Saturday, March 30, 2013

"April, Come She Will..."

With Permission: Billie's Craftroom
This calendar may be saved and printed

Warm greetings to all members, friends and followers of Real Toads. The month of April is almost upon us, and with it comes the annual poetry marathon known as NaPoWriMo.  I am excited to announce that for the first time, RT will offer 30 prompts in 30 days. Our intention is not to conflict with the official NaPoWriMo website linked above, nor to compete with any other poetry website but only to provide support to our own small writing community during the month of April. I have never attempted to complete 30 poems in 30 days, so I'm filled with admiration for those who have. I imagine that one of the hardest aspects of the task is to find the daily support for the poems one writes and I hope that RT will provide both the motivation to continue and the opportunity to share the outcomes within our group.

Aside from our usual monthly schedule and Open Link Monday, all the members of Real Toads have come together to provide additional prompts on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. I must clearly state that no poet is under any obligation to answer every prompt we provide - I doubt such a thing would be possible. We are all very conscious of the fact that there are numerous prompts available on the internet, and encourage poets to make use of those that inspire them the most. It is also true that there are individual members of RT who do not frequent other poetry sites, and therefore, this may be the only forum they have to present their poem a day. I hope that we will respect and uphold each person's right to make his/her own choices with regard to what we will offer.

It is possible that those who do complete the challenge of a poem a day in April will consider gathering their work into a chapbook and I had considered the idea of including this as part of the April challenge. However, in conference with Marian, my go-to person on all things concerning publication, it has been decided that this would pose too much of a logistical challenge behind the scenes, as well as being potentially time-consuming. If anyone would like to publish their collections, Marian is more than willing to offer advice on a one to one basis, but will not enter into discussions in open forum. Please email her with any queries you may have.


And now for the Sunday Challenge (and I thank you for your patience, if you are not in the least interested in NaPoWriMo).

Excerpt from Prologue of The Canterbury Tales
British Library
It is not the first month of the year, but this time does mark the beginning of the astrological calendar as the sun moves into Aries in late March - life begins again in Spring.
Geoffrey Chaucer described the month of April as idyllic, the best time of year to start out on a long journey through Springtime England on a quest of spiritual fulfillment:

Whan that Aprill with his shoures soote
The droghte of March hath perced to the roote...

While T.S. Eliot, in his major work The Waste Land, presents a very different view of a season which forces the earth out of the comfort of hibernation, and insists on regrowth:

April is the cruelest month, breeding
Lilacs out of dead land...

Our mini-challenge today, is to choose one of these perspectives as the starting point of a poem and write about what this time of year means to each of us. If you have recently written a poem on this theme, please feel free to share it with us today. It is not essential that your poem be brand new.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Transforming Friday

Salutations to the garden dwellers!! I have your eighth opportunity for expressing poetically the voice of wildlife, (plant or animal), and this one calls for the expression of life in the savanna.

It seems this biome overlaps with some of the other ones that we’ve already explored because it is a transitional zone as mentioned below but that’s okay, I think. :)

Old words that smell of ancient libraries, “Classics Edition of the World Atlas-Hammond 1967,” declares: “The savanna, land of tall grass interspersed with trees, is a place of winter droughts and summer rainfall, the true jungle home of big-game animals.”

Wiki states this of the savanna ecoregion: “It is often believed that savannas feature widely spaced, scattered trees. However, in many savannas, tree densities are higher and trees are more regularly spaced than in forest. Savannas are also characterized by seasonal water availability, with the majority of rainfall confined to one season. Savannas are associated with several types of biomes. Savannas are frequently in a transitional zone between forest and desert or grassland. Savanna covers approximately 20% of the Earth's land area.”

(Via Wiki:Ethel Aardvark Typical tropical savanna in NorthernAustralia

demonstrating the high tree density and regular spacing characteristic of many savannas.)

(Via Wiki:Denis A. C. Conrado Cerrado savanna, Brazil.)

Some threats to the savanna are: Changes in fire management, Grazing and browsing animals, Tree clearing, Exotic plant species and Climate change, (you can read more about these on wiki site if you’d like to).

