Treasuring Poetry – Meet poet and author Harmony Kent and my review

Today, I am delighted to feature poet and author Harmony Kent as my guest for Treasuring Poetry. I have read one of Harmony’s fictional books and her non-fiction book, Creative Solutions for the Modern Writer: Inspirational Tools to Fire Your Imagination, and they are both excellent. I have read and reviewed her poetry book, Slices of Soul: A Collection of Contemporary Poetry.

Welcome Harmony!

Which of your own poems is your favourite?

VOYAGE

Into the unknown we go

riding the ocean breeze

tacking this way and that

not too concerned with the far horizon

At peace, keeping an eye on the waves

that toss us about now and then

sailing through bright day

and deep dark night

It matters not

what tempest may come

we will weather the storms together

while we wend our way

We’ve lain our course

taken our soundings

and with love at the helm

we’ll keep a steady pace

Call it what you will

scow, skiff, sloop, hulk, schooner, bucket

so long as we caulk the boards and set the stays

we shall not founder

There’s no glory like it

in the heavens or on the Earth

than sailing free into the fire

of the sun as it sets into the glistening sea

What inspired you to write this particular poem?

When I met the love of my life, right away, we both went through some tough personal times. Those hardships brought us closer, and we’ve now been married for two years.

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

Some form of Haiku, because it forces me write with brevity and choose my words with utmost care.

Which genre of poetry do you enjoy reading the most?

As with my writing, my reading is eclectic. I enjoy a broad range of styles and genres.

What is your favourite poem?

