Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Kenia's Wednesday Challenge

The House of Times Past

I knocked on the door of times past, no one answered.
I knocked
a second time and then another and another.
No answer.
The house of times past is halfway covered with vines
the other half is covered with ashes.
The house where no one dies and I am knocking and calling.
Just for the pain of calling and not being heard.
Just only to keep knocking. The echo brings back
my anxiety of opening these frozen steps.
Night and day mingle together in the waiting
in the knocking and knocking.
Times past certainly do not exist.
And the empty building has been condemned.

Hello there toads! It's Kenia here and today I start to introduce you to my favorite South American poets and writers. I've chosen to begin with a fellow Brazilian, Carlos Drummond de Andrade, who lived in the same State I live in. He was born in 1902 and died in 1987 - I was nine years old then and vividly remember going to an exhibit of poems and photographs of his.

On vacation in Rio de Janeiro, one can find a bronze statue of Drummond sitting on a bench on Copacabana sidewalk (vandals have stolen its glasses five times so far this year).

Drummond made use of free verse, and never depended on a fixed meter. His work is one of the most unique in contemporary poetry, his poems are often described as humorous, full of movement, self-knowledge, and appreciation of the transitoriety, his central concern is primarily metaphysical.

Don't Kill Yourself

Carlos, keep calm, love
is what you're seeing now;
today a kiss, tomorrow no kiss,
day after day tomorrow's Sunday
and nobody knows what will happen

It's useless to resist
or to commit suicide.
Don't kill yourself. Don't kill yourself!
Keep all of yourself for the nuptials
coming nobody knows when,
that is, if they ever come.

Love, Carlos, tellurian,
spent the night with you,
and now your insides are raising
an ineffable racket,
saints crossing themselves,
ads for better soap,
a racket of which nobody
knows the why or wherefor.

In the meantime, you go on your way
vertical, melancholy.
You're the palm tree, you're the cry
nobody heard in the theatre
and all the lights went out.
Love in the dark, no, love
in the daylight, is always sad,
sad, Carlos, my boy,
but tell it to nobody,
nobody knows nor shall know.

In the Middle of the Road

In the middle of the road there was a stone
there was a stone in the middle of the road
there was a stone
in the middle of the road there was a stone.

Never should I forget this event
in the life of my fatigued retinas.
Never should I forget that in the middle of the road
there was a stone
there was a stone in the middle of the road
in the middle of the road there was a stone.

(For those willing to get to know more of his style, has a selection of his poems. Make sure to read Seven-sided poem and the great pain of things that will happen.)


The existence and the essence of reality in its multiple aspects are considered to be the major themes of metaphysics, which investigates the foundations, causes, and the intimate relations of all things, questioning why they exist and why they are what they are. My challenge this week is philosophical. Pick a common metaphysical question and work on a thoughtful, poetical answer to it. Click here for a list of questions for inspiration or just in case you can't think of any you find good enough.

Link your poem, leave a comment and provide a link in your blog toReal Toads. Have fun!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Open Link Monday

Calling all toads to the garden...

                                                                                 Anne Hathaway's Garden, Stratford-upon-Avon

Welcome once again to the imaginary garden with real toads, where we share the poesy of our individual flower-bed minds, hearts and souls.  Please select one of your brightest blooms to share with others here.

All are welcome, but if you have the time to post a poem, I would ask you to find the time to read and comment on at least three other posts that have been offered for review.  I have noted that several followers and visitors make use of this open link without showing the courtesy of our supportive environment by visiting the blogs of others.  Such people should not be surprised to get very little out of this particular garden.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

A Mini-Challenge for Sunday

Ride on a magic carpet...



Awake! For Morning in the Bowl of Night

Has flung the Stone that puts the Stars to flight:

And lo! the Hunter of the East has caught

The Sultan’s Turret in a Noose of Light.

When one hears the word Rubaiyat, one automatically thinks of Omar Khayyam, so it is not surprising to find it originated in Persia.  
The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám (Persian: رباعیات عمر خیام) is the title that Edward FitzGerald gave to his translation of a selection of poems, originally written in Persian and of which there are about a thousand, attributed to Omar Khayyám(1048–1131), a Persian poet, mathematician and astronomer.  For a sample, click HERE.


