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039330880401_aa240_sclzzzzzzz_.jpgimages.jpgThe book that changed the Way I read:

I imagine some of you will have read Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre. I did and whilst i enjoyed the novel I was very frustrated by the hero Mr Rochester and a little with Jane as well. Mr Rochester indeed- so …well… so restrained and infuriatingly correct and proper and prim- except for Bertha the women in the attic who in the Bronte novel is never anything but a brooding mad presence.

Enter Jean Rhys, white creole from Dominica, disappointed young woman trying to make her way in the world, sometime muse, wannabe artist, reveller in France , mother , wife and widow, poor and struggling, and dreamer. I want to know what made her see the Bertha of the Bronte book as a possibility for literary development? I have scoured everything that Rhys has ever written including her letters, and really she does not say much about it. But the story of Bertha/Antoinette she developed into a work of genius- The Wide Sargasso Sea. Rhys wrote this book late in her life , it was published after her 76th birthday and her earlier writing does not have the same touch, though I do like her other written work which includes Quartet. I picked up The Wide Sargasso Sea not long after I had read Jane Eyre. I loved the title for a start. I love words that suggest faraway enchanted places- the words kind of roll out of your mouth and straight away you are not in the place you were. And then she creates Bertha/Antoinette as a full fledged person to whom Rochester was far from nice- she picked up the little flaws that one the one hand make Rochester so proper and well so darned boring really and she uses this not as the basis of his “goodness’ but in reality his “badness” although some reviewers still view him as good- I am not so sure?. I loved the whole subversiveness of her idea, and in all reality she has made me peek behind every character I have read ever since.It has made me think about what might be the other lurking in the background.It adds a whole dimension to reading where not only are you responding to the written word and the authors intent and your realisation of them inside your head, but it opens the door to a whole other imagining of what is written

Some come and join, Jean has graciously agreed to come and talk and tell us about her childhood, her life in Paris and London , her later life in England. and and


Djanne Cevaal



Happy New Year from a happy Tavern patron!




I have set up table in the corner- for I like to observe, watch and heck take photos.So why am i sending you a picture of an echidna on a hot sunny summers day at Blairgowrie? This little fella won me a digital camera in January last year- I did have another digital camera but this one was so much better, and it came just before i was to travel to Egypt.

I love the sense of purpose this little echidna seemed to have- he wasn’t even perturbed by the fact that I lay on the ground to take his photos- in fact he didn’t even snigger whilst dashing past largish woman intent on capturing his image. In fact I have become a little guilty of snapping before looking- and have had to pay attention to the fact that seeing is important, so that is why I have taken up a table in the corner . I can see lots. I can see Lori gayly chatting with patrons, her laughter ringing through the air, I see- oh no I don’t do I ?- is that Orhan Pamuk- strapped to his writing table for 10 hours?- surely it is an illusion?

But what if I could chat with anyone I admired- whose writing enthralled me and took me to different places- who would that be- or if I had to spend a week in a bedouin tent alone, surrounded by goats hair woven fibre to keep out the sand what book would I take with me?

Posted by DCevaal.

My months in the City of Ladies and my time working at the Taverna were more satisfying than I ever could have imagined. I had engaged in discussions with writers and artists, both living and past, learned to dance Flamenco, studied the ways of ancient indigenous peoples, trained in the art of dowsing and all but drowned in the knowledge of many other arcane disciplines. I strolled the light-filled hallways of the Mousieon, almost skipping in joy at being surrounded by the knowledge of the ages and gathering research for my own creative endeavors. At night, under the watchful eye of the Proprietress of the Taverna, I acquired the practical skills of the hospitality business. She gave over the scheduling of the entertainment and the management of the kitchen to me. My days and nights were full but I still had time to visit Syren and take her for rides across the Cyberian countryside. I had settled into a busy but satisfying routine.

That routine was disrupted one Monday afternoon when I became aware of a rising murmur among the Tavern’s patrons. The murmur turned to applause and cheers as the patrons began standing. I was tending bar, straining to see the cause of the commotion. When the crowd parted, I let out my own exclamation of delight when I caught site of her. Enchanteur! She swept through the dining room, her long gown flowing behind her. She laughed and greeted various patrons. When she got close to the bar, I called out:

“Madame Enchanteur! Hello! Do you remember me?”

“Of course I do, Lori. How are you, darling?” She glided over to me and took both my hands in hers. “You look radiant.”

“Thank you, ma’am. I’m fantastic. What brings you here? I thought you were leading a tour?”

“Yes, I was. Amazing group of travelers. They are all on their own now and I am taking some time off to myself. Even Enchanteur must get her beauty sleep from time to time.”

“How long will you be in the City?”

“Oh, not long. I just came to have a few words with my cousin. Is she about?”

