Review in Practice – Slushpile Memories: How Not to Get Rejected

Slush Pile Memories: How Not to Get Rejected

Introducing a new blog series

For those of you that don’t know, I am currently embarked on a journey to earn my masters degree in publishing at Western State Colorado University. Some of you may know this because I mentioned it when I posted the submission guidelines for the Mirror, Mirror anthology that we are putting together for our class thesis project. I was really excited about sharing this paid writing opportunity with all of you and I hope many of you will craft out a story that fits the guidelines and submit it. I was recently reminded that the submission deadline is just two weeks away, so get those stories in.

With work and school and trying to write, I’ve been struggling just to get my Monday blog post out. I’ve been blogging here on Writing to be Read since 2010 and it is important to me and hopefully to my readers, so I can justify feeling a need not to drop the ball here even though I’m extremely busy. My solution, which I thought was rather smart, was to create a new blog series, “Review in Practice”, where you can join me through book reviews that reflect lessons taken from books I read as I work to improve my craft and learn the publishing industry. In this way, the books I need to read in order to learn and improve will do double duty as I share them with you here. These reviews will offer my opinion of the book, and also tell you about my experience with it and share what I have learned. I do hope you will join me.

My Review

Reading Slush Pile Memories: How Not to Get Rejected, by New York Times Bestselling author, Kevin J. Anderson helped to prepare me for the onslaught that is already flooding the submissions box, because it offered me a better idea of what lay ahead. But, this book was written for authors, to give them an idea of what editors are looking for and improve the chances that your submission will read and accepted. It is a brief book, which doesn’t take long to read and the lessons contained within could prove invaluable. As I have begun working my own way through this year’s slush pile, I’ve already learned that the experiences contained within Slush Pile Memories: How Not to Get Rejected is spot on.

Of course there’s never any guarantees of acceptance, but there are ways to increase the odds. Kevin J. Anderson relates his own experiences from the last two anthologies the graduate publishing program at Western put together. (Yes, he is really my professor. How cool is that?) If you are thinking of submitting a story to Mirror, Mirror or any other anthology, Slush Pile Memories: How Not to Get Rejected is a must read. I give it five quills.

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Day 5 of the WordCrafter “Where Spirits Linger” Book Blog Tour

Where Spirits Linger Book Blog Tour

For Day 5 of the WordCrafter Where Spirits Linger Book Blog Tour brings us a guest post by contributing author, Stevie Turner about her story, “David’s Revenge”, on Zigler’s News and a review by Victoria Zigler. Please join us to learn more about this author and her story. Leave a comment and earn a chance to win a free digital copy of Where Spirits Linger.

https://ziglernews.blogspot.com/2021/09/where-spirits-linger-wordcrafter-book.html

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Book your WordCrafter Book Blog Tour today!


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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Welcome to the WordCrafter “After the Fires of Day” Book Blog Tour

To start off the WordCrafter After the Fires of Day Book Blog Tour, we’ve got an interview with poet and author Cendrine Marrouat and a review of her wonderful poetry collection and tribute to the inspiring poets, After the Fires of Day: Haiku Inspired by Kahlil Gibran & Alphonse de Lamartine. I hope you will all follow the tour this week and visit each of the tour stops to learn more about this inspired this inspired poet who is herself inspiring.

Cendrine Marrouat is a French-born Canadian photographer, poet, and the multi-genre author of more than 30 books. In 2019, she founded the PoArtMo Collective and co-founded Auroras & Blossoms with David Ellis. A year later, they launched PoArtMo (Positive Art Month and Positive Art Moves) and created the Kindku and Pareiku, two forms of poetry.

Cendrine is also the creator of the Sixku, the Flashku, and the Reminigram. Cendrine writes both in French and English and has worked in many different fields in her 17-year career, including translation, language instruction, journalism, art reviews, and social media.

My Interview with author and poet, Cendrine Marrouat

Kaye: What inspired you to create After the Fires of Day: Haiku Inspired by Kahlil Gibran & Alphonse de Lamartine?

Cendrine: My love for the haiku and my passion for the beautiful words of Kahlil Gibran and Alphonse de Lamartine.

I had always wanted to release something similar to After the Fires of Day. I had many ideas. However, a project like this, which pays homage to two literary giants, was tricky and required a thoughtful approach.

At the beginning of my career, I tried to emulate Gibran’s style—to no avail. But it was not a useless pursuit. It taught me important lessons about my own style and how to incorporate emotions in my work.

Emotions is actually the keyword here. In the late 2010s, I had this idea: An author always leaves a part of themselves, their “energy”, in their works. So why not “borrow” that and go from there?

It’s what I did for After the Fires of Day.

Kaye: Why do you think the haiku is such a powerful poetry form?

Cendrine: Many people limit the haiku to its syllable count. Words are treated like an afterthought, when they are actually the most important element of the poem. In North America, the haiku is misunderstood by the general public.

