Down the hole

by Andrada Costoiu

For some time, I have been thinking about some fundamental questions, such as the one of how did our societies became so polarized? Why are people so polarized when it comes to race, religion, why are people so polarized in general? I know that there are many reasons why, but I have recently come across a story that reveals disturbing facts.

I was listening to a New York Times podcast, that talked about the radicalization of a young man through YouTube videos. This was an aimless young man, in his 20s, who had a computer and spent a lot of time on YouTube. He became attracted by a far-right community, because he felt a sense of belonging. Besides the podcast, there is also an article in NYTimes about it. Here is the link for it if you want to read more about his story:

What struck me in this story was the evidence provided by a former YouTube employee, a French PhD, that explained how YouTube feeds you what to watch next….and next…and next. YouTube has an algorithm that controls what you can choose to watch next and based on your preferences (your history of watched videos) would suggest the same kind of videos. They say that this algorithm is responsible for 70% of the time spent online.

Now, not only YouTube, but many other platforms offer access to conspiracy theorists, extremists and all kinds of misinformation. Although YouTube and other platforms are outwardly liberal, they are still a place where all kinds of people that are arguing whatever they may, have reached large audiences. 

What if you fall into one of those rabbit holes? I think it is an efficient method of brainwashing. 

For YouTube and media alike, their business measures in time watched and in ratings.  They would give you the same kind of material, because they assume that you like it and that you would keep roped for long by giving you information on the same subject, from the same kind of sources.  For them, it’s all business. The more you watch, the more time you spend on their platforms, the more money they make. They’re not interested in providing a user with alternative narratives, with alternative points of view. 
For them, is not about the quality of information. It is all business. 

But is it all business for people? No. Not so much. For us, real human beings, it’s our lives. We possess an incredible neuronal plasticity that allows us to be shaped by our experiences. 

There are a lot of people out there, especially during this pandemic, who do not have wide social contacts and spend their time navigating the internet. If you involuntarily hammer your brain with the same, the same, you might not even realize that you are being misinformed, or that you start believing in who know what conspiracy theories. 

I think the best we can do is at least be mindful of this possibility. Be more aware and judge through your own lens whatever information we are fed. I think it is important to stop taking the information we are fed at face value. 

And, on another note, I have previously written a small article about how media controls the narratives. This is not new, in fact, media has been called the “fourth estate” because of its wide influence and its weight in steering one way or another the public affairs. Remember the Vietnam War and the photos of casualties and soldiers wounded? Did we see the same thing during the Iraq war and Persian Gulf conflict in the 90s and 2000s? No. We didn’t. Why? I’ll let you think for yourself and answer that question…..

The media controls what we see and hear. The media decides what we should hear and see.
A lot of things that should be said have been effectively silenced. 

I personally am trying hard not to be dumbed down by corporate biased news. It is hard. But I do seek information on things that are important to me and that are not talked in the media the way they should be because of low ratings ( i.e. climate crisis, community issues). I do seek alternative views on everything that I read and I do not believe everything is out there.  

“The antithesis of obliviousness” published in Visual Verse Anthology

by Andrada Costoiu

Photo by Michael Easterling, for Visual Verse .

I have written this poem for Visual Verse Anthology of Art and Words, it is published on page 24, you can read their current issue if you click here: Visual Verse Anthology of Art and Words. The poem is based on the picture above and represents what I saw when I looked at it.

The antithesis of obliviousness
By Andrada Costoiu

Peeking through the gates of time and space,
I seek escape from the place I am stuck.
I do not belong to this sentimental ecosystem of hollow chests,
With people that smile to convince their bodies that are happy.

In the place where no one cares,
I water the tree of love,
Pluck its leaves and send them away
To the ones who play the same game.
We connect,
If there is a wind, there is a way.

They say that romantics make the most unreliable spies,
But this time I made it.
The whole in the fence is the path,
Not slow, but fast,
I bid goodbye to the place that sings everyday happy birthday to the death of souls.

I feel like a citizen of Hades blinded by the sun.
I stumble,
The heart is a small muscle with a tremendous strength,
It got me here, across the fence, back to the place where it all started.

I am an unbound soul smitten with the eternal light,
I sync with the others, across the flying leaves,
Maybe one day we’ll break the fences of all mundane places,
And save the ones that shrug and fade into the dark.

