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Guest Post: ‘Nature Is Imagination Itself’ by Hilde Weisert

“The tree which moves some to tears of joy is in the eyes of others only a green thing that stands in the way. Some see nature all ridicule and deformity… and some scarce see nature at all. But to the eyes of a man of imagination, nature is imagination itself.”  ―William Blake, in a letter.

William Blake is one of the first poets I loved to read.  Perhaps it was his darker poetry or maybe it was his drawings in the collection I had. The quote above is just a glimpse at his poetic thought.  Today, Poet Hilde Weisert offers her thoughts on nature and inspiration.

Please give her a warm welcome.

That quote from a letter of William Blake’s is especially apropos right now, with yesterday Earth Day and a day of Marches for Science around the world, and Poetry Month the month we are in. What Blake saw is what we need to see now, that there is no separation between the natural world and our complementary ways of seeing and understanding it, through science and through the imagination.

I stumbled on the quote late one night many years ago when I was desperately paging through books looking for inspiration for a poem I was expected, as poet in residence at a large school system, to write, and then to read to the entire faculty on the opening day of school – the next day! It was to be an original poem on the theme for the year: Science, and specifically what the rainforest can teach us about diversity.

That is clearly a brilliant concept (the woman who conceived the program was and is a brilliant woman) and a great way to introduce poetry outside the usual “poetry unit.” I had educated myself enough about the rainforest to know, conceptually, that it indeed has volumes to teach us about diversity – millions of different life forms all existing in harmony, interdependence, and beauty. But write a poem about that? By 11 PM on the eve of my reading, the floor around my desk was littered with crumpled sheets from my yellow legal pad, each with some variation of why the rainforest is good, and why we should preserve it, and how our lives depend on it, and if its diversity matters, children, so does yours.

Like political or preaching “poems” so often are, all just words. Words coming from my head, and even my heart – because I did truly care about the rainforest and certainly about diversity – but there was some other essential part of poetry-making that was not engaged.

And then I found the excerpt from a letter of Blake’s. Nature is imagination itself.

That’s what’s at stake. If we lose our ability to see the natural world, we lose something essential inside ourselves, what W.S. Merwin said, in his Inaugural Address as Poet Laureate in 2010, may be what makes us uniquely human. And allows us to see the many ways in which we are, gloriously, different from and yet connected to all the beings in the natural world, as well as each other. To celebrate, with a kind of tingle in our imagination-nerve, when science discovers that the octopus, far from being mentally slow and lumbering, is remarkably intelligent and constantly learning. That trees, according to David Haskell in The Songs of Trees, are “nature’s great connectors,” part of vast networks. That crows know the faces of people who have harmed them.

For those of us in the northern hemisphere, National Poetry Month coincides with spring; in the southern hemisphere, with fall. Both are seasons that offer daily opportunities to see all around us the marvels that (I will change Blake’s line a little) a person of imagination can see. Which, I believe, can give us poetry, and give us ourselves.

What about you? What is essential to your imagination?

***

Here’s the poem I wrote, with Blake’s help.

Imagination Itself

To the eyes of the man of imagination,
Nature is imagination itself.
— William Blake

Who needs half a million unpronounceable forms of life
Half a world away? Ah, you do, they say,
And enumerate the ways:

          Glues, dyes, inks,
          Peanuts, melons, tea,
          Golf balls, paint, and gum,
          Mung beans, lemons, rice,
          And a fourth of all the medicines you take,
          And a fifth of all the oxygen you breathe,
          And countless life-prolonging secrets their wild cousins know
          to tell the Iowa corn and the garden tomato.
          And if that's not enough, think of rubber-
          and where we'd all be, rattling down the Interstate
          on wooden wheels.

And that's only the stuff we know how to use,
And that's only the half-million species we know how to name.

