Treasuring Poetry – If by Rudyard Kipling and The Listeners by Walter de la Mare

This month I am featuring my own favourite poems and a poem and picture from my forthcoming poetry book, Behind Closed Doors. I hadn’t intended to feature my own work this month, but sometimes life happens and so I am making the best of it.

If by Rudyard Kipling

I love the poem If by Rudyard Kipling because it is so inspiring and uplifting. The objective of the poem was to give his son advice and instruction on how to live a happy and successful life. I relate strongly to this advice possibly because I have two sons.

My favourite lines are as follows:

“If you can bear to hear the truth you have spoken

Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,

Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,

And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools.”

The first two lines above warn that his son must learn to endure his own words twisted by dishonest and harmful people in order to serve their own agendas. The second two lines explain the importance of being able to cope with failure and pick yourself up and carry on, even if what you fail at has been your life’s work.

Both of these situations are ones that everyone comes across in life – people who are willing to walk on you in order to serve their own purposes and failure. How we deal with the resulting disillusionment and disappointment has a huge bearing on our lives going forward.

I like to re-read this poem as a reminder to myself to stay strong and on my chosen path in life.

You can listen to my recital of this poem here:

The Listener by Walter de la Mare

In summary, this poem is about a traveler who comes to a house on a moonlit night and knocks on the door. He demands that the door be opened but he receives no answer.

We discover that the traveler has made a promise to return to the occupants of the house, but he has been prevented from doing so until the current time. It is too late and the occupants are gone. He clearly feels some guilt because he cries “Tell them I came, and no one answered, That I kept my word…”

I love this poem because of its supernatural undertone. There is a mystery that runs through the poem and you feel the whisper of ghosts in the imagined echoes of the listener’s words.

You can listen to my recital of this poem here:

Which of these two poems do you like best?

This is one of the conservation twisted nursery rhymes from my forthcoming book of unusual poetry, Behind Closed Doors, together with the related cake art interpretation.

If the polar icecaps doth melt (based on the North wind doth blow)

If the polar icecaps doth melt

And global warming makes itself felt

What will the earth look like then?

Poor thing?

Some areas will be dry

The plant life will wilt and die

And not a single bird will sing

Poor thing.

Here is the cover, designed by the amazing Teagan Riordain Geneviene

About Robbie Cheadle

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Robbie Cheadle is a children’s author and poet.

The 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 books for older children which incorporate recipes that are relevant to the storylines.

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

Blog: https://www.robbiecheadle.co.za/

Blog: robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com

Twitter: BakeandWrite

Instagram: Robbie Cheadle – Instagram

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.


Growing Bookworms: Handwriting skills for children, Part 1

Why handwriting is still important

As technology becomes increasingly important in our modern lives, writing by hand with a pen has become less common. Writing on a computer is easy and allows us to move text about, delete and add text, and save sections in a separate place for future use. We are also able to access our writing from a number of devices. I access my email and blogs from all three of my laptops, both of my iphones, and my ipad. This all makes writing so much simpler, so why do our education systems still focus on handwriting? Why not let the children use laptops and ipads to write?

Cognitive benefits

Writing notes by hand improves language skills. Writing by hand takes longer than typing and forces the writer to slow down their thought process and consider the words more. When you write by hand you spend more time thinking about the structure of the writing, the spelling of words, and they way you are using them.

Writing information down also aids our memory. I knew this without consulting the research confirming that writing creates unique pathways in the brain causing people who take notes by hand to remember the content better than those who type up their notes. Like me, my oldest son, Gregory, came to this realisation on his own and writes copious and detailed notes. His effort and dedication reflects in his academic results.

Creative writing benefits

A lot of writers still use notebooks to record and flesh out their ideas by hand. When we write longhand our ideas flow better and we are less distracted by the need to keep editing our work as we go along. When we write by hand we follow the flow of the idea and leave the editing until later.

I write most of my poetry by hand, but I do type up my prose so I know the above is true. I just can’t stop myself from continuously editing.

My son, Michael, writes by hand. He has a book in which he writes down his thoughts and ideas when the spirit moves him. When it comes to school assignments, he writes his stories on a laptop and I am always amazed at how many more mistakes and errors he makes when using a laptop than when writing by hand.

The manuscript of The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Picture credit: https://www.spbooks.com/67-the-great-gatsby-9791095457428.html

Handwriting is less restrictive

This point links to the one above about writing by hand freeing our minds and creative processes from the need to edit. I don’t write my prose by hand but I do record my frameworks and basic ideas by hand. I like to use mind maps which set out my story process. I have noticed that Michael does the same when plotting.

Again, I must emphasis that using and electronic devise to brainstorm is fraught with distractions. These are our own fault as we have our social media, email, and other notifications coming through on our devices. Every time I get an email or notification from Facebook, it pops up on my screen and my eyes automatically go to the pop up and read it.

Handwriting is part of our identity and our culture

Our handwriting is unique to us and forms a part of our identity. Even people like me whose writing is difficult for others to read, still put our personal stamp on handwritten work (my writing is difficult to read because I cannot resist adding curls and whirls all over the place; my writing is a work of art).

Writing is also an important part of our culture and our development as a species, it is the foundation of our learning and progress.

If you are interested in learning a bit more about the role of handwriting in our lives and culture, Rebecca Budd has a lovely podcast entitled The Trio on Letter Writing which discusses this topic in detail.

Quotes about writing

I think of my drawing style like handwriting: it’s a mix of whatever handwriting you’re born with, plus bits and pieces you’ve pilfered from other people around you. – Roz Chast

Poets don’t draw. They unravel their handwriting and then tie it up again, but differently. – Jean Cocteau

Somehow I started introducing writing into my drawings, and after a time, the language took over and I started getting very involved with the handwriting and then the look of the handwriting. – Patti Smith

About Robbie Cheadle

IMG_9902

Robbie Cheadle is a children’s author and poet.

The 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 books for older children which incorporate recipes that are relevant to the storylines.

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

Blog: https://www.robbiecheadle.co.za/

Blog: robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com

Twitter: BakeandWrite

Instagram: Robbie Cheadle – Instagram

Facebook: Sir Chocolate Books

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Want to be sure not to miss any of Robbie’s “Growing Bookworms” segments? Subscribe to Writing to be Read for e-mail notifications whenever new content is posted or follow WtbR on WordPress.


Treasuring Poetry: Meet author and poet M J Mallon

My Treasuring Poetry guest today is talented author and poet M J Mallon. I am delighted to host Marje here and hope you enjoy her thoughts on poetry and her favourite poem.

Which of your own poems is your favourite?

This was such a difficult decision, I have at least three favourites! I narrowed it down to the robin. The robin and the dragonfly are my spirit animals and trees are also a huge inspiration. I’ve written about all of these and more in Mr. Sagittarius.

A beautiful picture of a robin by M J Mallon

Bench,

A bird,

Red-breasted,

So, tame you rest,

Beside me robin,

Two friends on a park bench,

One human, one of nature,

I appreciate your kind time,

Until you away… exploring far,

Hinting at possibilities you go. 

I wonder what you notice in your world.

And why you choose that ground to explore,

When you could have stayed here with me,

In mindful meditation.

Maybe you’ll visit me,

Christmas day, perhaps?

To bring good cheer,

Until then,

Peace to, You.

What inspired you to write this particular poem?