COPYRIGHT NOTICE

© Andrada Costoiu and a-passion4life.com, 2020- . Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Andrada Costoiu and a-passion4life.com, 2020 with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

My new poetry book “Love poems: insights into the complicated mystery of love” is available on Amazon. You can get it here. Please write a review if you get around it. I would really appreciate it.

Choices

by Andrada Costoiu

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

Above the foxhole everything is fire
Clouds are rolling,
Stained by the rage of the man made world.
His fingers are clenched on the wire,
That sends a screaming order to move forward
To all those destined to fill the infantrymen’ boots. 

Steel helmet in the rain, 
He joins the game of hide and seek with bullets,
And hopes to be among the winners,
As there is no replay,
The penalty of losing could take your soul away.

His team now takes the village,
He stops behind a wall, then points his gun,
The end and the tomorrow both dwelling by his finger,
And what he’ll choose will be the faith of one.

Astounding insight into the human soul,
Immersed in holiness and sin,
The battle is about primal survival,
And thus the man in front of him will lose, and he will win.

COPYRIGHT NOTICE

© Andrada Costoiu and a-passion4life.com, 2020- . Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Andrada Costoiu and a-passion4life.com, 2020 with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

My new poetry book “Love poems: insights into the complicated mystery of love” is available on Amazon. You can get it here. Please write a review if you get around it. I would really appreciate it.

One

by Andrada Costoiu

Blue,
A stare of unparalleled depth,
Whispering thoughts and sending desires.
A stare that has these built-in effects,
That shake you and churn you.

Audacity on the fly,
Coming from an absolute beginner 
That had just arrived.

This is the place where no one cares,
A world filled not with willful ignorance
But with colorless 
Blind eyes.

Blue,
You jam up the system,
Clog up the pipes through which indifference was flowing…
You make me feel.

That’s all it takes,
One……to be different
To change the place where no one cares.

At a first read, you’d think this is a poem about love. It is, but not only…..
I’m not going to say anything, but try to think about it from your own lens, your own feelings….and your own world.

COPYRIGHT NOTICE

© Andrada Costoiu and a-passion4life.com, 2020- . Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Andrada Costoiu and a-passion4life.com, 2020 with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

My new poetry book “Love poems: insights into the complicated mystery of love” is available on Amazon. You can get it here. Please write a review if you get around it. I would really appreciate it.

My poem “The nameless child” published in Scarlet Leaf Review

The nameless child

by Andrada Costoiu

Photo: George Hodan, “Sad Boy” 

​The bomb that fell flattened his world,
And drew corridors of fire
That led everywhere and nowhere,
Toward a future that kept hanging.

The tearless silence was floating,
Dressed with silk black cap,
As faith was rewriting the lists
For new havens.

His eyes were closed, but it was bright inside,
He remembered the taste of chocolate
And how he ran up and down the hills
Over the desert.

He will soon hear the others,
Crawling like him, on their canes of hope,
Their skills got sharper every time.

He’ll join them in the quest for 
Their food for tomorrow:
Wild mushrooms and rabbits.
Sometimes they will go by the airfield,
Wondering loud where the storks were,
And why was their place taken by uniformed men.

He felt his body burning,
Heard shouting, faint, then rising,
He smelled his father pomade and felt the clutching of his arms.
He was tired of running in a race that had no stopwatch, 
Besides he already won,
Of all the things, this war has never been able to embargo his dreams.

This is a poem I have written few years ago. Like everything I write( like everything that we writers write), there is a story behind it. Back then I was doing field work in Jordan about war refugees, and I was spending time listening to Syrian war refugees recounting their stories. Some of them had their children around when I was taking their interview. I was struck, I knew war from far away but this was a first account, as close as I could get. I would finish the interviews, and then I’d go transcribe and I would feel these people, and their pain even more than I didn’t before. Their faces would come to mind. This poem is about one of those faces.

Click here for the link in its publication in The Scarlet Leaf Review.

COPYRIGHT NOTICE

© Andrada Costoiu and a-passion4life.com, 2020- . Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Andrada Costoiu and a-passion4life.com, 2020 with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

My new poetry book “Love poems: insights into the complicated mystery of love” is available on Amazon. You can get it here. Please write a review if you get around it. I would really appreciate it.

Where hope is made

by Andrada Costoiu

Image by John Samuel, Library of Congress  (Source: JF Ptak Science Books  Quick Post)

Shadows of souls carried by wings
Embarked to paint visions of stories told and untold.
A dozen missions have now been declared,
In a quest to make the world safe.