And in the time it took to tell you this
Five thousand acres more are gone.
And by the time that this year's kindergarten class
is thirty-five, most of what is now alive —

But wait. What if — What if this deluge of mind-boggling
statistical connectedness were, true as it is,
only the least of it? What if the real necessity
were of another kind, the connection
not with what you consume, or do, but who you are?

With your own imagination, the necessity there
of places that have not been cleared to till,
of the luxury of all that buzzing in the deep,
of a glimpse of feather or translucent insect wing
a color that's so new it tells you light and sound
are, indeed, just matters of degree, and makes your vision hum

And makes you think the universe could hum
in something like the wild, teeming equilibrium
of the rain forest.

From The Scheme of Things, David Robert Books, 2015, and published originally in The Sun.

About the Poet:

Hilde Weisert‘s collection The Scheme of Things was published in 2015 by David Robert Books. Her poem, “The Pity of It,” was winner of the 2016 Tiferet Poetry Award, and she’s had poems in such magazines as Ms, Prairie Schooner, The Cortland Review, Calyx, and several anthologies. She lives in Chapel Hill, N.C., and Sandisfield, Mass.

Interrobang by Jessica Piazza

Source: AWP Purchase
Paperback, 72 pgs.
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Interrobang by Jessica Piazza is mostly a collection of sonnets that explore a series of phobias and obsessions that often cause us to go over the edge or come very close to our own destruction. This inner turmoil is rarely seen by outsiders or if it is, it is ignored. Piazza brings these obsessions and fears into the light to share with us just how constraining they can be, but there is also an undercurrent of letting loose and a rolling with the punches as they come.

From "Lilapsophobia" (pg. 24)

... But flood's not much
compared with these cyclonic days. No way
to gauge you: wrath or pleasure, unfixed track
away or toward. Untoward, you leave no wake.

Imagine that sleep is the quiet that soothes your fears, imagine to that the light is not hope but something that is jarring and humbling. This is how Piazza’s poems pack their punches, lulling the reader into a known world only to shake them awake with a new world view — one that is a little disturbing. “Antephilia” (Love of Ruin) is one of the most phenomenal poems in the collection, exploring the wreck of a dysfunctional relationship with graveyard imagery and more. Piazza has taken the mess and created a love that leaves a lasting impression in its dysfunction without delving too far into the melodrama of these lives.

Meanwhile, “Pediophilia” (Love of Dolls) almost becomes an ode to loss and the filling up of the emptiness where a daughter once was, only to find it full of creepy dolls in an orphanage devoid of joy and life. Piazza’s imagery is haunting and devastating, and readers will have to force themselves to take it all in, rather than turn away. These poems want you to take notice of the darkness, of the mess, of the emptiness so that you can be ready for the collection’s conclusion and it’s minor note of hope and change.

Jessica Piazza is a talented wordsmith who can weave pictures that will sear into readers’ minds. Her poems in Interrobang are going to force you to look into the darkness so long that the bright light is almost to blinding to see.

RATING: Cinquain

About the Poet:

Jessica Piazza is the author of three poetry collections: “Interrobang” (Red Hen Press), “This is not a sky” (Black Lawrence Press) and, with Heather Aimee O’Neill, “Obliterations” (Red Hen Press, forthcoming). Originally from Brooklyn, NY, she holds a Ph.D. in Creative Writing and English Literature from the University of Southern California, an M.A. in English Literature /Creative Writing from the University of Texas at Austin and a B.S. in Journalism from Boston University. She is co-founder of Gold Line Press and Bat City Review, and curates the Poetry Has Value blog (a must read), which explores the intersections of poetry, money and worth.

Dear Almost by Matthew Thorburn

Source: Purchased
Paperback, 88 pgs.
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Dear Almost: A Poem by Matthew Thorburn, which toured with Poetic Book Tours, is a book length poem exploring a year-long tangle with grief after a miscarriage.  Broken into the four seasons, the poem rises and falls with the ebb and flow of melancholy. It attempts to illustrate the loss of what could have been or what almost was or even what you wanted to be.  It’s the loss of potential … the loss of discovery of that being.

