This book, The Twisted Circle, is an amazing heartfelt journey of a young devout sister, Barbara, in Guyana. She begins her chosen path pure in her faith and devotion. She is immediately sexually harassed by her first priest and in escaping him, she transfers to a remote school that devours her with its own demented jealousies and hidden abusive practices. Her struggle, like all of our struggles, is goodness trying to move forward despite serious roadblocks and the ill will of those who can only express pain and destruction. Her story shows what bravery can look like when faced by insurmountable odds. A misogynistic church run by men and women who have sold their souls to keep the old ways in place offers her no help or protection. This is a place where children are hurt.
Losing becomes swift and heartless. And it does not differentiate between the good and the evil. Barbara must face the reality of what her world has become. You will come away with a marvelous memory of characters that breathe off the page and true heroism that lives on after all is lost.
~ AMAZON REVIEW, AUGUST 29, 2021, BY DAN McNAY, AMERICAN AUTHOR OF FIVE NOVELS. DAN LIVES IN LOS ANGELES, SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA, USA.
When I began working on The Twisted Circle, over forty-seven years had passed since the year I had worked in Guyana’s northwest region. Yet, I could still visualize the convent in Santa Cruz (fictitious name) and the secondary school in Mabaruma, the administrative center of what is now known as the Barima-Waini Region. I recall the lethargy I felt during the first month or so as my body adjusted to the high humidity of the tropical rainforest. I recall awakening to the howls of baboons on my first morning in my new home. Later, I learned to discern the groans of the jaguars.
At the time, there was no electricity in the Santa Cruz Amerindian village. When darkness descended at six o’clock, our two Jesuit parish priests in the presbytery, located on the top of the Santa Cruz hill, turned on their generator that supplied energy to the presbytery, church, and convent. Lights went out at ten o’clock at night. The convent had a refrigerator that ran on kerosene oil. It was so old that it did not preserve food very well. Potable water came from a large wooden cistern in the backyard.
My only existing record of the year I spent at the Santa Cruz convent is an unlined school notebook with crayon drawings of the variety of moths that visited my room at nighttime. The setting would not be complete without them. Below are a few of my drawings of my nightly visitors.
LOS ANGELES, Aug. 24, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — Aggrieved, angered, and ashamed by the revelations in the documentary film, Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God, author Rosaliene Bacchus breaks her silence as a former Catholic nun in her novel, The Twisted Circle, and adds her voice for victims of sexual abuse by predatory priests in the patriarchal Catholic Church….
Click on the above link (Rosaliene Bacchus) to read the full Press Release.
I’m happy to announce that the print copy of my novel, The Twisted Circle, is now available at the following booksellers:
We clearly see the key role of repressive gender and parent-child relations in the rise of fundamentalism—be it Eastern or Western, Muslim or Christian. While this phenomenon is generally mislabeled as religious fundamentalism, it is actually dominator fundamentalism. It is the reinstatement of authoritarian rule in both the family and the state or tribe, rigid male dominance, and the idealization of violence as a means of control.
Excerpt from the “Special 30th Anniversary Epilogue” of The Chalice & The Blade: Our History, Our Future by Riane Eisler, HarperCollins Publishers, New York, USA, 1987.
RIANE EISLER, a social systems scientist, cultural historian, and attorney, is president of the Center for Partnership Studies (CPS), dedicated to research and education. She is known worldwide for her bestseller The Chalice & The Blade: Our History, Our Future, now in 27 foreign editions and 57 printings in the USA. Archbishop Desmond Tutu praised her book on economics, The Real Wealth of Nations: Creating a Caring Economics, as “a template for the better world we have been so urgently seeking.”
My Poetry Corner August 2021 features the poem “W for Workers” from the 2021 poetry collection, Pandemic Poems: First Wave, by Jamaica’s third Poet Laureate Olive Senior (2021-2024). Since 1993, the award-winning poet, novelist, short story and non-fiction writer has made Toronto, Canada, her home. She returns frequently to the Caribbean which remains central to her work.
The seventh of ten children, the Poet Laureate was born in 1941 in the wild mountainous landscape in the interior of Jamaica. The child of peasant farmers, the young Olive enjoyed a better, though solitary, life as the only child in the home of a wealthy and cosmopolitan great uncle and great aunt who encouraged her love for reading and writing.
