Mr Bean’s Ode to Joy – the ‘European Anthem’ and Thoughts about Europe.

Hi everyone,

I had to share this. Someone who read my post last week sent me the link to Mr Bean doing the ‘Ode to Joy’, or European Anthem. My father and Mr Bean obviously had a lot in common. 😀

I think my Dad actually got there first, but the Mr Bean clip is refusing to allow me to write anything else underneath it… OK, Mr Bean, you win. My Dad was funny, but not that funny!

Now I want to write wise thoughts about Europe, which is kind of fitting when it comes to the European Anthem. I’m going to content myself with linking to this excellent, up-to- the-minute, summary from We Are European.

And now I’ll leave you with Mr Bean, and the hope that we get over our insular British nonsense! (How long does it take for people to wake up?) Incidentally, I understand the European Anthem symbolises not only the European Union, but also Europe in a wider sense.  A beautiful thing that we have been privileged to be part of… and that I sincerely hope we can be fully part of again.


Restaurant Reviews, Talk and Play – Pippa Roberts, Cheltenham.

Hi everyone,

I’m hoping I’ve managed to make the picture come back for you this time. It seemed to disappear last week.

Well, what have I been doing?… It’s been quite a busy period. I went to try out a new restaurant, for the Food and Drink Guide on Monday.  I never choose the places I review; they are, more or less, chosen for me. This one, the Maison Chaplais in Tivoli, Cheltenham, was a lovely surprise. I took a friend, and both of us were a bit puzzled as to what we’d find. We’d both walked past, and assumed it was just a deli, as this is what you see on the ground floor.

In fact it is a deli, with a very wide range of foods, but there is also an absolutely delightful cafe on the floor above, run by the same people. Everything is home-baked, and I honestly thought the bread was the best I’d ever tasted… in spite of doing restaurant reviews for twelve years. I’ve just picked up a Groupon voucher for a cream tea there, so will definitely be going back. (Vouchers are still available, so do check it out!) I intend to take my play, and work on it there, some time soon. If you see me please tiptoe by if I’m writing… 😀

On Wednesday I found myself in Witney. I was speaking to a Probus group at the Methodist Church, but the only way to be there in time was to catch a bus from Cheltenham at 7am. I treated myself to breakfast in ‘The Fleece’, in Witney (also a very good eating experience :D), and then sat outside, writing a play in the early morning sunlight.

I talked to the group about the social history in Effie M Roberts’s poems, and was delighted by the feedback at the end. One man told me that Effie’s poem about the lights coming on at the end of the war reminded him of that day, in his own life. He was a small child, and his parents took him out to look at the lights, sparkling across the town. He had never seen anything like it. His voice was still full of awe at the memory.

Here’s Effie’s poem, for those who don’t know it:

April 23rd, 1945

Mark it well, - tonight, tonight
We walk from darkness into light, -
A symbol of triumph, victory near,
Of a precious freedom we all hold dear. -
In suburban street and city square
Twinkling lights are everywhere,
No sirens feared, no terror, dread
Of approaching horrors overhead;
The fearful drone of death is gone,
Hurrah!  Hurray!  the lights are on!

That’s all for now. I’m still getting terribly tired; sleeping for a large part of every day,  and I have to spend an incredible amount of time on the phone to inefficient bureaucracies. (Npower three times this week, for about an hour a time… only to be sent emails afterwards, contradicting everything that had been arranged.)

Would Shakespeare have managed more than me?

Pippa :/

Pippa Roberts: Playwright and Poet

Pippa writes for all ages. She has published short stories and poems, in magazines such as Aquila Children’s MagazineCadenza and Quality Women’s Fiction . Her stories and poems also appear in a number of anthologies from publishers, including Poems for my Best Friend, from Oxford University Press.

She has published journalism under the name of Eleanor Theyer, in the Gloucestershire Echo and Western Daily Press – and in several magazines, including Evergreen andWriters’ Forum Magazine, under her own name. (See journalism page for more information).