From "Once in Early Spring" (pg. 3)

"So that her flight is
flighty, a hop and flap
flutter skip from
branch to branch to
lower branch -- here-ing
and there-ing -- then
the branch dips"

Thorburn relies not only on the natural world to demonstrate fleeting life or the sudden drop off that catches us off-guard emotionally, but also the wider urban world he notices walking with his wife or when he is alone on the streets. Despite the emptiness the narrator feels at the lost one-ounce life he’d imagined taking flight, there are moments of creative imagining, a filling in of what could have been or might have been had things turned out differently. What’s absolutely stunning is how true it all is, particularly:

From "Once in Early Spring" (pg. 11)

"My own words fall

away now, sound weird,
off, odd jangle-clang
in the ear like when
we say something again
and again until
it slips loose of its mooring,
its meaning, so that
we wind up staring"

Grief often paralyzes us, makes us sound unlike ourselves and unable to articulate what is happening to us emotionally. It is even harder for us to connect with others who reach out to us to help us through that pain, and many times we choose to withdraw, to forget, to hold that grief unto ourselves because we don’t know how to express it, how to share it, or how to process and let it go.

From "Three Deer Beneath the Autumn Moon" (pg. 44)

"this hurt is like a burr
hooked in the haunch
of a deer: I carry it with me
all day.  I think of you still,

so still, not there anymore"

Dear Almost: A Poem by Matthew Thorburn is beautiful in its attempt to articulate that which we cannot explain or even deal with.

RATING: Cinquain

About the Poet:

Matthew Thorburn is the author of six collections of poetry, including the book-length poem Dear Almost (Louisiana State University Press, 2016) and the chapbook A Green River in Spring (Autumn House Press, 2015), winner of the Coal Hill Review chapbook competition. His previous collections include This Time Tomorrow (Waywiser Press, 2013), Every Possible Blue (CW Books, 2012), Subject to Change, and an earlier chapbook, the long poem Disappears in the Rain (Parlor City Press, 2009). His work has been recognized with a Witter Bynner Fellowship from the Library of Congress, as well as fellowships from the Bronx Council on the Arts and the Sewanee Writers’ Conference. His interviews with writers appear on the Ploughshares blog as a monthly feature. He lives in New York City, where he works in corporate communications.

Ada Twist, Scientist by Andrea Beaty, illustrated by David Roberts

Source: Purchased
Hardcover, 32 pgs.
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Ada Twist, Scientist by Andrea Beaty, illustrated by David Roberts, is a delightful story of a young girl bubbling over with so many questions and problems to solve. She reminds me so much of my daughter and her endless questions about why things are and how they became. Many kids inquire, but like Ada, they need to be encouraged to explore, to experiment, to create, and to discover. Ada is a strong girl who is not afraid of failure, with each mishap she begins again, returning to her same questions and moving forward with each new piece of information she learns.

Her parents and teachers have no idea what to do with her inquiring mind, and even when they put her in the “thinking” chair, it’s hard for Ada to stop her exploring and wondering. My daughter and I are just beginning her exploring from rock discovery kits to scientific explosions and creating slime. It’s wonderful to share with her the knowledge I learned and to see how she uncovers the connections and has fun doing so.

The poetry in Beaty’s book is fantastic, if a little awkward in some places. But overall, children will get the bug — the discovery bug — and want to find out for themselves how the world operates and what is going on around them. Ada Twist, Scientist by Andrea Beaty, illustrated by David Roberts, is delightful, and my daughter and I cannot wait to check out the other kids books she has about kids dreaming big, doing great things, and having fun too.

