Thursday, March 30, 2017

Literary Excursions with Kerry ~ Annotations

Greetings to all friends and poets. I mentioned in my previous challenge that I would like to give more focus to the skill of using literary devices , with particular interest in those developed during the modern and post-modern time-frame. One of the characteristics of  post-modern authors was to fragment the narrative through various means, such as change of narrative perspective, flashbacks or by breaking the fourth wall. A simple method which also gained popularity was the inclusion of annotations or footnotes, which could be either factual or fictitious reference points. These annotations might be placed in the left or right margin or at the bottom of the page. John Fowles used this device in The French Lieutenant's Woman. Please click on the images for a closer view.

The annotations may perform a purely literary function, as is the case with The Annotated Alice: The Definitive Edition (1960)

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but in other cases, they may be used to tell more of the story or provide insight into character. The Selected Work of T.S. Spivet (2009) by Reif Larsen is a good case in point.

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Poetry lends itself to annotations, purely as a means of analyzing the text.

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Our Challenge is to write a poem and provide annotations to the text, either as margin notes or footnotes. You may write a new poem for the challenge, or use a poem you have previously written which you think might lend itself to this approach. I realize this may cause some logistical problem in terms of formatting but the idea is to be creative rather than restrictive. I look forward to reading the results of this endeavour.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

The Tuesday Platform

Welcome to the Imaginary Garden...

Greetings strangers, friends, poets and bloggers! Are you one of the 1,2 million people to have seen this short film by Kirsten Lepore? (I hope she doesn't mind my sharing it here today.) I happened across it this weekend, and was amused to read some of the responses to it - most seem to agree that one should be creeped out by this friendly little dude (alien?). I love how it tells a tiny story, and leaves so much open to interpretation... kind of poetic.

Please link up a poem of your choice today, even if you have just a minute to spare in your busy day. I am always happy to see a friendly gathering of writers on a Tuesday.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Weekend Mini Challenge: Thought Animals

Welcome to the Weekend Mini Challenge with Kim from!

I very much enjoy the poems of Ted Hughes and one in particular has stuck firmly in my memory. It’s entitled ‘The Thought Fox’, from his first collection The Hawk in the Rain: a poem about writing a poem.

Because of copyright laws I am unable to reproduce it here, so I have added a link to The Poetry Archive, where you can read it at Poetry Archive, The Thought-Fox.

However, I have found this wonderful reading on YouTube: 

The poem is set late at night in a room, where the poet is sitting alone at his desk. Outside his window it is starless, silent and black, but the poet senses a presence, an idea stirring in the darkness of his imagination. At first he only feels it and has to coax it into consciousness, like a fox, whose body is invisible, but which feels its way forward through the undergrowth.

Today’s challenge is to choose an animal, any animal you like, and turn it into a poem about a poem, writing in quatrains and following as closely as you can the process of writing a poem.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Words Count With Mama Zen

Image result for that's weird cartoon

Think back over the past week.  What have you observed that was odd, unusual, or just plain weird? Tell me about it in 60 words or less.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

The Tuesday Platform

This week, the world lost Nobel laureate Derek Walcott, who said about poets: “For every poet, it is always morning in the world. History a forgotten, insomniac night; History and elemental awe are always our early beginning, because the fate of poetry is to fall in love with the world, in spite of History.”

Here is one of my favorite poems of all time. Rest in power, Derek Walcott.

Love After Love
by Derek Walcott

The time will come
when, with elation
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror
and each will smile at the other's welcome, 
and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you 
all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf, 
the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.

Please share a poem with us today, and be sure 
to read and enjoy the poems shared by others. 

Share * Read * Comment * Enjoy

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Weekend Mini-Challenge: Home

Grant Roberts, "Spring in Town," 1941

As one who moved around a lot in his earlier decades, the eventual finding, making and sustaining a place I call home has resulted in the most productive and content chapter of my life.

