Saturday, April 30, 2016

Poetizing the Maypole

Greetings, Toads! Can you feel the cruellest month slipping away… as May slides into her rightful place? I’m sure you can—the seasons have a magic way of writing their arrival into our bones. I hope the month that’s about to end was enriched by poetry and living. On the 30th day of April poetry at The Garden, I wish for us to open our hearts to May.

Today’s Prompt: write a new poem inspired by the Maypole.

“A maypole is a tall wooden pole erected as a part of various folk festivals, around which a maypole dance often takes place.” Cultures from all over the world dance around the Maypole for different reasons. I, for instance, do it to celebrate romantic love that heats the flesh, warms the soul, and fills the soil with Nature’s need to bloom.

“The Last of the Maypole Dancers”, by Ilsa Elford

Please, feed Mr. Linky (below) with the direct link to your poem.
Visit other Toads. Wink at May… remind her she’s wanted.
Let delicious poetry dance right out of your soul, dear Toads!

Friday, April 29, 2016


We have now reached almost to the end of our poetic endeavour to write one poem per day. At this point I have the choice of letting you having something really simple, or maybe the last challenge that makes the total challenge even harder…

Kerry asked me to go easy on this, and then I asked myself what’s easy. Some of you prefer a blank canvas, where other wants restrictions. Some love forms other hates it.

So now here is my idea that should be possible for all. I call it Instapoetry from that camera that has now been replaced by phones and digital cameras. Here is the process.

  1. Find your camera or phone.
  2. Go to the closest window
  3. Take a snapshot and process it as you like.

Now look carefully on your photograph and jot down a few words, a story or maybe just the colors of your image. Are there strangers in your image, try to feel what they might be thinking. If you are on instagram it would be fun to present the poem there as well. In that case tag it with Instapoetry. Inclusion of your picture is fun, but if you feel like not doing it, that's cool with me.

Write a poem using no more than 100 words.
Inclusion of your picture is fun, but if you feel like not doing it, that's cool with me.

Link up your poem below, and have fun reading what happens around the world through the eyes of poets.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Words Count With Mama Zen

My name is Kelli, and blah, blah, blah, boring, boring, boring.  

Lately, I've been working on some projects that require a bio.  You know, "please include a short biographical statement."  Don't you hate those?  Wouldn't you, just once, like to tell who you REALLY are? Well, here's your chance. Give me your bio . . . the real story . . . in 50 words or less.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

The Way of Tea

Hello fellow Toads! I am pleased to be able to make my prompt debut today on my birthday. I figured my first prompt should do double duty; it should introduce me a bit as well as give a nudge to your muse. So I decided to riff off of something near and dear to me, Japanese tea ceremony. I’ve been fascinated with Japanese culture for much of my life, so when the opportunity presented itself to study tea ceremony in depth I jumped at it.

The founder of the big three schools of tea, Sen No Rikyu was a poet as well as a tea aficionado. He wrote 100 small poems about the practice of tea. Besides for being quite helpful to aspiring chajin (literally “tea people” – those who are serious in their studies of tea), I’ve found they can be quite inspiring outside the tearoom as well. Today I’ve chosen 7 of them to serve as your inspiration. Create a poem based on any one of these for today’s prompt.

  •  Once a flower’s season has passed, it should not be brought in from another location for display in the tearoom.
  •  In your temae (specific form of making tea) if you only concentrate on giving a strong performance, then this “strength” is likely to strike the guests as weakness or a lack of dignity, or else generates a mood of oppression.
  •  If you make tea for people returning from a flower viewing, displaying a painting of flowers or birds, or a flower arrangement in the tearoom is inappropriate.
  • When you serve tea to your guests, you should simply serve tea from your heart, and think about nothing more.
  •  The best way to remember how to make good koicha is to simply make it frequently. Experience is the key.
  • The questions of how to begin and what to think are matters for one’s own heart to resolve. Of oneself, for oneself – you must be your own teacher.
  • See with your eyes! Listen with your ears! And if you wish to smell the fragrance, press for an explanation of every unresolved matter until your understanding is complete.

