Today I'm hosting a guest poem from Danish author Hanne Holten.
Appropriately for the time of year, it's a meditation on love.
Are we then likely to reach a conclusion?
Must we accept the most basic defeat?
Can sweeping statements and primeval landscapes
Account for the strangeness, the passionate nature
Protecting and challenging glorious bliss?
Would life become simpler in subtle tranquillity?
Can we achieve such miraculous feats:
Claiming insight in marvels beyond our reach?
Is love that easy on those individuals,
Who worship or value one person for life?
Sentiments change when old fancies grow tired
But must we regard this as failure or sin?
Love is the fountain of deepest emotion
Dividing the minds but compelling the hearts
Nobody questions oblique fascination
When passions and prudence traverse a blank sheet.
Strangest of all is the blissful oblivion
That enters the heart falling deeply in heat
Nothing prepares us for greatness so forceful
That all painful facts fade away in the mist.
Irreversible joy precedes and prevails,
Throughout mischief or trouble, to light our days.
Thankfully harmony enters with wisdom
Winning the battle, that unhurried yearning
Never concedes to renounce or surrender
Even when stakes reach their consequent brink.
Courage and gallantry ever abound
Where heart and perception set forth hand in hand.
One core will certainly always remain
Where ardour, endurance complete our aim.
Accepting as true this one point is compelling:
The greatest of passions convey one real worth
Devotion grants all to the bravest of humans
Who dare to commit to the wonder of love
You can learn about Hanne and her work via the links below
(scroll down and you'll also find an interview with her on this
blog - 12 December 2018)
Snares and Delusions on Amazon
I had a great time last weekend at the Wolverhampton Literature festival, at the award ceremony for their poetry competition. I wasn’t one of the winners, but I did get to read my shortlisted poem, Pioneer, and take away my copy of the competition anthology. And I have to say, there was some excellent poetry to be heard, including of course the winner, Sarah Doyle’s poem ‘On Holding an Ammonite’.
The theme for the competition was ‘Wanderers’ (get it?) so I decided to write about Pioneer 10, the first spacecraft to visit Jupiter, which lost contact with Earth on January 23, 2003 and is now thought to be 11 billion miles away.
Humans made me
with exquisite care, but then, in fire
and violence, thrust me far away.
Obedient, I spied on giants,
sent my postcards home.
No more: their Earth
has long winked out of sight,
their Sun a dot among its sister stars.
I am silent now: my masters
cannot see or hear me,
nor I them. Still, I travel on
bringing their message
to anyone in this infinity of black
who might yet care to see.
There being no one
I have found a purpose of my own:
to navigate this sea without a shore
to ride its tides, explore its nothingness,
to understand the nature of the void.
It lends perspective:
One day – not far away
by the eternal standards of this place –
humans, their Earth and all trace of it
will have folded into time.
Except for me: I travel on
bearing their image on my side
until swallowed by a star
or by the end of everything.
Today I’m hosting a short humorous piece from crime novelist Angela Wren.
They normally live in the shadows. The dark corners of rooms, behind wardrobes or at the back of undisturbed cupboards. But not anymore. I’ve purged the house of them. All of them. Every last one along with their pesky webs that just sit there collecting dust. So, my world is now spider-free and will remain so forever.
How did I do this I hear you ask?
Simple. I went to see a witch who turned me into a bullfrog. Now the spiders are gone, I’m a very fat bullfrog.
For those of you in the Yorkshire area, on Wednesday Feb 20 in Harrogate Library Café, Angela will be reading from Montbel, the latest in her Jacques Foret series of crime mysteries set in the Cevennes in south central France.
You can learn more about Angela and her books via these links
Amazon : AngelaWren
Website : www.angelawren.co.uk
Blog : www.jamesetmoi.blogspot.com
Facebook : Angela Wren
Goodreads : Angela Wren
Contact an author : Angela Wren
Readers of this blog will know I often share poems and short prose pieces of my own here. I’ve decided that it would be good to host pieces by other writers too.
So why not send me a poem (up to 40 lines) or a piece of flash fiction (up to 600 words). It can be published or unpublished, serious or humorous, any genre or style. It would be good if you could also send me a picture to go with it.
I’m not looking for overtly promotional posts, but I’d be happy for you to add a short paragraph (up to 100 words) at the end about yourself and any books/events etc you wish to mention, plus links to your website, blog etc if you have them.
I’ll be happy to post up to two guest pieces a month, depending on the level of interest.
So, why not send me some of your work! First come, first served! You can e-mail it to me on email@example.com.
