Steampunk fiction, reviews and interviews

Posts tagged “poetry

#IndieThursday: Mapping The contours

This #indiethursday I’m sharing my love of ….

https://www.etsy.com/uk/listing/641871660/mapping-the-contours-poetry

Mapping the Contours  Poetry image 0

 

Blurb:

A small, self-published poetry book written by Nimue Brown, with cover by Tom and Nimue Brown, printed by Stroud Print.

Poetry exploring landscape and the relationships between humans and place, inspired by life along the Cotswold Edge and the Severn Vale.

Human bodies are much like landscapes.
We have our contours and crevices,
Signs of weathering, history written
Into soil and skin alike.

Some of us are flat land formations
Others are complex, curving hillscapes
Verdant forested or marble smooth.
Clay and bone and watercourse.

The places we are inhabiting
Inhabit us in turn, as we move
These bodies through localities, as the
Shape of them shapes or motions.

 

To compensate for my lack of time to do long reviews just now, I’m using the #indiethursday hashtag to share the indie love and point at some fabulous indie books I’ve enjoyed reading 😀

So, what fab indie fiction are you reading / writing this month? Blessings on your brew and best of luck with all your indie endeavours, lets keep flying the flag for indie writing!

 


#MythpunkMonday: Tree Punk

Happy MythpunkMonday! A while back in September, we looked at the mythology and folklore of trees and I shared an extract of some of my tree-based mythpunk Opre! I promised then that I would spend another post looking at working trees into our Mythpunk, so here we go…

As comfortably as trees sit within the heart of many world Mythologies, they don’t lend their image so readily to the realm of punk, at least not at first glance.

We tend to associate trees with the countryside, with high fantasy or historical settings, they might be used in writing to create the feel of tranquillity or terror but we seldom see trees being used to create a gritty urban backdrop for a dystopian situation, or being the catalyst for a postmodernist plot. Fictional trees that speak, tend to speak like old men and women, or very occasionally naive young girls. I would like very much to see a Mohawk sporting, forty-something, jaded Willow Tree hurling cans at litter louts in a psuedo-park in central New London…

That’s an extreme and slightly comical example of course, but I think it’s a good hammer with which to smash our preconceptions about trees in mythic fiction. Trees are, to my mind, too often portrayed as benign life givers, old fonts of wisdom and healing, sources of magic, resources to be used and abused. But they have other faces too ; they can poison, choke, harm, barb, wound, unbalance, tear down and destroy … I mentioned Tolkien’s Ents in the last post in relation to anthropomorphism, but I do very much like their verve!

Our historic abuse of trees and their land surely has enough fodder in it for gritty, feral, subversive voices to rise up from the asphalt and the concrete, the timber frames, furnace and cellulose packaging and bite back so, here is a little list of tree-mendous (had to be done) tree-punk to give us some inspiration, click on each title to follow the links and feel free to share your own ideas, examples and gawd-awful tree puns in the comments! XD

BLADES IN THE DARK

I very much like the trees described in Blades In The Dark ; Jayan Park in the Charterhall district is full of beautiful alchemical abominations in a sunless world, deadly to touch and utterly useless for supporting life, but still revered.

“The great alchemist for whom this park is named contrived to formulate soil and seeds that could produce real, growing trees, without sunlight or radiant energy. They are horrifically toxic to all living things and must not be touched but they still grow beautifully here, over 100 years later.” – Blades In The Dark P262.

Evil Hat Productions EHP0030 Blades in The Dark RPG, Multicoloured

WHEN WE ARE VANISHED

In a world not so different from our own, a vigilante group of techies have shut down all the computer systems on the planet in an attempt to put an end to the war and destruction orchestrated by technology. But where there’s a will, there will always be a way and a new ‘cellulose tech’ has now been developed. But using living plant cells in communications technology leads to some disturbingly sentient systems… and then the people begin to vanish…

 

A POISON TREE

This poem by William Blake is, of course, not actually about a tree but I find the imagery and metaphor strongly evokes a punk sense of proactive subversion; the vengeful gardener, the poisoned fruit / the bright lure to death – in many ways the song of technology to the heart of human kind;  the two fingered punk salute at the end…

I was angry with my friend;
I told my wrath, my wrath did end.
I was angry with my foe:
I told it not, my wrath did grow.
And I waterd it in fears,
Night & morning with my tears:
And I sunned it with smiles,
And with soft deceitful wiles.
And it grew both day and night.
Till it bore an apple bright.
And my foe beheld it shine,
And he knew that it was mine.
And into my garden stole,
When the night had veild the pole;
In the morning glad I see;
My foe outstretched beneath the tree.

