Treasuring Poetry: Meet poet and author, Chris, Hall and a review of Following the Green RabbitPosted: April 20, 2022
Today, I am delighted to host poet and author, Chris Hall. Like me, Chris is UK born and South Africa is her adopted country. We both love the bushveld and many of Chris’ poems and books reflect this love.
Which of your own poems is your favourite?
Call of the Maiden is a poem I wrote in response to a call for submissions to a poetry anthology by the wonderful poet and all-round creative, Tara Caribou. I was delighted when this, and another four of my poems, were accepted to be published alongside a whole host of amazing poets and artists in Creation and the Cosmos, edited and published in 2021 by Tara’s micro-publishing company, Raw Earth Ink.
Call of the Maiden
The breeze-caressed veld sways
sending dry waves to break on a distant shore
whirlwind dust-devils dance over bare earth
rising up to be scorched into stillness.
Evening swells across the veld
and the thorn tree’s shadow
reaches out with tendril fingers
to caress the smudge-blue foothills.
As daylight fades, the breeze quickens
and the new maiden emerges
standing on the threshold of the distant kopje
in that powerful place between hearth and wilderness.
She turns and kneels at the young man’s side
offering herself to him.
Limbs entwine and under the eyes of the ancestors
they become one.
Darkness closes in and the great African she-moon rises
pin-prick stars stab the violet-thick night
and now the once-maiden cries out
her triumphant ululation echoing across the empty veld.
What inspired you to write this particular poem?
The poem was inspired by the timeless feeling of being in wild, unspoiled places, and by what I’ve learned about the lives and myths of the ancient people who first trod the earth in the south-western corner of Africa where I now live. In composing the verses, my aim was to capture the atmosphere of the ancient and still-persisting African landscape, embodied in a timeless act between two people; the power wielded by a young woman on the cusp of womanhood and her celebration of the wonder of creation.
What are your plans for your poetry going forward?
I’ve been planning to put together a collection of my poems since mid-way through last year. I started reviewing my poems, and began revising and rewriting some of them with the idea of publishing the book to coincide with World Poetry Day on 21st March this year. However, ‘real life’ crowded in, and so many things slipped towards the end of last year that there was no way I was going to meet that deadline.
But now I’ve been consumed by the urge to begin another novel set in the same landscape as Call of the Maiden, and I’ve already started my new story, which takes up from where my most recent novel, Spirit of the Shell Man, left off.
Maybe my poetry collection will make it out for WPD 2023, but in the meantime, I’ll continue to start my week limbering up with Sadje’s weekly What Do You See photo prompts!
What is your favourite poem?
This was such a difficult decision and I’ve really agonised about this. In the end, I decided to reach back to my Liverpool roots with this poem by Roger McGough, a sound Scouse stalwart, and one of the leading lights of performance poetry, influenced by the popular music culture of 1960s Liverpool. I wonder if anyone remembers the song ‘Lily the Pink’ by The Scaffold, the band Roger was in with Paul McCartney’s much less well-known brother?
Let me die a youngman’s death
not a clean and inbetween
the sheets holywater death
not a famous-last-words
peaceful out of breath death
When I’m 73
and in constant good tumour
may I be mown down at dawn
by a bright red sports car
on my way home
from an allnight party
Or when I’m 91
with silver hair
and sitting in a barber’s chair
may rival gangsters
with hamfisted tommyguns burst in
and give me a short back and insides
Or when I’m 104
and banned from the Cavern
may my mistress
catching me in bed with her daughter
and fearing for her son
cut me up into little pieces
and throw away every piece but one Let me die a youngman’s death
not a free from sin tiptoe in
candle wax and waning death
not a curtains drawn by angels borne
‘what a nice way to go’ death
Why do you like this poem?
I love the wit of Roger McGough’s words. His clever use of language has always made me smile, and I’ve always loved the sentiment behind this particular, and now very famous, poem. When I first read it in my early twenties, death seemed distant, but now later in life, having seen close up the sad decline of old age, the words really resonate.
I love the poem’s rebellious energy and its defiant attitude, the images it conjures up: the red sports car, the barber’s chair and the gangsters with their Tommy guns, and then there’s the reference to the Cavern Club where The Beatles famously first performed (although that was before a little before my time). The way Roger runs words together seemed quite anarchic at the time. How poetry has moved on!
The poem comes from a poetry anthology, The Mersey Sound, which included work by Liverpool poets, Adrian Henri, Roger McGough and Brian Patten. I acquired my copy in the early 1980s from the radical News From Nowhere book shop in Liverpool during my moody, student days. I have a vivid memory of sitting in the park in front of St Georges’ Hall, turning its pages and discovering this poem for the first time.
The collection made poetry accessible to a wider audience; me included. It also laid the foundations for performance poets like John Cooper Clarke and Benjamin Zephaniah, both of whom I was fortunate to see perform.
Finally, it reminds me of ‘The Dead Good Poets Society’ a group of poets and their supporters who met in The Third Room in the basement of the famous Everyman Theatre in Liverpool. I enjoyed going to the once weekly open mic nights but I never had the courage to participate. Had I stayed in Liverpool, I wouldn’t hesitate now!
