Monday, December 31, 2012

Open Link Monday

Wallpaper from
How amazing it is to share New Year's Eve with all of our friends and followers in the Imaginary Garden... even though I'm pretty sure you all have a fabulous celebration planned to mark the passing of another year. Perhaps you do have a poem that you would like to share today, or you would simply like to leave a message in comments.

Best wishes for the year to come: may it be a time of new opportunities and successful accomplishments.

See you next year!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

The Sunday Mini-Challenge

Greetings to all in The Imaginary Garden on this last Sunday of the year 2012. I believe we have put our Sundays to good use in showcasing some of the finest photographer-poets on the blogs, as well as exploring many different forms of both stanza and poem. Before going any further with this week's challenge, I ask that you leave your thoughts regarding any changes you would like to see regarding this weekly slot, as well as any suggestions you have that might be of benefit to all of us. I do intend to invite other members' contributions to a greater extent in 2013, so if anyone would like to volunteer her own mini-challenge, please send me an email. (I appeal foremost to our members who do not currently have a regular prompt or challenge on our schedule.)
Source Unknown

Now, back to this challenge. Last weekend, we looked at Common or Hymnal Measure, which uses the classic line lengths of English poetry, namely the alternation between the 8 syllablic tetrameter and the 6 syllabic trimeter. In doing a spot of research for our mini-challenge, I came upon an interesting way of varying this standard, in Robert Herrick's poem To Daffodils.

Fair Daffodils, we weep to see
         You haste away so soon;
As yet the early-rising sun
         Has not attain'd his noon.
                        Stay, stay,
                Until the hasting day
                        Has run
                But to the even-song;
And, having pray'd together, we
Will go with you along.

We have short time to stay, as you,
         We have as short a spring;
As quick a growth to meet decay,
         As you, or anything.
                        We die
                As your hours do, and dry
                Like to the summer's rain;
Or as the pearls of morning's dew,
Ne'er to be found again.


You will notice that the first 4 lines follow the 8,6,8,6 (or 4 feet, 3 feet, 4 feet, 3 feet of iambic stress pattern) of Common Measure rather closely, but then the poet introduces a variation in his stanza from lines 5 to 8, of 2, 6, 2, 6 and then back to 8, 6 to close lines 9 and 10. This breaks the almost jingle-like rhythm to create a more complex pattern, with the shorter lines creating their own kind of pause, not based entirely on punctuation.

For the sake of academic argument, the authors of Understanding Poetry (4th Edition) rewrote the first stanza in the more traditional way, and the difference between the two versions is very obvious to the reader:

Fair daffodils, we weep to see
   You haste away so soon:
As yet the early-rising sun
   Has not attained his noon.
Stay yet until the hasting day
   Has run to the Even-song
And, having prayed together, we
   Will go with you along.

Our Challenge is to write in Herrick's stanza form, which is laid out as follows:

x x x x x x x a
x x x x x b
x x x x x x x c
x x x x x b
x d
x x x x x d
x c
x x x x x e
x x x x x x x a
x x x x x e

In addition, we may note how the poet uses the image of the daffodil in this poem as a metaphor describing man's abiding connection to God through worship and through appreciation of nature. You may take this opportunity to think about how you could use a central image as the basis of the poetic message you wish to convey. The theme of your poem need not be flowery or religious in nature, and I would encourage a more modern take on this 17th Century form.

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, December 28, 2012

A Word with Laurie: Review

With 2012 drawing to a close, I thought it would be a good time to review the words I selected this year with links back to their original articles.


You can use any of the words in your poem today, or use all of the words if you'd like an extra challenge. Please link to Mr. Linky and then kindly visit other participants in this prompt.

Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

The Year that was....Interviews with Toads!

Photo courtesy of Photobucket.  Psy-Gangnam Style.  

Garden Dwellers the time has come for us croak and bleat our way into a New Year.

I have many interviews and a few extra surprises lined up for Thursdays in the coming months.  Before delving into a new batch of interviews for 2013, I thought we could use this day to revisit those brave toads who have already faced the spotlight in 2012.  

I proudly present the year that was in Real Toads interviews.  Each name below is a link to the interview with that IGWRT member or follower.   Take some time to catch up with the series or to revisit your favorites...or perhaps you may use the extra time to fulfill the Dubstep Goat challenge I issued yesterday.....

Viva la, my muddy buddies!

