Definition

One must make a distinction however: when dragged into prominence by half poets, the result is not poetry, nor till the autocrats among us can be “literalists of the imagination”—above insolence and triviality and can present for inspection, imaginary gardens with real toads in them, shall we have it.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Weekend Challenge: The News


Norman Rockwell, "Hometown News"
Saturday Evening Post, April 1, 1942

One of the premier responsibilities of the poet is to provide the tribe with the news. Inquiring minds just gotta know, and I am tasking you today with that row to hoe.

Of course, poets have shared that responsibility with a number of other figures over the millennia—sibyls and shamans, heralds and explorers, ink-stained wretches and digital media producers. We are never alone in our recitations of the news.

Humans have always needed information. Our faculty for speech developed around that need. Advance word of a raiding tribe could mean the difference between life or death. Travelers--be they roving hunters or traders, soldiers or monks—were carriers of information.  

Eventually it was the novelty of that information which became especially prized. The English word "news" was developed in the 14th century; The Canterbury Tales is basically a chatty pilgrimage for news junkies.

As the Roman Empire declined in Europe, runners carried the news over long distances. The letter was a precious news commodity, and postal services developed to spread information for merchants and aristocrats. In 1558 the first hand-printed newsletter was distributed in Venice containing political, economic and military news, and the idea spread quickly to other Italian cities. About the same time the printing press was invented, and it wasn't long before printed newspapers began to circulate throughout Europe.

Although there was more of it now, the news was slow traveling about. By the time distant news got into the newspaper, it was history. It wasn't until the development of the telegraph in the 19th century that news could travel great distances with speed. Newspapers were quick to pick up on the innovation, and soon their pages were spiced with disaster and wars and murders most foul. Telegraph style" news was succinct and used the inverted pyramid—facts first, details below the fold.

The cycle of innovations to come meant that news was always finding a new medium. Radio news came in 1922, and by 1939 nearly 70 percent of Americans said their first news preference was radio. (What flat rag could compare to the voice of Edward R. Murrow on the roof of the BBC in London, offering live comment on the Battle of Britain?) 

Then came TV news in the '50s, 24-hour cable news in the '80s. Finally came the internet and the rest, well, was the news whirlwind we live in. The news cycle is now fast-charging up-spiral, cellphones incessantly a-beep with alerts.



In the effort to attract viewers (and advertisers), news became entertainment. And nothing, as it turns out, is more entertaining than political blood sport. News has become loud with the roar of the Coliseum. (One of the titans of this sort of news died this week; he was eulogized by one media critic thus: "We are a hate-filled, paranoid, untrusting, book-dumb and bilious people whose chief source of recreation is slinging insults and threats at each other online, and we're that way in large part because of the hyper-divisive media environment (this media figure) discovered." (Suggested epitaph: He screwed everything that was fair and balanced.)

The amount of news we are now confronted with is immense.  In 2011, information scientists deduced that Americans took in five times as much information every day as they did in 1986‚the equivalent of 175 newspapers (See Daniel Levitin, The Organized Mind). And that was before the advent of social media. (In a 2016 Pew Research poll, 44 percent of Americans say they get their news from Facebook.)  Yet the information glut is far more from other fields of entertainment, like streaming movies, gaming and porn.

One criticism of this glut is that the more we know, the less we do. This was argued by Ned Postman in his 1984 book Amusing Ourselves To Death, a diatribe against the killing effect of TV entertainment culture on public discourse. (It is frighteningly prescient of our Internet age, as Megan Garber recently illustrated in The Atlantic.) In an news-saturated universe, “most of (it) is inert, consisting of information that gives us something to talk about but cannot lead to any meaningful action.” “We have here a great loop of impotence: The news elicits from you a variety of opinions about which you can do nothing except to offer them as more news, about which you can do nothing.”

In the Internet age, there has also been a devaluing of the truth in news as consumers of news have infinite choice in their sources, many of which prize attention over reality.  Very gripping report on the alt-right and related online hate groups from Data & Society titled “Media Manipulation and Disinformation Online.”  (The worst bit of news there is that a growing sub-tribe mixes real hate with just-kidding-irony so that there is no way to know whether an utterance is odious or offensively tedious.)