Thank you, Chris, for being a wonderful guest. I love your choices of poems!
Following the Green Rabbit: A fantastical adventure
What Amazon says
Chasing through Bluebell Woods after a strange green-furred rabbit, 12-year-old Bryony and Bethany, her eight year old sister, inexplicably end up in the olden times. Life in the village where they find themselves is hard under the wicked lord of the manor. The two girls are thrown into a desperate struggle in which the evil lord will stop at nothing to hold onto his power over the village.
Soon everyone’s hopes are pinned on Bryony and her new companions, Toby, who is under a severe warning for humiliating the disliked village pastor, and Tommy, who mysteriously arrived in the village one day and can’t or won’t speak. Together, they set out on a mission to bring help from a higher authority, but their journey is beset with difficulties. Will they be in time to save their friends from the hangman’s noose?
A thrilling story for listeners aged 10 and above, and for anyone who enjoys losing themselves in a fantastical adventure!
Chris Hall is a skilled writer and this book holds all the charm of classic children’s books like The Secret Garden by Francis Hodgson Burnett and The Railway Children by E. Nesbit. It is also aimed at the same target age group of 9 to 16 years old. That being said, an adult will also enjoy this lively and entertaining story about two young girls, aged 12 and 8, and their tutor, who go back in time and end up befriending the villagers from an earlier century who are labouring under the tyrannical rule of Lord Childecott. Fortunately for the children, they become separated from their tutor as soon as they arrive in the earlier time and are spared being arrested and imprisoned along with Mr Eyre. The girls, Bryony and Bethany, are taken under the wing of Toby, the younger brother of the village apothecary, and who, having being identified as a trouble maker, is on the run from Lord Childecott’s henchmen.
Bryony and Bethany, together with their new friends, must formulate a plan to rescue Mr Eyre and save the village from destruction at the hands of the despot.
I enjoyed the characterisation of Bryony who is a sensible young woman, and able to protect her younger sister and make sensible decisions involving not only herself and her sibling, but also other characters whose impulsive behaviours could put them in danger. As the story progresses, Bryony comes more into her own and uses her education and intellect to help solve problems and make plans. Bethany is more of a side character due to her young age.
Toby is a determined and resourceful young man, albeit a little hotheaded. He is guided by Bryony and makes the right choices despite his temper flaring on more than one occasion.
Mr Eyre is every child’s dream tutor. I can’t help wondering whether he isn’t a manifestation of the author’s idea of the perfect teacher based on less happy experiences with her own teachers. He is fun loving and eager to impart learning through proactive experience, but he is also able to maintain discipline and retain the respect of his two young charges. The historical knowledge Mr Eyre manages to impart to Bryony is instrumental in the successful resolution of the troubles faced by the village.
This is a delightful story, imaginative and interesting with a solid and well research historical flavour. I would recommend it to adults and children you enjoy tales filled with mystery and delight.
Purchase Following the Green Rabbit
About Chris Hall
Chris describes herself as a compulsive story-teller, cat slave and hen keeper. Originally from the UK, she now resides in the Western Cape of South Africa.
Her most recent novels, ‘Song of the Sea Goddess’ and it’s sequel, ‘Spirit of the Shell Man’ were inspired by the charm and beauty of her adopted country where, in Chris’s vivid imagination, myth and reality collide on the southern shores of Africa.
‘You’ll Never Walk Alone – Thrills and Spills in 1980s Liverpool’
‘Following the Green Rabbit – a fantastical adventure’
‘The Silver Locket’ (published under pen name, Holly Atkins)
‘Song of the Sea Goddess’ and ‘Following the Green Rabbit’ are also available as audiobooks.
A selection of her poetry is included in ‘Creation and the Cosmos – a poetic anthology’, published by Raw Earth Ink in 2021.
She has also published a tiny taster of her work in a short story collection, ‘A Sextet of Shorts’.
More of her short fiction has appeared in ‘Adler’s Writing’ and ‘One Minute Wit’. Her work also appears in the ‘Writing My City’ anthology, published in Cape Town in 2019.
Visit Chris’s website at http://www.lunas-online.com to read her short fiction, fan fiction, mini-series, poetry and more.
Find Chris Hall
About Robbie Cheadle
Robbie Cheadle is a South African children’s author and poet with 9 children’s books and 2 poetry books.
The 7 Sir Chocolate children’s picture books, co-authored by Robbie and Michael Cheadle, are written in sweet, short rhymes which are easy for young children to follow and are illustrated with pictures of delicious cakes and cake decorations. Each book also includes simple recipes or biscuit art directions which children can make under adult supervision.
Robbie has also published 2 books for older children which incorporate recipes that are relevant to the storylines.
Robbie has 2 adult novels in the paranormal historical and supernatural fantasy genres published under the name Roberta Eaton Cheadle. She also has short stories in the horror and paranormal genre and poems included in several anthologies.
Robbie writes a monthly series for https://writingtoberead.com called Growing Bookworms. This series discusses different topics relating to the benefits of reading to children.
Robbie has a blog, https://robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com/ where she shares book reviews, recipes, author interviews, and poetry.
Find Robbie Cheadle
Instagram: Robbie Cheadle – Instagram
Facebook: Sir Chocolate Books
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