COLLEEN’S 2020 #BOOK #REVIEWS – “The Sincerest Form of Poetry,” BY AUTHOR, Geoff Le Pard, @geofflepard

Featuring Your Next Weekend Read!

About this Book

An anthology of poems, inspired by the top 100 British poems and a love of sonnets.

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All of life in one easy couplet

“To write poetry, I need inspiration. Often that comes from my appreciation of the craftsmanship of other, better poets, whose skills I aspire to emulate. For this anthology, I have chosen two such sources: in part one, the search for Britain’s favourite poem led to the publication of the top 100, and I have used a number of these to craft my own take on those beautiful and inspirational works; in part two, my love of the sonnet form, fostered by reading Shakespeare’s gems, has provided a selection covering many topics and themes. I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I enjoyed creating them.”

~ Geoff Le Pard

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MY RECOMMENDATION

Geoff Le Pard is one of my favorite contemporary poets. His acerbic wit makes me laugh, and there are no out-of-bounds topics in his repertoire of verses. Some of his poetry is raw, exposing the trials and tribulations related to the everyday grind of being human. Many of his poems explore the irony of our daily circumstances with an emphasis on humor—always ready to make you smile, or possibly blush!

Le Pard has a style all his own, and he writes a form of ‘found poetry’ with inspiration from many of my favorite British poets: Shakespeare, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Rudyard Kipling, Percy Bysshe Shelley, William Wordsworth, Dylan Thomas, Alfred, Lord Tennyson, W.B. Yeats, and many others. Le Pard uses the first line of the actual poem as they wrote it, continuing on with his own poetic genius.

The second half of the book the author explores the sonnet, with poems comprising fourteen lines with an iambic rhyming scheme. This is where he truly shines. They say all poets have a favorite form they like to write and clearly; the sonnet speaks to this author.

He shares in the Genesis section of the book:

In 2007, I was taken with the urge to write poetry. From where that emerged, I will have to leave to psychologists, though some have noticed my father’s death (he wrote delightful poetry) occurred some eighteen months before I found the courage to commit myself to the ether. I found, almost immediately that, unlike prose, poetry is a more intense and challenging medium to embrace. It needs, above all else, a depth of inspiration that a short story or even a novel does not demand. It has been my joy and challenge to find and hold on to such inspiration.”

Geoff Le Pard, The Sincerest From of Poetry

I read this book in two nights, sometimes shaking the bed in quiet laughter to not disturb my sleeping spouse. This was a delightful read and the perfect gift for the poetry lover in your family. Many thanks to the author for gifting me an advance reader’s copy. This book will release on September 30, 2020.

I’ll share one of my favorite selections from the book:

Trick Or Treat

The box full of treats draws them in like flies 
Glassy-eyed children with hands reaching down. 
‘It’s rubbish chocolate,’ says John with a frown.
‘Never mind,’ says his mum, wiping her eyes
On her sleeve. ‘Sue Witch is good for a treat. 
You’ll see. Candies and fudge, all neatly wrapped. 
Though take care or you’re sure to be trapped 
In her sticky web. She’s best in the street
For her tricks.’ They hold hands as they hurry 
Along. Nervously waiting for their next gift. 
The mood will change: there’s always a shift 
As cockroaches cackle and dirty rats scurry. 
For what do you expect on Halloween?
It starts with a smile, and ends with a scream.

©2020 Geoff Le Pard

MY RATING

*I follow the Amazon Rating System*

Colleen's Book ReviewsRating System

About the Author

Geoff Le Pard started writing to entertain in 2006. He hasn’t left his keyboard since. When he’s not churning out novels he writes some maudlin self-indulgent poetry, short fiction and blogs at geofflepard.com. He walks the dog for mutual inspiration and most of his best ideas come out of these strolls. He also cooks with passion if not precision.

My Father and Other Liars is a thriller set in the near future and takes its heroes, Maurice and Lori-Ann on a helter-skelter chase across continents.

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Dead Flies and Sherry Trifle is a coming of age story. Set in 1976, the hero Harry Spittle is home from university for the holidays. He has three goals: to keep away from his family, earn money and hopefully have sex. Inevitably his summer turns out to be very different to that anticipated.