More knowledge about the world is shrinking our empathy for it. This was demonstrated  in  a 2007 study of online dating where participants were given more and less information about their prospective partners. Ambiguity was the clear winner. The where the researchers concluded, "Although people believe that knowing leads to liking, knowing more means liking less." Worse for all of us, the more our tribe thinks they know about each other, the sharper our sense of difference, the easier it attach to filter bubbles where everyone seems the same.

So what are we poets supposed do with the news?  What makes our vocation for it unique? (Breathe some relief that I am finally getting to the point of today’s challenge.)


Theatrical poster for the film noir thriller
"I Cover Big Town" (1947)

For one thing, most of poetry's news comes from the heart, a place that is too serious for idle entertainment and far too deadly earnest to waste energy on fake news. 

And although a poem can be elaborately tuned, poetry remains naked communication— simple, honest and direct. 

Poetry has few ulterior motivations. It sells nothing and is paid less. 

Then there is the sense of what the novelist E.L. Doctorow called bearing witness to a magnitude. Our poems are the Rorschach prints of our age. We write the news about the news, in synesthesiac detail. 

Finally, there is great economy in the news brought by poetry. News is a gift brought back from the Otherworld, it is the knowledge that is hard to attain. This is news the world can use.

So let’s write about the news. What is the news that poetry brings to the world? When did some news suddenly change your world, and how?  What is it like to live in a news-saturated world? How is our sense of reality changing with the silos that have formed with such different ways of seeing things? How to bridge that gap between knowledge and action? 

And what about the soul’s, the heart’s news? Do things we learn from inner sources differ than news of the world? Is there such a thing as a glut of soul news? 

What about news we get from afar – the Otherworld, the hearts of our beloveds, the dead? 

And in this time when national news is breaking by the seeming hour, what is the news of the tribe’s enduring and seasoning and becoming?

Be fleet and supple as our tuletary news god Hermes, god of wit, schemes and secret intelligence, of cunning and roads and dreams. What are our invisible and eternal wires trilling?

Write about that news in a poem and link to it here. Then go witness the news of your fellow contributors.





Thursday, May 18, 2017

Bits Of Inspiration ~ Mixed Media Art

Happy Thursday everyone. I am intrigued by Mixed Media Art. Mixed media is a term used to describe artworks composed from a combination of different media or materials.


It is a fascinating process and there are so many different forms of it. 

mixed media art photo: Vintage Art Mixed Media Beautiful il_fullxfull161513190.jpg
Image: Photobucket

Actually as poets, writers, we really do the same thing only our art form is words. We pull from memories, surroundings, music, people, etc, and shape them into poetry.

Mixed Media

Related Poem Content Details

The stars grow lemon
in the field, spread
like tea leaves in
a cup; red-wing
blackbirds fold themselves
into the fence,
corn dreamers.
(Read the entire poem here )


   For today's challenge I want you to write a poem from your immediate surroundings. For example where I am sitting there is a vase of   flowers,  silver thermos, a mailbox nameplate from my father's mailbox, a window, a rather sickly violet, books, a clock, a tape dispenser, the whir of an air conditioner. I could go on and on.  Your poem could be a combination of what you see, hear, taste, feel, just pull from the spot where you are writing. 
      
Thirst, I can drink from silver.
It is a thermos as close as my fingertips,
but neglect hasn't brought rain
to a parched violet five steps from my chair.

    As always write a new poem for the challenge, add it to Mr. Linky and then visit your fellow poets to read their poems.


Tuesday, May 16, 2017

The Tuesday Platform



Good Tuesday morning, poets and poetry lovers. This video gave me a serious case of the goosebumps. Click and be inspired!

Please link up and share a poem with us, and visit to read the writing of others. Have a great week, everyone. Hope you all have the chance to slow down and savor some poetry. 