I noticed a trace of a smile and a glint in her eye.

“Who’s that?” thundered the Proprietress’s voice from the kitchen. She burst through the door behind the bar.


“Ethel, dear, it’s been awhile.”

“Yes, it has, Shantie.

Ethel, Shantie? I suddenly felt very uncomfortable in the midst of this family reunion. I turned my attention to polishing the glasses behind the bar.

“Well, aren’t you going to ask me to sit and have a drink?, “ asked Enchanteur. “We have a lot to talk about.”

“Indeed we do. This way.” Ethel turned and walked towards her office. Enchanteur turned to me and whispered, “Do you know anything about poker?”

“Excuse me, ma’am?”

“Poker. Do you know the game?”

“Only a little—stuff like ‘Never draw to an inside straight.’ That sort of thing.”

Enchanteur roared with laughter. “Darling, please, come to the Card Room tonight at 11 pm”.

Ethel hollered back.“Well, c’mon. I don’t have all day.” Enchanteur drifted off to Ethel’s office.

I was puzzled by her question. On Monday nights, Ethel hosted a weekly poker game—discreet, respectable and extremely high stakes. As a rule, Ethel posed as the dealer, but playing for herself instead of the house. Since I am not inclined to gamble, I usually managed the bar on Monday nights for her. I made arrangements for another staff member to keep the bar and I appeared in the Card Room as directed at 11 pm.

Seated at the card table was Ethel, wearing a green visor. Starting on her left was Jane Austen, Edgar Allen Poe, and John Singer Sargeant, the usual players. There was a new player as well—a mysterious woman from Seattle who would identified herself only as “Miss Lobo.”

Ethel began shuffling the deck as I busied myself arranging coffee service for the group. I was still wondering why I had been called there.

A short tap sounded on the door. It swung open and Enchanteur swept in. “Good evening, everyone!”

“What are you doing here?” grumbled Ethel. “I thought I made myself clear this afternoon.”

“Oh, you did, dear. I’m just here for a little poker-playing, that’s all”.

“You don’t gamble.”

“Of course I do—every time I give a writer a break, I take a gamble. So how much to buy into this game?

“One million—Lemurian.”

“That’s all?” Enchanteur smiled and pulled a black velvet bag out of her décolletage. “What’s the game?”

“Texas Hold ‘em.”

“Oooooh, how exotic.”

Ethel glared at her and began to deal.

Two hours later, Mr. Sargeant busted and dropped out, followed by Mr. Poe and Miss Austen a short time later. They drew their chairs to the side and continued to watch the players. I tended to them with wine and tapas.

Miss Lobo managed to stay in for another hour but she too lost her entire stake. A sound akin to a growl issued from her throat and I could have sworn her eyes flashed yellow as she stomped out of the Card Room.

“Well, Shantie, I guess it’s just you and me, “ though in fact the room had filled up with staff members who had just closed the Tavern for the night. They were entranced with the drama that was unfolding before them.

Enchanteur stood up and stretched. “Lori, dear, will you come and play this hand for me. I need a bit of a break.” A collective gasp arose from the crowd. I stared at Enchanteur. Ethel exclaimed, “You can’t do that!”

“And why not? You never stated any house rules.”

Ethel started to say something but then stopped and smiled at me. “Silly me. Of course she can sit in for you.”

“Wait, I don’t know anything about poker!”

“Shush, now. You’ll do just fine. Just forget whatever you’ve been taught and take a chance.”

I sighed and sat down. Ethel, straight-faced again, dealt two cards face down to me and then two to herself. I gently lifted the corner of each card—a 9 of Clubs and a Jack of Diamonds. I turned to show the cards to Enchanteur. She waved me off and said “I trust your judgment.” She picked up a 100,000 shekel piece and tossed it into the pot. Ethel did likewise and then laid down three cards face-up in the center of the table—an 8 of Clubs, a King of Hearts, and a Jack of Hearts. Enchanteur pitched in another 100,000. Ethel met that bet as well and turned up the next card—a Queen of Hearts.

I began to get warm and squirmed in my seat. I glanced up and saw Ethel watching me and smiling. I looked at my cards and then at the cards on the table. I had two ends of a straight run. All I needed was a 10 to complete it. “Never draw to an inside straight” echoed in my mind. Enchanteur rested a hand on my shoulder and whispered “Forget what you’ve been told; take a chance.” She pitched in two 100,000 pieces into the pot. Ethel tossed her coins in and drew the last card. I almost fell out of my seat: the 10 of Hearts.

“Another 200,000!” I exclaimed. The audience laughed as I pushed another two coins into the center. But my heart fell when I looked at Ethel. She had a wide Cheshire grin. I looked again at the table cards—10, Jack, Queen—all of Hearts. Depending on her pocket cards, Ethel could beat me in at least four ways, including the sweetest of hands, a Royal Flush.

