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  • Writer's pictureBelle Kenyon

'Only Dying Sparkles' - Let's talk about death.

Preview: ‘Only Dying Sparkles’ by Sascha Aurora Akhtar and John Alexander Arnold. 

On this spooky Halloween day, I’m very excited to tell you about a poetry project which poet & healer Sascha Aurora Akhtar and transcendental artist John Alexander Arnold, have created.

This illuminated poetry object combines poetry and illustration, as a deck of 45 tarot-style cards, by zimZalla art objects. (Find out more about Manchester press zimZalla here )

John has created these intricate and innovative illustrations inspired by Sascha’s poetry, on a miniature scale, without losing any detail!

No formal tarot guidelines apply, however, and almost all the poems are meditations on death & dying. In this way the object belongs to the Vanitas genre. (16th &17th century Vanitas tradition focused on contemplation of the temporal nature of our existence.) It also marks a progression in Sascha’s style, as she tackles huge emotions in short and succinct poems. 

Sascha: "Above all what I want people to know, is that I have suffered & struggled with extreme forms of depression, anxiety my entire life. These brief poems are forays into that frame of mind. It was not until I learnt that I needed to embrace ALL parts of me, that I was able to work towards some kind of 'wellness'. Perhaps these poems are those parts of me, mournful, questioning, anxious, uncertain - sometimes teetering on the edge- made into objects, brought into the light; illuminated. In this way the process, and seeing John's exquisite art elevate my thoughts, which maybe are the kinds of things we are ashamed of, or just don't say to people- has been an act of healing".

Tarot Poetry Card - colour

The Bhor Foundation for Mental Health (@BhorFoundation) has put forward its support for Only Dying Sparkles, which Sascha & John are grateful for. There may even be a launch!  The deck will (fingers crossed) be available for November 21st, which according to ancient Druidic knowledge is whenthe veil dividing the living from the dead is at its thinnest… Above all...this is a family affair, reflected in the photos of the poet & artist. Sascha & John are both solo parents, who feel without their little companions, Sakura & Kalos - their muses,they would not be complete. They are so grateful to Tom Jenks of for this gorgeous opportunity. John & Sascha have known each other through many lifetimes and are in fact, twin flames *.

*twin flames: Two strands of the same consciousness in two different bodies who only meet on this plane when they have dealt with most of their shit/karma.

Sascha: "The deck is dedicated to family & friends & all the people we have heard about in the media recently who have taken their own lives". 

On Nov 6th, we will post a video of Sascha reading from the poem "Only Dying Sparkles" by Paul Celan that the title originates from. 

More about Sascha:

Sascha Aurora Akhtar originates from Pakistan, and was educated there and in the USA. Her debut poetry collection, The Grimoire of Grimalkin, was published in 2007 and greeted as “a contemporary masterpiece”, with the British newspaper The Guardian naming Akhtar one of the top twelve poets to watch. 

Her most recent poetry collection is 199 Japanese Names for Japanese Trees. She is currently working on book of translations of the work of the first female pilot(and a fiction writer) in the Subcontinent Hijjab Imtiaz on Oxford University Press 2019.

She also works as a freelance editor & Healer using therapeutic meditation practices at Be meditation. In 2019, she will teach a workshop at The Poetry School entitled Technicians of The Sacred: The Poem As A Magical Event, March 16, 2019. Her fiction has appeared in Storgy, The Learned Pig, Tears In The Fence, BlazeVox and Anti-Heroin Chic. Her chapbook The Whimsy of Dank Ju-Ju is forthcoming in 2019 on Emma Press.

Sascha Akhtar

The illustrator:

John Alexander Arnold connects with the Earth’s elements through daily practices in organic horticulture, wild crafting & mandalic composition, from which his art is derived. He lives and practices in Portland, Oregon.  

John Alexander

Gift for Pre Ordering: an audio link to a 20 minute guided meditation and sound healing and a special unique, 1 of 1, individualised ritual object which Sascha will intuit for each person.

''Know Thyself' is the first principle for healing. These poems are part of Sascha's journey to personal healing and she hopes her readers will find solace in her poetry also. 

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