As per usual, this ought to be a new poem you’ve written. And remember to show your fellow toads some love! At the beginning of tea lessons, there’s a part where all the students encourage each other to do their best; let’s remember to cheer each other’s poetic endeavors on by visiting and commenting on their work. 

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

The Tuesday Platform

Welcome to the Imaginary Garden... Today, it is raining in purple.

Although Tuesdays are unprompted, open links, the option is given in April to write to a theme. There can be no other than the life, music, poetry of Prince, who died suddenly on Thursday, April 21 (as reported in the New York Times (online). As James Corden said, in his tribute to Prince on The Late Late Show (clip below)
"What a thing to have been alive when Prince was making music. We are all incredibly lucky."

If you have been moved to express your thoughts on his tragic passing, please feel free to share it with us today. Of course, any and all poetry is welcomed on this platform, so do not hesitate to link up a poem of your choice.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Real Toads ~ Where Do I Come From?

We are poets. There are many reasons we began and continue to write poetry. In this month of poetry many of us have taken on the challenge to write 30 poems in 30 days or to at least reach deep into our creativity and produce more poems than our norm. It has been as exhausting as it has been rewarding. For me it is the only marathon I have or will ever run. When trying to find something to inspire words, poetry on this 25th day, I found the this trailer for a British documentary titled, We Are Poets.

Where I Am From by George Ella Lyon

I am from clothespins,
from Clorox and carbon-tetrachloride.
I am from the dirt under the back porch.
(Black glistening,
it tasted like beets.)
I am from the forsythia bush
the Dutch elm
whose long-gone limbs I remember
as if they were my own.

(You can read the rest of her poem here.)

George Ella Lyon is Kentucky's 2015-2016 poet laureate.

Today's challenge is to write about ~ Where do I come from? You can write about ancestry, place, environment, time. event...endless possibilities. Just pick a place in the story of you and take us there. Please share your poem on Mr. Linky and visit your fellow poets to read their work.

Sunday, April 24, 2016


Hello toads,  today I want to connect back to Kerry’s prompt on compound nouns and a comment made by Hedge where she said she often created new ones by herself. So do I sometimes, and it's called a kenning.

This made me think of a prompt I ran a couple of years ago on kennings. According to wikipedia kenning is:

A kenning (Modern Icelandic pronunciation: [cʰɛnːiŋk]; derived from Old Norse) is a type of circumlocution, in the form of a compound that employs figurative language in place of a more concrete single-word noun. Kennings are strongly associated with Old Norse and later Icelandic and Anglo-Saxon poetry.

So as a poetic device this is a complex word (usually a noun) that is used as trope or brief metaphor for poetic effects. This can be for a number of reasons: the imagery itself, the meter or the rhyme, to create a twist. Basically it’s a useful tool that we can add to our toolbox. Make your metaphors short and bouncy,

In English we usually use a hyphen between the words: (for instance whale-road for the sea) but in Germanic language the hyphen often disappears and the words are written together. Actually many existing compound nouns have been been created as a kenning, and at least in Scandinavian languages it is the alive to create new words. If you like to create compound verbs the same way I think it can be even more fun.

I wrote a poem for toads a long time ago for women’s day but I linked up late so very few of you read it I believe.

Unfortunately not like every day

Sweet moon-dancer
and the meal-creator
Our garden-friend,
and diamond-bearer,
Our decision-maker
and unpaid-laborer.
The butterfly-charmer
and home-defender.

Today it's women's day,

like every day should be

In this case I have used several different word combinations that I thought would describe a woman, and thereafter I made a list poem. That’s one way. You are free to use any word or concept and create as many kennings as you like.

The life-cycle of kennings follow the same concept as a metaphor. First a poet create his unique one, then it might become a cliche and finally it might be part of our vocabulary or toolbox of idioms.

So your challenge today.