Auguries of Innocence by William Blake

To see a World in a Grain of Sand

And a Heaven in a Wild Flower 

Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand 

And Eternity in an hour

A Robin Red breast in a Cage

Puts all Heaven in a Rage 

A Dove house filled with Doves & Pigeons

Shudders Hell through all its regions 

A dog starved at his Masters Gate

Predicts the ruin of the State 

A Horse misused upon the Road

Calls to Heaven for Human blood 

Each outcry of the hunted Hare

A fibre from the Brain does tear 

A Skylark wounded in the wing 

A Cherubim does cease to sing 

The Game Cock clipped & armed for fight

Does the Rising Sun affright 

Every Wolfs & Lions howl

Raises from Hell a Human Soul 

The wild deer, wandering here & there 

Keeps the Human Soul from Care 

The Lamb misused breeds Public Strife

And yet forgives the Butchers knife 

The Bat that flits at close of Eve

Has left the Brain that wont Believe

The Owl that calls upon the Night

Speaks the Unbelievers fright

He who shall hurt the little Wren

Shall never be beloved by Men 

He who the Ox to wrath has moved

Shall never be by Woman loved

The wanton Boy that kills the Fly

Shall feel the Spiders enmity 

He who torments the Chafers Sprite

Weaves a Bower in endless Night 

The Caterpillar on the Leaf

Repeats to thee thy Mothers grief 

Kill not the Moth nor Butterfly 

For the Last Judgment draweth nigh 

He who shall train the Horse to War

Shall never pass the Polar Bar 

The Beggars Dog & Widows Cat 

Feed them & thou wilt grow fat 

The Gnat that sings his Summers Song

Poison gets from Slanders tongue 

The poison of the Snake & Newt

Is the sweat of Envy’s Foot 

The poison of the Honey Bee

Is the Artists Jealousy

The Princes Robes & Beggars Rags

Are Toadstools on the Misers Bags 

A Truth that’s told with bad intent

Beats all the Lies you can invent 

It is right it should be so 

Man was made for Joy & Woe 

And when this we rightly know 

Through the World we safely go 

Joy & Woe are woven fine 

A Clothing for the soul divine 

Under every grief & pine

Runs a joy with silken twine 

The Babe is more than swaddling Bands

Throughout all these Human Lands

Tools were made & Born were hands 

Every Farmer Understands

Every Tear from Every Eye

Becomes a Babe in Eternity 

This is caught by Females bright

And returned to its own delight 

The Bleat the Bark Bellow & Roar 

Are Waves that Beat on Heavens Shore 

The Babe that weeps the Rod beneath

Writes Revenge in realms of Death 

The Beggars Rags fluttering in Air

Does to Rags the Heavens tear 

The Soldier armed with Sword & Gun 

Palsied strikes the Summers Sun

The poor Man’s Farthing is worth more

Than all the Gold on Africs Shore

One Mite wrung from the Labrers hands

Shall buy & sell the Misers Lands 

Or if protected from on high 

Does that whole Nation sell & buy 

He who mocks the Infants Faith

Shall be mocked in Age & Death 

He who shall teach the Child to Doubt

The rotting Grave shall neer get out 

He who respects the Infants faith

Triumphs over Hell & Death 

The Childs Toys & the Old Man’s Reasons

Are the Fruits of the Two seasons 

The Questioner who sits so sly 

Shall never know how to Reply 

He who replies to words of Doubt

Doth put the Light of Knowledge out 

The Strongest Poison ever known

Came from Caesars Laurel Crown 

Nought can Deform the Human Race

Like to the Armours iron brace 

When Gold & Gems adorn the Plow

To peaceful Arts shall Envy Bow 

A Riddle or the Crickets Cry

Is to Doubt a fit Reply 

The Emmets Inch & Eagles Mile

Make Lame Philosophy to smile 

He who Doubts from what he sees

Will ne’er Believe do what you Please 

If the Sun & Moon should Doubt 

They’d immediately Go out 

To be in a Passion you Good may Do 

But no Good if a Passion is in you 

The Whore & Gambler by the State

Licenced build that Nations Fate 

The Harlots cry from Street to Street 

Shall weave Old England’s winding Sheet 

The Winners Shout the Losers Curse 

Dance before dead England’s Hearse 

Every Night & every Morn

Some to Misery are Born 

Every Morn and every Night

Some are Born to sweet delight 

Some are Born to sweet delight 

Some are Born to Endless Night 

We are led to Believe a Lie

When we see not Thro the Eye

Which was Born in a Night to perish in a Night 

When the Soul Slept in Beams of Light 

God Appears & God is Light

To those poor Souls who dwell in Night 

But does a Human Form Display To those who Dwell in Realms of day

https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/43650/auguries-of-innocence

Slices of Soul: A Collection of Contemporary Poetry

What Amazon says

Slices of Soul is a collection of contemporary poetry from author Harmony Kent that will both delight and call for deeper reflection. ‘Phantoms’ gives a gritty account of pain that you can never catch. ‘Enough’ expresses the contentment of Zen. ‘Diamonds’ shows the beauty to be found on a drab and rainy day. While ‘The Alchemist’ shows you how a guitar can turn lead into gold. This wonderful arrangement of fifty poems takes you from the abstract of Zen to the melody of music, and will reach into your mind, your heart, and your soul.

My review

Slices of Soul is a compelling and unusual collection of poetry which certainly does give the reader glimpses into the complex soul and unusual life of the poet.

I think it is important to note that the poet spent 13 years living in a Zen Buddhist Temple and that the poems featured in this book were written, during and after this period in her life. I believe that her spiritualism and surroundings had a bearing on the thoughts and ideas expressed through the poems in this book.

The poems are divided into sections: Shaved Head, written during her time at the Zen Buddhist Temple, Short Hair, written during the transitional period of her changing life circumstances, and Long Hair which effectively covers all the remaining sections in the book and were written after she’d adjusted to her new life.

I felt the tone of the poems changed over the course of the book from intense reflections on life, to studies of nature, to fierce expressions of emotion, to gentler articulations of love and contentment.

The two poems that impacted me the most in this collection are from the first two sections of the book, Shaved Hair and Short Hair:

The Path
The ten directions all merge into one
this winding road leads nowhere
and goes straight there

Lost and Found
Deep dark depths
I got lost on purpose
this desolate place
the only way
to get my bearings

Poetry lovers who like poems that make you think about things and see them differently will appreciate this book.

Purchase Slices of Soul

Amazon US

Amazon Author Page Harmony Kent

About Harmony Kent

Harmony Kent

Harmony Kent is an award winning multi-genre author. Her publications include: 

The Battle for Brisingamen (Fantasy Fiction) AIA approved

The Glade (Mystery/Thriller) AIA Approved/BRAG Medallion Honouree/New Apple Literary Awards Official Selection Honours 2015

Polish Your Prose: Essential Editing Tips for Authors (Writing/Editing) New Apple Literary Awards Top Medallist Honours 2015

Finding Katie (Women’s Fiction)

Slices of Soul (Contemporary Poetry)

Interludes 1 & Interludes 2 (Erotic Short Stories)

Moments (Short Stories and Poetry)

Jewel in the Mud (Zen Musings)

Backstage (Erotic Romance)

FALLOUT (Apocalyptic/post-apocalyptic Dystopia) BRAG Medallion Honouree

The Vanished Boy (Psychological Thriller)

As well as being an avid reader and writer, Harmony also offers reviews and supports her fellow authors. Harmony works hard to promote and protect high standards within the publishing arena. She is always on the look out for talent and excellence, and will freely promote any authors or books who she feels have these attributes. Harmony lives in Cornwall, England.

twitter: @harmony_kent

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/HarmonyK

harmonykent@gmx.com

About Robbie Cheadle

IMG_9902

Robbie Cheadle is a South African children’s author and poet with 9 children’s books and 1 poetry book.

The 7 Sir Chocolate children’s picture books, co-authored by Robbie and Michael Cheadle, are written in sweet, short rhymes which are easy for young children to follow and are illustrated with pictures of delicious cakes and cake decorations. Each book also includes simple recipes or biscuit art directions which children can make under adult supervision.