I’d been studying mindfulness at the sixth form college where I work. Mindfulness is the act of observing and using the full array of our senses meditatively to become more at one with ourselves. I’ve discovered that this is a fantastic practice to adhere to. It benefits an author’s creativity by making you more aware of the nuances of your surroundings.  I’m fortunate in that I work near the botanical gardens in Cambridge, so I often visit and walk and observe the wonder of nature taking photographs of the trees, flowers, animal and insect visitors. Over time, I collected these photographs and wrote poems about them. These, along with various seasonal and short pieces of fiction feature in Mr. Sagittarius. It is a joyful celebration of siblings, magic, loves, nature, the seasons and the circle of our lives.

Which genre of poetry do you enjoy writing the most and why?

I love writing poetry about life in all its vibrant colours. I am often inspired by photography, (I am a keen amateur photographer – my grandfather and uncle were professional photographers,) or I use images I discover as prompts, often via Colleen Chesebro’s poetry challenge: https://wordcraftpoetry.com/

Specifically, I enjoy writing poems about nature, trees, flowers, love and Halloween! Halloween poems also feature in Mr. Sagittarius. Halloween is an autumnal activity, (and often a childhood one,) so it links well with the seasonal/circle of life, aspect of my poetry writing.

Which genre of poetry do you enjoy reading the most?

I enjoy reading short form poetry. It is so expressive and brilliant. I love how short verses of poetry convey so much detail in so few words. I enjoy haiku, and tanka, as well as poems that form a pattern on the page. I also enjoy longer forms as you will see from my choice of favourite poem.

What is your favourite poem?

I have always loved Ode To Autumn by John Keats. I can almost taste the words. They are magnificent—that first line: Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness —draws you in and makes you long to read more.

Ode To Autumn by John Keats


  1. Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
            Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
        Conspiring with him how to load and bless
            With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;
        To bend with apples the moss’d cottage-trees,
            And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
              To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
            With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
        And still more, later flowers for the bees,
      Until they think warm days will never cease,
              For Summer has o’er-brimm’d their clammy cells.

    2.
      Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
          Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
      Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
          Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
      Or on a half-reap’d furrow sound asleep,
          Drows’d with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
              Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers:
      And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
          Steady thy laden head across a brook;
          Or by a cyder-press, with patient look,
              Thou watchest the last oozings hours by hours.

    3.
      Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?
          Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,—
      While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day,
          And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;
      Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
          Among the river sallows, borne aloft
              Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
      And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
          Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
          The red-breast whistles from a garden-croft;
              And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.
https://allpoetry.com/Ode-To-Autumn

Mr Sagittarius by M J Mallon

About Mr Sagittarius

Twin brothers Harold and William love the magic of the natural world.

When Harold dies he leaves a simple memorial request.

Will his brother William and his sister Annette honour it?

Or, will the garden work its magic to ensure that they do.

A magical story expressed via an original compilation of poetry and prose with photographic images.

#Poetry #Prose #Photography #NaturalWorld #Trees #Magic #Spirit #Animals #CircleofLife #Humour #Halloween #Cats #Buddha

My review of Mr Sagittarius

Mr Sagittarius is a beautiful collection of poems and short stories, set in the lovely gardens of Cambridge and linked by the visits and experiences of a family of twin brothers and their younger sister.

The story starts with William visiting the weeping willow tree in the garden, a place that was special to his twin brother, Harold, who has recently passed away. William sees Harold’s spirit in a dragonfly that he chats to and finds solace in their one-sided communication.

This is a few lines from a poem about the dragonfly:
“Ancient, sweet fellow
Sacred magic bestower,
Change tumbling on fragile wings.”

When William returns home, he has an altercation with his sister, Annette. During their spat Annette reveals that she has always felt left out and overlooked by her twin brothers. This revelation leads to William and Annette becoming closer and visiting the garden together. Not long after, William passes on and Annette is left alone. She visits the garden and communicates with the spirits of both her brothers over the course of the rest of her long life.

The visits of the siblings to the garden are captured in lovely verse. This is an example I really enjoyed:
“I dream in colour
But now everything is dark
Where has the light gone?
Oh, cruel leafy canopy,
No green meadow, just blue thoughts.”

My favourite of the short stories was The Old Man of Snow and The Snow Snake. This is a story about making good choices in life and rejecting greed. I enjoyed the tale and the descriptive writing.

Mr Sagittarius is a gorgeous book full of delightfully depictive poems and short stories and decorated with striking photographs. This is a book that lovers of poetry, mystery, and wonder will love.

Purchase Mr Sagittarius: Poetry and Prose

Amazon US

M J Mallon Amazon Author Page

About M J Mallon

I am a diverse author who blogs at: https://mjmallon.com. My interests include writing, poetry, photography, and alternative therapies. My favourite genres to write are: Fantasy YA, Paranormal, Ghost and Horror Stories and I love writing various forms of poetry and micro poetry – haiku and Tanka and flash fiction.

I am proud to be included in the best selling horror anthology Nightmareland which received best seller status with best-selling author Dan Alatorre at the helm.

It is one of my greatest pleasures to read and I have written over 100 reviews: https://mjmallon.com/2015/09/28/a-z-of-my-book-reviews/

About Robbie Cheadle

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Robbie Cheadle is a children’s author and poet.

The 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 books for older children which incorporate recipes that are relevant to the storylines.

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

Blog: https://www.robbiecheadle.co.za/

Blog: robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com

Twitter: BakeandWrite

Instagram: Robbie Cheadle – Instagram

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.


Growing bookworms: The importance of historical fiction for kids

When I was in high school, history was an unpopular subject. It was so unpopular, in fact, that when the time came for the Grade 9’s to chose their subjects for Grade’s 10 to 12, the school paired history with typing, home economics and business economics so that the girls who chose this less academic combination were compelled to take history. This was how I ended up in a history class with mainly girls who hated the subject. I loved history and I took it through choice. My other subjects were maths, accountancy, and science. In South Africa, English and Afrikaans were compulsory subjects at the time.

I never really understood why my peers didn’t like history as it was a subject always loved. I’ve said it here before, however, that I was a very wide reader from a very young age and I read a lot of books set in the past. Among my favourite books by a South African author, were the collections of short stories by Herman Charles Bosman. This is what Wikipedia has to say about Herman Charles Bosman:

Herman Charles Bosman (5 February 1905 – 14 October 1951) is widely regarded as South Africa’s greatest short-story writer. He studied the works of Edgar Allan Poe and Mark Twain and developed a style emphasizing the use of satire. His English-language works utilize primarily Afrikaner characters and highlight the many contradictions in Afrikaner society during the first half of the twentieth century.

On reflection, I realised that I have acquired a love of history because all the books I had read allowed me to include the facts and dates I learned into the fascinating backdrop I had acquired of life at the time. I could visualise the homes, lives, and loves of the Afrikaner people I learned about during the sections on the Great Trek and the Boers wars though my reading of Charles Bosman’s works. I also read books by South African Boer War veteran, Deneys Reitz.

My learning of international history including the French Revolution, the Industrial Revolution (including the Luddite uprisings), and the Tudor period were coloured by my reading of certain books, in particular, A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens, and Shirley and Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. I found it easy to remember my history because I entwined it with my understanding of life at the times as presented by these great novels.

