Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Word List with Grapeling - Day 30 NaPoWriMo 2014

In a pot, so the gopher didn't get it.

We reach April's end.

Showers were promised, perhaps to rinse the stench of 30 consecutive days of raw poems published without heed to clinging dirt whence they were dug. Of course I speak of myself, as I found the some-thousand pens I read this month (and many more comments, if fewer by me) to be alternately inspirational, melancholic, funny, chilling, grandiose, brilliant, sweet, stoic, emotional, raw, polished - but overall, authentic. (The pens, not my comments. I need new synonyms - Roget's is burned up by now.)

Originally I was thinking to bring Rainer Maria Rilke back into the garden. He is frequently cited and much admired, but fortunately chief Toad, the inimitable Kerry O'Connor (Skywriting, Skylover) chose to highlight him a few days ago as the inspiration for Open Link Monday, with these famous lines:
You ask whether your verses are any good... This most of all: ask yourself in the most silent hour of your night: must I write? 
I invite all visitors to read her post and the comments, and, of course the offered poems and those comments - contributing where you can, and when you must.

As honored guest and contributor, the brilliant poet Brendan noted in those comments:
Rilke was perhaps the only poet EVER to entirely exist upon his writing of poems -- never taught, had any day job, nothing but writing poems. Few can live even close to his example. A god? Perhaps, but certainly a bell on Sunday ever reminding us of this love, this task, this burden inconsequential to everything else a human exists for. Who else can we address such things to except the poets in each of us, and the ancient one deep down inside who bid us Write?

However, despite popular acclaim and a vote of ones, I've chosen a different road on this final day of National Poetry Writing Month (which I follow both here in the garden, and at Maureen Thorson's blog, NaPoWriMo 2014.)

I look forward to those who voted in favor to highlight M. Rilke (Herr Rilke?) for a future challenge (Helen, Shay, Hedgewitch, Margaret).

from wikipedia, fair use

Instead, as your inspiration for the final day, I proffer an old chestnut: The Little Prince, by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, first published in the US for the princely sum of $2.00, on 6 April, 1943 by Reyanl & Hitchcock (with questionable license to do so), later by Harcourt, Brace, and World. (Currently, 1943 editions range in price from $15 to $1,600, with an original signed copy fetching some $32,000 last year.)

Saint-Exupéry disappeared in a Lockheed P-38 Lightning on 31 July, 1944. (My father learned to fly in a P-38 as a Lieutenant in the VNAF, and gave me my first copy of the book (in French) sometime around the age of 9. That he disappeared in France for a while before returning to the US near the end of his life, is neither an echo nor a comparison to Saint-Exupéry, but, remains a curiosity to me. My two sons loved the book when I read it to them in the closing minutes before bed - as my 15 year old just reminded me, when he asked me what I was doing.)

The Morgan Library and Museum in New York just concluded a 3-month run of exhibits, lectures, films (one with Gene Wilder as the Fox), and a (canceled) concert in celebration of Le Petit Prince.

The "official" website The Little Prince notes that beginning in May 2014, there will be a month long celebration at Olympian City in Hong Kong.

Our diminutive ami remains a best-seller, trailing only Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities and Tolkien's Lord of the Ring series, per wikipedia, in total global sales. (I mention this because of my fascination with numbers.)

He gets under the skin of some. Others take it a bit further

fair use
To me, he represents whimsy, curiosity, the willingness to question authority, the spirit of exploration, flowers and planets and elephants and snakes and the inherent flexibility of points of view, and how I continually forget that to remain child-like in outlook is infinitely preferable to becoming a ledger entry. 

And so when I return to the pages, it's as much as to remember what was, as to remind me to continue to invite wonder.

For your word list challenge today, I ask that you write an original poem (or re-work an older pen) in the spirit of the book, using at least 3 of these words, post to Mr. Linky, and then return to visit and comment on all the other posts. I'll be sure to visit periodically in the days to come in case you choose to join later.

The list: primeval, adventures, grown-ups, clad, reputation, ephemeral, flower, lucky, poison, stars, bank, forget, odd, million, reflective, trouble, baobabs, silence, naive, explorer.

"All men have the stars, but they are not the same things for different people. ... You-- you alone-- will have the stars as no one else has them--"

Thanks for playing along, and congratulations to everyone who tussled through NaPoWriMo - and to those who didn't, too.