Robbie has also published 2 books for older children which incorporate recipes that are relevant to the storylines.

Robbie has 2 adult novels in the paranormal historical and supernatural fantasy genres published under the name Roberta Eaton Cheadle. She also has short stories in the horror and paranormal genre and poems included in several anthologies.

Robbie writes a monthly series for https://writingtoberead.com called Growing Bookworms. This series discusses different topics relating to the benefits of reading to children.

Robbie has a blog, https://robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com/ where she shares book reviews, recipes, author interviews, and poetry.

Find Robbie Cheadle

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 “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 – Is your child overly pressured?

If children feel under pressure not to fail, it's because of signals they  have picked up from adults' | Tes News
Picture credit: https://www.tes.com/news/if-children-feel-under-pressure-not-fail-its-because-signals-they-have-picked-adults

In the Southern hemisphere, the children are heading into the final stretch of the school year and most of them will have examinations looming at the end of a busy term filled with classes, homework, assignments, concerts, music, and sport.

In the Northern hemisphere, the children are all facing a new school year with new teacher and class structures. Some will be starting at a new school and will need to make a new set of friends.

For all children, wherever they live, life is stressful. Many children are pressured by parents to perform well at school and achieve. Some are also pressured to continuously practice and excel at sport, music and other extra curricular activities. Many children are driven by their own desire to succeed and do well. Scholarships, gaining acceptance into good universities, and getting a good job at the end of it all, is a common aim.

With our world so much faster and many jobs under threat of becoming redundant due to new technology and robotics, as well as a far bigger world population resulting in more competition for fewer jobs, our children are under far more pressure to achieve then we were. Most modern children are also far more aware of trends in the global job market than we were. This all leads to a lot of anxiety, stress, and pressure for youngsters.

While some pressure on kids to perform is a good thing, many children are under to much pressure and don’t have time to “be kids” anymore. To much pressure can impact kids negatively in many areas of their lives. Some of these areas are as follows:

  • Higher rates of mental illness – stress, anxiety, and pressure wear children down and lead to mental health problems like depression, obsessive compulsive disorder, and other eating disorders;
  • Higher risks of injuries – children who are pressured to perform on the sports field may ‘push through’ pain and other warnings signs of injury, possibly causing long-term damage to their bodies;
  • Increased risk of cheating – In circumstances where achievement of high marks becomes all consuming and is expected by parents, the desire to achieve at all costs can lead to unethical behaviour like cheating on tests and examinations;
  • Poor sportsmanship – kids who are pressured to always perform well don’t appreciate the benefits of learning to lose with good grace and understand that no-one can shine all the time. Everyone has bad days and difficulties with some or other subject or area of a subject; and
  • Sleep deprivation – Kids who are under constant pressure to perform are include to stay up late cramming for tests and suffer from lack of sleep. This can lead to poor health and bad sleeping habits.

From a parent or guardian perspective, these are five signs you are putting to much pressure on your child:

  • Criticizing your child for things s/he got wrong and not highlighting the things done well;
  • Being overly involved in your child’s studying, practice schedules, and choices of sports and other extramural activities;
  • Forcing your child to study and/or practice thereby not allowing him/her to learn consequences of lack of discipline and not studying or practicing;
  • Telling your child that an exam or sports game is a once in a lifetime opportunity;
  • Comparing your child unfavourably to other children or a sibling;
  • Losing your temper with your child or becoming obviously frustrated by lack of understanding or poor performance by your child.

Do you think children are very pressured in our modern world? Let me know in the comments.

About Robbie Cheadle

IMG_9902

Robbie Cheadle is a South African children’s author and poet with 9 children’s books and 2 poetry books.

The 7 Sir Chocolate children’s picture books, co-authored by Robbie and Michael Cheadle, are written in sweet, short rhymes which are easy for young children to follow and are illustrated with pictures of delicious cakes and cake decorations. Each book also includes simple recipes or biscuit art directions which children can make under adult supervision.

Robbie has also published 2 books for older children which incorporate recipes that are relevant to the storylines.

Robbie has 2 adult novels in the paranormal historical and supernatural fantasy genres published under the name Roberta Eaton Cheadle. She also has short stories in the horror and paranormal genre and poems included in several anthologies.

Robbie writes a monthly series for https://writingtoberead.com called Growing Bookworms. This series discusses different topics relating to the benefits of reading to children.

Robbie has a blog, https://robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com/ where she shares book reviews, recipes, author interviews, and poetry.

Find Robbie Cheadle

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 Leon Stevens and book review

Today, I am delighted to host artist, poet and author, Leon Stevens.

Leon Stevens

Which of your own poems is your favourite?

