Guest Author / Poet Loretta Livingstone

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Now, before I start, I would just like to say a big thanks to Chris for inviting me here. Chris, I got you a nice big bag of bananas to show my appreciation. Here they………where are they? Oh! Chris, don’t sit down for a min……..too late. Is it difficult to get banana out of fur? So sorry.

No, no. I’ll just make myself comfortable here while you visit the bathroom. Sorry about that. Shall I pretend you’re still here, and carry on? Shall I make myself coffee?

I’ve been writing most of my life. I wrote my first poem at the age of 10, when a student teacher got us to write about a haunted house. That had major repercussions for me! Yes, it got pinned up on the class wall. It also scared me to death every bedtime for weeks and weeks. Teachers, please take note. But, although she got me started writing poetry, she wasn’t really the teacher who inspired me. She was an important passing influence, but the teacher who inspired a love of words and language in me was a very special man. He stands out in my memory, and I still quote him today.

I went on to write the usual teen angst – no, I won’t be sharing any of that with you. I don’t want to depress anyone and, fortunately I did grow out of that. But I had another string to my bow. My local Church had a Christmas Card service each year and the Pastor liked to read out little poems if anyone thought of anything funny to write about the recipients. And that, dear friends, is where I started writing humorous verse. 

I didn’t exactly stop writing as years passed, but it certainly faded into the background. I grew out of the teen angst – thank goodness! I also became ill with ME which, for some years, effectively squashed any creativity. I still have it, but I can now write again.

In the last 7 or 8 years I suddenly found I’d started writing a lot more verse. People seemed to enjoy it, and it was a shame to shove it into a drawer and hide it away.

One thing led to another, and I published my first book of verse, “Fire & Ice”. I’m actually slightly embarrassed by that now as, looking back, I can see my lack of experience. However, it was important, as it paved the way for my next, rather ambitious book. I’d just started on my normal route. Poems about love, life, laughter and God, when I watched the World Championship Athletics in November 2011. I got over-excited! I got inspired! I was going to write about the Olympics!!! Am I sporty – no! Do I work out? Erm…..I still have ME, so what I call a workout – you’d call…….well, I’m not sure if you’d call it anything really. You’d probably blink and miss it! So, what were my qualifications? Simple! I am Olympics crazy. Everything stops for the Olympics! Literally! And to have it in the UK! Slight snag – apart from not being sporty, I only had a few months to write the entire thing, get it edited, get it published, and get it out there! Did it stop me? What do you think? 

The craziness entered my brain. I wrote! Oh, how I wrote! My husband helped to give me ideas. I mean – what do you write about? How do you write enough for an entire book about athletics? I sent a copy of the finished item to the top British javelin thrower, and waited anxiously. She really liked it, but………..it was too short! Aaaaaaaargh! So I wrote more. I added the Winter Sports! I called it “Hopes, Dreams & Medals” And I finished it! No, it isn’t a best seller, yet. But the Olympics continue. As do I. I wrote a third book, “Jumping in the Puddles of Life”, which is far more conventional. My normal poetry is about anything which catches my attention. I like a variety of styles and subjects. I write serious verse, and humorous verse, rhyming and free. So I write about love, chocolate, little black dresses, God, walks in the countryside. You name it, I write about it! My style doesn’t lean to the ethereal, it’s fairly down to earth. 

I did sell my books as paperbacks, but then converted to iBooks and, at last, have the technical competency (Chris will tell you I am a Technoklutz!) to get my books onto Kindle. I finally managed that, although I think I have fried my brain cells in the process. I am now waiting on a delivery of new ones, and my last remaining cell is flickering alarmingly.

My latest book, “Rhythms of Life”, was published only a few days ago.

Ah, Chris, you’re back. Yes, that looks much better. Nope, I can’t see any more banana on your fur. Sorry about that. Yes, I know it took ages to get it all out. I’ll get you banana muffins next time, and put them in a box.

So, I’ll leave you with a poem dedicated to the teacher who inspired my love for words. And I’ll remember the importance in my life of a fleeting visit from that student teacher who frightened me to death! Teachers, you are so important. Please continue to inspire generations of children. My husband was put off poetry for years (he loves it now – he says) by an uninspiring teacher. Those of you who can really inspire are worth your weight in gold,

To My Teacher

You taught us

to love words

and spelling.

To sing all the verses

of the National Anthem.

You taught us 

the “alternative version”

to “Land of Hope and Glory”

You gave us a love of language,

music and learning.

So many of your pupils

loved you,

and returned to school to see you.

I hope you knew

what became of us all,

and

what we did

with the legacy

of your teaching.

And, maybe, just one of my winter sports poems? If Chris has forgiven me for the bananas?

Active-Passive Skier

I’m an active-passive skier.

I watch you from my chair

before the television,

but it feels like I’m right there!

I swerve around the slalom,

crouch when you bend your knees.

I’m getting quite a good technique

from practising at ease.

I tumble when you tumble,

but only in my mind,

and when you make the fastest run

I’m never far behind.

So when you win that medal

I think it’s only fair

that you send me a copy

and I pin it to my chair!

Huge thanks to Chris for both inviting me, and being patient with me whilst I was attempting to grapple with the technical issues of getting my book onto Kindle.

Listen to and watch Loretta reading a selection from her book Hopes, Dreams & Medals HERE

You can follow Loretta and learn more about her, her books and her progress at:

Treasurechest Books

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