Thursday, July 30, 2015

It's a Shame About Ray

Gimme some candy, it’s The Lemonheads
(Sour on the outside, sweet on the inside.)

Toads, enjoy this song, and then write a poem about Johnny Depp--er, I mean, ahem--write a poem about being bad with names but remembering faces. Then link away!


Tuesday, July 28, 2015

The Tuesday Platform

Welcome to the Imaginary Garden...

I do not think it is possible to over-estimate the power of the written or spoken word. However, it is also true that we are suffering an inundation of global communication which may serve to dilute original thinking and enhance group mentality. For this reason, I believe firmly in the role of poets in addressing man's right to creative thinking, freedom of speech and experimental expression.

Each week, the Open Link in The Imaginary Garden provides a valuable forum for writers to reach their audience. If it is your own work in poetic form, we will read it. And remember that our links do not expire. The Tuesday Platform will remain as first post on the Home Page until Thursday at noon.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Play it Again, Toads!

One World Trade Center (NYC) from the Staten Island Ferry
Welcome to the 19th Play it Again, Toads! where we revisit archived challenges of this Imaginary Garden.  Choose your own archived challenge from the sidebar (2011-2015) or select from three I've highlighted below.

Feel free to use my photos here for inspiration with an archived challenge if you so desire.

The iPhone photos were taken on one of my trips this summer to visit my son and daughter in New York.  Manhattan is always an experience, but I have fallen in love with Brooklyn and enjoyed Prospect Park numerous times (of which the images below are from and have been rendered in an App called "Waterlogue" for privacy).

Please submit an original poem and link your specific post to Mr. Linky below and be sure to make it clear which challenge you are resurrecting by including a link.

Please be neighborly and visit the other wonderful poets.

1)  Imagined by Kerry "Cadence in Free Verse"

2)  Imagined by  Hedgewitch "Etheree(al)"

3)  Imagined by Hannah - "Boomerang Metaphors"

NYC Skyline from Staten Island Ferry just before sunset

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Get Listed - July

Ring o' stars - fair use image, no infringement intended

So Ringo Starr just turned 75, and Beatles tunes are everywhere.

This one stood out - "Taxman" - primarily because of my own recent ... disagreements ... with said titular character.

Some might say they're a necessary evil.  I suppose that's more than even half-right.

I favor paved roads, for instance.

found on Pinterest - Himalayan road

image from

And running water.

Running Water

But did you know that some places don't have tax? For example, the United Arab Emirates (at least according to Wikipedia) - not that I want to live there.

Consequently, this month's Get Listed word list is inspired by that Beatle's lyric, and Mr. Starr. Happy birthday, good sir.

As a reminder, for those who choose to participate, please select at least 3 of the following words (reasonable variants are ok), and pen a *new* poem for the prompt. Then, publish it to your blog, and link your specific poem (not the main blog) in Mr. Linky below.

The link will remain open, so please re-visit and comment on the other poems, too - I suspect I'm not alone hoping that someone besides the taxman is paying attention...

The list:

taxman, heat, prison, fear, mail, inevitable, premise, sovereign, system, advice, beware, kept



Tuesday, July 21, 2015

The Tuesday Platform

Howl, from Howl's Moving Castle, paper doll created by my daughter

You who swallowed a falling star, o' heartless man,
your heart shall soon be mine. That can't be good for the table.

Welcome to the Tuesday Platform, a place for sharing poetry. How? Link up a poem from your blog, old or new. Then visit, read, and comment on the offerings of others. Simple! Enjoy, and we look forward to reading your work.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Sunday Mini Challenge - Goodness Gracious!

A few weeks ago, President Obama delivered a eulogy for Reverend Clementa Pinckney, one of nine African-Americans shot down at a bible study meeting at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina. 

Don’t worry.  This is not a political prompt.

President Obama’s speech focused, remarkably, on the concept of grace.  This is perhaps not remarkable for a eulogy, but it is pretty extraordinary in a speech by a sitting U.S. president.  He talked specifically about the religious idea of grace, what he called “the free and benevolent favor of God.”  He even, to the astonishment and joy of the mourners, sang (acapella until the organ joined in) the hymn “Amazing Grace.” 

Don’t worry--this is also not a religious prompt.  But the idea of grace has been on my mind since President Obama's speech and I ask you today to use "grace" as a springboard for a poem. 