Wow. Starting off with the hardest question…I have written about many aspects of my existence, but I think some of the poems about ego and human nature are my attempt at understanding why people act the way they do. I still don’t get why some people are jerks.

Ego (Part II)

An ego is a big cat

That needs to be stroked

By you or someone else

Smaller cats are easy to please

And the bigger the cat

The more dangerous it is

To rub the wrong way

What inspired you to write this particular poem?

I wrote a series of poems about ego after spending some time observing how people interact with each other as individuals jockey for position within a group. While they do that, they seek affirmation to justify their perception of themselves. There are positives to egos, but if an ego is too aggressive, it can leave you rolling your eyes and shaking your head.

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

I don’t set out to write any particular form of poetry. Usually, as the words come to me, they will dictate how the poem will manifest itself. This leads to some erratic rhyming and rhythmic patterns, but often I find that a well-placed, unexpected rhyme can have a powerful effect.

My poems tend to be short—no more than a page—often 4-6 lines. They are like a snapshot of a moment or experience rather than a slideshow or movie.

Which genre of poetry do you enjoy reading the most?

I honestly do not read a lot of poetry. Maybe it is a way not to be influenced, which I hope makes my own poetry unique. I do follow many blogs that feature poetry, so most of what I do read comes from those sites.

I grew up with my father reading the poems of Robert Service. The Cremation of Sam McGee Is one that has always stuck with me (Dad had it memorized along with many others). It is a tale set during the Klondike gold rush which has a humorous, macabre twist.

The Cremation of Sam McGee by Robert Service

There are strange things done in the midnight sun
By the men who moil for gold;
The Arctic trails have their secret tales
That would make your blood run cold;
The Northern Lights have seen queer sights,
But the queerest they ever did see
Was that night on the marge of Lake Lebarge
I cremated Sam McGee.

Now Sam McGee was from Tennessee, where the cotton blooms and blows.
Why he left his home in the South to roam ’round the Pole, God only knows.
He was always cold, but the land of gold seemed to hold him like a spell;
Though he’d often say in his homely way that “he’d sooner live in hell.”

On a Christmas Day we were mushing our way over the Dawson trail.
Talk of your cold! through the parka’s fold it stabbed like a driven nail.
If our eyes we’d close, then the lashes froze till sometimes we couldn’t see;
It wasn’t much fun, but the only one to whimper was Sam McGee.

And that very night, as we lay packed tight in our robes beneath the snow,
And the dogs were fed, and the stars o’erhead were dancing heel and toe,
He turned to me, and “Cap,” says he, “I’ll cash in this trip, I guess;
And if I do, I’m asking that you won’t refuse my last request.”

Well, he seemed so low that I couldn’t say no; then he says with a sort of moan:
“It’s the cursèd cold, and it’s got right hold till I’m chilled clean through to the bone.
Yet ’tain’t being dead—it’s my awful dread of the icy grave that pains;
So I want you to swear that, foul or fair, you’ll cremate my last remains.”

A pal’s last need is a thing to heed, so I swore I would not fail;
And we started on at the streak of dawn; but God! he looked ghastly pale.
He crouched on the sleigh, and he raved all day of his home in Tennessee;
And before nightfall a corpse was all that was left of Sam McGee.

There wasn’t a breath in that land of death, and I hurried, horror-driven,
With a corpse half hid that I couldn’t get rid, because of a promise given;
It was lashed to the sleigh, and it seemed to say: “You may tax your brawn and brains,
But you promised true, and it’s up to you to cremate those last remains.”

Now a promise made is a debt unpaid, and the trail has its own stern code.
In the days to come, though my lips were dumb, in my heart how I cursed that load.
In the long, long night, by the lone firelight, while the huskies, round in a ring,
Howled out their woes to the homeless snows— O God! how I loathed the thing.

And every day that quiet clay seemed to heavy and heavier grow;
And on I went, though the dogs were spent and the grub was getting low;
The trail was bad, and I felt half mad, but I swore I would not give in;
And I’d often sing to the hateful thing, and it hearkened with a grin.

Till I came to the marge of Lake Lebarge, and a derelict there lay;
It was jammed in the ice, but I saw in a trice it was called the “Alice May.”
And I looked at it, and I thought a bit, and I looked at my frozen chum;
Then “Here,” said I, with a sudden cry, “is my cre-ma-tor-eum.”

Some planks I tore from the cabin floor, and I lit the boiler fire;
Some coal I found that was lying around, and I heaped the fuel higher;
The flames just soared, and the furnace roared—such a blaze you seldom see;
And I burrowed a hole in the glowing coal, and I stuffed in Sam McGee.

Then I made a hike, for I didn’t like to hear him sizzle so;
And the heavens scowled, and the huskies howled, and the wind began to blow.
It was icy cold, but the hot sweat rolled down my cheeks, and I don’t know why;
And the greasy smoke in an inky cloak went streaking down the sky.