RATING: Cinquain

About the Author:

Andrea Beaty was raised in southern Illinois in a town so small she knew everybody and their pets. And they all knew her. She was one of six kids and spent our summer days traipsing through the fields and forests hunting for adventure. She was a big reader as a kid and LOVED Nancy Drew and Trixie Beldon Mysteries. Then Andrea moved on to Agatha Christie books and then the classics. She attended Southern Illinois University and studied Biology and Computer Science. After that, she worked for a computer software company. Now, she lives in Chicago with her family. Visit her website. Follow her on Twitter and Pinterest.

Also, check out David Roberts’ illustrations online.

Guest Post & Giveaway: My Mr. Darcy & Your Mr. Bingley by Linda Beutler

Today, I’d like to welcome Linda Beutler to the blog to talk about her latest Pride & Prejudice variation and the poetry. But first, read a little about her book below:

About the Book:

One never quite knows where the inspiration will strike. For award-winning author Linda Beutler and My Mr. Darcy & Your Mr. Bingley, the moment of genesis arrived in a particularly contentious thread at the online forum A Happy Assembly. What is the nature of personal responsibility? Where do we draw the line between Mr. Bingley being too subject to Mr. Darcy’s “persuasion” and Mr. Darcy playing too heavily on Mr. Bingley’s “sensibility”? This is a conundrum guaranteed to raise even more questions.

What happens to the plot and character dynamics of Pride & Prejudice if Mr. Bingley is given just a dash more spine? Or if Jane Bennet decides enough embarrassment is too much? How does Mr. Darcy manage the crucial apology a more stalwart Mr. Bingley necessitates he make? What if Mr. Darcy meets relations of Elizabeth Bennet’s for whom she need not blush on their home turf rather than his? Suffice it to say, this is a story of rebuked pride, missing mail, a man with “vision”, a frisky cat, and an evening gown that seems to have its own agenda.

Please check out her post on Dark Poetry and Othello:

Thanks, Serena, for hosting a stop on the My Mr. Darcy & Your Mr. Bingley blog tour here at Savvy Verses and Wit. The focus of your interest in verse and poetry has afforded me the opportunity to revisit my favorite chapter of the book through a new filter, even though I had no thoughts of writing verses when I wrote it! Poetry isn’t always light and happy and flowers that bloom in the spring, tra-la. By setting the chapter in question during a performance of Othello, the narrative could go to a much unhappier place, inhabited by a scorned lover and a lady consumed by regret, following the lead of that most masterful poet, Shakespeare. Let me explain…

One could go on at great length to describe the poetry in prose, and I shall try to avoid excess! During my years as an English major, my tastes evolved away from poetry as such, perhaps due to becoming exhausted with fretting over the components of it to the detriment of simple emotional enjoyment (scansion and meter and rhymes—oh my!). However, in one particular chapter in My Mr. Darcy & Your Mr. Bingley, I did get a chance to delve back into my poetic roots, in the darkest portion of my story and its link to Othello.

In chapter 15, Of All the Theatres in London, Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet take in an evening at the theatre, watching Othello in adjoining boxes not even two weeks after their disastrous conversation at Hunsford. There are several reasons I chose Othello, the most important of which are that it gives a real-life London actress, Mrs. Siddons, a chance to portray a character much younger than herself at the time of the story (which Mrs. Siddons typically did, vain creature!); that Othello is arguably the bleakest of Shakespeare’s plays (we can see the ending coming ten miles off and are powerless to stop it or look away, and such a wicked villain); Othello was the first Shakespeare I saw staged by a professional company (the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland, Oregon) and the performance thoroughly opened my eyes to the poetry that is Shakespeare.

Although at various points the chapter unfolds through different perspectives, we end with Elizabeth’s point of view before the omniscient narrator ties everything up with a neat if dismal black ribbon. Even in a darkened theatre, it is a highly visual scene, the sort that might have easily been added to Othello. Elizabeth is fearful of Darcy’s mood. Darcy already feels himself to be a damned soul—with nothing to lose. Their relatives are there to see the full display of their mutual discomfort. Elizabeth is in a stunning gown, yet she (unlike Darcy) is the one spending more time staring. And yet, neither Darcy nor Elizabeth witness their own actions with anything approaching accuracy. It is their families who truly come to understand something has happened.