 

THE LAST TREE

Here’s a suckerpunch one for you, this one got me right in the windpipe when I saw it so I’m only going to post the link in the title and you can follow it to the picture. It’s inspiring my WIP at the moment!

WIND TREES

This broke my heart, appalled and held me enthralled with grim fascination when I first saw it a few years back. The video gives one side of the coin, click the title link for the other…

 

PUNK TREES

And just as a fun note to end on – Yes they do exist!

 

I hope you enjoyed this #MythpunkMonday post, do feel free to join in and share your own work or that of others, using the hashtag and post your own thoughts and tree-punk wisdom in the comments 🙂

 

 


#MythpunkMonday: Arise!

Photograph by Kovacs Orsi from www.freeimages.com

Happy #Mythpunk Monday!

Today I’m going to talk about trees! I find few things more inspiring than walking through a forest where the trees seem anthropomorphic. Coming from a spiritual tradition which taught me from the earliest age that all trees were living sentient beings with their own spirits and personalities, I find it interesting that people seem to be drawn more to commune with trees like oak and hawthorn who twist their trunks more readily into gnarled semblance of faces or limbs than, say, the linden, ash or birch who mostly grow straight up to the sky. Of course there are stories of slender-limbed, silver-skinned birch dryads; pretty young maidens dancing lithe and beautiful in wooded glades, but why do we only seem drawn to trees if we can view them as being in some way like ourselves? Even Tolkein’s Ents had a human-likeness about them…

The phenomenon of Pareidolia may be in some way to blame here – the inherent nature of the brain to seek familiar patterns (particularly those of faces) in dissociated stimuli ; fire, clouds, tree bark, wall paper, rock surfaces, waves … it is a natural survival mechanism developed even before we are born to help us seek out our care givers, our kin and our kind.

But even as we grow older and are able to reason beyond our instinctive drives, wondering and questioning whether a tree spirit would or could or should look anything like us in order to be taken seriously and communed with… I know I am sometimes still guilty of being drawn to those tress who do.

Having said that, the tree spirit I have had the deepest relationship ever was a beautiful, strong, generous and resilient beech tree with little to no anthropomorphic qualities whatever – so perhaps there is a lesson for me eh?!

On the other hand, perhaps it depends on your tradition. Mine, as I say, teaches that trees are beings in their own right and unrelated to humans, although communion can and should be sought with them, but perhaps other pathways view things differently? Perhaps trees twist themselves into human like faces in order to try and communicate with us? Who knows? I’d be interested to hear other thoughts on this if you have them 🙂

What we do know and can say for certain is that we have worked trees into the heart of our mythologies and spiritual traditions since we first began imagining the beginning of ourselves and our world. Without trees we wouldn’t have the planet as we know it and we seem to have been aware of this long before it was scientifically proven.

Many religions incorporate the idea of a World Tree, stretching its branches into the heavens and its roots down into the underworld, for example  égig érő fa in Hungarian Mythos, the Norse Yggdrasil, Ağaç Ana in Turkish Mythology, The Slavic oaks which even today form the Zapis tree-temples, the Hindu Ashvattha and the Chinese Jianmu.

Leaving aside the great and the grand of world religions and moving in to a more local level, trees have always played an important part in folklore too. Cloutie trees (as we call them here) can be found all over Europe ; trees where folk can leave a small offering in exchange for the tree’s protection, blessing, healing or as a sign of thanks or respect.

My family made a great thing of visiting one of these shrines and leaving a rag of clothing and the story went that an old man was resting one day in his cloak when a poor child came by with none. The man took of his cloak – his last scrap of clothing – and gave it to the child. The tree saw the kindness of the man and sheltered him from the elements that night so no harm came to him. Then in thanks the man returned next year and tied a piece of his cloak to the tree and now all folk thanks the tree for it’s kindness, but anyone who robs the tree will be cursed! I remember my little sister being too scared to go into the shrine in case she touched a rag and it fell!

Another tradition is to hammer pennies into the trunks of trees in exchange for wishes. This tradition has always rather angered and confused me as it must harm the tree, but a few years back, while visiting a fairy tree near Scar Fell, I was happy to learn the roots of one such tradition – it started some time around the 17th century during times of great famine when there wasn’t enough work and many poor people were going hungry. Rich people in the area were encouraged to hammer coins into felled tree logs and wish for better times to come, then after dark (to spare their pride) the poor were encouraged to come and take the coins. The rich either believed or (more likely) played along with the notion that the fairies and taken their offering and were granting their wish and so things began to slowly improve. Of course it wasn’t a solution to the problem but it is still a nice story about communities working together to help one another.

