Interview with Caryn West, creator of The Trouble with the Alphabet – international awareness through art and through the eyes of children

 

While stenciling a calligraphic alphabet design on the walls of her son’s bedroom, painter and artist Caryn West developed the concept for her new coffee table book project and human rights campaign.

The book, The Trouble with the Alphabet, features countries whose names begin with each letter of the alphabet and where children live in severe poverty or face danger or other human rights violations. Each section depicts a child’s face, taken from a real photo of someone in that nation, superimposed onto a calligraphic English letter, along with a short poem in the simple, powerful words a child of that land might use. A nonprofit, nongovernmental, nonsectarian organization assisting the children in that area follows, with a description of its purpose and work and with contact information for interested readers who may wish to donate or volunteer.

Although The Trouble is not a traditional children’s book and not specifically targeted to children, West and her family encourage parents to discuss the themes the project raises at home.

…Some people think these issues are too heavy for children, too scary. But I believe we need to start introducing them to the realities of the world at younger ages, to encourage compassion in them.

— Caryn West, paraphrased.

Caryn and her husband Brock explain that this book, along with its associated merchandising and media campaign, attempts to reach people who may want to help out somewhere in the world, but don’t have information on what is going on in different places.

When I chatted with Caryn last week, she pointed out how Mohamed Yunus’ Nobel Peace Prize for starting the Grameen Bank, which provides small business loans to individuals and families in developing countries, gave more publicity to international grassroots humanitarian efforts. She hopes to continue this trend of international awareness of human suffering and ways to prevent or ease it – maybe even inspire the next generation of entrepreneurial leaders and ‘cultural creatives’ along a humanitarian path.

Everyone has a gift, she explains. Hers is writing, while others may have great organizational ability and come up with and carry out solutions to world issues. “I would love to be able to reach someone with a gift [in another area], inspire someone who has a solution.”

Her own 18-year old son wants to become a social entrepreneur, founding an organization or business which assists the less fortunate internationally.

I’ll share a few highlights of my conversation with Caryn West:

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Caryn has always been curious about other people and ways of life. Beginning as early as age three, when she accompanied her sisters on a plane flight and approached a gentleman a few seats away. At her invitation the two colored a Mr. Magoo book together, and he turned out to be a major league baseball player who then met her family and became her godfather.

She drew her first portrait at age nine, a crayon rendering of Sammy Davis Jr. for a school report. Although she never planned to continue drawing people and personally enjoys the work of the Impressionists such as Monet more so than that of portrait artists, she relies on the portrait theme to make The Trouble with the Alphabet cohesive. That all began with the idea of looking into the eyes of children – which readers do beginning with the book’s cover. “I start with the eyes, then the face grows out of that.”

She chose to focus on children because they are universal in a way. We all were children once, and most people have a soft spot in their hearts for the very young.

Also, presenting a global situation as it might be depicted by children allows Caryn to provide a short, concise summary and avoid overwhelming her readers with information.

Born with a very empathetic personality, Caryn had to stop work at times when she felt overwhelmed by children’s suffering. Her empathy made her life more painful at times, but also inspired her to put so much time and energy into projects such as these.

The project’s artwork stems from photographs of real children in each of the featured countries (although not every photograph she found online represents someone who grew up in the specific country, each pictured child did live there for a time and suffered due to the nation’s situation.) Caryn located most of her photographs through Flickr, and searched more widely known and smaller websites until she found an image that caught her attention.

Caryn intentionally avoided depicting sick or otherwise injured children as that might be too depressing for readers. Fearing simple expressions of pain and suffering would cause people to look away, she aimed to implicitly convey hope through drawing mostly healthy children with complex, individual facial expressions. Fear, uncertainty, or hope in the kids’ eyes would perhaps draw more readers in to the book than simple pain and hopelessness.

She describes herself as a self-taught artist who cannot avoid painting in her own distinctive style. “I’ve tried to emulate other artists, but my work always turns out the same.” Portraits, to her, represent a huge responsibility – conveying the whole likeness and character of a person.

“I’m not the kind of person who smokes cigars in a coffeeshop,” described Caryn. “I never wanted to be an artist [in itself] …all my work comes out of personal conviction.”

Caryn researched the book using a wide variety of sources, everything from scholarly dissertations to prominent magazine articles to NGO sites to local blogs and personal websites. “I aimed to be well-rounded, read up on as much as I could find.” Oman proved the hardest to research, due to the strict control the Omani government exercises over information leaving the country. However, she was aware of their few laws protecting children from child labor, and featured this as a potential problem facing children.

Caryn was extremely cautious regarding accuracy throughout the project, allowing NGO’s to proofread her profiles of their work and refusing to publish anything until she was sure it was correct.

Some people might ask why Americans should give so much attention to world problems when we have impoverished children within our own borders. To this, Caryn replies that while she sympathizes with struggling Americans, this particular book was intended to have an international focus. Also the numbers of affected people and the scale of the issues depicted in the Trouble with the Alphabet cannot compare to the internal issues within the United States.