If we look at Darcy and Elizabeth in this scene as Othello and Desdemona, there is one key difference. In Shakespeare’s play, Desdemona is an unwitting innocent. Her trust in her husband (and indeed everyone, more like a Jane Bennet) has been played against her. Desdemona meets her death scene unwittingly. But Elizabeth Bennet knows she has acted wrongly. She has maligned Darcy unjustly and vociferously. She knows she has hurt him, and this unexpected meeting reveals just how much.

And of course Darcy does not wish to murder Elizabeth, but he does wish himself anywhere else but in this particular theatre. If he could snuff out his attachment to her, he would. And yet, at the key moment of the play, when Mrs. Siddons chews up the scenery whilst being strangled, Elizabeth drops her shawl and Darcy does the gentlemanly thing, bending into the adjoining box to fetch it up. Elizabeth thinks she successfully fights the urge to touch his hair with compassion (his head is briefly near her knees). Everyone except Darcy sees the attenuated spasm of her fingers.

Mrs. Siddons dies with a flamboyant gasp as Elizabeth’s love for Darcy sparks to life. Shouts of “Brava!” do not penetrate Elizabeth’s deepening internal shame. Darcy and Elizabeth leave the theatre with superficial anger, but much deeper sadness. Yes, if I do say so myself, with the example of the poetry of Othello before me, it might be the closest I’ve ever come to writing a prose poem. It has what I see as the typical elements of dark epic poetry: strong visual imagery, a clear plot, determined manipulation of the emotions of both the characters and the readers, not a happy ending in sight.