Pippa is now writing scripts and novels for a project combining science and literature for children, at Hull University, is a member of Cheltenham Everyman‘s Writers’ Lab, and has just taken part in the Skylines project at Theatre Centre, London.

Links to Pippa:

Click the links to read  Pippa’s blog,  or to find Pippa on Twitter (@Stargleam).

To contact Pippa directly phone: (mob) 07899401808.

For books featuring Pippa’s work, click here.

References (please click on the links to read the full references):

FROM: Laura Fleming, Programme Co-ordinator, Under The Edge Arts

Pippa has a gentle and encouraging approach to children, and her own poems seemed to delight both teachers and pupils. She manages to combine a personal passion for the written word with an ability to inspire and teach others.

Read more…

FROM: Dr Mike Craddock, Head of English and Drama, The King’s School, Gloucester.

I have known Pippa Roberts for a number of years and the first thing to say about her is that she is a very good thing indeed.

Read more…

Find Pippa on Facebook.

Pippa Roberts on Prosody

OK, I’m calming down. Why I should get so het up about standards in poetry I don’t know. Maybe it’s because poetry is, to me, one of the most important things in the world. I don’t care if nobody much sees mine. (Most of it sits on my hard drive, and in notebooks). I’ll only read things if they are at least a decade old. I just love it, because it is beautiful, and I want to see that beauty going on.

I’m all for playing around with forms that have become outdated. I even had a go at writing a few pages of modernised Anglo-Saxon poetry. But iambic pentameter still works in the English language because it is a form that is natural to it. (Anglo-Saxon English must have been very different, with a huge number of unstressed syllables, which are needed by the form.) It is so different that it is like a different language, and that is why – with the best will in the world – it will never work very well with modern English.

We have borrowed a great deal from Welsh poetry now, and I’m all for it. I just don’t think that you have to throw away the baby with the bath water. We have beautiful, serviceable forms, that you can use to write about anything. (One of my first published sonnets was about morning sickness, and it was written in a completely traditional way. It’s in an anthology somewhere, where they were prepared to take a bit of a risk.)

That’s what it’s about. Taking risks. Daring to use old forms in modern ways… Not putting together a lot of slipshod lines that don’t scan at all. It makes you wonder how many excellent poets have been lost. Do let me know if you happen to know any of them….

Pippa Roberts’s Sonnet – from the Dark Lady of the Sonnets

In Response to Will Shakespeare’s Sonnet No.CXLVII, And Many Others, Written about Me

Indeed… my skin is black, or “coloured ill”,
And nothing in myself can ever please
A jealous soul, like yours. You hold me still –
And yet you see me as a dread disease!
Your reason once did lead you to approve
My every gesture, every word. You kept
Me safe within a web of gentle love
Which I, rebellious soul, was moved to accept.
But now that you, for “reason’s” sake can’t care,
And think I am the cause of your unrest;
You – lost to love – as all good white men are
Will warp with “reason” what I have expressed.
It seems to me that your white skin holds night
And my black skin still keeps the gentle light.


I don’t usually post my poems here, as I wait to publish them, but this was written specifically for a competition which required ‘a sonnet in response to Shakespeare’, and I don’t know where else to send it. There is a response to all his thoughts, in every line, and the form is a classical Shakespearean sonnet. It was disqualified, like many others, because it was traditional, even though it was a perfectly valid interpretation of what they were asking for.

Where does this come from? I know Hopkins wrote a curtal sonnet (invented by him), but it didn’t say ‘curtal sonnet’ in the competition guidelines. Don Paterson writes sonnets, but thoroughly understands the form and uses it well.

Interestingly a friend has just told me she had the same experience when she entered a haiku into a competition. Again the judge poured scorn on people who had written ‘traditional haikus’.

Please – you devisers of competitions… do give us a better idea of what you want, and what will be disqualified. Otherwise it becomes just a matter of who is ‘in the know’.


Annaliese Stoney illustration for Pippa Roberts’s Poem, ‘Louisa, the Boxer’.