As always, I mean for this prompt to be as open as possible. Do not feel bound to write about a spiritual or religious idea of grace.  (Of course, you can.)   But also feel free to think of the concept of grace in non-religious terms--as, for example, a sudden opening or spaciousness.  You could also write about the physical idea of grace--a graceful person or gesture. 

You could write about saving graces, coups to grace, Grace Kelly, the Toads’ own wonderful Grace, who posts at Everyday Amazing.  Of course, you can write about the  gracelessness!   

Finally, do not feel compelled to use the word “grace."  

When I was thinking of a poem to illustrate this concept, I kept returning to a sonnet that I remembered reading in my college years.  When I finally found the poem, it seemed, superficially, to have little to do with conventional ideas of grace, and yet it still felt right to me.  Here it is, written by Rainer Maria Rilke,  translated by Stephen Mitchell:

Going Blind

She sat just like the others at the table.
But on second glance, she seemed to hold her cup
a little differently as she picked it up.
She smiled once.  It was almost painful.

And when they finished and it was time to stand
and slowly, as chance selected them, they left
and moved through many rooms (they talked and laughed),
I saw her.  She was moving far behind

the others, absorbed, like someone who will soon
have to sing before a large assembly;
upon her eyes, which were radiant with joy,
light played as on the surface of a pool.

She followed slowly, taking a long time,
as though there were some obstacle in the way;
And yet: as though, once it was overcome,
she would be beyond all walking, and would fly.

So, grace!  

Re Rilke and Stephen Mitchell--no copyright infringement intended.  I urge you to buy one of Rilke’s books with Mitchell’s absolutely terrific translations. And re Obama, if you have any interest in American culture, I urge you to watch the speech.

Mostly, I urge you to feel free to be your full self writing a poem today or in the coming days. 

Finally, finally, I did not realize till this morning that it was Toads 4th Anniversary and also Mandela Day--I send both congratulations and heartfelt thanks to Kerry O'Connor for all her work and her example. 

And now, for optional musical accompaniment (and for Shay), here's Emmylou Harris.  (Note that all the pics are mine--the top one the detail of a light sculpture by my husband, Jason Martin.  Do feel free to use one with proper attribution to me Karin Gustafson, a/k/a Manicddaily and (agh) Outlawyer and to Jason Martin, if you use the light sculpture.)

The Toads Anniversary on Mandela Day!

Dear Members of The Imaginary Garden with Real Toads, 

Today is the FOURTH anniversary of our Group Project! From very humble beginnings back in July 2011, we have taken this concept of a small core of member poets who wanted to work closely together, founded on the principles of the improvement of our writing, the benefit of long-term support and consistent feed-back on one another's work and we have seen it develop over the years into one of the most influential way-stations for poets in the blogosphere.

We have had many different members over the years and each has left his or her mark, but there are several founder members who have formed the back-bone of the blog and whose on-going support is still strongly felt: Sherry of Stardreaming with Sherry Blue Sky, Ellen of Ella's Edge, Marian of runaway sentence and (Yours Truly) Kerry of Skylover. In addition to these, we were joined by both  Kenia of A Exercise on Existing and Fireblossom of Shay's Word Garden in the first six months and many other long standing members.

At present, 11 of our members provide a mid-week challenge and an additional 3 conjure up our Sunday Mini-Challenges, with 2 members having both a weekly and weekend slot. It is also worth mentioning that an Open Link has been provided every week since the blog's inception, with 181 OLMondays and 28 Tuesday Platforms. I believe we owe a debt of gratitude to every person who has contributed, either with their inspiring prompts or by sharing their poems and comments. You have made The Imaginary Garden the creative space it is today through your own unswerving endeavours.

In addition to July 18 being our anniversary, it is also Nelson Mandela International Day, adopted by the United Nations. In the spirit of Nelson Mandela's self-sacrifice for the good of humanity, the theme of this day is to give a little of your time to help others. You may wonder: What Can I Do? There is no deed too small that it does not make a difference in someone's life. Traditionally, the Nelson Mandela Foundation asks that people donate 67 minutes of their time to a cause or task of their choice. I have given my 67 minutes to The Imaginary Garden in updating the Home Page so that we may enjoy another year of growing and sharing through the power of words and free speech.

I extend my best wishes to all toads, friends, poets in the hopes that you will have a day filled with joy.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Kerry Says ~ Let's Find Our Poetic Voice

Poetic Voice, also known as the speaker, or persona (Latin for mask), refers to the voice that speaks a poem. This speaker is not usually identical to the author who writes the poem. The author may assume a role, or counterfeit the speech of a person in a particular situation.

