Treasuring Poetry – A tribute to poet and author, Sue Vincent, plus some reviews #SueVincent #PoetrycommunityPosted: December 14, 2022
I am using this last Treasuring Poetry post for 2022 to celebrate the writing talent of Sue Vincent who passed in March 2021. Sue was an incredible blogger who did a huge amount to support her fellow bloggers, authors, and poets. Her poetry, books, and blog are still close to many of our hearts which is an incredible tribute to her talent and personal charisma.
I am sharing Sue’s responses to a Poetry Readathon I ran on Robbie’s Inspiration in December 2018, two years after I first met Sue.
Tell us a bit about yourself
I am a Yorkshire lass with two grown sons and two granddaughters. I live with the notorious Small Dog, in a village in rural Buckinghamshire, England. I write daily for my own blog, the Daily Echo, which is an eclectic mix of personal reflections, poetry, history and folklore. I help run the Silent Eye, an international organisation that helps people realise their potential through awareness, and write for our website too. As a writer, I have several books published, including one written with G. Michael Vasey, but most of the time I write in partnership with Stuart France, exploring ancient sites, myths and symbolism in a semi-fictional way.
When ever I think of Yorkshire it reminds me of the book, The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. Sue and Stuart’s separate and combined blog posts also remind me of this book with their amazing and wonder inducing sights and ideas.
Sue’s blog is still available to readers who share her love of poetry and fascinating places in the United Kingdom.
Who is your favourite poet?
That has to be an unfair question! It all depends on the moment and the mood. If I had to choose, I would say Omar Khayyam, whose poetry I have carried in my handbag and re-read for many years.
On the other hand, and completely at the other end of the literary scale, there is Marriot Edgar, whose rhyming monologues, written and recited in the vernacular, were so much a part of my childhood that even now, when I write humorous verse, it is to his rhythm.
As I lived in France for many years and learned the language as well as my own, I learned to love French poetry too, and while I could say my favourite is Alfred de Musset or Victor Hugo, I will be honest and say that the poet that moves me the most is the Belgian singer/songwriter, Jacques Brel. The lyrics of his songs are poems in their own right and have a good deal to say and to teach.
The idea of the book of poetry you carry in your handbag, Sue, is completely wonderful to me. It has quite captured my imagination and I think I may start a tradition like this with my son, Gregory.
What is your favourite poem?
Omar Khayyam is easy… Fitzgerald translated his work from the original Farsi, and the quatrains are all in one book, the Rubaiyat…
“The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,
Moves on: nor all thy Piety nor Wit.
Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
Nor all thy Tears wash out a Word of it.”
But then, there is Marriot Edgar to consider… and although The Lion and Albert is probably his best-known work, which I can still recite by heart, I do have a fondness for his take on various events in British history. Particular favourites are The Battle of Hastings, where King Harold confronted William of Normandy:
King ‘Arold came up as they landed –
His face full of venom and ‘ate –
He said ‘lf you’ve come for t’Regatta
You’ve got here just six weeks too late.’
At this William rose, cool but ‘aughty,
And said ‘Give us none of your cheek;
You’d best have your throne re-upholstered,
I’ll be wanting to use it next week.’
Though if I had to pick one, it would be Magna Charter, which recounts how King John was forced to sign the Magna Carta, even if he did dip his pen in the jam…
“And it’s through that there Magna Charter,
As were made by the Barons of old,
That in England today we can do what we like,
So long as we do what we’re told.”
Thank you for introducing me and my readers to these poems, Sue. They are lovely and memorable.
What do you appreciate most in a poem?
The first word that sprang to mind in answer to this question was ‘integrity’, and that, I think, can be applied to all forms of poetry. With humorous verses, I want to laugh. With narrative poems, I want a story that has a beginning, middle and end. With short forms, like the haiku and tanka that are now so popular, I want the capture of a moment and layers of possible interpretation that make me think. With classic poetry, I want to feel what the writer felt, understand the elusive thought or emotion that made them write.
Whether it is free verse, rhyme or one of the many recognised forms, it is not enough to simply string words and phrases together across the lines and beats, arranging it to look like a poem. A poem has to flow; it should sing its own music as it is read, even free verse should have its own rhythm and inner shape. And, whether it is humorous, romantic, spiritual or dramatic, it should have something to say that will leave the reader the richer for having read.