I was delighted when I discovered that history is a popular subject at the college for boys my sons both attend. Gregory chose to take history to matric (along with IT, maths, advanced maths and science which shows that its mixes well with any subject combination) and Michael looks set to follow in his footsteps.

I am bowled over by their history curriculum and the amazing why they learn about the past through source documents, cartoons, and many other interactive and interesting modes compared to my school days of rote learning. My sons are also taught history from the perspective of how historical events have influenced the present which makes this subject a lot more useful. It helps them to see how people’s actions and reactions have set the path for the future and resulted in both the good and bad in society we see today.

I believe it is vital for kids to understand history in an expansive and wide context so that they can value the freedoms and benefits their forefathers fought and die to leave as their legacy. For example, what young girl would not value her vote if she knew about the suffering and hardships of the suffragettes who paved the way for the achievement of this equality for women.

I wonder how many British children know that compulsory education for children aged 5 to 14 years was only introduced in 1918. How many American children know that compulsory education laws were only passed by 1900 and then only in 32 states, with the other states following by 1930. 1930! That’s less than 100 years ago.

Modern children are so fortunate to have an education and the opportunities for self improvement that come with it. It isn’t equal for all yet, but there are lots of people who believe passionately in educating children and who work really hard to implement change and improvements in education.

Understanding and learning about real people in a historical context makes their passions, sufferings and beliefs so much more compelling. It is difficult to hold on to prejudice if you’ve read novels like I am David by Anne Holm, The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank, and Cry the Beloved Country by Alan Patton.

Historical books also teach children interesting information about how people survived in the past. I’ve always remembered the chapter from Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder when Pa cleaned his gun and made bullets. There is also a chapter about how Ma made butter and coloured it yellow. Little House on the Prairie has a scene when Ma is helping Pa build their new log cabin and a log falls on her foot. The difficulties and dangers of life on the frontier were illustrated; there was no help to be had for an injury or if the family fell ill.

I learned a lot about the limitations of medical knowledge in the mid to late 1800s through my reading of the What Katy Did series by Susan Coolidge. I will never forget Katy falling out of the swing or Amy contracting, and nearly dying from, Roman fever. Such scenes induce great feelings of empathy and compassion in the reader.

It is for all these compelling reasons that I wrote While the Bombs Fell, a fictionalised biography of my mom’s life as a young girl growing up in a small English town during World War II. I wanted to capture and preserve her memories of life for ordinary people living through this extraordinary time so that others, children in particular, could read it and remember how life was during that time.

What are your thoughts about historical fiction for both children and adults? Do you see value in learning about history in through a good story?

About Robbie Cheadle

IMG_9902

Robbie Cheadle is a children’s author and poet.

The 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 books for older children which incorporate recipes that are relevant to the storylines.

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

Blog: https://www.robbiecheadle.co.za/

Blog: robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com

Twitter: BakeandWrite

Instagram: Robbie Cheadle – Instagram

Facebook: Sir Chocolate Books

Want to be sure not to miss any of Robbie’s “Growing Bookworms” segments? Subscribe to Writing to be Read for e-mail notifications whenever new content is posted or follow WtbR on WordPress.


Treasuring Poetry – Meet poet and author Elizabeth Merry and a review

Today, I am delighted to introduce you to author and poet, Elizabeth Merry. I came across Elizabeth’s poetry and writing quite recently and was bowled over by her powerful words and messages.

Welcome Elizabeth

First, I would like to send a million thanks to Robbie Cheadle for this opportunity; it is much appreciated.

My favourite poem from my own collection is The Red Petticoat, which I wrote for my mother. When I was very young, anyone with relations in America was always on the lookout for parcels. Besides the red petticoat I remember winter coats for my sister and myself. Mine was grey and red check and hers was chocolate brown with pompoms – I was so jealous of those pompoms! Well, here is the poem:

THE RED PETTICOAT

I remember the rustle

Of the red, exotic petticoat

The pick of a parcel

From America

Delight crackled in her hair

Exploded in a sudden flush

On her alabaster skin

The lighthouse sweep and beam

Of her glad eyes

Lit us all, haloed the room

Where we stood in a row

To admire

Long left that room, that house

The woman has gathered her years

Carefully, tucked them primly away

Scented and folded neatly

Facing the rest

With a lifted chin

A grin and a new hat

The glow of the red petticoat

About her still.

I don’t favour any particular genre, although when I read through the collection it seems that most of them are about my own life – I’m sure that says something about me – not too complimentary! However, I do have a love for writing haikus, especially when I’m out walking along the river, counting syllables under my breath! And as opposed to the poems, the haikus are generally about nature, the river itself, and all the trees and plants along its banks. I’m lucky to have many lovely walks right beside where I live.

Sometimes it takes a long time to write a poem; it arrives in separate words and phrases on different days, weeks, months even. Other times it appears almost complete and all at once; you hardly have to work on it, just write it down.

For my own reading pleasure I appreciate poems that I can understand. At school (a long time ago) we were taught how to interpret poems; the teachers explaining what the poet meant, and what he (it was always a “he” in those days) was referring to – it could be something from Greek or Roman mythology. Just because a poem is easy to understand doesn’t mean it isn’t clever or wonderful. My favourite poem is one of Séamus Heaney’s which illustrates exactly what I mean. Here it is:

DIGGING

Between my finger and my thumb

The squat pen rests; snug as a gun.

Under my window, a clean rasping sound

When the spade sinks into gravelly ground;

My father, digging. I look down

Till his straining rump among the flowerbeds

Bends low, comes up twenty years away

Stooping in rhythm through potato drills

Where he was digging.

The coarse boot nestled on the lug, the shaft

Against the inside knee was levered firmly.

He rooted out tall tops, buried the bright edge deep

To scatter new potatoes that we picked,

Loving their cool hardness in our hands.

By God, the old man could handle a spade.

Just like his old man.

My grandfather cut more turf in a day

Than any other man on Toner’s bog.

Once I carried him milk in a bottle

Corked sloppily with paper. He straightened up

To drink it, then fell to right away

Nicking and slicing neatly, heaving sods

Over his shoulder, going down and down

For the good turf. Digging.

The cold smell of potato mould, the squelch and slap

Of soggy peat, the curt cuts of an edge

Through living roots awaken in my head.

But I’ve no spade to follow men like them.

Between my finger and my thumb

The squat pen rests.

I’ll dig with it.

Isn’t that sublime? Although some of Heaney’s poems are extremely long and convoluted and steeped in the classics of Irish and European tradition, the poems in this, his first, collection, are accessible to anyone, and are filled with a sort of magic. Death of a Naturalist was published in 1966. Heaney received the Nobel Prize in 1995. Again I would like to thank Robbie for this opportunity I have enjoyed the experience very much.

Minus One: With Haikus and Other Poems: The Story of a Life by Elizabeth Merry

What Amazon says

This collection sums up the life of the poet. It begins with memories of her parents, in The Red Petticoat: “The lighthouse sweep and beam/Of her glad eyes/Lit us all, haloed the room/Where we stood in a row/To admire.” And in Minus One: “Your absence grips my throat/Chokes my breath . . . How much of you is me/Stretching to close the circle?” Other poems cover growing up and speak of friends and lovers, moving forward to parenthood and beyond, to old age in Bones: “Don’t look too close/Disintegration has begun/And death will lend it speed/Until my bones are bare and/Waiting for the second coming . . . ” And to death in Mortality: “Tombstones/Pale and cold/Line up, waiting/For my name . . . ” Throughout the collection there are sections of Haikus, many with accompanying photographs: “Child of my child, I/scoop you up and hug you, breathe/you in and keep you.” References to the sea and the harbour move through this collection, lending a special atmosphere. These poems are filled with the many emotions of our lives and will appeal to all of us.

