Geoff LePard -thank goodness- is unlike other authors. Where most would see a greening woodland dappled in midday light and write about fairies, Geoff is apt to whip up a dialogue ‘txixt Madame Rootbringerton and her onerous neighbor, Sir Pansybottom.
And that dialogue is not always appropriate for general audiences.
When Geoff announced plans to write and publish a book of poetry, I therefore wasn’t sure what to expect. Spurred by forays into this site’s Terrible Poetry contests and encouraged by his muse, Geoff pursued his dream and has produced The Sincerest Form of Poetry.
All of life in one easy couplet
To write poetry I need inspiration. Often that comes from my appreciation of the craftsmanship of other, better poets, whose skills I aspire to emulate. For this anthology, I have chosen two such sources: in part one, the search for Britain’s favourite poem led to the publication of the top 100 and I have used a number of these to craft my own take on those beautiful and inspirational works; in part two, my love of the sonnet form, fostered by reading Shakespeare’s gems has provided a selection covering many topics and themes. I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I enjoyed creating them.-Geoff LePard
parody pastiche and half sonnet, Monsieur LePard outdoes himself. After reading, I came up with a few questions which he has graciously answered:
1. Many of your poems seem inspired by a certain topic or event. Could you pick one (parody or sonnet) and describe your inspiration for it?
-Sure (and your surmise is quite right). In the first section – Parody? Hmm, I might debate that some time, though I’ve had them called pastiche too which is worse – sorry, moving on… Foreign Is Quite Ghastly is a political rant, inspired, or maybe despaired is the appropriate term, by one word. Brexit. A word that will define my generation’s stupidity, pointy-headed narrow-mindedness and casual xenophobia.
Foreign Is Quite Ghastly
(Home Thoughts, From Abroad, Robert Browning)
Oh to be in England
Rather than ‘abroad’
To say travel broadens the mind
Is really quite absurd.
It’s dusty here, and full of smells
Against which the most robust rebels
And, God, the din the locals make
And don’t get me on what they boil and bake.
I’ll gift a kidney if you’ll just allow
Me back to England. Now!
The birds they have hereabouts
Have beady eyes and beaks of steel,
And I really must confess my doubts:
These evil beasts cannot be real?
Back home in dear old Blighty
Our beaded tits are cute and flighty
And fill my soul with careless rapture.
Hearts should sing! They shouldn’t rupture!
I’ve got my ticket, I’m on my way
Back to England’s green gold shores;
I’m done with ‘foreign’, outdone my stay
Take me home, to know-all bores,
To potholed roads and warm flat beer:
I’m an Englishman: get me outta here!
In structuring the poem, I began by focusing on certain well-established tropes that are raised by those whose experiences of ‘foreign’ have not been good: the strange smells when one alights from train or plane; the noise from local markets or minarets, made less attractive because it’s in a language that no self respecting Brit would want to understand; and the strange local diets inflicted on our poor traveller, which is a strange conceit given the British have adopted the mild curry as their own national dish. To give one example, I well recall my first holiday in Spain – I was 22 – when I was prevailed upon to spend a week on the Costa Brava, amongst so many other Brits. One sign, on a café, said it sold ‘tea like mum makes’: not only was it squarely aimed at we Brits and our obsession with tea but the joke had to be in English because it wouldn’t work in the local tongue.
In verse two, I’ve turned to another snobbish stereotype: that somehow Britain’s green and pleasant land – it’s natural environment – is so much nicer than everywhere else: our climate is benign; there are no poisonous creatures that will kill you (unless you have an unusual, and frankly not very British allergic reaction to say a bee string); there are no tier one predators that can out do a domesticated Brit (sure, cows can trample you and there are a few dogs I’d not want to be alone with for long) and the risk of being eaten is very remote. Further more our indigenous fauna are cuddly and cute, made more so by the propensity to anthropomorphise them in children’s literature – Wind In The Willows even rehabilitated a rat for pity’s sake. Everywhere else you have snakes that kill with a toxic glance, mammals whose teeth fail all health and safety procedures and bird life that put the lie on the theory that the dinosaurs died out.
In the final verse, I turn to consider what it is that draws the Brit home and poke fun at our acceptance of our inadequacies because, well, they’re so much better than everyone else’s inadequacies. Essentially it’s a dig at the one British past-time at which we have no superiors: our ability to moan. In the last two lines, there are two allusions which you probably need to be British to get: ‘warm flat beer’ is a reference to the chief Brexit stirrer, Nigel Farage who would often be photo’ed in a British pub sipping a pint of the ghastly muck, to prove his domestic credentials. And ‘get me outta here’ is a cultural reference to the TV show ‘I’m a Celebrity; Get me Outta here’; we like to make a big play on our cultural superiority: Shakespeare and theatre, the BBC and TV dramas and comedies Nowadays our exports are of a more prosaic nature: The Great British Bake Off, Strictly Come Dancing and Top Gear. How far have we fallen.
2. In my experience, some people are afraid of writing poetry. What advice would you give a writer who feels timid at the idea of trying a poem?