You have summed up beautifully what I also think, Sue. A poem should be meaningful and leave a lasting impression upon the reader.
Why do you write poetry?
I grew up around poetry. My mother’s notebooks introduced me early to how odd incidents and fleeting emotions could be captured in verse. There were the monologues shared with my great-grandparents, and always books… even my first Sunday School Prize was written in verse, and I have loved Dr Seuss ever since.
Things that amuse me tend to be written in my head, as they happen, in Edgar-esque verses, but there are other, deeper things that seem as if they can only be conveyed by poetry. You cannot capture them in everyday words… transient realisations, fleeting emotions, inspiration half-understood. Thoughts and feelings too wide to condense into speech find a home in poetry, where the unspeakable can be spoken and the uncontainable contained in such a way that others might share and glimpse an elusive idea. That is why I read and write poetry.
Would you see Eden in a withered bough?
Sunlight in shadows, or flowers bloom in frost?
Beauty in sorrow, or gifts in the dark?
Ask the Earth and the song of wild water
To whisper their secrets.
Follow the moon-path to the horizon
And look within.
I feel you have written your reasons like a true poet, Sue. Writing poetry is something we are compelled to do as part of the communication of our deepest feelings and thoughts. It is really the only way some things can be said for some people.
Sue Vincent’s poetry books
My review of Notes from a Small Dog: Four Legs on Two
Where to start with a review of Notes from a Small Dog: Four Legs on Two by Sue Vincent? I loved this books so much and so did Michael. It became a bit of a contentious book between Mike and I as I sneakily read ahead and Michael realised that I wasn’t starting where I had finished reading to him and made me go back. He was very determined not to miss a single word. I love this type of story, told mainly through the eyes of a small and very cute dog called Ani. Sue depicts day to day life in such a humorous and fun filled way and I found it a wonderful way to end each stress filled day to sit down and read a few chapters of Ani’s antics to Michael [and to myself of course thereby sparking Mike’s intense displeasure as mentioned above]. Sue writes beautiful descriptions of the natural environment where she lives and her depictions of some of Ani’s learning experiences are very funny. I can just picture the surprise of a small dog taking a flying leap into a pond that has frozen overnight. Sue describes Ani’s anxiety and attention when she is ill and her concern and caring when Ani is ill. This book is altogether completely delightful and tells a beautiful story of the special relationship that can develop between man and his best friend. There are also a few of Sue’s humorous and clever Ani poems thrown in for good measure. This genre of book is just up my street and I rated this book five out of five on Goodreads and Amazon.
Purchase Notes from a Small Dog: Four Legs on Two from Amazon here: https://www.amazon.com/Notes-Small-Dog-Four-Legs-ebook/dp/B00GNHTIAW
Laughter Lines, Life from the Tail End
Michael and I are firm Ani addicts so another whole book about Ani’s antics is a real treat. The goings on of Ani’s two legs, sets Michael off into gales of laughter so we are really happy to read about the trials and tribulations of “Her” too.
The book is written in rhyming verse and tells all sorts of tales. To coin a phrase, Ani says:
“The time has come,” the doglet said,
“to talk of many things;
Of tennis balls and squeaky ducks,
and sneaky bees with stings; …”
In this book, Laughter Lines, Life from the Tail End, you will meet some of Ani’s friends, OR NOT:
The cat likes to sit on the roof of the shed
While the dog views this as an intrusion,
It’s all fur and teeth
As the dog growls beneath
And the birds flutter round in confusion.
We get some insights into Ani’s diet:
Its cream cheese and crackers for me and the dog,
While I’m more the epicure… she’s just a hog…
Me and the dog had a sandwich for brunch
(Well, for me it was breakfast, for her it was lunch.)
NOT TO MENTION
The ham disappeared without leaving a trace
Except for the grin upon one small dog’s face.
So if you like to enjoy life and have a good giggle, pick up this delightful book of light-hearted poems and jump right in. There are also some lovely photographs in the book for the reader to enjoy.
You can purchase Laughter Lines, Life from the Tail End here: https://www.amazon.com/Laughter-Lines-Life-Tail-End-ebook/dp/B00USCYJ20
Doggerel: Life with the Small Dog
Ani, or the Small Dog, as she is referred to in this delightful collection of poetry, is a rescue dog whose mother and father were found living together in an Irish field, awaiting the birth of their litter of puppies. Ani’s two legs is named Sue Vincent and she is a Yorkshire born writer, a teacher and a director of The Silent Eye. Both Ani and Sue write highly entertaining blogs.