My review

This is a beautiful collection of poetry about the life of the poet including both great moments and sad moments. The poetry comprises of freestyle poems and some lovely and moving haikus which are accompanied by beautiful photographs.

I have not as yet lost anyone very close to me so the first poem Minus One was very compelling for me. I could imagine the pain of loss in these words:
“My magic circle broken
Minus one
The first one
To close his eyes”
The rest of this poem brought tears to my eyes.

The small dark man was quite a frightening poem. A tale of a man who has become bitter and angry due to life burdens. He has lost his way and turned to alcohol for solace. Such a disappointment for his children who remember better days. A few compelling lines:
“We waited – wary
His face shut tight against us
Like a fist”

There is a sense of loss but joy in memory in the poem In a Yellow Dress:
“If I could put you
In a frame
And freeze forever
Those wanton curls”

My favourite haiku in this collection reminds me of my own sons when they were little … and even now that they are big lads. There is nothing more emotional than your child or, I imagine, you grandchild:
“Child of my child, I
scoop you up and hug you, breathe
you in and keep you”

Purchase Minus One: With Haikus and Other Poems: The Story of a Life by Elizabeth Merry

Amazon US

Elizabeth Merry Amazon Page

New Children’s books by Elizabeth Merry

Elizabeth has just released two new books for middle school children.

Ghosts in Trouble

GHOSTS IN TROUBLE Kindle Edition
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0922ZXNW9

Blurb

Lizzie blamed Cormac. Stealing the silver tea-set was all his idea, and now they can’t get into heaven until it’s returned to Old Whelan. They need help, but who can they turn to?

“I’ve just thought, Cormac. That awful cousin of yours, Imelda. The house is hers now. Hers and poor Dermot’s and those noisy twins, David and Dora.”

Might it be possible for them to make friends with the twins?

“Lizzie stopped short as the front door was suddenly thrown open and in rushed the cold, night air, followed by two large children who tripped over the boxes in the hall and fell down laughing.”

Things get even more complicated when the villain, John the Pots, gets involved. He wants the tea-set for himself; he could sell it for a lot of money.

“Someone moved in the dark. Someone who peered and moved, his eyes raking the house and garden . . . “

All seems lost until Cormac and Lizzie meet Jamesy, an old ghost who knows a lot, and has an idea, but will it work . . .

Felix finds out

FELIX FINDS OUT Kindle Edition
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B091V44YZJ

Blurb

Hennessy is the school caretaker. He is also a devious thief and a bully. Felix is ten years old, a quiet boy, and small for his age. How is he to find out what Hennessy is up to? ‘Felix wondered where Hennessy was. As he thought of the tall figure in the heavy anorak, his mouth went suddenly dry, his heart leaping and banging, his whole face squeezed up with frowns.’But when a new girl arrives at the school, Felix watches her closely; this could change everything. She might suit as an accomplice.'”Hello, I’m Samantha. Is your name really Felix? That’s a good name, I think.”‘Can Felix and his new friend find out what Hennessy is up to, and save Uncle Eddie’s job? Samantha has a plan!


Growing Bookworms – Digital versus print books for children

I have been giving some thought lately to book marketing, especially the marketing of books aimed at children. While selling more books is obviously of interest to me as a writer of children’s books, I am also interested in the most advantageous ways of imparting information to, and developing a love of learning and reading in young children. This duel interest led me to an investigation of electronic books and the pros and cons of children reading using an electronic platform like a computer or an app on a tablet.

I wanted to know, firstly, if children were interested in reading ebooks.

The answer to that first question was a resounding yes, children are definitely interested in reading ebooks. Modern children are surrounded by technology and it is becoming more and more central to their lives. Lately, not only do children use cell phones and tablets to communicate with each other, and as a source of entertainment and research for school projects, they are using it to do their school lessons and virtually visit with relatives and friends.

Since the advent of the pandemic, many children are seeing their parents working on-line at home and using Zoom to engage with their colleagues instead of face-to-face meetings, so it is hardly surprising that children are interested in ebooks. It is a natural progression.

Ebooks for children are also easily accessible, cheap, have a narrator who reads the story, and have interactive features such as animated pictures, music, sound effects, and links on the screen that connect to games or additional information about the story or pictures. I must admit, I have noticed this link feature in non-fiction books I have read recently and I also like it. I can click on the link and find out more about the source of a picture or listen to a YouTube video about a specific aspect of the book.

My second investigation looked at the pros and cons of ebooks for children.

The pros

  1. children learn early literacy skills from good quality ebooks that include relevant interactive features such as a dictionary, words that are highlighted when the narrator reads them, and games and pictures that help explain the story;
  2. children interact longer with their parents when reading an ebook together;
  3. children can read an ebook over and over again on their own which improves literacy and fluency;
  4. children can read an ebook independently which may encourage them to read more often; and
  5. ebooks are cheap and accessible.

The cons

  1. parents often feel they should reduce their children’s screen time and have a resistance to ebooks;
  2. parents think their children can have the book read to them by the narrator and spend less time reading to [and bonding with] their children;
  3. parents get distracted by the interactive features and end up focusing on them instead of the story itself;
  4. children learn less about the story from an ebook, in particular they do not remember the order of events as well as they do when reading a paper book; and
  5. the interactive features in an ebook may be distracting to the child.

My overarching takeaway from the above which is a summary of all the articles I read on this subject is that, as with paper books, children benefit the most from ebooks when they read them with a parent or caregiver who spends time taking to the child about the story. This is exactly the same benefit that a child receives from reading a paper book with a parent.

The general view is that parents either take the view that their input is not required for ebooks due to the narrator who reads the story to the child, or the parents get distracted away from the detail of the story by the interactive features and so the wrong information dominates the parent/child engagement.

In homes where the parents do not spend time reading with/to their children, it is believed that ebooks can play a bigger role in assisting children to learn to read as it provides a way of achieving the reading of a story without parental input.

I’ve always read to both my boys. I read with Gregory until he was 6 1/2 years old and wanted to read on his own and I read with Michael every day until he was 12. Some evenings I still read with Michael [his book] and we often sit and read our own books together. It is still a pleasant time and reading separate books at the same time means I don’t have to suffer through Rick Riordan books all year round.

If you are interested in finding free digital children’s books for primary students, you can find three recommended websites here: https://learningattheprimarypond.com/blog/3-websites-with-free-digital-childrens-books-for-primary-students/

https://home.oxfordowl.co.uk/reading/free-ebooks/

I have not attempted to download any of the free ebooks from Oxford Owl but these are the book series I used to teach my sons to read. I had the paper copies.

What are your thoughts on ebooks for children? Have you tried them? Let me know in the comments.

If you have spare Easter eggs you can learn how to make a fun Easter chick here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bod4B029_xw

OR you can download the instructions here: https://robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com/how-to-make-baby-chick-using-an-easter-egg/

About Robbie Cheadle

IMG_9902

Robbie Cheadle has published nine books for children and one poetry book. She has branched into writing for adults and young adults and, in order to clearly separate her children’s books from her adult books, is writing for older readers under the name Roberta Eaton Cheadle.