The savanna animals!!! (be sure to check copyright for the images).

Our long-necked friend, the giraffe...

(Via Wiki: Roland H. The endangered West African giraffe)

Awww...this guy is super cute!!!

Our head-burying and also long-necked, 

long-legged bird pal, the ostrich!! 

(Via Wiki: A. Kniesel head of an ostrich)

Hmm...this creature...
you could give this intriguing animal a voice...♥

(Via Wiki: PD-US author:F. York Quagga (Equus quagga quagga)
is an extinct sub-species of zebra. Mare, London, Regent's Park ZOO)

Okay, Toads, I hope this is fun for you all!

Fresh poems please and when you’re done writing and posting be sure to fill your poetic canteen and visit the words of your savanna-exploring blogging-friends that have linked as well!!

Warm smiles to you all! :)

Thursday, March 28, 2013

True Originals Apply to No One: an interview

Greetings Garden Dwellers!

This week I continue to explore the world of publishing.  Some of those in our midst have struck out to put their work into a printed product: a bound and decorated object called “books”, and I am here to share those experiences with you all. 

Today I present a very special brain snack:  an interview with not one but three Toads whose latest book is so new, the ink has barely dried!  Our very own FireblossomMama Zen, and Hedgewitch have published a book of poems, and they were kind enough to answer some of my questions about the publishing process.  Scroll downward to learn how they came together, let Fireblossom do what she does best (formatting?), and ended up with a book of their own..... 

Izy:  The three of you have very separate styles, what drove your decision to collaborate and conjure forth a book?

FB:  Kelli goosed me about getting something together to try to get it published, and I had the idea of doing something together. It means more to me because we are all in it, than a solo effort would have. 

HW: First of all, the credit for this project really should go to Shay and Kelli, as being published comes on my list of enthusiasms somewhere between learning how to do sculptures from clothes-dryer lint and being nibbled to death by ducks. As far as why do this together, other than  being online friends, for me, it was primarily that we just seem to understand and relate to each other's poetry on a real and primal level. Neither Kelli nor Shay has ever gotten any of my poems wrong--and their poetry always seems to strike a chord in me that just instinctually hits me where I live (not to mention, makes me say "I wish I'd written that')

MZ: Honestly, it just kind of occurred to me one day that we could.  And, it sounded like fun.

Shay Caroline (a.k.a. Fireblossom)

Izy:  Tell me a bit about what it was like to collaborate with other poets?  How did you arrive at a cohesive theme, tone, etc.?

FB: It was easy because we each have our own separate sections. I was the one to bang out the manuscript, so I chose my own poems, Kelli asked me to help with choosing hers, and Joy chose her own and sent me the doc by email. Then we all had some typos and what-have-you to clean up, and there it was. It was Joy's idea to do the cascade poems at the end.

HW:  Shay was the driving force behind this project as far as my motivation was concerned, and she kept us between the lines by making it very simple and clear-cut: we each were going to put so many poems in the collection, and we had so many days to assemble them for her to transcribe. She helped me out with a list of her favorites of mine, and I mentioned some of my favorites of hers, but our final choices were personal. She also really made this happen by having a stringent deadline. If I'd had more time to dither, my part probably would have taken years to get done, if ever.

MZ: The book is definitely a collaboration, but it's presented as three distinct voices.  We each had our own section to play with.  That format lent itself to ease of design and pretty much eliminated the need for any hair pulling. 

Izy:  Did you each get input on what the other was including?  Did you help revise and improve each other's work?

FB: No one revised anyone else's work. I think that's a boundary none of us would presume to cross. However, there *was* input about which poems to include. I helped Kelli choose her poems, Joy made some suggestions for me, including "Mission" and "House Of Wax", and I urged Joy to include "Hedgerider's Lament."

MZ: Hmmm . . . let me just sit for a moment and imagine myself trying to revise one of Hedge's poems . . . not gonna happen! On the other hand, without Shay, I would still be thumbing through my poems and trying to make selections.

Izy:  The title is (I am assuming) your three birth signs....what is the significance of the title in relation to the poems?  

