Friday, November 30, 2012

Mary's Mixed Bag - Connection

Wikimedia Commons
(Earth Seen from Apollo 17)

Greetings Toads and Friends,

Here I am with Mary's Mixed Bag again! 

The holiday season is upon us, and many of us are probably planning to connect with people as we plan our celebrations.

Life really is a lot about connections, I think.  We connect with our families during the holidays.  We connect with our friends.  We all connect with one another here at Real Toads and at other sites in the Poetry Blogosphere.  Connection is important to each of us.

As I was thinking about my  prompt for today, I thought about how much I appreciate the connections with you all here, how what we all share with one another is something special that people who aren't involved in the blogosphere would have no idea about.  Despite geographical differences, age differences, cultural differences, etc., we are indeed a connected community.  If only the governments of the world could learn from us how to get along!

I was also thinking about the connections between past, present, and future.  As I look back on my life, I feel that in many ways I am the same person now that I was when I was a child.  And there are people who were in my life at one time who have either passed away or left my life for one reason or another that I still feel connected with and feel their influence in my life.

I was also thinking about the amazing ways that we can stay connected with one another in today's world.  We see news as it happens.  We can email someone in another country, and they receive the message immediately.  We can Skype and tweet and do Facebook.  So much different than in the past when people like me wrote letters to pen friends in other countries and didn't hear back from them for a couple weeks.  I just saw the Lincoln movie, where connections between the President and the front lines of the Civil War were by telegraph, which seems so primitive now.

Wikimedia Commons
Early Telegraph Receiver

Today I would like you to think about connections.  If that word is enough for you, go for it....and write what comes to mind.

Or if you need more inspiration...write a poem about connections in the blogosphere and perhaps what the blogosphere means to you.

Or...write about an important connection in your life -- past, present, or future.

Or...about instant connection as we experience it today.

Or..about the connection between past, present, and future....yours or something more general.

Or...about the connection between two seemingly unrelated objects:  Let's say icicles and waterfalls; happiness and the planet Mars; nightmares and red wine;  a sleeping child and a blackbird, etc.

How is connection important to you?

Write a new poem to the prompt. Include in your poem a link back to the Imaginary Garden, please.  Link it below using Mr. Linky.

I am looking forward to seeing what you write and connecting with you through this prompt! PLEASE don't just 'link and run.'  If you link your poem, visit others as well. It's part of the fun!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Wednesday Challenge

Today I am standing in for Kenia, and it is my pleasure to introduce an iconic South African poet, Ingrid Jonker. One of Ingrid Jonker's most famous poems, "Die Kind" (The Child), was written in the wake of the 1960 Sharpeville Massacre. In this clip, we can hear it read by President Nelson Mandela during the opening of South Africa's first democratic Parliament, in May 1994. The words of the poem are found HERE.

Her collection, Black Butterflies, translated into English.

Although she wrote in Afrikaans, her poems have been widely translated into other languages. Jonker is often called the South African Sylvia Plath, owing to the intensity of her work and the tragic course of her turbulent life. She spoke out against injustice so her work was not well-received by the conservative white South African public in the '60s and she spent some years in England and Europe. Her love life was tempestuous; estranged from her husband she had affairs with two prominent South African writers. After Andre Brink refused to leave his wife for her, she returned to South Africa from the continent and began a new collection of poems, shortly before her death. During the night of 19 July 1965, Jonker went to the beach at Three Anchor Bay in Cape Town where she walked into the sea and committed suicide by drowning.

Three Anchor Bay, Cape Town, SA

These words are taken from her poem Escape, written for her 1956 collection, and considered prophetic of her death:

I am the dog that slinks from beach to beach
barks dumb-alone against the evening breeze

I am the gull that swoops in famished flights
to serve up meals of long-dead nights

The god who shaped you from the wind and dew
to find fulfillment of my pain in you:

Washed out my body lies in weed and grass
in all the places where we once did pass.

Ingrid Jonker
Jonker's poetry was simple in structure. She tapped deeply into her own experience and wrote most passionately about her relationships.

I repeat you

I repeat you
without beginning or end
repeat your body
The day has a thin shadow
the night yellow crosses
the landscape has no distinction
and the people a row of candles
while I repeat you
with my breasts
which imitate the hollows of your hands

Her mother died in a mental asylum when Ingrid was in her early teens, and she was also plagued with mental health issues all her life.

a memory of my mother

Gleaming ochre
and a light breaks
from the sea.