I do not know how long in the snow I wrestled with grisly fear;
But the stars came out and they danced about ere again I ventured near;
I was sick with dread, but I bravely said: “I’ll just take a peep inside.
I guess he’s cooked, and it’s time I looked”; … then the door I opened wide.

And there sat Sam, looking cool and calm, in the heart of the furnace roar;
And he wore a smile you could see a mile, and he said: “Please close that door.
It’s fine in here, but I greatly fear you’ll let in the cold and storm—
Since I left Plumtree, down in Tennessee, it’s the first time I’ve been warm.”

There are strange things done in the midnight sun
By the men who moil for gold;
The Arctic trails have their secret tales
That would make your blood run cold;
The Northern Lights have seen queer sights,
But the queerest they ever did see
Was that night on the marge of Lake Lebarge
I cremated Sam McGee.

Poem credit: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/45081/the-cremation-of-sam-mcgee

Book review: Lines by Leon: Poems, Prose, and Pictures

My review

Every now and then you discover a book of poetry which has you nodding your head in agreement and identifying with the views of the poet. For me, this was one of those books. Leon Stevens has an unerring way of aiming a poetic arrow straight at the heart of a difficult issue and exposing it for exactly what it is. This exposure is done with great dry wit, but it is nevertheless, brutally honest and truthful.

The poems in this book cover an array of topics including, inter alia, the poets personal viewpoints on specific matters, environmental experiences, the human conditions and how we relate with others, people and places, and ponderance and muse. There is a sprinkling of the poet’s own sketches throughout the book, and these, complement the humour and the simple, straightforward messages woven into these compelling poems.

This poem, called The Tendency to Cluster, was my personal favourite in this collection and demonstrates the points I’ve mentioned above:

People like orbs
Drawn by gravity
Unable to exist alone
Each dependent on the orbits of others
The only thing that keeps them
From being flung away
Needing others to define them
Needing to know
The quantum state of others
There are people
Content with singularity
In the colder outer regions
Emptiness brings strength, warmth, life
Occasional objects pass
Piquing curiosity
Worthy to share space (for a while)
Mostly continuing alone
Comfortable that orbits won’t decay

If you enjoy poems that speak clearly and simply about important matters, then you will enjoy this collection. Even if you don’t share the poet’s viewpoint, these poems will still make you think deeply.

Purchase Lines by Leon: Poems, Prose, and Pictures

Amazon US

Amazon UK

About Leon Stevens

Leon Stevens is a writer, composer, guitarist, songwriter, and an artist, with a Bachelor of Music and Education. He became a writer out of necessity. Along with song writing, poetry has allowed him to make sense and accept events and situations in his life. He published his first book of poetry: Lines by Leon – Poems, Prose, and Pictures in January 2020, a book of original classical guitar compositions, and a collection of science fiction short stories called The Knot at the End of the Rope and other Short Stories. Visit www.linesbyleon.com for free sample eBooks.


Growing Bookworms – Are their benefits to repetitive reading?

“As adults, we know that you might read a complex book and, if you read it again, it allows you to absorb all the different elements over time. It’s true for children too. Not only do children love having the familiarity of their favourite books but the repetition is so valuable.”

DR ELIZABETH WESTRUPP

When my boys were young, they liked to have the same book read to them over and over again. With Greg it was the Farmyard Tales about Poppy and Sam and their dog called Rusty.

Greg was about two and a half years old when he went through this repetitive reading stage. Every afternoon when I got home from work, he would ask me to read Farmyard Tales to him. It was fortunate for me as I was pregnant at the time and busy working on a big transaction; Greg’s love of these books enabled me to rest a lot more than I would have been able to if he’d wanted to play outside.

You can find out more about Poppy and Sam here:

Michael went into this book reading stage later. He was about five years old when he decided he loved The Enchanted Wood series by Enid Blyton. I read this book to him so many times I learned sections of it off by heart. Michael also loved the Famous Five series also by Enid Blyton. Thankfully, I was smart enough to get the audio books of the whole series and so I didn’t have to read these to him repetitively. He liked Five go off in a caravan the best and his listening to this story nearly drove me mad eventually.

Five Go Off in a Caravan - Wikipedia

Back to today’s question: Is repetitive reading good for children?

According to a number of child psychologists repetitive reading does have some important benefits, in particular, children take longer to encode information that older children and adults and they forget faster. Repetitive reading helps young children to remember patterns, new and unusual words, and connect key concepts in the story. In other words, repetition helps develop better comprehension.

Repetitive reading also helps children learn to see things from a different perspective and undergo a different learning experience if you add some new nuances into your reading of the same story. It also helps make reading a story for the 20th time more fun.