Mama Zen
Coal Black
Susie Clevenger
Lola Mouse
Mary Ann Potter
Izy Gruye
Corey Rowley
Hannah Gosselin
Shanyn Silinski
Peggy Goetz
Mary Mansfield
Susan Chast
Kerry O'Connor
Tim Schaefer
De Jackson
W.K. Kortas
Teresa Perin

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Out of Standard with Izy

Mind the Gap and Dubstep

Greetings Garden Dwellers!

Welcome to the last Out of Standard of 2012.  Since this prompt began at mid year, many of you have graciously rose to each challenge, conjuring up the unexpected.  December’s challenge will be no different.  In fact, this may be the hardest (and most rewarding) Out of Standard yet. 


Congratulations:  you have (basically) survived 2012.  No Mayan apocalypse has slowed you down.  Now 2013 is patiently knocking at the door and would like you to join it for a night out , (even if it is cold outside and your boots have yet to dry from your last walk to the corner store).   

But not so fast.  If you’d like success and artistic fulfillment in 2013 there is one thing you must do:  pay homage to the Dubstep Goat.  It is a little known fact that musicians, artists, writers, and street artisans in South London worship a creature called the Dubstep Goat.  This hip, sustainable deity rewards its followers with a heightened sense of creative purpose and the ability to produce work on a stronger frequency.  One South Londoner compared the Dubstep Goat’s blessings to listening to Rubber Soul for the first time, in the sense that they both “blew his mind and then captured his soul.”

THE CHALLENGE:  write a poem inspired by the Dubstep Goat footage provided below.

Toads, I welcome you to start the New Year by drawing inspiration from the underground animal god of South London.  I am not asking you to convert to its teachings, but I have provided a few you tube clips below to spark your imagination.  Go now and bring us back something like Rubber Soul, that is unexpected and shiny!!!!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

A Gift of Wisdom on Christmas Day.
“I've learned that no matter what happens, or how bad it seems today, life does go on, and it will be better tomorrow. I've learned that you can tell a lot about a person by the way he/she handles these three things: a rainy day, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights. I've learned that regardless of your relationship with your parents, you'll miss them when they're gone from your life. I've learned that making a "living" is not the same thing as making a "life." I've learned that life sometimes gives you a second chance. I've learned that you shouldn't go through life with a catcher's mitt on both hands; you need to be able to throw something back. I've learned that whenever I decide something with an open heart, I usually make the right decision. I've learned that even when I have pains, I don't have to be one. I've learned that every day you should reach out and touch someone. People love a warm hug, or just a friendly pat on the back. I've learned that I still have a lot to learn. I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” 
― Maya Angelou

Merry Christmas Everyone

Monday, December 24, 2012

Open Link Monday

'Twas the night before Christmas and all through the garden...


... not a creature was stirring, except for a toad.

I would like to extend warm wishes to all members of Real Toads and our followers and friends. However you choose to observe these days, according to your faith or your sense of social unity, my wish is for all to enjoy a time of love, giving and sharing. If you have a poem you would like to leave under our Christmas tree, we would love to read it.

Happy Christmas to all...

Saturday, December 22, 2012

The Sunday Mini-Challenge

It is time to deck the halls, mull the wine, wrap the gifts and turn our thoughts to giving and sharing. For those who would like to turn their minds to Christmas poetry this weekend, perhaps as an added gift to attach to a present, I offer the basics of Common and Hymnal Measure, with the option of an 8-line verse form.

© Teresa Perin

Common Measure is a standard 4-line stanza written in alternate lines of iambic tetrameter (8 syllables, with the beat on the even syllables) and iambic trimeter (6 syllables, with the beat on the even syllables too.). The rhyme scheme is as follows with x signifying a single unstressed syllable, and x a single stressed syllable.

x x x x x x x a
x x x x x b
x x x x x x x c
x x x x x b

© Ellen Wilson

Hymnal Measure is basically the same stanza form, except the
c rhyme is replaced with an a rhymeSource

x x x x a
x x x x b
x x x x x x a
x x x x b

© Margaret Bednar
i and I

The Common or Hymnal Octave is an 8-line poem based on the forms above:

Common Octave

x x x x a
x x x x b
x x x x x x c
x x x x b
x x x x a
x x x x b
x x x x x x c
x x x x b

Hymnal Octave

x x x x a
x x x x b
x x x x x x a
x x x x b
x x x x a
x x x x b
x x x x x x a
x x x x b                                                                                                       

Many thanks to the friends and members of Real Toads who generously share their photographic talent with us year round. Please remember to acknowledge the name of the photographer if you include her image on your blog.