If you’re interested in some really excellent research on the subject, look out Ceri Houlbrook’s ‘Coining The Coin Tree’ here: https://www.research.manchester.ac.uk/portal/files/54558281/FULL_TEXT.PDF

 

We’ve talked a lot of myth today, soon I’m going to have a good look at how we incorporate tree Mythos into Mythpunk, because at first glance it’s not an easy fit. But for now, I’ll leave you with a little extract from my own tree-punk endeavours…

This extract is from Opre! which means Arise! It was written for Romani Family History Month and the Opre Roma! movement and it draws parody between the Romani people, (caught and enslaved both literally throughout history as in our enslavement in Eastern Europe and almost complete annihilation during Baro Porajmos (in some cases still today such as Italy ) and metaphorically today where many of us are still unable to live full lives with basic human rights simply because of who we are) and the trees which our ancestors, and still many of us today, revere in a spiritual way (caught and butchered and poisoned and ‘put to use’ by humanity)

But there is a hopeful beauty here too – the roots which push up the paving stones, the seeds which find root in the cracks between tarmac, the branches and leaves which coil over boundaries and fences… so our people have not been destroyed because we shoulder what the world throws at us and we carry on, we find a way to survive, and one day I believe we will arise, not to conquer or steal or enslave others but just to stand on equal ground as all people should…

 

OPRE

Our splintered marrow guards your precious ground

Not bought in blood, but taken in the twilight

When ‘taking’ was a thing we did not understand

Now sentinels bound, subservient you think we stand

Down inside those ringlets blacked by damp

Not the wind—kin to your own cur breath—

But the jewels it carries, diamonds, our inheritance,

We feel

Touching, unveiling in our stripped-bare bones

Kali …

 

If you liked this extract you can read the rest of it here on Vocal: https://poets.media/opre

Or in my Mythpunk collection Mahrime: Mythpunk For Monsters

 

Thanks for joining me for another #MythpunkMonday!  Feel free to leave me your own thoughts on trees, mythology and mythpunk in the comments and to join in and share your own Mythpunk, or someone else’s that you’ve enjoyed, using the hashtag or in the comments below 🙂


#DreamtimeDamselsAnthology blog tour: Elevenses with Nimue Brown

Good Morning Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to Max and Collin’s rambunctiously raucous and chi-chi to the core parlour located high above it all on board our beautiful rainbow-sailed ship, The Harlequin Ladybird.

Our tentacles are all of a quiver this morning and our china cups are chattering because we are still taking part in the Dreamtime Damsels blog tour and we are honoured (and not even slightly alarmed) to have our very dear friend the infamous lunatic and cheese fiend Nimue Brown joining us for elevenses this morning.

Do please put down that lethal looking collection of cutlery, My Dear, and have a seat, (Max, get off the chaise and let her sit down before she takes off a tentacle with that spoon… hm? … no she can’t sit on your lap, just move aside.)

Would you like tea? Earl Grey? Lapsang? Assam? Darjeeling? Oolong? (Max that joke is wearing decidedly thin now)

Earl Grey is my tea of preference, very strong and with no milk in it. Thank you!

I have never understood this human penchant for putting dairy products into hot beverages, there you go my dear, one Naked Earl. (Max get up off the floor I don’t know what you are finding so amusing)

Now then , do tell us more about your contribution to this Dreamtime Damsels anthology which we are now happily able to provide the pre-order links for here…

 

Well, it is a Hopeless Maine tale, in essence the aftermath of a tragic love story between a giant tentacled sky beast and a hot air balloon. We probably don’t have enough stories about the sort of mopping up other people have to do when love gets out of hand.

Ah, alas, those of us with tentacles have perhaps the most tragic tales to tell… was this story semi-autobiographical?

I was colouring on the Hopeless Maine graphic novel series, and a conversation between Sal and Owen popped into my head in which she was complaining bitterly about his wet hair slapping her in the face, and as I pulled back from this scene, I could see what they were dealing with and it was large, and messy and there were tentacles and bits of rope everywhere….

Max don’t be so rude it does NOT sound like my bedroom on a Sunday morning! Let us just ignore his idiotic remarks – what would you say most influences your writing in general?

Coffee. Tom Brown. Not being able to afford therapy. Being allowed to kill people with absolutely no consequences… I should probably stop there.

I see… Nimue I’m so sorry, I have just noticed that these cake knives seem to be tarnished, I will just put them away out of reach… er, I mean, sight… a-hem… Any authours who have particularly inspired you? (Max put your battered old notebook away, you are not an authour.)

