Not fate, just cats

A twitter poem that went down a side stream.

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Not fate,

not chance,

not wheeling stars in parabolas,

not black cats crossed or not,

made you leave,

just the shop glitter

of plastic grass

on the other side.

 

Cat sits

flits bat

cat knows

snows come

some stays

days and days.

 

Stars in eyes,

winter in thickening fur,

our fate pad padding in his step,

he watches you pass by

and in a blink is gone,

to hunt another heart.

Gentle knight of my heart

Twitter poetry prompts sometimes lead to an exchange of ideas in verse form. This is one ‘exchange’ I had with Luigi La Ragione, a twitter poet friend. Being more adventurous than I am, Luigi often writes verse in English too.

“Mare nero”
Era soltanto una canzone di Battisti,
ma ora è seta,
drappo mortale
disteso sul mondo.

Black sea
smooth as silk
funeral shroud
to stifle the cries
of those who do not go gentle
into the night.

Sono un bieco assassino:
non vado gentile nella notte.
Rabbia è il mio cibo,
nuvola la casa.

Blood on the hands
and black-stained heart
no home beneath the sun
no haven among the thunderclouds.

No home beneath the sun:
I’m just an errant knight,
on my head my dreams
so as a brilliant helmet.

That last stanza of Luigi’s inspired the following poem (just me, this one).
The painting is by Frank Dicksee
Redgirl_and_knight02

I call the hound strayed from the scent,
Take the reins of your wandering horse,
And lead you home through the darkling woods,
Oh, gentle knight of my heart.

You leave your helm at the open door,
Your pain at the garden gate,
You leave the world so dark and grim,
That tore your dreams apart.

You take your horse to the stable warm,
Your hound to the dancing hearth,
You take me in your arms so strong,
’gainst the night a stout rampart.

In the darkling woods the fox cubs play,
Where the moon fills the glade with light,
And you fill my house with joy once more,
Oh, my full heart’s gentle knight.

And the winners are…

Valentine’s Day is upon us, in case you haven’t noticed, and of course, the main event of the day (what you do later in the evening is your own business) is the announcement of the winners of the Grá mo Chroí poetry contest.

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We had a great response and some real little gems of poetry submitted. Nina Loard, poet, editor, and organiser of #fieryverse a tremendous twitter poetry site, very graciously agreed to act as judge. We are especially grateful as she was in the final stages of publishing Neverlasting, her anthology of love poetry.

Here are the three winning poems
1.
Deep water forests
of kelp and the moss
green bones of lost ships:
your city of silence
whose streets I cannot walk.

By Yvonne Marjot ‏@Alayanabeth

2.
She writes her love on the wind
In light upon the water
In the pure line of a tern’s dive
From blue to blue
Reading, he smiles.

By Harriet Goodchild ‏@HMGoodchild

3.
the warship left.

in hawthorn trees
yesterday
he twist a twig ring

now in grief,
hand on the back
of her neck

it became gold.

By John Feaster ‏@JohnFeasterB Feb 9

And four runners up because there were too many good poems to just choose three.

1.
She meets her love by starlight
A shiver & a shimmer
Two swans rise from the black water
By Harriet Goodchild ‏@HMGoodchild

2.
In a howling wind
the hunt goes past,
wild geese in skeins.
Herne himself,
writhing in mist,
shakes his spear
By . Yvonne Marjot ‏@Alayanabeth

3.
Arise with me
Before dawn
Awakens with its golden flame
Alone together
We’ll weave a fire
So bright it puts the sun to shame
By Éilis Niamh ‏@EilisNiamh

4.
Niamh wept emerald tears
for her lover of so many years
she kissed his lips
bid him farewell
the isle of Eire
his death knell
By Merry Maiden ‏@QueenofCups99

Congratulations to the winners and runners up, and many, many thanks to all the poets who entered the contest. I wish everyone could have won.
Thanks to, to Nina Loard, our judge. You can find the Neverlasting: Poetry of Love Lust & Lechery anthology here.
I wish you would—I have three poems in it ☺
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For the few people who haven’t yet got their copy, the Amazon links for Grá mo Chroí are here

