Pirates and Spooks, Beware! is a fun collection of poetry around the theme of pirates. What served as your inspiration when putting this collection together?
My inspiration for this book of children’s poetry actually came from my background as a graduate student in history at UCLA. I studied seventeenth-century English history. After I left graduate school I wrote historical articles on pirates for a few years. Once I even made the front cover of a magazine with a piece on Ann Bonny, a fearsome eighteenth-century pirate woman who out fought the men on board ship. Several years later I wrote a poem for fun on Stinky Pete, a smelly, unhygienic swashbuckler who managed to court and marry 11 women despite his untidy ways. I had fun writing it and I knew I was hooked. From then on I began to work on a collection of pirate and spooky poems featuring my real historical knowledge of the Golden Age of Piracy in the Caribbean. All my pirate poems are based on my real research in original texts and documents from the eighteenth century. I wrote the poems to amuse myself and children and hope they will do so bringing joy to the reader.
I enjoyed the vibrant illustrations in this book. What was the art collaboration like with Bobbie Kogok on this book?
Working on the illustrations with Bobbie Kogok was a delight. I met her through my church and we became close and fast friends sharing in the fun a children’s book is to create. I knew of her background in art and asked her to illustrate my book because I liked her and the whimsy she creates in her pictures. She is a busy artist now creating more children’s illustrations for books. She always has a project in hand.
When do you do most of your poetry writing?
I do my writing mostly in the early morning. I like to rise by 4 am when the world is still quiet and waking up. I can think best in the morning and delightfully, I live next to a horse farm. So in the still morning light that breaks over the paddock beside my house, I get to watch the deer wander over and feed on the grass that sometimes grows all the way up to their tummies. It’s a magical time for me and one where I feel the most delight in writing and crafting a poem.
Will you be publishing more theme based educational books for kids?
I have in mind a children’s mystery novel about a young girl who must solve the theft of a magical item before the misuse of it wrecks havoc on her neighborhood. I’m not sure when I’ll have time to write it though because I’m very busy working toward contributing to prison ministry. The story stays in my head and heart and I hope one day to return to it.
If you need anything further from me, please let me know. It’s been a delight to work with your company. Your responses have been most gratifying.
Shiver me timbers! Pirates and parrots, mummies and mermaids–get ready for these fun and funky creatures to tickle your funny bone and send a chill down your spine! Between the lines of these eerie poems, a lady pirate fights her battles in stolen ball gowns, a cannibal decides to become a vegetarian, and a ghost hitches a ride in the family car. You’d better get started: it’s all hands on deck!
Before the Foundation of the World is a collection of poetry that explores the nature of good and evil in God’s creation. Why was this an important collection for you to write?
I think Before the Foundation of the World was important for me to write because it was a working out to the depth of me what I felt about God and the foundational truths of the Christian religion. From good to bad in the world, I always felt I could rely on God and do. I feel this book is my way of making an offering to God of what I could give of myself most wholeheartedly. Not just money in the collection plate, but something of myself and my time that I hoped would be meaningful to other people and would present the eternal truths of God in a way that would be pleasing and memorable, the way a good song sticks with you or the way a poem makes you look at the world a little differently. I wanted to give something to God to say thank you for my life with you. And I wanted to present God’s truth to others in order to represent faith as a gift that we all accept with gratitude and joy. I hope that the poems will strike a chord and perhaps encapsulate certain ideas and feelings that never fade or wither away.
The poems are exceptionally well written. Did you write them for this collection or did you write them over time?
I’m thrilled that you liked the book. It took me many years to write. First I researched each topic I wanted to write about for several months, reading in theology and the Bible or even in fiction or nonfiction about faith. Then I wrote the poem over a series of another few months struggling with each word and line to perfectly express what was in my heart. I wanted the poems to rhyme especially because I love seventeenth-century sonnets and also because we live in a world of laws, natural law or moral law, and I felt that rhyme expresses and captures the essence of living within the lines but doing so with great fervor and passion. So that law is not an oppression but a freeing of the soul in time. The way a line can express and illustrate a certain concept with a great outpouring of emotion. So a poem is like a bird in flight. The bird obeys certain conventions in natural law, physics, and in doing so is also freed to soar. In the same way, a poem that obeys certain rules breaks the limitations of gravity on the spirit and spreads its wings like that bird.
My favorite poem is “Joseph in Egypt”. Do you have a favorite poem from the collection?