~ M

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Talk To The Animals

Greetings fellow Toads! 

Today we venture into the land of quirky creativity.  Each night upon return to my cabin aboard the Nieuw Amsterdam I discovered a charming animal fashioned of towels perched atop my (yes) turned down bed ~ compliments of Faz, Super Cabin Attendant! One evening I returned early (to don my dancing shoes) and discovered Faz in the process of creating an adorable monkey! It took a bit of urging, finally he consented to a photo.

Which brings me to April Poetry Month and 
Day Twenty-Nine ~~ channeling your inner Dr. Doolittle!  As you may recall the good Doctor D. shunned human patients in favor of the animal variety .. and had the uncanny ability to speak their language! 

The challenge:  Talk to the animals in poetic form ~ if you get lucky, it might be a two way conversation ~ let's face it, day twenty-nine and you are exhausted .. any form, choose your  animal, anything goes!  Can't wait to read your poems!

Monday, April 28, 2014

Open Link Monday

Welcome to the Imaginary Garden ...

photo credit: BluePrince Architectural via photopin cc 

I came across a letter dated February 17, 1903, written by Rilke to a young poet seeking his evaluation of his several poems. I urge you to read it in its entirety HERE, as it has much to say to poets of any era. However, I will reproduce a few lines for those who do not have the time, with the urgency of a Monday, to read everything he wrote.

You ask whether your verses are any good. You ask me. You have asked others before this. You send them to magazines. You compare them with other poems, and you are upset when certain editors reject your work. Now (since you have said you want my advice) I beg you to stop doing that sort of thing. You are looking outside, and that is what you should most avoid right now. No one can advise or help you - no one. There is only one thing you should do. Go into yourself. Find out the reason that commands you to write; see whether it has spread its roots into the very depths of your heart; confess to yourself whether you would have to die if you were forbidden to write. This most of all: ask yourself in the most silent hour of your night: must I write? 

Thereafter, he gives many valuable suggestions as to how the young man could improve on his art in regard to style and subject matter.

We at the Imaginary Garden have reached the end of an exhaustive test of our commitment to the art of poetry, both in regard to providing an innovative prompt-a-day and by writing to as many as we were able during that time. I do not see NaPoWriMo as a competition, but a personal challenge and a dedication only artists may understand among themselves. Once again, we are here to provide the forum for sharing any poem you have written this last week, or month or year. We are not looking for in-depth criticism of what we do, only affirmation that we have said something in line or verse, which may have touched the consciousness of a reader. This relationship between writer and reader always comes back to communication of the ideas in a supportive environment.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Play it Again, Toads #4

Welcome to the fourth "Play it Again, Toads!".  I am sharing four of my daughters archived sketches from a few years back when she was in high school.  I think they all speak a bit of spring or summer which is just around the bend for many of us.  You may use these images, but they must be combined with an archived challenge.

Below I have selected three possible challenges from the Toad's archives.  Please do NOT feel restricted to these three - feel free to explore and find one of your own!  The Imaginary Garden's Archive is on the sidebar to the right - all our challenges from 2011 - 2014!

Archive #1     Transforming Frog Day!!

Archive #2     Out of Standard with Izy - The Break-Up Song

Archive #3     Artistic Interpretations with Margaret - Maria Wulf's Visual Poetry"

Please, original poems only and link your specific post to Mr. Linky below. Please make it clear which challenge you are resurrecting by including a link.

Remember, Open Link Monday is always available for those who are unable to finish today!  I look forward to reading your poems and I will be checking back here for any late submissions.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

This Prompt Brought to You By the Letter

We are almost to the finish line, Toads! We can do it! Let’s wander with some wonderful words for when we’re waxing... it’s your W word list:


Write like the wind! Work with some of these and add your own W words. Wow us! Can’t wait.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Artistic Interpretations with Margaret - Willard Asylum

Lisa Gordon Photography

From the Diary of Anna Anderson: 

I. Open Ward at the Elisabeth Hospital, Berlin 1920

My tongue is a spoon
Does that explain it?  Door opens  door
closes.   White coats stammer the threshold.

for the rest of the poem, click HERE (from "Sum of Every Lost Ship", by Allison Titus)

and HERE is another.

