Saturday, September 29, 2012

The Sunday Mini-Challenge

Today we will be taking a look at the three line construction in poetry, which is known as the tercet.

© Joy Ann Jones

The Tercet is an innovation of the 14th Century Italian poet, Dante, who uplifted the ordinary three lines of folk verse to the recognized stanzaic for of his Divine Comedy. As such, the tercet is any three lines of verse grouped as a single idea or unit, which may be followed by another, with or without a line break. Examples of forms that employ tercets are terza rima, villanelle and it is the basis of the sevenling we had fun with last weekend. Thus it can form the frame of a poem with any number of 3 line units, or be used to write a tristich - a complete poem in three lines.

© Kenia Cris

Poets have used a variety of rhyme schemes for three line constructions, such as the interlocking aba bcb (etc), and the couplet based aab ccd (etc) or abb cdd (etc) but unrhymed tercets are equally effective, as in this example of The Snow Man, by Wallace Stevens.  The Sicilian Tercet is written in iambic pentameter with an interlocking rhyme, such as can be seen in Acquainted with the Night, a terza rima sonnet by Robert Frost.

© Susie Clevenger

Please read more on Poetry Magnum Opus, my source of information for today's challenge, which is to write a poem, either inspired by the photography which has been kindly shared by members of Real Toads or from your own source, using the tercet as your frame. Those who like to write haiku are also welcome to link up poems of that form, since they falls under the heading of tristich.
If you upload one of the photos to your own site, we ask that you acknowledge the name of the artist. The Sunday Challenge is posted on Saturday at noon CST to allow extra time for the form challenge.  Please provide a link on your blog back to Real Toads.  We stipulate that only poems written for this challenge may be added to the Mr Linky.  Management reserves the right to remove unrelated links, but invites you to share a poem of your choice on Open Link Monday.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Fireblossom Friday: Do You Believe In Magic?

Hi Toads. It's your friendly neighborhood spell caster Fireblossom, with a new challenge for you! I know that it is still (barely) September, but this is my last FBF until after Halloween, so all I can tell you is, this girl's gotta do what this girl's gotta do. Pull out that old cauldron. How about a little magic?

There's magic...

...and then there's MAGIC.

Write me something Poe would be proud of! I want you to compose a poem with magic (and perhaps a little bit of eye of newt) in it. Then sign the linky and let us all come and read what you have come up with! I look forward to flying by your blog on my trusty broom to see what you have brewed up!

One thing...I ask that your poem be a NEW poem, written for this challenge. Thanks!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Ella's Edge

I found this quote and thought I would share it with YOU!

"Fashion is not something that exists in dresses only. Fashion is in the sky, in the street, fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening.
"Coco Chanel

 This mansion is smack dab in the middle of downtown.  It is amazing, to see!  It is near my library~

I gave you a hint about this post, on Monday.  Yes, I did take teenagers shopping, yes I did play Ninja Stylist in the store.  Oh, for those of you that don't know what that means, I use to decorate windows in college. I still decorate!  I arrange a setting or an outfit and leave it in a place to be seen, where I shop.  I am sleuth like. I did get caught one time, but the owner of the shop liked my creation and let me leave it.  I'm blushing again, thinking about it.  My one n' only time caught. I  know, I'm on cameras now, but I am clever.  I usually wait a month, before I return to the scene of my fashion/stylizing crime.  I mean adventure.  I do not take anything, I just rearrange it ;D

 YOUR ASSIGNMENT:  No, I'm not going to make you become a Stylized Ninja, lol.   I do want you to pen a poem inspired by this quote. 

#1 You can do just as Coco suggests, find fashion in the sky, street or in the way you live and share it with us.  It would be great if you could share a photo, too.  I posted some photos to inspire. YOU may use my photos if you like! 

#2 You could take a photo of something you love that is fashionable and pen a poem about how it inspires you.

#3 Pick one of the fashion trends from your past and share how it made you feel! Were you hip n' cool, groovy?   Do you look at the photo now and wonder, 'what was I thinking?'  Don't forget you can use hair, your glasses, make up, your vehicle.  Anything goes!
(I was hoping for a slick black number, but this is what I captured yesterday, when I was downtown.)

#4 Write a poem about one of your ideas, share your creative insight with us.  Maybe you have an idea for a  new recipe, a new style of shoes or a special belt. 

Embrace fashion. Do you love trends, break the rules, own a favorite piece of clothing you want to discuss with the memory tag attached.  Do you collect something, shoes, rings, cuff links and you want to share your unique collection with us?!   How ever you want to do this, have fun! No, it isn't Project run away, lol.  You pick your fashion, which will help design your poem!  Remember to inspire us with your view, your world,  and your insight! 

 I love how this Poppy looks like a fabulous dress!


Monday, September 24, 2012

Open Link Monday

Welcome to the imaginary garden ...