Hi everyone,

I might be quiet, but there is a lot happening at this end. I’m in the process of arranging cards for schools, so that they have some up to date information about what I’m doing. This is a link to the wonderful illustration that Annaliese Stoney has done to illustrate my children’s poem, ‘Louisa, the Boxer’:

Louisa, the Boxer

That will be on the front of the card. How cool is that?!

I’ve also allowed myself be persuaded into leading a course on ‘Writing as Therapy’. I’ve done a lot of writing in cafes over the last few years; weeping copiously as I did it. (I used to have a rule that I’d write till I felt tears welling up, and then I’d leave. Usually I managed about five minutes, but it was easier than coping with grief alone, at home. )

In one particular cafe I fell for the man who ran it, but I was often in such deep grief that I couldn’t speak. It didn’t make for the easiest relationship. I’m sure he remembers me as a very peculiar woman. However my notebooks are full of fragments of poetry, and prose, which I will edit in tranquility, along with all the other things that are sitting here, waiting for a quiet moment…

I’m revising a short story at present, but more of that next time. There is still the same relentless pressure to keep earning, and writing – although it pays well – pays months, or even years, later. I’ve finally realised that even successful writers can apply for grants to help them, so I’m going to be doing that… More about that next time! 🙂



Pippa Roberts’s Blog – Writing Picture Books

Hi everyone,

I thought I’d stop writing about my readings and workshops today, and tell you about one of the things I am working on at present. I decided to try my hand at picture books. I have two that are nearing completion, but I have been on a very steep learning curve. Did you know, for instance, that you should never have a red pillar box in an illustration, because anything that is typically English will make it difficult for a publisher to sell foreign rights? On the same principle you shouldn’t use names that won’t be recognised in a wide variety of countries. (You’re advised to use search engines to find the most popular names around the world.)

And people? Well, don’t put in anyone that looks too English, or too anything. In fact, animals are really better because they tend to look more alike in different countries.

I can well believe all this, but I find it rather sad. It’s the same reason that poetry publishers started preferring poetry that was – well – really far more like prose. It’s much easier to translate. You don’t have to worry about all those pesky consonance rhymes, etc…

I had more or less written my picture books when a book I’d ordered turned up in the post. I can’t recommend it highly enough. It is Andrea Shavick’s ‘How to Write a Children’s Picture Book’ – and it is packed with good advice, which all comes from her hard won experience. I’d recommend it highly. But – oops! – those people still look too human. Better change them into cats! 😀


Hi everyone,

This is going to be brief, as I need to get an early night. I’m off to Plymouth tomorrow, to read Effie’s poems again. I have been doing so many readings lately that I hardly know what town I’m in,  but I write on trains, and it is all working out rather well.

A big event that I did recently was at the Guildhall in Gloucester. It was a U3A Archaeology Group, and I was quite surprised to see so many people.  I think we all enjoyed it, and I thoroughly enjoyed meeting them.

People keep asking for more about me, but it is much more productive for me to talk about other poets. I don’t want to focus on myself, as that is damaging to my writing. I come away from reading Shakespeare, or Tennyson, and my head is full of music and poetry, but if I talk about myself my poetry deserts me.

On the writing front I do have some very exciting things bubbling, but I don’t want to write more now, in case I jinx them. Just watch this space.

Pippa  🙂

Pippa Roberts (Stargleam)’s Blog

Hi everyone,

I’m not very good at keeping up with this blog, but I am making a resolution to improve!

I’m currently doing a lot of talks, readings and workshops, and getting very tired, but I am also managing to do a fair amount of creative work, (usually writing on trains!)

I’m trying to convert a play to a screenplay – which is a real learning experience, but I am also writing short stories and poetry. Many of my projects have fallen through – including the one with Professor Stone – because of funds drying up.

Doing talks and readings is meant to bring in short term income, but some people still take about four months to pay me. It is hard not to feel bitter sometimes.

To contact me about any of the subjects mentioned please phone me on 07899401808.