Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Ella's Edge

Sorry, toads I didn't mean to disappear. I am taking a few courses online.  I will try today to make a come back and pick several prompts and post. I hope to regain my footing in the Imaginary garden. I have missed all of you!  I will be back to play leap frog, I mean catch up! There have been so many amazing prompts, I can't wait to jump back in.

My prompt today is about the movies, no not a particular movie! YOU get to pick...
My father co owned a Texaco station, by day he wore a star and by night he showed them on the silver screen. He was a part time projectionist. My parents actually met at a movie theater. She was the candy girl and ran the concession stand. My first job was selling tickets.  I love movies!  Don't you?!  So many art forms rolled into one. The magic, the escape, being entertained, enlightened, or scared, can be yours. when you get your ADMIT ONE ticket.

You can do this either way.  Go to this Movie Quote site and use a quote in your poem OR you can use the title of a movie in your poem.  The poem does not have to be about the movie, but it can be if you want.  So, grab your popcorn, your favorite candy, a beverage and pick your movie or quote. Frankly toads, I do give a damn!   And now it's time for the show!

Monday, January 30, 2012

Open Link Monday

Calling all toads to the garden ...

It is already the last Monday of January and I hope it finds all who have been feeling ill to be on the mend.   
This open link is an invitation to all-comers who would like to share a piece of writing, new or old, with the RT community.  There are no regulations to this post, just the enjoyment of good writing.  
Please remember the courtesy of visiting the blogs of a few other poets who have linked up today. 

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Weekend Photo Challenge: Daryl Edelstein

Hello dear Toads, and pond visitors. It's Fireblossom here in the driver's seat with your weekend photo prompt! This time, it is my distinct pleasure to introduce to all of you a very dear friend of mine, Daryl Edelstein. She has two blogs: On the m104: Out & About In New York City, and Through My Eyes, which is a more general photography blog. I just know you're going to love her work as much as I do, and find lots of writing inspiration!

So, if I can have your attention...

it's time...

to stop and smell the flowers,

listen to the rustle in the trees,

maybe even hop a fence or two,

peek in a window,

go down a flight of stairs,

and see the city, through Daryl's camera lens!

But, be careful,

follow the rules,

and watch out for strange creatures,

because I want you all home before dark

and all in one piece!

Oh, one last thing...

you've been Darylized!

Here's the challenge: write a poem inspired by any of these photographs of Daryl's. Be sure to give her credit for the photo you use, then link back here to Toads and sign the link! Simple Simon. I'm looking forward to seeing what all of you will write!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Mary's Mixed Bag

Hi Toads and Friends.  Mary here again with a new "Mixed Bag" that I hope you will enjoy. In brief, I would like you to think about conversation and how to work conversation into a poem. You could write poetically based on a conversation you have had, a conversation you fantasize , a conversation you overheard, a conversation you would like to have, etc. Just be sure that your poem involves conversation

I am going to share a few 'conversation poems' which may (or may not) inspire you. I generally find that the work of other poets inspires me, and maybe this is true for you too.

Naomi Shihab Nye is one of my favorite poets. I heard her read her poetry once, and believe me it was wonderful. The first Naomi Shihab Nye conversation poem I am sharing is "Kansas" from her book Words Under the Words.


Driving across the centre of Kansas
at midnight, we’re talking about
all our regrets, the ones we didn’t marry,
who married each other, who aren’t happy,
who should have married us.
Ah, it’s a tough world, you say,
taking the wrong road.
Signposts appear and vanish, ghostly,
I’m not aware it’s the wrong road,
I don’t live here,
this is the flattest night in the world
and I just arrived.
Grain elevators startle us,
dark monuments
rimmed by light.
Later you pull over
and put your head on the wheel.
I’m lost, you moan. I have no idea where we are.
I pat your arm.
It’s alright, I say.
Surely there’s a turn-off up here somewhere.
My voice amazes me,
coming out of the silence,
a lit spoon,
swallow this.

Interesting how she worked conversation into that poem, don't you think?

Now that you have taken a look at that one, I am going to share another one by Naomi Shihab Nye. Actually this is a favorite poem of mine.  I decided to share it second rather than first. It is "The Art of Disappearing" also from Words Under the Words.

The Art of Disappearing

When they say Don’t I know you?
say no.

When they invite you to the party
remember what parties are like
before answering.

Someone telling you in a loud voice
they once wrote a poem.
Greasy sausage balls on a paper plate.
Then reply.

If they say we should get together
say why?

It’s not that you don’t love them any more.
You’re trying to remember something
too important to forget.
Trees. The monastery bell at twilight.
Tell them you have a new project.
It will never be finished.

