Val d'Aosta (A Stream over Rocks), 1907-8 John Singer Sargent Oil on Canvas
This landscape painting is set in Val d'Aosta, in the Alps bordering Italy and Switzerland, where the London-based American portrait painter John Singer Sargent often made summer visits. Here, Sargent characteristically composed a view that revealed his immediate experience of the place, foregoing an expansive mountain vista in favor of the running brook at his feet. Inspired by Impressionist landscape painting and especially the work of Claude Monet, this horizonless view verges on two dimensional pattern, owing to Sargent's emphasis on the effects of brilliant light on moving water.
Welcome to the 21st Play it Again, Toads!where archived challenges of this Imaginary Garden come to life again. Have fun exploring the archived challenges from the sidebar (2011-2015) or choose one from three I've highlighted below.
The photos are available to use with this Play it Again challenge, but not required. I took these photos while visiting the Brooklyn Museum. I have included information beneath each painting as I find it interesting and I hope you do as well.
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.
As always, please be neighborly and visit the other wonderful poets.
A Ride for Liberty-The Fugitive Slaves, Eastman Johnson, 1862 oil/paperboard
In this powerful simplified composition, Eastman Johnson portrayed a family of fugitive slaves charging for the safety of Union lines in the dull light of dawn. The absence of white figures in this liberation subject makes it virtually unique in art of the period - these African Americans are independent agents of their own freedom. Johnson claimed to have based the painting on an actual event he witnessed near the Manassas, Virginia, battlefield on March 2, 1862, just days before the Confederate stronghold was ceded to Union forces. Following is a poem written by Frances Ellen Watkins Harper (African-American poet) that was posted with Eastman Johnson's painting: "Eliza Harris" In agony close to her bosom she press'd The life of her heart, the child of her breast: - Oh! love from its tenderness gathering might, Had strengthen'd her soul for the dangers of flight. But she's free! - yes, free from the land where the slave From the hand of oppression must rest in the grave; Where bondage and torture, where scourges and chains Have placed on our banner indelible stains.
View of Brooklyn Bridge, Samuel Halpert (1884-1930) (no date) oil on canvas
Perhaps no painting is more closely identified with the Museum's American art collection than this scene of what was a portion of downtown Brooklyn in 1820 - a work that was purchased for the fledgling Brooklyn Institute (the museum's forerunner) in 1846. Painted from the vantage point of the artist's second-story window facing Front Street ... at the heart of the image was the "old-fashioned" Dutch-style barnyard of Abiel Titus - a feature that greatly contrasted with the elegant stone row-houses that were included at the left of the scene before the painting was damaged by fire in 1881.
Ram's Head, White Hollyhock -Hills, Georgia O'Keeffe, 1935, oil on canvas
"I had looked out on the hills for weeks and painted them again and again - had climbed and ridden over them - so beautifully soft, so difficult... I could see them - farther away - from my window in the rain. So I tried again. They seemed right with the Ram's head. I don't remember where I picked up the head - or the hollyhock. Flowers were planted among the vegetables in the garden between the house and the hills and I probably picked the hollyhock one day as I walked past. My paintings sometimes grow by pieces from what's around." George O'Keeffe
The Shepherdess, Albert Pinkham Ryder, 1880's, oil on wood
Often described as visionary or proto-modernist, Albert Pinkham Ryder painted small works that were mysterious in feeling, owing to his often-vague description of form, use of a dark or limited palette, and evocation of uncertain moods. In "The Shepherdess", Ryder was most likely inspired by similar subjects by the French artist Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot.
The Waste of Waters is Their Field, Albert Pinkham Ryder, 1880's, oil on panel
Albert Pinkham Ryder was regarded as a visionary and experimental painter among Centennial-era artists. He often addressed the theme of human destiny, as played out in literature or the Bible, but he rendered his subjects with highly simplified or expressively exaggerated forms and densely textured surfaces that challenged the visual expectations of his audience. Ryder based this seascape on a poem by the Englishman Robert Southey that recounted the ocean voyage of a medieval king to the New World: Day after day, day after same day... a weary waste of waters!" The complete poem by Robert Southey can be found at: Poetry Nook.
Greetings to all toads, followers and friends. Due to a small mix up in our monthly challenge, I am jumping the gun this week and Hannah will take my turn next week with her Transforming Nature prompt.