A the moment I am particularly in love with the work of Penny Blake, Carol Lovekin, Alan Garner, Meredith Debonnaire, Margaret Attwood, Robin Treefellow Collins, Adam Horovitz, Nils Nis Visser, Mark Lawrence, Ursula Le Guinn, I could go on listing for pages, I read widely and a lot and am fairly omnivorous…

Hm. Excellent. (No she does not want to hear your dreadful poetry, Max, even if it is about cheese, stop interrupting) Battenburg?

Splendid! Would it be a terrible time to mention how much I like poetry? And also very bad poetry. The worse the better, in fact.

Oh gods above and below, woman, what have you done?

[HISTORIC MOMENT AS MAX SPEAKS OUT LOUD FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER TO ANYONE BUT COLLIN, LEAPS ON THE TABLE, KICKS OVER A TEAPOT AND BEGINS TO READ A TERRIBLE POEM ABOUT CHEESE]

En Route To The Fromagian Ball”

(A Political Poem Of The Mor Irate Revolution by Eightcups Max)

As I waited for the Tyburn Tree

To spread its limbs and welcome me

To its embrace eternally

I dreamed I journeyed long, to thee

(To dance The Masque at Caerphilly)

I met Morbier on the way

He wore a masque of silver grey

Very smooth he looked, yet grim

And seven rats did follow him

Fat they were, and no surprise

For, despite his mournful sighs,

And as I feasted with my eyes

Yet they with sharp teeth took their prize.

Next came Roqufort and he had on,

All speckled with viridian,

A gown so tattered, holed and frayed

I wondered not he looked dismayed….

MAX THAT IS ENOUGH!! STOP, DESIST, HALT, MY DELICATE SENSIBILITIES CANNOT TAKE ANOTHER CHEESY SYLLABLE!

Good grief, I had forgotten what a terrible influence you are on him, I am certain the world needs no more dirges on the evils of cheese and more sonnets to folk with slime and tentacles, it quite makes me think of taking up the quill myself. Tell me, what was your own road into fiction writing like?

I started out with some notions about being a serious novelist – I was young, and foolish back in those days. By the age of 23 I had been rejected by every major publishnig house in the UK. Then I discovered both the internet, and smut – they both got moving at the same time in an entirely connected way… and I wrote weird, gothic filth for a while, and weird fantasy ebooks, and then I met Tom online and he persuaded me that a weird, gothic graphic novel series was something I should write. Since then I’ve ambled into steampunk, and non-fiction. In essence, I will do almost anything for money, and absolutely anything that strikes me as amusing at the time!

Yeeeees, I shall never quite recover from that street corner encounter a year or so back… and do you have any plans for new projects in the near future? Writng-wise I mean and not in anyway involving cheese or street corners…

There’s more Hopeless Maine graphic novels on the ways and an illustrated prose book in the setting – New England Gothic. I want to get into light novels and I want to write about darkness in a way that deconstructs that racist light/white/good stuff.  I’m working on content for the Hopeless Maine role play game, I want to write a murder mystery evening event script, and I’m working on poetry that explores the wildness and naturalness of human bodies… 

Well, if you’re looking for something wild and natural to do a project on, I would be happy to offer my services as a subject for study… no? Oh well, no pleasing some folk I suppose. So, where can we get our tentacles on your own work?

Much of it can be bought from anywhere selling books – I work well in search engines, you can find me with relatively little pain!

 

And can we find you online?

www.druidlife.wordpress.com

www.hopelessvendetta.wordpress.com

https://twitter.com/Nimue_B

https://www.facebook.com/nimue.brown

https://www.instagram.com/nimuebrown/

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC2iAnLZ1JJzOfltGrnS0P8Q

And again, for the dedicated stalker, there’s always a search engine…
Wooooah! Dear me I do apologise, the airship must have slipped and I seem to have landed in your lap I hope I haven’t covered you in octopus slime?

Being a filthy urchin, it would be hard to tell fresh slime from anything else that has happened to my clothing at this stage. 

Are you sure you’re alright? Hm, what’s that? Time you were going? Are you sure I can’t tempt you with another cup?