This is a rather in-depth and "linked" challenge.  I apologize it isn't more straightforward and if you don't have time, please feel free to write to one of the two images presented on this post.  

Lisa Gordon is a photographer I have followed almost since the beginning of my blogging life.  Her sensitivity and talent never fails to delight me.

The photo above is from the Willard Asylum, opened in 1869, closed in 1995.  She toured this facility and photographed it   On her blog post of May 19, 2013 she writes:

"Just a little over 8 months ago I read about a project that to me, is a photographer's dream.  Named "The Willard Suitcases", it is an ongoing project by photographer Jon Crispin, who is photographing the contents of suitcases left behind by patients of The Willard Insane Asylum.  Located in the Finger Lakes Region of New York, the asylum opened in 1869 and was closed in 1995.  During the time it was operational, 50,000 patients called it home.  Six thousand died there.  Of those, 5,776 now rest in graves marked with only a number and a stick topped by a red flag.  There names are unknown.

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to tour Willard.  I cannot adequately describe the state of disrepair many of the buildings are in, and more than that, how it felt to be inside some of the buildings, so I will let the photographs speak for themselves.  These are NOT "feel-good" photographs.

 - her favorite photos are HERE.

We are allowed to use these images linked above with our poems if we give credit to Lisa Gordon and a link to her web-site, Lisa Gordon Photography.

BUT WAIT, there is more.

Lisa Gordon Photography
Jon Crispin is an artist who recently completed a successful Kickstarter compaign to fund his "Willard Suitcases" project.  HERE is an article written by David Rosenberg of "Slate" introducing and explaining the "Willard Suitcases" project.

HERE is Jon Crispin's personal website.  You will find some of the suitcases and their contents photographed and his thoughts shared.  We do not have permission to use his thoughts and images (I did not ask) so do not plagiarize or take his images.  I linked so that we can get inspiration from them.  If you do, please help spread the awareness of this project by also mentioning it on your post.

* * *

A bit of Additional information about Willard Psychiatric Center (a timeline)  HERE

There was a performance called "The Echos of Willard" It took five of the suitcases and their contents and used live performance to bring the patients to life …  HERE is the link and the five people: Irma, Rodrigo, Madeline, Dmytre, and Ethel are highlighted and linked in the header.   I would have loved to see this performance!

… some notes:  I'd like to think not all experiences in the asylums were bad, perhaps for some, it was a better place to be?  I'd like to think the doctors and staff did their best with the "known" medicine of the time - which of course, today, we are left feeling horrified at many of the treatments the patients received.

Many mentally ill patients were thought to be ill due to moral or spiritual failings.  Punishment and shame were often handed down to the mentally ill as well as their families.  

U.S. National Library of Medicine: Diseases of the Mind  is interesting reading.

Write a poem that is full of personal emotion, sentiment, longing, confusion… wherever your mind takes you.  I want this poem to be written in first person.  You may take on the persona of someone from history, a book, a movie, or just one you imagine.  

Mr. Linky is ready and waiting below.  Please enter your specific post and for this challenge.  I am looking for new and original poems.  If Sunday is a busy day, remember, tomorrow is Open Link Monday here at the Garden and you are free to post there as well.  Now of with your creative selves, and give me your best artistic interpretations!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Poem a Day: Next Stop Wonderland

No, I am not talking about Alice, a white rabbit, or a Mad tea party, but you can use this book for the prompt-if you like.  Today, I am sharing one of my favorite Indie flicks, Next Stop Wonderland, with the late Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Hope Davis.  Have you seen this movie?  Their union is a tangle of mixed metaphors and dreams.  Hope Davis plays Erin, the main character-who is lost in a sea of sadness and prodded by her meddling, matchmaking mother.  She and her boyfriend are doomed from the start.  Her soul mate is constantly in her path, yet she doesn't see the signs-just yet.

There is a scene in the move, where Erin is in a bookstore and she drops a book on the floor.  The elderly book seller sees her and offers this wisdom.

Bookseller: (after Erin Castleton has dropped the book) : Don't close it. You should never close a book until you've read something from it.

Erin Castleton: What?

Bookseller: Well, just a sentence or a word. It can be very, very revealing. Just read something, anything. Well, read from the top, then.