Today, I am inviting you all to visit the Ladysmith High School poetry blog somewhere i have never travelled, which features the work of my students. In September, I challenge four of my classes (Grades 8 - 11) to put in a combined effort to produce a total of 300 poems in 30 days. In exchange for their efforts, I am posting their work to the blog. To date, I have posted 127 poems, with more to capture in the remaining days of September and into October.
It is very difficult to motivate young writers in these times of electronic communication, especially if the work will not be graded but is for extension of creative thinking only. However, I have found that young minds are eager for challenge. I make some suggestions of form to get them started and the junior classes were given guided poems (one of which was based on the Simon and Garfunkel song, I am a Rock). However, I do encourage them to explore their own themes and to express themselves in free verse.
Here are a few examples of short forms:
Sevenling (He Adored Time) ~ Nolulama Msomi
He adored time
Preferred my music on a fortissimo
loved the crisp of a fine apple
However I could not hold a note
but could write him jazz pieces
and smell the pungent smell of his cologne
but he hated flowers
Tanka Pine Trees ~ Nerisha Maghoo
Snow coated pine trees
diamond needles light the aisle,
enchantment filled me.
Midwinter's allure at prime,
arms frolic with gusty tune.
Unrhymed Sonnet She is the Addiction ~ Ndabezinhle Gumbi
She is the addiction of my very own thoughts
The light and missing piece to my dark soul
like a beautiful bouquet carefully wrought
The majestic being that makes my life incomplete but whole
Her flaws perfectly placed in their position
The reason that sunlight becomes irrelevant
because she brightens up my day; the intrusion
of my concentration but yet she is so distant
She warms my heart and my thoughts but my body feels cold
Too distant for my hands to touch
Too distant for me to hear her sweet toned voice;
Too distant for me to do much
I paid love's price, I felt painful and weary
but that would never change because I loved her too deeply
Today's challenge is more of an invitation to explore the posts of September 2015 on somewhere i have never travelled, select a poem of one of the young writers as inspiration for your own poem and help us to complete our target of 300 poems in 30 days. Feel free to quote lines from the poem and to provide a link back to the poem you have chosen. I will post links to your poems on our blog. I would also encourage those of you whose children are still at school, to allow them to participate in this challenge.
Elizabeth Bishop reads her poem, The Fish, which can be interpreted on many levels, the balance of man and nature, even as a metaphor for the art of writing poetry: The poem is filled with the strain of seeing – not just the unrelenting pressure of making similes to "capture" the fish, but the fact that the similes themselves involve flawed instruments of vision, stained wallpaper, scratched isinglass, tarnished tinfoil. This is why, on some readings, the poem has the air of summoning up a creature from the speaker’s own inner depths – the surviving nonhuman resources of an earlier creation, glimpsed painfully through the depredations of time and the various frail instruments we devise, historically, to see them. David Kalstone (1989) Source (With Further Interpretations)
Our Open Link provides us with the opportunity to write a promptless poem, to plumb the depths of consciousness and present our own visions in the form of poetry. All are welcome to participate. Every contribution is valued and all comments greatly appreciated.
Manicddaily, Karin Gustafson, Outlawyer, here writing about one of the writers I have most admired in my life. This is Dr. Oliver Sacks, the neurologist and best-selling science writer and memoirist, who died in New York City this past August.
Dr, Sacks inspired great affection in his readers. His writing, both about his personal experiences, his patients’ experiences, and the experience acquired by science (as in, scientific research and records) showed him to be a tremendously thoughtful and empathetic person, with an immense sense of wonder (and humor.)
Although Sacks wrote beautiful memoirs, many books explore neurological conditions. These explorations frequently involve particular case studies of Sacks' own patients, as well as a review of historical records (medical records but also, at times, histories of famous persons thought to possibly suffer from certain neurological conditions--such as Edgar Allen Poe, Dostoyevsky and Joan of Arc.)
Not the voices again!
What is especially wonderful about Sacks' writing is--well, his compassion. But, what is also wonderful is that he never sentimentalizes either the neurological issue or the compensatory tools that the afflicted person develops to live with it. (These can sometimes turn the affliction into a strength.) Most of the stories of people's forms of compensation are quite serious. For example, the autistic Temple Grandin's invention of a "hugging machine," which gave her the firm and calming sensation of a hug, without the fear that her autism sometimes associated with human contact. (Grandin's story is especially interesting because of the way her autism has given her an affinity with animals, helping her develop more humane systems for the treatment of livestock.) A rather funny compensation story involved a man who had a form of narcolepsy, which manifested itself as cataplexy (a temporary loss of muscle use). The man found that uncontrollable laughter would bring on an attack (causing him to collapse) so that whenever he met up with Robin Williams, a friend, he would immediately just lie down on the floor.