Here with a Loaf of Bread beneath the Bough,
A Flask of Wine, a Book of Verse ~ and Thou
Beside me singing in the Wilderness ~
And the Wilderness is Paradise enow.

This form consists of four line stanzas (quatrains) and is usually in pentameter form.
Lines one, two, and four rhyme and the third line can be used to interlock the next stanza, if preferred, and by doing so with three or more stanzas, we have a Rubaiyat.



Look to the Rose that blows about us ~ “Lo,

Laughing,” she says, “into the World I blow:

At once the silken Tassel of my Purse

Tear, and its Treasure on the Garden throw.”

The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám consists of numbered quatrains but the rhymes do not interlock. Thus three stanzas would appear as follows (where each x represents a syllable)




If, however, you prefer and interlocked rhyme scheme, it would appear as follows:




Since this is a Mini-Challenge, you may like to work on a single quatrain. As I am sure you will appreciate from reading the examples of FitzGerald's translations, decorated by the artwork of Edmund Dulac (1882 - 1953), each one is a gemstone in its own right. 



Ah, fill the cup:~ what boots it to repeat

How time is slipping underneath our Feet:

Unborn To-morrow and dead Yesterday,

Why fret about them if To-day be sweet!

Friday, November 25, 2011

A Word with Laurie

Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings.
~William Arthur Ward

Yesterday Americans celebrated Thanksgiving; a time of gathering with family and friends, a time to stop and celebrate all the blessings in our lives, a time to step out of our shoebox diorama and just rest. On this holiday we eat…eat…eat, then eat some more, watch football or movies, play games and call up long lost relatives for the annual chit-chat. The day is a nice respite, but I’m always grateful when it’s over.

My family has the tradition of going around the room and saying what we are grateful for. From the oldest (74) to the youngest (8), there was a common thread I picked up on yesterday; nothing shared was of materialistic origin. Sure, shelter and clothing were mentioned; but not designer jeans, or new convertibles, elaborate vacations or money. The kids said nothing about video games or the Wii when it was their turn. What mattered the most? Family, health, friends, employment, God/Higher Power, love, peace, pets. What a blessing!

There have been many years when it was very difficult for me to find something to be thankful for. A black cloud of depression shadowed me and a backpack of burdens weighted me down, but I always found one thing to contribute. There is always a silver lining on every cloud no matter how gloomy things appear.

I’ve come a long way since those troubled times, and one thing that helps me remain positive is making a gratitude list. I try to do that as frequently as I can. What I have discovered is that when I do make a gratitude list and write it down (instead of simply thinking about it), my outlook on life is brighter. Everything around me seems sharp and clear instead of fuzzy and gray.

That is what I want you to do today; write a poem of gratitude. It can be a list of many things, a special memory, maybe a person who has made a difference in your life, or a list from A-Z of what you are thankful for.

So the word today is gratitude. I can’t wait to read your offerings. One thing’s for certain- I’m grateful for all of you!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

The Perfect Bird (An interview with Old Raven)

Good day to the garden. I have been somewhat of a shadow or ghost around here lately but every so often when I do poke my head in I get to experience the wonder and fun of this awesome site. It just so happens that today I get to share a bit with you about one of the folks who make our site so wonderful. Liz Rice-Sosne (aka Old Raven) took time out of her busy schedule to humor me with my oddly placed questions and I have to say I found her to be blast to chat with.

I had grand aspirations of placing a setting on this interview; I saw us sitting on clouds or on the moon or even as animals in the forest who just happened to chance upon one another. But after a bit of thought and the fact that it is thanksgiving I settled on a calmer less outlandish approach. Old Raven is the perfect person to escape to that one empty room in the house and just catch up with while avoiding the really drunk aunt or the overly gassy grandpa after the turkey has been carved and eaten. She will sit there and hold her breath with you trying not to make sound as you both dread the overly chatty cousin who just won’t shut up and is now scouring the house looking for you two. As she passes we both exhale with a smile and settle in for peaceful but reflective moments about poetry, love and life.

Robb: So Raven do you ever write naked? (Perfect ice breaker right? No inhibitions after that?)
Raven: No, but I cook naked

This made me laugh and I knew we were going to hit it off fairly well. I thought it was perfect since this whole day is centered around food for many of us.