When someone recognizes you in a grocery store
nod briefly and become a cabbage.
When someone you haven’t seen in ten years
appears at the door,
don’t start singing him all your new songs.
You will never catch up.

Walk around feeling like a leaf.
Know you could tumble any second.
Then decide what to do with your time.

If you would like to hear Naiomi Shihab Nye read the above poem, watch this video. It is worth it. Naiomi Shihab Nye reads The Art of Disappearing.

Here is another conversation poem, a bit different. It is "Lesson" by Ellen Bryant Voight, from her book Shadow of Heaven:


Whenever my mother, who taught
small children forty years,
asked a question, she
already knew the answer. "Would you like to" meant
you would. "Shall we" was
another, and "Don't you think."
As in "Don't you think
 it's time you cut your hair."

So when, in the bare room,
 in the strict bed, she said, "You want to see?"
her hands were busy at her neckline,
untying the robe, not looking
down at it, stitches
bristling where the breast
had been, but straight at me.

I did what I always did:
not weep --she never wept--
and made my face a kindly
whitewashed wall, so she
could write, again, whatever
she wanted there.

The last poem I am going to share is "The Telemarketer's Call" by John Lehman. It was included in his book Dogs Dream of Running.

The Telemarketer's Call

Tonight, as I finish making calls,
a man tells me, "I'm going to die."
He's taken pills and now the pain
of age and losing those he's loved
is draining from him fast. What
he wants is forgiveness and since
I've phoned, mine will do. I sit
listening and think about my life,
scrambling for money while you
eat dinner with your wife or watch
TV with children on some couch
or, for spite, pretend you're dying.
I hesitate, then hang up.

The poems above are a few examples of 'conversation poems.'  I have faith that each of you will take the prompt in your own direction.  I look forward to reading what you come up with. Post the link to your poem using Mr. Linky below!  Have fun.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Interview with a Mouse

Interview with Sheri Tardio, Lolamouse


Hello all my fellow Toads in the Garden. This is Susie Clevenger and I would like to say welcome. Today ‘s treat is an interview with our resident mouse, Lolamouse, Sheri Tardio. Sheri is a talented poet with a marvelous sense of humor.  She made my job extremely easy for which I am grateful. As I looked through the interviews I have done in the past….wait…there are no other interviews. This is my first one. 

When Kerry told me last week it was my turn to do an interview, my immediate response was, “Oh sh--! No she didn’t…Me? I don’t know a thing about interviewing someone.”  

After I went through all the reasons it shouldn’t be me, I took a deep breath and sent an e-mail with this request to Sheri. So I ask with shaky fingers, "Would you grant me an interview?" 

Sheri responded with, “And I answer with shaky fingers also…sure.”

(Since both our names start with an S I will refer to myself as Goddess to avoid any confusion. I so love referring to myself as a deity)

Goddess: So Sheri, what would you like your readers to know about you?

Sheri: I didn't do it! I wasn't even there! 
Oh, you mean about my poetry. Okay, I'm a 48 year-old wife, mom, and non-practicing psychologist. I live in Southern Maryland with my family and 2 dogs, a poodle and a Maltese. I volunteer for our local nature center, Meals on Wheels, and hospice. I have a dark sense of humor, have been called "weird" by my mother more than once, and have a miniature kitchen glued upside down to my own kitchen ceiling. My favorite movies are Donnie Darko, The Graduate, Lost in Translation, and Rocky Horror Picture Show.  Let's do the Time Warp again!

Sheri,“ Amazing likeness!

Goddess: A dark sense of humor, I have a bit of that myself. Sheri, Ms. Lolamouse, your blog is titled Mouse Droppings. That is a very unique name. How did you come up with it? 

Sheri: Well, my online name is Lolamouse. Long story short...Lola is a pseudonym I made up for myself when I wrote (an entirely fictitious) reader's story for Playgirl magazine in college! It was a dare to see if it would get published; it did! The mouse part was from a high school nickname someone gave me because of my high, squeaky laugh when I really get the giggles. So Mouse Droppings seemed like a good name for a blog filled with my random, creative crap! As you may notice, I don't like to take myself too seriously.

Goddess: Playgirl and a squeaky voice…what revelations. I love it! When did you start writing poetry? Are there other poets who inspire you?