The haiku freezes a scene in time while implicitly revealing its author’s innermost feelings at that precise moment. It is an intimate, albeit complex form of poetry that speaks to the human experience in more ways than one.

To write a memorable haiku, you need to understand: the importance of conciseness and simple language; and how to leverage the seasonal reference (‘kigo’) and “cutting word” (‘kireji’) to evoke a specific mood.

Kaye: What made you choose Kahlil Gibran and Alphonse de Lamartine as sources of inspiration for After the Fires of Day? And for the people who have never read them, is there a specific book or piece of writing you would recommend?

Cendrine: I chose them because everything in their bodies of work inspires me. Their styles and the flow of their words tug at my creative heartstrings and make me want to write. 

The Prophet is the best introduction to Gibran’s work. As far as Lamartine is concerned, you should start with his most famous poem, The Lake.

For the people interested in learning more about Gibran and Lamartine, they can visit my blog. I recently ran a mini-series of posts on each writer

My Review

After the Fires of Day: Haiku Inspired by Kahlil Gibran and Alphonse de Lamartine is both a tribute of admiration to two wonderful poets and a collection of Haikus by Cendrine Marrouat, the expressions of her own unique voice and style of Haiku, in which their inspirations can be seen.

I was familiar with Kahlil Gibran’s work, but Alphonse de Lamartine was new to me. I am thankful to Cendrine Marrouat for the introduction to this poet. The poetic words of Marrouat’s beautiful Haikus bring me back to when I was introduced to the Haiku poetry, in the fourth grade. At that time, I felt that the sheer simplicity of the Haiku was lovely, although my fourth-grade mind didn’t yet understand that it was the ability of the words to capture and conjure a moment in nature so exquisitely that sent so much awe flowing through me.

I’ve included my favorite poem from this collection below. I think this Haiku speaks to me because my son, Michael, was born and died in September and since his death, September has always been a hard month for me to face. Marrouat’s Haiku allows me to look at the month of September with more positivity. The vivid imagery reminds me of what it is like to wait in anticipation of cooler days and fall colors.

Valley sits in gold,

Reflections in water

Welcome September.

While reading the Haiku poetry of Cendrine Marrouat, I couldn’t help but smile as her words summoned vivid images in my mind, which is exactly what a quality haiku should do. I give After the Fires of Day: Haiku Inspired by Kahlil Gibran and Alphonse de Lamartine five quills.

Book your WordCrafter Book Blog Tour today!


Day 5 of the WordCrafter “Behind Closed Doors” Book Blog Tour

Behind Closed Doors Book Blog Tour

We’re wrapping up the WordCrafter Behind Closed Doors Book Blog Tour over at Zigler’s News with a guest post by poet and author Robbie Cheadle and a review by Victoria Zigler. Please join us to learn a bit more about the author and her book.

http://ziglernews.blogspot.com/2021/08/behind-closed-doors-collection-of.html

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Book your WordCrafter Book Blog Tour today!


Day 4 – WordCrafter “Behind Closed Doors” Book Blog Tour

Behind Closed Doors Book Blog Tour

Day 4 of the WordCrafter Behind Closed Doors Book Blog Tour finds us over at Miriam Hurdle’s Showers of Blessings blog site with a guest post by author and poet Robbie Cheadle and a lovely review of Robbie’s latest book, Behind Closed Doors, a collection of unusual poetry. Drop in and learn more about this fascinating poetry collection and its author.

https://theshowersofblessings.com/2021/08/25/blog-tour-behind-closed-doors-a-collection-of-unusual-poems-iby-robbe-cheadle

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Book your WordCrafter Book Blog Tour today!


Day 2 – WordCrafter “Behind Closed Doors” Book Blog Tour

Behind Closed Doors Book Blog Tour

Day 2 of the WordCrafter Behind Closed Doors Book Blog Tour brings us another wonderful guest post by author and poet Robbie Cheadle and a review by DL Mullen. After you enjoy the guest post below, please pop on over to DL Mullen’s Undawnted blog site to check out her review:

http://www.undawnted.com/2021/08/wordcrafter-blog-tour-robbie-cheadles.html

Behind Closed Doors, a collection of unusual poems blog tour – Day 2

Do you want it enough? is a freestyle poem I wrote while contemplating why it is that some people and/or poets are prolific and manage to get a number of books, short stories and/or poems published while others don’t. It is not a question of talent generally, as many writers and poets who don’t publish their work are incredibly talented.

So what holds some writers and poets back?

This poem captured my ultimate view that it depends on the determination, resilience, and drive of the person in question. Publishing a book or any other work is a massive effort and requires numerous re-writes and edits. Once that process is complete, there is still the typesetting and final proofing phase to undergo before you can hit the publish button.