© 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.

Friday, December 21, 2012

peace on earth

Hello, gentle Toads. After a week during which I found myself in some exceedingly dark places (and perhaps you did, too), I crave light and possibility. In the spirit of our 2013 collaborations, and assuming civilization survives this day, I hope you will be newly inspired by this time-worn standard performed by Bing Crosby and David Bowie. Peace and much love to each and every one of you.

Lyrics by Ian Fraser, Larry Grossman, and Alan Kohan
Peace on earth
Can it be
Years from now
Perhaps we’ll see
See the day of glory
See the day
When men of good will
Live in peace again
Peace on earth
Can it be

Every child must be made aware
Every child must be made to care
Care enough for his fellow man
To give all the love that he can

I pray my wish
Will come true
For my child
And your child too
We’ll see the day of glory
See the day
When men of good will
Live in peace again

Peace on earth--
Can it be?

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Pause Beneath the Majestic--An Interview with Teresa Perin

Teresa Perin and one of her kids!!!!

If I Were a Little Girl
By Teresa Perin

Under the canopy of the ancient maple tree
with its arms lovingly wrapped around me.
We’d have an exclusive club and
we’d only let in the deer and the owl.
My neighbor, the mulberry tree, would
let me feast on her sweet fruit,
staining my fingers dark purple.
If I were a little girl,
I’d stay back in this wild wood
supported by the sturdy trunk of the
giant maple tree.
We’d have a secret word to enter our world
and only tell the fox and the woodpeckers.
I’d reach past the thorns of the raspberry
bush and steal his ripe fruit for a treat.
If I were a little girl
I’d stay in the cooling shade of
the beautiful maple tree
and cry my little girl tears over the
pains of the world, letting the creek
carry away my fears.
The squirrel and frog would keep
my secrets and chatter and sing
a song to cheer me up.
Since I am not a little girl,
I’ll pause beneath the majestic
maple tree and hide away for
only a short time, wishing I
could stay in my secret hideaway,
safe from the worries of the world.
I’d make this my secret hideaway

She lives on a 75 acre farm in central Iowa where she raises has crops, makes her own hay (thankfully), and keeps a variety of animals: chickens, (one lonely little) duck, geese, peafowl, a llama, an ox, two cows, and 45 goats.  Her goat Millie even has her own blog.  She is Teresa Perin of Razzamadazzle, a writer, a photographer, and all around world class Real Toad follower.

When reading Teresa’s work, one will be amazed at her versatility in form and function.  She fearlessly tackles prose and poetry in all forms, weaving in elements of her own experiences to ground the reader with a sense of notability. 

This week I learned even more about Teresa when she agreed to subject herself to my inquiries about life on the North Plains.

Izy:  First round is on me, what are you having?

Teresa:  A glass of my homemade wine.  It's really about all I drink anymore.

Izy: I wouldn’t mind sampling some myself!  You took some time away from poetry in November to participate in NaNoWriMo.  You completed a novel of more than 52,000 words in 20 days....a near deadly pace.  Are you happy with the end result?  Do you think you will write another novel free from the NaNoWriMo rules? And what was it like to participate in such a rigorous exercise?

Teresa:  I loved NaNoWriMo.  It's a challenge, a competition against myself and other people I know.  I might be a bit overly competitive.  The graph to chart my project helped.  I'm also highly visual.  I think I'm satisfied with the results.  I've had a couple of people read it for me.  My nephew with the degree in history checked it for historical accuracy, which it passed the test.  Then of course, my mother liked it.  I have a couple more people reading to get feedback, and then I think I'm ready to move forward, whichever direction that is.

I actually started my second novel a couple weeks ago.  I have my own little excel graph to chart my progress, but it's not like the real thing.  I like that stress of a deadline and pushing myself.  This one is also based on my real life teaching experiences in several placement settings, and it's harder to stay true to that but fictionalize it to protect the innocent and the guilty.

I loved NaNoWriMo.  It's not for everyone because it is a lot of work.  For me, the story simply told itself.  It's not always like that.  I also, sadly, am in a teaching position that is consultative and am bored out of my mind most days, so it was a way for me to do something to entertain myself.  That really sounds bad.