Sheri: I think my first poem was probably written when I was in about the first grade! It was about my Bubby (Yiddish for grandmother). I still remember it (such a timeless classic!)
     My Bubby is a lady
     of happiness and grace
     and when she smiles laughter spreads
                          all over the place!
My mother and grandmother both exposed me to poetry when I was very young, and I credit them with my love of it today. I remember my mother reading to me from Robert Louis Stevenson's A Child's Garden of Verse. I loved the poem "The Swing." My grandmother gave me 101 Famous Poems as a 7th birthday gift, and I still have it!
I wrote poetry throughout junior high and high school but rarely picked up a pen during college or graduate school (to write poetry, that is). It wasn't until the end of 2010 that I began really writing in earnest again. That's when I started Mouse Droppings, my creative writing blog. Now that I'm writing again, I can't imagine not doing it. I would feel incomplete.
There are so many poets in the blogosphere that inspire me on a daily basis, many of whom reside in the Imaginary Garden. Fireblossom immediately comes to mind. Her imagery as well as her constant output just puts me to shame! I also love Mama Zen's pithy writing style. She always makes her point so well. Brian Miller over at Waystation One also inspires me. He has a great, gritty style that I'd love to hear at a poetry slam. He also manages to clone himself so he can comment on hundreds of posts every day as well as produce awesome poems, be a great dad, and I think he has a paying job too!
As for published poets, right now I'm reading Andrea Gibson. She's a very raw, emotional poet who tackles some really tough subjects. Whenever I'm feeling wimpy about getting too political or offending someone in my poetry, I read her work, and she gives me courage.

Goddess: My, you started writing poetry early. What fans the creative spark in you? 

Sheri: Mostly my interactions with other people. I volunteer with hospice, and my work with bereavement groups has inspired several poems. Relationships are a subject that gets my creative spark going. Having been a psychologist in the past, I find personal interactions fascinating and love to write about relationships. It would be a mistake, however, to think that all my poems apply to my own life! I'm also inspired by nature but find it difficult to write about without sounding cliched.

Goddess:You have another blog titled Rants from the Hormonally Challenged. What were your reasons for creating it? 

Sheri: Actually Rants came first. It came about because I started sending emails to friends ranting about annoyances in my life and how irritating I found certain people. After several of my missives, a few people started telling me I should start a blog. I had never considered it and had no idea how to start one, but one day I just starting playing around on Blogger and Rants was born! It's my kvetching blog whereas Mouse Droppings is my creativity blog.

Goddess: Seems you have found a very creative way to rant. What tips do you have for new bloggers who wish to make their blogs successful?

Sheri: I guess that depends on your definition of success. I never cared if my blogs had a huge readership, but I value the readers I have because most leave very thoughtful comments and we have great interactions.  I wasn't interested in making money from my blogs either, so I don't do ads. I consider my blogs successful because they are what I want them to be, and I've made some great friends through blogging. 
In terms of specific advice, if you want people to find your blog and keep reading, in the beginning, you do need to post often or people will forget about you. Twice a week would probably be the minimum; daily is better. Also, join other sites, like poetry sites. Comment on other people's posts (and actually read them; they know!) Oh, and post some naked pics of yourself or Jake Gyllenhaal.

Goddess: Some very good advice Sheri. Do you have a favorite poem you have written that you would like to share?

Sheri: That's always tough. I'll pick a recent one that I like a lot. It's called:

Dreams of Earth and Heaven 
When ink stained twilight descends
I search for you, my divine succubus
Black lace angel
Guardian of my secrets
Wrap me tight in your raven feathers
that I wear the veins in your wings
like those of my own skin
We will fly later
Now is the time
for earthbound delights
The night is dying
and the moon fades in the sky
like milk into morning coffee
Before you leave
Please lay a feather
silken and jet
upon my pillow
and I promise to dream
of heaven.

Goddess: I asked Sheri if there were any photographs she would like to include in the interview. With her panache this was her response. 

Sheri: I know you asked for photos, but I generally don't like to post photos of myself online except as my alter ego Lolamouse. Here instead is a lovely photograph of a capybara, the world's largest rodent.

Thank you again Sheri for accepting my request for an interview. You made it look like I knew what I was doing. I am a fan of your poetry and I look forward to reading more of your work. Oh, and I do love a good rant!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Kenia's Wednesday Challenge

Hello toads!

By the time this post goes up I’ll be out in the sticks with my parents, with no Internet, cellphone or cable, jumping in day one of the Mighty Bell challenge I signed up for at least two months ago: GO TO THE WORLD. I’m there already and managing to survive it, I’ve packed my favorite books to go!

And I wanted to introduce you to this remarkable man who cut Turkish literature open and changed Turkish poetry forever: Nâzım Hikmet. (I was born on his date of death, fifteen years after he passed. I have a thing with Turkish poetry, you know.) 