Robb: Getting away from the funny stuff for just a moment when did you first start writing poetry?

Raven: Robb … this is going to be easy … I’m not sure that I can remember anything. I know that I dabbled a bit as a kid, not, mind you because I still have the poems to refer to but because I still have my kids poetry books (gifts) in my library. The first time that I became serious … or used the writing of poetry as therapeutic was in 1979. I had been divorced for about 4 years. I wanted to own a house, I did not want a mortgage. I moved to the hood, bought an old brick (1886) house for $5000 (had a 2-yr. mortgage). While there I developed a friendship with a guy across the park. We saw each other every day and night. Neither of us was interested in the other. I was as fond of his girlfriend as I was of him … anyway he did not appeal to me. After two years we were very best friends and knew everything about each other. The girlfriend moved on. He asked me out. Going through my mind very rapidly were thoughts of: “yuk he’s my best friend, ick this is not going to work and holy cr@# I don’t want to insult this man … he really is my best friend. I didn’t know what to say. I thought to myself, dinner, yeah dinner. If we went on a date how would it be different from each night we already share? So, I said yes, just as long as I can pay for my own meal. And by the way this was some really stupid quick thinking because the entire time we dated I paid my own way. Well, long story short (I had been celibate for 5 years for spiritual reasons) we fell in love instantly … but then he got gun-shy and broke it off. Now consider the love thing, it had only lasted maybe a month and a half, easy enough to get over right? But the friendship was a huge loss. It was awful … and as a result I wrote a lot of moribund poetry. Well, until we got back together. It was exceptionally therapeutic and exceptionally bad. Actually I have written off and on for most of my life.

Back in the room we both cringe as something breaks in the kitchen. It is soon followed by a bit of yelling, children scampering and then a short silence. The refuge we have taken up is perfect for now.

Robb: So Raven if you had access to anyone in Hollywood who would play you in a film or biopic about your life?

Raven: Goldie Hawn … but she would need to put on some weight.

Robb: I love the choice and loved Goldie in her earlier years just after Laugh In, as she got older and collagen injections though I was kind of turned off by her lips.

Robb: Most poets have a personal favorite written by themselves, what is your favorite poem you have ever written?

Raven: OMG … totally easy. “Rolling Thunder,” a Vietnam War poem. I have written a number of war poems. These poems all growing out of an experience that changed my life in 2005. This experience first drove me to learn to fly a small airplane and then to study war. From there I worked for two years with veterans.

Rolling Thunder

I remember them.
Large black fins
in 67 & 8.
We’d drive to Kadena,
park the truck
watch them circle
like sharks
behind the security fence.

All we saw were black
shark fins ... taxiing for take off,
B-52s lined up for Vietnam.
The NVA called them
Whispering Death.

Three years…860,000 pounds
of carpet bombing.

Rolling Thunder
coming out of U-Tapao,
Anderson and Guam.
They came in threes … Arc Light!

Coming from the 9th, the
22nd, the 91st, 99th, the 306th, the 454th, and
the 461ST, they flew at 50,000 ft,
subsonic speeds, refueled in mid air,
carried 70,000 pounds of mixed ordnance.

Known with affection as BUFFS
Big Ugly Fat Fuckers
Operation Linebacker.

Ten, twelve hours in the sky
peeing in a sleeve,
either freezing or scorched while
flying towards hell.

Clear left, limbs seen hanging
clear right, friends seen falling from the sky.

Then, the Christmas Bombings, SAMs brought them down
U-Tapao lost two in mid-air
One in each cell…one on final…the entire crew lost.

~Old Raven

As veteran myself I found it to be a powerful poem from an era I am glad I never experienced. It is very crisp and real. The imagery is vivid and I easily remember when I read it the first time on Raven’s blog. I simply had to comment on it.

Robb: I am really amazed by you and the fact that you give your time to others with volunteer work especially the veterans. This just goes to show what a wonderful woman you are. I volunteer myself when I can. Lately it has dwindled a bit but you make me realize it shouldn’t. You may have inspired my New Year’s resolution. Where do you volunteer the most and is there any moment in your volunteer work that really stands out?