Robbie Cheadle’s Sir Chocolate children’s picture books 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. Her books for older children also incorporate recipes that are relevant to the storylines.

Roberta Eaton Cheadle’s supernatural stories combine fabulous paranormal elements with fascinating historical facts.

Children’s picture books – available as a square book and an A5 book (co-authored with Michael Cheadle):
Sir Chocolate and the strawberry cream story and cookbook
Sir Chocolate and the baby cookie monster story and cookbook
Sir Chocolate and the sugar dough bees story and cookbook
Sir Chocolate and the Condensed Milk River story and cookbook
Sir Chocolate and the Sugar Crystal Caves story and cookbook
Sir Chocolate and the Fondant Five story and cookbook
Sir Chocolate and the Ice Cream Rainbow Fairies story and cookbook

Middle school books:
Silly Willy Goes to Cape Town (includes five fun party cake ideas)
While the Bombs Fell (co-authored with Elsie Hancy Eaton)

Poetry book:
Open a new door (co-authored with Kim Blades)

Supernatural fantasy YA novel:
Through the Nethergate

Horror Anthologies (edited by Dan Alatorre):
Spellbound
Nightmareland
Dark Visions

Paranormal Anthologies (edited by Kaye Lynne Booth):
Spirits of the West
Whispers of the Past

Murder mystery Anthology (edited by Stephen Bentley)
Death Among Us

Find Robbie Cheadle

Blog: https://bakeandwrite.co.za/

Blog: robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com

Twitter: BakeandWrite

Instagram: Robbie Cheadle – Instagram

Facebook: Sir Chocolate Books

Want to be sure not to miss any of Robbie’s “Growing Bookworms” segments? Subscribe to Writing to be Read for e-mail notifications whenever new content is posted or follow WtbR on WordPress.


Treasuring Poetry: Meet poet and author, Ritu Bhathal, and read about her thoughts on poetry

Today, I am delighted to feature Ritu Bhathal, talented poet and author, as my Treasuring Poetry guest. Ritu has a lovely poetry book, Poetic RITUals, a romance, Marriage Unarranged, and is a contributor to This is Lockdown, compiled and edited by MJ Mallen.

Which of your own poems is your favourite?

There are a lot of poems I have written, which resonate, but one of my favourites will always be this one:

From Twinkle To Reality

Let me take you down that road,

Much travelled through eternity

The journey to become a mum,

From twinkle to reality.

The plans you make at a young age,

Full of gurgles and laughter,

The horror as you realise,

What really does come after!

The fun of trying,

The monthly wait.

The disappointment,

That feeling, you hate…

The years of trying,

Full of hospitals and checks,

The medication taking you over,

You feel like total wrecks…

Then finally, the day comes

That positive is clear

The goal that you were aiming for,

Has suddenly come near.

The months of fascination,

Your changing body grows

The feeling of satisfaction

That only you can know.

Those pain-filled days, or hours

To reach the prize you sought

The feeling of satisfaction

That this little bundle brought.

I gaze at you in wonder

Are you really here?

I’m overwhelmed with happiness

And a tiny bit of fear.

Will I be able to give to you

All you want and need?

As you look at me, wide eyed

Snuggled close while you feed.

Little blessing, sent from God

My heart is filled with joy

I will do all I can for you,

My darling baby boy.

And so the cycle continues

The waits and checks again

We’re gifted with a gorgeous girl

After a little more pain.

My life is here with me right now

Some twinkles from my eyes.

But I’ll never forget those twinkles

That now, do grace the skies… 

A lovely poem, Ritu, that all parents can relate to. I can see why it is your favourite.

What inspired you to write this particular poem?

This poem is dedicated to my wonderful children, recognising the struggles to have them, and remembering my 2 angels lighting the sky at night. The words just came to me, one day, as I was running a bath. The poem formed within ten minutes, and garnered a great interest on my blog when I published it, and on my anthology, Poetic RITUals.

Which genre of poetry do you enjoy writing the most and why?

I have learned a lot about poetry, since I began blogging. I do love simple rhyming couplets and four-line rhyming verses, but I also love the succinct haiku, senryu and tanka forms. It’s amazing how much you can convey in such few syllables.

Which genre of poetry do you enjoy reading the most?

I don’t have a favourite genre of poetry to read. I find that, depending on the subject, all forms can appeal. Sometimes freeform poetry speaks to me, sometimes it is the simple abab rhymes. And who doesn’t love a limerick?

What is your favourite poem?

I have to say I don’t have a strict favourite poem, but I am a huge fan of Pam Ayres.

Here is a great one!

YES I’LL MARRY YOU MY DEAR

Yes, I’ll marry you, my dear.
And here’s the reason why.
So I can push you out of bed,
When the baby starts to cry.
And if we hear a knocking,
And it’s creepy and it’s late,
I hand you the torch, you see,
And you investigate.

Yes I’ll marry you, my dear,
You may not apprehend it,
But when the tumble-drier goes
It’s you that has to mend it.
You have to face the neighbour
Should our labrador attack him,
And if a drunkard fondles me
It’s you that has to whack him.

Yes, I’ll marry you, my dear,
You’re virile and you’re lean,
My house is like a pigsty
You can help to keep it clean.
That little sexy dinner
Which you served by candlelight,
As I just do chipolatas,
You can cook it every night!!!

It’s you who has to work the drill
And put up curtain track,
And when I’ve got PMT, it’s you who gets the flak,
I do see great advantages,
But none of them for you,
And so, before you see the light,
I DO, I DO, I DO!!

Haha, Ritu, you had better hope Hubby Dearest does not read this.

Poetic RITUals

What Amazon says

Delve into a book of verse exploring different topics and different genres, all with a RITUal twist.
A collection of poetry drawing on the experiences of the writer, ranging from matters of the heart, love for the family, situations in life and some verses written with a humorous twist.

My review

This is a delightful book of poetry with a lot of variety in the tone and content of the poems. They are all written from a very human perspective and cover the day-to-day life of a Mother of two, wife and employee with a lovely twist of humour. As all of these things myself, I found the verses to be very relatable. The book is divided into four sections which each deal with different aspects of life, namely, Family RITUals, Life rituals, Rituals of the heart and Rituals to make you smile.

Who could not enjoy such words as the following:

“Snuggled close while you feed.

Little blessing, sent from God

My heart is filled with joy”

This took me right back to those first days as a Mother and the closeness of cuddling your new-born and breastfeeding.

“A cough or sniffle, fever, rash

You wish you could

make them well

but other than love, and Calpol

It’s a parent’s

Form of Hell”

As a Mother of a child with a chronic illness, this verse had me nodding my head in agreement and feeling Ritu’s anguish.

I would recommend this book which is a keeper. A book to delve into for a smile when life gets heavy going.

Purchase Poetic RITUals

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Other books

You can read my review of Marriage Unarranged here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/customer-reviews/R1UMFET10EPA4M

This Is Lockdown: COVID19 Diaries Flash Fiction Poetry

You can read my review of This is Lockdown here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/customer-reviews/R10H47WGGWTVWT

About Ritu Bhathal

Ritu Bhathal

Ritu Bhathal was born in Birmingham in the mid-1970s to migrant parents, hailing from Kenya but with Indian origin. This colourful background has been a constant source of inspiration to her.