The yearning of my wandering years—a sea-wide yearning that some day I would find lasting harbor—was the homesickness of the never rooted, much like that of an orphan hoping to one day to reconnect with a lost mother or father.  And now, having formed a deep sense of place over the years in this location I call home, homecomings are always dear, whether it’s from coming back from a trip (as I have just done, visiting an old father in Pennsylvania who prays to die in his house), or simply driving back home after another day working in an office at the far end of a commute.

I’m very aware how fortunate I am, and give thanks for it daily; it is a privilege I do not greatly deserve, and I understand how readily, randomly and viciously the Wheel can turn round the other way. But not today.

More than 65 million people world-wide are refugees, displaced from their home due to political instability. Very few—about a hundred thousand—return to their homes every year, while an equal fraction find new homes in new countries. The rest are in limbo, with no welcome behind or ahead of them.  And as global warming floods populated coastlines and turns vaster tracts to desert, the number of these homeless refugees will tower.  They may become the defining demographic of our present century.

What happens to the heart when one loses their home? Glenn Albrecht, an Australian philosopher and professor of sustainability, put it this way:

People have heart’s ease when they’re on their own country. If you force them off that country, if you take them away from their land, they feel the loss of heart’s ease as a kind of vertigo, a disintegration of their whole life.

Albrecht observed that many native inhabitants -- Australian aborigines and any number of indigenous peoples around the world—reported this sense of mournful disorientation after being displaced. But he also found that many people feel this same sense of “place pathology,” not because they had been removed from home soil, but as their home communities became ruined by development.

In a 2004 essay, Albrecht named this condition solastalgia, a combination of the Latin word solacium (comfort) and the Greek root –algia (pain), which he defined as “the pain experienced when there is recognition that the place where one resides and that one loves is under immediate assault . . . a form of homesickness one gets when one is still at ‘home.’” Albrecht even called solastalgia is a depressive mental condition.

Solastalgia may be the melancholia of the Anthropocene, to grow so homesick in our sickening home.

Mohammed Mohiedin Anis, 70, smokes his pipe as he sits in his destroyed bedroom
listening to music in Aleppo (Joseph Eid/AFP/Getty Images)

Finally, this. I’ve just finished a second reading of Peter Matthiessen’s In Paradise, published just after his death in 2014 at age 86. A difficult tale, the novel is set in Poland in the mid-1990s and follows a meditation retreat in the death-camp of Auschwitz. For three days, people of various national, religious and philosophical bent meditate and attempt to bear ecumenical “witness” to one of the most horrifying relics of Nazi Germany’s final solution to racial impurity.

Over the course of this night sea journey Matthiessen raises and dispenses many questions: Whether any but a survivor of the death camp experience can bear true witness to what happened there. If there can be any legitimate response to a place of annihilation. Whether any true voice or presence of holocaust can still be heard there. Can humanity ever be free of the guilt of such altars of genocide? If the sins of this place are forgotten (denied even), then what can keep the fourteen thousand throats of Muslim men and boys in Srveneika from being slashed fatally wide, as they will be at same time this story is set? (As we who have more recently watched the children of Aleppo bombed to dust their by their own government while we fretted about Donald Trump, the answer is Nothing.)  And are the unburied dead still present, hungry ghosts for whom our lament is forever insufficient food?

Tough questions, and Matthiessen is sparing in his answers. Auschwitz is what it is, and no one living passes through that morgue of the spirit without catching its chill. A rabbi leads participants in the Kaddish or Prayer for the Dead at the Black Wall, where some 30 to 40 thousand prisoners were shot to death in the early years of the camp. “It is the voice of the living calling out prayer across the void to the nameless, numberless dead who do not answer,” he says. Most of Matthiessen’s answers are calibrated by that silence.

