Do you remember a few weeks ago I was interviewed by Piano Sanctuary? If you missed the interview you can listen here.
Imagine the compliment when Andrew Quartermain contacted me to say he’d written a piece of music inspired by ‘Oaks of Avalon’, a poem from my poetry pamphlet Taxus Baccata.
You can listen to it here. Andrew reads out my poem towards the end of the podcast and follows with his wonderful piece of music. Do listen to the whole podcast though as it’s fabulous – Poetry and Piano Special.
If you’d like to purchase a signed copy of Taxus Baccata – pop over to my SHOP – it makes a great gift!
It gives me great pleasure today to welcome a fellow poet (and a fellow hoglet from The Hedgehog Poetry Press) to Patricia’s Pen. Margaret has come along to talk about her writing so without further ado it’s over to you, Margaret.
My name is Margaret Jean Royall and I have been writing poetry since the age of three. My long-suffering parents would be called to my bedroom in what seemed to me like the middle of the night and scribble down verses I had created in my head. That was the start of what has gone on to be a life in poetry.
I returned to writing in earnest during retirement. The breakthrough moment for me was going for the first time to the Inner Hebridean Isle of Iona on an annual writing retreat led by Angela Locke MA and technical writing tutor David William Clemson. This mystical, magical island unleashed a flame within me and as I returned there annually I realised my ambition was to become a published poet. In the first few years I was simply a hobby poet, but encouraged and inspired by Angela and the other course participants, who had over the years become cherished friends, I honed my writing skills and began to submit my work to literary journals and webzines. To my amazement I was shortlisted for two poetry prizes in 2018, which hardened my resolve to carry on and achieve my goals.
My first poetry collection ‘Fording The Stream’, written under my then pen name Jessica De Guyat was published on my behalf by an American contact on Amazon. My words were out in the world! I was delighted by the complimentary reviews that were written.
My next publication was a memoir of childhood in prose and verse, ‘The Road To Cleethorpes Pier,’published by Crumps Barn Studio, a specialist in memoir publication.This book came about almost by accident, following a surprise encounter at a book festival with a poet from my home town whom I had known in childhood.
Some of his poems were about the town Cleethorpes and I realised that although I had written copious poems about people there, I had not written about the place itself. I worked to combine my prose articles with poetry about the seaside resort and people close to me, presented loosely in the form of a Haibun, illustrated with 46 black and white photographs from childhood and adolescence. The memoir was published 20th May this year to great acclaim and has sold well.
My next publication will be a second full poetry collection, ‘Where Flora Sings,’ to be published in 2021 by The Hedgehog Poetry Press. This follows my win in Hedgehog’s ‘Full Fat Poetry Collection’ competition. It is a dream come true and I can’t wait to see it in print. The overriding theme is floral, yet it is definitely not simply an anthem to the beauty of flowers but rather something which penetrates much deeper. The first section is called Flower Power/People Power and as well as short poems about floral beauty through the seasons it takes a look at how people can be linked to flowers and plants. The second section ‘Roses and Thorns’ is a retrospective from the third age on the triumphs and tribulations of life. I shall be so excited to hold a copy in my hands and hope it will meet with approval.
Thank you for sharing your writing story, Margaret. Good luck with the new collection from Hedgehog Poetry Press. I look forward to receiving my copy.
About Margaret Jean Royall
Margaret’s work has featured in publications by The Hedgehog Poetry Press, Impspired and The Blue Nib. She recently won Hedgehog Press’ collection competition. In May 2020 her childhood memoir The Road To Cleethorpes Pier was published, receiving great acclaim. She was shortlisted in 2018 for the Crowvus and Bangor Lit Festival Poetry Prizes.
Margaret is a regular performer at Writers Live and leads a poetry group in Nottinghamshire.
This month’s writing challenge brings writer, Janet Hardacre, with her story The Return. Personally I think this is a fab story. See what you think.
‘Look in the mirror, Freya, and say, ‘I can do this.’