Izy:  Doesn’t sound bad to me, rather it seems restorative and fulfilling.  I like to think of your poetry of having those same qualities.  They are almost fluid in their nature.  You often experiment with forms, free verse, and flash fiction, which is you favorite and which do you find most challenging?

Teresa:  I guess I don't really have a preference.  I love the challenges and trying new things. I guess some of the harder ones would be your sonnets and ballade:  the longer structured poems. 

Izy:  When you open the newspaper, which section do you read first?

Teresa:  Not much of a newspaper reader.  With starting my new job this fall, I got a three-month subscription of the local paper.  I can honestly say I didn't read a single word.  I looked at the cover picture/story, but then I just put them in the cupboard for chicken bedding the next time I get baby birds.

Izy:  When it comes to laundry…..separate the whites and colors or take a chance?

Teresa:  I am more of an old worn and comfy kind of dresser, so there really isn't any chance if my colors and whites get together, but I do separate them because that's what you're supposed to do.

Izy:  I hear you there:  sometimes the expected is too banal to rebel against!  In language, though there is a bit more freedom….What are your three favorite curse words?

Teresa:  Did I mention I tended bar for many years, in a pool hall.  I still fall back to that bartender's language when I get irritated.  Yea, I've been known to drop the f-bomb.  Shit ~ because I tend to have a lot of it on the farm.  Hell.  Probably could get a more accurate response asking the goats. 

Izy: I bet the goats have choice words of their own, too!  To you writing feels like....

Teresa:  It's an escape from reality or boredom.  Or sometimes it's healing.  It can be a journey back in time.  It's different all the time. 

Izy:  You have one quarter left:  do you select your favorite song on the jukebox or play a round of pinball? (Note there is no scenario where your quarter can somehow buy you infinite quarters or be reused)

Teresa:  But if you're obsessive and competitive, that quarter can be used to win more pinball games. 

Izy: Well played indeed!  What are three things you never write about?

Teresa:  I pretty much will write about anything.  Politics would not be a favorite topic, and I never write about specific candidates or issues.  The one thing that makes me all loopy to write is sex, which is weird because I'm not prudish and I can talk about it.  I'm surrounded by it all the time with the animal husbandry, but to write about the physical act makes me horribly uncomfortable.  I don't know why.  But, I will if it's necessary for the topic.  So I don't think there's anything I really would never write about.

Izy:  What is your favorite way to spend a Tuesday night?

Teresa:  It would have to be a summer night, because I'm not a fan of these winter hours.  In the summer, I'm outside on the farm every evening.  I love watching the kids play.  They get wound up about 7 pm, and they are just hilarious to watch.

Izy:  Summer evenings on the farm sound fantastic.  Here’s another scenario:  You've agreed to throw me a birthday party.  Cost is no object.  What venue do you choose?

Teresa:  A couple of midwest girls.  I guess I'd choose a backyard barbecue.  Informal and relaxed surrounded by family and close friends.  I hope your birthday isn't in January.

Izy:  It is in January, but if we have enough homemade wine, a good band and a big enough BBQ pit, it won’t matter!  Do you stay up late or rise early?

Teresa:  By nature, I'm night person.  Loved the hours tending bar.  With much training and discipline and goat milking, I have switched my hours.  Now I'm more of a morning person.  It's still easy on winter break for me to slip into those late night hours.

Izy:  I live about 400 miles north of you, and I understand how grueling the “winter hours” can be.  It’s dark when you wake up, and it gets dark so early.   Let’s explore another dark scenario:  you have been selected to be one of the first people to colonize mars.  Unfortunately NASA will only allow you to bring one book of poetry (little known fact NASA hates poetry), which poet do you choose?

Teresa:  How about an empty notebook for me to fill up?  Better yet, I'd take my good old Norton Anthology so I have poems for every mood.

Izy:  I think NASA may be accommodating enough to let you bring both, if not you can sneak the notebook in my suitcase.  Do you write rough drafts in pen, pencil, or keyboard?

Teresa:  Poetry is always pencil in my spiral notebook.  I did have to switch to keyboard for the novel.

Izy:  What makes a bad poem?