After winning a scholarship to attend the prestigious Montego Bay High School for Girls, Olive embarked on a career in journalism. At nineteen, she joined the staff of The Daily Gleaner, Jamaica’s major newspaper located in Kingston. She soon won a scholarship to study journalism at the Thomson Foundation in Cardiff, Wales. Later, while attending the Carleton University School of Journalism in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, she began writing fiction and poetry. She returned to Jamaica where, in 1982, she joined the Institute of Jamaica as editor of the Jamaica Journal, a magazine that promotes the history and culture of the Caribbean Island nation.
In the summer of 2020, between May and September, when the Covid-19 pandemic transformed our lives, Senior began writing pandemic poems and posting them on her Twitter and Facebook pages “as a way of keeping [her]self engaged and not falling into depression.” Each of the 71 poems in her collection Pandemic Poems: First Wave is “a riff on a word or phrase trending at the period.” This pandemic lexicon has since become a part of our new normal.
The second proof copy of my novel The Twisted Circle arrived on July 26th. I rejoiced that I had succeeded in aligning all the elements on the back cover and in centering the book title on the spine. After I confirmed the fourth and final revised version, Lulu has approved my book for global distribution. I jump up in exhilaration.
I must now endure an eight-week waiting process while retailers—Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Ingram—access if my book production files meet their standards. Lulu alerted that the ISBN barcode on the back cover is a big issue for global distributors. My barcode differs from those printed on books by major book publishers. Apprehension has moved in.
The process for creating an eBook demands a different formatting process. I rejoiced on learning that there is no need for those pesky headers and footers used in printed books. Instead, I must contend with creating headings: Heading 1 for the title and Heading 2 for each chapter. Little did I know that there are so many rules for formatting headings! When done correctly, the Table of Contents is automatically created when the MS DOCX file is uploaded to the EPUB file format. Like the ISBN barcode, the Table of Contents is crucial for acceptance in the global book distribution network. With guidance received from a member of Lulu’s customer support team, I’ll be spending this week grinding my teeth as I work with the MS Word program for generating chapter headings.
All is not bleak. The printed version of The Twisted Circle is available for sale on Lulu.com at Rosaliene’s Shop. You can order your copy now. If all goes well, the book’s official release date will be in late September when the printed book would also be available in the global book distribution network.
There’s more good news. I’ve received my first book review from Guyanese American author Stella Bagot, a retired English professor who lives in Maryland. Bagot’s review is of special significance for me as she is also a former Catholic nun. She writes:
[T]he author successfully conveys the austerity, religious and sisterly practices, and the complexity of living in a religious community with a variety of personalities. She also captures the tensions that arise in a small (rural) community rife with gossip and overshadowed by a culture of fear of authoritarianism.
Her characters, both the religious and the laity, are realistically drawn and are consistent. Her main characters are rounded, exhibiting both positive and negative traits, with even the antagonist being sympathetically portrayed at times. One cannot but be struck by the realism of the novel…. The rich and smooth dialogue also deserves mention…
Bacchus succeeds in evoking an emotional response in the reader…. All in all, The Twisted Circle is an engaging read…
I recently watched the documentary film, Fantastic Fungi, streaming on Netflix. The film aims to change our consciousness about the mycelium network and “takes us on an immersive journey through time and scale into the magical earth beneath our feet, an underground network that can heal and save our planet.”
The renowned scientists and mycologists featured in the film have identified 7 significant pillars where mycelium greatly benefit our lives. Their mission is “to connect, unify and support each other, following the mycelial network’s guide to a better earth for all.”
The following are excerpts from each of the 7 pillars presented on the Fantastic Fungi website:
Consciousness / Spirituality Throughout the ages of time, religions, as a form of spirituality, have worshiped entities including mushrooms and have used mind altering sacraments, including psychoactive mushrooms, as a form of divination.
Mental Health / Therapeutic There are currently no medications that have proven effective in dealing with the massive amounts of addictions, depression and suicidal ideation. Psychedelics are showing extraordinary results in clinical trials, and are on the fast track to becoming one of the most powerful transformative tools of our time.
Foraging / Food / Culinary When we realize that mycelium is critical to life on earth, this intersection between the animal and plant kingdoms that gives us food, shelter and the medicine we need, what will we do to form a stronger and interconnected relationship with it?