Happy new year, everyone!
It’s been a while since I posted a poem on here, so I thought I’d share this one (also in the current issue of the NAWG Link magazine).
What blow could break these walls,
their stone volcano-forged and giant-thrown?
What warrior could scale them –
cliff-high and barbed with battlements?
This citadel defied all comers;
bruised by missiles,
flame-charred, siege strangled
it endured …
… to no avail.
See, those cyclopean blocks
are rent and ruined,
porous to whoever comes or goes.
What army overthrew them?
What apocalyptic force
could lay this fortress low?
None: only the arrow storms from clouds,
the patient siege of freeze and thaw,
the shifting flow of history
that left behind this rock
on the dry riverbed of time.
In my final post of 2018 I welcome sci-fi author and fellow member of Meltham writers, Alice Barker.
Welcome, Alice! Tell us about your forthcoming novel, The Stars Rain Blood.
It’s basically a cyberpunk crime thriller set in an outer space colony. The main character, Declan, is pretty ordinary, but when a girl is murdered and he was the last one to see her alive, her gets caught up in the crime underworld and a web of syndicates and deceit because absolutely no one tells the truth; corruption runs deep and the only thing Declan can trust is his instincts. That’s really all I can say for now, because that’s all I’ve got; I like the story to develop as I’m writing it. I was watching the BBC series Bodyguard recently and it blew me away, essentially because nothing was ever straightforward and the emotions were so intense. I’m also a major fan of the whole Blade Runner aesthetic – Declan’s name is actually a nod to Blade Runner’s main character, Deckard – so I blended the two ideas together, ran with it, and decided: ‘hey, this is cool’.
Your first two books – Tales from Tomorrow and Paraplegion – were also sci-fi, and then you branched out into romantic comedy with Sketching Scarlett. Where do you see your future direction as a writer?
Oh God, that’s a tough one. The truth is that I don’t like to stick to one particular genre because I’m more into interesting characters than a plot, and they can turn up anywhere. So I would perhaps say that my genre is humanity. It’s actually taken me a long time to pin The Stars Rain Blood down because I have a lot of ideas swimming about in my head. I want to write a story about Boudicca, because she’s a historical figure that’s interested me of late. I’m also toying with an idea called Exodus, which is about what could happen when the Sun swallows the earth in twenty billion years time. That’s the thing I love about science fiction: it opens the door for a wealth of possibilities, because science is the last ‘here be dragons’ thing we have. We don’t know where it’s going. In twenty billion years time, will humanity be the same or different? That’s interesting to me. What also interests me is people placed under extreme pressure, because pressure brings out that primeval side to human nature that’s almost animalistic. Pressure brings out the best and the worst in people, and leaves them with a very raw psyche. So there’s that. But on the flipside I love writing about love, because I feel like love is this magical, mysterious force that compels people to do inexplicable stuff, and that too creates pressure. Yes, Sketching Scarlett was a light-hearted comedy romp on the surface, but Caleb was also under a lot of pressure to make things right for Scarlett. Love is all too often not taken seriously as a writing topic, but that shouldn’t be the case, because it’s a powerful drug that can make people do crazy, crazy things.
You’ve also studied Film. Do you feel that this has influenced your fiction writing?
Oh, definitely. In fact, when I was young I started writing stories, then I was a teenager and wanted to become a film director/screenwriter, and now I’m back to novels. But studying Film helped because it allowed me to learn how to focus on the visual aspects of stories. In Film, you only have a hundred minutes to tell a story, so you can’t get bogged down in the details; you learn pacing and how to keep the audience on their toes. Coincidentally, one of the biggest things I think most writers need to work on more is their pacing and flow; that seems to be the feedback I give most often. Too much back story or description, and the reader gets lost.
You’re about to launch a blog, RuleBreaker. What are your plans for that?
RuleBreaker is designed to be a platform for people to have their voices heard. I’ve been very fortunate in that I’ve had my voice heard around the globe, but I wasn’t always successful in my endeavours; particularly in L.A, where more often than not you’re nobody unless you know somebody. When you’re trying to get your voice heard it often feels like it just won’t happen because your story isn’t quite tragic or inspirational enough. RuleBreaker wants to change that by giving people a chance to shine, without agenda; if people have something important they feel they need to say, I’ll consider it for publication. There’s also my online journal, which is updated daily and will allow people to get to know me on a personal level. My hope is that it’ll become like a giant online support network.
On your Facebook and Twitter pages you say that you’d like to make the world a better place. How in particular would you like to do that?