Raven: That is very cool. I always love to hear about others volunteer work. For the first time in as long as I can remember I put my volunteer work to sleep so that I could write. I felt as though I was measuring my self-worth by the boards I was sitting on, so it was time to stop. And … it was time to write. The volunteer work that I have always enjoyed most was the work that allowed one to make a human connection with another. In other words NOT board work. I tend to volunteer at only one place at a time because I throw myself into it 100%. Whatever I do … I do because it is a passion for me. And the greatest passion was working with those who had HIV?AIDS in the early years of the epidemic. There was such an exchange of love that it was mindboggling. I was incensed by anyone being refused care because of their illness. I have always been very close to the gay community so it was an excellent fit.

Another thing that I really loved was volunteering with soldiers participating in the creative writing program for them at the VA. I got my masters in 2008 doing my final project with the VA. I learned a great deal. I also saw a great deal of pain.

A loud whoop breaks the sadness of the room Raven and I sit in. This time it’s the roar of the Family Room where all the men gather to brandish their support for football teams who take control of the T.V. once the Macy’s Day Parade ends. We smile acknowledging the sounds of Thanksgiving.

Robb: On a completely way out of left field moment I have to ask. How is your time machine coming along? Once it’s working, where is the first place in time you will visit? (For those who don’t know on her blog profile it says she is building a time machine and me being a Dr. Who freak and TARDIS lover I just had to know.)

Raven: Here’s the problem, well problems. I have used it numerous times already. But, I never know when I am using it. The reason for this is that I cannot seem to make it manifest in the physical world. Or … I cannot find the damned thing. But I still can travel. So I would visit Paris, a place that I know that I lived during the late 1890s and much of the early 20th century. I was friends with many American Ex-Pats and British Ex-Pats too. I wonder if all of those capitols are necessary?

Robb: I get this funny mental picture of you being a tad bit bohemian and maybe living the odd life that was exhibited in the film Moulin Rouge. I envy that. That would be great place to be as an aspiring poet. Do you have any advice that you would share with those aspiring poets?

Raven: Write what you feel. And feel, feel, feel. Never let anyone tell you not to feel! Get outside of yourself and enmesh yourself into other cultures. Learn about others. Write it all down and file it away, then go back and pare it down. Well, that last part may not be good advice unless like myself you enjoy poetry that is sparely written.
And if you feel low with any time on your hands … volunteer. There is nothing like doing something for others to make you feel better.

Robb: I find you to be strong confident woman who lives with no regrets. Another aspect I embrace myself would you care to expand on this?

Raven: Well Robb … my thoughts are that if you do not have self confidence by the time you are 65 … I had better hang it up. That said, I know what it is like to have none, to have been raised having none. It is a lot of hard work getting there, but yes, I have it.

I will tell you a silly story. On my 50th birthday I woke up knowing that I owned the world. I looked in the mirror and I saw a golden crown sitting on my head. When my 60th was approaching, well, I knew that it would not bother me a bit. I just knew! As a gerontologist I know a good bit about aging. I have very gray hair that I choose to keep and that goes for the wrinkles too. 60 came and went and I found myself in a terrible funk. And it just kept on and on. Now I have a pretty healthy attitude towards aging. It is one that I have carefully cultivated. But it didn’t matter. It took me about 3 years to accept being 60. I am not really sure, but I believe that the age of 60 for me was that time in my life when I no longer turned as many heads as I was accustomed to doing. I guess what I am saying is that for about three years I felt a large part of my self confidence slip away and sit it out on a shelf. I will say this, it doesn’t hurt having a very supportive mate. I am known for being a tad over the top and he is quite enduring.

Robb: Speaking of significant others tell us a bit about your family. I am aware of Itty Bitty as she graces the home page of your blog but tell us about the hubby and kids?

Raven: I am married to my best friend he is always fascinating, never boring, an incredible husband and lover. What more could I ask for? Aside from Itty Bitty we have Boy-Boy who is her brother, those are our two cats. We have Jack, a coon hound/lab/border collie mix and Patty an Australian Cattle Dog/German Sheppard mix. The four of them rule our lives.