Caryn views herself as a kind of world citizen, with a sense of love, responsibility, and loyalty beyond her own nation’s borders. And she “goes around wiping away excuses” for people not to try to improve their world. “Look, the bank foreclosed on my home. But I chose to still write this book. Everyone can do something. Even a homeless person can pick up litter around them, or just decide to be kind to people.”

She cites the example of Eric Reeves, a high school English teacher who raised international awareness of the Darfur crisis simply by crunching numbers at home of people dying in the conflict.

Caryn published The Trouble with the Alphabet herself, through an independent American publisher who could carry out the unique six-color hexachrome process involved in rendering the illustrations. She wanted the promptness, full editorial control, high quality, and environmentally sensitive methods (the book is printed on recycled paper) she could find and select on her own. Although her decision was more expensive in some ways, Caryn stands by her choice to self-publish. “We’ve got to first do the right thing, and then see what happens.”

Synchronized Chaos Editor’s Note: A paperback version of the book is coming out for $24.95 in order to reach more people. Caryn would love to reach out to schools and the education sector.

An angel investor helped fund the project, which came as a true blessing as Caryn and her family lost their home in the slowing economy. The book met with initial success, as people tended to buy more than one copy and well-known NGO’s such as the US Campaign for Burma and the Save Darfur campaign chose to be featured. A NGO is now featured for every country in the book except for Zimbabwe, where Caryn’s criticism of President Mugabe would put the aid workers in danger if they were to stand by the statement. However, she still lists ways to get involved with the people of the country.

The Trouble with the Alphabet has begun to receive international reviews, which so far have been very positive. Caryn very much hoped for a positive response from those around the world, as she learned about the situations she describes through extensive research, but it has not yet been possible for her to travel to many of the featured countries. When asked what she might say in response to someone who asks how she can comment on a nation without having been there, she replied that especially now in the Internet/Information Age, anyone can care about those abroad, even those who can’t afford to travel. Some situations (such as forced child prostitution, violence against children, etc) are simply wrong and hurtful to people, regardless of any situation on the ground. And she aims to leave people with a step towards a solution…reaching out to assist a local indigenous (where possible) nonprofit group in the area who knows the situation well and can help improve conditions.

Caryn has kept her humility throughout the project…she feels as if she’s not necessarily an amazing person, but simply used for this endeavor. And she relies mostly on gut instinct, creativity, heart, and networking (online and person-to-person) to promote the book and merchandise.

“I’ve learned never to dismiss any person as irrelevant [to The Trouble with the Alphabet,]” Caryn explained. Creative networking has become a crucial part in her grassroots/inexpensive marketing strategy. And she alluded to many unique stories of people whom she and her husband met through the publicity process, and to people who are already inspired by her writing.

Editor’s Note: I found the book myself through viral marketing, when Caryn’s husband Brock friended me on Facebook and sent me the link.

The Trouble with the Alphabet is available for viewing and/or purchase at http://www.thetroublewiththealphabet.com/home-page/

Coyotes back in San Francisco! Synchronized Chaos speaks with Wild at Heart documentary artist Melissa Peabody

 

A few years ago, residents of San Francisco’s upscale Bernal Heights neighborhood discovered an unusual new resident roaming upon a nearby park’s hill. The coyote, long believed to have disappeared from the urban neighborhood, had come back on its own.

Through her documentary Still Wild at Heart, Melissa Peabody interviews scientists, park employees, and American city residents and, using coyotes as a starting point, explores how humans and wildlife will increasingly coexist in American metropolitan areas and how to make these interactions peaceful and mutually beneficial.

Synchronized Chaos often looks into interdisciplinary projects – artistic technique used to further work in another field, or art/writing inspired by other fields. This documentary exemplifies the use of filmmaking and photographic techniques used not only as arts in themselves to make a film, but as tools to effectively illustrate modern ecological changes.

Interestingly, I came across the flyer for this film in an art gallery, clearly marketed as an art piece, rather than a science museum. These kinds of marketing and genre crossovers are providing a larger audience and more exposure for science-related communication and reviving some of the long Western tradition of natural history presented in an artistic manner rather than isolated as ‘science.’

I discussed the project with Melissa Peabody after watching Still Wild at Heart, and she provided some background information about the making of the film and the concepts behind it. Here are some paraphrased highlights from our conversation:

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Peabody’s background and this film’s inspiration:

She earned a master’s in journalism from the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism and has been involved with scientific and ecological documentaries since the mid-1990s. She has edited films for Turner Broadcasting and Animal Planet and served as primary story researcher and associate producer for KRON’s TV Documentary News Unit. 

Still Wild at Heart began when Melissa saw a coyote on a hill in a grassy park near her home in Bernal Heights. Further sightings became a game with her eight-year old twin sons, everyone looking for a glimpse of the animal and coming back to tell the others.

“I was amazed by this animal. How did the coyote get there, how was it surviving?”

Regarding her vision and process in creating the documentary:

The coyotes serve as a main character/unifying thread in Still Wild at Heart, both as a storytelling device and because in many ecosystems coyotes are noticeable and a main predator important for controlling the populations of other species in the food web.