But Matthiessen observes this: After three days of meditation, prayer, encounter and hard debate among the participants in this Hadean harrow of death, many felt a homesickness as they were leaving—as if by making space for inhumanity and death inside themselves, their humanity was enlarged. The only whole heart is the broken heart, but it must be fully broken—another rabbi says that in the shadowy gloom of the Oven—and strangely, on the last night they are there, those utterly broken by the encounter find themselves suddenly dancing like children, as if they had come home at last. It’s an utterly unexpected gift, hilarious, profane, perfect.

Go figure. What do we know about the heart, that compass whose pole star ever points us toward home? Well, let’s find out. Write a new poem on the theme of home in one of these variations or as a tandem or contrast of several: home, longing for home, losing a home, homelessness, homesickness, finding one’s way home, homecoming, making a home, wrecking a home, offering sanctuary to strangers in one’s home, homesickness at home, leaving home, leaving one’s home in this life for the next.

Let’s find out what this home business is all about: Then bring your discoveries back home to the Garden.

— Brendan

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Fireblossom Friday: Incongruity

Today's text, my flock, concerns incongruity. Specifically, we are going to try to write setting that doesn't match action, or character that does not coincide with setting. Let's start with the first.

For illustration, here is my poem "Garden Wall":

 They stood daddy up
against the garden wall
and shot him through the head for writing against the regime.

Our ginger cat
hid behind the tomato vines.
Its eyes were yellow. The sky was blue. The leaves speckled red on the green.

The peaceful sunlit setting does not line up with the brutal act that takes place within it. This incongruity jars the reader and heightens the effect. 

What about the latter? For this, my poem "In The Year Of":

 In the year of the pestilence,
in the time of the puppet government,
we fell in love.

We held hands, and gamboled 
as others doubled over and died.

In the year of the pogrom,
in the hour of the public noose,
we were giddy,

and grateful for our milky corneas
our couplings, and our luck.

Although this is not actually a love poem--but, rather, a piece about willful blindness--it *seems* like a love poem, played out against a backdrop of revolution and death. 

Both these examples are rather grim in their subject matter, but incongruity lies at the heart of humor, as well. It is the absurd, the thing we don't expect, that is often the very thing which makes us laugh. And so, your poem can be light, if you wish. 

So, mix it up, explore incongruity. Then link! Please write a NEW poem for this prompt, and no haiku or such like. 


Tuesday, March 14, 2017

The Tuesday Platform

Welcome to the Imaginary Garden...

Greetings to all poets, friends, fellow travellers! Once again we meet up in the garden to share ideas, read poetry, converse and continue in the tradition of the bards.. we celebrate what it means to be human.

Please share a poem of your choice in the links below, and stay a while, kick off tour shoes. All are welcome.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Title-Tale (Poetry and Flash Fiction with Magaly)

Greetings, dear Toads.

Today’s mini-challenge is simple (and funny, I hope). The world is so gloomy right now, that most of us could probably use a laugh (or fifty). I invite you to choose one of the 13 titles below, and use it as inspiration to write a new three-stanza poem or a very short story (of 313 words or fewer). I request that you battle curiosity, and abstain from finding out anything about the actual books. Please include the chosen title, as a note, somewhere in your post.

After you are done crafting your word yum, feed the direct link to your entry to Mr. Linky. Visit other Toads. And as always, have a blast!

One more thing, Garden dwellers, just because some of the book titles might inspire hysteric laughter (or excessive blinking), this doesn’t mean that your poem must be humorous. Let your muse do what she wants… as long as what she wants is inspired by one of the given book titles.

