Life in Poetry reading, writing, reflecting

Life in Poetry reading, writing, reflecting
April showers bring May flowers

Wednesday, 18 March 2020

An Uncanny Resemblance to Reality, Wednesday 18th March 2020.

Welcome to my blog Life in Poetry.
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It's the times we're in which led to this Reflections Post.

An Uncanny Resemblance to Reality.

I was catching up on my film playlist and watched The Maze Runner Part III the other day: The Death Cure, based on the original trilogy by James Dashner  which now offers 5 volumes to the reader (two prequels and one 'guide').

I think that as creative artists we have a duty to alert and denounce Human sufferings and Plights, and those of all living being I would personally add. Through paintings, sculptures, poetry, literature and essays, films, photography.
In Paintings, I am thinking of Guernica by Picasso, Medea about to kill her children by Delacroix and the tryptic By Hieronymus Bosch on Hell.
In Sculpture, The Kidnapping of the Sabine by Giambologna, The Burghers of Calais by Rodin and countless war memorials.

By PICASSO, la exposición del Reina-Prado. Guernica is in the collection of Museo Reina Sofia, Madrid.Source page: (, Fair use,

During the Second World War, Picasso remained in Paris while the Germans occupied the city. Picasso's artistic style did not fit the Nazi ideal of art, so he did not exhibit during this time. He was often harassed by the Gestapo. During one search of his apartment, an officer saw a photograph of the painting Guernica. "Did you do that?" the German asked Picasso. "No," he replied, "You did".[5

By Hieronymus Bosch - This file has been extracted from another file: Jheronimus Bosch 023.jpg, Public Domain,

The Raft of the Medusa By Théodore Géricault, Public Domain,

By No machine-readable author provided. Thermos assumed (based on copyright claims). - No machine-readable source provided. Own work assumed (based on copyright claims)., CC BY-SA 2.5,

By Eugène Delacroix - Own work, Public Domain,

By Arpingstone at English Wikipedia - Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons by Gerardus using CommonsHelper., Public Domain,

In Poetry,  Milton's Paradise Lost comes to mind. As do Shakespeare's Tragedies. In Theatre, Molière's Social Tragi-Comedies, Arthur Miller's plays.

In Fiction, I am thinking of Anticipatory Fiction and non horror Science-Fiction.

Animal Farm and 1984 by George Orwell (1948)
Brave New World (1931) by Aldous Huxley
The Time Machine by H.G. Wells, and the War of the Worlds (1895-7)
Jules Verne's Voyages Extraordinaires series  (54 novels, 1863-1905)
2001 A Space Odyssey by Arthur C. Clarke and Stanley Kubrick (1968)
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury (1953)

All made into several film versions and that I consider the basis for all more recent Anticipatory Fiction.

I think The Maze Runner series by James Dashner inscribes themselves perfectly in this trend launched principally by Jules Verne and H.G. Wells a hundred and fifty years ago.

The First Volume, The Maze Runner, can be likened to the Hunger Games series. How to keep the Poor downtrodden by entertaining them and at the same time separating and reducing their numbers while the Rich enjoy unnecessary privileges at the expense of the survival of the Weaker fringes of Humanity. The Law of the Jungle, when what makes us Human is our capacity to take care of each other equally , democratically and without discrimination.

The Second Volume, The Scorch, reminds us of the fragility of our environment and ultimately our survival as a species.

The Third Volume,  The Death Cure, the film of which I watched the other night, uncannily resembles our current crisis.