Teresa:  I hate to call any poem bad because that is such a subjective term.  There are so many different preferences and surely someone will like any given poem.  For me personally, I prefer poetry that doesn't make me get out the dictionary and look up every other word.  Poetry is about the emotion, and needing the dictionary beside me kind of ruins that.

Izy:  You are at the airport and can take any flight for free:  where are you going?

Teresa:  New York to visit my goat sisters.  It's amazing the close relationship I've developed with a couple of my fellow goat-loving bloggers.

Izy:  What was your favorite moment of 2012?

Teresa:  Overall, this has been a rough year with drought and the effects of the weather on the goats and switching jobs.  When I actually got to visit my Goat Sisters.  I drove out for the weekend and met them in person.  It was like visiting old friends. I'm grateful to my son for taking care of the farm and letting me have my escape.

Izy:  What is one question you'd like to ask the toads, and they will respond in their comments?

Teresa:  Wow. This is the hardest question.  I know different questions I'd ask different toads, but one question for all.  Hmm...Okay.  For me poetry is all about creating the emotion.  What is the most important thing they think poetry should do?

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Kerry's Wednesday Challenge ~ Pastiche

pastiche [pa-steesh, pah-]
1. a literary, musical, or artistic piece consisting wholly or chiefly of motifs or techniques borrowed from one or more sources.
2. an incongruous combination of materials, forms, motifs, etc. taken from different sources; hodgepodge.

See also the definition for an exhaustive set of synonyms.

Kate Moss Muse by Banksy
Read more on this pastiche style HERE
Pastiche in art, music and literature is a form of imitation, which remains respectful (if ironically so) of the original source. Alternatively, it is a creative design made up of several disparate elements, also known as a hodgepodge. I'm sure we are all familiar with the artwork and photography of Ellen Wilson, who often uses pastiche in her imagery.

© Ellen Wilson
Ella's Edge
Pastiche is prominent in popular culture. "Bohemian Rhapsody" by Queen is unusual as it is a pastiche in both senses of the word, as there are many distinct styles imitated in the song, all 'hodgepodged' together to create one piece of music. Many genre writings, particularly in fantasy, are essentially pastiches. The Star Wars series of films by George Lucas is often considered to be a pastiche of traditional science fiction television serials (or radio shows). The fact that Lucas's films have been influential in spawning their own pastiches can be regarded as a function of postmodernity. To read more about the role of pastiche in the creative arts, read the full page on Wikipedia. For an interesting discussion of a pastiche designed by Verne McDonald which depicts the Beatles as characters of da Vinci's The Last Supper, click HERE.

Sappho poetry fragment

The American poet, Reginald Shepherd, explains in his anthology Lyric Postmodernism that none of the techniques of contemporary poetry are new. “[S]yntactical fracture or deformation, quotation, pastiche, collage, montage, cinematic jump-cuts, polyvocality or multiplication of voices, irony, parody, the mingling of kinds of diction and discourse ... and juxtaposition instead of narrative or extended meditation” can all be found in the work of the high modernists. Source

I leave the interpretation and implementation of the idea of pastiche entirely up to each person who would like to participate in this challenge. Be innovative and open-minded in your approach. Remember that our links do not expire, so work that is posted later in the week will still be visited by other participants.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Open Link Monday

Welcome to the imaginary garden...

© Ellen Wilson

... where Real Toads are free to wander.

I always look forward to Mondays as a happy time of getting together to share the joy of poetry, but in setting up this post, I'm am all too conscious of the tragic loss of human life in Connecticut last week. All of us at Real Toads send our deepest condolences to the bereaved families, along with our love and prayers. Let us dedicate this open link to the children and their teachers, all the brave people who did their utmost to protect the vulnerable, and those who lost their lives.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Sunday Mini Challenge - Dolls Revisited

Artist: Rachel Pentergrass
Welcome to round two of "Dolls".   I, Margaret, want to thank my daughter and her fellow classmates for allowing us to use these artistic creations.  The first series was showcased last month HERE and I'm hoping for poetic inspiration to strike again.

Please help yourself to more than one image and know that you are invited to use these dolls as inspiration for the whole week.  Please remember to link back here, though.

When this second series of doll poems are done I am going to forward all the poems to my daughter to share with the students themselves.

Artist:  Lily Higgins
Artist: Austin Cassie
Artist: Isabelle Rolles
Artist:  Becca Nenow
Artist: Elizabet Puksto
Artist:  Zoe Swindell
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.