Today we are going to use this wisdom and be open to the wondrous possibilities-in randomly opening a book.  Go grab three books and open each book three times and see what leaps out of you.   Pick a sentence and play.  Rearrange it, or grab a word that you catches your eye, or something off the page that captures your attention-a name or even number.   Here are a few of my finds-you are welcome to use them-if you like~

I grabbed one of my husband's book, Gray Ghost.   He loves mystery author, William G. Tapply.

"Calhoun woke up with gray light and a cacophony of birdsong seeping in through the bedroom window screen."

Here is a sentence from the book, Foolsgold by Susan G. Wooldridge:

"My neighbor Penny passes a tray of small earthenware pots, a kettle of soil, and four packets of seeds to symbolize what we wish to plant in our lives."

Here I have opened the book,  Medicine Cards by Jamie Sams:

"Remember, the teacher or pathway may be the small still voice within, as well as a person, a leaf, a cloud, a stone, a tree, a book, or the Great Spirit."

From, The Story Sisters by Alice Hoffman:

"Most of the writing in the journal was Arnish, with captions beneath green and black watercolor paintings."

From, Elephant Winter by Kim Echlin:

"When I closed my eyes I could see mandalas and carved saints and rough stone arches."

Pen a poem inspired by the serendipity of  a found sentence, a word, or an image that surfaces as you glance across the page!   Go grab some books and be guided by chance or use one of my sentences above to inspire you~

Congrats to those of you who are doing NaPoWriMo-this is the last leg(week) of your challenge-Cheers to you!!!

Queen of Hearts: Now then, are you ready for your sentence?

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Invoking "the Goog"

Greetings Garden Dwellers!

Welcome back to Out of Standard, where I will set before you a challenge to defy the conventions of a particular theme.  I will call upon you to write out of the standard and find new places in the everyday, but caution: there will be a twist.  Let’s move onward April’s challenge...


Today is the day we turn our gaze the tiny Google search box and invite it to write some poetry with us.  That’s right....shake its hand, bring it a beverage, whatever you got to do to get acquainted, cause the search box of Google (or as I call it The Goog) just became your muse.  Here is how it works:


  • Begin typing a word or phrase.
  • The Google search box will attempt to “auto complete” your search by spitting out a list of possible options for what you are looking for.  See the screen capture below.  I typed in “join” and Google gave me a list of phrases beginning with “join”.

  • Take a screen capture (screenshot) of the list.
  • Write a poem using those phrases in the exact order Google provided them to you. It is not required that each line start with a phrase from Google.  You can embed them or break them up across lines to your liking.
  • Post your poem and your screenshot of your unique Google list to Mr. Linky.

Like every challenge, your poem must by newly written for this challenge and not one which you have previously written which conveniently fits the theme.  

So go now, my muddy buddies, and bring us back something shiny and new. 

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Poems in April: Whozits and Whatzits Galore!

Happy Earth Day, Toads!

I know that my croaking has been scarce around the Garden of late, and I apologize. Work has been terribly busy, and then my daughter and I went to Portland, OR for a mother/daughter trip to visit her soon-to-be college.

That brings me to the prompt:
Exploring the city of Portland, we came across a unique store that was filled to the brim with knick-knacks, tschotskes, geegaws, curios, and bibelots. We spent the longest time just gawking and taking pictures.

My challenge for you, Toads, is to choose a photo that inspires, attracts, or disturbs you and write a poem. Any length, any form-just let your imagination wander.

There were many more photos, and I had a tough time narrowing them down to these 10, but hopefully, something here will tickle your muse!

all images by lolamouse or babymouse, 2014

Monday, April 21, 2014

Open Link Monday

Welcome to the Imaginary Garden ...

photo credit: BluePrince Architectural via photopin cc

“To do the useful thing, to say the courageous thing, to contemplate the beautiful thing: that is enough for one man's life.” ― T.S. Eliot, The Use of Poetry and the Use of Criticism

As we begin the third week of NaPoWriMo, I am struck by what an onerous task it is to be a poet - in any age, but especially in our own. I'm sure every poet that has ever lived has felt the same: the weight of responsibility to speak to his or her generation. I so often read poetry on the blogs which tackle the difficult subjects of our age, the uncomfortable truths, the falsehoods perpetuated by authoritarians, the ugly realities that have come to be acceptable in modern society. Yet, somehow, the poets among us must find the balance and portray the harmony, beauty and make us believe that a pursuit of an ideal is still a worthwhile activity. I applaud every one, who finds it in them to pick up the pen once more (or opens a computer document) and begins to fill the page with words.