Two other benefits of repetitive reading are as follows:

1. Children develop language fluency through repetition. It also helps them to learn sequencing and understanding the two concepts of timing and placing in a story;

2. Repetitive reading also helps develop confidence when a child knows the story and is able to remember what happens next. It also enables the child to re-tell the story to peers or a younger sibling.

Some books that are fun to read over and over again to children are the Dr Seuss books. I always find those books a lot of fun to read, even though I have read them many times, including to my own younger siblings.

I’m going to end off with a great quote from Dr Seuss:

The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” ― Dr. Seuss, I Can Read With My Eyes Shut!

About Robbie Cheadle

IMG_9902

Robbie Cheadle is a South African children’s author and poet with 9 children’s books and 2 poetry books.

The 7 Sir Chocolate children’s picture books, co-authored by Robbie and Michael Cheadle, are written in sweet, short rhymes which are easy for young children to follow and are illustrated with pictures of delicious cakes and cake decorations. Each book also includes simple recipes or biscuit art directions which children can make under adult supervision.

Robbie has also published 2 books for older children which incorporate recipes that are relevant to the storylines.

Robbie has 2 adult novels in the paranormal historical and supernatural fantasy genres published under the name Roberta Eaton Cheadle. She also has short stories in the horror and paranormal genre and poems included in several anthologies.

Robbie writes a monthly series for https://writingtoberead.com called Growing Bookworms. This series discusses different topics relating to the benefits of reading to children.

Robbie has a blog, https://robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com/ where she shares book reviews, recipes, author interviews, and poetry.

Find Robbie Cheadle

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 Miriam Hurdle

Today, I am delighted to host poet and author Miriam Hurdle for the July edition of Treasuring Poetry.

Welcome Miriam Hurdle

Hi Robbie,

I’m delighted to be your guest on Writing to be Read to talk about poetry.

Which of your own poems is your favourite

Among the published poems in Songs of Heartstrings: Poems of Gratitude and Beatitude, several poems are my favorites in equal measure for different reasons. One is in the section of Songs of Marriage, one in Songs of Tribute, and one in Songs of Inspiration.

The time I wrote this post, my heart turns to the poem “Healthy Grieving” in the section of Songs of Tribute.

Healthy Grieving

Randy and my husband were true friends.

No appointment needed for

a barbeque, a movie or a game, just

knocked on each other’s door.

The conversation could go anywhere,

no worry about apologies.

When one needed a helping hand,

the other one is always there.

Twelve years was a long time,

such true friendship rarely came by.

People say, “Big boys don’t cry.”

I don’t know why.

Boys have emotion, as we all do.

My husband had never cried,

not until after Randy died.

What inspired you to write this particular poem?

There is a narrative precedes the poem. I wrote the poem to pay tribute to our neighbor, my husband’s best friend who died of a mountain bike accident. Here is the excerpt.

I remember on January 3, 2016. Randy joined us to celebrate my husband’s birthday. We had lunch and saw Star Wars at Irvine Spectrum. It was on Saturday.

The following Sunday, eight days later, his relative came over to tell us that Randy had a mountain bike accident. He and a gym buddy ventured on a long mountain bike ride. The bike hit a vast gap and made a somersault flip. He got thrown off the bike, fell forward and hit the ground, and smashed his head and face.

They rushed him to the close by emergency room but pronounced him dead as soon as the ambulance reached the hospital.

Randy was our neighbor who lived two doors down the street. He was my husband’s best friend for twelve years, ever since he came back to live with his parents. They worked out at the gym together. They enjoyed the Friday movie and pizza day for a while.

After my husband got a mountain bike, he also got one. They biked on the trails in the city. On special occasions, a barbecue dinner was in order. He came over to our house for game nights regularly. A year before he passed away, they switched to another restaurant to hang out in the bar, and I became their designated driver.

Randy was a lighthearted guy, a wonderful friend, a caring son. We missed him very much.

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

Whereas a “form” defines the way a poem arranges sounds, rhythms, or its appearance on the page, “genre” is something like the poem’s style. Many poetic genres have a long history, and new poems almost always seek to explore a new aspect of the traditional style and thus to redefine the genre.

Traditionally, there are nine genres of poetry. Three of them remain in the newer inclusion of poetry genres. They are narrative poetry which tells a story, lyric poetry which is musical in tone, and dramatic poetry which is a long dramatic monologue or persona poem.

I would say I enjoy writing narrative poetry genre. Regardless of the poetry forms, I like to write poems that tell the stories. The poem I included above is a good example in which I shared the story of the friendship between my husband and Randy.

As far as poetry form, I enjoy writing free verse which is free of rules and regulations. It doesn’t follow a consistent rhyme scheme, meter or musical structure. For the fun of learning, I also write blank verse which follows a stricter structure with precise meter. In addition to Haiku, Tanka, I have written a Shakespearean Sonnet, a Pantoum, several acrostic poems, two Villanelle, and one one-syllable poem (all the words used in the entire poem are single syllable words).

