Being interviewed in the Bali Advertiser

I was delighted to be interviewed for ‘Siapa’, in the Bali Advertiser last month.

Unfortunately they ran the incorrect version which had some errors in it.  However, the correct version is below (with a few additional photo’s to spice it up a bit):

At Melaspas Ceremony

At Melaspas Ceremony

Julie Silvester: Poet & Ubud Resident

Julie Silvester was born in East London within the sound of London’s Bow Bells, which makes her a cockney.

Julie backpacked around the world in 2008, visiting Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia in Southeast Asia.  She’s also travelled to Indonesia’s Sumatra, Java, Lombok and the Gili Islands.

She first visited Bali in 2009 and wrote her first poem ‘Bali’ soon after she arrived.  Recently, the poem has been turned into a song called ‘Bali Holiday’ by Fredi Marley, an Indonesian reggae artist who regularly plays in Ubud.

Local author Steve Castley invited her to collaborate on his new book ‘A Taste of Bali – stories and poems’ in 2011.  Julie has since written a number of articles about Bali and 31 of her poems can be found in ‘A Taste of Bali’.

What are your interests?

Apart from writing, I love music.  For years I didn’t listen to anything except rock – mainly classic rock, but now I really like reggae and traditional Balinese music too.

Mangku performs the ceremony

Mangku performs the ceremony

I also enjoy new age books and movies, as well as science fiction.

I used to play badminton and do adventure sports like skiing, go-karting, abseiling and caving but nowadays I’m more likely to be dancing or going to ceremonies.

What do you like in the way of reading?

I came across ‘The Celestine Prophecy’ at precisely the right time in my life and it launched me into reading numerous other books of the same ilk.  I loved ‘The Art of Happiness’ by the Dalai Lama and anything by Arthur C. Clarke and Isaac Asimov.

Currently I’m reading the Bhagavad Gita to learn more about Hinduism.

Until recently, I never really got into poetry, except John Hegley’s quirky poems and the works of Samuel Taylor Coleridge who was the only poet I knew of while growing up.

What is your educational/professional background?

I worked in office management in London for years – light years away from where I am nowadays in my head, my heart, my beliefs, my tastes and my lifestyle.

Light years away...

Light years away…

How did you decide to settle in Bali?

On the first day I arrived in Ubud in February 2009, I wrote in my journal ‘I could stay here a long time.’  I certainly didn’t want to leave after the mere 10 days that I’d initially planned on being in Bali and, the longer I stayed, the more convinced I became that this was where I wanted to live my life.

Bali’s fascinating people, unique culture, stunning landscapes, spirituality and smiles all had a major impact on me.

... like the subak through the sawah of my being

… like the subak through the sawah of my being

It’s as if Bali’s energy runs like the subak through the sawah of my being (like the water system through the ricefields), providing non-stop inspiration/ irrigation!

I love the way that Bali challenges my thinking and opens up all sorts of opportunities for learning and self-development.

When was the first piece of writing you had published?

I wrote a menu introduction for Savannah Moon when that restaurant opened in 2009.  Around the same time, a Balinese chauffeur, Made Mangku, printed my poem ‘Shower the People with Love’ on the back of his business card.  The poem had been inspired by those words in his car window.

What do you think poetry can do that prose can’t?

Poetry can capture the essence of a theme in fewer, and more succinct, words than prose.  Poetry therefore reminds me of Swiss cheese… as it’s the very holes in Swiss cheese that make it what it is, i.e. less is more.

The relative brevity of poetry provides the reader, or listener, a chance to find their own interpretation, or taste of the poem, flavoured by their personal background, perceptions, values, etc.

Are your poems drawn from real life?

Thanks to Steve for printing my poems

Thanks to Steve for printing my poems

Yes, as you can tell from the titles:

‘Thanks to Bali’, ‘A Balinese Wedding’ and ‘Tropical fruits of fancy,’ nearly all my poems are based on real life events that I witness here.

Take ‘Shh, I know a place,’ which starts off…

Shh, I know a place
where men chant mantras in ancient tongue
where women prepare offerings all day long
where children learn the art of right and wrong
Shhh, I know such a place…

However, a few poems are more spiritual or esoteric such as, ‘Meditating’, ‘I once met Time’ and ‘2012’ or ones like ‘Sky Painter’ and ‘His name was Hanoman’ – both of which were inspired by the Ramayana story which I read recently.

If I dug up your critics somewhere, what would they tell me about the book?

They would probably say that my poetry is Pollyanna-ish i.e. very positive and happy.  They would be right.  In fact, one poem is even called ‘Rose Coloured Glasses’!

How did you meet Steve Castley, your collaborator in A Taste of Bali?

Initially via the Ubud Writers and Readers Festival in 2010, then he invited me to join the Ubud Writers Group.  After hearing a number of my poems, Steve kindly invited me to collaborate on the book with him – he must have liked what he heard.

Jen interviewing me and Steve

Jen Richardson interviewing me and Steve

As he was already a self-published author, I was in a fortunate position to get my poetry ‘out there’ with relatively little effort on my part.  I think our writing really compliments each other.  Steve’s amusing short stories are followed by my poems that have a link to his storylines.

Do you have any future plans or goals?

I’d like to share more poetry, maybe by giving readings in cafes or hotels in the future.  I’m also sharing another book with Steve and other writers this year.  And it would be great to have other outlets for hundreds of my poems and lyrics that are queuing up and waiting, so to speak, for their moment of fame.

Where can one learn more about your writing?

Take a peek at my regularly updated blog which has poems, stories and pictures from my life, as well as extracts from the book ‘A Taste of Bali’.  The book is available on Kindle via Amazon and at many bookshops in Bali.

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