Hallowed hollow ~ a poem for the Winter Solstice

Hallowed hollow

I will hold a space

A dark space

An empty place

A hallowed hollow,

Cupped between hands

Hidden between breaths

Lost between heartbeats

Harrowed from soul-falls.

I will hold a space

Without prayer

Without hope

Without desire.

Winter Fallen

Winter Fallen

ice

like glass.

blades

of grass,

sharp, brittle,

dusted

with crystals.

dark,

like pelt

of ancient wolf.

sky

of implacable grey.

mind,

of forgotten folk

long gone under

the earth,

bone alone

remains.

watch:

the stars light up,

million pin pricks

in the cloth

of heaven.

Berserker

Berserker

Inside I am a warrior
But stripped of all armour
Naked but for the blood
That paints my trembling skin.
The axe I wield with one hand
A sword in the other,
Both held high.
The red mist waits,
Patient as a stone.
All you see is a woman
Middle-age spread
Greying hairs
Sagging breasts,
Virtually invisible, worthless.
But inside I am a warrior,
Waiting.
Don’t push me.
You won’t like the bear.

National Poetry Day – and a special offer

Today is National Poetry Day.

For those who like or even love poetry this is a day when people quote favourite lines from poems, or post their own.

In honour of the day, Accidental Emeralds is now only 77p ($1.25 in the US) for the Kindle version.

It’ll be this price for around 24 hours before returning to normal price. The paperback is still £5 and jolly pretty it is too:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Accidental-Emeralds-Vivienne-Tuffnell-ebook/dp/B00LM890TG/ref=la_B00766135C_1_7?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1412262908&sr=1-7

http://www.amazon.com/Accidental-Emeralds-Vivienne-Tuffnell-ebook/dp/B00LM890TG/ref=la_B00766135C_1_7?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1412262908&sr=1-7

For all other Kindle marketplaces, replace the dot co or dot com with dot whatever yours is ( dot fr dot in etc) and the rest of the URL should remain the same.

Accidental Emeralds hits the number one spot

Last night, and for a brief time only, my Amazon author page was adorned by a number one best-seller badge:emeralds number one bestseller

 

This is the first time I’ve ever hit the number one spot in any category, so it was a big deal for me. However short a time it lasted, I was number one in women’s poetry in the UK.

emeralds number one top of ranking

I’m pretty chuffed about it.

Will it bring any benefits? I don’t know but it brought a much-needed smile to my face.

It’s available in paperback or Kindle, anyway.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Accidental-Emeralds-Vivienne-Tuffnell-ebook/dp/B00LM890TG/ref=zg_bs_4542855031_2

Desert Journey

Desert Journey

In the wild places, life loses its confusion
And shines instead with the brilliant clarity
Of fresh-hewn crystal, sparkling with light
And edges so sharp they would draw blood.
The final tent is lost in a shimmer of heat,
Long miles behind me in the sand;
I cannot see my destination
Though mirages try to distort my vision
And lure me from my straight path.
I lay the compass on the baking ground
Follow where the arrow points me
Even though I can see nothing ahead
But sand, sand and yet more sand.
It will be cold tonight, surely,
The ice glittering in the moonlight
Mirroring the hard stars in velvet sky
Singing with high voices like distant angels.
Tomorrow, the sky will be too bright
But I will remember the stars
With their haunting piercing songs
I shall walk to that rhythm
Till I reach the other side.

Accidental Emeralds ~ a first foray into publishing poetry

 

Accidental Emeralds ~ a first foray into publishing poetry

 

When I first began blogging, I used to post poems fairly often and on a number of occasions I have been asked by readers if I have a poetry book available to buy.

Well, now I do.

In some ways, it’s been a harder decision to do this than to publish the novels and stories because poetry is an even smaller market and I’ve had such limited energy due to illness, committing to producing a book of poems was something I wasn’t keen on. There’s a large file of poetry on my hard drive and collating and deciding which to choose and what order to put them in was daunting.

Then I remembered that in the dim and distant past where I was still half-heartedly trying to achieve some sort of success a more traditional route, I had entered a poetry competition that required a small themed collection. I entered and the collection didn’t win. It was the last time I entered anything; it cost £18 to enter and though all entrants were sent a little collection of the previous year’s winner, it really didn’t feel much like value for money. But the collection of twenty poems was still sitting there, untouched and unused and I decided that it would be a valuable experiment.

Accidental Emeralds is a book of poems with the theme of longing. Longing for love, longing for seasons that have passed us by, longing even for tolerance for the wild creatures we share our world and sometimes even our homes with. The title comes from a poem about spring time in an urban setting, where smashed green bottles lie like “accidental emeralds” amid fallen candy-floss coloured cherry blossom. There are only twenty poems, but for a first volume this was enough.

It’s available as a rather lovely little pamphlet/chapbook and also as a Kindle version. I shall be entering it into the Matchbook scheme so that if you buy the paperback, you will get the Kindle version either free or for a greatly reduced price. I apologise for the fact that the sample on Kindle does not show any poems; it only shows the cover, and a table of contents. Since the book is quite short, there’s no way of making a single poem show, but if you have any concerns, then do go into the poetry archive on this blog and sample my style there.

I have begun work putting together a longer collection that I hope to have ready before too long but in the meantime, I do hope a few poetry lovers might choose to buy Accidental Emeralds.