  • Create a couple of new compound nouns. let them be memorable by funny or lyrical, maybe even cryptic.
  • Use these new compound nouns to create a poem on any topic you like. You might even want to write it on a challenge you have missed.
Link up your new poem (or poems), have fun and read what other poets might have done.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Kerry Says ~ Let's Tip Our Hats to the Bard

It is 400 years ago to the day that William Shakespeare died (and if legend is true, 452 since he was born). It would be remiss of this community of poets to allow the day to slip by without at least a nod in the direction of the progenitor of modern English literature.

The Daily Mail
Fair use

I read an interesting article recently which brought home how valuable a contribution Shakespeare made to the archives of the world. A set of four extremely rare folios will be sold at auction in May, and are expected to fetch £ 1.3 million. The full article can be read at The Daily Mail UK.

Detail of Visscher's Panorama of London
showing the Globe Theatre (1616)

Another example of historical commemoration this year, is that of artist Robin Reynolds' redrawing of the 1616 Visscher engraving, which details the city of London from Whitehall to St Katharine’s Dock and has been described as one of the most 'recognisable and historic' images of London. Read more HERE. Within Reynold's view of current day London, taken from the same vantage point as the original, he has embedded 41 hidden references to the works of Shakespeare. If you enjoy searching for hidden objects, and have some time to spare, I would recommend the challenge of looking for each one at Visscher Redrawn: Hunt the Shakespeare.

Our Challenge:

I do not want this prompt to be another tried and tested Shakespeare bonanza. Rather, I would encourage you to approach the topic of "things Shakespearean" in a different way. Our world is a very different place to the one he inhabited, and many would question the relevance of Shakespeare's work today. If you could save only one piece of his body of work - one name, one line, one title, one sonnet, one play - which would it be?

This is one suggestion to get the ideas flowing. I am setting no strict parameters, but ask that some reference be made to the Bard, in his honour on this particular day.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Poems in April: FASHION ME YOUR WORDS ~ so i can dance

Earth Day started as an environmental awareness event in the United States in 1970. Now celebrated worldwide, events are held to demonstrate support for environmental protection; coordinated globally by the Earth Day Network, and celebrated in more than 192 countries each year. The theme for 2016 is "Trees for the earth"

Today April 22nd is Earth day. So, lets us celebrate the stewardship our planet : FASHION ME YOUR WORDS ~ so i can dance
Additionally while its easy and its okay to get caught up in the rhythms, Please limit your words to 100 inclusive of the title

fashion me a coat of song
let’s dance to the beat of weekend’s light
let’s dance
let’s dance
of weekend’s light
[this poem continues at my blog - 'verses']
gillena cox 2016

That's it Toads. Lets celebrate. FASHION ME YOUR WORDS ~ so i can dance. Happy Earth Day

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Fireblossom Friday: An Elephantine Challenge

Toads are small, though they may have big ideas. Elephants, on the other hand, are enormous, and to me, pretty fascinating. Fireblossom here with another poetry idea for you.

Today let's try writing something on the theme of elephants. There are two kinds of elephants that I'm aware of: the Indian and the African. I tell them apart by the ears--the African's are much larger--but I'm told that they differ in size and temperament as well, the Indian being less aggressive.

Elephants live in family groups. Females stay together for life, with their mother, aunts, sisters, and so on. Males, or bulls, strike out on their own eventually, but do spend many years with the herd they are born into, first.

Elephants really do have an amazing memory, and the matriarch leads the group to find food, water, and safety. An elephant pregnancy lasts nearly two years! And if the calf is female, they will stay together in the herd until one of them dies. Elephants grieve for each other when one dies, and they seem to have mourning rituals. Although it is arguable what exactly is going on, elephants have been taught to paint (!).

Write something with an elephant at its heart. 

Write about elephants and family.

Write something fantastical about an elephant, that would only happen in imagination.

Write something about the majesty and intelligence of elephants, or their loyalty or courage.

Write about the deep emotional lives of elephants.