Eating Poetry - Eating Words - Poet Poem
Artist Unknown
(No Infringement of Copyright Intended)

Last month, my close friend, Jay gave me the gift of books for my birthday, one of which is 100 Love Sonnets by Pablo Neruda, translated by Stephen Tapscott. While reading Tapscott's Translator's Note, the following passage caught my eye and gave me the idea for today's challenge:

"Neruda's particular innovation is his use of voice, in sound and in syntax, as the force that binds lines and stanzas into integrated wholes. The delicate adhesive force of the voice, that sense of organic information, like the sound of the woods, is what an English version of these poems risks losing; not as much would be lost in terms of traditional "form" as might appear at first glance." [100 Love Sonnets, 2014 Edition, University of Texas Press, page ix]

Before I continue, I want to stress that this challenge is not to emulate Neruda's form, style or voice, but to work with our own unique poetic voices. The following page entitled Speaker & Voice might help us to focus on a few key factors:

  • Who “tells” the poem? 
  • Are there things you can say about the speaker’s personality, point of view, tone, society, age, or gender? Does the speaker assume a persona at any point in the poem, and speak “as” a particular person (e.g., “I am Lazarus, come from the dead . . . I shall tell you all”)? 
  • Does the speaker seem attached or detached from what is said? 
  • What effect do the speaker’s characteristics have on the poem?
The poet should also take into account who is being addressed in the poem. This could also be an imagined persona, or someone known to the writer. Over and above the intimacy between speaker and addressee, is the audience (everyone else who will read the poem) and the poet must find the connection to the unknown reader by creating common experience. The following page from may offer further insights.

This challenge is posted on Thursday but runs through to noon on Saturday, so please feel free to take your time in composing a poem and adding it to the links below. The subject, theme, form etc is wide open.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

The Tuesday Platform

Welcome to The Imaginary Garden's Open Link

Enjoy the interpretation of Edgar Allan Poe's Dream Within a Dream! It is something to keep in mind that once a poem has been written and shared with a greater audience, it may then be subject to interpretation and serve as further artistic inspiration to subsequent generations. I find this to be a most profound characteristic of the written word.

Tuesdays provide a wonderful opportunity for us to share our own poetry. I always look forward to reading, contemplating and responding to the wealth of creative thought which is linked up each week. Thank you to all those who drop by and contribute to our poetry community.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Sunday's Mini-Challenge: Paul Celan

Hi friends!  For my featured poet series, I am pleased to introduce you to the poems by Paul Celan.
Paul Antschel, who wrote under the pseudonym Paul Celan, was born in Czernovitz, in Romania, on November 23, 1920. The son of German-speaking Jews, Celan grew up speaking several languages, including Romanian, Russian, and French. He also understood Yiddish. He studied medicine in Paris in 1938, but returned to Romania shortly before the outbreak of World War II. His parents were deported and eventually died in Nazi labor camps; Celan himself was interned for eighteen months before escaping to the Red Army.
In 1945, he moved to Bucharest and became friends with many of the leading Romanian writers of the time. He worked as a reader in a publishing house and as a translator. He also began to publish his own poems and translations under a series of pseudonyms. In 1947 he settled on the pseudonym Celan—an anagram of Ancel, the Romanian form of his surname. He lived briefly in Vienna before settling in Paris in 1948 to study German philology and literature. He took his Licence des Lettres in 1950, and in 1952 he married the graphic artist Gisele de Lestrange. They had a son, Eric, in 1955.
Celan’s first book was published in 1947; it received very little critical attention. His second book, Mohn und Gedaechtnis(Poppy and Memory), however, garnered tremendous acclaim and helped to establish his reputation. Among his most well-known and often-anthologized poems from this time is “Fugue of Death.” The poem opens with the words “Black milk of daybreak we drink it at evening / we drink it at midday and morning we drink it at night” and it goes on to offer a stark evocation of life in the Nazi death camps.
In 1959, Celan took a job as a reader in German Language and Literature at L’École Normal Superieure of the University of Paris, a position he would hold until his death in 1970. His poems from this period grew shorter, more fragmented and broken in their syntax and perceptions. In 1958, he was awarded the Bremen Literature Prize and in 1960 he received a Georg Buchner Prize.   During the 1960s he published more than six books of poetry and gained international fame. In addition to his own poems, he remained active as a translator, bringing out works from writers such as Henri Michaux and Rene Char. In 1970, Celan committed suicide. He is regarded as one of the most important poets to emerge from post-World War II Europe.

