#weekendcoffeeshare: Flutter Back

If we were having coffee, I wouldn’t be able to resist telling you how excited I am to have my poem, “Flutter Back” analysed in Alison Chisholm‘s Poetry Workshop in July’s edition of Writing Magazine.

Until I attended Swanwick: The Writers’ Summer School for the first time in 2016, I had never considered my poetry to be worth sharing. I attended Joy France‘s specialist course on poetry. I’d always considered myself to be a rubbish poet because that is what my English teacher told me when I was eight years old. I had never shared any of my poetry until Joy persuaded me to read one of my poems during her afternoon session.

At the Summer School in 2018, I had a 1:1 with Alison Chisholm and I performed a couple of my poems at the open mic night.

I am absolutely thrilled that “Flutter Back” is featured and analysed in Alison’s Poetry Workshop in the July edition of Writing Magazine.

You can hardly imagine how much confidence this exposure gives to me. And there is the added bonus of some excellent advice from one of Britain’s top poets.

As you’ll read, if you get your hands on a copy of the magazine, the idea for this poem was seeded by a flash fiction exercise that we worked on at Andover Writers’ Circle.

Here is my poem.

Flutter Back

Butterfly - Geoff Parkes

Photo credit: Geoff Parkes

Fluttering from flower to flower,
loving my life of fragrant scents.
I’m a gorgeous, multi-coloured courier of pollen,
dancing gaily past those dowdy moths
as I paint precious powder on every stamen.

Every day I feel younger and sprightlier,
relishing each taste of sweet nectar
as I approach my youth,
showing off my beauty as I wave my wings,
twenty-eight sunsets before I stretch and yawn.

I fold up my wings and slide
into my sleeping bag, recently found
suspended by silk thread
from a gorgeous green leaf.
I pupate. I sleep. Deep sleep.

I unpupate and become fat and sluggish,
emerging slowly, crawling lazily onto the leaf.
My beautiful wings have disappeared, to be replaced
by a hundred legs. My belly is full.
I am drowsy, lethargic, weary; dreary.

Tired and hungry, I set off on my journey.
My many friends look exactly like me:
supple, exuding charm and constantly chomping
on our compelling mission to reconstruct leaves
on our little tree: our dinner.

Our labours rewarded: rejuvenated and slimmer,
we’re shrinking and massing as the world becomes dimmer,
huddling together, curling up, becoming sticky balls,
cuddling our neighbours under green leaf.
At last, and in the beginning, we are eggs.

If you liked this poem, you may be also like to read some more of my poetry on my Titbits page.

Weekend Coffee Share is hosted by Eclectic Alli.
Check out her blog to read her own Weekend Coffee Share post.
You can post your own link and join with others in this community for coffee by clicking on the following link.


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Book Review – Shadows Of The Past: Foreshadowing by Maggie Cobbett

Shadows Of The Past: ForeshadowingShadows Of The Past: Foreshadowing by Maggie Cobbett

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is the wash, the background, going on to the paper on which Shadows Of The Past will take shape. Foreshadowing is the prequel to that book. It sets up the three main characters, Kate, Ronnie and Daisy, as they finish school and plan their fateful trip to France where they are destined to disappear. There is already a lot of interaction between the girls, and a fair bit of friction.

Foreshadowing is not much more than a good introduction and a teaser, tempting the reader into finding out what happens to them when they get to the village of Saint-André-la Forêt, near Paris. They disappeared, without trace, in 1965. Many years later a skeleton is discovered by a traveller in a nearby forest. The investigation opens up a Pandora’s box of secrets that some villagers would prefer not to expose.

Foreshadowing gives a taste of Maggie Cobbett’s writing style, which I like. The dialogue makes the story come to life. There is also a smattering of humour. I began to know the girls and their teachers.

This is based upon a true story. I am looking forward to delving into the dark secrets that promise to be revealed in the main book and where those will lead.

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Elizabeth Ducie’s interview with Maria Hennings Hunt


Maria B&W

Maria Hennings Hunt

This is a very interesting interview with Maria, who is the Vice Chair of the organising Committee of the Swanwick Writers’ Summer School.


Visit Elizabeth’s blog for the full interview.