“I’ll take that bet and raise you….” She countered her coins. “….two and a half million.” The crowd reacted again as she shoved every last coin into the pot.

I stared directly into her eyes. I had worked for Ethel for many months and I never knew her to lie to me. Yet, this was a game—a very expensive game. I continued to scrutinize her.

The energy in the room rose to an almost tangible thing. Finally, I slowly said, “Fine,” and pushed several stacks of coins to the center. “…..and I’ll raise you another 500,000.” I shoved in the remainder of Enchanteur’s pot. Ethel’s face fell flat.

Enchanteur chuckled. “What’s the matter, Ethel, out of funds?”

“No. I’ll just use tonight’s receipts.” The employees in the room began to murmur and grumble. It was one thing to gamble with her own money, but another to use the Tavern’s income.

“No good, dear, you know what I want.”

Ethel fired an angry glare at Enchanteur but eventually rose to her feet and went into her office. I turned to Enchanteur, “What is going on?”

“Tush, tush, you’ll see.”

Ethel came back in and tossed a piece of paper into the pot.

“Fine. Show ‘em.”

I took a deep breath and turned over my cards. A straight run, King high. The crowd applauded. Ethel shook her head in disbelief and flipped over her cards. “Three Kings. You beat me. I can’t believe you drew an inside straight.” Then she started to chuckle. She reached over the table and shook my hand. “Shantie, you played me like a fool. And YOU, what’s this ‘I don’t know anything about poker’….. you hustler, you.”

Enchanteur scooped up her coins but handed the paper to me.

“What’s this?” I asked.

“The deed to the Tavern.”

“Congratulations. You are now the proud owner of Il Taverna di Muse,” said Ethel.

“I don’t understand?”

Enchanteur sat down next to me. “Darling, the Taverna was waiting for you to come and run it. Ethel was supposed to keep it until you arrived. She just got a little….distracted from her purpose.”

“No, wait, I can’t do this.”

“Yes, you can. I tried to convince Enchanteur that you were not ready, but I was wrong.”

“Ethel, I can’t take this from you!”

“Oh, don’t worry about Ethel. I’m sending her to a spa and writer’s retreat down south to get it ready for its next proprietor. She’ll have plenty to keep her busy.”

“Yes, don’t worry about me. We’ve been playing this little game for the last 10,000 years. I just enjoyed this gig more than the others and didn’t want to give it up so soon. I’ll get the keys.” She patted me on the shoulders and went to her office.

I turned to say something to Enchanteur, but she had already vanished into the ether.


Lori Gloyd © 2006

Yolanda Williams is an acclaimed soloist, a true Diva who sings like the proverbial nightingale. She will serenade guests at the opening of the Tavern di Muse – a highlight on the City of Ladies Event Calendar.


Ramona Beyer is a classical harpist who is rehearsing in her rooms in the City of Ladies. She is hoping to perform at the opening night at the Tavern di Muse, a Tavern purported to be visited by all the Lemurian luminaries. Some say that Ramona is the finest in the land but Lady Emrys would almost certainly be her match.

Syren and I embarked on our journey towards Cyberia, The City of Ladies. It was a bright, sun-soaked day. We left the main road from Duwamish Bay and headed across the Uncharted Lands of Western Lemuria.

We followed only our intuition and sped across miles of desert and grasslands. We knew we would arrive without getting lost.

Then, towards mid-afternoon, we came over a rise and saw a river, calm and slow moving. We followed it for a while until we rounded a bend and stopped in astonishment. Before us lay an island city—white washed buildings easing up a mountain side in the center of the island. A large domed structure glittered in the sunlight, and an enormous obelisk pulsed with a beckoning light.

Cyberia! I didn’t need to goad Syren forward. She knew and was already splashing across the river.

When we reached the island, Syren and I found a main road that led to the gates of the city. I asked another traveler for the name of the highway we were on and I discovered to my surprise that this thoroughfare was none other than the famous Silk Road.

The Road passed through a double gate of polished gold that was embellished with reliefs depicting famous writers and artists from history. A watchtower of white stone stood adjacent to the gate. I glanced to the top of the tower and saw a stately woman looking me over. With a brief nod of her head, she motioned me to continue through the gate.

Throngs of people moved up and down the boulevard going about their daily business. I called to a young woman pushing a cart of bread. The warm smell of the loaves made my mouth water and my stomach rumble. I knew that Syren was as tired and hungry as me. I asked the woman for directions to a good livery and a short time later I had Syren cooled down and munching on a bag of oats. The livery manager informed me that the city’s center of activity was the Piazza del Pizan and I would be able to find lodging and food there. I thanked him, and a few minute’s walk found me at the Piazza.