Fugue of Death
Black milk of daybreak we drink it at nightfall
we drink it at noon in the morning we drink it at night
we drink it and drink it
we are digging a grave in the sky it is ample to lie there
A man in the house he plays with the serpents he writes
he writes when the night falls to Germany your golden
 hair Margarete
he writes it and walks from the house the stars glitter he 
 whistles his dogs up
he whistles his Jews out and orders a grave to be dug in
 the earth
he commands us strike up for the dance

Black milk of daybreak we drink you at night
we drink you in the morning at noon we drink you at
drink you and drink you
A man in the house he plays with the serpents he writes
he writes when the night falls to Germany your golden 
 hair Margarete
Your ashen hair Shulamith we are digging a grave in the
 sky it is
ample to lie there
Please continue reading here

Hours, May-colored, cool.
The no-more to be named, hot,
audible in the mouth.

No one's voice, again.

Aching depth of the eyeball:
the lid 
does not stand in its way, the lash
does not count what goes in.

The tear, half,
the sharper lens, movable, 
brings the images home to you.


above the grayblack wastes.
A tree-
high thought
grasps the light-tone: there are
still songs to sing beyond

You can read more of his poems here.
The challenge is write a new poem or prose poem inspired by the title, verse or style by Paul Celan. I look forward to reading your work. Please visit and comment on the work of others.   And Happy Weekend to all !   Grace (aka Heaven)

Thursday, July 9, 2015

The Edge

Yes, I fell off the grid-for a bit.  I had some health issues with my thyroid and decided my Debbie Downer mood needed time out.

 © Ella Wilson

I put my house on a diet. I had kept too many things, children's artwork, school papers, odds and ends of fabric, yarn and much, much more.   Being a military family-we usually move every two to three years. My husband's orders forced us to face the music and go through our household goods-sort,  toss, and give away items we no longer used and had out grown.   (He is retired.)

I want to end my Debbie Downer cycle.  So, let's not concentrate on what we have out grown, but what we will never out grow!   My first thoughts are:   Love, laughter, the ocean, the stars, flowers, rainbows, the sky's color, words, rebirth of spring, puppies, music, movies, and much, much more.   

Poets, writers and artists seem to be able to keep their inner child alive longer, than most.   So, pen a poem about what you will never out grow-what will always delight, inspire, and amaze you. 

P.S.  Did Peter Pan enter your thoughts?!   Me, too.



Tuesday, July 7, 2015

The Tuesday Platform

Welcome to July! Wait, what? July?!?!

There is one rule for The Tuesday Platform: 

Share a poem with us.
Share some time reading poems this week.
Share your thoughts when moved to do so.

Easy! Enjoy!

Saturday, July 4, 2015


Greetings to all poets, and Happy Independence day to our friends in the USA.
It is time for this month's Flash 55 Challenge. The rules of this prompt have not changed: Write a piece of poetry or prose on a subject of your choice in precisely 55 WORDS.

Beata Beatrix by Dante Gabriel Rossetti
(1864 - 1870)



You shall leave everything you love 
most dearly. This is the arrow 
that the bow of exile shoots first.

You are to know the bitter taste
of other’s bread, how salt it is, and how hard a path
it is for one who goes descending and ascending other’s stairs...

Modern Translation of Canto 17, Paradiso, Dante Alighieri
For a more traditional translation of the entire Canto 17, click HERE.

The optional extra for this Mini-Challenge is to draw inspiration from either the paintings of Dante Gabriel Rossetti, or the writings of Dante Alighieri.

This challenge is posted at noon on Saturday and remains open and featured until midnight on Monday, so please feel free to post your response at any time. I will read and comment on all links.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Transforming with Nature's Wonders

Hello, a trip to China on gossamer wings anyone?

Luoping County is located in Qujing Prefecture, YunnanChina.
The county of Luoping in eastern Yunnan is noted for its beautiful scenery in spring, when its fields of canola (also known as rapeseed) flowers are in full bloom, surrounding the area's mountains with a sea of golden flowers to spectacular effect.

Canola field in Luoping cc wiki by Fanghong

Feel free to try your hand exploring any point of view that pleases you.
Flower, butterfly or insect, native of the land, tourist, mountain...
you get the idea...research the area if you like and bring us some facts.

It's a springboard for inspiration...

Write something new, have fun
and enjoy each other's creative offerings.

Thank you, and happy weekend to ALL in the garden.