Thursday, March 31, 2016

Out of Standard - What's My Line

Image courtesy of Meme Generator

Greetings Garden Dwellers.  Welcome back to the 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. So let’s dig in, shall we....


We all have one....that one song lyric we have misheard and believed to be accurate only to find out some time later (and probably after some great debate) that the real lyrics are something else entirely.  

I am asking you to write a poem incorporating the lyrics as you misunderstood them to be. Never misheard a song lyric, or just not getting inspirado from yours?  Feel free to use this list in place of personal experience!


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, March 29, 2016

The Tuesday Platform

Welcome to the Imaginary Garden ...

Greetings to all toads, poets and friends. On Friday, April 1st, we begin our fourth annual April Madness of a prompt-a-day to support those who are attempting to complete 30 poems in 30 days for NaPoWriMo 2016. Even if you are not joining in this year, be sure to check in and participate in whichever of the prompts take your fancy. Our toads are going all out to provide inspiration in this marathon month. The Tuesday Platform, Thursday and Saturday Challenges will remain the same as for other months. All prompts will be posted at 12.00 am CST each day.

Please join us in sharing a poem of your choice today. Enjoy your time spent in the garden.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Play it Again, Toads

Welcome to the 25th Play it Again, Toads! where archived challenges of this Imaginary Garden come to life again.  Have fun exploring the side bar (2011 - 2016) and selecting your own or choose from three I've highlighted below.

As always, you are not required to use one of my photos for this prompt, however if you do, please be sure to use it with an archived challenge.  The art work is from the Metropolitan Museum of Art - a place I try to always visit when I am in NYC.

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

As always, please be neighborly and visit the other wonderful poets who participate.

1)  Mary's Mixed Bag:  Poetry of the Ordinary

2)  Fireblossom Friday:  The Crack in Everything

3)  Brudberg:   Not a Sestina but Close

(Click on images to enlarge...)

detail - Peter Paul Rubens oil/wood "The Triumph of Henry IV 1630
The above energetic sketch: shows Henry IV (1553-1610), King of France, entering Paris "in the manner of the triumphs of the Romans," as described in Ruben's contract of 1622.  Rubens was to paint forty-eight large canvases for the king's widow, Marie de' Medici, to decorate the Palais de Luxembourg.  Those depicting her life (Louvre, Paris) were finished in 1624, but of the companion series only the enormous Triumph of Henry IV (Uffizi, Florence) was  completed before the Marie's banishment from France in 1631.  The present oil sketch is the last of four in which Rubens worked out his heroic allegory of an actual event.

Jacob Vosmaer oil/wood "A Vase w/ Flowers 1613
The Delft painter Jacob Vosmaer was an early if not pioneering specialist in the painting of flower pictures, which often depict rare specimens known to the artists solely from illustrated books.  At some time before 1870 this panel was trimmed on the sides and cut down (about nine inches) at the top, cropping the crown imperial.  

Seymour Joseph Guy oil/canvas 1870 "Story of Golden Locks"

As a girl reads Goldilocks and the Three Bears to two little boys tucked in bed, her menacing shadow and the wide eyes suggest that she is recounting the story's most frightening moment.  At this time, fairy tales were appreciated for their moral content, and Goldilocks, in particular, for warning children not to wander off on their own.  Later interpreters have construed the tale as signaling a girl's search for identity as she approaches womanhood.  Guy's female subject creates a sense of foreboding even as she exudes calm, foretelling her future success as a mother.  Her doll is stashed in the box on the chair, implying that she is ready to put away childish games and assume an adult role. 
Pedro de Mena "Ecce Homo & Mater Dolorosa "1674-85

Carved wood sculpture, enhanced by paint and other media, including glass eyes and hair, reached a pinnacle of naturalism and expressive force in 17th-century Spain.  Pedro de Mena's virtuoso manipulation of these materials created startling likenesses of bodies and clothing.  They encourage in the beholder an empathetic response to the suffering of mother and son, who appear as exemplars of worldly forbearance in the face of tragedy.  Carved details such as the twisted and knotted rope binding Christ's hands or the Virgin's thin, deeply undercut drapery are joined by the subtle and descriptive painting in thin glazes of the silver and red brocade of the Virgin's tunic and the bruises that cover Christ's flesh.  Men's desire was to make the figures seem physically present before the viewer.  At the same time, they have a dignity and reserve that made them ideal works for contemplation.