Write anything, as long as it is new for this prompt, and has an elephant or elephants as an important focus of the poem. Then link up, and have fun.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

When Good Wishes Go Bad

“…witches are quite careful about what they say. You can never be sure what the words are going to do when they’re out of earshot.” ~ Terry Pratchett
My grandmother mistrusted impulsive wishing and promises given without thought. “You just never know,” she used to tell me. “Your wish for rain, so that the nurse can’t make it here to give you a shot, might drown someone’s crops and starve a whole family to death.”

So, my dearest Toads, today I’m wishing for poetry that explores Terry Pratchett’s quote and my grandmother’s (mildly paranoid) wisdom.

The Prompt: Write a new poem that illustrates what might happen when a good wish renders a not so good outcome.

Please, feed Mr. Linky (below) with the direct link to your poem. 
Visit other Toads. Wish responsibly. And don’t forget to grin. 
Grinning is really, really, really important.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

The Tuesday Platform

Welcome to the Tuesday Platform, mid-April edition! Poetry Month has been so inspiring, thus far, don’t you agree? Today is your free-range day of the week, your chance to link up a poem not written for a prompt (do we have any of those this month?!) or to share any poem you like, old or new. We want to read it!

Extra Added Non-Compulsory Bonus: This morning a sign on the highway implored drivers to 


Makes me smile. Sometimes those clever highway sign people say USE YOUR BLINKAHS because, well, you know. Where I live in western MA, the Boston accent is not quite so prevalent and despite living here for almost 20 years, I still find the whole thing charming. And I grew up near Pittsburgh, PA where people talk funny too. Yinz guys know what I mean?

So, if you need inspiration today (and again it’s optional as today is the OPEN platform), feel free to write a poem containing some kind of local vernacular, slang, or pronunciation. Yinz guys have fun!

Monday, April 18, 2016

Turns of the Tale: Poetic Surprise

To begin with, this poem by Jack Gilbert:


We think the fire eats the wood.
We are wrong. The wood reaches out
to the flame. The fire licks at
what the wood harbors, and the wood
gives itself away to that intimacy,
the manner in which we and the world
meet each new day. Harm and boon
in the meetings. As heart meets what
is not heart, the way the spirit
encounters the flesh and the mouth meets
the foreignness in another mouth. We stand
looking at the ruin of our garden
in the early dark of November, hearing crows
go over while the first snow shines coldly
everywhere. Grief makes the heart
apparent as much as sudden happiness can.

This was a hugely inspirational poem for me when I first read it back in 1995, as revelatory as Rilke’s “you must change your life” in “Archaic Bust of Apollo” (which Karin so wonderfully engaged with in her In The Remains of This Month challenge).  The unexpected in Gilbert's poem is in the word “apparent” -- the surprise of shining the wrong light and finding the same thing. Harm and boon in the meetings: the revelation changes not only the poetry but the poetic.


I read Thomas Pynchon before Ranier Maria Rilke; Gravity’s Rainbow before New Poems. Pynchon’s grand novel of the dead got me through a long hiatus in the underworld; Robert Bly's hamhanded translation of Rilke's "Archaic Torso of Apollo" appeared before my eyes when I was first sobering up.

A few years later when I read Rilke’s Duino Elegies and the Sonnets to Orpheus (in Stephen Mitchell’s much more supple translation) I found both Pynchon’s deepest inspiration for Gravity’s Rainbow and what Gilbert would discover in “Harm and Boon In the Meetings”:

… But if the endlessly dead awakened a symbol in us,
perhaps they would point to the catkins hanging from the bare
branches of the hazel-trees, or
would evoke the raindrops that fall onto the dark earth in springtime--

And we, who have always thought
of happiness rising, would feel
the emotion that almost overwhelms us
when a happy thing falls.

There is a strange merriment in Russian ICBMs falling toward the roof of the Orpheus Theater in LA at the end of Pynchon’s 1974 novel; and there’s a surprising contour to the heart which can only be found by finding love suddenly and then losing it slowly—lessons Jack Gilbert learned when his second wife died of cancer.


The only way we can discover those things is by turning prior things over.