We write so that we may record our thoughts, but also in the hope that others will read and contemplate this life we share from a new angle. This is one of the reasons why I believe that communal blogsites such as this one, are vitally important in creating the connection between poet and reader, as well as providing a metting place for writers. Our Open Link affords us all the opportunity to share, comment and to be inspired by the power of poetry.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

A Mini-Challenge for Easter Sunday

Concrete or shape poetry is poetry in which the typographical arrangement of words is as important in conveying the intended effect as the conventional elements of the poem, such as meaning of words, rhythm, rhyme and so on. It is sometimes referred to as visual poetry, a term that has evolved to have distinct meaning of its own, but which shares the distinction of being poetry in which the visual elements are as important as the text. Source

George Herbert's "Easter Wings",
printed in 1633 on two facing pages (one stanza per page),
sideways, so that the lines would call to mind
birds flying up with outstretched wings.

I came across a poetry form called "Christ in a Rhyme", which was invented by Christina R. Jussaume. The poem consists of 5 three-line stanzas, and makes use of monorhyme. The end result takes on the shape of a cross.


Stanza 1: 3 lines, 8 syllables per line, Rhyme (a a a)

Stanza 2: 3 lines, 14 syllables per line, Rhyme (b b b)

Stanza 3: 3 lines, 7 syllables per line, Rhyme (c c c)

Stanzas 4 & 5: 3 lines, 5 syllables per line, Rhyme (d d d, e e e)

For more information and an example visit Shadow Poetry.

There are many examples of shape poetry available online and a simple search will give you many ideas and ways to approach the challenge. If you are not religious, or Christian, you are welcome to choose a more secular shape for your poem. 

Shown here under Fair Use principles
(If this is your image and you wish
for it to be removed from this blog,
please contact us.)

Please create a new poem for this challenge and link it up below. 

Peace and Goodwill to all Men (and Women)!

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Avant-Edge: e.e. cummings

Happy Easter Toads and other miscellaneous garden dwellers. This is my favourite time of year - spring is just around the corner. We have some pretty cold winters in this neck of the woods and the sunshine and green grass is a sight for sore eyes. This is my second challenge in the Garden and it is the third week of poetry month so today I am going to go easy.

For those of you on track for a poem a day my hat's off to you.

There are two things I love about poetry. First, is the inspired and authentic expression that only poetry provides as displayed by the Romantic Poets. Second, is the ability use and abuse language in new and exciting ways - the possibilities and combinations are endless. This really triggers the inner geek in me.

No one use and abused my beloved language more successfully than e.e. cummings. Also, his name is synonymous with Avant-garde Poetry which is my theme. One of my favourite poems is "anyone lived in a pretty how town"

"anyone lived in a pretty how town
(with up so floating many bells down)
spring summer autumn winter
he sang his didn't he danced his did

Women and men(both little and small)
cared for anyone not at all
they sowed their isn't they reaped their same
sun moon stars rain

children guessed (but only a few
and down they forgot as up they grew
autumn winter spring summer)
that no one loved him more by more"

Another classic example is "loneliness a leaf falls" where the arrangement of the letters mimics the action of a falling leaf.


I am going to throw in one more example of how simple, elegant and beautiful our language can be. It is the shortest story ever written by Ernest Hemmingway:

"For Sale: Baby Shoes, Never Worn"

So the challenge is to write a poem of any length or style that uses, or misuses, language in a new and creative way. I'm excited to see what this talented crew comes up with.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Working On That

Mid-April inspiration: Donna the Buffalo

I feel certain that it strains my credibility to claim that Donna the Buffalo is one of my favorite bands, because, you know, I say that a lot. But the fact is that I’ve seen more Donna the Buffalo shows than any other artist, and used to actually follow them around as part of "The Herd." I still see them whenever I can, as their fantastic sound, happy vibe, and simple, upbeat message of love and peace, is intoxicating and incredibly uplifting.

