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.
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
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
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:
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.
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
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
New Children’s books by Elizabeth Merry
Elizabeth has just released two new books for middle school children.
Ghosts in Trouble
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
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!
If you follow “Writing to be Read”, you know Robbie Cheadle for one or more of her monthly blog series, (“Growing Bookworms”, “Treasuring Poetry”, or “Dark Origins”), but you seldom see the author side of her. Today, Annika Perry offers a review of Roberta Eaton Cheadle’s latest paranormal historical release and her first adult novel, “A Ghost and His Gold”. Drop over to her site and learn more about Robbie’s new book.
A Ghost and His Gold combines the paranormal with intense violent battle scenes from 1899-1902; it features three ghosts not only haunting a house and its occupants in present-day South Africa but who are themselves haunted by events in their past lives; it’s a story about seeking forgiveness and ultimately finding redemption.
Furthermore the book explores not only the horror of war, concentration camps, scorched earth policy but also date rape, rape, violence against women. Can any ever be forgiven? Can anyone carrying out these acts ever find peace within themselves and acceptance by loved ones again?
Initially, A Ghost and his Gold appears to be a normal paranormal ghost story as Michelle and Tom, both working in the finance sector although she is also a part-time writer, move into their new home. The new townhouse is situated on the site of an old Boer homestead. Michelle immediately senses and…
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Author Tim Baker has a series in the works from his book, “Unfinished Business”, but he ran into a few obstacles and had to adapt his plan. Tim’s books are always fun reads and I can easily see how a series might be made from this one. You can read my review here: (https://writingtoberead.com/2013/09/25/unfinished-business-by-tim-baker-an-entertaining-read/) And you can read his post to learn how you can help make it happen.
Imagine if Dorothy, after landing in OZ, simply followed the Yellow Brick Road unimpeded to the Emerald City, found the wizard and was sent home without complications. It would have been a pretty boring story.
If The Empire wasn’t Hell-bent on getting Luke to come to the Dark Side, movie goers would have been subjected to countless hours of a kid bullseyeing womp rats in his T-16. Not exactly edge-of-your-seat stuff.
Or what if Sheriff Brody, Quint and Matt Hooper caught and killed the shark before it had a chance to go on a feeding frenzy? Sure, the beaches of Amity Island would have been stress free that summer, but would you have paid to watch a movie where the biggest fear was somebody running out of sun screen?
Of course not.
In any story worth its salt, there are always obstacles to be overcome. That’s what keeps us interested…
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Drop by Barbara Spencer’s “Pictures from the Kitchen” for a eye-opening post on the importance of criticism in writing, and ways to deal with seeming negativity based on her own experiences. Lot’s of food for thought, and it’s a great lead in for the release of the third book in her “Children of Zues” trilogy, “The Drumming of Heels”.
Why do people write books?
It’s a question I’ve been asking myself for years. On the face of it, tying yourself to a desk for months and months is crazy, especially when our world offers a never-ending cornucopia of delights. Is it the story that gets lodged in your brain and refuses to disappear like the line of a song you keep humming? Or is it a passion for words – their use and arrangement on paper – as it is for poets? I can more easily understand an artist who sees the world in terms of colour, aquamarine and ochre, or a musician who hears a sequence of notes which he embroiders into a symphonic poem, than I can an author.
For me, though, it’s always been about telling a story, which makes me a plotter not a pantser and for years I have told my stories, both funny…
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On Day #6, we’re wrapping up “The Click of a Pebble” Book Blog Tour on author Barbara Spencer’s blog site, “Pictures from the Kitchen”. It’s been a great tour and I hope you’ll join us there to find out more about this wonderful fantasy novel.
How many of us remember our school days, when we dipped our toes into the fascinating world of Greek and Roman myths – and then promptly forgot them whenwe donned our high-heels and stepped out into the real world?