         In the back yard
         somewhere between the washing
         and a pomegranate tree
         your laugh and the morning
         sudden and small
         like a ladybird
         fallen on my hand

CHALLENGE: For today's challenge, I ask you to draw on a personal relationship as the basis of your poem. This could be your relationship with a family member, lover or your relationship with yourself or fellow countrymen. You may use past experience, memory or reminiscence to express your ideas.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Open Link Monday

Welcome to the imaginary garden...

Blackeyed Susans in Hedgie's Garden 

...where Real Toads like to hang out on Mondays.

The invitation to be a part of our poetry family is extended once again to all who care to take a walk in the garden. If you are a regular Monday contributor, why not invite a friend to join you in sharing a poem with us today?  The rules are simple here, because there are none. We ask only that you enter into the spirit of RT by linking your original poetry, of whatever vintage you choose, and visiting the blogs of the other poets who have linked up with you.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

The Sunday Mini-Challenge

Doll by Bailey Powell
Welcome to the Sunday Mini-Challenge.  I, Margaret Bednar, am hosting with a little help from my daughter and her fellow classmates.  They were given an assignment to create dolls that reflect a part of who they are.  They spent close to six weeks hand stitching and creating the backdrops for these gorgeous works of art.

The students are thrilled and excited to have their dolls interpreted into poetry.  For this exercise, please feel free to choose more than one image.

I have six other dolls I would love to share with you next month.  Let me know in the comments below if this is a challenge you are interested in revisiting.

Doll by Junsung Lee
Doll by Dionne Daniel
Doll by Chelsea Bednar
Doll by Mallory Doran
Doll by Emma Whitlock
Doll by Amber Robinson
Please acknowledge the name of the artist if you upload an image to your blog. 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, November 23, 2012

A Word with Laurie

Hi, toads and followers, Laurie here. In the spirit of giving thanks, I wanted to let all of you know how thankful I am for you and how grateful I am to be a part of the garden. I must admit, though, I'm still recovering from too much turkey. Perhaps some hopping will help get those creative juices flowing. Why don't you join me? Get out an old pillowcase and step into it. Next, hop around the room. Does this bring back any memories? Like sack races? Read on...

Clip-Art Pics courtesy of

Now let's get going with why we're really gathered here today: the word. As I was perusing poems that were linked to the past month's Open Link Mondays here at the garden, Susan Chast's poem, Cornucopia, caught my attention. The beautiful picture, squash and flowers... what a sensuous delight. When I saw burlap, I thought how perfect that word would be to use today.

Burlap sacks hanging out to dry, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

burlap~ n. A strong, coarsely woven cloth made of fibers of jute, flax, or hemp and used to make bags, to reinforce linoleum, and in interior decoration. (American Heritage® Dictionary)

Burlap is also known as Hessian cloth.
It's not just a tough material for sack races, sandbags, storing potatoes, gardening, twine and rope; burlap can also be creatively made into curtains, lamp shades, pillow shams, book covers, wallpaper, table runners, wrapping paper, wreaths, sachet, lunch kits, hook rugs, and the list goes on.

Coffee beans, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

How to incorporate burlap into your poem:

1. Create texture within your offering.
2. Write a poem on a piece of burlap, or a picture of it. Here are some images you can use.
3. Use the word "burlap" in the piece.
4. Perhaps one of the pictures in this post will inspire you.


Don't be a couch potato... write an original poem, link it to Mr. Linky, visit others who have linked and leave comments on their blogs. That's how it works, folks. Now hop to it!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Some Call Him Tim.....

By Timoteo

If what were left
of you
was water
instead of dust
I'd drink a little
of you
each day
and piss you out
in the mornings
like dew drops
on the heather
then wait for you
to rise
into the clouds
and  pray
for stormy weather

Greetings Toads:

I am pleased to announce that starting today, I will be making a regular appearance on Thursdays.  In the past, we have interviewed members of the Real Toads community.  Now, I am turning the spotlight to our followers to illuminate a bit about those who keep coming back to the Garden.  

Today, I am highlighting a recent conversation I had with Tim Schaefer (aka “Timoteo”) self proclaimed desert rat and film enthusiast.  Tim posts regularly at the Catnip Blog, and also a film review blog  Timmy's Noodle Film Review.  

