My hour with the poet and writer Mathew Byfield by Samuel Colbran.

I had known Mathew before he won our Winter competition for his poem ‘Brutally Mild’. This hour with him allowed me to meet and understand what drives and inspires him. We first started off just catching up on things since Writers Activation first year anniversary night, but soon we realised that we had to get serious and do this interview.

I started to ask him the big questions, who are you? What inspired you to write this poem? As I see that Mathew is confident in himself never hesitating in answering any of the questions. He just stated that he goes to church, and loves Jesus and is currently studying at the Queensland Theology College as he is decided to become a Minister. Mathew is married and has one daughter with another due in September. So you can see he is a grounded god fearing family man. As this is only one of his sides and can be seen reflected in his poem.

He related to me why he wrote this poem, as a Queensland boy, Mathew couldn’t relate to snow and ice, but he loved the feel of winter as well as this is the time of snuggles and wrapping you up with your loving family. He recounts one of his favourite things is when he is in bed with his wife and daughter, cuddling just sharing a lovely moment in the chilly morn until it is time for ‘someone’ to rise to start the day. This poem reflects his early morning tip toeing over the cold tiles of his home.

Quote from his poem ‘An adventure of tiles -we put on boots, coats and caps. He reaches small chinks and rends in our armour‘, this gives an understanding he goes through this each winter, this doesn’t detract from his love for this time of the year.

As we both have a background in role playing games, I then followed asking what was his preferred genre, which was not a surprise; fantasy like myself. He recounts reading one of my top fifteenish number ones Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling, and how this story opened the world of fantasy to him also he love the escapism of the fantasy genre. His has attempted over the years to write a fantasy novel, but like most writers time is a factor in this. He did admit that this winning poem was his first piece that he has completed, and it won a competition it shows his talent in the art of the written word. As I asked him why he chose the poem over the short story? He reflected first off was time, being loving husband and father, studying, gaming and his church he didn’t have the time to put into a story; the poem side of contest shone to him as can relate to the coldness of the wintry morning. He kept the piece grounded in reality as he prefers not to be a metaphoric style of writing as he doesn’t envision topics of Death and Winter in that way. I am glad as he would deprive us of such a beautiful poem.

This hour went so fast; we joked about his broken air-conditioner as he reflects his preference of Winter. He admitted that the prize of this competition was not the reason he entered, Mathew submitted his piece because of our friendship, and he wanted to share his passionate work with the organisation that I help run. He was surprised in winning as he found ‘Winter’s Embrace’ to be a moving piece and thought it would have won (it came equal second), and just the entering was enough.

I found the winner Mathew to be a humble man, valuing family and friends over money and notoriety. I am proud that such a man won our poetry contest, again I would like to congratulate Mathew for his winning poem ‘Brutally Mild’ and he looks forward to the next competition that Writers Activation runs.

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Brutally Mild By Mathew Byfield.

He’s brutally mild in all his unkindness

The morning is cold and full of his quiet

Soft whispers of air place their hand to our door

No knocking to enter, just simply inside

Creeping past covers, small fingers discover

Our warm spots lay fallow ‘til spring to uncover

An adventure of tiles – we put on boots, coats and caps

Yet he reaches small chinks and rends in our armour

But winter is sleep-ins and snuggles with sweet little faces

He’s hot chocolates and hugs and warmth with my wife

He’s good scotch and a book in front of the fire

He’s long words with old friends a joy to desire

So winter can come on his seasonal tour

And I’ll mind not the mornings – they’re sweet to endure.

My Book: Progress!

It is strange that last year I had just a blank document up and an idea. Today I am only three major scenes away from finishing my book. To date, I have written over 50,000 words, something I never thought I would be able to do. Every stumble, every roadblock, every naysayer I have just pushed through and continued. I love the world I have created with the help of my friends, the characters I envisioned to lead the reader into my world. Everything is fantastic about my book. Just recently I have had someone read a part of my book, and they just remarked on how they couldn’t put it down. The main thing I want out of this, not money or fame, just people reading and having a great journey into the unknown.

 

In the end, I am glad everything I accomplished and looking forward to my next four books ‘Bloody Coin’, ‘Savage Rebellion’, ‘Return to Greywalker Reach’ and finally ‘The Great War’  in the series ‘Journal of an Adventurer’. Just have to finish ‘Lake Merrin’ now, so close…

My Book: Creating the Map.

This morning I finally started on an idea of the map for Favinonia. Over the years I have drawn many different maps for this country that my book in set in. One by one they don’t last the test of time, sometimes it because of me moving them around from place to place or just being clumsy with them. I thought that a textural feel for this map would be great!

