Spinning Away

red moon

Spinning Away

The sky cracked open

and I spun away

with whirling lights in my head.

The great bird beneath me

opened its wings

and flapped from

one fantastic place to another.

Moons sang and suns

danced in one wild, weird place,

while delicate frost touched trees

of rainbow hues in another.

The black bird opened its orange beak

and sang us onwards

until we came to a frozen lake.

Silver children skated its

myriad-coloured surface

and butterflies of sparkling ice sang:

‘’Isn’t this nice.

Isn’t this nice.’’

We journeyed on past planets

of indescribable blue

and shot up a waterfall

that roared and rushed into

valleys vast and mysteriously deep.

We came to a full, red moon

that was spinning and jigging to its own

private tune.

It smiled at the black bird and

waved at me before floating away

over a long, green stream

of ribboning bubbles and delicate spray.

Finally, the air turned wonderfully warm

while a billion waltzing stars

catapulted in exotic, endless display.

Then, down, down we planed

in a golden moment that

jetted us over a gleaming sea.

‘’Home again. Home again,’’

the black bird sang with me.

I was now on soft beach sand.

I turned around once and the bird

was gone, flying on to I know not where.

I lay down on the fine, fine sand and

held onto memory after mad, marvellous memory

as one wild moon after another

looked down and winked at me.

© Andrew Pender-Smith



Creating New Idioms



Colouring Your Communication – Creating Original Idioms

Say ‘Goodbye’ to cliché. Writers and speakers are often a big switch-off if they use idioms that have been overused. If you take time to create some of your own it will help enliven your communication, and help you be a more original voice. I have come up with three to illustrate:

He was as happy as a hungry dolphin in a sardine shoal.’ One of the most commonly used idioms for expressing great happiness is: ‘He was as happy as a lark’.

Instead of saying that someone is ‘as old as the hills’ I came up with: ‘She was as old as the first dinosaur’s mother’.

How many of you know the idiom ‘He was totally legless’? It means the man had far too much alcohol to drink and, as a result, couldn’t stand. To put it more prosaically, he was drunk. After a bit of thought, I typed out: ‘He was like a sad old goat trying to walk on ice’.

Now try creating your own idioms in different contexts. All the ones in common usage were once new. One created by you might be used by others and gain you some recognition in the process. Have a good time trying.

Andrew Pender-Smith






Luka in Swamp Pond (2)

SWAMP RAT! What do I do when not writing? One occupation that takes up a lot of my time is the exercising and training of Luka. He is the normally glossy individual you see on the Andrew Pender-Smith Facebook page. Luka runs free in the local park and is well known for diving into the swampy pond for a quick swim. This has earned him the nickname of ‘Swamp Rat’. To say he doesn’t smell good is an understatement. Thank you to Robin Regnard for the photo. Talking of writing, I am busy working on three short stories which should be out within the next few weeks. They are a children’s story called ‘Singing and Clapping’ and two in the mystery/horror/suspense genres. These works have the titles ‘An Absolute Killing’ and ‘Will You Come Back?’ Luka spends a great deal of time at my feet while I work on the stories.

To those of you who spend at least part of your time engaging in creative activities, be they writing, painting, taking photos, dancing, acting or anything else creative, HAPPY CREATING. 

Andrew Pender-Smith


Floating into Happiness


The title comes from the short story for children that grew out of the creative writing exercise discussed below.

Creating Characters from Objects.

A highly effective way to help children develop their creative writing skills is to turn objects into characters and then to use the characters in a story. People who wish to write for children will also find this exercise very useful. The completed stories could also be used to encourage children to read aloud. Reading out a story one has written usually provides much enjoyment for the writer and the listener. If you are a teacher working with a class, this exercise could further be extended by encouraging students to draw the characters they have created.

To start off with, find objects you would enjoy turning into a character. A stone? A potato? A carrot? An ice block? Some cheese? A USB? A CD? A chair? The list is almost endless.

To illustrate this discussion I have chosen a carrot, a potato and a large balloon.

This is what I have decided about the carrot, potato and balloon after looking at them and thinking about names, clothes, movement and temperament and asking questions such as:

What do you look like?

How do you dress?

How do you speak?

Are you brave, timid, outspoken, happy, sad, lonely, friendly…?

Where are you when the story starts off?

What are you doing?

What happens to you?

The questions help to build a whole lot of knowledge about the characters and their situations. They help develop the story from opening through to a conclusion. Here are a few things I came up with when it came to the actual characters.

Carrot has long purple hair, purple shoes with bright yellow laces and he has big, purple hands. Carrot is excitable and loves exercising and dancing. His name is Sylvester. His mother called him Sylvester because she liked the name.

Potato’s name is Linda. She wears a soft, pink dress, has curly blonde hair, large blue eyes and wears huge glasses because she cannot see too well. Her shoes are pink pumps that match the colour of her dress. The ribbons in her hair also pink.  Linda loves to sing and dance. She and Sylvester a good friends.

Balloon is huge and round. Balloon is a deep blue in colour and has big, big eyes and a wide, rubbery mouth. Balloon has a long yellow string attached to him. He has been all over the world because his string often comes loose and he floats and floats high in the sky from place to place. Balloon’s name is Big Bruce.

The story begins:

‘’Oh no, oh no,’’ Linda said between sobs. ‘’I heard her say it. I honestly did. We are going to be eaten this evening, and I did so, so want a long life and to do and see lots of lovely things. I wanted to be a famous singer. I wanted thousands and thousands of people to come and hear me at concerts. Now I’m going to be put into a stew.’’