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Mythical Prejudice (Poetry and Flash Fiction with Magaly)

I was leafing through The Book of Imaginary Beings, by Jorge Luis Borges and Margaret Guerrero, when a question danced into my mind: what sort of prejudice and discrimination might mythical creatures (like the Double, Doppelgänger, or other I) encounter, if they were citizens of today’s society? Would Satyrs be banished from polite company? Would Brownies be expected to work in sanitation, housekeeping, farming? I wonder, wonder, wonder…

…so, my beloved Toads, for today’s challenge, I invite you to write a 3-stanza poem or a very short story (313 words or fewer) that explores prejudice from the point of view of a mythical creature who is part of our modern world.

Follow this LINK, for a list of imaginary beings from Borges’ book. Feel free to choose any mythological creature you’ve ever read about or imagined. But please, add a note at the end of your contribution, telling us a bit about the creatures myth.

“The Double”, in The Book of Imaginary Beings,
written by Borges and Guerrero, translated by Andrew Hurley, illustrated by Peter Sis

Feed the direct link to your new poem or story to Mr. Linky.
Say hello to the mythical creatures poetized by your fellow Toads. 
And while you’re there, do your best to have a blast. 


Thursday, May 11, 2017

Out of Standard - Photo Finish

Blue bonnet carrier pigeons


Greetings Garden Dwellers and welcome to the Out of Standard, where I set before you a challenge to defy the conventions of a particular theme and find new places in the everyday. 


Photo finish
For today’s prompt, I am going to provide you with images, and you get to write a poem around them.  

But

This wouldn’t be the out of standard without a teeny, tiny twist. Under each photo is an phrase that doesn’t exactly match the photo. Your challenge is to write a poem inspired by the photo, while using the seemingly nonsensical words. 

The photos are mine, and you have my permission to repost them at your blog (if you are into that sort of thing). 

Keep in mind
Like every challenge, your poem must by newly written and not one which you have previously written which conveniently fits the theme.

That's it. The platform is yours. The mic is warm.

So go now, my muddy buddies, and bring us back something shiny and new.


Rag and bone pancake thickener


Every hagfish's impossible dream 


New Banana Town - population: you


Smoke and mirrors and electro-shock therapy

Red carpet kittens

self care wasabi peas



Tuesday, May 9, 2017

The Tuesday Platform


It’s Tuesday! C’mon in, the platform is yours. We Toads invite you to share your poetry with us. 

Long or short, old or new, it’s up to you. Remember that links in the Garden do not expire, so feel free to link up on Wednesday or later in the week. And please do take some time during the week to read the work of other participants. We all value feedback on our work from other writers; it is how our writing takes root and grow.


(All photos by Marian Kent, rights reserved)

So, bring us your words! We look forward to reading your poems.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Play It Again Toads!

This weekend we revisit archived challenges of the Imaginary Garden. This affords us the opportunity to catch up on a recent prompt we may have missed (especially from the wealth of inspirational April prompts) or allows us to explore the side bar (2011 - 2017).

The Recitation
Thomas Dewing (1891)

Alternatively, select a prompt from the ones I have highlighted below. I have included a Flash 55 for those who like to write to that prompt on the first weekend of the month - naturally this is an open invitation to write an unprompted 55 - worder.

1.  Flash 55 PLUS! with Kerry, August 2015

2.  Transforming with Nature's Wonders with Hannah, May 2016

3.  Artistic Interpretations - Simply Beautiful with Margaret, December 2014




Thursday, May 4, 2017

Artistic Interpretations with Margaret - Small Town Inspiration...

Paul Whitener (1911-1959) The Sycamore Tree, late 1940's, Oil on canvas
 This is an incomplete painting - which I find intriguing.  This tree was near Charlotte, NC.

Welcome to Artistic Interpretations!  I am often excited and and often anticipate for months a visit to well known museums such as the Art Institute of Chicago or the Metropolitan Museum of Art, but I recently visited The Hickory Museum of Art, a small town in North Carolina not far from where I live, and was reminded what a joy it is to include these gems on my calendar as well.

Hickory has a beautiful museum that fosters and preserves American art.  The Hickory Museum of Art currently has approximately 1,500 art object in the collection.  The day I visited we viewed Paul Whitener's landscape paintings, which feature scenes from my beloved mountains.  He was the visionary for the museum and was the Museum Director since 1944 and held that position for fifteen years.