Brief Synopsis  (may have spoilers)

A virus has hit Humanity. The Rich and Powerful have protected themselves by containing the virus within guettos where the Poor, Infected and Weak are kept prisoners. The virus attacks in various ways. It declares itself by fever and eating at the flesh. First provoking hallucinations and paranoïa, then enraged behaviour, like rabies, madness and murderous instincts, ending with a failure of the brain and all organs, if the subject hasn't been shot before. Some infected survive. Some survivors escape. Some are immune. The Immune who are also the Rebels have survived the Maze and the Drought in the Wild. However they have been tagged with a chip as property of the WICKED, the governing power. They are hunted down to be experimented on to try and find a cure and extract enough anti-bodies to create a vaccine.... unsuccessfully. (A chill runs down my spine as I think of the Nazi doctors in the camps who experimented on the disabled, the mentally ill and the jews. I also think of the Constant Gardener and the real pharmaceutical experiments on whole villages in Africa to find a viable treatment for AIDS).
There are traitors, morally questionable scientists, politicians or the three combined, the Evil on the one hand; the poor, infected and dead (or to be eradicated) on the other. And we have our Heroes: Rebels, Immune and Survivors.

Here are some significant extracts:

Trailer watch here
Newt's Death here
Train carriage scene here
Ava Paige here
Gally here
What they do to the infected (chilling), and reunion scene here

To learn more about the original trilogy by James Dashner read here
interesting to see the origins of the characters' names.

To learn more about the three films by Wes Ball here

Other film extracts which come to mind

The Constant Gardener, 2005  here
The Snowpiercer, original Korean film, 2014, here
The Snowpiercer, Balance and Revolution, Ed Harris scene here
is this where we are headed ?

The Snowpiercer, series,  2019  here
not as good in my opinion.

And here are a few treats to alleviate your spirits :

Wes Anderson The Grand Budapest Hotel,  watch here
Fantastic Mr Fox, based on Roald Dahl's children's book  here ,  Moonrise Kingdom here
and on a darker note, which reminds us of islands devoted to nuclear waste, notably on coasts of West Africa since the 70's,  Isle of Dogs here
All transmitting messages with humour.

Two of my recent discoveries.
The origins of music.

Mari Boine, Native Sami (Norway) here
Kiwanuka, Native Bantu (Uganda, British born) here

I thoroughly believe that it is the duty of all people who have been lucky enough to benefit from an education in whatever field, to put their knowledge to use : to strive to improve everybody's lot in life and not only for their individual gain. Solidarity, Democracy, Empathy, in a word Humanity.
And I would personally extend this benevolence to all living things on Earth and in the Universe.

Sunshine finally come out today in Toulouse France. All flowers, wild and planted, kissing the sky with their glorious colours.
Have a safe week and take all precautions for you and others.
For the latest most reliable information and safeguards, please visit the site of the World Health Organisation    
and stay vigilant as to the respect of our basic Human Rights by our sometimes questionable authorities.

All comments, discussion, likes/dislikes welcome. We are all free to agree to disagree.

Tuesday, 17 March 2020

⌗AtoZ Challenge Theme Revealed, Monday 16th March 2020

Welcome to the April 2020 A to Z Challenge.

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My apologies for posting a day late. Major crisis escalating here in France.

Thank you to Arlee Bird for founding and organising the A to Z Challenge for the last ten years, and introducing this blog-hop to me. It has done wonders for my writing, my blog taking off in 2019 and introduced me to so many lovely writers.

if you would like to know more about the A to Z visit here

Thank you to Jaden R. Vincente for today's introduction. Be sure to sign up before the deadline Thursday March 26th 2020.

New decade, new team who have been already working together (or not) for some time, on the A to Z Challenges.
Thank you to J Lenni Dorner, Zalka Csenge Virág, John Holton, Jayden R. Vincente and Jeremy Hawkins. Please be sure to visit their blogs that you can find on the A to Z Homepage (above).