Innovation / Solutions We have only begun to explore the use and intelligence of the mycelium world and our current challenge requires us to break from old paradigms and innovate!
Environmental / Biodiversity We have a partner that has traveled in time with us through our evolutionary process here on earth and they are perhaps more intelligent than we are in solving the very issues that mankind has created and is now facing.
Culture / History / Arts The indigenous were, and many still are very connected with the fungi world. They know how to use them in ways that only those who are connected with nature can truly appreciate. It is a skill that many of us have lost.
Health / Wellness / Medical [I]t is challenging if not impossible to realize the potential of the fungi kingdom. However, because of the emerging issues around the loss of effectiveness of penicillin and treatment resistant diseases, there is work being done to study the promising gifts that mushrooms hold for us.
The more I learn about the fungi kingdom, the more I’ve come to appreciate their critical role in our planet’s Web of Life and our own evolution as a species. Their mycelium network is far superior in reach and intelligence than our electronic networks. What’s more, they nurture and care for those in their network and keep on giving. For the fungi, death is not the end; it is the regeneration of life.
Click hereto find other streaming platforms for watching the documentary film.
Family has always been central to my well-being. At an early age, growing up in what was then British Guiana, I realized instinctively that my family was vital to my survival. My parents’ constant bickering and violent verbal exchanges threatened the unity of our nuclear family of seven: two adults and five children. Connections with the two branches of my extended maternal and paternal families tempered the fears and insecurity that unsettled my young life.
During the turbulent years of our struggle for independence from Britain, my extended families shrunk with the migration of relatives to the Mother Country. Later, when Britain tightened immigration from Guyana and its former West Indian colonies, more aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends found new havens in Canada and the United States. Loss has left its scar on my life.
My Poetry Corner July 2021 features the poem “On a Saturday in the Anthropocene” from the anthology HERE: Poems for the Planet (Copper Canyon Press, 2019) edited by Elizabeth J Coleman an American poet, public-interest attorney, environmental activist, and teacher of mindfulness. A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania Law School and Swarthmore College, she practiced law for over thirty years and has served as an executive at several organizations.
In 2012, she received an MFA in Writing from the Vermont College of Fine Arts. She credits Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) and mindfulness for her decision to become a late-career poet. She lives in New York City where she runs Mindful Solutions LLC and is president of the Beatrice R and Joseph A Coleman Foundation.
In the anthology HERE: Poems for the Planet, Coleman brings together her love for poetry, for justice, and for our planet. With a foreword from His Holiness the Dalai Lama, HERE explores our planet’s beauty and plight through the vision of 128 living poets from all over the world.
“When we see photographs of the earth from space, we see no boundaries between us, just this one blue planet, a natural world that supports us all. Therefore, we have to see humanity as one family and the natural world as our home. It’s not necessarily somewhere sacred or holy, but simply where we live—so it’s in our interest to look after it,” writes the Dalai Lama.
The anthology is divided into five sections. In the first section that puts us in touch with the beauty of our planet, Kentuckian farmer and poet Wendell Berry gives us “The Peace of Wild Things” (p.40):
When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.
When I left the convent in December 1977, my career as an art and geography high school teacher smashed against the boulders defending Guyana’s coastline. Broken and lost, I was set adrift—without purpose or direction for my return to secular life. Inspiration for my creative artistic expression vanished with the prevailing winds. Never to return…until now.
On completion of my second novel, The Twisted Circle, I had contacted two artists I knew about designing my front cover. Both declined to take on the project. Book cover design was not part of their expertise. In 2019, I considered contracting the services of a book cover designer on Fivver.com. Then something peculiar happened during the early months of the COVID-19 lockdown. Amid the doldrums of anxiety and uncertainty, inspiration for taking on the project myself surfaced like a bubble from the ocean floor. Our subconscious mind works in mysterious ways.
Inspired by real events, The Twisted Circle tells the story of two religious women, Guyanese Sister Barbara Lovell and American Sister Frances Adler, torn apart by obsession and entitlement. Within the confines of the community’s Santa Cruz convent, isolated in Guyana’s northwest rain forest region, they are ensnared in a twisted circle of deceit. The symbiotic relationship between the nuns and predatory priests is brought into the light. The Forest Spirits guard dark secrets. Raven knows.