A Bird’s eye view flight
Carries the souls who take notes on symbolistic frontiers.
They tap in sights from above
Unsure yet hopeful
That the “differences” they weave intense on their maps
Will debunk old narratives and bring restauration of unity to the people.

A water wagon
Carries the ones who feel the mist in their hearts.
Between the ground down below
And the clouds that swell, 
They’re on a quest to fertilize the seeds of existence.
They tend to the youthfulness of flowers and to all other species,
And in in synchronous voice, they glorify nature.

Some are in a quest to build a world without taxes,
Because not everything is for sale.
They fly to declare independence
From all agencies that monetize the souls of human beings.

Two lovers and few others,
Carry with them the rebirth of wonder.
Their spirts, filled with light,
Are a proof that the love in our hearts can never be muted.

Some souls are still stuck in the Age of Anxiety
They’ve tried take flight,
But they drop, pulled down by the weight of their fears.
They too will be safe,
As the others will not hit the ground,
Until their stories are heard, 
Until the hope in a better, safer world is restored.  

COPYRIGHT NOTICE

© Andrada Costoiu and a-passion4life.com, 2020- . Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Andrada Costoiu and a-passion4life.com, 2020 with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

My new poetry book “Love poems: insights into the complicated mystery of love” is available on Amazon. You can get it here. Please write a review if you get around it. I would really appreciate it.

Interview

by Andrada Costoiu

Hello everyone!
To mark my collaboration with the platform Masticadores, they have conducted an interview with me which has been published a few days ago. Here is the link for it: Masticadores interview, Andrada Costoiu.

Because many of my readers are English speakers, I am going to reproduce it in English below.

When did you start writing? Can you explain that in a few words and also tell us where do you live?

I think my love of writing started early on, with my Romanian literature elementary teacher. Back then, Romania was a communist country where creativity was not encouraged. But despite that, he did encourage us to write about the simple things that we enjoyed in our lives. And that’s how it started…..

This takes me back to the way we teach children and the new generations. Creativity is the most wonderful form of self-expression. We must nurture that in our children because it is not only good for their emotional health, but it would also bring more magic into our world.

I have lived in several parts of the world, and each of them had its own charm. I now live with my family in Irvine, California, and I am affiliated with the University of California Irvine. 

Do you think that the current pandemic is influencing your social network and your readership? Do you think these have expanded?

I have not thought much about this question before, so thank you for asking because it is a good way to reflect in retrospective. In my case, this pandemic has created more human connection than ever before. Not having to drive to work, not having to drive as much as before, has given me time to do other things. And one of those things is nurturing my soul, through lecture or through reaching out to people that I did not have the time to reach out before. I think the same has happened to others. So yes, there is more dialogue than before, and I do think that people are more likely reading more books as a result of the pandemic. 

Is writing for an on-line platform changing your inspiration or your writing style? Do you think that writing for a reader that is using an iPad or a phone could be something that would determine your inspiration or desire to write?

We have to consider that people have different preferences, and different ways of reading. I myself prefer to read physical books, because I like to touch and turn the pagers and I like the smell of books. It is something that comes natural to me, because I have spent so much time in libraries and bookstores. Other people prefer kindle or have other ways of reading. 

That being said, I think as writer we have to always adapt. But when I say adapt, I am referring to the format you are presenting your writing, not to the content itself. For example, I have recently published a book on Amazon. It is both paperback and kindle. These two have different formats and you have to be careful about the layout, otherwise the content might appear unprofessional.

The way people access my writing it is not important in my decision of writing or not writing a story, a poem or anything that tickles my imagination. I will always write. But I do care that anyone who reads me does it in a proper way, on their specific device. So, I will format my writing accordingly. 

Do you think Masticadores’ focus on readers from urban areas is fair?

We live in an age where access is given to people from anywhere. I think we should always reach for a bigger audience, whether a big city, a small town or countryside. But there is something about the alienation and anonymity in the big cities. There is something about how hundreds of thousands of people pass one another, there is something about the brutal indifference of the streets. So, if through our writing we are able to contribute and bring some feeling into that, then that is a wonderful thing.

What has your collaboration with Masticadores offered you?

Diversity, diversity! I think being part of it has given me new perspectives from new writers, from different places. It is important that we always expand our horizons, and I hope I am able to do this for this audience.