Last Year I participated for the first time in the A to Z Challenge, thanks to Arlee Bird who was one of my first follower back in 2013 when I created my blog writing Susan B. In January 2019, I created a second address on Wordpress and renamed my blog Life in Poetry, reading, writing and reflecting. Both blogs are the same now. On Blogger, you can find my archives from 2013 to 2019, that do not appear on Wordpress.
To visit you can choose between Blogger or Wordpress, the posts will be the same in 2020, as they were in 2019. On the Master List I have put my Wordpress address. For those already following me on Blogger, they can continue to do so without risk of missing out on any of my posts (A to Z, IWSG or WEP).
To read my Reflections post of last year AtoZ, May 2019 (on Blogger)  and on Wordpress here-reflections-may-6th

Last year I wrote everyday spur-of-the moment inspired posts combined with older writings that seemed appropriate (poems, flash or essays). I would like to thank again all the writers who visited my contributions and commented, although I was unable to return the curtesy to everyone, my deepest apologies. The Master List seems to have grown again since last year so the task at hand will be very challenging. I promise to do my best and improve on my number of visits compared to last year. I always reply to bloggers who have commented and sometimes a discussion gets going. This way, I met some wonderful writers who have since been very helpful and encouraging. A few, I sincerely consider as friends although we have never met in the flesh, good old-fashion pen friends ... or Skype buddies.

Here is my list of favourites, which expands over time as I am also a member of the Insecure Writer's Support Group and sign up for the WEP Challenges too since February 2019. Not all are participating in the A to Z Challenge, some I met on Five Minute Friday. Go have a look before the Challenge starts, after April the first you may not have the leisure.

Tossing it Out by Arlee Bird and his Battle of the Bands go here
Alex J. Cavenagh and his CassaStorm books here and the Ninja Captain at the IWSG here
Yvette Carole who introduced me to the IWSG and was one of my first followers back in 2013. visit her fantasy stories here
Roland Clarke at Writing Wings,  a distant cousin on my great-grandmother's side ... go here
Sonia Dogra at A Hundred Quills, who gave me my first Sunshine Blogger Award, here for a cup of tea
Tammy B at Tammy's Reading and Writing life, and Slice of Life, who introduced me to the Five Minute Friday and nominated me for a Sunshine Blogger Award also, see her teacher-writer's life here
Toi Thomas at the ToiBox of Words who is always so full of energy and encouragement, my kinda girl, share her love of comic books, vinyl records and chocolate here
Richa at iScriblr for her Bundle of Joys, her Freedom of Expressions and lots of other goodies, here
Denise Covey at Paris in Love - A Moveable Feast, for her books and exciting travelogs, not only about Paris ...visit here
Olga Godim for her fantasy writing and so much more, here
Keith Hillman at Keith's Ramblings for his exciting reviews, travelogs and beautiful photography. visit here
Stoner On a Rollercoaster for her stunning poems and interesting reflections , hop on for the ride here
My Sunshine Blogger Award post, 16th May 2019,  discover here  and on Wordpress here

I will of course be visiting many other writers participating in this year's A to Z Challenge, including new blogs (for me) picked from the Master List.

Theme Revealed

Last year, I attempted to participate in the NanoWriMo at the same time as the A to Z Challenge.
What a crazy idea ! I quickly gave up on NanoWrite and concentrated on the A to Z. I couldn't even churn out a story for the April WEP Challenge Jewel Box.
So in 2020, to act upon my frustration at not having put the month of April to use on my novel in progress, I will be writing and posting extracts from said NIP. Not whole chapters and not necessarily in chronological order.
However each post will figure a self-contained episode of the story which will further the whole. Every day, I will write up a very short synopsis of the context , within the novel, for the extract.

If you would like to know more about my novel that I started in 2005 and for which I have mostly been doing planning and research up till 2020, please visit the related posts :

IWSG March 2019, post on point of view, Post on Elephants (A to Z, Trunk)

on Blogger  read here    and    here;

on Wordpress    read here   and  here;

In preparation for the A to Z Challenge, 10 extracts are ready and I will be writing more over the next two weeks so that each day I can concentrate more on visiting all you exciting writers (can't wait) and discovering your contributions, as well as replying to your comments.

Wishing you all a fabulous April 2020 and stay safe.
The virus can't insinuate itself through a screen ...