Sacks is perhaps most widely known for his best selling book, The Man who Mistook His Wife for a Hat (the title case about a man with visual agnosia --an inability to recognize objects), and a movie based upon his book, Awakenings, about his work with a group of patients suffering from a form of encephalitus. (Robin Williams plays Sacks in the movie.)
Looks like a deep-sea brain.
One my favorite books of Dr. Sacks, is A Leg To Stand On, which describes his personal experience of being gored by a bull on a solo hike on a mountain in Norway, severing the tendons and nerves in one leg. After the accident, he crawled down the mountain on his backside (with the help of internal music), and then endured a long recovery, trying to regain not just the physical use of the leg, but the feeling that the damaged leg was still his.
This brings up one of the most interesting aspects of many of the cases--how much sensation is based in the brain (and not in the applicable sensory organ--the eyes, the ears, the finger tips). In Sacks‘ case, he was shocked that, for some time following his injury, his leg no longer felt like a part of his body; rather, it was like an intruder in his bed--dead flesh.
Brain in Bed (With Pearl)
Sacks also has written about the opposite condition, phantom limb syndrome--in which the brain still senses the missing limb, feeling pain in a foot that was long ago severed. Many striking example of the brain’s role in sensation involve sight. One case study (in An Anthropologist on Mars), involves a man, blind most of his life, recovering the use of his eyes. While at first there is joy on recovery, sight turns out to painfully laborious because the man's brain has not developed the visual cortex to a level that it can interpret vision. (The poor man actually dies within a couple of years of the eye surgeries, in part because of this stress of trying to incorporate sight into his life.)
Of course, there are the opposite stories where people lose vision, and their visual cortex supplies them with various compensations, often in the form of visual hallucinations. (Examples include people who, suffering strokes, can only see one side of a room, but whose brain simply makes up the other half.)
I offer a plethora of choices! One is to write about a disconnect between the body and brain, or the senses and the brain (or some other neurological glitch). This could involve some kind of phantom experience, sensation or body part, or a visual, auditory or olfactory, hallucination or flash back. (NOTE THAT YOUR USE OF THIS IDEA COULD BE COMPLETELY METAPHORIC!)
Another possibility is to write about a significant experience of music in your brain. (I am thinking here about Sacks getting himself down the Norwegian mountain by singing to himself, but you should feel free to write about any kind of interior music, including an "ear worm" --a song that gets stuck in your head.)
Finally, you could write a poem based upon some version of one of Dr. Sacks‘ titles. (Using a title of a book for a prompt is Kerry’s wonderful idea, but she has authorized me to co-opt it.) The three titles of Sacks that came to mind for me are The Man who Mistook his Wife for a Hat, An Anthropologist on Mars, and The Island of the Color-Blind (or pick another). For this alternative, you could write a poem on the idea of The _______ who mistook his/her _______ for a ___________.
or, An Anthropologist on __________; or A ____________ on Mars;
or The Island of the ________ , or The _________ of the Colorblind.
So, sorry for the length of the prompt. Please have fun with it. And please visit your cohorts! (All the photos and pics here--such as they are-- were made by me, by the way; all rights reserved.)
Yes, I fell into a rabbit hole. I had tea with a Mad Hatter and fought the Queen of Hearts. The song Mad World comes to mind by Tears for Fears. In reality, I have had some family drama and ended up going to Maine. I am sorry Hannah-I didn't get to meet you. I hope to return next spring-perhaps we can meet then~
I found this book, about a girl who starts a poetry club based on Emily Dickinson and of all things a Ferris Wheel. I bought the book-I am not quite sure why?! Perhaps because I liked the title, Hope Is A Ferris Wheel. The main character is the same age I was when poetry illuminated my world. It is a YA read and endearing. I will pass it on to a young poet I know.
Poetry offers us hope-a secret language to share things we rather not fully process, a way to paint with words other worlds, views and insights. Poetry is a gift!
Today, I invite you to visit the fairground with me. In September, the last agricultural fairs are being held, back where I am from. Between the red tents, there is a hive of energy as swarms of people head to the Midway. Some people love the rides, or games and everyone has their favorite treat. I love the aroma of Candy Cotton, French Fries with Malted vinegar, Dough Boys or Elephant Ears and popcorn. We relive our childhood in a colorful whirl of giggles and screams. The fairs of my childhood always had a haunted house or a Fun House of Mirrors. Let's not forget the awards for huge pumpkins, blue ribbon pies n' pickles and prized animals to visit.