Arched colonnades of peach and gray-colored marble surrounded the large open square. The obelisk that I had seen from across the river towered over the Piazza and I could see the golden dome of the Mouseion sparkling in the waning light. Night was beginning to fall and vendors in the square were busy closing up their stalls and storefronts. A distinguished looking man in a flowing green cloak moved from lightpole to lightpole lighting the lamps that would illuminate the Piazza.

My attention was drawn to a side street that jutted off from the Piazza. I heard muffled music coming from an establishment on the corner. Light emanated through a colorful stained-glass window. The image in the glass was that of a dancing woman holding a round lyre.

Above the image were the words “Il Taverna di Muse”. Next to the door was a small placard that read “Studios for Rent” and “Help Wanted.”


I pushed open the door and entered.

I stood for a moment in the dim light of the taverna, lit only by some purple Chinese lanterns and strings of tiny white Christmas lights. The sound of chimes, gongs, and drums pulsed through the air. I saw a Gamelan orchestra on a small stage and a beautiful Balinese girl in a sparkling sarong dancing to the music.I moved among the tables filled with patrons intently watching the dancer until I reached the bar.

The bartender leaned forward. “What can I get you, darling?”


“Nah, she’s my cousin. She’s always passing herself off as me. You look a might thirsty and tired.”

“Yes, may I have a bottle of Senorial? ”

“Mexican Sangria? Of course. And you’ll need some chips and salsa to cut the sweetness, I should think.”

“Absolutely. Say, can you tell me the rent for a studio?”

“How much you got?”

I felt the ever lightening bag of Lemurian shekels in my cloak. “Well, not a lot.”

“Hmmm….” The bartender eyed me up and down. “You ever tended bar?”


“Ever been in the hospitality or restaurant business?”

“No to that one too.”

The bartender squinted her blue eyes at me. “How well can you listen?”

“That I do very well.”

“Good. You’re hired.”

“For what? As a bartender?”

“Yep, pulling pints. Can’t handle all the night shift by myself. And, I’ll throw in one of the small studios upstairs  for half off the rent.”

I didn’t know a mojito from a martini. How could I be a bartender? I paused for a minute and looked around. I did come to Cyberia to be around the artsy types and to work on my own projects. I couldn’t do much better than this at the moment.

The patrons erupted in applause as the Balinese Gamelan players took their bows.

“Oh–I’m up now to announce the start of the poetry readings. Be a dear and watch the bar for me, will you?”

She handed me a towel before she slid over countertop and headed towards the stage.

A patron hollered to me from a table. “You there, could you bring me another Shandy, please? Thank you, dear.”

Shandy? Oh dear.

Per our agreement, the Proprietess rented to me a tiny loft on the top floor of the Taverna overlooking the Piazza. A number of artists, writers, and performers lived there as well, and I was very grateful to secure this space among them. I was equally glad that my loft was ABOVE the flamenco dancer’s studio and not under it.

My space had a skylight and many windows, and sunlight flooded the space. Though small, the space served my purposes– I needed only a place to read, write and sleep. I could eat and entertain downstairs in the Taverna, and with the entire city of Cyberia waiting to be explored, I knew I often would not be home.

I could not bear to keep Syren locked up in a livery all day so I arranged boarding at horse farm outside the city for a small fee. She was close enough for me to visit regularly and I planned to go exploring with her on my days off.

Cyberia! I took a big breath of fresh air as I stepped onto my balcony. I felt aloft upon a breeze of hope and opportunity.



Images and text: Lori Gloyd © 2006; originally published in August 2006 at Cyberia, City of Ladies; Revised December 2006.

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What is the Soul Food Cafe?

The Soul Food Cafe is an international group of writers and artists whose global mission is to promote writing and art-making as a daily practice through the use of interactive web-based technologies such as blogging and e-mail groups.

Exploring Lemuria

Lemuria is the fantasy construct where the participants of the Soul Food Cafe post their work, andThe Taverna di Muse is one of many places and realms within Lemuria. To see some other Lemurian destinations, select one below and start your journey:

Riversleigh Manor
Murmuring Woods
Cyberia, City of Ladies
The Hermitage
On the Road with Enchanteur
The Digital Atelier The Cave of the Ancients
Lemurian Abbey
Halloween Party, 2006
The Heroine's Journey
Aboard the Calabar Felonway
The Pythian Games
Isle of the Temple People
Isle of Ancestors
The Temple of Solace
Grand Tour
Lemurian Tour
The Gypsy Camp

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The opinions expressed by contributors to Taverna di Muse on this blog as well as on public domains outside this blog are not to be construed as an endorsement by Heather Blakey or Lori Gloyd. Material appearing on this site remains the property of individual artists and writers.


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