I also believe that there must be an acceptance that a piece of work will never be completely perfect. I have realised that I must accept a 96% perfection level in order to get a book finalised for printing and publishing. No matter how hard I try or how many times I read my work and get other people to read it and edit it for me, I always find a few typos and punctuations after the book has gone live. That is that nature of writing and is almost impossible to avoid. The fact that I detect typos and errors in traditionally published books gives me some comfort in this respect.

These ideas of mine resulted in the following poem.

Do you want it enough?

You tell me you want

Your time in the sun

To dance in the light

That reflects off your fame

Do you really want it?

Do you want it enough?

To give up the good things

Like relaxation and rest

Sleeping late in your bed

Toasty and warm

Are you sufficiently mesmerised

By the task to hand

To trade pleasure for work?

And sit in your office,

Juggling ideas and possibilities,

While your friends watch movies,

Eat out, drink, and socialise

Spending their weekends

Having a jolly good time

Can you be disciplined and sit

At a computer for hours

Tapping out words

While creating worlds

Actions and events

That form themselves into stories?

Will you watch

The world passing by

Through the glass of your window?

While you pursue the fantasy

You hope to achieve, 

Knowing there are no guarantees

Few things in this life

Come without paying a price

And the tag accompanying fame

And its bedfellow fortune

Is always high

Taxing time and good health

With no assured return

Are you ready to exchange

Your freedom and pleasure

For the discipline required

To chase that elusive light?

If you prefer to listen to me reading this poem, you can find it on my Youtube Channel here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wEXJnzzMYZo

What are your thoughts on perfection in publishing and the road to publication? Let me know in the comments.

Book blurb

Behind Closed Doors

What goes on behind closed doors: in the boardroom, after death, in the home, during lockdown, and in nature? This collection of poems, ranging from rhyming verse to twisted nursery rhymes, captures the emotions and thoughts people hide behind the masks they present to the world.

                                                                                          What thoughts are hidden

                                                                                          Behind her immobile face

                                                                                             Quite expressionless

                                                                                           Eyes cold and indifferent

                                                                                          Scrutinising me – hawk like

This book includes some of Robbie Cheadle’s spectacular fondant art and cakes.

Robbie Cheadle author bio

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.

Social Media Robbie Cheadle

Robbie Cheadle

Website

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

Blog

https://robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com/

TSL Books Author Page

Goodreads

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15584446.Robbie_Cheadle

Twitter

Purchase links

Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B09BBR94NC

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Behind-Closed-Doors-Robbie-Cheadle/dp/B099C8R3T4

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If you missed the Day 1 post yesterday, you can still catch it here: https://writingtoberead.com/2021/08/23/welcome-to-the-wordcrafter-behind-closed-doors-book-blog-tour/

Book your WordCrafter Book Blog Tour today!


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.


Book Review: Mudflap – A character concept many of us can identify with

In Mudflap, by Jay Alden Bailey the character’s name isn’t really Mudflap, but that is the name he identifies with because life always seems to be throwing him under the bus. We’ve all been there, so the character concept is easy to identify with. Every time Mudflap gets up, life knocks him back down again. But he just keeps getting back up again, even starting over from step one when necessary. This story makes a suttle social commentary as Mudflap’s tale unravels that readers with a keen eye will be sure to pick up on.

Sharing in the life and experiences of Mudflap makes one appreciate the circumstances in one’s own life more. If you need cheering up or are just looking for a chuckle, this story is for you. I give Mudflap four quills.

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Kaye Lynne Booth does honest book reviews on Writing to be Read in exchange for ARCs. Have a book you’d like reviewed? Contact Kaye at kayebooth(at)yahoo(dot)com.


“Watching Glass Shatter”: Some secrets are better left buried

Watching Glass Shatter

In Watching Glass Shatter, by James J. Cudney, secrets threaten to destroy a family and a legacy with the solidest of foundations. Olivia is a staunch matriarch who controls with an iron fist, or so some have said. When her husband Ben dies in a car crash, she is forced to take a close look at herself as she struggles to deal with the huge secret that he kept from her in what she thought was an open and honest marraige. Once it is dropped in her lap, she must decide how to handle this new knowledge that has the potential to rip apart the life of one of her five sons and change their familial relationships forever.

Olivia decides to spend some time with each of them before making her final decision, but the closer she gets to her sons the more secrets she learns that her family is harboring from one another, each with the potential to destroy family bonds and crumble all they have worked for. This family drama would be worthy of a television soap-opera series, such as Dynasty or Dallas.

The Glass family is well off, having built up a successful law firm which was to be the family business. Although the story is well-written, it seemed to me that things seemed to resolve a little too easily to be fully believable to me. It is a very different world in which I live, but maybe money does bring with it the solutions to many of life’s difficulties more easily. I give Watching Glass Shatter four quills.

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Kaye Lynne Booth does honest book reviews on Writing to be Read in exchange for ARCs. Have a book you’d like reviewed? Contact Kaye at kayebooth(at)yahoo(dot)com.