Writing the Blues

It was recently the birthday of Aigars Lapsa, a close friend of my family and a world-class blues photographer. To honour him and his passion for blues music and photography, I dedicate this original poem to him, as a birthday gift.


Smoke twines beneath the door,

heady and thick,

smelling of golden whisky and sweet dark rum.

Intricate dancing notes

sax and horn

wail, tease, intoxicate –

draw listeners into a dizzy swirl,

this dangerous improvisation.

Knees in long, damp coats

and knees in sparkling dresses

brush against each other

as tables shift and creak.

Ice cracks in a glass,

clean and clear, gunshot-sharp

against a whisper heavy with too much lipstick.

Here, glances are swift, sensual, careful at once,


over the walls without windows.

Spaces between tables

are full of too-close dancing and musky sweat.

Beneath the floorboards

the stills are busy,

squeezing exhiliration and abandon

into shining flasks.

Clack, clack, clack!

The door shakes with knocking,

the room freezes.

No one enters here

without a password.

~ Marta Ziemelis. Written in Riga, Latvia, copyright 2012. All rights reserved.

A little note on the genesis of this piece: When I think of Aigars, one of the first things that comes to mind is blues music. I wanted to write him something that centered around blues and jazz…but how to approach it? Then I thought, what kind of place might be improvisational, perhaps off the grid, and subject to its own laws, just like the blues? The first place which came to mind was a 1920’s Prohibition-era speakeasy. I decided that I would try to combine the two elements, and you see the result above.

For any fans of blues or photography (or both!), please feel free to take a look at Aigars’ website, which showcases his work: http://aigarsphoto.com/


Solstice Flames

Solstice Flames

For Latvians such as myself, the summer solstice is an important holiday. In honour of the recent solstice celebrations, I would like to share this photo I took of the traditional bonfire. (This year, however, it was more campfire-sized.) Ligo!

“Come and Be Welcome”

“Come and be welcome, wherever you hail from/ Share all the secrets and joys of your art,/For every new voice that joins in the chorus/ will uplift the spirit and cheer the heart.” ~ Heather Dale, “Come and Be Welcome”

Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Marta Antra Ziemelis, and I am currently twenty-four. As a citizen of the world, I’ve spent my life so far living in and traveling between Germany, Latvia, Saudi Arabia, Canada and Dubai. Thanks to this, I am at ease around people from a multitude of cultural backgrounds. My propensity for multilingualism is certainly helpful in this regard – I am fluent in English, Latvian, French, Italian and German, with probably more knowledge of Spanish than I am aware of.

As a person with a scholarly and creative mind, I love immersing myself deeply in a wide range of subjects: medieval European culture; myth and folklore (Norse and Celtic are favourites); the arts, especially music, theatre, and cinema; etymology and interesting words; world history and the myriad ways in which it is shaped by cultural history; literature, with particular regard for historical fiction, travelogues, poetry, and fantasy; travel and every possible form of storytelling. Just ask anyone who knows me – as soon as I am passionate about a particular subject, I become a walking encyclopedia!

When I am not talking or reading (voraciously) about my favourite topics, I write about them. Mostly I focus on poetry, but I write short stories as well, and I have contributed to one or two theatrical scripts. Why do I write? Because I am driven to do so – by powerful impressions, by memories, by ideas and inspirations which appear in my mind and give me no peace until I write them. What are my strengths as a writer? Finding exactly the right word or combination of words to express a particular emotion or set a specific mood.  Creating vivid descriptions and moving situations. My weaknesses? A tendency to be too verbose. Underestimating the impact and relevance of my work. In any case, nothing would make me happier than the chance to earn a living through my creative writing skills – as a scriptwriter, or maybe in a way I can’t even imagine.

In any case, my fellow balladeers, storytellers, geeks and dreamers, anyone who wishes to visit here, welcome!