Pedro de mena "Ecce Homo & Mater Dolorosa" 1674-85 
El Greco (1541-1614) Oil/canvas "View of Toledo"
In this, his greatest surviving landscape, El Greco portrays the city he lived and worked in for most of his life.  The painting belongs to the tradition of emblematic city views, rather than a faithful documentary description.  The view of the eastern section of Toledo from the north would have excluded the cathedral, which the artist therefore imaginatively moved to the left of the Alcazar (the royal palace).  Other building represented in the painting include the ancient Alcantara Bridge, and on the other side of the river Tagus, the Castle of San Servando. 

Charles Sprague Pearce Oil/canvas 1882 "Arab Jeweler"
Boston-born Charles Sprague Pearce belonged to the generation of American artists who increasingly settled in France in the post-Civil War years.  Like that of his celebrated Parisian teacher, Leon Bonnet, Pearce explored a range of subjects throughout his successful expatriate career.  A four-month excursion along the Nile in the early 1870's led to a particular interest in "exotic," or Orientalist themes, such as the ambitious portrayal of a native craftsman.  

John Singer Sargent Oil/canvas  1883-84  "Madame X"
Madame Pierre Gaudreau (the Louisiana-born Virginie Amelie Avegno; 1859-1915) was known in Paris for her artful appearance.  Sargent hoped to enhance his reputation by painting and exhibiting her portrait.  Working without a commission but with his sitter's complicity, he emphasized her daring personal style, showing the right strap of her gown slipping from her shoulder.  At the Salon of 1884, the portrait received more ridicule than praise.  Sargent repainted the shoulder strap and kept the work for over thirty years.  When, eventually he sold it to the Metropolitan, he commented, "I suppose it is the best thing I have done," but asked that the Museum disguise the sitter's name.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Bittersweet Melodies

I remember us
before we turned to dusk
just when these feelings were all about
when we could still trust
in our hearts

I just can’t help it. This video makes me weep with happiness. Maybe that’s the very definition of bittersweet, the unbridled heart-soaring to the point of tears?

Love me some Feist. This song is from her fourth album, Metals.


Tuesday, March 22, 2016

The Tuesday Platform

CLICK HERE for a super-charming illustration of Carl Sandburg’s Fog by Laurie A. Conley.

Tuesday! That means it’s free-for-all time! Clear out that fog and share your words with us!

Share * Read * Comment * Enjoy

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Under an Influence; Anxiety Lost In Translation; Blocking Writer's Block- Weekend Mini!

Hey Toads.  I have recently started painting a little, maybe as art therapy. Sure, for years I've dabbled in elephants, but I wanted to do something different. 

It was difficult.  What should I paint?  How could I dare even begin?  Doing anything from life seemed honestly pretty daunting.

Then I got the idea of simply looking at paintings of artists I like and using their pieces as “jumping off” points. I started sometimes by just looking at a particular painting and trying to copy (sort of) bits I liked--images, colors, whole vases--

Of course, pretty soon, each of my paintings diverged from my source.  First- because I just am not very good!  Secondly, because I have been using a different medium--watercolor--from most of my source paintings. Third, my paintings have diverged simply because they are MY paintings, and (as I would get working, I would become more absorbed in my own piece).

Still, the technique has allowed me (i) to lessen my very significant anxiety about trying to make any art at all; and (ii) to expand significantly my artistic subject matter (as in, I now do dolphins and not just little dogs!) 

In thinking of how to translate this painting technique into a poetry prompt, I focused on the word “translate,” which seemed to offer a key.

So, here goes:

Take a poem written by someone else.  It doesn't have to be a favorite poem, but one that interests you.  It can be a poem written in English, or another language, if you prefer (but that's up to you.) Read the poem a few times over, ingest it.  Then sit down and write your own poem.

If you like, you can think of your source poem as you write, even look back at it, thinking of how you might “translate” it into your own particular tongue.  By your tongue, I mean, not just your own poetic vernacular, but your life experience, the imagery that speaks to you, your view of the world. 

You could also think of yourself and your own poetic vocabulary as being “translated” by your source poem.  I mean “translate” here in the way it was sometimes used by Shakespeare, as in “transform,” as when Bottom in Midsummer’s Night Dream was “translated” into an ass.  (Ha!  And maybe this prompt is a bit asinine--sorry!)  

But the point is to take a poem you admire and allow yourself to be influenced by it.  Or not. The influence can show.  Or not.  But the hope is that your source poem may help you expand your own poetic sphere, and that it also can be a kind of companion to you as you write, lessening the anxiety that can dog anyone doing something creative. 

So, once more, as I know this is a bit confusing.  Pick a poem you like that has not been written by you. Ingest it a little.  And then write something of your own.

Please approach this in a very free way.  I am not suggesting plagiarism!  I am not looking for paint by number.  You do not have to write a response to your source poem. You do not have to put a poem into modern English.  (Although if someone writes about a big black bird sitting on a chimney piece saying “forgeddaboutit!” I’ll certainly laugh.)