FB:  Yes, our sun signs. Kelli came up with that. I think our signs show in our writing. 

HW: While I'm not a foamy, New Age-y devotee of astrology, I have found it a useful and interesting way of looking at personalities over the years, and I do think there is some relationship between our signs and our styles--in my  case, I know I draw on the historical poets and on traditional forms a lot more, as well as being drawn to the dark side of things. (Edgar Allen Poe was a Capricorn, after all.)

MZ: The title seemed to fit the theme of three views and three voices.

Izy: How did you decide on the order of the poems, the layout and design?  Did one of you take this on or was it a group effort?

FB: Blame me for that, entirely. It was partly just a matter of what arrangement would fit the most poems in, in a pleasing way. Also, I tried not to put poems together that didn't mesh well together. Joy did give me her design for the three sections her poems are divided into, and I chose the sequence within each section.  I paid particular attention to the first and last poem for each poet. 

HW:  Shay, along with doing all the other hard work, made the final decisions on things, but we each made our own selections. Being the Capricorn in the group, I did choose to group my part of the book into three themed sections, and to do it I used three of my blog tags, which is how I associate my poems in my head. I had a section called Witchlight (love poems) one called Casting the Runes, (for my poems about myth and so forth), and finally a group of assorted form poems I tagged Dancing Doll. We also discussed including poems of different  lengths--short medium and long--and breaking up the book that way as well for variety, so you'll find you aren't reading page after page of long poems all lumped together.

MZ: Shay gets all the credit for anything related to manuscript design.  The woman is a machine!

Joy Ann Jones( a.k.a Hedgewitch)
Izy:  What have initial reactions been to the book, and now that the book is out there, what are your plans to promote the work?  Are you going to do readings, etc. I know a guy who sells tamales from the trunk of his car at night clubs.  He makes a killing and may be looking to get into the book selling biz.....?

FB: I think it may be too soon for reactions, but people have certainly been very positive about the fact that there *is* a book. Marian at ALL CAPS promoted us on Twitter and Facebook and at Real Toads. All of us have promoted the book on our blogs. I do readings very occasionally, and if I do one, I'll take some copies along. 

HW:  I'll do readings when I am personally asked by Sean Bean, Viggo Mortenson or President Obama. But I could use a good tamale.

MZ: So far, people have been really positive and excited for us. 

Izy: You are published under the ALL CAPS imprint, a collective which helps authors self publish their work, why did you make the decision to self-publish?  Shay, you've previously published, how did you find this experience to work in contrast to working with a conventional poetry press?

FB: Fuck a bunch of leaving it to editors who want what they want for any of a million reasons. Our work is strong, it deserves to see print and be read, and this is how it got done. I'm pleased as can be with the whole thing. My girl Emily Dickinson had her poetry maimed by editors for decades; men who thought they knew how to improve the little lady's work. Please. Finally, her work is available as she intended it, and it's so much stronger that way. I took a lesson from that. 

When I was submitting to magazines and all of that, one had to go through these gatekeepers, each with their own biases and needs and egos. I think my writing is as good as anyone's. Anyone's. I don't need someone to stamp their approval on it, or change it or tell me how I ought to have done it. My feeling is that Kelli and Joy are true originals and they need apply to no one. Here is our work. It's fucking fantastic. It needs to be out there and available. Personally, I couldn't care less about compiling some list of publications or bonafides. The work is the thing.

MZ: Self-publishing has become a viable option, particularly for poets.  We have a strong, vibrant community, we support each other; why shouldn't we work together to get our work out there?

Izy:  What were some of the obstacles you faced?

FB: Oy! Figuring out how to make the book look nice, get the poems to fit nicely where i wanted them, and to navigate all the steps necessary to create the finished book. It wasn't easy. There were times when I was fit to be tied, trying to figure it all out, but Marian had a knack of always having the wise word when I needed it, and the book got made. I'm very proud of it and very proud of *us*. 

HW: The hardest part for me was picking between my poem children--rejecting some and elevating others as a mother should never have to do, and I only hope they forgive me for playing favorites. 