The loud cackle of the drunk aunt is piercing to our ears and starts me and Raven into a bit of laughter ourselves. You have to love the holidays and the events that surround them, all of them the good the bad and everything in between.

Robb: This reminds me Raven before we go back out into the house and embrace the madness I have been meaning to ask you. It says your job is a shape shifter. What exactly do you do and how do I become one?

Raven: Well, lets consider the fact that I am retired first. A shape shifter is one who changes form and becomes something else. I have long been fascinated by and have studied healing, most especially shamanism. Shamanism has always been a male dominated field in the West. It is a practice filled with mystery. But the reality of this practice is that it is not so mystical or mysterious. There are numerous techniques that you simply learn and do.

I can remember not more than a year or two ago lying in bed and deciding that I wished to fly out the window. So here I am in my bed growing this huge Raven head on my shoulders getting ready to fly out the window … but there was no lift off. I guess my head was too heavy. It was then that I realized that I had been a shape shifter all of my life. One does not need to elusively become a frog to shape shift. One needs to be able to change and change again and then again. Shape shifting accommodated my need to move forward in life. It was often necessary for me to leave the life that I was in, often due to pain so I just changed myself. The goal of each change was always to become a better and more whole human being.

I sit here amazed by Old Raven’s words. I was honestly pursuing some farfetched sci-fi belief of her becoming a wolf during the full moon but as consistent with most family gatherings you tend to walk away with some new found knowledge and wisdom passed on to you by wise folks. This was very evident now. We are all shape shifters, growing, adapting changing for and with the world around us. I love the holidays just for these very moments.

Raven and I finally decide we have to leave the confines of this peaceful hideaway and join the turkey throng just outside the door. I am sure after reading this so too will most of you. Enjoy your holidays and thank you for spending a bit of time with us away from the madness.

Should you wish to hide a bit longer here are few things to help avoid the snoring folks splayed out on the couches after their mass tryptophan ingestion. Please visit Raven’s blogs(one’s just starting and one is shutting down):

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Diolch yn fawr, beirdd!

Which means, "thank you, poets!"  I have enjoyed wrestling with Welsh formats.  I hope you have, too.  Your assignment this time is short and sweet.  Simply (or not so simply) assemble me an epic or long piece fit for a Bard, utilizing at least two of the forms we have used in our short trip into the Welsh mountains.

Those, you might recall, were the awdl gywydd, the cywydd llosgyrnog, and the toddaid. If you are feeling adventurous, you can also utilize a fourth style, the englyn milwr (a simple stanza of three seven syllable lines, all rhyming).

One very simple way to do this would be to write a few verses with one of the cywydds (awdl gywydd or cywydd llosgyrnog) and append a toddaid couplet, something like a volta in a strict sonnet, a change of thought or an abrupt stop. You could also use one of the forms as a lyrical base, with another format as a sort of chorus. The style is up to you, just be sure to use two or more of the forms presented here!

Thank you all so much for your hard work with these formats. Remember, there are twenty-four in all, so if you run across one you like later, let me know. Perhaps it will be a fun challenge at another time!

Please link up when you have a moment. I will return in four weeks with a new challenge! Feel free to email me or find me on Twitter if you have any suggestions for our next direction.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

A Poem to Share

Paul Laurence Dunbar (1872-1906)


I know what the caged bird feels, alas!
   When the sun is bright on the upland slopes;
When the wind stirs soft through the springing grass,
And the river flows like a stream of glass;
   When the first bird sings and the first bud opes,
And the faint perfume from its chalice steals —
I know what the caged bird feels!

I know why the caged bird beats his wing
   Till its blood is red on the cruel bars;
For he must fly back to his perch and cling
When he fain would be on the bough a-swing;
   And a pain still throbs in the old, old scars
And they pulse again with a keener sting —
I know why he beats his wing!

I know why the caged bird sings, ah me,
   When his wing is bruised and his bosom sore,—
When he beats his bars and he would be free;
It is not a carol of joy or glee,
   But a prayer that he sends from his heart's deep core,
But a plea, that upward to Heaven he flings —
I know why the caged bird sings!

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

The above poem was published in Lyrics of the Hearthside by Dodd, Mead and Company in 1899.
It was this poem that inspired the title to Maya Angelou's autobiography I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings.

