before sun’s pink fingertips brush the face of mother earth by the sacred pool clouds swirl, circle murmurs rise in silver streams coalesce in dew-drop webs while incantations spill silently from her lips enchantments whispering in the mist
A big thank you to everyone who fished me out and dragged me dripping from your spam folders this week, frequently clutching a pile of repeated comments. Dusted down and dried out, you kindly unspammed my messages, and now 🤞 normal service has been resumed.
I’m not sure if those ‘Happiness Engineers’ had a hand in it. They didn’t say. But anyway, I’m happily back to making my usual round of visits, reading and commenting on your wonderful words 😊
‘What happened to the bracelet, Mr Eyre, I thought it was in one of your pockets?’ Bryony whispered as they were marched away; Mr Eyre winked and whispered back, ‘like any good conjurer, I’ve hidden it up my sleeve.’
‘No talking!’ ordered Captain Stinger; Mr Eyre smiled disarmingly at their captor, ‘I beg your pardon, but my young companion and I were just wondering on what charge you might be holding us?’
‘You have been found in blatant contravention of the Owl-King’s Special Directive on the Unauthorised Possession of the Written Word,’ Captain Stinger prodded Bryony’s shoulder with the blunt end of his segmented stinger.
Mr Eyre and Bryony exchanged a puzzled glance, ‘and where might we be going?’ asked Mr Eyre mildly, seemingly unfazed at being found in breach of such a nonsensical law; the Captain glared back at him, ‘not only that, you are clearly Other-Worlders and not to be trusted, we are therefore taking you to a special secret location.
They tramped on until they came to a rough-hewn wooden bridge leading over a narrow ravine, where the Captain announced: ‘prepare to cross the Divideof the Owl-King!
Heavy hoods were slipped over the prisoners’ heads.
/….to be continued.
NOTE! If I’ve dropped a like on your response to either of the challenges but not left a comment, please check your spam. For some reason, many of my comments have been swept away there by Askimet this week.
Have you noticed I’ve been a bit quiet on the comments front?
Have I just popped in a ‘like’ and run away?
Well, it looks like my witty quips and encouraging asides may have gone astray. It seems they may have been swept up into your spam folder. But I have no idea why.
It hasn’t happened to all of them but it started at 1a.m. PST on Tuesday 12 October. I’ve dropped a note to a few folk and those who’ve seen and checked have found my missing words in their spam folders (thank you all! 😊🙏).
I’ve contacted the ‘Happiness Engineers’ too.
For contributors to Sadje’s WDYS, to Di at Pensitivity 101‘s Wednesday 3TC, Denise’s happy band of Sixerians, and anyone who regularly hears from me, if you see a ‘like’ but no comment, it’s a pound to a penny my comment is in your spam… if you have a moment, please track it down and approve it. Maybe then Askimet will stop whisking my words away and hiding them.
I don’t know how long this will last… but please don’t think I’m ignoring you. I’m missing our happy exchanges already. 😢
A few weeks ago, I was delighted to discover that my historical fantasy fiction novel ‘Following the Green Rabbit’ was the subject of an episode of author and reader, Jean Lee’s wonderful ‘Story Cuppings’ podcasts. In this series – for picky readers and busy writers – Jean reads and discusses the first chapter of her chosen book, giving listeners a feel for the author’s writing craft and a sense of the story to come. Jean has a superb reading voice and her analysis is warm and insightful. So, I invite you to settle down with a cup of your chosen beverage and listen to what she has to say about my first chapter…
Bethany followed Hans and Greta, who scurried off through the woods, their short legs scuffing up the leaf litter in fountains of foliage. Their house, which Bethany had almost expected to be made of gingerbread, such was the similarity of the pair to the almost-namesakes of her daydreams, soon came into view.
Greta ushered Bethany inside, while Hans pulled the front door closed behind them, leaning back against it with an obvious sigh of relief, ‘you don’t think anyone saw us do you, sister?’ he said anxiously, glancing at Bethany, ‘if Captain Stinger and his patrol…’
‘Hush, brother,’ interrupted Greta; she turned to Bethany, ‘please sit down, my dear, while we decide what’s best to do next,’ she gave Hans a sideways glance, ‘rest assured we will not be handing you over to anyone.’
Hans, alerted by the sound of marching feet, rushed outside to greet the approaching patrol, allaying any suspicions with much bowing and scraping, while beyond the patrol’s line of sight, Greta and Bethany peered from the kitchen window: ‘I pity anyone who falls into the clutches of the Owl-King,’ whispered Greta, noticing the two prisoners.
Bethany gasped: ‘those two prisoners are my sister and our tutor!’
Cogs whirr, chains clank pistons pump and gears crank hang onto your hats and don’t look down Bethelbert’s ride is the best in town feast your eyes on the folk down there open-mouthed they stand and stare passing over the hills and dales the ocean’s in sight, do you see those whales? clouds above and sea below which way’s up I’d love to know hold on tight and live your dream in Bethelbert’s marvellous mystery machine!
It’s my great pleasure to welcome Elizabeth Gauffreau to this month’s Launch Pad spot. Like me, you may already be familiar with Liz through herblog, and others of you will know her through her wonderful novel, Telling Sonny, a book I thoroughly enjoyed when I read it earlier this year.