Small museums really are gems of local talent and creativity.   My local poetry group was eager to see the poetry of our friend, Beverly, who participated in "The Art of Poetry".   This ekphrastic walking tour was in honor of Woman's History Month and the main focus of the tour and poems was WOMAN MADE:  Women Artists from the Hickory of Art Collection.   The rules were simple:  Go to the exhibit and write poems about the works on display.   I have selected three of my favorite art works from this exhibit and you will find them beneath Paul Whitener's paintings.

Lastly, I have selected three intriguing art pieces from the local public schools end of year celebration of children's art work displayed at their museum.  I have not included the student's names but I believe all are high school age.

The challenge today is simple.  I hope you can find something in one (or more) of these images and be inspired to write a new poem.  Link to Mr. Linky below and be sure to visit and enjoy all the participant's poetic endeavors.   I look forward to your artistic interpretation.

Photography was permitted in the museum and these are my photos which I offer for your use.  If you click on the image, it should enlarge.  Please give the artist recognition if I have provided their names.  Thank you.

Paul Whitener (1911-1959) Blue Ridge Mountains @1950, Watercolor

Paul Whitener (1911-1959) Unfinished Landscape, @1950, Oil
Paul's paintings were started with an underpainting of warm or cool oil paint thinned with turpentine.  Paul used both rose and brown pigment for the underpainting in the canvas above.  The contrasting greens in the landscape will be made more vibrant by these warm tones which will peep through the final applications of paint...  

I find it intriguing in this unfinished state. 


Paul Whitener (1911-1959) Big Bluff of Humpback Mountain, 1955, Oil

Paul Whitener (1911-1959)  Snow, 1951, Oil on Canvas

THE ART OF POETRY:  


Agnes Millen Richmond (1870-1964) Victoria Louise, 1955, Oil

Peggy Vierra Link (1923-2004) Wash Day, 2009, Oil

Jane Friedlicher (1924-2014) Landscape, 1984, Lithograph on Paper


STUDENT'S ART WORK ON DISPLAY:





 Front and Back of this impressive work of art...






Tuesday, May 2, 2017

CARPE DIEM HAIKU KAI: Carpe Diem Tokubetsudesu special #1 "The Poet's Cr...

CARPE DIEM HAIKU KAI: Carpe Diem Tokubetsudesu special #1 "The Poet's Cr...: Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers, It's my pleasure to present to you a Tokubetsudesu special episode written by the "runner...

The Tuesday Platform


Happy First Tuesday in May, Dear Toads! And welcome to The Tuesday Platform, your unprompted, free-range day of the week here in the Garden. Tuesday rules are so simple: Share and share alike, i.e. share your poem, read the poems of others, and share your thoughts.

Maybe you are feeling worn out from Poetry Month. Or maybe you are feeling inspired! Either way, feel free to lie on the floor for a spell. Seems like it could only be good for us. 

If you have grown accustomed to daily prompting and need a boost, try this: FORTUNE COOKIE MESSAGE

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Physics with Björn: Particle-wave dualism and the photoelectric effect

I continue my excavations into physics and hope that you can conclude the NaPoWriMo successfully. Coming last it’s a pleasure to bring you something challenging.


At the end of the nineteenth century physicists believed that more or less everything was solved. Newton’s mechanics governed the law of particles and bodies, while optics could be explained through Maxwell’s theories of electromagnetism. The atomic theories have started to be developed, and it seemed that we could explain everything under the sun (and even beyond). By the way, a scientific theory requires evidence, it requires consistency and coherent observations. Newton’s laws and Maxwell’s equations are still valid enough to still be used in engineering.


But sometimes we find things that required new and updated theories. You have probably all heard about quantum physics and wondered about it. So let us go back to the roots. In 1905 Albert Einstein published a paper that later gave him the Nobel Prize in 1921. With his theoretical model he could explain the so called photoelectric effect.



The effect showed up as electrons emitted when an electrode was illuminated. The revolutionary model that Einstein proposed was that he attributed a particle properties to light. which has up to that point been described only as an electromagnetic wave obeying the laws of optics. But with the attribution of particle properties to light Einstein could explain and set up equations for the photoelectric effect. If you find this to be mumbo-jumbo, just skip it. The essence of this is the shapeshifting properties of matter. The particle wave dualism.