Sourced HERE

Monday, November 21, 2011

Open Link Monday

Calling all toads to the garden...

                                                                                              Claude Monet's Garden ~

It is another Monday and the beginning of a very important week in the holiday calendar of our friends in the United States, who will be celebrating Thanksgiving.

As always, this link is open to any post, either recent or from your archive, and especially for those who would like to share their thoughts on the giving of thanks.  

Sunday, November 20, 2011

A Mini-Challenge for Sunday

A Hungarian Dance...

Bálint Balassi (20 October 1554 - 30 May 1594) was a multilingual Hungarian Renaissance lyric poet, who wrote mostly in Hungarian. Beside his native Hungarian, he was proficient in eight languages : Latin, Italian, German, Polish, Turkish, Slovak, Croatian and Romanian. He is the founder of modern Hungarian lyric poetry and the first author of Hungarian erotic poetry. Balassi's poems fall into four divisions: religious hymns, patriotic and martial songs, original love poems, and adaptations from the Latin and German.
Balassi was also the inventor of the strophe which goes by his name. It consists of nine lines a a b c c b d d b, or three rhyming pairs alternating with the rhyming third, sixth and ninth lines.  Any number of these stanzas may be used in the complete poem.

The Balassi Stanza/Strophe

x. x. x. x. x. a
x. x. x. x. x. a
x. x. x. x. x. x. b
x. x. x. x. x. c
x. x. x. x. x. c
x. x. x. x. x. x. b
x. x. x. x. x. d
x. x. x. x. x. d
x. x. x. x. x. x. b

Here follows an example of his verse in German and its (perhaps shaky) English translation:

Über die Jungfrau Margareta

Ritterklingen ritzen,
Schlangen Gift verspritzen,
mit den Hörnern kämpft der Stier.
Falkenkrallen reißen,
Löwenzähne beißen
Beute mit der gleichen Gier.
Töten mit den Blicken -
Nur der Maid mags glücken,
wie dem Basiliskus schier.

About the Virgin Margareta

Knight Blades carve,
snakes squirt poison,
with the horns of the bull fights.
falcon talons tear,
lion teeth biting
prey with the same greed.
killing by the looks -
the Maid might only succeed,
as the sheer Basiliscus.

This is a modern Balassi Stanza, by an anonymous poet:

Cello in the Wind

The wind's mellow voice plays.
Deeper cello sound stays
Moving through the branches making
Notes more mature and soft
Through the branches they waft
And leaves in turn start shaking
Then nature adds her mood
When other sounds intrude
We hear the new day breaking.

Friday, November 18, 2011

*your angel here*

I could go on at length about music and how it influences me, and how Music Is Subjective, so how can we use music as a prompt for poetry anyway? But that would be boring, so I won't.

Briefly, then. Sometimes, I write about how experiencing live music feels, like this poem I wrote after seeing Dick Dale perform live. I've written about how listening to particular music makes me feel, like this recent poem. Mostly, though, my thoughts fly off while listening, as I'm sure yours do, inspiring poetry.

One of my favorite bands of all time is They Might Be Giants. Smart and clever, poetic and wonderful, their music has influenced me for many years and has directly impacted my writing. I can attribute a number of my poems to having been inspired by lyrics and songs from TMBG, so my challenge is for you to do the same.

The song She's An Angel by They Might Be Giants has inspired at least two poems from me, so far:

maybe you were sent
to remind me of my belly
full of bold assertions
or perhaps you are meant
to paint my dreams
such that i remember what i am
you are part of what lies
beyond the here
and now i've found a circle
maybe the aliens burnt you in the dirt
fueling you with enough evidence
that i believe you.
 -- and --

  following an angel
fitful sleep awaited me
tossing and turning
as an angel voice
implored me to spread
my wings
and reach
all the way
across the sky

which this morning
is full of clouds and rain
but when i peeked outside
i could see a bit of brown
where all that white had been
and that is good
as it portends the green
to come

and what am i to do
with you?
yes, sure as spring
i can even taste you now

good morning.
The song is so interesting, clever and layered. Your challenge is to listen to this song (and here are the lyrics in case it is difficult to decipher them in this live recording), and to write a poem inspired by the ideas within:

I promise to write another poem inspired by this song, too. Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

An Interview With Robb Lloyd

Hello everybody it is Susannah here. I had the pleasure this week to be asked to choose someone from our list of members to interview. Now as soon as I looked down the list of names I knew who I would pick! - Robb LLoyd, founder of Poets United and The Real Toads.

