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The last portrait made me stop to take a second look. Unlike the other monks, this one was gazing directly out at the viewer. His face was painted in the standard Yamato-e style, just lines for the eyes and a hook for the nose, but there was something strangely expressive about the minimalist painting: a slight tension in the angle of his eyes, one hand holding a brush in midair, as if hesitating.
The bald little monk stared up at me out of his portrait, as if he were trying to speak to me. The plaque beneath the painting read:
Monk Anchin (1244-1316)
Collection of Seitokuji, 14th century, artist unknown
There was no background or architectural detail in the plain portrait, but there was a lit candle-stand beside him, a common pictorial convention for depicting nighttime. Why would the artist take pains to portray Anchin, unlike the other poets, writing by candlelight?
The Dream Diary of Monk Anchin – Felicity Drake
The Forest of New People – Thom Connors
Time’s Arrow – C. Heidmann
The Stars Don’t Lie – R.W.W. Greene
Q: If your writing style were a bird, what type of bird would it be and why?
A: Nah, a bird doesn’t work for me—unless maybe it could be a space-going bird! A bird is too limiting. It can only go as far as the atmosphere, around one tiny world, whereas I’d like to think my writing should be able to take me anywhere, out to the farthest reaches of the universe and beyond… into the multiverse, or whatever is outside our universe—and beyond even that.
Thom Connors writes from his Macbook where the ‘ ‘ key is missing. This means that he refuses to use wors with the letter ‘ ‘, wherever possible. As such, talking of his love for ‘ark fantasy tends to result in laughter. Thom’s longer works tend towards the fantasy fiction, while his shorter pieces are often general fiction.
Q: Do you have a garden? Have you ever grown your own food?
A: I grew up in rural Maine, and my family always had a garden and chickens. Summers I hayed, picked potatoes, and blueberry raked. Nowadays, I live in a smallish city, but we still do a garden every year, and there is nothing more satisfying than going outside and picking a salad. We also have a couple of apple trees that do well, a peach tree, a couple of quince trees, and blackberry bushes. My wife likes to can, so we get a lot out of the fruit. The asparagus does pretty well, too. About five years ago we got into beekeeping, not as much for the honey as to have the little guys around. They are good neighbors.