Well, I have an… assignation with a …. poet…. it’s a full diary here most of the time and I have to spread myself about rather carefully. Which probably sounds at least as bad as it actually is…

Well the best of luck with your Poet Assassination, goodbye! Oh dear, next time she comes I shall lock the cheese in the pantry… and perhaps Max too…

Thank you, friends for bravely enduring the madness this morning on board our beautiful rainbow sailed ship The Harlequin Ladybird, you will find all the blog posts so far on the Dreamtime Damsels blog tour listed below and until we see you again, please remain always

Utterly Yourself

 

Mary Woldering hosts the first round of character interviews 

Leslie Conzatti presents an excerpt from one of the stories in the anthology: Red, The Wolf

Mary Woldering hosts the second round of character interviews

Our own kitchen witch interviews Nav Logan

Nav Logan joins us for elevenses on The Harlequin

Leslie Conzatti presents an excerpt from one of the stories in the anthology: Dangerous by Morgan Smith

Mary Woldering hosts the next round of character interviews

A.M Young joins us for elevenses on The Harlequin

Benjamin Towe joins us for elevenses on The Harlequin

Cover reveal from The Benthic Times

Cover reveal from Collin on The Harlequin Ladybird

Mary Woldering hosts the next round of Character interviews

Jaq D Hawkins helps Mrs Baker to dish up some tasty soup

Paul Michael joins us for elevenses

#Twitterinterview with the authours

Guy Donovan joins us for elevenses


Tea at Three: Mythpunk For Monsters

Good morning ladies and gentlemen, thankyou for joining us once again on the swelteringly sultry streets of Steampunk’d Lancaster as we attempt to sell bottles of illegal home brewed lemonade in a desperate bid to pay our rent.

At least that is our ruse for loitering on this street corner this morning, but shhh, step closer, we have something to show you…

Mahrime_Cover_for_Kindle

 

If you’ve been with us for some time you’ll probably be aware that our mistress, Penny, as well as leading a secret double life as an incorrigible octopus and his unnerving gentleman friend (that’s us by the way and we’re not sure we care for the description!) also writes short stories, poems and prose with a far less frivolous flavour in the Mythpunk genre.

If you weren’t aware, you can read some of them here for free: PENNY BLAKE ON VOCAL POETS 

Mahrime – Mythpunk For Monsters is a collection of  mischievously mutilated and punk’d-up folk tales heavily influenced by Penny’s Rromani cultural heritage. Each poem, story or prose piece explores the themes of identity, power and love by putting the monsters, the outsiders, the outcasts, the ‘unblessed’ right at the heart of the narrative.

It’s available now to pre-order on Kindle, free with Kindle Unlimited or 0.99 without and also in paperback if that’s what you prefer (the paperback is full colour with black pages, white text and beautiful white mandala art work by ArtsyBee and comes with a free Kindle copy)

“And what is Mythpunk?” we hear some of you ask…

Mythpunk can be as simple as taking a traditional tale and re-working it to produce something fresh, inspiring and new , or it can be a far more complex synthesising of cultural and mythological evolution; a deep exploration into the cultural psyche or an unflinching dissection of archaic archetypes. A lot of Steampunk involves some Mythpunking along the way and a lot of Mythpunk has a decidedly Steampunk flavour.

 

So, now that we know exactly what we’re letting ourselves in for , lets take a little sneak peek at just some of the things inside the cover…

Mahrime

mahrime quote

 

Mahrime means ritually unclean  / unblessed in Rromani language, it is akin to the word Unseelie in Celtic lore but it is applied to people. The title story in this collection draws heavily on the experiences and mythology of Rromani People and explores the historical out-casting of certain groups and types of people who are branded as ‘monsters’ because their existence is at odds with a dominant cultural or religious ideal. It also goes deeper to hint at the aspects of self which we choose to lock away because we believe them to be unlovable or unacceptable.

 

The Road Back Lost

mahrimequote3

This Mythpunk’d version of The Company Of Wolves is a response to the ideal that we all have both an internal and external collective of wise guiding voices who can teach us our culture, our heritage, our purpose and our place in the world; these voices, intuitions, bodies of lore, family, elders, clan-folk etc are supposed to teach and guide us safely through the wild woods of life and all the dangers therein but what if we don’t have them? What if our family or culture or bodies of lore or even our parents and home have been lost to us? This is the situation for many people today as war and poverty tares children away from their families and cultural white-washing tares culture away from people and places it in the hands of the fashion industry. So what can we do? Try to go back? Try to move forward? Or stay and become the wolf?

 

DAMAO

mahrimequote2

 

Damao means ‘to overcome’ ; the final piece of prose in this collection echoes the hopeful thought that is embedded throughout the book  – with solidarity and support for eachother we can overcome the problems inherent with being labelled ‘outcast’ or ‘monster’, we are not alone and we will endure.