Truthfully, I believe there is no better medicine for this world than kindness and empathy. That was another reason behind starting RuleBreaker; when I was starting to study Film and beginning to network, I couldn’t believe how cold people could sometimes be. I mean, I know there are some weird people out there, but for the most part all fans want from you is a chat and a smile and to tell you how much they loved your work. So I decided that I would one day have something where, no matter how famous I became, fans could contact me and get a personalised response back. Honestly, we demonise others so often in this day and age, but it really isn’t necessary. I always try to see the best in people.
What other interests and activities are important in your life?
I love reading. I’m such an avid reader. And music, I love listening to music too. You’ve got no chance of me hearing you when I’ve got my headphones in. Music is my sanctuary. Facebook is important to me too because I have loved ones all over the world, and I like to check in with them at least a couple of times a day.
Finally, what question would you have liked me to ask that I didn’t?
‘What’s your favourite celebrity quote?’
And what is the answer?
“Remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Try to make sense of what you see and wonder about what makes the universe exist. Be curious. And however difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do and succeed at. It matters that you don’t just give up.” That was said by Stephen Hawking, who is a man I miss very much. There’s so much hope and potential contained within that statement, and it helps me to push forward every single day.
Thanks for those interesting and inspiring answers, Alice. Good luck with The Stars Rain Blood, Rulebreaker – and 2019!
And a Happy New Year to all!
You can find out more about Alice and her books via these links:
A very merry Christmas to all my readers!
Here’s a little bit of (not specifically festive) fun for you. At Holmfirth Writers a few weeks ago we had an unusual writing exercise. We were presented with some paint samples, all with exotic names, sometimes without any apparent connection to the actual colour. I thought ‘someone’s spent a lot of time thinking these up. Does the name really matter that much?’ On reflection, I decided that perhaps it might ….
“Mr Arkwright? Crispin Fulgate from Sage Consultancy. It’s a pleasure to meet you.”
Fulgate offered his hand. The Chief Executive looked him up and down before taking it, then encased it in such a crushing grip that it was quite numb by the time he released it.
“Oh yes, you’re that marketing feller, aren’t you. Come to help us sell us paint.”
“That’s right, Mr Arkwright. I’m here to help Yorkshire Paints become a global brand.”
The Chief Executive motioned for him to sit in one of the opulent leather armchairs, then sat down himself behind his enormous oak desk.
“Now listen here,” said Arkwright. “We’ve got the best paint in the world, no question. Our emulsion will cover anything in one coat, and it dries in five minutes flat. Our gloss is rock hard and shinier than a brass button – and it’s water based, ’an all. Stick that up your arse, Dulux! And our prices are lower than theirs. So why is no one buying the bloody stuff?”
Fulgate thought for a moment. “Well, perhaps it’s the colours – maybe you’re not offering people the shades they want. Tastes change, you know.”
“Bollocks! I’ve got a posh bird down in t’ lab who’s come up wi’ more fancy shades than you’ve ‘ad hot dinners. You name it, we’ve got it.”
“Would you like to show me some samples?”
“I’ll show yer as many as you like. ‘Ere you are, this is one of them fancy ones.”
“I see. Pale pink, with just the faintest hint of green. I say, that’s very subtle. I like it. What’s it called?”
“We call it ‘One Too Many Meat Pies’. Now look at this. One of our gloss paints, for wood and that.”
“Yes, it’s certainly shiny, as you say – I don’t know how you manage to achieve that with a water-based paint. Most impressive. And I like the colour too – that fiery reddish brown. Very striking.”
“Like I told you, our colours are brilliant. That one’s ‘Morning After The Vindaloo’. Here’s another emulsion.”
“Pink with a hint of purple – yes, nothing wrong with that. What’s it called?”
“That one’s ‘Our Barry’s Nose’. Likes a drink, does our Barry.”
Fulgate took a clipboard out of his briefcase and began to write some notes. “Hmmm, I think I’m beginning to see where your problem might lie, Mr Arkwright. Let me see a couple more samples, so I can test my hypothesis.”
“Here you go, then.”
“I see. White with a speckling of light brown. A nice effect. Once again, a perfectly good colour. But I’m wondering what the name is going to be.”
“Oh, there’s nothing wrong with that. Inoffensive, suggestive of a certain lifestyle and an accurate reflection of the colour. A perfectly good name for a paint shade.”
“No, d’you want a cappuccino? We’ve got one of them fancy coffee machines next door. The paint’s called ‘Who Just Dropped One?’
pic (c) Joyful spherical creature 2016