I was born in 1902
I never once went back to my birthplace
I don't like to turn back
at three I served as a pasha's grandson in Aleppo
at nineteen as a student at Moscow Communist University
at forty-nine I was back in Moscow as the Tcheka Party's guest
and I've been a poet since I was fourteen
some people know all about plants some about fish
I know separation
some people know the names of the stars by heart
I recite absences
I've slept in prisons and in grand hotels
I've known hunger even a hunger strike and there's almost no food
I haven't tasted
at thirty they wanted to hang me
at forty-eight to give me the Peace Prize
which they did. (unabridged poem: 'Autobiography'

(available on amazon.com)

Nâzım Hikmet wrote his first poem at the age of 11 in 1913. In his early years, he chose to write in the syllabic meter. But he later started writing in free verse, because he found the syllabic verse was too limited for him to express his message. His early work was heavily influenced by the Soviet poets usage of futurism, or "word autonomy".

Living is no laughing matter:
you must live with great seriousness
like a squirrel, for example--
I mean without looking for something beyond and above living,
I mean living must be your whole occupation. (unabridged poem: 'On living')

He was a Communist and his concern with social issues is a common theme in his poetry. He spent 13 years in jail and other 13 years in exile, dying in Moscow in 1963 after having been stripped of his Turkish citizenship. In prison as well as in exile he is inclined toward phenomenological celebration, he is in love with life and its complexity, beauty and horror. 

(in Bursa Cezaevi'nde )

Since I've been in jail
the world has turned around the sun ten times
And if you ask the earth, it will say:
'It's not worth mentioning,
a microscopic time.'
And if you ask me, I will say:
'It's ten years of my life.'
I had a pencil
the year I came to jail.
It wore out in a week from writing.
And if you ask the pencil, it will say:
'A whole life.'
And if you ask me, I will say:
'It's nothing, a mere week.' (unabridged poem: 'Since I've been in jail') 

In many of his poems he also explored themes of personal loss and separation in a prosopopeia with a longed-for but absent wife (he married three times. There are mentions to the wives all through his poems.)

(Nâzım and his first wife Piraye'nin)

Want to die before you.
Do you think the one who follows
Finds the one who went first?
I don’t think so.
It would be best to have me burned
And put in a jar
Over your fireplace.
Make the jar
Clear glass,
So you can watch me inside…

CHALLENGE:  Write a futuristic poem. Simple, isn't it? Link your poem, leave a comment and provide a link in your blog to Real Toads. I promise to visit you guys when I'm back on Sunday.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Personal Challenge 7

So... Grace contacted me this week with a personal challenge that pretty much knocked me out. Knowing Grace, I had a feeling some kind of form poetry (at which I hold the world's record in sucking) would be involved. As usual, she blew all expectations out of the water. I give you, the challenge: 

Please write a series of haiku in the teikei fixed form. NO so-called "Haiku in English", please. Minimum of three and maximum of six pieces (and remember, four is the unluckiest number in Japanese), adhering to all traditional rules in their strictest sense, including the use of seasonal images and cutting words. You may use the English language convention of 5-7-5 syllables, OR write your haiku in 12 syllables (a closer match to the traditional on). The subject matter of your haiku is entirely up to you, and may be as untraditional as you please.


What ensued were days of syllable counting, weeding through ideas and excess words, a fantastic conversation with Grace, 68 attempted poems, and a new-found love of the discipline of haiku. 

Although the 5-7-5 convention is traditional, I learned in my research (yes, research :) )  that Japanese haiku are often written in a single line, and the number of on (loosely comparable to English syllables) fluctuates, even in the work of haiku masters.  

I'm not quite ready to call these attempts of mine haiku yet. True haiku always feel light, to me. Like an apple blossom, weightless on the surface of a still pond. These feel more like a dense chunk of brick, slamming through the surface, wreaking havoc on all those haiku frogs jumping into old ponds (--water's sound!). Since they're not quite haiku, then, I'll content myself with calling them Low-ku. ... low-ku with a will to climb. 

Three of the poems below are 17 syllables, two of those use a 5-7-5 structure, one a 6-5-6; and the remaining poem is a 12 syllable attempt, with two lines of 6 syllables each. (that's right... four wildly unlucky low-ku for your consideration.) 

The accompanying pictures/videos are not meant to be descriptive of the words, but in most cases acted as inspiration. The first photo, you will recognize, is the work of Isadora Gruye, and was featured here recently. 

Without any further yammering ado, I give you... low-ku 


through scarlet darkness,
each to his own hell – such is
the nature of love. 



{image via deviant art}

verve, driftwood & moon,
lightning, jello, ash -- such things
as bones are made of



{Son House rocking 'John the Revelator' ... it was actually the White Stripes I was listening to at the time, but youtube is sorely lacking in an acceptable version, and anyway,  it's always time for some good Delta Blues.}

John the Revelator –
Music of strange worlds
In the days of no days.



aged faces, story-smocked;
how vast the span of wings 

Thanks so much, Grace, for the challenge! 

Pondering my victim,