So what is life like for a Small Dog who blogs and writes poetry, living with another writer who is obsessed with bathing her? Ani tells us all about her life with Sue in a collection of hilarious and poignant poems, largely written in rhyming verse
Well, to start of with, Ani makes it quite clear she does not enjoy being tricked into bathing:
“I got them back on exit
When I shook my dripping fur…
(I didn’t get my boy too much,
But aimed it all at her.)”
“To add insult to injury…
All guilt upon her head…
When I went off to sulk a bit
I found she’d washed my bed!”
Both from Touche.
Ani also does not like having to diet:
“Now this works a treat, if you’ll pardon the pun,
‘Cause she either forgets, gives me treats or a bun
Or more likely she will not go in there at all
‘Cause, “You’ve put on a pound or two, girlie, since fall…”
from In hiding…
Of course, Ani is the first to worry if her Two-Legs gets sick:
“My two-legs has broken down again,
Or maybe she’s still broke,
I think she’s cute with hamster cheeks…
She says it’s not a joke.”
Ani is also the first to admit that when she is sick, her Two-Legs nurses her with devoted care:
“Being poorly does have compensations;
‘Cause she’s worried to death, I can tell.
But now she is just so attentive…
I’m not in a rush to get well.”
from Sleeping Dogs Lie…?
This is a thoroughly enjoyable book of poetry about the antics and life experiences of the Small Dog. I would recommend it to anyone who loves dogs and who enjoys having a good giggle about life in general.
You can purchase Doggerel: Life with the Small Dog here: https://www.amazon.com/Doggerel-Life-Small-Sue-Vincent-ebook/dp/B081B8BSFC
Pass the Turkey: The Small Dog’s Christmas
Pass the Turkey: The Small Dog’s Christmas is a delightful book full of Christmas cheer. Ani, the small dog, is reflecting on Christmas’ past, present and future through a combination of letters to Santa and poems. The perplexities of ‘fake’ Santas, the ‘theft’ of a favourite sofa, and gifts of tennis balls and a chicken flavoured biscuit, all require Ani’s consideration. Her naughty secrets are also revealed such as the time she ate all the left over turkey and salmon and fell through the ice in the pond [it was shallow]. The indignities of baths and having to wear reindeer antlers are also shared.
Join Ani and her two legs, Sue Vincent, for a glorious romp through advent and Christmas Day.
A few of my favourite verses:
“I’ve tried to help with household chores,
I’ve laundered all my balls,
I’ve chased the pigeons form the shed
And spiders from the walls.” from Request
“She’s like a puppy when it snows
We just go out to play…
And if she wraps up warm enough
We might stay out all day.” from Wishing for the White Stuff
“The windows are all closed at night
The keyhole seems to small
To wriggle through with turkey
And a brand new tennis ball.” from Chimneys.
Purchase Pass the Turkey: The Small Dog’s Christmas here: https://www.amazon.com/Pass-Turkey-Small-Dogs-Christmas-ebook/dp/B081ZBR2GZ
Life Lines: Poems from a Reflection
I love poetry and I read a lot of poems and poetry books and I found the poems in this amazing little book to be quite profound. Sue Vincent touches on all aspects of life, including the sadder and more emotionally difficult aspects such as loss of a loved one, in a beautifully poignant and yet positive and uplifting way which make them satisfying and wonderfully uplifting.
Most of these poems are written in freestyle form with a couple in rhyming verse. The poet has matched the style well to the content of the poem and the rhyming verse poems present the more light hearted and upbeat toned poems.
A few short extracts that I found particularly impactful are as follows:
“The pen paints the souls longing
In jewel tones.” from Purpose
“There were flowers,
Three red roses,
Red as life,
Placed in a cold hand,
One for each heart
Saying a final farewell.
When the tears fall,
There are always flowers.” from Flowers
“Two ravens whisper in my ear,
As Thought and Memory begin.