Short bio:

Andrada Costoiu is an academic and writer of stories that come from the heart. She lives in California, where she spends her time between academic research and writing books. Her academic work and her literary endeavors have been published in various international journals and publications. Her work on political issues has been published by Cambridge Scholars and has also appeared in international political science journals such as the Journal of Identity and Migration Studies. As a literary author, she has published poems in literary magazines, such as Spillwords Press, Visual Verse, Literary Yard, Scarlet Leaf Review and others. She is the author of the poetry collection “Love poems: insights into the complicated mystery of love” and also the author of the upcoming novel Under the Iron Curtain, which is set in communist Romania.”

Author: https://www.amazon.com/Andrada-Costoiu/e/B08H8SS15P

Personal blog: https://a-passion4life.com

Academic website: https://andradacostoiu.academia.edu

I would like to continue

by Andrada Costoiu

Photo: NASA, free photos

I  would like to continue, until it ends,
Everything ends, doesn’t it? Or maybe it doesn’t…..
Some physicist says that there is no such thing as the past and future,
And that the order of time is not a one-way street.
 
I try to believe him, but I cannot devoid myself of the trace of temporality,
And strangely enough, it doesn’t bother me.
My silent thoughts summon and acknowledge past memories,
And piece by piece, each memory is filled with love, fear, desire or passion.
 
From my smallness I see the footprints of our humanity,
It’s not silent and aimless,
It makes me smile watching how we are all striving and longing to get what we desperately want,
And I can understand our legitimate and unavoidable impatience.
 
We don’t suffer from a tragic misconception of time,
We take what we understand and we strive to understand more.
We have time. Everything that doesn’t work will work one day,
And I would like to continue. 

COPYRIGHT NOTICE

© Andrada Costoiu and a-passion4life.com, 2020- . Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Andrada Costoiu and a-passion4life.com, 2019 with appropriate and specific direction to the original content

My new poetry book “Love poems: insights into the complicated mystery of love” is available on Amazon. You can get it here. Please write a review if you get around it. I would really appreciate it.

Socially intimate

by Andrada Costoiu

Walking through the New York Times Square,
I’m utterly in touch with the drama of this space.
A curious dog from a small balcony
Is barking to the crowds that have morphed into ghosts
And now sit around in circles to listen to the beat of spectral drums.

Their fine-tuned acoustics send bass notes of “‘bang”
Every time another human has reached the entrance of the bridge to heaven.
I pass them, still their music rumbling through my soul
In my way to the stump of the Three of Hope.
I’m going to rub its surface asking that a mother will go back to her children,
Asking that the daughter whom I had to zoom last night will see her father again,
Asking for a new choreography in my ward,
That would replace the sad with happy endings. 

I walk, thoughts flood my mind,
I feel alone ….I don’t want to be alone.
How can I cross from socially distance to socially intimate?
I stop thinking about physical nearness as the image of the ghosts gathered to listen to the drum’s concert sends shivers through my spine.
I think about the stump of the Three of Hope and speed up my steps,
If I could only save that mother for her children,
If only that father would go back home to his daughter..

I wrote this poem a few months ago. It is about a doctor in NYC, when the city was in the middle of the pandemic. The Three of Hope actually exists in NYC. And there is a story behind it……

During the 1920s and 1930s, Seventh Avenue in the 130s was nicknamed the Boulevard of Dreams, a stretch of Harlem lined with top theaters and clubs such as the Lafayette Theater and Connie’s Inn. Between these venues was a lone elm tree (see it above) known as the Tree of Hope, bringing good luck to any up-and-coming entertainer who touched it before hitting the stage—as Fletcher Henderson, Ethel Waters, Eubie Blake, and others did.

The tree didn’t last, it was chopped down in 1934. When the tree was cut down in 1934 during the expansion of 7th Avenue, it was cut into logs and sold as souvenirs. A second tree was soon planted but that too met the ax. 

Instead of it now there is a plaque, to remind of the place where the Three of Hope once was.

COPYRIGHT NOTICE

© Andrada Costoiu and a-passion4life.com, 2020- . Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Andrada Costoiu and a-passion4life.com, 2019 with appropriate and specific direction to the original content

My new poetry book “Love poems: insights into the complicated mystery of love” is available on Amazon. You can get it here. Please write a review if you get around it. I would really appreciate it.