As you can see in the pictures that I started with a canvas and had begun with a pencil outline of the main features on the map (which I could draw with my eyes closed). The mountains made out of paper mache and to give the water features of my map texture, dried glue (I’m not sure if clag glue is the best for this but giving it a go). With it being a side project in conjunction with my book, hopefully, I will be successful. I keep you updated with my progress.

My Book: Abbey Medieval Festival.

Walking into Abbey took my breath away, the smells of the cooking fires, the sight of many happy people and hugeness of the place. It wasn’t only the re-enactment groups that were in costume there as there were many visitors donning frocks with corsets and tights with tunics to embrace the Festival truly. After the Lord-Herald opening the parade of all the groups, I decided to walk around with no plan so I could take in the sights and smells of this place. The things I saw were people living their period, longbows being made from scratch, food being cooked over great fire pits, tents and other structure created from that dim past brought forth to the present time. As I past Viking Saga, they were talking about the hygiene of their period. With herb-infused oil to rub into their hair and beard to using charcoal to clean their teeth; later on, I bought two cookbooks from this group and was explained due to using charcoal and a little sugar in their diet the Vikings teeth were in good nick. Another thing I found out that pine needles have more vitamin c than citrus fruit; amazing!

After looking for my leg of lamb to eat (which I didn’t find but did find a huge pork knuckle!), I came across the first insight into earth’s history relating to my book’s world history; RIFF, Re-enacting Independently For Fun.IMG_0149.JPG

They explained something I didn’t think too much about when I created my world, armies. Before this time most troops were conscripted by the King calling his Duke to his vassals leading to the peasantry forced into war with little or no experience. The Swiss change all that with a paid standing army, this cause a very different approach to a defensive war. They invaded time and time again, forcing back their enemies but unlike other European nations of that period, they stopped at their border. Due to the pike, halberd and the emerging early guns. Reflecting on my armies in Favinonia that they would be more like this but as I still have Knights and mounted units it could be in their future heading this way. With guns are just rising in this period, the 15th century would be closer to my evolving country. In the picture shows the armour of this period, and also the weapons. Thank you, RIFF for your explanation as it helps to flesh out my future books.

After listening to this lecture, I moved on to the jousting tournament but was distracted by Prima Sparta and Saga Viking (again) showing their skills. I am still amazed by the skill of these Spanish fencers. Then came the Vikings! Playing a traditional sport which seemed like a mix of hockey and rugby (but a bit more violent). The physicality of this game made me want to jump in and play! Looked like so much fun!

Off to the jousting tournament. Again I had the pleasure of seeing Saga, this time demonstrating the shield wall, the fact that this is still used today by our police. Showed the strength of the shield wall but in time immemorial a ‘berserkr‘ or berserker would after consuming mushrooms and mead would charge and pierce the wall. The man who demonstrated this was a solid man, and the wet smack against the wall of shields, he broke through. Seeing this actions would create fear and then demoralising them.

After watching the fantastic jousting, you blink and will miss it! These pictures are just a small understanding on the adrenaline of this spectacle.

With a suggestion of a friend brought me to the market store MainlyMedieval.com. Here had many books, jewellery and games from this the medieval period. As my interest was to the introduction of guns and how this affected the armies of Europe. I found some treasures within these fantastic and numinous titles; some expanded on what the RIFF group told me while other books took me through the evolution of the cannon and gun.

Still, after all, this I cannot express the joy and excitement I felt in this place. The insight and help all the re-enactment groups did for me and my book, all I can do is thank you. There were much more marvellous things I saw and heard at Abbey, but I could go on forever, and I only spent one day there. What would it be like next year being there for the whole weekend? Fan-bloody-tastic!

Thawing Winter’s Heart by Samuel Colbran

In the deepest depths of Winter,

where the heart lies.

Only with a promise of Spring,

does the frost recline.

Cold and dark.

Forever alone,

Crying out for the anticipation,

Of days to come.

As the sun becomes warmer,

Winter’s frost melts,

from its frigid state.

The passionate warmth,

heats the cockles,

of the slumbering heart.

Awake,

Ready to live.

But as Spring,

moves through its want,

has risen to excess.

Summer’s heat,

boils away the freshness

of Spring.

At the height of Summer,

the reaping of,

Heart-life begins.

As Summer wanes,

the coolness of Autumn

browns the life from the leaves.

The heart feels,

a great weariness.

The hibernation,

of Winter,

Is upon us once more.

As passions modify,

laughter of the deepest part of

the heart’s life.

Comes to an end.

As the ice and cold,

chills and freeze,

the heart in place.

Only the promise of

Spring,

will thaw it again.

Winter’s Nigh By Samuel Colbran

The North Wind was travelling through the skies, skimming on snowflakes and dusting the mountains. North Wind was jubilant, it saw the world and kissed it with the soul of winter. During its travels, it spied a lonely wanderer moving through the snow. North Wind thought wouldn’t it be fun to talk to the man, become its friend. But how to do it?