Regular readers of my blog will already know how important the annual Writers’ Summer School in Swanwick is to me. And over the past few months, I have been featuring interviews with some of the Committee responsible for organising the 2019 programme. This month’s guest is the current Vice Chairman. She is also both a successful published writer and a fully qualified dance teacher. She worked in publishing for more than 20 years, spending 13 years with Travel Trade Gazette – the leading travel trade weekly newspaper in the UK. She also did a three month stint on the travel team at the Daily Express and wrote short stories for the women’s fiction market in her spare time. She went freelance in 1999, specialising in writing brochures and copy for the travel market whilst at the same time qualifying as a dance teacher. She now runs her own SE London based Dance school called Dance Generation and still writes shorts stories in her spare time. I am delighted to be chatting with Maria Hennings Hunt.

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Book Review: Two Steps Forward by Graeme Simsion and Anne Buist

Two Steps ForwardTwo Steps Forward by Graeme Simsion and Anne Buist

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is the story of two people following the ancient pilgrimage route from south west France, over the Pyrenees and across northern Spain. The Camino Trail, also known as the Chemin de Santiago is an arduous walk which is well supported by the population along the way. To say that some hostels are better than others is an understatement.

The story is alternately told from the points of view of the two main characters: divorcee Martin, an English inventor and engineer who is testing his buggy, and Californian widow, Zoe, an artist.

It starts slowly, but soon gathers momentum until, towards the end, it sweeps the reader along at great pace. The ending is great.

There were times when I was irritated by the switching of narration from one character to the other, but it mostly worked and I enjoyed the style.

What I loved about this story was the building of the characters, from two distinct points of view, and the interactions between them. At times, they were hilarious, at other times they were surprising. There are a few shocks along the rocky way.

The will-it-ever-happen romance between the two main protagonists was extremely frustrating. I was almost screaming at the page. “Get on with it!” Do they ever get it together? Well, you’ll just have to read the book, because I am not about to tell you.

I thoroughly recommend this book. It is very interesting and I learned a lot about the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage trail. I was almost tempted to embark upon the walk for myself.

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Book Review: The Ruby in the Smoke by Philip Pullman

The Ruby in the SmokeThe Ruby in the Smoke by Philip Pullman

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is the first Sally Lockhart story that I have read, and it probably won’t be the last.

In the beginning, it was difficult for me to believe in the strength and forthrightness of this sixteen year old. She shows maturity well beyond her years. However, the more that I followed Sally around the streets of London, the more convincing she was, and the more that I lived her dangerous adventures alongside her.

There are some very kind and generous characters in this book, and they form strong alliances with Sally to eventually get to the truth behind the mysteries surrounding the death of her sea-faring father. There are also some very dark and frightening characters, not least the daunting and evil Mrs Holland.

It is interesting to read about the practicalities of early commercial photography, and about the London of over a century ago, although some things haven’t changed!

Throughout the book, Pullman maintains an air of tension and keeps events moving along at a fast pace. There are a lot of violent deaths splattered throughout the book, but they just add to the fear factor.

Sally is such a resourceful and intelligent young lady. She sometimes survives by the skin of her teeth, but that is due to a combination of her own wits and the assistance of her good friends.

A great adventure and a terrific ending!

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Book Review: The Tall Man by Phoebe Locke

The Tall ManThe Tall Man by Phoebe Locke
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Based upon a true story, this account of what happened when three schoolgirls were psychologically manipulated into committing the most horrendous and chilling crime, is quite gripping.

Investigative journalist, Greta, strikes up a relationship with Amber as she tries to unravel the historical facts behind events that led up to Amber murdering somebody in the woods. The clever part is that we don’t find out the identity of Amber’s victim until the final chapters.

I struggled with the skipping back and forth in time between 1999, 2016 and 2018. That made my head spin.

The first 30% of the book ran at a good pace and the last few chapters were so compelling that I just could not stop reading. However, I found that the middle chapters of the book, the majority, were slow-moving, monotonous and repetitive. That’s a real shame. If the author had put some effort into maintaining the pace of the beginning and the end, it would have been a true thriller.

This is a great story, but it is only an okay read. I wouldn’t recommend it if, like me, you have many other books in your TBR mountain.

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RIP Doris Day

How I “starred” alongside Doris Day
in a Hitchcock movie…

OK. I am stretching the truth to the limits here, but I was actually IN the film, The Man Who Knew Too Much, alongside James Stewart and Doris Day


Opening Scenes

Read about how that happened by following this link to a previous post

Note: You may also be interested in Elizabeth Ducie’s interview with me from 13th May.

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