Amy Loves Yah's photostream
Creative Commons Licence
Before we get down to the business of the day, I would like to thank everyone who participated in our Real Toad challenges and prompts last week.  Monday to Friday, there were a total of 80 links, and I am most gratified by the increasing support of our writers' community. The quality of the poetry shared was something of which we should all be proud.

Now a new week begins, and this open invitation to share poetry is made once again. Link up your latest piece, or a poem from your archives for which you would appreciate additional commentary. Please take some time out of your busy day to visit and comment on the work of the other poets - your support is a very valuable part of the on-line poet's process.


Saturday, September 22, 2012

The Sunday Mini-Challenge

© Ellen Wilson

A while ago, several of us tried the Sevenling form of poetry, but it has never been offered as a challenge on Real Toads.  The Sevenling is a poem in seven lines, invented about a decade ago by Roddy Lumsden, who accredits this poem by Anna Akhmatova as his inspiration:

He loved three things alone:
White peacocks, evensong,
Old maps of America.

He hated children crying,
And raspberry jam with his tea,
And womanish hysteria.

… And he married me.

The American Poetry Journal features the following article written by Lumsden, with a few "rules" of the form and examples of the end product.  I have extracted the basics for the purposes of our challenge today.

© Margaret Bednar

  • This form is all about content, rather than syllable count and rhyme scheme, and the rule of three is strongly applied.
  • The first three lines contain three connecting or contrasting statements, list of items, names or abstract elements.  
  • These can be contained anywhere within the stanza structure.  
  • This approach is then repeated in the second stanza as either a continuation of the previous idea, or to introduce new elements into the poem.  
  • The final line should create impact through juxtaposition, punch-line, or plot summary techniques.  
  • The layout is two stanzas of three lines each and a final stanza of one line. 
  • The tone should be somewhat mysterious, giving the sense that only part of the story is being told. 
  • There is conformity in the way a Sevenling is titled: Sevenling (First few words of line 1)

Lumsden is quoted (on APJ) as saying: "the rules are to be freely adapted to suit the poet - it's not a strict form."

© Mama Zen

I wrote a Sevenling in response to one of our previous Sunday Photo Challenges, which may be read HERE, and you are welcome to use any of the photos featured here today as inspiration for your Sevenling.  Alternatively, you may use one of the images as inspiration for a free verse poem. Please remember to give credit to the Real Toad members who have kindly shared their work with us.

The Sunday Challenge is posted on Saturday at noon CST to allow extra time for the form challenge.  Please provide a link on your blog back to Real Toads.  We stipulate that only poems written for this challenge may be added to the Mr Linky.  Management reserves the right to remove unrelated links, but invites you to share a poem of your choice on Open Link Monday.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Mary's Mixed Bag -- Fences

Mary's Mixed Bag --  Fences

I was thinking about fences this week.  I walk my dogs in a few different areas and took particular note of fences.  I also wondered if the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.  What do you think?

Robert Frost said, "Don't ever take a fence down until you know why it was put up."  Hmm, do you identify with that at all?  Do some of you have fences around your property?  Are they built to keep people or animals out or to keep people or animals in.

Then there is the Chinese proverb, which says "Everyone pushes a falling fence."  I can see that.  Sadly enough, I can!

Carl Sandburg said, "Love your neighbor as yourself, but don't take down the fence." I think that means something similar to Robert Frost's "Good fences make good neighbors," don't you?

Seal has said, "  I don't think we can sit on the fence anymore. We have to make up our minds. And if one wants to choose the path of darkness, then so be it, but be conscious of what it is you're doing. "

Okay, let's get to the point here.  I wonder if some of you have fences somewhere close to you.  If so it could be interesting if you took a photo of the  fence and shared it with us, whether or not it has a lot to do with the subject of your poem.  My fences (I took all the photos) are pretty average fences from my walk.  Yours can be too.

Use a 'fence' in your poem somehow.  Who does it hold in or keep out?  What is behind the fence?  Is something being hidden?  Who built it?  Why?   How do you feel about 'fence sitters'?  Are you fence sitter yourself?  Do you try to mend your fences? Are you successful?  Has someone tried to fence you in?  How do you feel about animals behind fences in a zoo?

I hope by now you have an idea on what to write  Looking forward to seeing what you come up with.  Post your link with Mr. Linky below.  Leave a comment too.  And please visit poems of others who have linked. And, most of all, enjoy.


Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Kenia's Wednesday Challenge

image credit: Drew Harron via Compfight

Hello there Toads! I'm glad to be back to my spot and today I'm bringing the subject of an article I read in The New York Times a few months ago: Poetry in Afghanistan. The folklorist Margaret Mills called Afghanistan, “The most literary illiterate society.”, with generations of women learning poetry through the rich oral tradition and passing it down to their children.