Skirting over the valley, it blew past the wanderer. The Traveller hears something “Who is that; I am so cold? It must be my imagination.” he pondered to himself

North Wind marvelled at its new friend; I shall pass him again and speak to him. As it moves back down the rolling hill, the traveller hears a whisper “Why are you so cold?”

As the Wind rushes past bringing more snow, the Traveller grabs his cloak and wraps it around himself “Who is that asking me, why am I cold? It is winter, I am just a lone wanderer who wants to go home and be warm!” He whimpers.

North Wind is confused by this, winter is life to it. It touches all of the world with its icy fingers. It asks again in a raspy voice, rushing past the Traveller “How can I help you be warm?”

The Traveller staggers, dropping to one knee. The chill the Wind blew penetrated his very bones. The Traveller yells at the skies “How can I be warm, with such an icy wind? Leave me be, I need to get home!”

The North Wind is hurt by this strange man. Cold and snow, wind and sleet. These things are what it loves, how can this man not understand?The Wind decides again, if it embraces the man again with its wind, he would be happy. The North Wind cares because he does not know the joy of winter. The cleanliness of the landscape, the stark white of the snow this gives the world its own type of beauty. Each snowflake North Wind births is perfect. If Wind shows him that the delights in a winter storm, the Traveller will appreciate the North Wind.

High up on the mountain, North Wind gathers its snowy children. Clouds plump with sleet and cold. It was sure this would convince that Traveller that winter is the most incredible season. See how it embraces you, penetrates you. You can become part of winter, and be its friend forever.

As the blizzard gathers, the Traveller desperately tries to to find shelter from this horrendous cold. His lips are cracking, his face is flushed. He has started to lose all feeling in his toes and fingers. It was stupid of him to try and travel this day. He screams to North Wind “Leave me be, I only want to..” With that, the cold takes his breath. The Traveller coughs and splutters bringing a wineskin to his lips hoping the brandy inside will warm him again.

The North Wind sees the man clutching at his cloak, stumbling in the snow. It does not understand why the man hates it so. It created this storm, can’t the Traveller see that it is helping him? Maybe It hasn’t sent enough wind and snow, that must be his problem. It asks again “Does this not..” North Wind rushes pass then turns on the Valley slope to finish its question “…please you, Traveller?”

The voice of the Wind chills the very soul of the Wayward Traveller “Who is this on the Wind, asking me whilst I die from this frigid air? I only wish to make it home to my wife and sick child. I have medicine for my son, as he is of need.”He coughs in his cloak takes another swig of brandy “Leave me be! I only want to go home.”

North Wind is bewildered by this Traveller, how can you be angry? See how hard I worked to bring you a perfect storm. North Wind felt hurt by the Traveller, it only wants him to see the wonder and majesty of its passion. Hurt and sad, North Wind cries out “How can I make this man happy?”

Suddenly a strange figure appears and whispers “I might not bring him joy, but I can bring him contentment. All you need to do North Wind is bring more wind and snow.”

The voice is laced with compassion, North Wind knows this Stranger well. If happiness cannot happen, then peace is a better place for the Traveller. North Wind gathers every scrap of cold and ice. With one great rush of exuberance it covers the Traveller in its embrace. “Why have I been forsaken? I just want to go home to my sick child.” the Traveller pleads.

Now a new voice surrounds the man “Do not worry, Traveller. Your child is safe with me.” With that, the Traveller sees a cloaked figure emerging from the snow and wind “If you let go, I can take you to him…Just let go.”

The Traveller staggers and drops, losing all feeling in his arms and legs. His shivers steadily, his teeth chip and crack from his chattering. He reached to the stranger and asks, “Can you bring me home to my child?” Tears drop from his eyes only to freeze on his face. “My son needs this medicine, I need to travel back as quickly as possible. You can help me?”

The North Wind sees this. The Traveller is now pleading to the Stranger. Not understanding how sending more ice and snow will help the Traveller, the Stranger whispers “Just a little more, he nearly wants to come with me. I will make him happy, I have his child that he worries about, and he is safe and happy. Bring more snow and wind, this will make him elated.”

Smiling to itself North Wind gathers one last final blast of winter. The Stranger understands the Traveller, this will make him joyful and he will thank the North Wind bringing him home to his child.

As the last rush of wind comes upon the Traveller, he freezes in his tracks. The Stranger opens his cloak, the Traveller sees his child  playing in the fields and beckons to him. His son is happy but needs his father. With one more step, the Traveller embraces the Stranger.

The North Wind is confused, the Stranger has left, but the Traveller is still here. As It rushes pass, it sees a smile on his face. Content in making the Traveller happy, North Wind continues on its journey to find it’s next friend…