You see, I remember way back when Robb first told me about his idea to set up Poets United. He had a real vision and sensed a community like that was needed - and he set about making it happen! I am proud to say that I joined up, and he and I were two members of the first group of four. I've been astounded since then to watch how his passion, commitment and energy made it grow.

Poets United and The Real Toads have both now become distinctive entities in their own right. Living breathing things, functioning and flourishing with the help and hard work of those that got on board fired by Robb's vision. All this was instigated by Robb's creative spark. I learned so much from watching it happen, he inspired me.

So when I got the chance to ask Robb a few questions, I was delighted and started with things I was curious about, his adventure with Poets United and The Real Toads. But I found that once I started asking questions I couldn't stop! - I hope you have as much fun reading the answers as I did asking the questions. :-)

Were you aware that you had such skill in starting things?

I don't know that I would call it a skill. It is more of an adult version of attention deficit or something. My wife for sure doesn't like it, you should see the projects I start or get her roped into. I like doing things and this "skill" appears when I am bored or lazing around. A lot of good has come from it yes, but there are scattered remnants of a lot failed instant ideas in my life. lol

Poets United has been great because of all the help I get, and we all know Toads was left for dead until Kerry revived it and gave it purpose and direction. I am like ghost there or the old guy they keep around out of respect. lol

What have you learned about yourself in the process?

I guess if you say it's a skill, I have learned that people tend to rally around and support me. Every good thing in my life, and in blogging, has been because of the people who help my visions along no matter what they are.

So, in looking back on what you achieved, what were the big surprises?

In life or in regards to the blogs? With the blogs that they have garnered so much following and support. In life that I am surrounded by such wonderful and caring people i.e. my wife. bless her heart.

What makes your pulse quicken, your heart race, your adrenaline pump. What excites you. What are your passions?

Life makes my pulse quicken. I greet everyday with a smile. It annoys my wife that I sing in the shower in the morning. I don't drink coffee or tea and don't really need caffeine. I'm happy to be alive and I don't let things get me down. My wife likes that, because I don't ever get angry and upset. That also makes me a great sounding board for many folks, so generally people tend to hang around me.

I am willing to try everything once except maybe sky diving. The wife just got back from her third jump and I wont even go watch. Some brave guy I am huh?

I love sports, writing and reading. I do not like the boring times. I need something to do, I cant just sit there. I am like a 3 year old, I gotta go go go.

Currently my passion is home brew. I love making my own beer, naming it and bottling it. We plan to start making our own wine in the spring. My passion is what ever strikes me at the moment I guess.

Do you know yourself well and find yourself easy to live with?

Yeah I would say I know myself very well. Almost to a fault.

Three words to describe you.

Funny, Confident, Creative.

A characteristic you wish you had.

I wish I was a little more calm.

A characteristic you wish you didn't!

A big mouth. Is that a characteristic? lol

Glass half full or half empty?

Depends on if I need a drink, or if its my outlook on life, lol. I am a positive guy. You could make me homeless and living in a box on the side of the road and I would hang up pictures to make it homey. As for the drink I could always use another sip. lol

I know that you have travelled extensively and that you were in the army for ten years. Where is your favourite place that you have visited?

Well, favorite is a toss up honestly. One for visiting purposes and one for living purposes. I once went to the Kwajalein Atol it is part of islands between Australia and Hawaii called the Marshall Islands. The experience was an amazing one. Crystal blue water for as far as the eye could see. When the tide went down you could watch some locals known as Reef Walkers cross over the reefs from a neighboring island a mile or two away.

Kwajalein was a very small island.
The airport runway was the biggest thing there and there were maybe 3 cars on the island. Everyone rode bikes. At the end of the day all the local workers had to leave the island since it was mainly government controlled, so an alarm went off and they would go to the ferry leaving hundreds upon hundreds of bikes just laying at the port.

(Kwajalein Atol - Photo: Lonely Planet Images)

The local bar (shack on the beach) doubled as restaurant, vet clinic and sometimes eatery. I once watched a movie there that was Italian dubbed into the language the natives spoke (I
cant recall what it was) with English subtitles on the bottom for me to read. At night you had to watch yourself because the crabs that came in from the sea were in the thousands. You actually had to sweep them out of your houses.

I went fishing, sailing and swimming in a wonderful tropical paradise in the middle of nowhere because Uncle Sam sent me there. It was an amazing experience, one I got to experience and abandon just shortly before a huge hurricane was to hit. I will never forget that place.

I know after that, how can I say I enjoyed someplace else more or equally but I do! The east Coast and Washington D.C. I lived there for close to five years on and off and think it's an amazing place. Once you learn where not to be, there is so much to experience.

I am a history and English major and that is what makes me love the place. There is so much to see and do in regards to history. The Smithsonian, the beginnings of America, the culture....its simply a wonderful place to explore with a perfect mass transit system to help you do it !

Do you share your life with any animals, if so please introduce us. :-)

Yes I have two animals. A 13 year tabby that I got when I was stationed in Hawaii. He is named after Humphrey Bogart (Bogey for short though my wife calls him booger) and a white boxer with one brown ear named Stoli (after the Vodka). They are both spoiled to death.

We do not want any children as we plan to travel and be adventurous for the rest of our lives and we can find better things to spend money on than diapers and college and cars. SO we spoil our pets instead, lol. Stoli was a rescue dog and can do many many tricks but he is also verry prissy for a boy. We call him our metro sexual puppy. lol

The more you write the easier it gets. True or False.

True and False it depends on the situation. Life prepares me for some things, and life throws new thing at me, all which I write about.


My mind is cluttered

The world flies by
Tampering with my emotions
Splitting reality and imagination
Dotting the past with new fresh life

As my memories haze and beige
Too fast for me to take stock
Propelling me to tomorrow
I crave a momentary pause

A chance to catch the floating perfect moments
Before they are whisked away from me
at the dizzying speeds of old age

Before I wither and grey
I want to relish
I want to take my time
Enjoying it all
Especially her

Taking a deep breath
I steady my pen
Knowing the moment I reread
What I have just wrote
The moment will also be gone

Robert Lloyd
8 November 2011

What do you think is the purpose of life?

That is my one burning question I want to have an answer to. I fear death. I want to live forever. Religion and the hereafter are huge scary topic for me. So for now, I will just agree with the hitchhikers guide to the galaxy and say that the answer to the meaning of life is 42.

Have you any long term ambitions or dreams you want to share with us?

To live a long healthy life with my wife and be happy doing it. A simple ambition and whatever comes with it I will take as the cherry on top.

My wife and I have also planned a European vacation for my 40th Birthday. A 21 day trip across Europe. But I have a side trip planned, I am going to Ireland even if for just a day and I am gonna find a true Irish pub and sit right down at the bar and order a guinness.

(I love this picture of Robb and Amber's wedding!
What wonderful colour shoes!)

Right now to finish I have one last question for you. If you could have a cartoon type super power, what would it be?

Being a comic book nerd from back in the day, I have often struggled with the question of what super power I would want. Super speed? Incredible strength? The ability to fly? The options are endless but I think I finally settled on invisibility. But only if I could turn it on and off at my own choosing. I don't want to have to suffer the tragedy of Orson Welles invisible man. I think he was the one who wrote that wasn't he?

Back to invisibility. I hope my finger prints when invisible stay invisible too because then it would be the perfect power. I could turn it on and off when I wanted. I would be a Vigilante style hero with this power. A little for me and a little for the misfortunate. An invisible Robin Hood if you may. I would steal from corporate america and give to the less fortunate while padding my pockets.

Bet you didn't expect my hugely geeky answer for that? Invisible Robb N Hood. lol - Ok dork factor over.

Thanks very much Robb for submitting to my rookie interview skills! I've really enjoyed it. It has been a real pleasure getting to know more about you. . . and if you pull off that superpower thing, could you slip some of your 'good doings' my way? ;-)

Check out Robb's great blogs -
Burdens and Smiles
Inventing Lloyd
The Migration of Words