‘I can do this. I can do this’. Determined Freya stood in front of her bedroom mirror, chin stuck out and hands on her hips. ‘But Mads I keep remembering the looks of those people in the store. I get a panic attack just thinking about going back.’
‘So, you felt foolish. The queue behind you didn’t help. But hey, you have the confidence now. Yes, you have.’
‘You’ve lost all that weight as well,’ chimed in Samantha.
‘You’re right,’ says Freya making the others laugh as she struts about the room like a catwalk model.
After her friends left, Freya prepared a light dinner with salad, one glass of Pinot Grigio and she settled down for an evening of binge-watching her favourite serials. Two years ago, it would have been binge eat, binge drink, and binge TV. Two years ago, Freya lived a different life. Two years ago, she’d met Adrian. Alright, not met, matched with on a dating site for curvy ladies. The bigger, the better, apparently. Mads and Samantha had encouraged her to join this site to perk up her spirits.
Adrian was a sweet talker. ‘Hey, girl, you sure look like my kinda woman, pretty face and curves in all the right places.’
Freya revelled in the suggestive texts that flew between them and became an expert at photographing herself using the tripod and camera she’d ordered from a catalogue. She ordered everything from catalogues as trips to stores on the High Street usually ended in tears. Mads blamed the mobility scooter.
Months went by with Freya posing in sexy bras that upheld her girls. She posed in thongs, in knickers, in seductive basques, suspenders, thigh high stockings, especially ones with seams. Adrian could not get enough of those. Freya had found her calling. She was somebody. She was admired and accepted as she was. Life was great.
Once a month Freya, Mads and Sam enjoyed a get-together in Freya’s flat. It was during one of these sessions that Samantha said, ‘Fraze, did you know that Adrian is on the pull again?’
‘Whoa, my Adrian?’
Freya rushed to set up her laptop while Sam gave her the login info to her own website.
‘Look for Donovan Winters. I could be wrong.’
‘I don’t believe it. He could call himself any name he likes, but this Donovan Winters is defo Adrian.’
Young, blonde and petite screamed the pages on the website.
Freya was devastated, betrayed and humiliated. Maddie and Sam were full of commiserations, and the names they called Adrian could not be repeated in public. That did it.
So now, Freya less curvy and no longer using the website, nor the mobility scooter, is returning to the High Street on her own two confident feet. First item on the agenda? Donate one camera and tripod to the nearest charity shop.
My guest today is talented poet, Pauline Sewards who has come along to ‘Patricia’s Pen’ to discuss her writing. Without further ado, it’s over to Pauline.
Hello. I’m Pauline, I currently live in Lincolnshire but I’ve also lived in London, Brighton and Bristol in recent years and been involved in writing communities in those cities. In Bristol I helped run a poetry night called Satellite of Love and last year I co-edited an edition of the journal Magma. I met Patricia at a writing retreat a few years ago which I was invited to by a friend I met on an Arvon course. I love the various connections and opportunities which come about through writing.
In the old days when we could actually meet each other in the physical world I used to think of each Open-Mic reading as a golden ticket to new experiences. In this time of isolation I find books and the ability to connect with others through writing are more important than ever.
My two published books are works of poetry which contain characters and narrative. The first, This is the Band( Hearing Eye 2018) started off as an attempt to write about my love of music but also includes coming of age stories and political poems. Spirograph (Burning Eye 2020) is due to be published in September ( I am thrilled to say). This book is more personal and one section deals with my lifetime job of working in addictions. I was concerned not to appropriate other people’s stories, therefore it is written from the perspective of a worker. The book is divided into four sections called ‘Work,’ ‘Where,’ ‘Who’ and ‘Wonder’. It breaks out beyond work, just as life does. I chose the name Spirograph because I am always aware of co-incidences, connections and overlapping communities. Shortly after writing the title poem I went to a nearby charity shop and found a Spirograph toy on the shelf, box fresh from the 1970s! This convinced me, I had the right title.
I’d love to know what you think of the poems. If anyone would like a review copy let me know.
If you do purchase a copy of either of my books, please consider sending me a picture of you with the pamphlet, in your favourite reading place.