Spring Showers yesterday in Toulouse, France. This morning cloud cover with a welcome snubber around ten. The neighbour's cherry tree has offered us its first white blossoms. My tulips are coming out one by one.
See you all on your Theme Revealed.

confined to the house as of today

Good thing I have my books and postcards to travel with. 

tree next door with pink blossoms turning white today

my newly planted olive tree

the forsythia today

he's looking after us

wild flowers in my garden

my tulips 

the new cherry tree blossom in the neighbour's garden

Wednesday, 4 March 2020

⌗IWSG-March 4th Family traditions

Welcome to another monthly post for the Insecure Writer's Support Group.
If you would like to know more about this very encouraging and supportive writing group
sign-up here

Anyone can join, budding writer, published or unpublished, writer of poetry, short stories, novels, essays ... So give it a go and visit the other members , read their contributions and don't hesitate to leave comments.

March 4 question - Other than the obvious holiday traditions, have you ever included any personal or family traditions/customs in your stories? 

The awesome co-hosts for the March 4 posting of the IWSG are Jacqui Murray, Lisa Buie-Collard,Sarah Foster, Natalie Aguirre, and Shannon Lawrence!

Welcome to another monthly post for the Insecure Writer's Support Group.
Just recovering from the WEP Challenge of February, Café Terrace. 27 beautiful stories and poems, triggered by the Van Gogh painting Starlit night or Cafe terrace,  to read and comment on. Everyone outdid themselves last month so congratulations to to all my fellow WEP bloggers. If you would like to know more about this joint IWSG-Write, Edit, Publish Challenge
read here

Here is my contribution for this month's IWSG question.

In a nutshell, when I first started participating in organised writing workshops during my first creative writing course at the Open University back in 2007, I learnt the ' rule ' : write what you know. Though we naturally tend to write about what we have experienced and felt at times, it's always comforting to be handed a reminder of what is basic to successful authentic writing, don't overcomplicate your task.

By all means, I do not think this means that you cannot create outside the box or imagine a whole new world or reality with experience ' borrowed ' , not lived through first hand. On the contrary, our literature would be very poor indeed if we did not glean matter from our reading, our dreams and our imagination. However, I also think that it is essential to rely on a minimum of verified facts to anchor your writing into ' believable ' reality that the reader can relate to.

So family traditions and customs play a big part in who you are as a person and as a writer. No exception , they often appear in my writing. They are written , of course, with a personal touch which reflects my own point of view and not necessarily the same as another member of my past and present family. Hopefully my readers can relate to my stories or poems by finding echoes in their own  memories of family gatherings and customs.

Here is an example of a family tradition transmitted from my grand-mother to my mother, to me and on to my children in their turn, shared I am sure by many other people.

Picking Blackberries and making Blackberry and Apple Pie.

My poem Autumn Aroma will appear in my Poetry Collection From the Shadows which is currently in the works with the help of Cinnamon Press Pencil Mentoring programme. So I'll offer a few extracts, as it is as yet unpublished.

Autumn Aroma

Pick blackberries from brambles

along a meadow in late August.

Brush away giddy wasps that whip around.

Clothe yourself with long sleeves, jeans and socks,

to reach those juicy nut size ones at the top.

Long legs and long arms cannot be found in a shop.


Bend down to scoop up the apples to balance

the taste. They are easier to free from nature;


Simmer the two combined, with nutmeg

and cinnamon. A whiff signals

Sunday dessert as it coils up the stairs.


Cut up the soft butter into dice:


Sieve the flour like snow falling onto yellow clay.

Grip the sticky cubes with cool fingers.


Lift lightly through spread fingers, an offering

to the god of sweets.


Thank you for reading. Please feel free to leave a comment, agree or disagree, discuss 

and I will be sure to reply.

Stormy weather here in Toulouse, March rain falling on February flowers. A hail storm on 

Monday while planting baby trees for the birth of a micro-forest in-between 

expressways ... Fortunately I had my full welly outfit, boots, cape, waterproof slacks, 

gloves and hood.

Elie du Bois August 2019