MZ: Talking Shay off the ledge when the formatting wasn't going well?  I'm kidding, but Shay really was the point woman on the grunt work.  I think that she did a tremendous job, and I can't thank her enough.

Kelli Simpson (a.k.a. Mama Zen)
Izy:  What were some of the rewards of the writing/ publishing process?

FB: To me, writing something worthwhile is its own reward, but the rewards of this book, for me, have been to see each of our sets of poems all in one place, looking good, something that can be held in the hands and enjoyed and kept and shared. That's just such a kick.

I used to have all these unwieldy bookmarks on my computer for both of my co-authors' poems that I liked the best, but now they are all together. I love that. And mine too! 

For differing reasons, it has seemed unlikely that any of the three of us would ever be sitting here with a book of our poetry in our hands. It just thrills me silly that now that's been made real, against some daunting odds. All of us quit writing for years at a time. It would be criminal if Kelli and Joy had remained silent. I think that the opportunities of blogging and self-publishing were critical to all three of us picking up our pens again.

HW: The biggest reward for me is knowing we've accomplished something tangible, being able to hold a real book in one's hand and say--hey, my poetry is in here. That, and  hearing all the kind words, encouragement and support from others, especially our fellow poets.

MZ:  The writing is its own reward.  Always.  Still, holding a book of your work in your hands is an undeniable thrill.

Izy:  How long did it take you to put the work together?

FB: It happened pretty fast.

HW: You mean, besides a lifetime of agonizing or ecstatic experiences distilled into verbal expression through long soul-searching and peripatetic inspiration in the wee hours of insomniac months and years? 

Actually, about 24 hours, because I was late to the party and the last one to get organized, so I raced through my blog on the fly, cutting and pasting like a fiend. This was a good thing , as I said earlier, or  I would probably have spent months agonizing, re-writing and over-editing everything. 

MZ:  It didn't take long at all!

Izy:  Where can I get my hands on a copy?


MZ: We're on Amazon.  And, I have a couple of copies sitting here on my desk.  Call me; I'll hook you up!

Get your mitts on your own copy of Gemini/Scorprio/Capricorn  here

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Words Count With Mama Zen

Morning, Toads!

Today, we're going to be Poe-ets.  Here's the drill:

  • go to your window
  • look outside
  • write about what you see, but . . .
  • make it scary!

That's it.  Fifty words or less.  Ready . . . set . . . go!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Open Link Monday

Welcome to the Imaginary Garden...

spring flowers photo: FLOWERS Spring.jpg
Image Mariola68 on Photobucket

Good day to all our members and visitors. We invite everyone to join in our open link by sharing a poem today. There are no rules to the kind of poetry you would like to link up, nor whether it is current work or a piece from your archives. Please spend some time reading and commenting on the work of others. This is a small forum and those who use it merely to showcase their own work may be disappointed to find that they receive few visitors. 

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Sunday Mini-Challenge ~ Release Your Inner Wild Woman

"Inspire Wings"
copyright ~ Ella of Ella's Edge

Within every woman
there is a wild and natural creature,
a powerful force,
filled with good instincts,
passionate creativity,
and ageless knowing.
-Clarissa Pinkola Estes

Kids, today, for our Sunday mini-challenge, I’d like to ask you to release your inner wild woman, in whatever way you view that essential Womyn who lives at the center of your being. You know her. You have heard her voice, her quiet wisdom, as she tried to guide you away from danger and onto the path of your personal journey, the journey that is yours alone to make, whether or not you walk it accompanied.

"Inspire Angela"
copyright ~ Ella of Ella's Edge

Show us her wild abandon, her cackling laughter, her primal dance to the beat of the drum. Whisper her True Knowing,  that you have to be still and quiet to hear. Tell us how you ran from her when young, with what relief you returned to her as you aged. What makes your inner wild woman sing? What makes her weep?

As inspiration, Ella of Ella's Edge has provided us with three BEAUTIFUL pictures, of her own artistic design. They literally take my breath away.

"Inspire Howl Wing"
copyright ~ Ella of Ella's Edge

For more ideas, check out THE Wild Woman: Clarissa Pinkola Estes, who wrote Women Who Run With the Wolves. Here is some further inspiration: Estes quotes about creativity against beautiful scenic backgrounds, with music.