“Oftentimes it’s the small, untold nature stories which are important…the coyotes gave me a chance to tell many other stories as well, such as those of urban parrots and quails.”

She described (and I noticed while watching the piece) the level of attention paid to conveying a sense of an entire scene in 3-D space, rather than simply depicting a particular animal. The panoramic shots are important in that they give a sense of natural space, of animals existing within an ecosystem rather than simply as isolated individuals or even species. Creating them involved taking hundreds of shots from a large variety of angles over the three and a half years it took to carry out this project.

She also juxtaposes animals with humans and human artifacts in interesting ways – for example, a shot of a coyote eating an apple from someone’s garbage, and another with a magnificent view of a white heron flapping his/her wings and preparing for takeoff – when a cyclist suddenly whizzes across the camera’s field of view apparently without disturbing the bird. Following her gut while creating most of the shots, Peabody uses these juxtapositions to highlight the ways people and wild animals already do share quite close spaces.

On coyotes’ impact on human-inhabited ecosystems, and ecological issues surrounding living with coyotes:

There have never been any violent incidents involving the coyotes of Bernal Heights. Even though that particular hill has people with their dogs on it 24-7, even at 4:30 am when she came out to shoot for the film. And the first coyote Peabody and her family sighted had lived in that neighborhood for more than five years!

Synchronized Chaos Editor’s Note – there have been very few violent incidents involving coyotes and humans anywhere on the record in areas where coyotes and humans live together. Only one person has ever died from a coyote attack.

Some ecologists and wildlife biologists suggest that killing coyotes may in fact prove detrimental to population management and human safety. Coyotes are incredibly territorial, and those already among us who have peacefully integrated into human society may be protecting us from others which may prove more dangerous. A sheep rancher in Western Marin County featured in the film chooses nonlethal population control methods (fences) rather than shooting coyotes for this reason, although he was not previously on the record against killing animals.

Also, some researchers suggest coyotes may teach their offspring how to best survive in any particular environment. The young receive care and feeding by both parents, and scientists believe coyotes to be better at observational learning than wolves or other predatory mammals. Killing adult coyotes might leave litters of orphaned pups with no prior knowledge on how to coexist with humans. Also – coyotes live and travel in small packs where alpha males are more likely to mate (although they are seen hunting mostly in pairs) – so killing alpha males might actually leave opportunities for a pack’s other males to mate with females and thus produce more pups.

Peabody discussed how animals take advantage of the open space in our city’s parks and travel through open space corridors, including backyards and any adjacent ‘green spaces.’ Creating these natural corridors enables species to move from one place to another for mating and/or to search for food. If people keep cities reasonably clean and secure their garbage (and avoid feeding coyotes or any wildlife), then there will be less chance of coyotes coming too close to people and potentially sparking a violent attack.

Coyotes have actually decreased the rodent population in certain areas, which people have viewed as a positive.

Peabody sees this film as an invitation to urban planners to rethink their designs in terms of impact on local wildlife. Some more eco-conscious planning has already started in San Francisco, for example a group of homeowners putting plants in their garden which are hospitable for a rare butterfly known to exist only on two local hills. The homeowners got very excited about the project and about learning about the butterfly and their local ecology, which bodes well for educational coexistence in the future.

“San Francisco is actually becoming a surprisingly green city, with lots of open space. Wildlife sightings are fun for children, and biodiversity can be a source of civic pride.”

On how she views her documentary, what she intends as a takeaway message for Still Wild at Heart:

“This film is a total, unabashed celebration of our ecosystems and wildlife.”

To Peabody, the return of coyotes to our human landscapes is part of the larger story of humans’  relationship to the environment and to wild nature.  Coyotes provide challenges, certainly, in terms of how to change our own behaviors to reduce human-coyote conflicts. These changes on our part include accepting keeping our pets indoors, or on a leash when we walk them outdoors. Keeping our garbage cans tightly shut and pet food indoors, so we don’t attract coyotes to our homes and yards.
In exchange for these small behavior changes on our part, the presence of coyotes and other wildlife in our human environments can greatly enrich our lives, by providing new and valuable opportunities to reconnect to the natural world that we evolved in, and that many of us have lost touch with on a daily level. 
Peabody’s excited to show her film to people of all different age groups, and has already had very positive responses by viewers in the more than dozen screenings of the film so far—in school and college classrooms, media and environmental centers, and film festivals around the country. The film landed a spot in the SF Museum of Modern Art’s Animal Architecture Exhibit this summer, and recently received a Best of Fest Award from the Hazel Wolf Environmental Film Festival in Seattle.
It has also been accepted into the United Nations Association traveling film festival, which will screen in the San Francisco Bay Area, New York City, London’s Hyde Park, and finally, in Cambodia.
She is also overall very optimistic about our evolving relationship to nature, even in our most urban terrains.
“As people become more aware of animals and ecosystems, we will become more conscious and appreciative of our own place in this deeper and richer world, and our days will be much more interesting.”
This natural history documentary, San Francisco—Still Wild At Heart, has gone a long way towards depicting our relationship to nature and its possibilities for enriching human consciousness, while remaining a work of art with stunning panoramic shots. The film is remarkably accessible and beautiful, and only an hour long.