I certainly had until I visited Holland again in 2010. I first visited in the 1960s with my sister, when it was a quiet almost sleepy place (see barbaraspencerauthor.blogspot.com) but this time my granddaughter was with me. And the reason for our visit, to celebrate the publication of the thriller Running. She wanted to see everything; canals, walkways, bridges, trams, the Anne Frank House, the Koekenhoff … everything. Wandering around one of their many museums I was struck by images of Leda and the Swan and on returning to the hotel promptly looked up the legend of Zeus who descended to earth as a swan in order…
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For Day #4 of “The Click of a Pebble” Book Blog Tour, James Cudney brings us an author spotlight and interview over on “This is my Truth Now”. I hope you’ll join us there to learn more about author Barbara Spencer and her book.
For Day #3 of “The Click of a Pebble” Book Blog Tour finds us at “Robbie’s Inspiration” , with an intriguing guest post from author Barbara Spencer about magical realism and how “The Click of a Pebble” came into being. Join us there and learn more about this wonderful fantasy novel.
Today I am delighted to welcome talented author, Barbara Spencer, to Robbie’s Inspiration for Day 3 of her The Click of a Pebble book tour hosted by WordCrafter Blog Tours.
You can find Day 1 here: https://writingtoberead.com/2021/02/22/welcome-to-wordcrafters-the-click-of-a-pebble-book-blog-tour/
The Series: Children of Zeus
‘Where Historical Fiction and Fantasy Collide’
After a decade or more writing for children and young adults, I pretty much know my way around a children’s book. A couple of years ago, deciding I need a new challenge, I turned my attention to writing magical realism for adults.
But what is magical realism and how does it differ from fantasy? I think of fantasy as being set in a mythological world in which there are rules but maybe not the rules we subscribe to in our humdrum human world…
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Day #2 of “The Click of a Pebble” Book Blog Tour brings us Patty Fletcher’s review on “Patty’s World”. I hope you’ll join us there to learn more about this wonderful novel.
Welcome to WordCrafter’s “The Click of a Pebble” Book Blog Tour | Writing to be Read Day Two
Today, in our #ReadingWithTheAuthor series, where I’m hosting day two of The Click of the Pebble Tour, I’ve got a true treat for you.
If you missed day one you may catch up here: https://writingtoberead.com/2021/02/22/welcome-to-wordcrafters-the-click-of-a-pebble-book-blog-tour/
Many of you know author Barbara Spencer but do you know about her incredible books?
THE CLICK OF THE PEBBLE, TODAY’S FEATURED BOOK!
The Click of a Pebble
Book 1 – The Children of Zeus
Only if Yöst keeps the supernatural powers of his family hidden will they remain safe from the witch hunt that has already killed his entire village, apart from two young children, Zande and Tatania.
Offered shelter by a family of gypsies, Yöst strikes up a close relationship with the son of the house, Rico. As their relationship deepens, Yöst begins to think…
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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,
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 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,
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.
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
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
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)
Open a new door (co-authored with Kim Blades)
Supernatural fantasy YA novel:
Through the Nethergate
Horror Anthologies (edited by Dan Alatorre):
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
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.
Join us over at the Roberta Writes blog for Day #5 of the Feral Tenderness Book Blog Tour, where Robbie Cheadle offers a review of this collection of poetry and photograhs by Arthur Rosch.
What Amazon says
A lifetime of poetry and photography gives a unique view of life, nature, the world, and the universe.
Feral Tenderness is an extraordinary collection of poems that strike right to the heart of human conditioning, frailty, and behaviours. Through reading these poems you will be removing the rosy coloured spectacles through which you have watched life until now, and will be exposed to the raw reality of human existence, both with its fatal flaws and also in its bountifulness and excesses.
The poet uses words to spear his reader and force contemplation of certain realities. There are unforgettable and powerful lines that will lurk in your subconscious to be drawn out and examined when you are confronted with certain emotions and situations. Some of my favourite of these lines are as follows:
“The glue that holds shut
the eyelids of your sightless soul
can be dissolved”
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