You do not have to acknowledge your source poem, but feel free to.   

So, dive in!

In terms of the paintings I am posting here--they are all mine but their sources are, in order, Paul Klee, Marc Chagall, Odilon Redon, Andy Warhol, Minos Temple in Crete, Odilon Redon again, a Plains Indians Drum,  Kathy Bradford, Paul Klee again and again. Of course, anyone is free to use any image, though they are pretty goofy!  (Please do give credit if you use to Karin Gustafson/Manicddaily.)

As always, visit your cohorts. 

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Out of Standard - From the blender to the page

Greetings Garden Dwellers.  Welcome back to the 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. And I have something extra special in store for today’s challenge.

This image from wiki commons blends
elephants and the French Quarter.


World-blending is the practice of combining elements from contrasting places, times, cultures, or beliefs into a piece of art or literature. World blending can result in the creation of an entirely new genre or movement (think steam punk!). And today, you’re going to get try it out for yourself. 

I am asking you to write a poem that incorporates elements from different worlds.  The blend you choose is up to you.  Your poem could be about a stone age jazz quartet, or maybe you want go more subtle and instead weave in imagery of Joan of Arc and jazzercise.....the possibilities are endless. I have provided a few pictures to inspire and intrigue your muses. 


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...  

This street installation by Banksy blends the fairy tale of Cinderella with the tragic life of Princess Diana.

This photo blends Abraham Lincoln with the science of Ghost Bustin'.

Here is a blend of Van Gogh and an iconic London police call box.
Modern London air space filled with Zeppelins.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

The Tuesday Platform

Welcome to the Imaginary Garden...

Greetings to all friends, poets and toads of the imaginary garden. Today, I share the innovative creative expression of Wintergatan. It always excites me to be audience to poetry in motion, to bear witness to some of the most cutting edge of the creative arts. In the spirit of self-expression, I invite you to share with us your poetry today, without guidelines or stipulation. This is a platform for your work, and the work of those who share your passion for the written word.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Sunday Mini-Challenge: The Paramour

The first written poetry of our Western tradition began in Greece between the seventh and sixth centuries BC.  Standing at the border of the preliterate, poets like Archilochos and Anakreon found an alphabet in which to ferry verbal expression into the symbolic language of the mind. The act transformed culture and history and who we are. (The literate is now disappearing behind visual culture, borne by wordless ferry-workers.)

Where were the first literate poets going when they wrote their song down? It wasn’t to philosophy or myth; instead, they dazzled to the arrow-thwocks of erotic love. Sappho, another of the first poets of the literate age, wrote:

Eros, once again limb-loosener whirls me
sweetbitter, impossible to fight off, stealing up
(Fr. 130)

From this nugget Ann Carson wrote her magnificent monograph on the exhilarating encounter with poetry, Eros The Bittersweet. It’s one of those deep-poetry books to keep on the shelf with Rilke’s Letters to A Young Poet and Wallace Stevens’ The Necessary Angel. If you’re a poet, you’ll find yourself getting happily lost in the wonder of the deep familiar: it resounds in the breast-bone.

Carson asserts that the first literate poets wrote about a shocking, wild, bittersweet and irresistible encounter with the Other. It was not an especially happy event: eros assaults us, tears us loose from our center, makes us painfully aware of our edges and limitations.

To her, the god of poetry is Eros the Alphabet, the first mover whose sharpness and sweetness and bitterness is fundamentally rooted in words. Oral and literate societies fall in love differently. In oral cultures I and Thou are liquid, one. In the literate age writers stepped ashore and out of the forest; looking back they tried to name the wild country of the Other.

What resulted was a culture of surrender and sundering, eternally waylaid yet maddeningly close. We learn more in losing love, but we’d throw all that away in a heartbeat for just one more magic night. And have written poems endlessly to that effect since the sixth century BC.

For any who have burned at the cross of trying to trying to name this experience in our poems it’s a daunting, taunting exercise.  What is the primary lesson here? The first written poetry was erotic: quintessentially of the moment, a startling fresh discovery. Its object was an entrancing Other—not yet the Beloved of lasting relationship but a paramour, exiting, dangerous, disruptive as literacy was in overthrowing oral culture.

“Paramour” comes from French and means a lover, especially the illicit partner of a married person. This is the secret, shady, wild side of love, irresistible and disastrous. S/he is the inamorato and the sugar daddy, the courtesan and main squeeze. The erotic other is what comes in the first dizzy draft we write in haste, overcome with a verbal scent both wildly intoxicating and dangerous, possibly poisonous.