Amazon.com
Amazon.co.uk

You can find all of Ali Isaac’s books here
Amazon.com
Amazon.co.uk

And mine here
Amazon.com
Amazon.co.uk

Grá mo Chroí poetry contest

Since Ali Isaac and I started on this retelling lark, we have been immersed in the language and the images of the tragedies of ancient people. We have both come to the conclusion that the sentiments of Iron Age people did not really diverge too much from our own, hence the poetry these stories have inspired us to write.
Being naturally reasonably sociable people, we would like to encourage anyone who feels the urge, to join in, let that poem out, and send it to the twitter hashtag:

#Gramochroi

Look on it as a contest. Get your tweet poems in before your midnight February 11th. Nina Loard of #Fieryverse has agreed to judge the entries. The two (I think it’s two!) winners will each receive a copy of one of our books.

Be inspired by long-haired girls running off with their chosen one, knives out to fight off pursuers, by death in treacherous ambush, sleeping and love potions, women transformed into hinds, warriors into boars, jealous kings, vengeful widows, undersea realms, horses that fly over the waves, and lovers who refuse to be parted even in death.

Edward_Burne-Jones_The_tomb_of_Tristram_and_Isoude

Thank you Mr Burne-Jones for coming up trumps again with an illustration.

Here’s the kind of thing we’re looking for:

The yew tree bows
beneath the weight of tears
and on a far hill
an apple tree reaches out
to her lost love.

(Jane)

Wind blows
Branches stir
Apple falls like a tear
Heart and body broken
Lost love stabs
Like a spear.

(Ali)

Just visit #Gramochroi to see lots more examples. And don’t forget to leave your own offering.

Spam, irritation, and the twitterverse

Talking about social media—because we were, weren’t we? Twitter’s a funny thing too. A few minutes ago I saw that a gentleman wearing full Saudi sheik gear was following me. I went to his profile and saw just scrolls and scrolls of arabic script so I didn’t follow back. I mean, why would I? He could be ranting off about anything and I wouldn’t be any the wiser. A minute later he’d gone. He’d given me about two minutes to decide to follow back or he wasn’t playing.

It made me think that I really don’t understand what makes twitter users tick. At first I just watched in consternation as the jumble of ads, spams, and incoherent, meaningless messages scrolled past. Then I discovered twitter poetry prompts and settled into a little backwater of the twitter stream full of little gems of poetic imagery. It’s fun, useful, and entertaining. I slip in a plug for my own books every couple of weeks but since I don’t believe it makes one iota of difference, it’s not something I do with any conviction or perseverance.

I follow back many of the people who follow me as long as they’re not selling anything or promoting hate or some religion or other. Often these followers come through the poetry connection. Others though seem to be simply working their way through the entire twitterverse starting with the letter A. What good does it do me in any way whatsoever to be followed by a Saudi sheik or a computer programmer in Seattle, or a lady who knits lace doilies in Hong Kong? Often their twitter feed is just a constant dribble of : Thanks for the follow. What intellectual stimulation is there to be got out of the kind of messages that are composed half of hashtags and half of single letters or contractions and numbers instead of words? Why do people follow twitters who don’t even use the same alphabet? How the hell do you know what they’re tweeting about?

So many questions. Any answers?

I wrote that a few days ago. That was before I reached the tipping point with spam demands. I know this strikes a chord with a lot of people. You accept a friend request or return a twitter follow and your inbox or DM box starts pinging away like crazy with messages like: Thanks for the follow, now follow me on FB/ follow this Amazon link and buy my book/ go to my profile and RT my book ads. Who do they think I am? A social service for wannabee best sellers? Do I really have nothing better to do with my time than spend it puffing up complete unknowns who won’t even say thank you? I’d have to be suffering from terminal boredom to do half what these people expect.