The concept was later broadened so that also particles can be waves. Particles can be refracted just like they are waves, and you can attribute both wavelength and frequency to them, just like light can have momentum.


So it goes both ways. A particle is a wave and a wave is a particle. In some cases we see particles governed by the laws of optics, and the next moment they are like little spheres.


Today I thought you could use this shape shifting nature of nature on microscopic level for a poem. Or you can chose to write about the consequences in terms of electronics and optics of the world today. Or challenge my belief that science can predict and used to decide the world.







Saturday, April 29, 2017

Penultimatums: Voyages' End (Almost)



Eyvind Earle, A Touch of Magic, late 20th century (fair use)


Here we are, almost within sight of the end of our month-long journey in verse. What a strange road it has been! Along the way we've seen boats, sprouts, physics, children, signs, sketches, Twitterings, villains, rain, passageways, paintings, crows, bogeymen, outsiders and shoes:  If months could sing journeys, April in the Garden has been operatic.

Today we are presented with this penultimate daily challenge.

Myths tell us that the next-to-last station of a journey is often its richest, pregnant with meanings which often don't reveal themselves until we have turned some corner—given up on a quest, let go a loved one, endured through, made it home.

The penultimate is as far as we can get to perfection on this earth.  As Joseph Campbell writes in The Power of Myth, "It has been well said that mythology is the penultimate truth--penultimate because the ultimate cannot be put into words. It is beyond words. Beyond images, beyond that bounding rim of the Buddhist Wheel of Becoming. Mythology pitches the mind beyond that rim, to what can be known but not told.”

In the 12th century Dutch version of the Voyage of Saint Brendan—the survival of a tale stretching back centuries to Ireland—St. Brendan burns a book of wonders of the world, saying such things could never be true. Immediately an angel appears and tells Brendan he must pay for his offence against God. For penance he is bid to set sail for seven years to see all the things he had denied, thus to prove the veracity of the ancient manuscript.

Brendan gathers his monks and sails off into the unknown, and his discoveries are legion. There is a heathen giant; a dragon; a fish the size of an island; a magnetic sea; a hermit who has lived in the middle of the sea for centuries; Hell; a siren; Judas; burning soul-birds; a magnificent citadel atop a high mountain; and strange creatures with the head of a pig, legs of a dog and neck like a crane, dressed in silk and who say they witnessed God in heaven before Lucifer’s fall. On each isle a wonder either heavenly or monstrous, hallowed or harrowing.

But Brendan doesn’t know that the point of the tale is that he must return home and write it down—in essence, fill once again the book of wonders he had burned as untrue. In the penultimate chapter of the tale, Brendan encounters a tiny man sailing by on a leaf whose errand it is to measure the sea with a drop-sized spoon. He's been at it for a long, long time, and Brendan wonders if his errand, too, might be endless.

The saint’s ship is then becalmed in a vast misty sea, the boat’s anchor gripped by invisible people singing below. As no Christians can find Paradise on this earth, so too this is as close as mortals get to finding the Otherworld. The penultimate reveals the foolhardiness of the quest, and yet by doing so magnifies the endeavor. It whispers in one ear, you're done now, while at the same time exclaiming in the other: But what a journey it was ...

Brendan has seen enough; it's time to write that book. He is boat is set free and sails back to Ireland, setting up shop at a copyist's desk. When the book is finished Brendan dies, finding passage at last to Paradise.

If our month of poetry has been a journey, what do we find in this penultimate challenge? What is it that allows us to turn our boats finally toward home?

Write a poem that describes the penultimate in some fashion. Describe the door (or island) which opened to (or shored) a final realization. Stay with the turning of things before your vision cleared, the dream before you woke. Do you remember the next to the last kiss? What was in the foreground of that climatic event or turning point which shaped the way you see things now? And looking back, has that moment grown more fraught with meaning somehow? (OK, of course it has, you’re writing a poem.)

With home barely out of sight on the horizon ahead, help us discover what journeys as this are really all about.