Which genre of poetry do you enjoy reading the most?

I enjoy reading narrative and lyric poetry including poetic song lyric. One example of narrative poetry is a poem by the American Poet Linda Pastan in which she tells a story about her daughter.

To a daughter leaving home

When I taught you

at eight to ride

a bicycle, loping along

beside you

as you wobbled away

on two round wheels,

my own mouth rounding

in surprise when you pulled

ahead down the curved

path of the park,

I kept waiting

for the thud

of your crash as I

sprinted to catch up,

while you grew

smaller, more breakable

with distance,

pumping, pumping

for your life, screaming

with laughter,

the hair flapping

behind you like a

handkerchief waving

goodbye.

This poem is about the poet teaching her daughter to ride a bicycle. The title suggests that her daughter is now old enough to leave home. Pastan cleverly extends the metaphor of the bike as part of life’s journey. When I read this poem, I identify with the poet the joy of parenthood, with the sentiment of missing my daughter when she grew up and has gone on to her own journey.

I can’t talk about poetry without talking about music. I’m a singer of classical, traditional, and some older pop music and memorized many song lyrics for solo performances. The poetic song lyrics influence the flow of my poetry writing.

Examples of poetic song lyrics are, “Yesterday” by the Beatles, “Memory” from the Musical Cats written by Trevor Nunn, and “Killing Me Softly” written by Norman Gimbel & Charles Fox.

What is your favourite poem?

My favorite poem is a popular one by Robert Frost. Its signature phrases have become so ubiquitous, so much a part of the individual life and business alike. I like it because of its message applicable in my life.

I have come to crossroads many points in my journey. As reflected by Frost, I couldn’t take “both,” tried to look down both paths “as far as I could.” Many times, they both were “equally” “fair” but no guarantee. Ultimately, it was my decision that “made all the difference.” Knowing that I would never “come back,”, I willingly took the responsibility for the road I chose to travel with no regret.

The Road Not Taken 

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

I would like to include the trailer for Songs of Heartstring created by Diana W. Peach at https://mythsofthemirror.com

Songs of Heartstrings Amazon  https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07K1S47W9

About Miriam Hurdle

Miriam Hurdle is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). She published four children’s books at twenty-six years old. Her poetry collection received the Solo “Medalist Winner” for the New Apple Summer eBook Award and achieved bestseller status on Amazon.

Miriam writes poetry, short stories, memoir, and children’s books. She earned a Doctor of Education from the University of La Verne in California. After two years of rehabilitation counseling, fifteen years of public-school teaching and ten years in school district administration, she retired and enjoys life with her husband in southern California, and the visits to her daughter, son-in-law, and granddaughters in Oregon. When not writing, she engages in blogging, gardening, photography, and traveling.

Find Miriam Hurdle

Website/Blog: https://theshowersofblessings.com

Amazon Author’s Page: https://www.amazon.com/Miriam-Hurdle/e/B07K2MCSVW

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/17252131.Miriam_Hurdle

Twitter: https://twitter.com/mhurdle112

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Miriam-Hurdle-Author-100123351515424

My review of Songs of Heartstrings: Poems of Gratitude and Beatitude

Songs of Heartstrings: Poems of Gratitude and Beatitude by [Miriam Hurdle]

Songs of Heartstrings is a collection of poems and essays featuring the vast array of life experiences by the author. Miriam Hurdle has encountered both the best and the worst of life through the death of her husband’s close friend, her own treatment for cancer, the birth of her daughter and the close relationship of her parents. Her wonderful joy in life and strong faith in her religion shine through in her poetry and give a lot of insight into her strong spirit and ability to stay positive despite the curve balls life has thrown her way.

This book also demonstrates Miriam’s love of nature and features poems about her garden, a hummingbird and even a spider. Her photographs and pictures are lovely and compliment the prose. 

My review of Tina Lost in a Crowd

Tina Lost in a Crowd by [Miriam Hurdle, Victoria Skakandi]

Tina Lost in a Crowd is a charming book for children about two young school friends who attend a busy concert with Tina’s parents and get lost on their way to the restroom.

I enjoyed the character of Tina, a lovely and friendly girl who demonstrated politeness and respect towards both her teacher and her parents as well as consideration towards her friend. She has sufficient presence of mind not to panic in the scary situation of being lost in a big crowd.

The depiction of Tina’s family life and her mother’s interest in her and eagerness to plan some fun family outings for the summer vacation are heart warming and lovely to see in a children’s book. I liked the fact that Tina’s mother made a picnic for her family and Tina’s friend, Erica, to enjoy at the concert with good, wholesome food.

The illustrations in this book are a real treat and every page is a visual delight. I would recommend this book to parents and caregivers who like books that encourage good family values and level headedness by children in difficult situations.