From childhood, she always enjoyed reading. This love of books is credited to her mother. The joy of reading spurred her on to become creative in her writing, from fiction to poetry. Winning little writing competitions at school and locally encouraged her to continue writing.

As a wife, mother, daughter, sister, and teacher, she has drawn on inspiration from many avenues to create the poems that she writes.

A qualified teacher, having studied at Kingston University, she now deals with classes of children as a sideline to her writing!

Ritu also writes a blog, www.butismileanyway.com, a mixture of life and creativity, thoughts and opinions, which was awarded first place in the Best Overall Blog category at the 2017 Annual Bloggers Bash Awards, and Best Book Blog in 2019.

Ritu is happily married and living in Kent, with her Hubby Dearest, and two children, not forgetting the fur baby Sonu Singh.

About Robbie Cheadle

IMG_9902

Robbie Cheadle has published nine books for children and one poetry book. She has branched into writing for adults and young adults and, in order to clearly separate her children’s books from her adult books, is writing for older readers under the name Roberta Eaton Cheadle.

Robbie Cheadle’s Sir Chocolate children’s picture books 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. Her books for older children also incorporate recipes that are relevant to the storylines.

Roberta Eaton Cheadle’s supernatural stories combine fabulous paranormal elements with fascinating historical facts.

Children’s picture books – available as a square book and an A5 book (co-authored with Michael Cheadle):
Sir Chocolate and the strawberry cream story and cookbook
Sir Chocolate and the baby cookie monster story and cookbook
Sir Chocolate and the sugar dough bees story and cookbook
Sir Chocolate and the Condensed Milk River story and cookbook
Sir Chocolate and the Sugar Crystal Caves story and cookbook
Sir Chocolate and the Fondant Five story and cookbook
Sir Chocolate and the Ice Cream Rainbow Fairies story and cookbook

Middle school books:
Silly Willy Goes to Cape Town (includes five fun party cake ideas)
While the Bombs Fell (co-authored with Elsie Hancy Eaton)

Poetry book:
Open a new door (co-authored with Kim Blades)

Supernatural fantasy YA novel:
Through the Nethergate

Horror Anthologies (edited by Dan Alatorre):
Spellbound
Nightmareland
Dark Visions

Paranormal Anthologies (edited by Kaye Lynne Booth):
Spirits of the West
Whispers of the Past

Murder mystery Anthology (edited by Stephen Bentley)
Death Among Us

Find Robbie Cheadle

Blog: https://bakeandwrite.co.za/

Blog: robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com

Twitter: BakeandWrite

Instagram: Robbie Cheadle – Instagram

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.

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.


Growing Bookworms – “Why must I read when the world is electronic and I prefer computer games to books?”

Children need to learn to read and write. This is an undebatable fact. Well, it’s undebatable from a parents point of view, it is very debatable from a teenagers point of view. I have had a number of conversations with children, including my younger son, about the necessity of reading.

“Why do I need to read when I can watch a movie?”

“Why must I read when the world is electronic and I prefer computer games to books?”

The simple answer, is that despite our moving to a more visual and electronic platform, everything in our modern lives is still underpinned by the written word. It is merely it’s shape and form that has changed.

Every movie and most television shows are based on screenplays which are written by writers, or even groups of writers. Many movies and television series are adapted from books. If there were no books, our choices of visual media would be much more limited. Screenplays would be written, but without creativity and a knowledge of writing, a screenplay could not exist. In my experience, the range of creative writing and English literacy skills our children learn is far more expansive than what I learned at school. Their curriculum now includes visual literacy and film study as well as the traditional grammar, poetry, comprehension and creative writing I studied. These are changes that accommodate our changing times.

As for computer games, I soon realised that the computer games my children play are not the Pacman or Donkey Kong style games from my childhood, but are sophisticated stories with themes and plots. My sons have learned all about Greek and Norse mythology from computer games, as well as how to plan a war or battle with supply lines and build an entire society form a little creature that whistles to a race that can fly to the moon. When they were younger, they learned about farming. They planted crops, water and feed them and eventually harvested them.

Picture of Pacman Doodle from Google

The knowledge and skills they have gained from computer games are not inferior or worthless. The games of strategy have taught them useful survival and planning techniques. The most interesting thing for me about their games is that they require reading. There are pop up notifications continuously as the game progresses. The characters also speak and interact and their thoughts and plans are often set out in words exactly like subtitles. I have also discovered that my children Google information about their games and look up how to do things. This also requires reading.

I point this out to them. If you couldn’t read, you wouldn’t be able to play this game. If people didn’t write, there would be no script for the game you are playing. Because our lives are more visual now does not mean that these skills are not longer necessary. There are vital to engage in this virtual world. In this context, my sons understand the importance of reading. I have linked it to their world.

We no longer write letters, but we spend all day long on email. Writing an email requires good communication skills or you will not achieve the desired outcome.

We no longer draft lengthily reports but precise power point presentations with succinct bullet points. If you have prepared such presentations you will know that their preparation requires more thought and careful word choice than the long and wordy documents we produced in the past. Preparing a good presentation requires an ability to summarise and pick pertinent points out of a larger feedback document.

Even those of us who work mainly with figures – the number crunches of the world – have to be able to write and communicate effectively. A complex spreadsheet and lines of figures must be reduced to a written interpretive document and then to a concise bulleted presentation. They are meaningless without interpretation and communication to others.

As a parent of two teenage boys I have learned to put my personal prejudices [or literary snobbery] aside when it comes to learning to read. There is nothing wrong with graphic novels. In fact, a lot of our adult humour and political sarcasm is shared through cartoons and memes. This makes visual literacy essential – Ha! The teachers are right after all.

I have decided that if my sons see little benefit to reading Around the World in 80 Days by Jules Verne or The Time Machine by H.G. Wells and prefer to read five volumes of the Minecraft Combat Handbook, that is actually okay.

Picture from Amazon US

And having achieved this peace of mind, I even celebrated it with a cake!

About Robbie Cheadle

IMG_9902

Robbie Cheadle has published nine books for children and one poetry book. She has branched into writing for adults and young adults and, in order to clearly separate her children’s books from her adult books, is writing for older readers under the name Roberta Eaton Cheadle.

Robbie Cheadle’s Sir Chocolate children’s picture books 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. Her books for older children also incorporate recipes that are relevant to the storylines.

Roberta Eaton Cheadle’s supernatural stories combine fabulous paranormal elements with fascinating historical facts.

Children’s picture books – available as a square book and an A5 book (co-authored with Michael Cheadle):
Sir Chocolate and the strawberry cream story and cookbook
Sir Chocolate and the baby cookie monster story and cookbook
Sir Chocolate and the sugar dough bees story and cookbook
Sir Chocolate and the Condensed Milk River story and cookbook
Sir Chocolate and the Sugar Crystal Caves story and cookbook
Sir Chocolate and the Fondant Five story and cookbook
Sir Chocolate and the Ice Cream Rainbow Fairies story and cookbook

Middle school books:
Silly Willy Goes to Cape Town (includes five fun party cake ideas)
While the Bombs Fell (co-authored with Elsie Hancy Eaton)

Poetry book:
Open a new door (co-authored with Kim Blades)

Supernatural fantasy YA novel:
Through the Nethergate

Horror Anthologies (edited by Dan Alatorre):
Spellbound
Nightmareland
Dark Visions

Paranormal Anthologies (edited by Kaye Lynne Booth):
Spirits of the West
Whispers of the Past

Murder mystery Anthology (edited by Stephen Bentley)
Death Among Us

Find Robbie Cheadle

Blog: https://bakeandwrite.co.za/

Blog: robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com

Twitter: BakeandWrite

Instagram: Robbie Cheadle – Instagram

Facebook: Sir Chocolate Books

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Want to be sure not to miss any of Robbie’s “Growing Bookworms” 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.