It has long been debated whether poetry has the more adept and profound ability to elicit emotion than does prose. I would rather say it is when prose nears the poetic that it has any emotional power at all. It is when they join, when an author can provide the imagery and action regardless of the niceties of rhythm and rhyme, that sensation is evoked in the reader. With the emotional veracity and imagery of Othello before me, both as vivid memory and the open pages of the text, I hope readers will connect with a distraught Elizabeth and Darcy, comprehending them as I do, and as they cannot comprehend themselves.

~~~~~

I must say this in defense of lighter verse: In my next story, a mash-up of Jane Austen and P. G. Wodehouse, one character is given to limericks of adoration! And if you really want a brilliantly bawdy ballad, I urge your readers to keep an eye out for a forthcoming Meryton Press title, Mistaken, by Jessie Lewis, due out later this year. Thanks again, Serena, for your support of My Mr. Darcy & Your Mr. Bingley, and the kind attention of your readers!

Thank you Linda for sharing your thoughts on poetry, Shakespeare, and your novel for National Poetry Month.

About the Author:

Linda Beutler’s professional life is spent in a garden, an organic garden housing America’s foremost public collection of clematis vines and a host of fabulous companion plants. Her home life reveals a more personal garden, still full of clematis, but also antique roses and vintage perennials planted around and over a 1907 cottage. But one can never have enough of gardening, so in 2011 she began cultivating a weedy patch of Jane Austen Fan Fiction ideas. The first of these to ripen was The Red Chrysanthemum (Meryton Press, 2013), which won a silver IPPY for romance writing in 2014. You might put this down as beginner’s luck—Linda certainly does.  The next harvest brought Longbourn to London (Meryton Press, 2014), known widely as “the [too] sexy one”. In 2015 Meryton Press published the bestseller A Will of Iron, a macabre rom-com based on the surprising journals of Anne de Bourgh.

Now, after a year-long break in JAFF writing to produce Plant Lovers Guide to Clematis (Timber Press, 2016)—the third in a bouquet of books on gardening—we have My Mr. Darcy and Your Mr. Bingley bursting into bloom.  The eBook is available on Amazon; paperbacks coming soon.

Visit her on Twitter, Facebook, and on her website.

Giveaway:

Enter the giveaway for one of 8 eBooks; It’s open internationally.

Terms and Conditions:

Readers may enter the drawing by tweeting once a day and daily commenting on a blog post that has a giveaway attached for the tour. (1 comment/blog post) Entrants should provide the name of the blog where they commented (which will be verified). You may enter once by following the author on twitter and once by following the author on Facebook.

Remember, tweet daily and comment once per post with a giveaway to earn extra entries. Each winner will be randomly selected by Rafflecopter.

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Good Luck!

The Writer’s Guide to Poetry

The Writer’s Guide to Poetry features essays from 11 award-winning poets such as Anne Lamott, Dorothea Lasky, Iain Thomas, Susan Wooldridge, and others who share insights into the art and craft of poetry.

***Free to Download***

The guide also contains artist Nathan Gelgud’s illustrations of poems by Margaret Atwood, Allen Ginsberg, and Madeleine L’Engle. Highlights from the guide include:

  • Insights from 11 award-winning poets.
  • Advice on how to overcome imposter syndrome.
  • 3 classic poems illustrated by artist Nathan Gelgud.
  • Anne Lamott on the devils of perfectionism.
  • Important tips on “telling it slant.”

Check out this illustration by Nathan Gelgud below:

Nathan Gelgud’s illustration of “This Is a Photograph of Me” by Margaret Atwood

Feel free to click on the image and visit Nathan’s website.

Anyone who reads or writes poetry knows that it is a fickle beast, and if there’s anything that gets the muse talking, it’s essays from some great poets and the poems they’ve written.

Also, Signature has a list of 28 books of poetry that you should read this month.  I’ve read Citizen and When My Brother Was an Aztec, and both were very good for different reasons.  If you read any from this list, I’d love to hear what you thought.

Animal Ark: Celebrating Our Wild World in Poetry and Pictures by Kwame Alexander and Joe Sartore

Source: Media Masters Publicity
Hardcover, 48 pgs.
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Animal Ark: Celebrating our Wild World in Poetry and Pictures by Kwame Alexander, photos by Joel Sartore, is a gorgeous book for kids — a photographic ark with poems. The images bring forth the magic of Alexander’s poetry from the silly game playing primates to the large rumbling feet of elephants. These short haiku eek out elements of each animal, helping kids identify some of their behaviors and qualities, while engaging their eyes in a play of color.

In “Chorus of Creatures” near the center of the book, Alexander draws parallels between the animals in this ark and humans, calling on all of us to show respect for the world around us, or we might just share its end. At the end of the book is a key with all of the animals listed that appeared in earlier pages, and near the bottom is a key where readers can find out which animals in this ark are critically endangered, vulnerable, and more.