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In this, the second book in the Harry Spittle Sagas, it’s 1981 and Harry is training to be a solicitor. His private life is a bit of a mess and he’s far from convinced the law is for him. Then an old acquaintance from his hotel days appears demanding Harry write his will. When he dies somewhat mysteriously a few days later and leaves Harry in charge of sorting out his affairs, Harry soon realises this will be no ordinary piece of work. After all, his now deceased client inherited a criminal empire and several people are very interested in what is to become of it.

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The third instalment of the Harry Spittle Sagas moves on the 1987. Harry is now a senior lawyer with a well-regarded City of London firm, aspiring to a partnership. However, one evening Harry finds the head of the Private Client department dead over his desk, in a very compromising situation. The senior partner offers to sort things out, to avoid Harry embarrassment but soon matters take a sinister turn and Harry is fighting for his career, his freedom and eventually his life as he wrestles with dilemma on dilemma. Will Harry save the day? Will he save himself?

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Life in a Grain of Sand is a 30 story anthology covering many genres: fantasy, romance, humour, thriller, espionage, conspiracy theories, MG and indeed something for everyone. All the stories were written during Nano 2015.

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Salisbury Square is a dark thriller set in present day London where a homeless woman and a Polish man, escaping the police at home, form an unlikely alliance to save themselves.

This is available here

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Buster & Moo is about about two couples and the dog whose ownership passes from one to the other. When the couples meet, via the dog, the previously hidden cracks in their relationships surface and events begin to spiral out of control. If the relationships are to survive there is room for only one hero but who will that be?

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Life in a Flash is a set of super short fiction, flash and micro fiction that should keep you engaged and amused for ages.

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Apprenticed To My Mother describes the period after my father died when I thought I was to play the role of dutiful son, while Mum wanted a new, improved version of her husband – a sort of Desmond 2.0. We both had a lot to learn in those five years, with a lot of laughs and a few tears as we went.

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Life in a Conversation is an anthology of short and super short fiction that explores connections through humour, speech and everything besides. If you enjoy the funny, the weird and the heart-rending then you’ll be sure to find something here.

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When Martin suggests to Pete and Chris that they spend a week walking, the Cotswolds Way, ostensibly it’s to help Chris overcome the loss of his wife, Diane. Each of them, though, has their own agenda and, as the week progresses, cracks in their friendship widen with unseen and horrifying consequences.

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Geoff Le Pard’s Amazon Author Page

How to Connect with the Author

BLOG: geofflepard.com

TWITTER: @geofflepard

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A Halloween Encounter

horse-hole

The yellow smudge of a setting sun slipped behind the trees leaving a warm glow to the field.  Nightbirds scattered, roosting in the trees while insects droned on in a constant monotony. The air felt cooler after the heat of the day. Ground fog swirled around the grasses casting eerie shadows on the ground. The evening gloom was rapidly approaching. I shivered in anticipation.

Not far off in the field, our two neighbor horses steadily crunched grass, their teeth reflecting bone-white in the rays of the setting sun.  It was Halloween night – All Hallows Eve.  Children would soon fill the neighborhood with the sounds of laughter, as they went from house to house showing off their costumes and collecting treats.

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My eyes drifted toward the horse hole which was visible in the fading light.  The horses visited me daily looking for handouts of carrots or even an occasional apple. They hung their necks through the opening, all the while munching, as I rubbed their velvety noses.  They were the best neighbors.

I was ready this time. Last Halloween I ran out of candy early. This year I made sure I had plenty of treats to hand out to the kids. My pumpkins were lit, and the decorations spread around the front porch were inviting – not too scary for the little kids. I made myself comfortable in a chair and sipped a glass of wine, enjoying the descending darkness.

The kids came from every corner of the neighborhood, dressed as fairy princesses with dainty shoes, green colored Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, skeletons, Count Dracula’s, monsters of every variety you could imagine. Babies were dressed up as bugs, teddy bears, and even a vampire baby stopped at my door to receive a treat.

The darkness filled the neighborhood. The street lights were lit, and a warm glow cast long shadows on the road. The children ran ahead of their parents, filled with excitement.  Parents milled about in small groups watching their kids, always near. I smiled at the sounds of laughter which completed the friendly Halloween atmosphere. I couldn’t help but marvel at how cute the kids were, enjoying the banter they exchanged with their friends.