You may read more or purchase the film at www.stillwildatheart.com

An interview with visual artist Paul Gamble

 Paul Gamble is an Australian painter who anonymously contributed some scanned images of his work to the Synchronized Chaos group on Facebook. We asked around and located him for an online interview.

You may friend Paul Gamble on Facebook and can probably contact him via one of the sites he mentions below where he features his work.

First of all – would you like to describe your process in creating one of your pictures? How does the image get from your head to the computer screen? What steps/media do you use?

Pictures usually come to me via creative imagination, by waking or lucid dreaming, day dreaming you could say. Some images are strong and immediate while other may rumage around in my head for years. All my art is based on drawing, either from my imagination, real objects and things or a combination of both. Sometimes I just copy a picture of something I like just as I did as a boy. It depends on the image.

I usually paint in either acrylics, oils, or synthetic polymer. Mostly on canvas.

Who are some of your favorite artists? Whose work do you admire and enjoy looking at, whether it has inspired you or not?

I admire any one who dares call themselves an artist and who struggles with the creative act on a regular basis.
Leonardo DaVinci, Salvador Dali, MC Escher, Albert Tucker, Brett Whitely, James Gleeson, Mirka Mora

Where do you find inspiration for your art? How do you get your ideas?

Pictures can come from a feeling, a thought, an experience, a word, a song, a sneeze.
Everything I can see, with my eyes, and mind, is art.

I am an artist, so the majority of my brainspace and time is consumed with art. The creation process not only manifests in a physical way via making art but also appears to me in the physical living universe as well.

How long have you been making these pictures? Has your style changed over time?

I have been drawing pictures and image making since childhood. Painting seriously for about twenty years now. My style hasn’t changed a great deal even though I continually change what and how I paint, from picture to picture. I am always searching for something new, that special thing, experimentation is never ending. Make as many mistakes as possible just to see what happens.

Some of your artwork seems to have a fanciful, almost whimsical tone (sorry if that’s not your intention!!) Is there a reason for the mood you’re trying to create? What are you trying to get across to viewers?

I hope my sense of humour comes through in a work, I also hope viewers are intigued and provoked enough to contemplate their own existence in the universe.

I think the whimsical thing comes from continually trying different things. NEXT! picture, lets go.

You use a lot of bright colors in your work that makes it stand out. How do you decide on a color scheme for a particular piece?

Colour scemes always are a self referral process that happens within a picture. I love colour so I always try to combine them to each others advantage. I want my pictures to stand out because I want people to look at them, I want them to be noticed. Bright colour is a good indication of mood.

What about your work, in your view, is different and distinct from that of other graphic artists? What have you innovated or done differently?

Things I do differently? I make paint into 3d objects. Paintsculptures, I call them. Still perfecting that experiment.

Also, my whole egg theory as a conceptual basis for my work. I am unsure if anyone else has or does that.

My inspiration and ideas come from the idea of the egg. Eggs as a universal symbol for creation, as a shape, as a concept, as math, as metaphor, as biology, as a belief system, as the sacred and the mundane, micro and macro. It is what relates us to all life. Everything comes from and is egg.

I notice a lot of anatomical detail in your work, especially the skulls and the birds in flight. Do you have a biology background? Do you work from live or actual animals as models?

I don’t have a biology background – the animal motif stems from my egg concept. Where I can, I use real objects, otherwise I use pictures as reference. Drawing from life is preferred but not always possible.

Where can people find your work online? Are you selling your work online? (We at Synchronized Chaos always encourage people to patronize our featured artists. However, not all of our readers have Facebook.)

I’m mainly on Facebook due to there being no art gallery where I live. My website is still under construction.

Editor’s note: You may also find Paul Gamble’s work on Zazzle.com and on the pictures section of Synchronized Chaos’ editorial and planning Facebook group – Chaos Theory (our former name) on Facebook.

http://apps.new.facebook.com/merchstore/store.php?ch=paulgamble&uid=1386737177

http://www.zazzle.com/pd/find?qs=paul+gamble

Hope that’s enough. If I think of more, I will update. Gotta let the brain soak for awhile 🙂

Poetic work of Faracy Moon Grouse

 

Faracy Grouse

Faracy Grouse is an American writer originally from Minneapolis. She just moved to Britain after four years in Seville, Spain as the resident foreigner in a neighborhood where a man being seen hanging out laundry could cause a building wide sensation.

 

 As a child she was slow to read and write, unable to do either until the age of eight. Instead she would make up the rest of the story or draw pictures to remind herself what she was supposed to have written if asked to read aloud. Dyslexic and excruciatingly shy, she was not able to take refuge in books the way that many quiet children do. Where she excelled was in drawing and creating worlds in her mind.