Without further ado, let’s begin.....

Izy: I’m buying the first round of the drinks, what will you be having?
Tim: Corona with a wedge of lime. And I'll get the next round. (Don't believe that.)
Izy:  So, your profile says you live in long have you lived there, and why do you continue to do so?

Tim:  I've been in Tucson since 1977, and that qualifies me as an official "Desert Rat." Was actually born here, but grew up in the midwestern U.S..  I came back out of curiosity about my birthplace, and the day I drove into town it felt like home.

There is something magical about the desert which draws people here from all over the world. Their will is not their own. They wake up one morning glassy-eyed and begin chanting robotically : Tucson...Tucson...

Izy:  Your blog dates back to 2009, but how long have you considered yourself a poet?

Tim:  I have considered myself a poet since high school, when I found the whole idea of  "learning" the way they implemented it to be boring, so I would sit around in study hall and write these nasty little parodies of "Beowulf" or "The Night Before Christmas" and pass them around in class. The other kids would chuckle and snort, so I figured they liked them.

Izy:  What are you trying to accomplish with your words?

Tim:  My mission statement as a poet isn't a fancy one. I think self-expression happens because there is something inside that (sometimes urgently)  needs to come out--if it doesn't you go around feeling bloated all day--so you put it down on paper or into the computer and then you feel better. I have always felt that words were primarily for the purpose of communication. (I know some poets think they're primarily for play!) The only way we can know anything about each other--besides body language--is through words. So in my work I am most often dealing with universal themes that people can relate to in one way or another, based in real life situations as opposed to fantasy. I use a lot of satirical humor in my poetry, but underlying the humor there is often a sense of pathos. This is how I interpret the human condition. Beneath the laughter there is pathos...beneath the sadness there is the Cosmic Joke. In our world of duality, one always implies the other. 

Izy:  When reading your blog profile I was delighted at this statement: “Sometimes I go to the library or a bookstore, and just open books to some random page, and read a few sentences. Once in a while what I find seems like a message meant for me”--what was the last “message” you received and what journey did it lead you to?

Tim: Truthfully, I just opened this book to a passage that said: You evasive bastard. I'm trying to understand you, and you won't give me a straight answer. This is one of those times when I definitely feel like something is being directed toward me. But hopefully not by you!

Izy:  (Laughs).   No you are being very far!  One aspect of your poems which I enjoy is that they tend to end in a different a tone then where they started (and never where I suspected they would end), as if the narrator has stumbled into insight.  When you write a poem is your top priority to express your insights or to provide a genuine experience for the readers....and I am sorry, but I am not going to allow you to used the safe answer of “both”....simply what view do you consider first, yours or your audience? 

Tim:  Well, it's always my view in the beginning, because whether I'm writing as myself or through a character, it's always me and my world view that is being expressed. I think you have to write for yourself, and not try to tailor your work to a specific audience in hopes of having a better chance of it being accepted. Your work will be more honest that way, and if it's any good, put it out there and an appreciative audience will find it.

Izy:  That explains why your poems seem to just “unabashedly be” on the page.  What aspects of you appear in your poems?

The aspect of me that most often shows up is the guy who is speaking from his heart. Speaking out of a sense of passion about something.

Izy:  I’ve noticed you also have a passion for cinema.  You write a film review blog where you review.  What was the lowest grade you have given, and why?   

Tim:  I used to watch Siskel and Ebert and think what a great job to have--hang out in the balcony and watch movies, then write about them and get paid for it. I told myself I didn't need to get paid--I would do it just for the fun of it. So now, writing about movies has become something of an obsession. 

The lowest grade I've given was an "F" to a film called When In Rome. Mainly because I thought it was going to be set in Rome, and most of it takes place in New York City.  Oh, yeah--it was stupid too. But I think that is the only F I have ever given. I usually find something redeeming about each film that saves it from that worst of worst  report cards you can't take home to mom.

Izy:  That is very kind of you to dig for fragments of brilliance.  I usually am a little more fickle.  Okay, so now begins what I call, “rapid fire” questions.  They are meant to have short answers, but if you are feeling verbose that’s okay too!

Do you write rough drafts in pen, pencil, or electronically?
I normally scribble with a pen in my notebook, until I can't read my own writing anymore, then I switch to the computer. 

The Jetsons or the Flintstones?
Flintstones. I used to take their chewable vitamins, and I wasn't even a kid at the time.