Treasuring Poetry – Meet Arthur Rosch, a brave poet

To day, I am very excited to be hosting author and poet, Arthur Rosch, with his thoughts about poetry. I consider Art to be a brave poet as he poetry is so brutally honest and cuts to the core of difficult and emotional matters.

Over to Art:

My favorite poem is “Prophet”, written in 2001.  Here it is:

Oh lord, oh lord,

what has befallen me?

That which I hoped to make straight

only becomes more twisted.

That which should be understood

only becomes more strange.

How did I come to this unexpected shore?

What am I to make of the walking wreck of myself?

I can still think, still work,

still speak in poems

in the sleepless time of the night.

It is a mixed gift, this life, it is hard

to feel so completely lost

in complexity I don’t know how I made.

I wanted to be a radiance

but I am more like a garbage can

tipped by a raccoon in predawn hours.

I pick myself up,

I sweep my contents

into a tidy pile,

but each time I think to rest,

I am again overturned.

I speak to you, o lord,

like the wounded Jew,

like the baffled bloodied prophet,

like the broken fated sage.

I take help from any quarter,

even those with dangerous denizens.

I take comfort with the scorpion,

I sleep with diseases,

I marvel and lament

at my scattered state,

at my continued surprise that I am alive,

that I move my limbs with some dim purpose,

that I have any faculty left to cry out to you.

Oh lord, what has befallen me?

You see, I have nothing but questions.

It could be much worse, I freely admit.

It could be much better,

I ruefully entreat.

Pieces of me have gone numb.

Whole continents of my psyche have been submerged,

drowned, forgotten.

I am the world I have made.

I am a man, dreadfully incomplete,

unwilling to meet the terror,

reluctant to behold the fire,

shrinking always from the worst case,

taking the hand of any wiser being,

like a lost child who needs to be led home.

I shall try now, lord, to snatch a bit of sleep

from the bottom of the night’s cup.

I’m glad we had this little talk.

I thank you, uncomfortably,

like one who has opened the wrong gift

at the wrong party.

Oh, is this for ME?

I’m not quite sure it fits,

I’m not sure how to use it.

I’ve broken it a little

but it still works.  See?

I’ve tried, I’ve hopped on one foot,

I’ve danced insanely.

I’m still here,

waiting for your soft voice

to bring me peace.

You can listen to Art reading this poem here:

This poem is first of all my honest expression of vulnerability. It speaks of the paradox of the human condition in a way that echoes biblical expressions.  Hence the name, “Prophet”.  I am admitting to my grave faults, the problems that I have encountered that have led to my loss of innocence.  Once I wanted to be a shining light and now I can barely raise my eyes to the sky.  I have always been a man of spiritual aspirations but I am crushed by disappointment in myself.  What has become of me?  How did I get like this?

The year I wrote this, 2001, was a difficult year.  I struggled with addiction and poverty and wondered whether I would survive much longer.  I love this poem.  There are lines that are like daggers, yet still it is a comfort to make this prayer.  I haven’t lost faith.  I’ve accepted that I have made my own quagmire and must come to terms with it.  I will take counsel with anyone or anything.  I sleep with diseases and ask the scorpion for advice.  That’s my desperation; that even though I’m in the wrong place I can still find ways to make alchemy: that I will profit from this situation in spite of, or because of, my pain.


And another very different favorite:

Ghost Voices

Ghost voices grow

like weaving spires in the corridors of the night.

Stalactites of moonlight,

they hum and fade

through the wake of other minds.

A sheet of star rain in the night,

a mist of lightfall lost from sight,

these spectral hints emerge

from the night floor in the dark.

Silver waving plants recede forever

singing in twinkling winking echoes.

Ghost voices, shadow worlds

arise and converse,

while my sleep waits beyond the hills,

listening.

You can listen to Art reading Crazy here:

This poem came from a dream, or a half-awake hypnogogic state.  I probably wrote it in the early 70s.  I love surrealism and this poem is an artifact, a surreal object that conjures images by way of abstraction.  It was inspired by a piece of music by Tzvi Avni, a composer of dream-like electronic music.  I don’t know if anyone will understand it and I don’t recommend analysis.  It’s meant to be enjoyed, like a painting or a photo.  Images of sleep and dream pervade.  Various kinds of eerie light engage the senses.  Stalactites of Moonlight. Yes, this is way up there in my personal hierarchy of poems.

I think poets write for themselves.  I never expect anyone to read my poems.  And if they do, what will they make of them? I read a few poets. I enjoy Rilke and Lorca,  In high school I had a passion for e.e.cummings.  I still do.  It’s more fun to write poetry than it is to read it.  When a poem occurs for me, I’m in love with the language.  I’ve made it do something it’s never done before.  It takes skill to make language exude vision and emotion while remaining relentlessly original.  Can I possibly convey how I feel in love?  I certainly try, using the magic of words and rhythms.  I once had a dream that people spoke in a magical language that was both alien yet comprehensible.  As they spoke, pictures emerged from their mouths and then faded away.  It’s an apt metaphor for poetry. Or a reality of cartoons.  It was a dream that I’ll never forget.

My favorite poet is Jelalledin Rumi, the Sufi mystic who lived in the 12th century in what is now Afghanistan.  There’s a line of Rumi’s that brings me great peace and comfort: “Don’t worry about what doesn’t come.  By not coming it prevents disaster”. That line had real consequences in my psychological life.  It eased my frustration at my lack of recognition.  It contains a deep truth, which is that things ripen in their own time.  If I had been successful in my youth I may not have survived to old age.  I didn’t have much wisdom or self control.  These days I often read poetry in columns from one of my favorite internet venues.  Otherwise I don’t go out of my way to read poetry.  I give attention to my fellow living poets, to be sure, but I’m not going to offer critiques.  I find that reaching into the deeper layer of emotion allows me access to poetic sensibilities that are rich with material. In this way poetry and psychotherapy are close cousins. 

links:

www.writingtoberead.com.

www.artrosch.com

http://bit.ly

About Arthur Rosch

Arthur Rosch is a mid-westerner, who became a Californian as a young man. A lover of jazz, poetry, painting and photography, and writing, as well as a passion for astronomy, photography, history, psychology and the weird puzzle of human experience. After receiving Playboy Magazine’s Best Short Story Award for a comic view of a planet where there are six genders, he was immersed in circles that could have taken him to the top, but it was short lived. Arthur found himself reeling, struggling with depression and addiction on the streets for almost a decade, and repairing and rediscovering himself was a defining event in his life, nurturing his literary soul. He is currently a certified Seniors Peer Counselor in Sonoma County, California. Come visit his blogs and photo sites. www.artrosch.com and http://bit.ly/2uyxZbv

Purchase Feral Tenderness

Amazon US

You can read my review of Feral Tenderness here: https://writingtoberead.com/2021/02/19/blogtour-day-5-my-review-of-feral-tenderness-by-arthur-rosch/

About Robbie Cheadle

IMG_9902

Robbie Cheadle has published nine books for children and one poetry book. She has branched into writing for adults and young adults and, in order to clearly separate her children’s books from her adult books, is writing for older readers under the name Roberta Eaton Cheadle.

