole in between the readers ("15-second ads"). The entire reading took one hour, then the book signing lasted about 30 or so minutes. I had invited each contributor to sell his/her recent books, too, and a few of those were also sold and signed. The Friends of the Charleston Library managed the selling of the books.

Kurt Lamkin graciously played his Kora before and after the reading. The Kora is a 21-stringed West African instrument. The large, round gourd-like body sits in the players lap, and the neck stands up about three more feet. The nylon strings face the player, who plucks them while facing the neck. The sound is wonderful. It's been described as a harp-lute, but that doesn't quite capture it exactly. Google Kora, and you will find links with samples. Kurt has performed internationally. Not only sounds great, but he looks great playing it, too.

I was on TV twice on Thursday in Charleston to promote the book and the evening reading, at the ABC affiliate and the CBS affiliate. And this was great experience for future publicity efforts. I had done some production work in the past from behind the camera, but this was my first time in front of the live camera, and it does jangle the nerves a bit. During my time on "Low Country Live" at the ABC affiliate, Channel 4, the two interviewers were prepared, interested, and asked good questions. Lasted about 5 minutes. Afterwards, the woman interviewer, Ryan, told me her college roommate had been murdered by a stalker and that her fiancé had died in an auto wreck. I felt that connection that shared grief enables, and I inscribed her copy with a deeply heartfelt message. The afternoon segment at Channel 5 news was very brief..."After Shocks...reading tonight at the library...Yes, my wife died...Oh, yes, I recovered, sort of...Next up, how pregnant women can prevent radiation damage to their fetuses..." I was on camera for 75 seconds.

All in all, a good day. Because Charleston was the first public reading, I can now say proudly: After Shocks: The Poetry of Recovery for Life-Shattering Events is now officially launched.

You can see more about After Shocks at:
After Shocks

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Readings from After Shocks: The Poetry of Recovery for Life-Shattering Events

Charleston, South Carolina

September 18 7 PM
Charleston County Public Library
68 Calhoun Street

Carolina-based contributors to After Shocks will read from the anthology: Paul Allen, Linda Annas Ferguson, Richard Garcia, Barbara G.S. Hagerty, Kurtis Lamkin, Susan Meyers, Gail Peck, Marjory Wentworty, and editor Tom Lombardo. Music by contributors Kuris Lamkin and Paul Allen. Book signing follows the reading.

The Charleston Post & Courier published an article promoting this reading last Sunday. Click the link to read it.

Charleston Post & Courier article