I’m quite prepared to admit that there is a way of using social media to get readers for my books. I just haven’t found it yet. I have though found lots of ways in which social media would drive potential readers away. So far away they would never come back. I have a theory that the advocates of using social media for saturation spamming have an evil ulterior motive. By encouraging other authors to jump into the spammers’ black hole, they clear the way for themselves to gain readers using the more subtle methods they aren’t letting on about.

As we all know by now, selling books isn’t about the quality of the writing, it’s about the way you put it over. There are quite a few popular expressions to describe the process—none of them very complimentary. As Susan Toy points out in her excellent article I have just taken the liberty of reblogging, if what you are looking for is readers not sales, the tactics are completely different. Then, you just have to write a great book, offer it to people, and thank them heartily if and when they enjoyed it and tell you so. That’s maybe how we authors should count our success.

End of rant.

Where does your time go?

Over the last few weeks I have been working on a project that is almost finished. And it has been taking all my time. Face Book is something I only glance at to check for messages, Readwave and another writers’ network I belong to, I have no time to read. Blogging is reduced to posting the poem I have been fiddling with when I should have been writing pages of manuscript, and Twitter provides light relief in the exchange of micropoems. Though since I have nothing to plug yet, Twitter’s use as a part of my extensive promotional platform is not yet evident.

I worry though, that if I don’t post, chat, tweet, or exchange meaningless banter on FB I will sink into oblivion, my author persona will go into meltdown and nobody will want to read my books. Ever.

But will it? To keep up with all of these different forms of writerly distraction is a full-time occupation. Where do I get the time to write? Do other writers find it so easy to switch from their WIP about, say, paranormal experiences in eighteenth century Poland, to chatting about cats on FB, blogging about the slugs in the garden, or tweeting poetry about trees and seagulls? I know I can’t do it. When I write I am totally absorbed in a particular atmosphere, historical period, and characters who have become real people. I can’t dot about from one way of thinking to another.

I am only writing this post because I have finished an overhaul of the entire text and I’m drawing breath before going back over it again. I freely admit to putting off all the unpleasant, but essential jobs, to cooking boring, samey meals because I can’t waste time thinking up new, interesting things. I don’t go out unless I have to, and hate talking to people because it distracts me from the conversations I’m having in my head.

So, how do other authors treat their social platforms? How do you reconcile plunging into a unique world, creating it block by block, and chatting on FB? Do you set aside a certain time of day to devote to ‘catching up’ even if you’re on a roll with the story you’re writing? What about family and professional life; where do they fit in? Do you sleep? I’d be interested to know how it’s done.

Social networking

Social networking is the bane of my life. Well one of them. And I know I’m not alone. Either you are like me, and find it heavy going, or you love it and spend far too much time playing around instead of working. Lately I’ve been making a big effort to sharpen up my social media skills.

I get blogging; it’s almost stream of consciousness rambling, a jotting down of random thoughts and ideas. It could even be a medium for testing ideas for stories. It’s certainly a wonderful use for the short snippets of writing that my mind anyway churns out as a sideline while I’m writing more serious stuff.

I can see the point of Facebook it’s quick and immediate, and is a relatively painless way of getting a piece of news out. I even worked out the idea behind Pinterest and have started to splatter my ‘boards’ with pretty pictures. Even though I don’t know what use it is as a tool for writers, I could easily spend a pleasant half hour browsing through other people’s pretty pictures.

But Twitter continues to evade me. I have tweeted. Twice in fact. But it’s rather like the quip of the pensioner taken on a daytrip to the seaside for the first time in her life and plonked in a deckchair on the front. When asked:
“How do you like the sea then, Doris?” she replied, “It’s all right I suppose, but is that all it does?”

This is exactly my problem with Twitter. What does it do? How do you join in? And join in with what? I’ve read tweets, and well, honestly! This is meant to be the social networking tool par excellence and I know I am missing some important point. The expression hash tags has something to do with the gap in my knowledge, and so does retweeting. Maybe when I find out what those expressions mean, the scales will drop from my eyes, and behold! Twitter will be revealed to me in all its splendour. Maybe.

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