Thank you for coming along to Patricia’s Pen, Pauline, and good luck with Spirograph.
About Pauline Sewards
Pauline has been writing for many years alongside a career as a mental health nurse. She has been widely published in small press poetry journals and is working on a novel called ‘Fabric’ which is loosely based on family history. Pauline has hosted poetry events in London and Bristol and co-edited Magma magazine last summer.
Patricia’s Pen is having a Bank Holiday Sale Signed paperbacks will be reduced – watch this space.
Readers who prefer Kindle will not lose out as copies of House of Grace and The Coal Miner’s Son will be on Kindle countdown deals for one week from Sunday 30th August 2020 – Down to 99p/99c.
This will be the first time that The Coal Miner’s Son has been reduced – however, it will only be 99p/99c on Sunday30th August 2020 – Monday31st August 2020 (inclusive) and then a gradual climb over the week, before returning to its original price.
My guest today comes all the way from across the pond. It is a delight to have Life in a Box author, Jodee Neathery, on ‘Patricia’s Pen’. Jodee has come along to talk about writing.
Jodee Neathery on Writing
Writing…there are formulas, warnings of “always do,” like show don’t tell and “never do,” like start with the weather. Writers can use pie charts or snowflake patterns to create their novel, follow progression charts to build suspense, outline, or fly by the seat of their pants, to name a few options. We can become realistic writers setting our story in an actual location, tale writers charming the reader with beautiful language, or yarn writers proficiently telling outrageous lies that the reader believes, or I guess a combination of all of the above.
Writing is emotion, not an equation with a single solution. It’s that gray area that makes it an art by giving authors the freedom to find what is extraordinary in the ordinary or what is universal, meaningful, and human in the uncommon. My Nana, a born storyteller, instilled a sense of wonderment and endless possibilities in me at an early age. Her animated tales, especially the one about being a distant relative to one of Queen Victoria’s ladies-in-waiting, had me polishing my tiara for when it was my turn to be a royal. Nana embodied Oscar Wilde’s quote, “A dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight, and his punishment is that he sees the dawn before the rest of the world.” I credit her keen perception and sense of humor for the person I am today and for what I have been able to accomplish.
My five-year writing journey to publication began with a story pouring from my heart, but after a person whom I highly respected read the first fifty pages declared it unpublishable, I could either give up or do what it takes to realize my dream. Life in a Box, published July 2017 is a character driven work of literary fiction asking the question, how much would you sacrifice to hide a secret? The novel alternates between a contemporary timeline and the 1900’s through the 1940’s and by the last chapter we learn the cost of protecting those we love. When you are fortunate to have a built-in base of colorful characters hanging on your family tree, it’s both fun and rewarding to create a story that salutes their uniqueness. I mourn they never witnessed me seeing the dawn before the rest of the world, but I suspect they held a heavenly book-signing party in my honor.
My new novel, A Kind of Hush, detailing how life is seldom a tidy affair exploring if there is a gray area between right and wrong is almost complete. A family of four is enjoying a summer outing when tragedy strikes…one parent survives along with their teenage daughter and young son found hiding in the nearby woods. Was this a tragic accident, or something more heinous, and if so, whodunnit and whydunnit?
My deepest gratitude to Patricia for allowing me to share my story. If you have any connections with the House of Windsor, please tell Elizabeth II I’m still waiting for her to ring me up. Tiara ready and willing to travel.
It was a pleasure, Jodee, and please do come back once A Kind of Hush has been released.
If anyone out there can help Jodee with connections to the House of Windsor, I’m sure she’ll be forever in your debt!
About Jodee Neathery
JoDee Neathery, born in Southern California, moved to Texas at the age of five. Midland, a postcard of small-town America, was populated by dreamers and doers and the friendliest people on the planet. Little girl under the covers dreams to dance on Broadway, become an author, sing like Streisand, and marry Paul McCartney all fell short with the practical side of making a living emerging into a career in banking and public relations recruiting. With retirement came time, her writing dream materializing into a novel, Life in a Box, loosely based on the colourful characters hanging on her family tree.