 

 However, by the age of 11 she was a voracious reader, particularly of non-fiction books about foreign cultures. She knew from a very early age that she wanted to see the world.

 

 She first discovered a love for poetry at the age of 13 through an article on Russian poet Alexander Pushkin in an issue of National Geographic.

 

With the encouragement of a few creative English teachers, she began to write prose and poetry as a teenager.

 After studying voice, she went on to complete a degree in Anthropology and European History, marrying a man she met in Spain and having a child in the process.

 

During the breakdown of this marriage, she took up writing once again. This time it was to survive. She felt that she could write her way out of a terrible situation, and in the end she did.

 She has written a full-length screenplay, numerous short stories and put together several collections of poetry. She is currently working on a memoir.

 

Faracy would very much appreciate hearing your input about her work, and would be more than happy to discuss publication with any who may be interested.

You may contact Faracy at alumine3@gmail.com

 

 

You may read Faracy’s poetry here:

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October – Transformation By Surprise – coming soon! Three shoutouts for our lovely readers :)

 

Received slightly fewer submissions for October’s issue but have been able to go into greater depth with each of them. Our theme is… Transformation by Surprise, which I will explain in the next few days or so when the work goes online. For now some shoutouts for opportunities for our artists.

First of all, I recently visited San Francisco’s Valencia Street neighborhood for the Modern Times Books release party of fellow zinesters who produced a guide to community-based approaches to handling intimate partner abuse. Great stories, not technical or boring at all, full of useful information. People from around the world attended the release party, including a traveling performance troupe with members from Zimbabwe, Israel/Palestine, etc. Dropped off Synchronized Chaos cards at the shops and galleries along the way there – also planning to crosslink and mutually promote our zine and theirs (I do this with many different zines with a variety of emphases, would like to consolidate resources and publishing opportunities, promote fellow artists, and encourage networking. I also liked their pragmatic, community based approach to handling an issue without huge bureaucracy.) If you’d like one of their zines please comment here and I’ll put you in touch with them.

Also visited the San Jose Museum of Art, interesting techy Silicon Valley feel with an exhibit on robots, another on old computer memory component history, another on minimalist installations. Sci fi esque – but they take art of various styles and does NOT have to be tech oriented. Paintings, vistas, everything welcome as far as I know. They take proposals from interested visual artists for review by their curators and I took a flyer about where to submit proposals and work samples and will forward it on to anyone who comments and is interested. Preference given to CA artists but CA residence not required. They’re booked for the near future but will consider proposals for later on.

An organization I endorse, the Neighborhood Housing Services of Silicon Valley, provides foreclosure intervention and counseling as well as neighborhood improvement projects. Aims to help keep people of all income levels able to own homes in Silicon Valley neighborhoods. They need a volunteer or more to revamp their www.nhssv.org website to make it brighter, more appealing, and easier to navigate. They need translation, a site map, a hits counter, etc…would love to see someone here get involved, if you know how to improve websites this would be a great portfolio and experience building project.

October issue coming soon!!

Another shoutout – a very well-written, articulate liberal social-justice, ecological blog.

Shoutout to a social-justice and environmental blog, “Unmasking an Inconvenient Truth” (no direct connection to the Al Gore documentary) produced by fellow San Jose State students as a personal project: http://happylandmanifesto.blogspot.com/

I find this blog very well-written and interesting, and encourage people to check it out! Synchronized Chaos itself is not explicitly political (open to everyone with something unique and creative to submit) and encourages contributions from those of all cultural viewpoints. (i.e views expressed here are those of the contributors, and I proudly affirm that we have never rejected a submission. We exist to promote and encourage people’s creative projects and help talented people find an outlet, regardless of POV.)

When I come across other blogs or sites or webzines, I tend to make the offer to crosslink/cross reference, and I invite anyone else reading this to suggest creative projects for our blogroll.

Shoutout for a very good friend of mine’s blog – life on the autistic spectrum, struggles with social services, humor, hopes and dreams

Synchronized Chaos invites anyone and everyone to check out my very good friend’s blog (he goes by the name Sodalis, is a young autistic transgendered person living in California.) Right now he’s working towards becoming a civil rights lawyer or professor of evolutionary biology while scraping by looking for more permanent housing (he’s couch and shelter surfing at the moment) and work. He’s very articulate here, has a certain unique sense of humor and favorite pet interests.

Would love to see people read this – well-written and interesting. Describes the complex realities of life in the Bay Area for those whose minds work differently. Perhaps drop him a note of encouragement or advice while checking this out.

http://anotherautismblog.blogspot.com/

Shout out to a fellow zine, Ivory Tower!