Favorite curse word?
"fuckashitpiss."  It's this wonderfully all-encompassing epithet that I first encountered in the insanely irreverent novel, Candy, by Terry Southern and Mason Hoffenberg.

An alien lands on earth and asks you “what is poetry?”  Which poem of yours would you  share as an answer (you can only pick one)?
A poem entitled "Poetry Lives," which can be found in the archives of Catnip.

Three things you never write about?
Faeries... cooking...and iPads (because I don't have one.)

Four Favorite words?
"bugger"  "anyhoo"  "kiddo"  "anthropomorphic" 

The power to fly or the power to be invisible?
I fly in my dreams. So I would choose to be invisible so I could get into all the movies for free.

You have a copy of the Sunday paper in front of you, which section do you read first?
The sports page. I'm a fantasy football freak. Just when you think you know someone, eh?

What is the sound which best describes your poetry?

Two things that make you lose sleep
1. Thinking about an unfinished poem.  2. Coyotes howling outside my window.

I’ve got a full tank of gas, 1,000,000 Marriott Reward points and a stolen platinum credit card:  where are we going?
A ski lodge in the Rockies. Sit by the cozy fireplace. Drink some wine. Retire to the room. Don't even think about skiing.

Worst writing advice you ever received?
Get an "expert" to critique your work. 

You get to host an intimate dinner party with 5 guests, and you can select anyone (famous, infamous, living, dead etc,..though for purposes of this question the dead will be brought back to life in a non-zombie way).  Who gets an invite and why?

Marlon Brando. My favorite actor, and I do a great impression of him that I think he might like. (If not, I be sleeping wit da fishes!)  

Stephen Hawking--so we could discuss the topic of  "why does anything exist."

Alan Watts (Zen philosopher and writer.) He and Hawking would have a very interesting discussion, I think.

Claude Lelouch--French film director.(A Man And A Woman)  Because I've been knocked out by just about everything he's put on film. 

Zooey Deschanel...just to gaze into the black holes of her eyes up close. 

So thanksgiving is soon...
Yep...I love the holidays. Even if they suck and they are lonely...there's a getting in touch with buried emotions that usually occurs. I think we should do that from time to time.

And that is where the convo ended, kiddos.   I want to thank Tim for his gracious replies to pesky questions and for taking the time to provide such a wonderful dialogue.  Happy Thanksgiving Tim!  I will save you a seat at the Ski Lodge.  

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Out of Standard

Bishop Snowman and the Spice Posse.  Copyrighted, Isadora Gruye Photography.

Greetings Garden Dwellers!

American toads and followers, consider me your Thanksgiving benefactor, here for the Wednesday Out of Standard, and you better believe I will back tomorrow to launch a new interview series.   Non-Americans, consider me your special hostess for a mid-week near the end of November.

Let’s get a move on to Out of Standard.

One Wednesday each month, Kerry allows me to take the reigns and steer us off course.  I will set before you a challenge to defy the conventions of a particular theme.  You will be called upon to find new places in the everyday, but there is a twist: in order to complete each challenge, you will also be asked to share something about yourself with the IGWRT community.  

Today’s challenge falls the Wednesday before Thanksgiving: a holiday Americans spend giving thanks for the bountiful harvest and friendly stewardship which will sustain them through the cold winter months ahead.  Since most food is made in laboratories, and most Americans communicate via text message or social networking sites, the day is really more about eating heaps of food.  Here on the north plain, we double up on starches, stuff turkeys with sausage, and menu items with any nutritional value are drenched in cream of mushroom soup and fried onion strings.  The hearty midland Thanksgiving feast was my inspiration for this month’s out of standard.  Let’s focus on a feast of a different sort:


We all have one.  but wait.....
Actually, I firmly believe we all have two guilty pleasures:  the one we confess to in public (“All right,” you’ll announce loudly at work, “You caught me!  I read the Hunger Games, and it was really good) and then there is that deep, deep deeply dark guilty indulgence we cover up by admitting to our lesser pleasures (you are comfortable telling your colleagues you liked the Hunger Games, but you do not mention that you write Katniss/Buffy cross over fan-fiction and make your own Katniss dolls with scraps of your own hair--while that is totally natural, you just can’t admit to it, because it’s a little embarrassing).  

And guess, my toads,which one I want you to draw from...bring on the deep dark.