In psychology this paramour is the anima who draws us into unconscious depths across a bridge where external and internal are hard to distinguish. That dreamy land after the sated swoon, the collective anguish of so many emptied beds. This poetry advances by receding through so many faint blue doors, as if it were trying to name at last the definitive preliterate forest from which it emerged.

In myth and poetry,  she (and for you gals, He, or maybe She too—the Paramour inverts your heart’s desire every whichway) is La Dame Sans Merci on her cold moonlit hill, walking among the graves of her suitors; he is the swoony suitor Eros who takes Psyche off to his night-bound castle in the air. She is Grendel’s dam grinning at Beowulf in her drowned court;  he is the elegant vampire in the smoky jazz bar, black-as-night cape with the thrilling scarlet silk interior, smiling to reveal curved fangs long and sharp for deepest penetration. She is the sibyl up in the tree singing something lost in the breeze and the seal-man half in the waters just offshore of midnight. Weirdly male and female inflect the visage of every one, a strange mix that suggest something about human identity.

The paramour is everywhere the sun don’t quite shine that burns so relentlessly in us. The paramour may not even be sexual at all; that mask is blithely discarded, like hosiery, as s/he descends further back into the primal forest we age from and to.

Arch to our outermost extremes, the paramour is also parodoxically what is deepest within us. (Hedgewitch has written many times about the internal paramour—a master class in that encounter.)

How did we learn to write poems? We were caught up by a burning wind, and then we learned to write it down with yearning minds. Over our poetic careers we learn how to master desire, finally—that’s the growing-up of learning craft—but we only do so by staying surrendered, learning how to somehow keep our arms opened wide peering into the veil of night and diving into the deep end of the poem. The encounter our completed poems bottle must first be poured, and it is there that the paramour’s essence may be found.

This challenge is about awe—the towering part of the wave. The dark wood in green eyes. The poetic which inspired Mae West once to proclaim “Honey, when I’m good, I’m good—but when I’m bad, I’m great.”

For this challenge, lets go back to the edge of that forest and name the paramours who led us to write. Let’s celebrate the badness of that defining encounter which has inspired our best work. Celebrate them individually or serially, angelically or down and dirty—swamp-prime.

Write about sex, sexualized experience, sexless burning, the kiss of strange winds, the sexiness of death. Write about the arrow’s sheer barb. Or whatever else the paramour might mean to you—say, the strange wood we enter starting the next poem.

Write an original poem about your encounter with the paramour(s), what you found and what you learned.

It’s Poetry 101, sixth-century-BC style. Hit us with your best shot!

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Get Listed, Equinox Edition, featuring Leonard Cohen

Graphic via Allan Showalter on Leonard Cohen's Facebook page: an excerpt from the interview "At Lunch With Leonard Cohen; Philosophical Songwriter On A Wire", by Jon Pareles. New York Times: Oct 11, 1995

from the interview:

"Your voice is music enough," the woman says. "You know, you seem to be very romantic, but with your head not screwed on tight. Does it get you into trouble?" 

"Continually," Mr. Cohen replies, with the smile of someone who enjoys his troubles.

A lot of 'heads not screwed on tight' going around these days here in the US, as we prepare to elect a new president.

Terrifying, but still.

There's space, though, and time, for more - if we make it - don't you think?

This month's word list:

... or any others you choose from the quote.

As a reminder: select 3 or more of these words (or reasonable variants), write a (voluptuous) new piece and post it to your blog, then link that specific poem into Mr. Linky, below.

The prompt will remain open, so take your time and come back later, and as always, please visit the other contributors.

And because we're always borrowing from one another anyways, Jeff Buckley's version of Hallelujah.

and so what about that Equinox? Well, how about some John Coltrane...

A follow up interview in 2012 by Pareles with Cohen is here.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

The Tuesday Platform

My anxiety is currently reserved for the month of April, and the prospect of tackling a poem a day. How about you? Meanwhile, this weekend I got to attend a reading and book signing by my literary hero, novelist Michael Chabon. Believe me, yours truly experienced A Big Moment in this brief encounter. Have you had one of those lately? Do share!

On this and every Tuesday in the Imaginary Garden, the rules are simple: Share a poem with us, and visit others during the week. Share and share alike!

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Flash 55 PLUS!

Greetings to all poets and friends! It is time for this month's Flash 55 Challenge. The rules of this prompt are simple: Write a piece of poetry or prose on a subject of your choice in precisely 55 WORDS.



For the optional extra part of this challenge, I invite you to include the word EXTREME/ EXTREMES in your title or the body of your work. The following site showcases 10 "Extreme" themed quotes, which may provide some food for thought: