Sunday, January 13, 2013

Poetry Monday: Appointment with Mr Yeats

I've been reading WB Yeats' poetry for years - indeed I feel like I've grown up with it.  Though it's hard to beat the intense universal power of the later poems like "The Second Coming" and "Lapis Lazuli" which continue to be as relevant today as they were when Yeats published them in the early 20th Century, many of the earlier poems work beautifully as song lyrics. I have always loved The Waterboy's rendition of "The Stolen Child" from Fisherman's Blues, and was delighted when they released an entire album of songs created around Yeats' poems.  All of the songs are underpinned by a deep love and sense of meaning behind the words that inspired them, enriched with Celtic sounds: wild fiddle solos, rich vocal harmonies (Katie Kim's voice is so understatedly beautiful and works perfectly with Mike Scott's booming growl), flutes, saxaphone, oboe, guitar of course, and lots of other instruments. The band is tight as ever, and the songs do more than justice to the poetry. I think it's fair to say that I like it all (and am looking forward to seeing the Waterboys live next week when they perform at the Sydney Opera House), but a few of my particular favourites include "Mad as The Mist and Snow":

Bolt and bar the shutter, 
For the foul winds blow: 
Our minds are at their best this night,
And I seem to know 
That everything outside us is Mad as the mist and snow.

I love the way the music builds and builds, and the fiddle solo is just brilliant:

I also love "Let the Earth Bear Witness" - one of the simplest and most yet universally powerful poems which Scott, his wife Janette, and musician Ian Barrett have turned into a moving, and thoroughly modern video tribute to freedom fighters everywhere.

Let the sea bear witness
Let the wind bear witness
Let the earth bear witness
Let the stars bear witness

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Aussie and Californian Offer Love Poetry to the World

Valentine’s Day may be the holiday best made for poetry.

Trouble is, the poetry often found on the inside covers of commercial greeting cards is often corny and cliché laden. Carolyn Howard-Johnson and I are once again coming to the rescue with Cherished Pulse, a chapbook of poetry just right for tucking into an envelope or sending off as an e-mail attachment to loved ones.

Right now, Cherished Pulse is available free for a limited time.  All you do is go to on Jan 11, 12, 13, 14 and 15th and click (or click on the book cover above).

There is plenty of time for you to share with someone you care about before February 14th.

It's a mini-gift and greeting card in one.

Cherished Pulse includes many of the science-inspired poems I have a tendency to write (yes, science love poems...), as well as Carolyn’s nostalgic poetry.

Chapbooks in the Celebration Series have won many awards including MWSA’s highest honor of gold and several from USA Book News.
It’s you who had me dreaming lilacs, 
breathing April’s sweetest 
For more information on the Celebration Series chapbooks, contact either of us, or visit media rooms at or Vicki Thomas contributed the beautiful watercolors used on the cover and interior. To see her selections of her work, go to

 Free Kindle books are available for about any format or reader you prefer, even if you don't have a Kindle, including PC, iPhone, Android, Mac, etc. Just download the appropriate free app. The one for PCs is at