Here are the rules of this month’s challenge:  

  1. Admit to your deeply dark guilty pleasure.
  2. Write a poem gluttonously inspired by it.  NOTICE: I said gluttonously inspired, which means no light hinting or a slight name drop.  

Take a moment to revel in your secret affinity (much like I will be reveling in green bean casserole and lots of red wine) and bring us back something beyond the standard!   As always, I ask that you write something new for this prompt and not post something you have previously written which conveniently fits the challenge.  

Go now toads, rub your bellies in the muck and bleat delightfully at its deliciousness.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Open Link Monday

Welcome to the Imaginary Garden ...

'A rose by any other name...'
© Ellen Wilson

... where real toads like to swing by every Monday.

It is always a pleasure to welcome everyone to Real Toads on a Monday.  I look forward to a day of fun reading and lots of activity as poets stop by to share, reflect and visit.  You are free to link any poem you choose, whether newly written or a piece from your archives, as long as it is your original work and not that of a group or any form of advertisement. Every so often, I must point out to new-comers that this site does not work well as a hit and run. There is nothing to say that you have to be polite and at least return a comment if someone else left one for you, but this is a small forum, and such activity does not go unnoticed.  Real Toads will not prove very advantageous for your blog if you don't do some hopping - we are all about working together.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

The Sunday Mini-Challenge

This weekend, we continue to draw inspiration from the work of established poets. I believe we have much to learn from the masters of our art, and that attempting to write in forms they innovated, allows us to be more creative in devising our own stanza forms. I was delighted to read a poem by our own Hedgewitch this week, which showcased an original form.

For this Mini-Challenge, I would like to showcase an eight line poem by William Butler Yeats.  For a reading by Anthony Hopkins, click HERE.

© Susie Clevenger

He Wishes For The Cloths Of Heaven

Had I the heavens' embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with gold and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half-light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I , being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.

Yeats has used repetition of end words in the place of rhyme, and has repeated that word within the lines of the poem itself, with the addition of other words (spread, tread) repeated in line.
The syllable count is as follows:

Line 1: 9 syllables
Line 2: 8 syllables
Line 3: 9 syllables
Line 4: 8 syllables
Line 5: 9 syllables
Line 6: 10 syllables
Line 7: 9 syllables
Line 8: 10 syllables

© Margaret Bednar

This challenge may be more daunting than it first appears, especially when one considers the amount of repetition in so short a verse. For those who prefer the Free Verse option, please be guided by the pictures, which have been so kindly provided for us by Real Toads members and friends. Please acknowledge them on your blog if you upload them there.

© Isadora Gruye

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.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

soon enough

Toads, for your listening pleasure, elucidation, and inspiration, I present to you the one and only AIMEE MANN.

Aimee Mann has an irresistible new album of musically and lyrically seductive compositions called Charmer--a full cadre of story-songs illustrating a range of undesirable human behavior. According to her biography, on Charmer, “[n]ames have been obscured to protect the guilty, but you will almost certainly recognize yourself in these short narratives, along with the fellow travelers who have conned, enabled, victimized, or (yes) charmed you.” I believe some of us have met many of these cretins along the way, so let’s write about them today.

I encourage you to read Aimee’s thorough and entertaining bio, which I will not attempt to summarize here. But I’ll share that “Voices Carry,” the 1985 single that put Aimee Mann and her band, 'Til Tuesday, on the map, was highly influential on this writer in my early college years. (I was actually surprisingly choked up watching the video while preparing this prompt. Watch it for yourself and see.) 'Til Tuesday released three albums; in the 1990’s Aimee Mann went solo with Whatever and Bachelor No. 2, followed by the soundtrack for the film Magnolia, full of lush and memorable songs like “Wise Up” and Oscar-nominated “Save Me.”

Aimee Mann is married to Michael Penn, which in my book makes them pop-music royalty. For real. And she’s just the definition of cool, having appeared in The Big Lebowski and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, touring with comedians like Janeane Garofalo and David Cross (comedian John Hodgman appears in the hilarious video for her new song, “Charmer”), and starring (as herself) in a memorable episode of Portlandia. Really, there is nothing not to love about Aimee Mann.

Okay, Toads, lemme see what you got! Be inspired by Aimee Mann’s signature sound, by the possibility of facing an unnecessary intervention, or whatever else moves you. Remember, voices carry! But here in the garden, no one is telling you to keep it down.