I’m actually partial to “I’m Never Far Away.” This is a poem in the voice of Jesus that, to my great surprise, just popped out of me one day. I wrote it with practically no revision which is almost unheard of as I practice writing. Usually I struggle terribly to fit the words to the image I have in my mind. I rework the print over and over again until the image, the sound, and the words are one. In this case, the words just came out of me and flowed onto the page. I meant this poem to capture the grace of Christ whose love is enduring and all encompassing. That’s why it means so much to me. “Let the fishes and the beasts herald the breaking of my day,/ For, just as sunlight speckles morning’s foal, I am never far away.” I live next door to a horse farm. I was thinking of the magic of that farm in the early morning when I write in my study with the breaking sun over the fields and the paddock by my house. That’s what this couplet is all about, the magic of God’s world, the argument from design of the goodness of God and his creation.
Do you plan on writing and publishing more books of poetry?
At this time, I’ve decided I want to go into prison ministry. I want to write essays for prisoners about faith and Christianity and our need for them in life no matter where we find ourselves. I want to walk with a candle in the dark for a while. I’ve wanted to do this for years and finally decided to put my personal writing behind for some direct work for God’s kingdom. I don’t know where I’ll go to in the future. For right now I feel called to move into writing nonfiction. There are many ways to serve and for now I’m satisfied with what I’ve written in poetry so far. I also have a children’s book of poems out that can be seen at Susanweinerbooks.com, where you can find Bible studies for Before the Foundation of the World too.
Before the Foundation of the World examines the nature of good and evil in God’s creation. Using poetry and song lyrics, this collection offers a celebration of joy in response to God’s covenant with man. From Christmas poems to simple lullabies, the author paints a vivid picture of the incredible experience of wonder in a world of God’s design. An extended exchange in Appendix I with “The Father of Lies” (“Pater Mendaciorum”) and the promises of Christian faith reflects our reconciliation with God and explores the redemption of mankind in the face of radical evil. Journeying from the psychology of evil to the good news of the spirit, Before the Foundation of the World speaks to the ways of God, embodying gratitude and love as the foundation for mature Christian belief.
Pirates and Spooks, Beware by Susan Weiner is an enthralling collection of poems featuring adventures based on the central theme of pirates. This book has chilling and exciting poems of all kinds of characters from villainous pirates and cunning mermaids to mysterious hitchhikers. This book aims to excite both elementary and middle school students and cultivate their interest in this marvelous collection of poetry.
The poems are witty, lively and contain a fair bit of humor that is sure to produce a chuckle or two from the reader. The vibrant illustrations in the book are captivating and suit the poems to which they accompany.
Although I had a fun time reading this book, do think that the poems included many high vocabulary words that the average elementary or middle school student probably won’t be able to grasp at first glance. But at the same time this can serve as an opportunity to learn new words. Which is why I think this book can be much improved with a glossary at the end to simplify the reading process for the students who are not used to complex or elaborate words. While most of the poems were easy and fun, I felt that there were a few rhymes that felt a little repetitive, but it was good that they did alternate with new stanzas. Apart from these small quibbles, the poems showcase the author’s fantastic imagination as the characters in the poems, such as the pirates, had many intricate and fun details to read about. This book is a great piece of children’s literature with a noble purpose.
Pages: 48 | ISBN: 1947860151
Intensely personal and authentic, Susan Weiner’s poems within Before the Foundation of the World are a work of gratitude, faith and love. A labor of devotion and unwavering belief, the poetry in this collection evokes vivid imagery in beautifully illustrated pages that finely compliment the spiritual style of the poems.
The majority of the poems are divided into two categories. They are a. apocalyptic (God being revealed to talk to Man), and b. devotional (Man speaks to God). The effort that’s been put to present the grandeur of the Divine and to create hymns of gratitude fit for God is apparent.
Additionally, some of the poems in this anthology are made for those who are going through dark times and want a source of pious courage to help them through situations that feel excruciating. Poems like “Be Not Far Away” and “Armageddon” are reminders that even the fear of death is possible to overcome through faith while poems like “Joseph in Egypt” are reminders of unconditional divine love through loneliness and rejection.
Most of the poems have end rhyme schemes, with Weiner using sonnets and couplets to craft the speaker’s unconditional love and devotion to God. The poetry in this will be appreciated by any religious lovers of poetry, history and Christian symbolism, as the poems are filled with religious symbols, historical references and evangelical parables, while at the same time being accessible and easily understood.
Before the Foundation of the World is highly recommended for poetry lovers seeking a deeper spiritual connection through both spiritual and intelligent poetry.
Pages: 45 | ASIN: B08232HWG3