 

So there you have it, Mythpunk for Monsters, we hope you enjoy it, and now I think we will just sit back on this soap box here and sample some of our own lemonade, this day is far too hot to be doing any work and my tentacles are wilting despite the negligee we borrowed from Nimue Brown and her Hopeless Sinners yesterday I think what I really need is a parasol…

Thankyou for joining us on the street corner today, hm? What’s that Max? You think YOU ought to write a book? Honestly, I really don’t think ANYONE is going to be interested in anything you have to say… well alright then I will ‘wait and see!’ … and who exactly do think will publish such an atrocity? Hm? …. oh you’ll ‘find a group of marvelous monsters as mad about tea and tentacles as you are’ will you? Well good luck with that my friend! I shan’t be holding my breath…

While we wait to see what, if anything, comes of Max’s new ambition, let me thank you once again for joining us today and for supporting our endeavors as always and whatever kind of monster you happen to be please, do remain always,

Utterly Yourself.

 


Morning Cuppa: Eye Of The Beholder

Good morning Ladies and Gentlemen and welcome to Max and Collin’s delicately dazzling and glamorously glitzy parlour located within the fantabulously frost spangled city of Lancaster!

True there are those who will say that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but we consider that such people are merely embittered that they have not yet received an invitation.

You find us this morning enjoying what may well be the last week of the frost fair as our Oracular Pet has assured us that the ice will begin to melt over the weekend and the Barge Folk will be able to get their craft dislodged soon afterward, which will be perfect timing really as, here in The Scattered Isles Of Ire, we celebrate the commencement of spring on the first of February.

People are beginning to carve things into the ice now – at first it was just the odd name or profane comment – “Victoria was ere” and the like –  but now the whole river resembles the Cameo Libris in the Burlington Arcade and it seems every drunk and lunatic is determined to leave his mark…

 

“Whereas you J .  FROST have by force and violence

Taken possession of the RIVER

I hereby give you notice to quit Immediately

A . THAW”

 

“Behold the Power of WIZ! Which locks,
In close Confinement, under pond’rous Rocks
Of dreadful Ice and Snow, our famous RIVER;

Whose matchless Glory doth the world make shiver!”

 

Even the stall vendors have taken to the sport, ‘pitting their limited wits against the noble tongue’ as Max put it …. here are some of the worst we have read….

To the Print-house go,
Where men the art of Printing soon do know,
Where for a Teaster, you may have your name
Printed, hereafter for to show the same:
And sure, in former Ages, ne’er ‘was found

A Press to print where men so oft were droun’d!

 

Behold the liquid RIVER now frozen o’er
That lately SHIPS of mighty burden bore.
Here you PRINT your name tho’ cannot write
‘Cause numbe’d with cold: ‘Tis done with great delight.

And lay it by: That AGES yet to come
May see what THINGS upon the ICE were done.

 

Kind master, drink you beer, or ale or brandy?
Walk in, kind sir, this booth is the chief,
We’ll entertain you with a slice of beef,
And what you please to eat or drink, ‘tis here,
No booth, like mine, affords such dainty cheer;
Another crys, Here master, they but scoff ye,
Here is a dish of famous new made coffee.

And some do say a giddy senseless ass
May on the LUNE be furnished with a lass.

 

I was sincerely hoping that Max would join me in setting our sights a little higher and agree to stop and watch the Parlour Poets in their ‘Sparring Salon’ but he suddenly became uncharacteristically Quiet, mumbled something about dogs, and has now skulked back to the parlour claiming a sudden urge for a cup of tea and a good book.

 

As I am still wheelchair-bound I had absolutely no say in the matter and so here we are, feeling a little perplexed and out of breath (it is no fun being rattled along the cobbled streets at speed in a bone shaker like that I can tell you), but with an excellent tea on the brew (Most Ardently – a delightfully fresh citrus blend from Wick and Fable) and an excellent book to read…

eye-of-the-beholder

We’ve been waiting a while to get our tentacles into the next Viola Stewart adventure (after falling head over suckers for Dr Jack) and we were certainly not disappointed.

Eye of the beholder is a paranormal mystery steeped in the mythology of Ancient Egypt; Dr Viola Stewart and her adorable fiancé, Dr Henry Collins, are back and this time it is Viola herself who is danger.

But the true nature of that danger is unclear – an ancient curse? An old vendetta? A lunatic on the rampage? Or is the greatest threat of all in Viola’s own mind?

This adventure was even more gripping than the first with a more intricate plot that kept us guessing throughout as to who the villain actually was and how the murders were being committed… and although Dr Jack did not resurface this time (we’re certain he’s not dead and far from done with Viola yet) there was enough mention of The Men In Grey and Violet’s missing sister to keep that over-arching plot alive and kicking.