 

Great, varied, and currently much more navigable zine run by a great group of people: http://www.theivorytowerzine.com/index.htm

Please check them out, there’s a whole “Meet the Artists” section as well as many stories, poems, and pictures. Ivory Tower’s staff creates a theme every quarter…this time it’s horror and the macabre, next quarter the environment and planet Earth. Please feel free to spread the word and/or to submit simultaneously to Synchronized Chaos and Ivory Tower if your piece concerns nature or environmental issues – so important they should get covered by as many zines as possible 🙂

Zines. They do the artistic soul and the world good. (yes, I’m old enough to play off of that old milk industry campaign slogan!)

http://www.theivorytowerzine.com/index.htm

Quotes and links we like

Thoughts on the Synchronized Chaos project, quotes and links we like:
“An interdisciplinary art, poetry, literary, science, nature, cultural issues, and travel writing webzine. The brainchild of an international group of contributors and volunteer editors/creative facilitators. Inspired by the mathematical concept of chaos theory, the study of how to effectively model and predict the behavior of systems which seem random, but are in fact highly influenced by initial conditions not yet fully understood.
 
We’re working with the idea of not-obviously-apparent logic that seems to emerge spontaneously from randomnity. A way to facilitate and promote something we hope will bring enjoyment and inspire thought, creativity, and empathy among readers without imposing strict guidelines or themes upon our contributors.  
We welcome contributions from new and established writers and visual/musical artists, and focus on quality, craftspersonship, and building relationships with and among our readership and the contributors. We aim to publish a wide variety of work in a variety of styles – photo essays, digital artwork, formal and free verse poetry, short fiction and nonfiction, humor, well-written, unique personal experience and memoir, and effectively argued perspectives on pertinent issues.
We especially welcome those contributors who may not yet have found a home for their work in the publishing world, who prefer the process of creating to the process of selling and promoting their work.
 
Synchronized Chaos welcomes our readers and encourages people to peruse our offerings. We strive for professionalism, to treat contributors and readers with respect, to offer enjoyment, pleasure, and beauty, and inspire and motivate thought and creativity and love.
Link to the Wikipedia entry on Chaos Theory, which contains an accurate but much less readable link to a definition for Synchronized Chaos: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chaos_theory
 
Link to von Williams’ The Lark Ascending, a piece of music I believe matches the intentions for this project: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oz1hWcPkods
 
Ray Bradbury on writing:
 
And what, you ask, does writing teach us?
First and foremost, it reminds us that we are alive and that it is gift and a privilege, not a right. We must earn life once it has been awarded us. Life asks for rewards back because it has favored us with animation.

So while our art cannot, as we wish it could, save us from wars, privation, envy, greed, old age, or death, it can revitalize us amidst it all.

Article about freedom of speech in the Russian Federation: http://www.amnestyusa.org/document.php?id=ENGEUR460232008&lang=e 
 
Amnesty International’s Artists for Amnesty website http://www.amnestyusa.org/about-us/artists-for-amnesty/page.do?id=1031004&n1=2&n2=22 
 
In the near future I will see about linking Synchronized Chaos up with the Artists for Amnesty, as we do support freedom of speech and reasoned dialogue about potentially offensive matters rather than censorship.
San Francisco Coalition on Homelessness’ Street Sheet publication, written and produced in part by the homeless themselves and in the spirit of the original underground ‘zines: http://www.cohsf.org/streetsheet/
 
Listings and reviews of many art galleries in San Francisco’s South Mission/Valencia Street area (and if you come up north please let me know and I’d be happy to give you a minitour of some of my favorite city art and cultural spots!) http://www.sfmission.com/galleries/
 
SF Museum of Modern Art at http://www.sfmoma.org/ (many online features accessible for free to those all over.)
www.dontforgetburma.org (art in the service of human rights, people all over the world have found creative ways to get across the message that the Burmese deserve their liberty from the military junta.)
 
Free Battered Women www.freebatteredwomen.org (artwork and stories of incarcerated domestic violence survivors, the organization publishing the inmates’ work supports a campaign to review the sentencing of people locked up years ago before we allowed testimony regarding domestic violence/self defense as a mitigating factor in courtrooms and who would undoubtedly receive much lesser sentences today.)
www.freerice.org (vocabulary quiz, cash donated to the UN food program for developing countries for every correct answer.)
 
www.ivorytowerzine.com – a fellow webzine, this one has regular themes and more of a specifically art and literary focus. Very good, interesting submissions. Please feel free to resubmit work Synchronized Chaos has printed over a month ago if they allow it.
One-stop carpool information site, compiles info from Yahoo, Google, Craigslist, etc. www.gotalift.com
Click for free every day to support various good causes: www.thehungersite.com and www.accse.net (social projects in Mexico)
Cheap ($25) live opera performances in San Francisco’s Legion of Honor museum: www.pocketopera.org
The Chabot Space and Science Center, where I volunteer and which hosts amazing, detailed exhibits on space travel, nebulae and galaxies, and the solar system, and which offers telescopes used by professional scientists for free public viewings: www.chabotspace.org
NASA’s Astronomy Picture of the Day: http://antwrp.gsfc.nasa.gov/apod/astropix.html 
National Novel Writing Month – public relations group inspiring people’s creative projects, get off your rear and finally get that novel on paper/laptop screen! http://www.lettersandlight.org/

Welcome to Synchronized Chaos, please peruse our artistic offerings

This is a down-and-dirty version of Synchronized Chaos. The website’s clearly not fully designed nor as user-friendly as we would like yet but I’ve put up the artwork so our contributors might get the exposure they deserve and so everyone will have a chance to view the work and dialogue regarding the themes and ideas brought forth here. Many of our contributors have experience in other fields (scientific research, academia, business management, marketing, etc) and hope to inspire creativity and innovation in all fields of human experience.