This is the paperback link for UK:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Accidental-Emeralds-Longing-Vivienne-Tuffnell/dp/1500242187/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1404836069&sr=1-1&keywords=Accidental+Emeralds

Buying the paperback means you are entitled to a digital copy free using the Amazon Matchbook programme but the Kindle version is available here for £1.74

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Accidental-Emeralds-Vivienne-Tuffnell-ebook/dp/B00LM890TG/ref=la_B00766135C_1_8?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1404836274&sr=1-8

Accidental_Emeralds_Cover_for_Kindle

 

A Plea for Poetry

A Plea for Poetry

The first piece of creative writing that I can recall anything about which had a memorable effect on others was a poem I wrote aged around six or seven. It was about the colour blue, then my favourite colour, and it ended with the immortal stanza, “Blue, blue, beautiful blue. Blue, blue, wonderful blue.” Hardly Wordsworth, I know, but it caused a fairly large stir in my infants’ school among the teachers. I was a bit shocked at the effect but I guess that while teachers wanted their students to have a try at poetry, at that age, they weren’t expecting terribly much. The poem is long gone but I recall that I used imagery and metaphors, about which I knew nothing consciously.
There is a hesitation, a fear and a loathing around poetry that has long puzzled me. People say they can’t see the point of poetry or that it bores them, or it’s all insufferable navel gazing and narcissism. I know relatively few people who read poetry who are not themselves also poets, and I pick up a general feeling that to most, poetry is an irrelevance.
This saddens me. I studied poetry to an almost industrial level at university, in two languages. Shakespeare is the most widely known poet in the English speaking world, and his language infuses modern English to such an extent that it’s hard to find idioms and expressions without roots in old Will’s works and we use his words usually without knowing what we owe to him for enriching our native tongue. I studied Anglo-Saxon verse, and Beowulf, and then everything from then on up until the twentieth century. I have my favourites, that speak to me, that have become my go-to poets and poems for all sorts of emotional needs. Sometimes a poet expresses a personal truth so well that it becomes almost a universal truth.
A poem can encompass in a few short lines a vast story, yet that story is dependent on our interpreting it (unless it’s a narrative poem or an epic saga in which case it’s a bit more straight forward). A few short words can be enough to convey directly to the heart what it might otherwise take a long novel. For example, in a Wilfred Owen poem from the First World War, he uses the phrase “blood-shod” and in that, he tells a powerful tale of shortages, political incompetencies that delay vital supplies, of the pain of boots disintegrating in foul mud, of feet so sore they lose feeling, coated in blood and filth, that has taken me four lines to explain in merely in passing. (http://www.warpoetry.co.uk/owen1.html).
The effects of such a poem are immediate, and stunning. You can read it out and see the faces of those listening become lost in thought. You don’t even need to be good at reading aloud for it to have a dramatic effect.
It’s not just for the difficult things, either. Love poetry has been a staple for thousands of years; you can say things in poetry you can say no other way. Lovers from Sappho to Shakespeare and onwards have been extolling the virtues, vices and beauty of their beloveds. Catullus wrote some of the wickedest, wittiest and most humorous of ditties to his beloved; they still hold the power to amuse, shock and entertain. (Do look him up in translation and be prepared for some smut and some laughs and some shocks.)
Words are things endued with power. I’ve read of research where subjects being viewed via an MRI machine have had words flashed in front of them and their brains have lit up in the same places that experiencing that event would provoke. So reading about love makes the brain experience the same feelings as being in love, or experiencing pleasure. We can enjoy vicariously the experiences of others, and thereby become more empathetic. This is one of the uses of poetry(and of story, too, but poetry to me is a form of story telling that bypasses acres of words)
And don’t forget that poetry is also FUN. Who has not giggled over the odd limerick? Who has not sung nursery rhymes to their children? Who has not at some stage felt the words surge through them when a poem set to music sets off a moment of nostalgia?
I write this both as a poet and as a lover of poetry. Give it a chance. No one demands any more that you learn a long poem, stanza by stanza, threatening detention or a rap on the knuckles if you fail. You have the option to choose what to read, what to enjoy. There ought be no snobbery in poetry. Pam Ayres’ light, entertaining (but thoughtful) verses have as much value as T.S. Eliot’s labyrinthine and often impenetrable poetry. I’m at the very brink of releasing a first book of my own poems, just a slim volume of twenty poems. I don’t expect it to sell well, to be honest, but nonetheless I am going ahead and publishing because put simply: poetry is important. It’s important to me and whether we recognise it or not, it is vital to civilisation and human development.

Sexy Beast

Sexy Beast

Spring, you sexy beast, you’re back!
Blowing hot and cold again,
From pheromones and feathers fluttering,
Pistils and stamens at it,
Hammer and tongs,
To nights that end in ice,
Frosted grass and ruined plants
Pricked out too soon, too tender.
You’re so full of juice
You might explode with green.
Stiff new leaves, quivering catkins
Open-mouthed flowers
And frantic frogs, a-courting,
Birds, oblivious of envious eyes,
Bill and coo and shag.
That’s a bird, too, right?

Do Not Wash My Feet ~ a poem for Maundy Thursday

Do Not Wash My Feet

I would ask you:
Do not wash my feet
For I have not walked
A thousand miles in dusty lanes
that coat sandalled feet in grime,
Nor yet barefoot on the pilgrim way
Wincing at every step away from grass.
My feet have not carried me through
The smoke and filth of battle,
Nor have I stood amid the wives
Who wait to see their men return.
Instead
I would ask you:
Wash my soul instead,
For though I have been spared
The trials of life
That others suffer,
Mine have left their soil
Upon my soul as well.