Niamh Clune

Environment, poetry, comment, children's books,

Plum Tree Pick Of The Week

Featuring: Erik The Great, Alan Patrick Traynor, Michael Lai, The Girl In The Hat (aka Anna Fonté).

As so many wonderful things are posted on the internet and a plethora of talent often goes unrecognised/undiscovered, I thought I would do a Pick-Of-The-Week feature on the plum tree. I asked Shawn MacKenzie and Jennifer Kiley to join me in this, and so they are adding their brilliant perceptions and discoveries. We hope to bring new voices to your attention from a wide field of talent through little snippets that whet your appetite.

For my first pick, I would like to bring you a book featured on This Kid Reviews Books. Erik is eleven years old, hugely talented himself, and a new, young, authorial voice in his own right. Erik also writes book reviews. Here is one of the books he has brought to our attention. I love the idea of a fractured fairytale, and this one is all about a pencil that encourages little ones to write whilst understanding the nature of courage!

Find the whole piece Here

Little Red Writing

Little Red WritingBy Joan Holub, Illustrated by Melissa Sweet

Once upon a time

In pencil school,

a teacher named Ms. 2 told her class, “Today we’re going to write a story.”

“Yippee!” said the birthday pencil.

“Slammin’!” said the basketball pencil.

“Sharp!” said Little Red.

So begins a hilarious and exuberant retelling of “Little Red Riding Hood,” in which a brave little red pencil finds her way through the many perils of story-telling, faces a ravenous pencil sharpener (the Wolf 3000)… and saves the day.”

I would normally  feature only one piece a week…

but I just could not resist this marvellous poem from Alan Patrick Traynor. I added this image, as my own grandmother used to smoke a pipe! In Alan’s piece, I can hear the silver hair speak: that kind, oldness that needs nothing, that has been combed through so many times, and the always being Irish that stirs the historied grass with countless sighs.


by Alan Patrick TraynorIrishWoman

Silver is the winter
Of the Wolf
The hound’s gentle fork
That remembers

Love is the elder
Grandmother by the door
In the murmuring wind
Did I awaken you

On the polished brass
Of winter roads
And beds
That fork will wasp’s wings go upwards

And apples that
Bathe in their lurid light and sleep will you
Rattle windows
And cars outside

Where I stand in the memory of such things
By the charcoal gates
Were her fingers
Live the longest

Where the wind
Bends the fork into

The next life
Is anybody’s guess

We guess
And that’s all we do
So we play the Irish


The Poet

The Playwright nequient
Irish until our face becomes the grass
Then we arrive

Fallen grows the upwards
Like an East Wind

Will I be East

But only so until the wind that sings so brings the Wolf

Silver is the winter
Of the Wolf
That hound’s gentle fork
And the wasps in the carpet by the bruxism balefire apples do I remember you

by Alan Patrick Traynor
© Sept 27th

In the next piece, Jennifer Kiley brings us the work of Michael Lai…

Photography by <ichael Lai

Photography by Michael Lai

Jennifer says: “Extraordinary Photographs. Best Blog I’ve seen all week. Theme is patterns of lines. Exceptional photographer. Have been following for quite some time. Usually spend hours looking at Michael’s photographs several times a month.”

Michael Lai blog;  From Line to Patterns. Visit the piece HERE.

Shawn MacKenzie offers us a piece by The Girl In A Hat (aka Anna Fonté) View the whole post HERE 

Shawn says: “I came upon Girl in the Hat’s blog this week by quite delicious happenstance. Here, in what she terms an “almost-poem,” is spare, mind-bending prose, a journey through memory, random thought, and recurring dreams. In a world of cookie-cutter writing, Girl in the Hat is original without being disingenuous, with edge and wit. She is a discovery I am delighted to share as my pick for this week.”

Hole In My Heart

I was born with a hole in my heart. I’ve always thought that would make a good first line for a story but in reality, it wasn’t that dramatic. It was a small hole and by the time I was 5, it had dutifully, reflexively, anticlimactically healed itself.

Kathy was my first friend. She wore princess costumes and when we played cowboys and Indians at recess she was always the one who got tied to the tree. To defend her from the cowboys, I’d hoot and shriek and stab the air with a sharp stick.

My first job was at an ice cream parlor when I was 12. I liked the free sample I’d get during break but afterwards, I had to practice scooping perfect 8 ounce dollops onto a scale before I could get back to work. The manager would watch over my shoulder until I could produce three perfect scoops in a row. I got fired for giving a friend 12 ounces and I never liked ice cream again.

For a year and a half I was an only child and when my little brother was born they say I pulled out all the hair on the right side of my head. My father remarried and had three more and by the time my little sister was born, I was 16. That was the year I had sex for the first time. I knew I wasn’t in love but he was nice and it seemed better that way.


About Dr Niamh

When I was a little girl (a very, very long time ago), I used to love learning new, really big words like ‘discombobulate’. As I grew, my love of words grew too, until I loved them so much, I could not stop writing them down. One day, as I was scribbling a particular word, a very peculiar thing happened. The word shouted at me, “Stop! Don’t put me there!” As you can imagine, I was shocked and nearly fell off my chair. When I recovered somewhat, I said to the word, “Could you stop shouting, please? I am not used to it.” Can you guess what happened next? No! I thought not. The word said, “I might be small, but I will misbehave if you do not use me properly. I will not tell the story you would like me to tell. I will say something entirely different!” I dropped my pen. I hoped that by dropping my pen, the word would stop talking. Alas! It did not. It carried on chitterchobbling, even after the ink had dried. I was in a pickle. I could not allow my words to run away with my story, now could I? I don’t know about you, but when this sort of thing happens, there is only one thing left to do if you prefer not to spend your time arguing. “Very well,” said I. “I will do as you ask if you will just be quiet and allow me to concentrate.” Since that day, I have been paying special attention to every word I invite into my stories. After all, a story should say exactly what it means to say and not be led astray. With love from Dr. Niamh, Ph.D in Learning Through The Imagination and Founder of Dr Niamh Children's Books.

10 comments on “Plum Tree Pick Of The Week

  1. Shawn MacKENZIE
    September 28, 2013

    Reblogged this on MacKENZIE's Dragonsnest and commented:
    Expanding our horizons…


  2. thiskidreviewsbooks
    September 28, 2013

    Thank you for the shout-out Dr. Clune! I LOVE Mr. Traynor’s poem!


  3. Uncle Tree
    September 28, 2013

    Good write-up, Eric! You really seem to enjoy hobby/work. 🙂

    Yes, I like Alan’s wintry tale with the Irish shivers
    and slivers of silvery threads aging wonderfully.

    Anna is a hoot! How honest and forthwith. 😉

    Happy plum pickin’s, all!


  4. Imen Benyoub
    September 28, 2013

    excellent choices..the poem with its scent of nostalgia..the photography and Anna’s little world..a great novelty in the plum it..xx


  5. Jenean Gilstrap
    September 28, 2013

    great selections each one! it’s no secret how i love the work of APT – really a nice diversity of the pieces here – all great!


  6. Patricia Tilton
    September 30, 2013

    Enjoyed Erik’s review — unique book. And, Alan Patrick Traynor’s poem brought back memories of the “granny” that lived with her son next door to me. She smoked a corn cob pipe. Loved the poem.


    • ontheplumtree
      September 30, 2013

      Yes! I found the photo on The Irish Times old faces of Ireland.


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