Only five out of 100 women in Afghanistan graduate from high school; most are married by the age of 16.  For many, poetry allows them to express themselves. It's the only voice they have, but women writing poetry is seen as shameful and could result in a beating or even death, reason why they have to rely on pen names.

Women write and recite landai, two-line folk poems that can often be humorous, sexy, raging, tragic and  also deal with love, grief,  war, exile and Afghan independence. The success of the poetry form is atributed to it being easy to memorize, which is really important in a culture where women are poorly schooled and forbidden to write or read.

The word landai means “short, poisonous snake” in Pashto. The poems are collective — no single person writes a landai; a woman repeats one, shares one. It is hers and not hers. Although men do recite them, almost all are cast in the voices of women.

Making love to an old man is like 
Making love to a limp cornstalk blackened by fungus. 

One person kills himself
A generation dies.

May your airplane crash and may the pilot die
that you are pouring bombs on my beloved Afghanistan.

My pains grow as my life dwindles,
I will die with a heart full of hope.

I am shouting but you don’t answer —
One day you’ll look for me and I’ll be gone from this world.

Further reading:


Today I invite you to find your voices and write a bunch of landai. Use a word or part of a sentence in someone else's poem for inspiration if necessary. Let landai pieces communicate among one another and resonate a message of non-compliance with the status quo. You can either write single landai to be incorporated by others, or incorporate the ones written in the entries before yours. When you're sure to have said something, come and share it with the other toads in the Garden. Happy writing!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Personal Challenge - Susan Chast and 'Yawp'

Friends have asked where I disappeared to, and the answer is that I have been enjoying some time with the dead white male inventor of free verse, Mr. Walt Whitman.  Kerry challenged me to chose a quote from him and write a poem in respond to it.  I did, and you'll read that one below.
Wouldn't you know though, I reread half of "Leaves of Grass" in the process and wrote responses to a few of the little ones.  Here is one of those:  Whitman's  poem is first and mine follows.

A Noiseless Patient Spider  
A noiseless, patient spider,
I mark’d, where, on a little promontory, it stood, isolated;
Mark’d how, to explore the vacant, vast surrounding,
It launch’d forth filament, filament, filament, out of itself;
Ever unreeling them—ever tirelessly speeding them.

And you, O my Soul, where you stand,
Surrounded, surrounded, in measureless oceans of space,
Ceaselessly musing, venturing, throwing,—seeking the spheres, to connect them;
Till the bridge you will need, be form’d—till the ductile anchor hold;

Till the gossamer thread you fling, catch somewhere, O my Soul.

by Walt Whitman 
In 1867 edition of “Leaves of Grass”

O my Soul

I would my soul were like the silent patient spider,
who spins and spins until its goal is met, and then
again sits and waits for dinner to come to him,  but
I who write much about ever-teaching Nature,  have
a spirit more like an angry young stream  leaping
from its spring with the swagger of youth cutting
corners and taking dares all the way to the salt sea.
Soul is the stream and the spring and also
the action of the race and the goad, yea and the sea.

by Susan Chast
Copyright © 2012 S.L.Chast

YAWP is a noun meaning a scream, a yell, a raucous sound.
(The  Photo of the red-tailed hawk in flight is free share Creative Commons)
Walt Whitman 1

On Wed, 12 Sept. 2012, Kerry O'Connor  wrote: “I would like to challenge you to select a quote from Walt Whitman's writing and use it as inspiration for a poem of your own."  She gave me a great link for extracts from his poetry and writing, and encouraged me to use any quote I wanted.   Whitman's  "Song of Myself" is my favorite.  In this 52-part poem, published in Leaves of Grass, he uses first-person narration to celebrate all of Nature through his power of empathy: He sees "that of God" equally in all living things and in both genders.  Therefore, he places spirit, soul and faith above organized religion and personal experience above the priesthood. He shows himself as a kind of everyman coming to terms with variety in life from birth through death.  However he is also a poet, and in the quote I chose from the final section  of "Song of Myself," Whitman speaks as if he is dying or already gone, having left behind his poems. (His poem is below, following mine.)


Last Sunday,  God asked me and I asked God: “What do we have to do to be heard?” Must we hover over all, raise our numbers? or reduce them and become endangered species?