About Robbie Cheadle

IMG_9902

Robbie Cheadle is a South African children’s author and poet with 9 children’s books and 1 poetry book.

The 7 Sir Chocolate children’s picture books, co-authored by Robbie and Michael Cheadle, are written in sweet, short rhymes which are easy for young children to follow and are illustrated with pictures of delicious cakes and cake decorations. Each book also includes simple recipes or biscuit art directions which children can make under adult supervision.

Robbie has also published 2 books for older children which incorporate recipes that are relevant to the storylines.

Robbie has 2 adult novels in the paranormal historical and supernatural fantasy genres published under the name Roberta Eaton Cheadle. She also has short stories in the horror and paranormal genre and poems included in several anthologies.

Robbie writes a monthly series for https://writingtoberead.com called Growing Bookworms. This series discusses different topics relating to the benefits of reading to children.

Robbie has a blog, https://robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com/ where she shares book reviews, recipes, author interviews, and poetry.

Find Robbie Cheadle

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 2

Last month, I discussed the reasons why handwriting is still important for both children and adults. You can read that post here: https://writingtoberead.com/2021/06/09/raising-bookworms-handwriting-skills-for-children-part-1/

Today, I am going to focus on strategies to improve handwriting.

The age of the child determines the best strategies for improving handwriting.

For a beginner writer in the early grades, the following strategies are useful to help children practice their handwriting and gain confidence with writing:

Make handwriting fun

There are a few ways you can make practicing handwriting more fun. You can give your child a fun or special pencil to use to practice writing. A stripped one or a pencil covered in flowers or cars. You can also play simple games that involve writing like hangman, word puzzles and anagrams.

I started writing the Sir Chocolate series of books with Michael to help him improve his handwriting. He used to write out the stories as we made them up. He tried very hard to write nicely in these little books we created.

Develop fine motor skills

Developing your child’s fine motor skills by drawing and painting, playing with play dough, cutting, threading, sand play, lego and building blocks are all great ways of encouraging children to manipulate small objects.

Correct pencil grip

Make sure your child is holding the pencil in a pincer grip and also using both hands to control the paper.

Here is a fun video song to help children with the correct pencil grip:

The correct equipment

Some children struggle to hold a regular pencil and do better with a shorter, smaller, or kid-sized pencil. Give your child an eraser so that s/he is confident and not afraid of making mistakes.

Use writing everywhere

You can practice handwriting in lots of fun places. You can write in the sand on the beach or on a foggy window or mirror. You can write in chalk on the driveway and you can even write on fondant with an edible ink pen.

About Robbie Cheadle

IMG_9902

Robbie Cheadle is a South African children’s author and poet with 9 children’s books and 1 poetry book.

The 7 Sir Chocolate children’s picture books, co-authored by Robbie and Michael Cheadle, are written in sweet, short rhymes which are easy for young children to follow and are illustrated with pictures of delicious cakes and cake decorations. Each book also includes simple recipes or biscuit art directions which children can make under adult supervision.

Robbie has also published 2 books for older children which incorporate recipes that are relevant to the storylines.

Robbie has 2 adult novels in the paranormal historical and supernatural fantasy genres published under the name Roberta Eaton Cheadle. She also has short stories in the horror and paranormal genre and poems included in several anthologies.

Robbie writes a monthly series for https://writingtoberead.com called Growing Bookworms. This series discusses different topics relating to the benefits of reading to children.

Robbie has a blog, https://robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com/ where she shares book reviews, recipes, author interviews, and poetry.

Find Robbie Cheadle

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 – 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 a poem from my poetry book, Open a new door.

The Thunderstorm

A deluge of rain tumbles from the sky

like a bucket turned upside down

the beggars impervious to its ferocity

faces impassive, no fear or frown.

***

Young boys stand on the roadside

eyes smoldering with hunger’s pain

need forcing them to continue standing

despite the lightening and drenching rain.

***

One holds a bedraggled cardboard sign

the other a tattered polystyrene cup

each hoping a passerby will pause

and give something to eat or sup.

***

A young mother stands shivering

an old umbrella sheltering her child

his eyes huge and frightened

he’s never laughed or even smiled.

***

In the middle of an intersection

an old man stands bent and alone

his head bowed in supplication to the torrent

he doesn’t complain, sigh or moan.

***

It’s rare to see the elderly on the street

poverty means many don’t live that long

my heart fills with a wrenching pain

for this anguished society to which I belong.

***

At the traffic light outside my offices there are a collection of beggars and window washers. One old man stands in the middle of the intersection. It is hard to extend any aid to him as it is not a good place to slow down. This motely crew is there every day, come rain or shine.

I have a new poetry collection coming out soon. Here is the cover, designed by the amazing Teagan Riordain Geneviene

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 “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

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

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.