Two great songwriters and musicians are the backbone of Donna the Buffalo: Tara Nevins and Jeb Puryear. If you are unfamiliar with their music, I encourage you to explore more of their wonderful songs. We are taking inspiration today from a newer song by Jeb, and you can see and hear Tara singing. Tara plays acoustic guitar, fiddle, and accordion, and Jeb plays electric guitar.

I feel like Jeb is singing directly to me when I listen to this. Hope you like it, too.


Looking forward to reading your (new) poems inspired by this song and message. Congratulations to all of you who are keeping up with 30 poems this April! Go, Toads! Go!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Poem a Day: Creative Walls

Hello Toads, today we are going to play with collections.  Do you have a collection?  I collect tins.

 I recently purchased a book called Creative Walls by Geraldine James.   I am finally going to have a room of my own-my own creative space.   Yes, I can hear Virginia Woolf cheering me on.  In this book there are walls decorated with drift wood, purses, you name it.   Geraldine James started her career as a buyer for Harrods.   She now works at Selfridges-as a home buying manager.  She is passionate about collecting unusual things and decorating her home.

"My passion has always been creating beauty from nothing."
-Geraldine James

  "To produce any art you have to be prepared to expose yourself to judgment, to opinion, to, dare I say it, the whims of fashion. "  

  She invites you to imagine your walls as a blank canvas and create a special altar of your things.  It can be a mood board, a memory, a creation of an imagined vacation, nature collected and gathered and more.    Here are some of her unique collections beautifully arranged.  

You may use her photos- but please credit her work or use your own wall to collect your thoughts and arrange your poem.   If you would prefer a different photo- visit here for more images of her work. 

Poets-you can inspire your muse or arrange your own collection of feathers, seedlings, shells, purses, T-shirts or perfume bottles.   I hope if you are a collector-you will share your style statement with us.  So, gather and sort the flea market corners of your mind, or your great aunt's china cabinet, maybe your grandfather's pipes, or maybe your child collects items in his or her special space.  Draw our eye inward to see your or their creative wonders organized into a poem.  Today only Freelancers-
no rules!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Kerry Says - Let's Go to the (Silent) Movies

Sir Charles Spencer "Charlie" Chaplin, KBE (16 April 1889 – 25 December 1977) was an English comic actor, filmmaker, and composer who rose to fame in the silent era. Chaplin became a worldwide icon through his screen persona "the Tramp" and is considered one of the most important figures in the history of the film industry. His career spanned more than 75 years, from childhood in the Victorian era until a year before his death at age 88, and encompassed both adulation and controversy. Source.

Read more about Chaplin at Hope Lies

A silent film is a film with no synchronized recorded sound, especially with no spoken dialogue. In silent films for entertainment the dialogue is transmitted through muted gestures, mime and title cards.

Many early silent films were either dramas, epics, romances, or comedies (often slapstick). Calling them silent films is something of a misnomer - movie theatres and other dream palaces provided pianists, wurlitzers, and other sound machines, and some films were produced with complete musical scores. Most early silents were accompanied with a full-fledged orchestra, organist or pianist to provide musical background and to underscore the narrative on the screen. Some even had live actors or narrators. (Source)

 Here follow a few observations about Silent Film (Source):

  • Body Language is a vital medium of communication.
  • Story can make or break any film, but this is especially true with silent movies. With silent films, no room exists for dull expositions. Spend as much time as possible creating a story that can be told well, or even told best, through visuals (such as actions, appearances and behaviours).
  • Choose actors with an interesting appearance or diverse look. Speech is not as important as physical expressivity; look for actors who tell the story with their bodies, emoting with gestures and faces.
  • Although sound in a silent movie may seem like an oxymoron, scores almost always accompanied early silent films...  instrumental or wordless vocal music can add to the mood of the movie.

As always with my challenges, I have no fixed idea how one could turn the idea of Silent Movies into poetry. I might suggest a perusal of Title Cards, which certainly offer a wealth of inspiration. There are also several movie clips available on Youtube, among them a "love scene" and the little tramp's iconic battle with a fold-up bed. Alternatively, you could consider the elements of the genre and incorporate them into a narrative of your own - or mix it all up. I have every confidence that we will have some amazing poems to read before the day is out.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Kay's challenge for April 15 NaPoWriMo

Hi toads and toadies and roadies, my style challenge to any resident poets or visitors to the Imaginary Garden with Real Toads who might be writing for National Poetry Writing Month, aka NaPoWriMo, is the ballad.

