Not until just now! That said, when I started blogging I did write the tale of ‘Joan of Arc & Her Beloved Hamster’ regarding Joan’s heartfelt desire to get her house in order pre the burning at the stake the very next day, hence a new home for her pet hamster was required! With hardly any ‘followers’ at the time it was largely ignored – probably for the best in hindsight!
THE SAD DEMISE OF ERIC THE HAMSTER
In Hamsterland I have heard say
That the energy supply is ideal
For hamsters’ spin around all day
Generating electricity via their treadmill wheel
However, they ran into a problem once
Generating their power thus
For one such wheel did detach itself
Span off, hamster inside, under a number 37 bus
Eric, that was the wretched hamsters name
To the A&E was rushed
Yet there was nought the nursing staff could do
For poor Eric was mortally crushed
Yet to this day the ghost of Eric
Travels far and wide
And in Scotland, on its eastern shores
With Shey’s own hamsters his lost soul doth confide
Of health and safety issues
Forgotten or overlooked?
Yet in this place he has an addiction
For upon delicious hamster Olga he is hooked
For my ‘proper’, poetry and ‘almost’ poetry I’m am inevitably inspired by my admiration and love of the fairer sex.
Gal’s should rule the world and make it a better place I truly believe. Even in those more serious musings I make sure the gals win out. Lessons from history are important things to me also. I regard, certainly when considering social issues in ‘the now’ that those lessons of yore can be drawn upon to point a better way forward.
I think a lot of this is covered in Question 7 below?
The new book, ‘The Shop That Sells Kisses’ is a collection of poems, ‘almost’ poems and very short stories that might have been poems had they not been born stories. My previous book, ‘Gentlemen Prefer a Pulse’ was tagged ‘Poetry with a Hint of Lunacy’ whereas the new one is tagged, ‘Poetry with a Hint of Magic’.
The reason? Purely in that most of the poems the new book contains rely upon the impossible more than the improbable to get the truly possible and/or plausible tale or message across to the reader. Much of the material in this book revolves around the workings of the mind. Over the time it took to write I drained myself of both thought and the words that thought provokes. I think the end result a worthwhile one, pleasing even, yet cannot claim that subjective view to be fact.
MIKE. Having achieved ungraded status for my O Level English at 16 years because I couldn’t (still can’t) spell all the words I knew, I did, upon my retake of the exam when the paper asked to write a verse about misfortune, answered thus.
A geezer in a boozer, was in a bar one day, when sadly the dartboard he was aiming at, fell off the wall and rolled away. Out the door, and down the hill it rolled, to another bar in the another town, where a hapless geezer in another boozer, sadly was mowed right down. The Coroner at his inquest, could but say these words, “Death my misadventure, killed by a dartboard, man that’s just absurd!”
There you have it. My first poem as such!
Also within that re-take was a proposed essay titled, ‘A Policeman’s Lot is not a Happy One’ that they expected me to write 500 words about. Having no idea at all what to write I, in panic with time running out and knowing I needed at least a ‘C’ grade or become one of the great unwashed wrote about a policeman who was always working overtime leaving his poor dog named ‘Lot’ bored and unattended at home. They gave me that dubious ‘C’ grade second time around, the fools!
Surreal stuff. Leonard Cohen in particular, either put to melody or read as straightforward lyrics, or indeed his poetic musings in the form of books, ‘Flowers for Hitler’ comes to mind. Lord Byron’s poem, ‘So, we’ll go no more a roving’ is a particular favourite of mine. A short, magnificent piece. I mull over its excellence perhaps too often. The lines, ‘…the heart must pause to breathe, and love itself have rest’ inspires thoughts of love in dotage, yet he wrote the piece (indeed died) a worn out young man. Another songwriter whose early lyrics especially are poetry in its purest form is Joni Mitchell, mistress of introspection and metaphor.
Away from the ‘silly name’ stuff the more serious poetry and ‘almost’ poetry is based mainly, yet not always on the things I observe when people watching – more often than not when taking coffee outside a street café. Relationships twixt friend and foe, lover’s new and seasoned, justice and injustice, war and wasted lives, reflective musings upon the interactions twixt dearest Shirley and me, that sort of ‘stuff’. However, I like to treat the final product ‘dreamlike’; blessed with a smidgen of magic.
By the way, I name it ‘almost’ poetry simply because I am prone to take liberties and add dialogue between characters within a poem. Makes them seem more ‘real’ ensconced within the ‘surreal’. Whether it works or not is another subjective thing. Readers seem to take to it though.