So, your challenge is to pair something you love at the carnival a ride, the food, a game-with a favorite poet. Let's take Poe in the Fun House of Mirrors, or Dylan Thomas on a Merry-go-round or ride in a twirling Tea Cup with Emily Dickinson. You get to pick the poet and your favorite aspect of the fair. You can add a line of poetry from the poet you select or not. I look forward to your poems-you can shock us, amaze or make us laugh~
I will be the gladdest thing Under the sun! I will touch a hundred flowers And not pick one. I will look at cliffs and clouds With quiet eyes, Watch the wind bow down the grass, And the grass rise. And when lights begin to show Up from the town, I will mark which must be mine, And then start down!
Afternoon on a Hill by Edna St. Vincent Millay
Good Tuesday morning, poets and poetry lovers. Please link up and share a poem with us, and visit to read the writing of others. The Tuesday Platform is the bedrock of our garden, and we are pleased to see you here!
Have a great week, everyone. Hope you all have the chance to slow down and reflect in a busy time.
Hi everyone! For my featured poet today, I am happy to showcase the work of Thom Gunn.
On August 29, 1929, Thom Gunn was born in Gravesend, Kent, England, the older son of two journalists. His parents were divorced when the poet was ten years old, and his mother committed suicide while he was a teenager. Before her death, his mother had inspired a deep love of reading in him, including affection for the writings of Marlowe, Keats,Milton, and Tennyson, as well as several prose writers.
Before enrolling in Trinity College, Cambridge, in 1950, he spent two years in the national service and six months in Paris. In 1954, the year after his graduation, Gunn’s first poetry collection, Fighting Terms, was published. The book was instantly embraced by several critics, including John Press, who wrote, “This is one of the few volumes of postwar verse that all serious readers of poetry need to possess and to study.” Gunn relocated to San Francisco and held a one-year fellowship at Stanford University, where he studied with Yvor Winters.
Over the next few decades, he published several collections that were not as warmly received as his earliest work, including The Sense of Movement (1957), My Sad Captains(1961), Touch (1967), Moly (1971), To the Air (1974), Jack Straw’s Castle (1976), Selected Poems 1950-1975 (1979), and The Passages of Joy (1983).
During the 1970s and 80s, Gunn’s poems were marked by the poet’s personal experiences as he wrote more openly about his homosexuality and drug use. Many critics believed he was betraying his talents. But with the publication of The Man with Night Sweats in 1992, a collection memorializing his friends and loved ones who had fallen victim of the AIDS pandemic, critics were reminded of Gunn’s early promise. As Neil Powell wrote of the book, “Gunn restores poetry to a centrality it has often seemed close to losing, by dealing in the context of a specific human catastrophe with the great themes of life and death, coherently, intelligently, memorably. One could hardly ask for more.” Gunn received the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize for the collection in 1993.
He went on to publish several more books of poetry in the United States and Britain, including Boss Cupid (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2000), Frontiers of Gossip (1998), andCollected Poems (1994). He has also written several collections of essays, including The Occasions of Poetry(1982; U.S. edition, 1999).
Gunn’s honors include the Levinson Prize, an Arts Council of Great Britain Award, a Rockefeller Award, the W. H. Smith Award, the PEN (Los Angeles) Prize for Poetry, the Sara Teasdale Prize, a Lila Wallace-Reader’s Digest Award, the Forward Prize, and fellowships from the Guggenheim and MacArthur foundations.
Thom Gunn died on April 25, 2004, in his home in San Francisco.
The Blood of a Poet (1930) is Jean Cocteau's first film. A dream-like sequence of vignettes, this avant garde film explores the role of sexuality, pain, and self-doubt in a poet's creative process. Cocteau (a poet himself who believed that poetry is the foundation of all the arts) depicts the creative act as a kind of dangerous, dark, self-inflicted suffering.
At this point in my post, I had planned to summarize the plot of Blood of a Poet. Really, I did. After a few failed attempts, however, I decided that summarizing the plot of a surrealist film is also an act of self-inflicted suffering. Instead, I'll let you check out this rather brilliant mashup of the first two "episodes" of the film (with music by Massive Attack) and form your own impressions.