Oh dear, that’s easy to say: just write. I think people expect poetry to be a special skill and they have to have the knack or they can’t do it. I like to think of poetry as structured prose anyway. If you can write a sentence you can write poetry and some poetry is just differently aligned prose anyway.
Your lesson to me [when I applied for some advice years ago] is a great place to start. Go outside, sit and stare and then write down all you see, hear, smell and, if you do, taste and touch. Then see if anything jumps out at you as an idea or thought you’d like to pursue. Poetry doesn’t have to be about imagery or emotion, it doesn’t need metaphor or simile. It can be glib and silly. The fact that I like form is my weakness rather than a guide to how it’s done. I often wonder if we fail our children by offering them so much in rhyme that they feel the need to rhyme their poetry and that carries through to limit them in adulthood.
3. What would you rhyme with ‘orange?’
Some say it is those on the fringe
On whose votes this election will hinge;
But despite all the chatter
It’s skin tone that’ll matter:
A grey face or one that’s orange.
On Geoff’s permission, I’ve included another of his poems that I enjoyed:
The Inner Musings of Clouds
(Daffodils, William Wordsworth)
I wandered lonely as a cloud
Which is pretty daft for a man of fifty,
Cos, unlike a cloud, and I’m not proud
To admit, I’m not, these days, so nifty
As once I was. I’ve put on weight
Through beer and pies, and grown a paunch
That’s round and hard. I’m not the slight
Young fella, who’d down a vat at lunch
With space to drink the same at dinner.
Clouds are lonely, so posits old Will,
Like me, they’re seen as less saint than sinner
Who’ll rain on everyone’s parade, until
The fun stops. But we don’t care, cloudy and me;
We are what we are: grey, fat, round and free.
Geoff Le Pard started writing to entertain in 2006. He hasn’t left his keyboard since. When he’s not churning out novels he writes some maudlin self-indulgent poetry, short fiction and blogs at geofflepard.com. He walks the dog for mutual inspiration and most of his best ideas come out of these strolls. He also cooks with passion if not precision.
My Father and Other Liars is a thriller set in the near future and takes its heroes, Maurice and Lori-Ann on a helter-skelter chase across continents.
Dead Flies and Sherry Trifle is a coming of age story. Set in 1976 the hero Harry Spittle is home from university for the holidays. He has three goals: to keep away from his family, earn money and hopefully have sex. Inevitably his summer turns out to be very different to that anticipated.
In this, the second book in the Harry Spittle Sagas, it’s 1981 and Harry is training to be a solicitor. His private life is a bit of a mess and he’s far from convinced the law is for him. Then an old acquaintance from his hotel days appears demanding Harry write his will. When he dies somewhat mysteriously a few days later and leaves Harry in charge of sorting out his affairs, Harry soon realises this will be no ordinary piece of work. After all, his now deceased client inherited a criminal empire and several people are very interested in what is to become of it.
The third instalment of the Harry Spittle Sagas moves on the 1987. Harry is now a senior lawyer with a well-regarded City of London firm, aspiring to a partnership. However, one evening Harry finds the head of the Private Client department dead over his desk, in a very compromising situation. The senior partner offers to sort things out, to avoid Harry embarrassment but soon matters take a sinister turn and Harry is fighting for his career, his freedom and eventually his life as he wrestles with dilemma on dilemma. Will Harry save the day? Will he save himself?
Life in a Grain of Sand is a 30 story anthology covering many genres: fantasy, romance, humour, thriller, espionage, conspiracy theories, MG and indeed something for everyone. All the stories were written during Nano 2015.
Salisbury Square is a dark thriller set in present day London where a homeless woman and a Polish man, escaping the police at home, form an unlikely alliance to save themselves.
Buster & Moo is about about two couples and the dog whose ownership passes from one to the other. When the couples meet, via the dog, the previously hidden cracks in their relationships surface and events begin to spiral out of control. If the relationships are to survive there is room for only one hero but who will that be?
Life in a Flash is a set of super short fiction, flash and micro fiction that should keep you engaged and amused for ages.
Apprenticed To My Mother describes the period after my father died when I thought I was to play the role of dutiful son, while Mum wanted a new, improved version of her husband – a sort of Desmond 2.0. We both had a lot to learn in those five years, with a lot of laughs and a few tears as we went.
Life in a Conversation is an anthology of short and super short fiction that explores connections through humour, speech and everything besides. If you enjoy the funny, the weird and the heart-rending then you’ll be sure to find something here.
When Martin suggests to Pete and Chris that they spend a week walking, the Cotswolds Way, ostensibly it’s to help Chris overcome the loss of his wife, Diane. Each of them, though, has their own agenda and, as the week progresses, cracks in their friendship widen with unseen and horrifying consequences.
Famous poets reimagined, sonnets of all kinds, this poetry selection has something for all tastes, from the funny, to the poignant to the thought-provoking and always written with love and passion.
©2020 Chel Owens
Geoff LePard’s works © Geoff LePard. Don’t cross him; he’s a lawyer