Animal Ark: Celebrating our Wild World in Poetry and Pictures by Kwame Alexander, photos by Joel Sartore, is an ark you need in your home to teach children and adults about the animals on our planet and how we are connected to them.

RATING: Quatrain

About the Poet:

Kwame Alexander is a poet, educator, and the New York Times Bestselling author of 24 books, including THE CROSSOVER, which received the 2015 John Newbery Medal for the Most Distinguished Contribution to American literature for Children, the Coretta Scott King Author Award Honor, The NCTE Charlotte Huck Honor, the Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award, and the Paterson Poetry Prize. Kwame writes for children of all ages. Some of his other works include THE PLAYBOOK: 52 RULES TO HELP YOU AIM, SHOOT, AND SCORE IN THIS GAME OF LIFE; the picture books, ANIMAL ARK, OUT OF WONDER and SURF’S UP; and novels BOOKED, HE SAID SHE SAID, and the forthcoming SOLO.

About the Photographer:

Joel Sartore has produced more than 30 stories from around the world as a freelance photographer for NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC magazine. He is an author, speaker and teacher who captivates audiences with his funny and inspiring adventures.

Guest Post: Flanders Field of Grey by Ginger Monette

In 2015, Ginger Monette, author of the Darcy’s Hope series, entered a flash fiction contest, Picture This! Writing Contest, in which she wrote a short story based on a photograph. So was born, “A Flanders Field of Grey,” which she shares with us today in honor of National Poetry Month.

We hope you enjoy it.

Roger stepped away from his companions and swallowed hard as his gaze swept over the Flanders field on the dreary November day. The musty smell of damp earth and the grey sky instantly transported him back to that fateful day fifteen years before.

November 6, 1917. The moment was nearly upon them. He returned his sister’s picture to his pocket and glanced down the trench into the sea of soldiers. Who would death call today? Artillery shells screeched and boomed over No-Man’s land rocketing fountains of sludge into the air. He raked trembling fingers through his red hair and secured his tin helmet. The roiling grey clouds overhead mirrored the churning in his stomach.

The shrill of the signalling whistle pierced the air. The trench erupted in a primal war cry. He added his voice and vigour to the wave of khaki scaling the ladders and pouring over the earthen wall. The staccato of machine-gun fire joined the percussion of artillery and roar of men’s voices. Defying every instinct, he lowered his head and plunged into the firestorm.

As far as he could see, his comrades slogged across the pocked wasteland of Passchendaele. Green-scummed water filled hellholes deep enough to swallow a dozen men. He gagged on a whiff of wet soil mingled with the stench of decaying bodies. Shells bursting on his left and right catapulted men and mud into the air.

Gunfire mowed down the men in front of him. Shuddering with fear, he stepped over two groaning bodies and pressed on. He ignored the grey hand reaching from a murky pool like a tentacle of death lapping at his heels. Flying lead swept over them again.

His legs failed him.

Little did he know that day
His life would be forever changed
On a Flanders field of grey.

~~*~~

Tom thrust his hands into his coat pockets as his gaze swept over the Flanders field on the dreary November day. A barking dog and the grey sky instantly transported him back to that fateful day fifteen years before.

November 6, 1917. A choir of moaning men mingled with the orchestra of artillery. He quickened his pace, splinting, sewing, sawing. An explosion rocked the underground lair, rattling his surgical instruments and raining dirt from the low earthen ceiling.

The company sheepdog sauntered over and nuzzled his leg. “Not now, girl, I’ve got boys to mend.”

Soldier and after soldier came and went from his makeshift theatre. Late in the afternoon he heaved a sigh of relief as he emerged above ground. He squinted upwards; the grey clouds overhead mirrored the tenor of the day. He could only recall laughing once—with a private who’d caught a round in the leg. In spite of his pain, they’d laughed and joked as he prepped the boy for the hospital train.

A sudden boom sent him reeling backwards.

Little did he know that day
His life would be forever changed
On a Flanders field of grey.

~~*~~

Sarah brushed aside a tear as her gaze swept over the Flanders field on the dreary November day. The mud caked on her shoes and the grey sky instantly transported her back to that fateful day fifteen years before.

November 6, 1917. Open and shut; open and shut. The door of the Nissen hut swung back and forth admitting stretcher after stretcher of broken, bloodied soldiers plastered in mud.

What had she been thinking when she volunteered? That it would be amusing to camp in a six-foot bell tent and nurse men gasping for breath with gas poisoning or writhing in pain with a limb blown off?