By late evening, most of the children and parents were finished with Trick or Treat and were heading home. A few crying fairies stomped their way behind their parents, mad because the great adventure was over for another year.

I cleaned up the porch and put away the decorations in the storage bin.  It was a lovely Monday night, unusual for this time of year. I refilled my glass and walked out back to the patio which overlooked the field where the neighbor horses grazed.

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The view was amazing. Stars lightly sprinkled the sky spread out like a mantle overhead. The warmth of the day had dissipated, and I could feel the coolness creep in between the folds of my sweater. I sipped my wine and appreciated the spectacular beauty of the night sky.

Suddenly, the most obnoxious odor seemed to waft, thick like a fog, drifting in the air around the horse hole. Far in the distance, I could hear the neighbor horses running as their thundering hooves hit the ground. They ran hard, and their frightened cries filled the field. I was rooted to the spot, unable to move. My heart leaped into my throat, and I couldn’t breathe.

It was then, in the inky blackness of the field that I saw him – the Headless Horseman! His profile glowed in the shimmery darkness of the horse hole! A large orange head burned with an intensity that scared me deep into my bones. I felt the wine glass fall from my hand and shatter on the ground. Shards of glass flew into the air, spraying bits of glass into my hair.

headless-horseman

(Image Credit: Telltale Games)

The horseman’s black steed snorted flashes of lightning through his muzzle, and his blood-red eyes glared at me.  The creature balanced a glowing Jack-o-lantern in his right hand. I could see him clearly, and there was NO head. The apparition was so lifelike that I could make out the buttons on his coat which were visible in the light from the glowing pumpkin.

I swallowed hard and felt my eyes popping out of my head. I stared transfixed at the horse hole for what seemed like hours but was only, in reality, a few seconds. The Headless Horseman whirled about on his black steed and disappeared into the blackness. The fog churned in great billows and drifted about the field in his wake.

Slowly, the smell faded. The fog grew thicker, and moisture dripped from the leaves on the trees. I trembled uncontrollably. All around me, I heard no sounds. My breaths came in great gasps. I whirled around, trying to catch my breath. I stopped to gaze once again at the horse hole. It was dark – just swirling fog and an eerie quiet which lingered, jangling my nerves.

He was gone. I felt my heart pound a quick staccato in my chest. With great effort, I relaxed my tightened muscles and walked toward the horse hole for one last look. My shoes crunched in the ruins of the wine glass beneath my feet. Behind me, inside the house, a light came on in the kitchen which illuminated the patio outside.

“Colleen, it’s getting late. Come inside,” my husband, Ron called out to me.

“On my way.” I surveyed the area one last time. I took my time walking toward the back door. My thoughts milled about in my head. How could I tell him what had just happened without him laughing at me?

Maybe I better keep this encounter to myself, I thought. Too much wine and a tad too much chocolate could be the answer to my vision. I shook my head at the broken wine glass on the patio, realizing that red wine would stain the concrete. The stain had already spread, and a dark patch of discoloration was visible beneath my feet. With a shrug, I turned and walked away.

I traipsed into the house, locked the door, and turned off the light.That was enough Halloween for this year.

 

Thanks for stopping by. I hope you enjoyed my scary encounter from when we lived in Florida! ❤ True story! 😀

happy-halloween

An Essay on the Importance of Halloween in American Society

Halloween has become one of the most celebrated retail holidays in our American culture although the roots of the holiday are shrouded in religious beliefs that have survived from the beginning of time. Think of Halloween and visions of costumes, jack-o-lanterns and candy appear. Lots of candy! But the earliest celebrations of Halloween symbolize the eternal struggle between good vs. evil which is still representative in our society today.

According to Maggie Black, Halloween, All Hallows Eve or Hallowtide includes Halloween evening and the feast of All Saints followed by All Souls’ Day (October 31st to November 2nd) and has a history rich in religious traditions that originated with the Celtic feast of Samhain which celebrated the end of summer and the harvest. (60) The Celts believed that on Halloween the dead walked the earth again and this brought much fear to the people. (60) Early agricultural societies revolved around the seasons and as summer traveled into fall and the warming influence of the sun waned, they began preparations for the long hard winters. The bounty that was evident from the summer harvest provided the perfect backdrop for a celebration. The Celts looked to the seasons to answer questions they had about their own existence and I believe this natural progression of the seasons caused them to try to explain how they thought their world operated back then.