Karen J Carlisle maintains that comfortable style with a distinctly ‘gas-lamp’ feel that just reminds us so much of sitting down with a good Sherlock Holmes mystery or one of Agatha Christie’s short stories – perfect atmospheric reading for a cosy afternoon on the couch.

Or in our case, the lemonade crate.

Now then, Max’s frosty mood appears to have thawed and, although I cannot say the same for the tea which is still frozen solid in the pot, I do believe it is time to consult our Oracular Pet and see what it has managed to pluck from the aether for us this morning…

 

Ah, splendid! That was poet Stephanie Dogfoot at  The Steampunk Opium Wars Poetry Slam in your dimension, you know a lot of what she says rings true here as well, although we have sugar and caffeine instead of these pots and poppies you people go in for… we’re not really sure how that works…but we wish you a very beautiful morning with your vices and invite you back to join us for elevenses tomorrow so, until then, please be always,

Utterly Yourself


Morning Cuppa:How well do you know Poe?

 

Good morning Ladies and Gentlemen! Welcome to Max and Collin’s poe-fectly punkalicious parlour located in the splendidly scenic city of Lancaster, Mor Ire.

True, perhaps, some have called it a portrait of lost souls trapped within the torment of their own eternal damnation, but we protest our innocence and say ‘we were framed.’

You find us, on this viciously hailish Monday morning, celebrating the final week of Poevember. Hopefully you have all enjoyed our voyage into the realm of pathetic Poe puns and devil cheeses and are not in the process of packing your bags and fleeing the parlour screaming ‘Nevermore!’

Before we kick our tentacles up on the table and enjoy our Poe Inspired tea from The Travelling Vardo this morning, we’d like to share with you our top five facts about Edgar Allan Poe. Of course we all know the general circumstances of his life, his time in the army, his fractious relationship with his family and the tragic loss of the love of his life, but did you also know….

–  Edgar Allan Poe was a splendidly Good Sport; Local children would follow him along the street flapping their arms and cawing like Ravens and Poe would turn around every so often and croak ‘NEVERMORE!’

– Poe had a penpal! None other than Charles Dickens, who was of a similar age. The letters are preserved in The Poe Museum and some can be read on their website.

– After Poe wrote a negative review of a work by Rufus Wilmot Griswold, the writer sought revenge by writing a damning and largely fabricated biography of Poe –  painting him as a violent lunatic and talentless alcoholic!

– Poe was fit as a fiddle; he even held the record for swimming six miles up the James River in Virginia!

– Poe had his own ‘big bang theory’! His work ‘Eureka – A prose Poem’ details a theory of life the universe and everything which has left the world guessing as to whether Poe intended this as a comedic work of fiction along the lines of our modern Douglas Adams or a serious ‘Essay On The Spiritual and Material Nature Of The Universe.’

So, those our top five but how about yourself? Do you have a favourite lesser know Poe fact you’d like to share?

Now then, before we pour our tea there is just time to pop our Oracular Cephalopterois into its cup and see what mystical wonders it has plucked from the aether for us this morning…

 

 

Possibly the best thing we have experienced in a very long while!

Well, and now our tea is brewed and it is time to tune in our spirit radio to the very last of Poe’s tales that we will be listening to in the parlour (for a while at least) . We wish you a most splendid morning and hope you will join us again in the parlour tomorrow as we wrap up our Poevember celebrations with some splendid Poe-inspired goodies.

So until then please, be always,

Utterly Yourself.


Pipe and Sippers: Nevermore?

Good evening and welcome to my awe-inspiring aethenaeum of  praiseworthy pamphlets…or as some ridiculous personages have dubbed it – my lovely library.

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I am Perilous Wight and here in the bowels of the city of Lancaster, in the disused tunnels of an underground train system that never was, I have made it my mission to collect every book that our self-proclaimed ‘supreme ruler f the universe’ and his mincing minions have banned from the bookshelves of the new world.

But this is not a public convenience! If you have wandered in here on the ill-advice of a pun-happy octopus and its alleged Gentleman Friend,you had best turn yourself around and wander out again! You will find no dreary double entendres, no pathetic punning or ridiculous riddle-rendering down here; here there is only the dark and the damp, the flickering of candlelight and the ceaseless toil of a man who did not re-animate from the dead to be pestered by people wanting bedtime stories!

But wait…what’s that you have tucked away under your arm there? Amontilado? A whole cask you say? Oh….well, yes perhaps it is about time I put my feet up for a while, pipe and slippers and a little drop of something, the day has, after all been a long one. And I suppose I could read a very little something,

like this perhaps…

teafiend2

 

THE WYVERN – an unscrupulous piece of skulduggery By Penny Blake 

 

Once upon a teatime merry, as I set my table heavy

Laden up with scones and crumpets, florentines and cakes galore

Whilst I sat, my tea a –lapping, suddenly there came a tapping

As of someone gently rapping, rapping at my parlour door

‘Tis some visitor,’ I muttered ‘tapping at my parlour door

Wanting tea, oh what a bore!’