Browse Starhawk’s blog or writings, inviting us to dance joyously on the earth, to be one with the Earth Mother. Or visit SARK’s "transformational playground", and hear her exhortations to “live juicily”.

Some of us might be quieter (or tired-er) Wild Women, who tend to sit on our porches, rocking and smiling benignly, remembering our younger days, of bursting out of cages into freedom. But whether you are unfettered or tamed, somewhere within you I know you hear Wild Woman’s call – to freedom, to joyousness,  to being who you are meant to be, to true primal Womynhood. Tell us how she speaks to you, how you respond, if you wish to. Or, if this is too Out There for you, tell us about a wild woman or crone that you know.  We all know them, those old wrinkled creatures who contain a hundred years of history and wisdom behind their wise, smiling, ancient eyes.

Most of all, be free, be heard, and have fun! That’s what Wild Women do best!

Friday, March 22, 2013

Fireblossom Friday: The Crack In Everything

There is a song by Leonard Cohen, called "Anthem", which contains these marvelous lines:

"Ring the bells that still can ring.

Forget your perfect offering.

There is a crack, a crack, in everything--

That's how the light gets in."

For this Fireblossom Friday challenge, I want you to write a poem about a crack, fissure, rupture, split, or breaking point. It can involve something tangible, or intangible. It can be in any form you like.

Just one thing...please only link a NEW poem written for THIS challenge. Thanks, and have fun writing.


Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Susan Says: Stretching Comparisons

As is the generation of leaves, so is that of humanity.
The wind scatters the leaves on the ground,
 but the live timber burgeons with leaves
again in the season of spring returning.
So one generation of men will grow while another dies.
~Homer’s Iliad 6.146-49

Hello Toads,

Today’s challenge is to write an extended simile or metaphor.  The bleak quote above contains one example and Momaday’s poem “A SIMILE” provides another:  

A Simile

What did we say to each other
that now we are as the deer
who walk in single file
with heads high
with ears forward
with eyes watchful
with hooves always placed on firm ground
in whose limbs there is latent flight 
By Navarre Scott Momaday
(Posted from Poem Hunter)

Like Homer’s first line, Momaday’s first two lines set up a comparison that would be obscure if not for his continuation of that comparison in the following 6 lines.  Note that once the deer are mentioned in the comparison, everything that follows describes the deer.  “We” are “as the deer” in all of these ways:  walking singly and carefully, positioning our heads and ears, watching and having the potential to bolt away at any second.  In a poem of only 8 lines, Momaday makes us see a relationship as a couple or a group of deer moving cautiously.

White-tailed deer “About to Take Flight” by Emery Way

The poem delights me because the comparison is so unexpected and and because, through the deer, Momaday both reveals a relationship in crisis and provides a tone of regret with hope that something of former times can be salvaged.

The Challenge:  Write a brand new poem using an extended simile or metaphor.
—If you have an idea already, go for it!

—If not, consider building on Momaday’s model to describe a relationship.  Using his first two lines, change the comparison from deer to something else that will clarify the relationship you are describing.   Here are a few possibilities:

What did we say to each other
that now we are as a shiny new Ferrari . . .


What did we say to each other
that now we are as two cats playing . . .


What did we do to each other
that now we are like cheerios in milk . . .


I love you as much as the moon loves the sun . . . .

Here is an example of doing this “Wrong” by describing the relationship instead of what you are comparing it to:

We are behaving like a two-headed calf
We each want to be the boss
We take off without consulting with each other … etc.

Possible Corrections:

We are behaving like a two-headed calf
            who can’t have one head lead without the other butting
who stands still out of total bewilderment … etc.


What did we say to each other that
now we are as a two-headed calf
who cannot get away from itself
no matter how hard it tries and
who must bend when its other wishes  … etc.


I am looking forward to reading 
your creatively  s t r e t c h e d comparisons.

Please link your new poem back to Mr. Linky, leave a comment for us on this site, and then be sure to read the other poems here in the Imaginary Garden.  Enjoy!