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During the harvest celebration, the Celts also celebrated their dead which is also explained by the season of fall and associated with death. Bonfires were lit to drive the evil demons away and protect the souls that were still earthbound. Great feasts were held to celebrate the bounty of the harvest and religious rites were performed to purify the people for another year so they could produce another bountiful harvest the following year. As Christianity developed throughout the world, some of the more basic traditions from the Celts followed with the Halloween holiday. Gradually, demons became witches and Halloween in America settled into a celebration of the harvest and the bounty that the summer produced.

I recall as a child attending Halloween parties that were focused on the harvest of fall. Apples, nuts, pumpkins and gourds were readily found in the fall. Pumpkins were carved to symbolize laughing or crazy faces as if to mock the evil spirits from long ago. Costumes were worn as a disguise and I wondered if that was so the evil would not recognize my true form and find me. These Halloween traditions have followed us into the Twenty First Century.

Halloween has become one of the most important retail holidays celebrated in America today. At its humble beginnings, Halloween consisted of carved pumpkins and homemade costumes and Trick-or-Treat. I remember the thrill when I tromped up to a neighbor’s house all dressed up in a disguise and shouted out, “Trick or Treat!” It was equally thrilling when a full size Milky Way bar or some other precious sweet that I loved was deposited into my treat bag.

The retail phenomenon began about fifteen years ago. Suddenly, everyone had a lawn display that consisted of ghoulish graveyards, huge blowup Frankenstein monsters or black cauldrons boiling some smelly concoction. Hidden stereos spewed forth scary sounds in decibels high enough to make your toes curl! Neighborhoods had contests with one another and their neighbor’s yards were crammed with every imaginable Halloween decoration that is available for sale today.

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(Image credit: Outdoor Halloween Decorations)

“Halloween is becoming more sophisticated as people start taking their celebrating seriously,” says Kathy Grannis, a spokesperson for the National Retail Federation. “It’s a fun, stress-free holiday that allows you to be as creative as you want to be.” (Herbst 1) Coupled with that, the retailers want you to spend your money on their Halloween themed items. Halloween displays typically show up in stores across America before the kids have gone back to school in many cities! Halloween is big money in the retail world and we Americans have created a monster in sales.

“The average American will spend nearly $60 to celebrate Halloween this year. Consumers spend the most on costumes, averaging about $22 a person, followed by decorations, candy, and greeting cards.” (Herbst 1) Decorations are fueling the retail industry. Everyone wants to recreate their favorite horror movie scene or have the best graveyard on the block. No Halloween party in America is complete without cobwebs and giant spiders stretched across your ceiling! Besides that, the retailers remind us with every advertising venue possible that it is not fun to Trick or Treat at a house with no decorations!

Halloween is fun because it allows everybody to let loose and be something they are not. When you buy into Halloween, you buy into the fantasy of Halloween. Because our unemployment percentages are at the highest levels in years and so many people are out of work, Halloween has become the ultimate way to pretend that your life is better. As Americans, we need diversions that give us cause for celebration. Halloween does that. It’s the one night a year to live in a fantasy and then return to the reality of your life the next day.

Halloween is still about the fall season and signifies the first holiday of the traditional American holiday season. Just like the Celts long ago celebrated the harvest and the end of the summer, today we share the same thirst for the fall celebration. The religious overtones of the holiday have been replaced with a more commercial view of Halloween that is like an offering and a hope to keep all that is evil at bay. I think the Celts would understand.

Works Cited

Black, Maggie. “Saints and Soul-caking.” History Today 31.11 (1981): 60. Academic Search Complete. EBSCO. Web. 9 Oct. 2010.

Herbst, Moira. “The Booming Business of Halloween.” BusinessWeek Online (2006): 1. Academic SearchComplete. EBSCO. Web. 9 Oct. 2010.

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Thanks for stopping by to see what I am up to.  It is Halloween Week and I look forward to seeing you again!

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