Additionally, for me writing is an antidote for my lifelong self-doubt. Self-doubt manifests itself in the form of reticence to act for fear of getting it all wrong; paranoia through reading of things into a situation that aren’t or were never there (paranoia did however help me in my days as a PI; every detective needs a bit of distrust of information gathered in order to out think a miscreant); and also, (and this is a plus amid a riot of negatives I think) a self-imposed prohibition never to blow one’s own trumpet. I can’t stand people who think they are God’s gift to whatsoever might be their crusade or quarry. I am well aware of both my faults and demons.
I do have a musical toe as it happens. Big toe on the right, size 12 foot (thankfully the other foot is the same size). The joint of said toe ‘clicks’ rather loudly. It is thus that it plays percussion and sounds not unlike a castanet. Gypsy goddess flamenco dancers actively seek out my toe (bloody shame it’s my toe and not an alternative appendage, mind). Regardless, it is in constant demand with such gals. Even as I write my musician son George (aka Zoolon) is working with a recording of my big toe’s audio accomplishments, turning them into electronic loops and eventually some form of melody or sound art.
I wrote a lot of ‘Extracts from the Diaries of Twattersley Fromage OBE’ when first blogging. He is one of many ‘silly name’ characters I invented. Good old Twattersley is an upper crust, stereotypical English idiot quite insensitive to the feelings of others. He is active, for the main part at least, within and including the period spanning WW1 and WW2. More often than not he is charged with saving the nation from impending doom through covert action. Along the way there is always a gal he hankers after but never successfully woos. Wherever he may be in the world conducting his quests he forever returns home to Blighty having succeeded in his mission yet ‘a broken man’ in that he lost the gal he sought to have as his own. There are certain traits both Twattersley and I share, most specifically perhaps that of reading a situation incorrectly resulting in accidentally pissing off those around us. I thought him ideal at the time to take pole position on my ‘Home’ page!
A chum once told me I was pulling my punches when writing. He was correct, so these days I write whatever (literally) that comes into my head and edit that which is overcooked after the event. Also, I believe one should write for themselves rather than writing what you think others might like. That way you stay true to yourself insofar such a thing is possible. I cannot help being an atheist, anti-monarchy sort of bloke so if needs be, or it suites I may write in a vein that reflects that and bollocks to what others think. However, I do not let my world view prevent me from reading and enjoying the words of the polar opposite. Respect for fine, thought provoking words and the writers of such words is key.
Additionally, and a difficult one for me yet important, I think. Where a piece is a confessional of sorts, or on the cusp of the same, never worry about what readers might think of you – unless, of course you are a serial killer.
Currently, well if truth be told for the past couple of months, I have been attempting to write a book, a fictional story. I am finding this project far more difficult than writing poetry. As I said to Shirley just the other day, “Writing a poem is akin to a lunchtime ‘quickie’, whereas writing a book is more like an ‘all-nighter’” – you will understand that I was likening them both to time spent in a pub drinking lager, nothing more! In saying that I am not decrying poetry at all, it is an exquisite art form where the mind wanders free, yet book writing requires daily discipline and long term commitment, an alien thing to a scatterbrain such as me.
In terms of what the book is about the closest I can provide at this juncture is a piece I wrote for the blog entitled ‘107345’ https://wordpress.com/post/mikesteeden.wordpress.com/4536 that may, or may not end up being the prologue. Thus far I have approximately 30k worth of worthwhile words, and another 30k skeleton story words still to be worked on; padded out, plus a chunk I haven’t even written yet. I estimate completion late this year or early next.
Notwithstanding what I have said, this is an enjoyable project in that I am writing in the first person and have to do a bit of method acting thus getting in character each day. Given that my key character is nothing like me, in part or at all, makes the whole thing a worthwhile challenge as along the way I am discovering that my mind is even weirder than I ever thought it was. I have a working title, ‘Notoriously Naked Flames’ although I expect I will change that eventually, especially so as the storyline is rather ‘dark’ in a ‘Surely he can’t think he’ll get away with that?’ way and I am presently inclined to publish under a pseudonym, mind if its rubbish it will never see the light of day!
UK Paperback edition of ‘THE SHOP THAT SELLS KISSES’ at;
UK Kindle edition at;
US Paperback edition of ‘THE SHOP THAT SELLS KISSES’ at;
US Kindle edition at;
And available at all AMAZON wherever by searching ‘Mike Steeden’ or ‘The Shop That Sells Kisses’