Within the darkness of their wings
Stir images, both dark and bright,
That dance within the secret heart
And quiet hours of the night.” from Odin’s Ravens [my favourite poem in this collection]
“My pillow held the hollow where you lay,
With love glazed eyes that held me,
Watching as the wildness took me,
Smiling up at me.” from Memory [intensely poignant poem]
Purchase Life Lines: Poems from a Reflection here: https://www.amazon.com/Life-Lines-Reflection-Sue-Vincent-ebook/dp/B00PJSPLI4
Midnight Haiku: A Year in Contemplation
Sue Vincent is well know for her poetry. Some is poignant and sad, some is humorous, some is incredibly beautiful, and all is emotional, insightful, and meaningful. Sue has mastered many forms of poetry, including freestyle, rhyming verse, tankas, and haikus.
Her haikus, only 17 syllables long, are among the most powerful of her many poems. This book is a collection of 365 days of haikus and loosely follows the seasons.
The best way of demonstrating the beauty and power of these haikus is by sharing a few of my favourites:
“earth captures heaven
holding stars in tender hands
that the blind may see”
“a flaming chalice
raising itself to the sun
accepting the light”
“beyond the roses
colouring a summer sky
a smiling god paints”
sparking through the fading days
neatly framed in timeless rolls
colouring the day”
These five haiku are the ones that moved me the most and I hope they have illustrated the magnificence of this beautiful book.
Purchase Midnight Haiku: A Year in Contemplation here: https://www.amazon.com/Midnight-Haiku-Contemplation-Sue-Vincent-ebook/dp/B08YM9KBNJ
Sue Vincent was also a contributor to Poetry Treasures, a WordCrafter anthology of poetry.
A review of Poetry Treasures
A sweet short read and a collaboration of a variety of poems written in various forms of poetry by some talented poets. I feel like this book was an introduction to the poets as well as a sampling of their creativity in poetry. I especially enjoyed the poetry of Colleen Chesebro and a delicious sampling of intrinsic poetry by the talented and missed, the late, Sue Vincent.
You can purchase Poetry Treasures here: https://www.amazon.com/Poetry-Treasures-Sue-Vincent-ebook/product-reviews/B0933KSJR9
More about Sue Vincent
You can read my Treasuring Poetry interview with Sue Vincent here: https://writingtoberead.com/2020/04/25/sue-vincent-shares-her-thoughts-on-poetry-and-a-review/
Diana Peach shared a most beautiful poem by the late Sue Vincent as a tribute to her mother who sadly passed from our Earthly world in late November 2022. You can read it here: https://mythsofthemirror.com/2022/11/13/go-gently-into-that-good-night-2/
Colleen Chesebro shared a lovely poem in celebration of the late Sue Vincent in her latest poetry book, which I reviewed here: https://robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com/2022/12/11/robbies-inspiration-book-blog-tour-fairies-myths-magic-ii-by-colleen-m-chesebro-and-a-review-poetry-shortstories-readingcommunity/
You can find out more about Colleen Chesebro’s book here: https://colleenmchesebro.com/category/colleens-books/
Find Sue Vincent’s books and poetry
About Robbie Cheadle
Robbie Cheadle is a South African children’s author and poet with eleven children’s books and two poetry books.
The eight 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 and Michael have also written Haunted Halloween Holiday, a delightful fantasy story for children aged 5 to 9 about Count Sugular and his family who hire a caravan to attend a Halloween party at the Haunted House in Ghost Valley. This story is beautifully illustrated with Robbie’s fondant and cake art creations.
Robbie has published two books for older children which incorporate recipes that are relevant to the storylines.
Robbie has two 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 Cheadle contributes two monthly posts to https://writingtoberead.com, namely, Growing Bookworms, a series providing advice to caregivers on how to encourage children to read and write, and Treasuring Poetry, a series aimed at introducing poetry lovers to new poets and poetry books.
In addition, Roberta Eaton Cheadle contributes one monthly post to https://writingtoberead.com called Dark Origins: African Myths and Legends which shares information about the cultures, myths and legends of the indigenous people of southern Africa.
Robbie has a blog, https://robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com. where she shares book reviews, recipes, author interviews, and poetry.
Find Robbie Cheadle
Facebook: Sir Chocolate Books
Want to be sure not to miss any of Robbie’s “Treasuring Poetry” segments? Subscribe to Writing to be Read for e-mail notifications whenever new content is posted or follow WtbR on WordPress. If you found it interesting or entertaining, please share.