1. Bodybuilders in Tutus and 35 Other Obscure Business-Boosting Observations, by Philipp Lomboy

2. Dating for Under a Dollar: 301 Ideas, by Blair Tolman

3. The Do It Yourself Lobotomy: Open Your Mind to Greater Creative Thinking, by Tom Monahan

4. Goblinproofing One’s Chicken Coop: And Other Practical Advice in Our Campaign Against the Fairy Kingdom, by Reginald Bakeley

5. How to Survive a Garden Gnome Attack: Defend Yourself When the Lawn Warriors Strike (and They Will), by Chuck Sambuchino

6. Knitting with Dog Hair: Better a Sweater from a Dog You Know and Love Than from a Sheep You’ll Never Meet, by Kendall Crolius and Anne Montgomery

7. Living with Crazy Buttocks, by Kaz Cooke

8. The Madam as Entrepreneur: Career Management in House Prostitution, by Barbara Sherman Heyl

9. Manifold Destiny: The One! The Only! Guide to Cooking on Your Car Engine!, by Chris Maynard and Bill Scheller

10. Natural Bust Enlargement with Total Mind Power: How to Use the Other 90% of Your Mind to Increase the Size of Your Breasts, by Donald L. Wilson

11. Oral Sadism and the Vegetarian Personality, by Glen C. Ellenbogen

12. People Who Don’t Know They’re Dead: How They Attach Themselves to Unsuspecting Bystanders and What to Do About It, by Gary Leon Hill

13. Strangers Have the Best Candy, by Margaret Meps Schulte

Image (and titles) borrowed from “39 Weird Books That Really Exist”.

Thursday, March 9, 2017


Can you taste a three? What color is a bird song? If you had ready answers for that you may have synesthesia. It’s a quirk in human neurology where a link occurs between the senses, so that when you experience something with one of your senses, you also have an additional sensory response, either in the same sense or a different one. Someone with synesthesia might see the number 7 as always being orange, or experience the taste of lemons when they hear a musical note. Here’s a video to explain the phenomena further (and test to see if you are a synesthete):

If you have synesthesia, this prompt will be easy. Compose a poem based around your personal perceptions of joined sensory experiences. If you don’t have synesthesia, then give some thought to what it might be like. What does a sunrise taste like? Does the sound of crickets have a tactile feel? The choice of what senses and stimuli to link is entirely up to you. Just be sure to create a new poem for this prompt and visit the other poets taking on this challenge to enjoy a new view of the world through their senses. 

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

The Tuesday Platform

Dear versifiers, minstrels, balladmongers, and bards! 
Please share a poem, ditty, rhapsody, or dithyramb in the Garden today.

Share * Read * Comment * Enjoy

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Play It Again Toads!

Today we revisit archived challenges of the Imaginary Garden. This affords us the opportunity to catch up on a recent prompt we may have missed or allows us to explore the side bar (2011 - 2017).

La Femme Peintre (1931)
Pierre Roy

Alternatively, select a prompt from the ones I have highlighted below.
I have included a Flash 55 for those who like to write to that prompt on the first weekend of the month.

1. Flash 55 PLUS!, May 2, 2015

2. Words Count with Mama Zen, August 7, 2013

3. Fireblossom Friday, April 26, 2013

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Bits Of Imagination ~ Perfume

Happy March dear poets. I am sure there is much to say about the month's wind, kites, lions and lambs, but today I hope to inspire your writing with the scent of perfume.
The New Perfume ~ John William Godward

I am sure even reading the word perfume will take your thoughts to a favorite scent, be it from a bottle or the scented air of nature. Of course, there are also scents that evoke not so pleasant memories, either way perfume has power. 

"Men do change, and change comes like a little wind that ruffles the curtains at dawn, and it comes like the stealthy perfume of wildflowers hidden in the grass."   John Steinbeck

"A woman's perfume tells more about her than her handwriting."  Christian Dior

 "Little things seem nothing, but they give peace, like those meadow flowers which individually seem odorless but all together perfume the air." George Bernanos

Blue Amber

Perfume is heat. Perfume below
the ice of sleep. As from one
shore to another, dreams, rivulet,

molecules of citrus and musk
floating above our sheets, when you toss
not quite awake, your pillow burns

lily spice, clove and river grass

Ilyse Kusnetz
(You can read the entire poem here )

Today's challenge is simple: Write about perfume. Please share an original poem based on the challenge and please take time to read the perfume inspired poetry of your fellow poets.