Most ballads are long narrative poems but, to go easy on the dedicated poets writing every day this month, I ask only for a minimum of two verses, with a minimum of four lines per verse. You might like to write more, and of course you may, but if four lines per verse seemed enough to Coleridge, it's enough for me, and not too exhausting for the middle of NaPoWriMo month.

ballad is a narrative poem, often set to music. Ballads derive from the medieval French chanson balladée or ballade, and were originally dancing songs. Ballads were particularly characteristic of the popular poetry and song of the British Isles from the later medieval period until the 19th century and used extensively across Europe and later the Americas, Australia and Africa. The form was often used by poets and composers from the 18th century onwards to produce lyrical ballads. In the later 19th century it took on the meaning of a slow form of popular love song, and the term is now often used as synonymous with any love song, particularly the pop or rock power ballad.

George Lyman Kittredge's 1904 definition is useful as it describes a range of key features:
Not only is the author of a (traditional) ballad invisible, and practically non-existent, but the teller of the tale has no rôle in it. Unlike other songs, it does not purport to give utterance to the feelings or the mood of the singer.  He does not dissect or psychologize. He does not take sides for or against any of the dramatis personae. He merely tells what happened, and what people said, and he confines the dialogue to its simplest and most inevitable elements.
In contrast, the author of a literary ballad is visible in the organization of the characters, and the narrator, in particular the first person narrator, finely reflects complex states of mind and plays an important role in developing the plot. The literary ballad is an imitation of the traditional ballad, though it is "a task" to clarify which aspects of the tradition are imitated, admitted Kittredge.

Tennyson, Wikipedia
Alfred, Lord Tennyson, 
The Lady of Shalott

Willows whiten, aspens quiver,
Little breezes dusk and shiver 
         Thro’ the wave that runs for ever 
         By the island in the river
         Flowing down to Camelot.
     Four gray walls, and four gray towers,
Overlook a space of flowers, 
      And the silent isle imbowers
       The Lady of Shalott.
Rudyard Kipling, 
The Ballad of East and West       

There was rock to the left and rock to the right,
and low lean thorn between, 
And thrice he heard a breech-bolt snick
tho' never a man was seen.
They have ridden the low moon out of the sky,
their hoofs drum up the dawn,
The dun he went like a wounded bull, 
but the mare like a new-roused fawn.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, 

Dark behind it rose the forest, 
Rose the black and gloomy pine-trees, 
Rose the firs with cones upon them; 
Bright before it beat the water, 
Beat the clear and sunny water, 
Beat the shining Big-Sea-Water.

There the wrinkled old Nokomis 
Nursed the little Hiawatha, 
Rocked him in his linden cradle, 
Bedded soft in moss and rushes, 
Safely bound with reindeer sinews; 
Stilled his fretful wail by saying, 
"Hush! the Naked Bear will hear thee!"

Robert W. Service,
The Spell of the Yukon                                         
Robert W. Service,

No! There's the land. (Have you seen it?)
It's the cussedest land that I know,
From the big, dizzy mountains that screen it
To the deep, deathlike valleys below.
Some say God was tired when He made it,
Some say it's a fine land to shun;
Maybe; but there's some as would trade it
For no land on earth—and I'm one.

I've stood in some mighty-mouthed hollow
That's plumb-full of hush to the brim;
I've watched the big, husky sun wallow
In crimson and gold, and grow dim,
Till the moon set the pearly peaks gleaming,
And the stars tumbled out, neck and crop,
And I've thought that I surely was dreaming,
With the peace o' the world piled on top.
Samuel Taylor Coleridge,
The Rime of the Ancient Mariner      

Samuel Taylor Coleridge,
Day after day, day after day,
We stuck, nor breath nor motion;
As idle as a painted ship
Upon a painted ocean.

Water, water, everywhere,
And all the boards did shrink;
Water, water, everywhere,
Nor any drop to drink.

Write a new ballad, in a stanza form of your choice, and link it up below.