So, let’s find out a little bit more about her. We’ll start with her official author bio:
Elizabeth Gauffreau writes fiction and poetry with a strong connection to family and place. She holds a BA in English/Writing from Old Dominion University and an MA in English/Fiction Writing from the University of New Hampshire. After a misbegotten stint teaching high school English and Latin, she spent her career in nontraditional higher education.
Her recent literary magazine publications include Woven Tale Press, Dash, Pinyon, Aji, Open: Journal of Arts & Letters, and Evening Street Review. Her fiction and poetry have also been featured in several themed anthologies, including Ad Hoc Monadnock, Shifts: An Anthology of Women’s Growth through Change,When Last on the Mountain: The View from Writers over Fifty, Familiar, and Poetry Leaves. Her 2018 debut novel, Telling Sonny, was inspired by a family secret and a lot of research into small-time vaudeville.
Liz lives in Nottingham, New Hampshire with her husband. Their daughter has flown the nest to sunny California.
Liz’s new book of poetry, Grief Songs – Poems of Love & Remembrance, is just out. It’s a deeply moving collection of poetry which speaks to an album of her family photographs. I just finished reading it yesterday, such a wonderful bitter-sweet collection, it moved me deeply. You can read my review here.
Now, let me hand over to Liz to tell us about the background to her new release.
Thank you for hosting me on your blog, Chris. I greatly appreciate it.
I am a fiction writer by training, so I never expected to be releasing a book of poetry, much less a book of poetry written in tanka. However, being a part of our wonderful blogging community for the past several years has given me the inspiration to take my writing in new directions and the courage to publish the results for others to read.
Grief Songs started with the last poem in the collection, “Portland Head Autumnal,” although I had no way of knowing that when I wrote the poem. I had been following Colleen Chesebro’s poetry blog, “Word Craft: Prose & Poetry,” for some time and growing more and more curious to try my hand at syllabic poetry adapted from Japanese, such as haiku and tanka. I wrote “Portland Head Autumnal” as a tanka after a trip to Portland Head Light in Maine on a cold, gray, windy day in September when I could not recall any time I had been to Portland Head when the sky and water were gray, rather than bright blue.
Two months later, my mother died, leaving me the last person in my immediate family. As people do, I turned to the family photograph albums in an attempt to keep my mother with me just a little longer. As part of that process, lines of poetry started coming to me. Tanka seemed the appropriate form to give those lines shape and purpose. In the book, photographs are paired with poems to tell the story of a loving family lost.
Grief is a deeply personal experience, yet it’s an experience many of us have in common, particularly as we get older. What prompted my decision to go ahead with publishing Grief Songs were readers’ responses to some of the individual poems I shared. The poems prompted fond memories of their own loved ones. For me, striking a responsive chord with a reader’s own experience in any number of different ways is what poetry is all about.
Thanks again, Chris, for featuring Grief Songs: Poems of Love & Remembrance on your blog and giving me the opportunity to share my thoughts with your readers.
When a loved one dies, the family will often turn to the photograph albums as an act of solace, to keep their loved one with them just a little while longer, Grief Songs: Poems of Love & Remembrance arose from that experience. The collection opens with three free verse expressions of raw grief, followed by a series of photographs from the author’s family album, each paired with a poem written in tanka. Taken together, they tell the story of a loving family lost.
Praise for Grief Songs
“A beautiful, personal collection of family photos and poems that express the author’s most inner feelings. Nostalgic and heartfelt, Gauffreau’s poems are written in the Japanese style of tanka, simple, thoughtful, and full of love. Filled with wonderful memories of the past.”
~Kristi Elizabeth, Manhattan Book Review
“Poetry readers willing to walk the road of grief and family connections will find Grief Songs: Poems of Love & Remembrance a psychological treasure trove. It’s a very accessible poetic tribute that brings with it something to hold onto–the memories and foundations of past family joys, large and small.”
~Diane Donovan, Midwest Book Review
So lovely, I’ve watched it again and again…
Grief Songs is available in paperback and ebook from all your favourite online bookstores – buy it here
Although their previous dalliance with other-worldly travel had led to a certain equanimity in how to handle unfamiliar situations, nothing had quite prepared Bryony and Mr Eyre with the sight which confronted them now.
They were surrounded by a small group of black-bearded fellows, dressed in indigo army fatigues and wielding weapons reminding Mr Eyre of the stingers found on wasps and other vespids; the overall effect would have been rather intimidating but for their small stature and the incredibly large pointy ears poking out from beneath their caps.
‘Other-Worlders!’ exclaimed one who, from the elaborate insignia adorning his cap, must be the captain; he craned his neck in an attempt to look Mr Eyre in the eye, ‘ready your weapons, men,’ his eyes switched back and forth between his prisoners, ‘these could be tricky customers.’
Six stingers began to buzz; the captain pointed first at Bryony and then Mr Eyre, ‘Turn out your pockets!’
Mr Eyre offered Bryony a reassuring nod before emptying the pockets of his tweed jacket of everything from bus tickets to bits of string; Bryony pulled her notebook from her pinafore pocket and held it out.
‘Word-Peddler, eh?’ said the captain with a sinister smirk.