So, poets, what do you think? Are you inspired? Confused? Both? Do you agree with Cocteau that creativity is dark and dangerous? Or, do you just wish that I had picked a cat playing piano video instead? What do you see when you peek through keyholes? Feel free to approach Blood of a Poet in any way you like. Just keep your act of self-inflicted suffering to 80 words or less.
Greetings to poets and friends. I share with you today this excerpt from 'Death of a Lady's Man', How to Speak Poetry, as expressed by Leonard Cohen and invite you to share your words with us today.
"Think of the words as science, not as art. They are a report. You are speaking before a meeting of the Explorers' Club of the National Geographic Society. These people know all the risks of mountain climbing. They honour you by taking this for granted."
It is good to be reminded that we are in the company of poets, who all know the travails, pitfalls and glories of writing. We welcome all with a steady hand and open heart, and take neither praise nor commentary for granted.
Greetings to all poets and friends!
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.
For the optional extra prompt of this months FF55, I invite you to visit Dismaland, the anti-themepark brainchild of the artist known as Banksy, and add your poetic voice to his creative vision.
The event has all the hallmark details of a traditional Banksy event from its initial shroud of secrecy to artistic themes of apocalypse, anti-consumerism, and pointed social critiques on celebrity culture, immigration, and law enforcement. However, there’s one major deviation: the bulk of the artwork packed into three main interior galleries was created by dozens of other artists. (Source Christopher Jobson. Read more by following the link above.)
Greetings, toads and followers of the imagination's lily
pond, hedgewitch here. This is normally Fireblossom Friday, but our Fireblossom
has been momentarily dampened by a cruel dysfunctional modem, and has only the
very spottiest of internet connections, so I am standing in as best I can.
The other day by pure random chance, I stumbled upon the picture above-- Collins Street,
evening (Collins Street at night), 1931. by Clarice Beckett. (Public domain. National Gallery
of Australia, Canberra, Australia. Image. ~via wikimedia commons )
It is an example of an imaginative, innovative
and at the time quite controversial school of art called Australian Tonalism, related to the American art style of Tonalism, that flourished in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
The idea of trying to capture something in this way seemed to me very similar to what we do when we write spontaneously, trying to get words on paper as quickly as we can to nail down some image or idea. So, today, toads, your challenge is to do that.
There are two ways to travel with this challenge. The first is as a pure writing exercise. Try to
create a poem, prose poem or piece of microfiction (less than 150 words) with 'no under drawing,' by taking an idea, a place, a person, an event or a mood, and quickly fleshing out a portrait of it in a blur of words. Use language to mass light and dark verbal 'tones' and build up your poem in dashes of description and image. The end result should be something immediate but 'misty' which gets its effect primarily through visualization.
However, I want this challenge to be as broad as possible, and to fit everyone comfortably, so the second approach is more general. If the above concept doesn't spark a resonance, please feel free to just explore the paintings in this school and allow
them to inspire you in any way, whether
you create 'an exact illusion of nature,' or
something more idiosyncratic that is based on the thoughts or moods these paintings evoke. This challenge is meant to be helpful to the writing process, not intimidating or limiting, so have at
it in the way that pleases you the most.
Here are a few more paintings and several quotes as well to help you along your way. All paintings below are in the public domain, so feel free to reproduce them, with the usual attributions.
"[Whistler].. was an American-born, British-based
artist active during the American Gilded Age. He was averse to sentimentality
and moral allusion in painting, and was a leading proponent of the credo "art
for art's sake"...Finding a parallel between painting and music, Whistler
entitled many of his paintings "arrangements", "harmonies",
and "nocturnes", emphasizing the primacy of tonal harmony."~wikipedia
"Australian Tonalism is characterised by a particular
"misty" or atmospheric quality created by the [Max] Meldrum painting
method of building "tone on tone". Tonalism developed from Meldrum's
"Scientific theory of Impressions"; claiming that social decadence
had given artists an exaggerated interest in colour and, to their detriment, [they]
were paying less attention to tone and proportion. Art, he said, should be a
pure science based on optical analysis; its sole purpose being to place on the
canvas the first ordered tonal impressions that the eye received...."~wikipedia
"Leon Dabo was an American tonalist landscape
artist best known for his paintings of New York, particularly the Hudson Valley.
His paintings were known for their feeling of spaciousness, with large areas of
the canvas that had little but land, sea, or clouds." ~wikipedia
You can explore more paintings done in the Tonalist manner at the following links: