and in the shop…
“The Alfred Jewels”
“Saxons in the Garden”
“Entre-Deux – Two Francophiles in Alaigne”
joint collection – “P r e s e n c e s”
pamphlet – “Airing Cupboard”
biography – “Achille Laugé”
this poet is taking part in the poetry pRO project
Barbara Dordi was born in the north of England. She was awarded an M.A. in Creative Writing by Lancaster University for her collection Leaping the Fall. She has taught English and Theatre Studies in schools in Lancashire and Kent and creative writing in further education establishments.
She wrote poems to accompany her husband’s paintings of The Saxon Shore Way which the couple walked in 1995. They toured Kent libraries for 3 years with the Shore Way exhibition, giving illustrated talks and poetry readings promoting their first illustrated poetry book, Saxons in the Garden (Sawd Books). Since then she has produced four illustrated poetry pamphlets, Airing Cupboard, Apple and Eve, Ève et la Pomme (a variation of Apple and Eve written in French) and Presences – this last a collaboration with Michael Curtis. Her book of poems about living in France, Entre-Deux – Two Francophiles in Alaigne, written in English and translated into French was published in 2005.
In 2007 she began editing The French Literary Review – an A5 illustrated magazine which publishes stories, poems and articles with a French connection. The magazine now publishes writers from all corners of the globe who write in both English and French. As well as editing and writing reviews, Barbara writes articles on living in France and makes and exhibits ceramic sculpture.
The arts, nature and philosophy inform most of Barbara’s poetry which has been successful in competitions as well as being published in magazines, anthologies and on the Internet. In 2009, Cinnamon Press published her first full collection Moving Still and in 2013 Deco Partnership published the bilingual The Alfred Jewels – Les joyaux d’Alfred – illustrated by her husband Russi Dordi. In November 2015 Barbara’s latest book, a biography, Achille Laugé Neo-Impressionist 1861-1944, was launched at the gallery ‘La Forgerie’ in Alaigne.
For the last 8 years Barbara and Russi have made France their permanent home – in Cailhau which has the reputation of being ‘The village of artists’ – where the home of the Neo-Impressionist painter Achille Laugé (1861-1944) is still lived in by the family ie the painter’s grand-daughter. Barbara is secretary of the art group Association‘A’ comprising painters, writers, photographers, sculptors, potters, a studio glass maker and even a lace-maker. The Association hosts now well-known Art Exhibitions and Open Studio weekends in spring and autumn.
Barbara also runs an English conversation class in Cailhau as well as manning the village library once a week and singing in a local choir. Life is very busy for a small village of just over 250 inhabitants but she has a stunning view of the Pyrenees from her balcony appearing and disappearing with the seasons which is a constant source of inspiration for creative work.
Review comments on Moving Still:
At last – the eagerly awaited full collection from Barbara Dordi! She has been part of so many lives as publisher, listener, encourager and enabler, through her long-established magazine Equinox and the more recent French Literary Review, that we almost take her for granted.
But no longer – in this fine and beautifully judged collection she shows us where her own poetry has been all the time. It stands lightly on the soft and fragile ground between visual art and the written word, holding the moving world still (as in The Weald in Winter) or taking the frozen moment and calling it into life (as in Miss Jekyll’s gardening boots).
She shows us the art in Eden Revisited and the artist in Le Flâneur de Montmartre, and now and then uses a separate voice to bridge the space between the two, as when Little Marie Cleans Cézanne’s Atelier.
All my life I have found that I cannot see anything until I have told myself what it is I’m looking at and have often felt a little guilty about it. This collection makes a sparkling virtue of that necessity and I now have access to more eyes and more voices than I ever thought possible. A book I shall treasure.
Barbara Dordi blends beautifully in her poetry the painterly image with the underlying sensuality of life, “the only thing between … this thin cloth/under my thighs”, “red raw houses line the shore” and an undeniably “delicious banana yellow cab”. These fastidiously constructed poems are verbal impasto, the outward drawing forth the inner. Hers is, in her own words, “a landscape the artist travels”: a poetic map the reader will enjoy exploring with her. Dordi’s is a more than formal relationship with pictures: her poetry being imbued with, breathes art. “Ut Pictura Poesis, Poetry is like Painting” said Horace. This poet proves it.
Some poets can take you to places where you’ve never been before, and such is their special skill that you recognise them as if they were old friends. When you read Barbara Dordi’s most recent collection you’ll feel at home all over the world – in LA, in Kent, in New Zealand, in the Languedoc, in Cannes. It takes a very special talent to achieve this. Dordi’s is such a light, affectionate, often witty, touch that these places come alive effortlessly, drawing you sympathetically into their ambience…….. Dordi is a very visual poet; alertly observant to light and colour and shape, perhaps especially to the ‘soft English light’ of the English landscape…….. Deft, economical brushstrokes paint moods:
Even the boots of Gertrude Jekyll seem to come alive themselves, as the gardener ‘returns to the warmth of home’, and they are left ‘soil-encrusted, laces skew,/tongues drooping/into the void/waiting to be filled.’ This is a collection to read with great pleasure and increasing admiration.
U.A. Fanthorpe & R.V. Bailey
Review comments on other publications:
Saxons in the Garden – Poems of the Saxon Shore Way
Sawd Books, 1995. ISBN 1-872489-15-X £4.95
…Many characters from Kent’s long history are recalled, from Hengist and Horsa to the Duke of Wellington and General Gordon; literary figures are not overlooked. There is nostalgia for the desecrated and once green open country, and visions of the old barges in full sail as she observes the rotting hulks on the banks and mudflats of the Medway.
Some poems are humorous, even acerbic, but most are ethereal as she paints pictures with her words. The colour illustrations by her husband are both abstract and figurative…
Brenda Hook, 1996, The Ramblers Association
Airing Cupboard – Poems by Barbara Dordi
Pamphlet Poets, 1999 ISBN 1-902529-03-0 £3.20
… It is clear to see why this poet has been so consistently published. For me, poetry must, above all, be coherent and accessible. The poems in this collection satisfy such criteria. We get 19 well-written poems from a poet who knows what she wants to say and, as importantly, knows how to say it.
… There is an engaging mixture of allegory and gritty realism, of nostalgia and irony, but all in sensible proportion. Furthermore, the range of styles employed in this collection adds to rather than detracts from the whole.
John Dench, Writer and Small Press Publisher, The Providence Press, May 1999
P R E S E N C E S, Barbara Dordi & Michael Curtis, Picture Poems ISBN 0-9536800-2-9 £4.95
The result of an unusual and exciting collaboration, Presences is a finely made poetry pamphlet of work… memories, ancestors, ‘angels’, vision or other metaphysical speculations … The … sequence reveals echoes and allusions that spark between the texts. Ten of the poems find colourful and vibrant expression in paintings by Russi Dordi, who also designed the cover.
Equinox, March 2005
Entre-Deux – Two Francophiles in Alaigne, Barbara & Russi Dordi, Picture Poems/Hayward Design, ISBN 0-9536800-3-7
When Barbara and Russi Dordi bought a house in France, their neighbours in the unspoiled village of Alaigne in the Midi were very welcoming. On discovering that the couple were artists, they insisted that they exhibit at the Fête de la Fleur the following May. Barbara was so enamoured by the landscape and people that she had already written a few poems recording her feelings, so since nobody in the village spoke English, she translated the work ready for the exhibition. When Russi had illustrated her poems, the couple made a pamphlet as a convenient way of recording their first year in Alaigne, as well as showing their neighbours exactly how they felt about living in France. The exhibition was a great success, largely due to the portrait of Albert, their immediate neighbour, which is very true-to-life, and of which he is enormously proud, so much so that he invited his relatives from neighbouring villages to view it! The pamphlet is now a book since it has been updated to include more recent work from both artists. There are now over 20 colour illustrations and further poems about the Languedoc and its people, in both English and French.
Equinox, September 2005