Robbie Cheadle’s Sir Chocolate children’s picture books 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. Her books for older children also incorporate recipes that are relevant to the storylines.

Roberta Eaton Cheadle’s supernatural stories combine fabulous paranormal elements with fascinating historical facts.

Children’s picture books – available as a square book and an A5 book (co-authored with Michael Cheadle):
Sir Chocolate and the strawberry cream story and cookbook
Sir Chocolate and the baby cookie monster story and cookbook
Sir Chocolate and the sugar dough bees story and cookbook
Sir Chocolate and the Condensed Milk River story and cookbook
Sir Chocolate and the Sugar Crystal Caves story and cookbook
Sir Chocolate and the Fondant Five story and cookbook
Sir Chocolate and the Ice Cream Rainbow Fairies story and cookbook

Middle school books:
Silly Willy Goes to Cape Town (includes five fun party cake ideas)
While the Bombs Fell (co-authored with Elsie Hancy Eaton)

Poetry book:
Open a new door (co-authored with Kim Blades)

Supernatural fantasy YA novel:
Through the Nethergate

Horror Anthologies (edited by Dan Alatorre):
Spellbound
Nightmareland
Dark Visions

Paranormal Anthologies (edited by Kaye Lynne Booth):
Spirits of the West
Whispers of the Past

Murder mystery Anthology (edited by Stephen Bentley)
Death Among Us

Find Robbie Cheadle

Blog: https://bakeandwrite.co.za/

Blog: robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com

Twitter: BakeandWrite

Instagram: Robbie Cheadle – Instagram

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.


Growing Bookworms – Does speed reading matter for kids

When I was ten years old, I was one of a handful of kids in my grade who were selected to attend a speed reading programme. We attended a separate class where we were given a machine with a screen that displayed a page of text. There was a solid covering which moved down the page, covering the text as it descended. I remember having to read quite quickly to finish reading a sentence before it disappeared. The speed with which the covering moved could be increased or decreased by twisting a knob on the side of the reading machine. This was under the control of the reading teacher.

Speed reading suited me and with practice I became a very quick reader. Some of the kids never took to the exercises and gave up quite quickly. I was keen to learn to read faster. Faster meant more books in a day or week. By the following year I was reading 14 children’s books a week and making two trips a week to the local library on my bicycle. I bribed my younger sister into giving me her three library cards. I had four of my own.

I am still a fast reader and can read an average book in a week. I only read for leisure for approximately one hour a day. I rarely read one book at a time and usually have at least two physical books on the go and one audio book. If I get a little tired of one book, I switch over to the other which makes it harder to measure the speed with which I read. Of course, the most important thing with reading is comprehension, there is no point in reading fast if you don’t comprehend the story.

I like to believe I do understand and remember everything I read (unless it is testing my oldest son on his chemistry – that is so deadly boring for me I never remember a single word afterwards). Has my ability to read quicker helped me in my working life. I think it has, I can read and summarise contracts and documents a lot faster than many other people.

This brings me to the benefits of teaching children to speed read.

The way I understand the learning to read process is that young children first learn to recognise and assign sounds to specific letters. Those letters become words that the young reader must decode in order to read. Practice enables the child to recognise words and their reading becomes more accurate and automatic. Once the brain no longer has to focus entirely on decoding words, it is able to focus on comprehension. This is why reading teachers concentrate on reading fluency which is a combination of rate, accuracy and expression. It is, therefore, obvious that rate is not the only factor, but it is important. The quicker a child develops reading fluency, the faster they will achieve good comprehension of the reading material.

Neither of my sons have had the opportunity to learn speed reading. I assume this is because this type of learner extension is no longer provided by schools. It could be because speed reading is not considered to be particularly necessary as one contributor out of three to effective reading. My oldest son reads very quickly and with excellent comprehension. He reads his complex school set works in a short period. His comprehension is good and he scores high marks on language comprehension tests. He would probably be a good candidate for speed reading as he would enjoy the challenge and not lose out on comprehension by reading faster.

Michael, on the other hand, is a slow reader, but he is now quite fluent and accurate. I always start Michael reading his school set works at the beginning of the holidays or school term so that he has lots of time to read the book at his own comfortable pace. I often buy him the audio book too, so that he can listen to the story again after he has read it. Michael also usually scores well on comprehension tests. Michael is motivated by interest and often finds his school set works boring. Trying to get him to read quicker would certainly backfire as he would have to sacrifice comprehension for speed. Slow and steady works well for him.

Possibly the answer is the same as always, you need to understand your child and appreciate their strengths and weaknesses when accessing the best approach for teaching them to read.

Have you done a speed reading programme? Did they offer this at your school or your children’s schools? Do you think it helps to practice reading faster? Let me know in the comments.

If your interested in teaching yourself to speed read, you can learn more about it by watching this YouTube video:

About Robbie Cheadle

IMG_9902

Robbie Cheadle has published nine books for children and one poetry book. She has branched into writing for adults and young adults and, in order to clearly separate her children’s books from her adult books, is writing for older readers under the name Roberta Eaton Cheadle.

Robbie Cheadle’s Sir Chocolate children’s picture books 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. Her books for older children also incorporate recipes that are relevant to the storylines.

Roberta Eaton Cheadle’s supernatural stories combine fabulous paranormal elements with fascinating historical facts.

Children’s picture books – available as a square book and an A5 book (co-authored with Michael Cheadle):
Sir Chocolate and the strawberry cream story and cookbook
Sir Chocolate and the baby cookie monster story and cookbook
Sir Chocolate and the sugar dough bees story and cookbook
Sir Chocolate and the Condensed Milk River story and cookbook
Sir Chocolate and the Sugar Crystal Caves story and cookbook
Sir Chocolate and the Fondant Five story and cookbook
Sir Chocolate and the Ice Cream Rainbow Fairies story and cookbook

Middle school books:
Silly Willy Goes to Cape Town (includes five fun party cake ideas)
While the Bombs Fell (co-authored with Elsie Hancy Eaton)

Poetry book:
Open a new door (co-authored with Kim Blades)

Supernatural fantasy YA novel:
Through the Nethergate

Horror Anthologies (edited by Dan Alatorre):
Spellbound
Nightmareland
Dark Visions

Paranormal Anthologies (edited by Kaye Lynne Booth):
Spirits of the West
Whispers of the Past

Murder mystery Anthology (edited by Stephen Bentley)
Death Among Us

Find Robbie Cheadle

Blog: https://bakeandwrite.co.za/

Blog: robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com

Twitter: BakeandWrite

Instagram: Robbie Cheadle – Instagram

Facebook: Sir Chocolate Books

Want to be sure not to miss any of Robbie’s “Growing Bookworms” segments? Subscribe to Writing to be Read for e-mail notifications whenever new content is posted or follow WtbR on WordPress.