To get on the list with Ivory-Billed Woodpeckers and Amur Leopards,
To be ready to disappear with Leatherback Sea Turtles and Siberian Tigers,

To be half gone already like the ice in the Arctic Tundra and the Greater Himalayas

To enter the half lives of politicians and the half deaths of generals
To give up the languages of the spheres and  invent  new ones in the latest green profit
To give up awakening one at a time and instead preach to the converted

This is the problem with priests: they hear God in their own images and forget these are only images of spirit (much larger than self, much more than we can never know.)
This is the problem with priests: they worry about the appearance and history of God rather than the tasks and questions at hand (posed by God, who, unlike priests, has no ego.  This is the least we know.)
This is the problem with priests, they take on the word to re-dictate it (rather than to show their flocks how to hear and then to listen.)
This is the problem with priests: they forget that a living God still speaks daily and nightly (through all of creation including men, women, and children)

Everyone is a teacher and everyone is a student. 
The student’s problem is not who to hear but who to listen to
The teacher’s danger is being heard:
Someone might listen and follow blindly

This was my fear about teaching Kindergarteners: 
What if the room full of little ones listened and smiled as a group?? 
What if they believed me? 
I sought those who would resist,
who would approach the brick walls of understanding
I sought those who would  join me 
who would knock on brick-blocked doors
who would wail while forcing our little writings into cracks in the surface

I sought those benevolent leaders who would be affected by the swelling paper
who would read the writing on the wall as it bled through
who would look where we suffer together
who would see that we also  rejoice because we hear each other and listen

I seek those who speak and listen with hearts, arms, hands, bellies, backbones, and spirit. 

I was born a teacher, but spent my life learning:
I learned that I teach people, that subjects rise and fall
I learned that I need to learn people, that I have always been more open to other species
I learn that I feel moments of triumph when people  began to delight in their own voices 
I learn that learning is driven by  curiosity
I learn that learning to communicate  well is facilitated by having something to say to another and to many, each according to need

What canst thou say?  God asks me and I ask God.
I say we are already an endangered species as well as an endangering species,that I am no different from anyone else, and everyone’s voice is different
that we carry spirit, and  spirit carries us
that I trust this, having faith in but no knowledge of God
that I get closer to spirits’ mediums circling with hawks
that I sound this yawp out into the world, not wanted and wanted
that I will not hide my Light, I will leave it here

I say that the life of a teacher, student, poet, singer is a life of necessityjust as is the life of a carpenter,  farmer,  electrician, and any other worker bee, spider, and coyote who walks the earth.

by Susan Chast
Copyright © 2012 S.L.Chast

“Walt Whitman’s “Song of Myself #52”
The spotted hawk swoops by and accuses me, he complains of my gab and my loitering.
I too am not a bit tamed, I too am untranslatable,
I sound my barbaric yawp over the roofs of the world.
The last scud of day holds back for me,
It flings my likeness after the rest and true as any on the shadow’d wilds,
It coaxes me to the vapor and the dusk.
I depart as air, I shake my white locks at the runaway sun,
I effuse my flesh in eddies, and drift it in lacy jags.
I bequeath myself to the dirt to grow from the grass I love,
If you want me again look for me under your boot-soles.
You will hardly know who I am or what I mean,
But I shall be good health to you nevertheless,
And filter and fibre your blood.
Failing to fetch me at first keep encouraged,
Missing me one place search another,
I stop somewhere waiting for you.
The End!

Open Link Monday

Calling all toads to the garden...

Normanack's Photostream
Flickr Creative Commons Licence
Welcome to all poets who walk this way today. I hope you will pause a while and reflect on the range of poetic talent which this open link affords, and share a piece of your own writing with us.  This is an opportunity to promote your latest piece of original poetry, or something from your archives, on which you would like new feedback. Every person who uses this space appreciates the time you spend reading their work, and leaving your thoughtful comments.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

The Sunday Challenge

Poetry for the Firefly Jar

© Kerry O’Connor 

Some of you may be familiar with my firefly jar of poetry, on Skywriting. Some may even recognize their writing in my jar, because it is crammed with extracts of poems and prose which have struck me as having the power to shine in the dark.
I added this quote just last week:

I celebrate myself, and sing myself,
And whatever I assume you shall assume,
For every atom belonging to me as good as belongs to you.
~Walt Whitman~

Recently, several of our Real Toad members sent me a selection of their photographs, for our Sunday Challenges, after I mentioned that this prompt might have to come to an end, and among them was this image from Kenia Cris.  I was thrilled to see that I'm not the only one with such a jar.

© Kenia Cris

Thus, our weekend challenge is to write a poetic fragment, which could be printed out, or scribbled on a post-it, or torn from a notepad and preserved in a jar of words to live by, words not to be forgotten. This could be written in your favourite short form, or as a single quatrain. It may be as short as two lines of poetic thought (I have lately not pushed myself further than a couplet at a time for my Ghazal challenge.) or several lines of free verse. I will set the limit at 10 lines, but add that you may present us with a collection of such short pieces, because that's what firefly jars are all about.  Feel free to use either image with your post, but I think it would be even nicer if you could take a quick pic of your poem on paper and share your fragment with us that way.

The Sunday Challenge is posted on Saturday at noon CST, to allow extra time for the creative process.  Management reserves the right to remove any links which are unrelated to this challenge, but offers the invitation to share a poem of your choice on Open Link Monday.