Many contributors have included contact information and/or purchasing info for their work, and we encourage you to patronize our contributors. Also our artists and writers would love to hear from viewers – so if you have questions, constructive feedback, ideas for them, even a simple note of appreciation, please contact them using the email addresses provided. Many are seeking professional networking and/or collaboration opportunities through Synchronized Chaos. If you would like to reach someone who does not have listed contact info please leave a comment to the post and I will pass on your message.

Thanks for following this webzine and for joining with us all in the wild ride that is zine creation! We look forward to a more beautiful, professional site in the near future.

Julia Burton – poetry and accompanying image

 My name is Julia Burton. I’m 21. I started writing in middle school, when encouraged by a teacher who thought that I wrote well. I am from Lexington, Kentucky. I am also an artist, but am a student and still learning. I am looking for a publisher to publish my work, I am open to any ideas regarding the issue.  When I write, I don’t have any pre-designed poem in mind, I usually just spit out the thoughts and emotions in my head. However there are the rare occasions where something I’ve designed in my mind makes its way to the page. I am inspired by humanity itself, and the swirling emotions surrounding us.

June Whispers Undoing
Rays of golden hair        
dancing in the sky, normal morning sun
mingled with
            giddy laughter of friends
Gathered people
mulling around
            as we moved through

Lights dull by day, horns and clowns
blazing the way
through this morning.
            oh, this morning

I was rummaging, shopping for coffee mugs
when you were falling
            descending a path

There is a call
my voice shaking as I answer
something begins to sink
            so low inside of me

Stones to weigh down the time inside,
what is left
            but a pile of fallen rocks

Placed upon the dingy earth
with nowhere left
to stand
            I too, will fall

Small staggering streets
move beneath me, as we go to believe
            the blurred masses, move around me

White walls glimmer bleach
the chaplain is waiting
            to show me in

My mother is still as she
clasps your belongings
her face pale, we are all pale
            we’ve called it.

The room expands,
then collapses
            what?

To know the spark moves on
            to feel empty

We huddle like broken sticks
gripping weakly the knowledge
of you
            and the moment

How we did not see
what time so plainly could
what you told us
I know only
            the missing you

I can’t forget now
coffins and sodden earth
rackets of grief
            places you used to be

You are all around me now
lend me strength
to live
            as you did

To live
without you
in the shadows
            standing in the rain

Waiting for the sun
            to rise

 