Up I leapt, I well remember, flung the tea into the fender

Grabbed the table, newly laden, cast its contents to the floor

Eagerly I sought the dustpan, with its brush and so I began

To erase the scene of plenty, lest this guest from me implore

Sustenance. I, diligently, swept each last crumb from the floor

Evidence was there no more.

Still the tapping came, now ruder, heralding this bold intruder

‘Gods above’, thought I, ‘a teatime never suffered thus before’

So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood repeating

‘Let them in, tis merry meeting, not a crumb sits on the floor.

Chat a while and then, politely, show them once again the door.

Then begin the tea once more.’

Presently my soul grew stronger, hesitating then no longer,

‘Sir’ said I ‘or Madam truly your forgiveness I implore;

But the fact is I was lapping tea, no, sorry, I was napping

And so gently you came tapping, tapping at my parlour door

That I scarce was sure I heard you’ – here I opened wide the door: –

Darkness there and nothing more.

Feeling vexed, my temper miffin, at this wanton waste of tiffin

And unfounded fears that caused me to cast all upon the floor,

Silently I stood upbraiding, all my senses and degrading

Every cell which had imagined rapping at my parlour door

‘Fool’ I muttered ‘now the table must be spread as was before.

What an utter bloody chore.’

Back again to spread the table, just as fast as I was able

Soon again I heard a tapping, somewhat louder than before

‘Surely,’ said I ‘tis no fancy, this time and I must happensee

What it is that so insists on plaguing thus my parlour door

Let my teacup rest a moment and this mystery I’ll explore

Then I’ll sup in peace once more.’

Open here I flung, with meaning, parlour door and, brightly gleaming,

In there stepped a clockwork wyvern, hot breath crackling the air

Not a single greeting gave he, not a moment stopped or stayed he

But, as I cried ‘some god save me from this beast oh I declare,’

Perched himself upon the silken cushion of my favourite chair –

‘Look here, sunshine that’s my chair!’

Not forgetting I was British, though I felt a little skittish

At the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore

‘Sir,’ I said ‘Would you partake, with me, in having tea and cake?

As you can see a finer table never was there spread before –

But the creature shook its head and, pointing to me with a claw,

Quoth the wyvern ‘One cup more.’

Much I chuckled this creation to hear hest, as if libation,

One more cup of this sweet nectar for myself I should now pour

‘sure’ said I ‘some fiend hath sent thee, For amusement he hath leant me

Tempter sent to thus torment me, with this mantra ‘one cup more’

Sent this brass abomination for amusement to implore

Me to drink ‘just one cup more’

But the wyvern, sitting brazen, on my cushions it had taken,

Fixed me with its burning eyes and, once again, it did implore

Nothing further then it spoke – till I said ‘tis some bad joke

But to appease thee I’ll oblige’ and so a cup I then did pour

Drank and thought the matter ended, rose to show the thing the door

Then it chanted ‘one cup more.’

‘Be that phrase our sign of parting, Hullish fiend!’ I shrieked, upstarting

‘Take thy talons from my teapot, and vacate my chair once more

Thou hast made a grave mistake in thinking I would certain break

My will and meekly thus partake, at your demand, this ‘one cup more’

Certain your corruption I will not endure a moment more

Quoth the wyvern ‘One cup more.’

‘Villain’, said I ‘thing of evil – sent from Hull and certain devil

I will lap this tea at leisure, and if I chose now to pour

For myself another cup, it’s only for myself I sup

And not a shred of credit to you, fiendish thing that doth implore

Wicked wyvern, by your words I’m putting neither stock nor store,

Still, I will have one cup more.’

And, alas, I still am sitting, still am sipping, still am sipping

On bequest of this grim wyvern, one cup more, just one cup more

And his eyes have all the seeming, of a demon’s that is scheming

And his scales, still brightly gleaming, I have come now to adore

As I, dutifully lift the teapot and again outpour

For myself ‘just one cup more…’

Hmm, one cup more? Don’t mind if I do…oh, what’s that you say? Getting late? You really ought to be going?  Oh dear, surely you can stay for just a little while longer, I mean it is after dark and Lord Ashton will have unleashed his flesh-eating Liver Birds by now, you really don’t want to be mistaken for a vagrant out there on the Lancaster streets and there’s still plenty left in the bottle…