She hastened across the duckboards under an ominous grey sky that mirrored the fear every woman carried. Fear that a beau or brother would appear. And then it happened to her. A boy moaning on a stretcher stopped her—dead. Her brother.

Her head flew back with an anguished wail.

Little did she know that day
Her life would be forever changed
On a Flanders field of grey.

But the sun broke through the clouds on the November day over the Flanders field of grey. The light glistened off the red hair of her brother Roger walking with his cane beside the doctor. She smiled as the best friends joked about their long-ago ride on the hospital train.

Sarah quickened her pace to join the two and slipped her arm around the wounded surgeon she’d nursed so many years ago. She couldn’t ask for a more wonderful husband.

Indeed all their lives had been changed that day on a Flanders field of grey.

And they wouldn’t have it any other way.

We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments about the piece and what inspires you to read about WWI or poetry.

National Poetry Month 2017

National Poetry Month 2017 is here.

If you’re posting about poetry this month, I’d love to know about it. I love to cross-promote poetry posts in April on Facebook and elsewhere.

Leave you full post links below:

Happy National Poetry Month!

National Poetry Month 2017 Blog Tour Sign-Up

National Poetry Month 2017 is around the corner.

I’m looking for some great bloggers to join the annual National Poetry Month blog tour.

Some posts we’ve seen in the past include:

  • original poetry
  • reviews of poetry books
  • sharing of favorite poems
  • activities where we add one line to a poem in the comments to create a community poem
  • blackout poetry activities
  • interviews and guest post from poets
  • information about local poetry events
  • sharing local poetry event experiences, and more.

If you’d like to participate, leave a comment below with a valid email and date you’d like to post about poetry in April.

Grab the image above for your own blog, and let’s get the poetry party started!

Happy National Poetry Month!

Readathon fun

I never officially signed up, but my daughter and I found plans were canceled for the day, so we did a bit of reading while we were home.

Reading during read-a-thon with a 5 year old can be daunting, so you have to just go with the flow.

In this case, we read 2 kids books, did some crafts, and I read about 79 pages of my own book.

For her, we read Pizza and Other Stinky Poems and Stuck on Fun, which is also where the fun crafts came from.

I was reading The Forgotten Room by Karen White, Lauren Willig, and Beatriz Williams.

All in all, between the crafts, laundry, and her swim team practice, I’ll count this as our first successful read-a-thon together.

I mostly participated this year on Twitter, which is unusual for me. However, I found it easier than working on the blog while trying to read with my daughter.

How did you do?

The Secrets of Nanreath Hall by Alix Rickloff

tlc tour hostSource: TLC Book Tours
Paperback, 416 pgs.
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Secrets of Nanreath Hall by Alix Rickloff is an epic debut in the historical fiction genre in which both strong women — Lady Katherine Trenowyth and Anna Trenowyth — are challenged. Katherine, a budding artist, bucks societal expectations to follow her heart, but her actions have ramifications. Nurse Anna closes herself off from others following a tragic sinking of a ship and deaths that rock her world. These women choose hard, lonely paths, but their strength carries them through the good and bad. While Katherine knows when to accept help, Anna must learn this lesson on her own, which can be tough during a WWII when many things are uncertain and tragedy can strike at any moment.

Panicked like a wild thing caught and frozen by the hunter’s lamp. (pg. 293 ARC)

As Rickloff shifts between the points of view and the time periods, readers may expect to lose their place in these stories, but she does such a wonderful job integrating them, readers are bound to fall in love with both characters. Although we may want the best for them, the realities of war and circumstance will intervene. When Anna shows up to tend to the patients at Nanreath Hall, an ancestral home she’s never seen, her curiosity takes over, forcing her to uncover the secrets of her mother, where she comes from, and the family she never knew as a child.

Secrets of Nanreath Hall by Alix Rickloff is a carefully woven tapestry of generations of Trenowyths, whose lives are upended by the decisions they make, the passions they follow, and the wars they cannot control. This is historical fiction at its best with elements of romance, artistry, romance, and mystery. Get swept away by the mysterious ruins of lives past and learn to make a new path from the old.

RATING: Cinquain

About the Author:

Alix Rickloff is a critically acclaimed author of historical and paranormal romance. Her previous novels include the Bligh Family series (Kensington, 2009), the Heirs of Kilronan trilogy (Pocket, 2011), and, as Alexa Egan, the Imnada Brotherhood series (Pocket, 2014). She lives in Chestertown, Maryland, with her husband and three children.  Find out more about Alix at her website, and connect with her on Facebook and Twitter. You can also follow her on Pinterest.