      ‘’It’s the worst thing for both of us,‘’ Sylvester said in a deep, sad voice. ‘’And in the two days we have known each other, I have loved dancing in the kitchen while you sang to me. I always wanted to be on stage as the world’s first dancing carrot. I also wanted to be famous, and now I never will be.’’ … … …

How does the toucan, the bird with the colourful beak, feature in all of this. You will need to ask the characters the story to find out that. ‘Floating into Happiness’ – the little story with a big heart – is available for the princely amount of 99 American cents on Amazon. Here is the link:  http://www.amazon.com/dp/B074KCSSZ2


Underwater Poems Done as Acrostics

ocean-life-215133__480Here are eight acrostic poems dealing with the sea and some of the creatures that live within briny depths. Four are offered today and four tomorrow. In time they will form part of a poetry book dealing with nature and animals. If any of you have read earlier postings, you will have learnt that I use, and encourage others to use, poems as educational tools in a variety of ways. Here goes with the first four underwater poems.



under the sea




endlessly streaming







wonderfully blooming

entire flowery gardens

exotic and silently




Occupied, waiting


tangled tentacles


pondering the next catch of

unsuspecting fish

swimming too, too close …



Fabulous flaming jewels

intimate with light and shadow

silently swimming

hanging orbs in cold, clear waters.


The next four poems follow tomorrow. 

A Matter of Perception – Play Time! (Part Three)


A Jungle Storm

The brightest butterfly in the world

lands flicking, fluttering on

a beautiful jungle flower.

A buck comes to sip from

a silent jungle pool.

Then a jungle storm comes,

loud and strong,

tossing jungle trees,

and the brightest butterfly in the world

waits quietly

beneath soft jungle leaves.

                               Andrew Pender-Smith

The above poem is a short lyric. The poem below also looks at a butterfly in a peaceful jungle setting until a storm arrives. This poem consists of five haiku that have been linked together to create a lyric.

A Jungle Storm

A butterfly on

a forest flower

beautifully there.

A buck comes

to sip from a silent pool

dainty and watching.

Then, a jungle storm

tossing, bashing jungle trees.

Where is the butterfly?

The radiant beauty

is beneath jungle petals

just waiting, quietly.

                                         Andrew Pender-Smith

Which of the poems works better? You decide. Now, how about trying an exercise like this yourself. Perhaps turn a lyric into a narrative or, as I have done, take the thoughts and feelings explored in a lyric and see if you are able to express them just as well, or even better, in a series of haiku. A newspaper report as a ballad or epic? Enjoy experimenting. 

With good luck from me.

Andrew Pender-Smith

Parts one and two were published on the 6th and 7th of July. 





A Matter of Perception – Play Time! (Part Two)


In this second experiment in which prose is turned to poetry, I have used a headline and the first few sentences of a newspaper article.

Brazen Armed Robbery

 Just before closing yesterday, a group of armed men stormed a grocery store and held up the manager and staff at gunpoint. A few terrified shoppers managed to run for cover as shots volleyed through the store.

 Just before closing yesterday, a group of armed men stormed a grocery store and held up the manager and staff at gunpoint. A few terrified shoppers managed to run for cover as shots volleyed through the store.

Brazen Armed Robbery

Just before closing yesterday,

a group of armed men

stormed a grocery store

and held up the manager

and staff at gunpoint.

A few terrified shoppers

managed to

run for cover

as shots


through the store.

Which one is more likely to impact on a reader? The two poems that resulted from the prose passages ( See ‘Part One’ for the first.) are not great works of poetry, but hopefully help to illustrate the idea that writers need to be playful explorers if they wish to sharpen the skills required to become a successful communicator.

Happy writing.

Andrew Pender-Smith


A Matter of Perception – Play Time! (Part One)


QUESTION: When do we perceive what we are reading as poetry and when do see consider it to be prose? First look at the following:

Leopards on the Loose

Two leopards escaped from the local zoo today by climbing up a tree that had fallen into their enclosure. It is believed they climbed up the uprooted tree and jumped down from there. One was darted and recaptured. The other is still on the loose. Residents are requested to stay alert. (A short newspaper article.)

Leopards on the Loose

Two leopards escaped

from the local zoo today

by climbing up

a tree that had


into their enclosure.

It is believed they

climbed up the

uprooted trunk and



from there.

One was darted

and recaptured.

The other is still

on the loose.

Residents are requested to

stay alert.

‘’The eyes see only what the mind is prepared to comprehend.’’ is a useful quote by author Robertson Davies with which to start.  In the context of this discussion it is perhaps more accurate to say the eyes see the way the mind has been trained to perceive. I am limiting this discussion to matters of layout concerning writing and reading when it comes to thoughts and feelings typed or written onto a page. Broadly put, if a writer uses literary conventions pertaining to prose when placing information on a page, it is read as prose. Should a writer employ one of the genres open to poets (lyric, sonnet, narrative, epic, elegy, ballad, haiku), the reader will talk of having read a poem. I have deliberately kept this discussion brief. There is a lot one can find online regarding the inter-workings of the eye, ear and brain. What I am most keen on is encouraging writers to work at putting pen to paper, or fingers to keyboard, and getting them to play around; to experiment and explore. Start with turning prose to poetry and then poetry to prose. Then extend this by working within either one and ask how readers are likely to perceive your work if, for example, you alter sentence, paragraph and chapter lengths or use different fonts and page formats. What, if any, paradigm shifts are likely to occur when a form of presentation is altered? See it as a game. You’re likely to have more fun that way. Keep writing and reading.

Andrew Pender-Smith        

Note: Another prose-to-poetry experiment will be posted in a day or two.