You may contact Julia at murmersoftlyofthenight@gmail.com

Jaylan Salah, Egyptian poet and aspiring novelist

From an email conversation with Jaylan Salah on life, inspiration, and writing:
…Being a woman who writes in Egypt isn’t a very easy task, usually you get laughed at or even considered impolite just because you are a woman & some will start calling you a freak but tell you what, this was exactly what made me more eager to write, to prove myself as an independent woman, even if others didn’t want to believe that or tried to put out the fire burning in my veins.
…Well to sum up all the beautiful commentary I have in mind about a beautiful country like Egypt in just a few words is like trying to describe every single wave of the sea separately. The whole image isn’t as bright as it may seem, you may imagine it as a clear sky darkened by grey clouds that grow thicker & thicker day by day. We have inspirational scenery, an amazing sea (that inspires me a lot) & a proud heritage, a rich history of different languages & civilizations – but at the same time we have religious extremists, anti-feminists & those who believe women were meant to be kept under lock & key.
…All this inspires me, along with daily life events that shock me entirely or dazzle me to the extent of running towards my desk, grabbing my pen & piece of paper & getting ready to write. I’ve been writing since I was 11 & although this may sound like an OLD age to some, I was just listening, reading, watching & learning right up to my 11th birthday when I decided to rebel & take matters into my own hands. I won’t just watch from a distance, I’ll be a part of that crazy, fast-paced world.
My mother & sister are my greatest supporters & they believe in me as much as I believe in myself; maybe a little bit more.
A sampling of Jaylan’s poetry, translated into English:
Salem
It was a cold November day
I prayed to reach the stakes, before midnight
The flight to the moon was full of gloom
The executioner said, I’d soon be dead
I’d kick the box by noon, he said, I would never forget
The road to death was full of screams, begging and pleas
I held on to the bars of rusting iron
I fought back all the scars of blazing pain
I sniffed all the tears of distant fears
I watched the stake, fire and wood
I watched the faces of the people
Hatred filled eyes, despising with fear and loathing
All they did was point a finger, scorn with a look
I took my last weeds of wisdom, shut my senses
No preferences, today was the day I’d slowly die
The fire burned so scarily high, Mary was there, her hair was rising up to hell
Sarah was hiding, her tears were washing all my pain
Elizabeth stood both strong and frail, she hoped her trial would just fail
I laughed my heart out at the stake, I was in a hurry to embrace it
Hands tied roughly behind my back, hair trimmed coarsely in a bun
faggots beneath my feet, soot and tar over my head
Eyes reaching the sky so high, ears deafened by church’s bells
I waited for the flames to flare, to burn my feet and burn my dare
But nothing came although the flames were piercing high
across the cloudy, foggy sky
they blew the fire and the wind, waiting for me to turn to dust
But I was higher than them all, saving my dignity and soul
I waited for the time to die, afraid to hurt my precious pride
The executioner’s vicious laugh was turned to gasps and doubtful glare
Maybe she isn’t guilty, someone shouted
But she must die, and die i should
Before I go and leave behind
nothing but ashes, dirt and slime
I had to say that I would pray, to see the day where they became
lesser than me and more than this
Their wings would succumb to distress
Their eyes would certainly behold
The death of an innocent lady, a woman with a heart of cold
A woman so pretty and bold, whose crime is turning dust to gold
They lit the fire and withdrew, that time, it hurt to watch it glow
My skin began to melt, my hair began to fume
But I would never beg, would sure not bend
The terror soon swept away, leaving a flower to decay
I wasn’t there when ashes sprang, from bodily hope and dreams and trance
I was above the cowards and whore
Flying across the distant stars, singing along the vale profound
smoke dancing with every single sound I made
I wasn’t dead, you pathetic twits
I was a symbol of resistance, a gale and holy princess
smoke that arose from me was twisted sending letters to the saints and children
Behold the witch in Salem lot
She was the bravest on the spot
Fields of Innocence
<!–more–>
I wish I could go back
to the long lost track
where you and I have been together
Always and forever
Go back to the lonely sand castle
to the twizzler and the whistle, the dreams we shared in bed
If only I could turn back time, I would go back
To the old oak tree, the spring and endless sea
to the deep dark woods, the goth tower roofs
The turmoil and the hoofs of a horse miles away
I wish I could retain, the kiss in the rain
The touch in the mist, the hug and the tricks we played on time
If only I could turn back time, wipe away the dirt, the mud
The fog and the dust, that came along as years passed by
If only I could break the unforgiving stake where we abandoned us
where our dreams and fears, our rain and tears were burned away
our hugs were pulled apart, our arms detached, souls distracted
love brutally crushed, under feet of people running in a stampede
The things we shared are lost, the frost destroyed the love we shared
I wish I could relive those days when we would walk for miles along the coast
when we would make a toast for ourselves
when we would cry if our eyes failed to see each others
where sand slipped through our feet, our skin tanned by the heat
that came from the evening sun
If only I could go back to being small and naive, covered in sheets
Knowing the world was only white and black; no shades of gray
I wish I may, turn my back on today
Relive the day when we were one and stayed together
Forever I will keep you in my heart…
Untitled
Close your eyes…

Whisper my name

Take my hands, teach me how to fly; otherwise

I’d sell my soul to the devil, I’d offer my body to the cannibals; I’d sacrifice…

I’d teach you, to listen to the sound of the waves, to watch the birds swaying in the dark blue sky; otherwise

You’d teach me how to live, how to change the truth & the lies…

It’s cold, chilling to the bone, on this lonely afternoon…

So teach me how to break free from the burden of the deep blue eyes & silver skies, in your gaze

Otherwise, I’d teach you how to march with petals, for you I’ll memorize,
my faults, my dreams & cries…

Save me, I can’t tell the wrong from the right, the day from the night

I can’t find the answers, I can’t compromise; otherwise

I’d burn the weeds of wisdom, I’d carry the world on my shoulders, I’d walk alone, head up & die…

So Close your eyes…

Whisper my name

Take my hand, I’ll teach you where to land

When to fly…

Word from a Teenage Rebel
Though I’m a lonely falcon flying far and free,

No one has ever dared to try and glide with me.

My engine never weakens moving so fast and wild,

A firm belief in me, that I was not a child.

Too bold to take all risks, I always shed my tears,

Roughed up by beasts and ghouls this made me kill my fears.

I dreamt of a vacant world a place for heavenly cries,

No borders to prevent my reach for the Seven Skies.

Crashes of waves do thrill me; thunder knew me by name,

Without hunters that trail me, world stays so dull and lame.

I love my rare adventures, the territories I gained,

Never joining the crowd nothing left me restrained.

Missing a lover makes me enjoy the lingering pain,

I yell and call for someone; my cries are still in vain.

Shall I bear this flight one eighty towards hell,

The brakes are missing or am I blind; I dare if you can tell.

Whom shall I ask for help, who will receive my letter?

I cannot leave the sky coz Earth is nothing better.

Needn’t I keep in me this charming rebel free?

To know I’ll always lead the stormy cruel sea…

I can be; no body else but me…

Jaylan’s work can be found online at http://community.livejournal.com/jaypoetryoasis/ and she welcomes comments and correspondence with other writers around the world. Her email is joly16_blackpearl@hotmail.com
 

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