For poets, this means a willingness to let surprise compromise our work. You never know what you’ll find looking at things the other way.  A useful tool in vatic box is the trope. The critic Richard Poirier loved Emerson for his ability to challenge established notions with the radical view through his tropes:

The turning or troping of words is in itself an act of power over meanings already in place; it distorts "verbal solutions," which are thus shown not to be solutions at all. In that sense one could argue ... that a turn or a trope is in itself a "verbal solution." It promises after all to save us from being caught or fixed in a meaning or in that state of conformity which Emerson famously loathed. (Emersonian Reflections, 1987)

A examples from Emerson show how tropes discover new meanings:

A religious poet once told me that he admired his poems, not because he wrote them, but because he did not. (“Character”)

Wisdom consists in keeping the soul liquid. There must be the Abyss, Nyx, and Chaos, out of which all things come, and they must never be far off. Cut off the connection between any of your works and this dread origin, and the work is shallow and unsatisfying. (Journal, 1942)

Precisely in proportion to the depth of mind from which it issued, so high does it soar, so long does it sing. (“The American Scholar”)


Discover something new by revisiting a favorite theme of yours from a different perspective.  

Maybe a story told in reverse has a different meaning than the gospel version.

Maybe a favored poet has too great of an influence, and ripping off the mask means writing on rails far away from the grooved track in your ear.

Maybe the heart’s true depth can only be found in grief—or maybe there's a room after grief where the dust of everything else allows breath to become air in heart everywhere. Who knows?

Whatever the case, find a new way to write about something—in conceit or stylistics or mood or person or persona. Flip the mask around and upside and down and try talking of the gods the other way.

Surprise us, but more importantly surprise yourself. You never know when you will desperately need to change your life next, and having the poetic chops to do so may get the work off on the right foot.

Or maybe there’s a poem about the wrong-headedness of all poetry …

Chop chop! Git outta here! There’s work to do, and more work reading through all the new worlds we’ll find here! Last one in the pond's a rubber duck!



Sunday, April 17, 2016

Poetry To The Third Power

Greetings from the land of exile, toads and April poetry participants, hedgewitch here. I am currently engaged in some issues that are keeping me from writing regularly, so this year  I am not doing a poem a day during this month.  However, I am popping in today to hopefully give some inspiration to those who are. As always, feel free to scroll down to the section "Particulars of The Challenge" at the bottom if you find my tendency to babble on about things is getting too overwhelming.


Today on the third Sunday of April, I'd like you to consider the possibilities of the number three.

There are all kinds of literary references to this potent number, from  the three-part riddle of the sphinx to Shakespeare's  three weird sisters, to trilogies like Tolkien's Lord of the Rings.

There are also plenty of examples of the number three in myth and religions:  the Three Norns who care for the World Tree and weave the tapestry of men's fates, The Three Graces, the Christian Holy Trinity as well as various other triune deities and Triple Goddesses.

Norns Weaving, illus. by Arthur Rackham

Detail, Three Graces, from Primavera by Sandro Botticelli

Triple formed image of the goddess Hecate

One could also explore the significance of the number three in the Tarot or numerology.

3 of Swords, 1919 Rider-Waite Tarot deck

Particulars of the Challenge:

The idea of three can appear in any form and in any association in your poem: three objects, as in the floating heads shown in the painting by Odilon Redon below, three places, events, people, states of mind, directions, colors, or whatever, as long as you incorporate the number as a meaningful element of your piece.

The Sleep of Caliban, by Odilon Redon

Alternatively, for those who like to work in that style, you could also employ one  of the many  poetic forms which utilize the concept of three--like the tercet, the triolet, the terza rima, or perhaps the sevenling, which uses groups of three in specific relationships. Kerry has also done a mini-challenge which contains more information about three line forms.

However you want to explore poetry to the third power, please feel free to do so. Then link up below and give your fellow participants some visiting and commenting  love.

All images here are in the public domain, so feel free to borrow them if you'd like, with proper attribution.