Saturday, June 30, 2018

Physics with Björn - Radiation

Hello My Dear Amphibians,

Today I have another piece of physics to inspire your writing, and I thought I would tell you about the mystery of radiation.

I would like to bring you back to the late 19th century where a husband and wife Curie discovered two new chemical element (radium and polonium). The latter of the element Marie gave its name from her native Poland.

They had been investigating the fact that the air become conductive when you are close to certain minerals. Today we know that the radiation ionize the molecule of the air so current can bridge the gap. This is used in the most famous instrument used to detect radiation, the Geiger counter (you have probably heard that eerie crackling sound that is an indication of radiation).

Along the way they discovered that radiation kills tumor cells faster than normal cells, alas it also causes cancer.

Today we know that radiation is caused by reaction in the atomic nucleus and come in three basic forms. Today we call the process decay, since a nucleus can be transformed from one element to another. You have probably heard about the half-life which is the average time until radiation level has halved. Material with a long half-life is more stable, but can remain lethal for many many years.

Alpha radiation - is actually an emitted hydrogen nucleus, and since it is a heavy particle it both causes the most damage but is easy to be blocked. If you get it into your body it is however extremely dangerous.

Beta radiation - is an electron or a positron being emitted (together with some other stuff). A positron is a positively charged electron and is an example of something called antimatter. Matter and antimatter will annihilate each other if they meet.

Gamma radiation - is electromagnetic radiation similar to light but much more powerful.

Today we know both of blessings of radiation but mostly of the curse and death that follows. We fear the fact that it’s invisible. It’s a ghost we cannot see that kills or make sick.

Today I would like you to use radiation or the stories surrounding it as inspiration for a poem. You can write about the scientists, the weaponry or uses. I think that radiation can be used as metaphor for toxic emotions.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Kerry Says ~ What is Spec Fic?


Speculative Fiction (Spec Fic) is an umbrella genre encompassing narrative fiction with supernatural or futuristic elements. This includes, but not limited to, science fiction, fantasy, superhero fiction, science fantasy, horror, utopian and dystopian fiction, supernatural fiction as well as their combinations... What is now called speculative fiction has previously been termed "historical invention", "historical fiction", and similar names.

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It is extensively noted in literary criticism of the works of William Shakespeare as when he co-locates Athenian Duke, Theseus and Amazonian Queen, Hippolyta; English fairy, Puck, and Roman god, Cupid across time and space in the Fairyland of its Merovingian Germanic sovereign, Oberon in A Midsummer Night's Dream. Read more HERE (Source: Wikipedia).


In researching this genre, I came across an interesting article with tips from authors of Spec Fic, which might be of use when we adapt the method to the writing of poetry. You may click on this LINK to take a look.

Further more, 10 Songs That Are Basically SF/F Novels in Music Form may also be of help.

OUR CHALLENGE: Write a poem which incorporates elements of Spec Fic in a narrative, descriptive or ideological way. (In other words, any way that suits you.) No limits or parameters.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

The Toad Chat Show: Paul & Marian

Marian: I’m really looking forward to talking with you, Paul. It’s cool that two poets who are new to one another are paired up to chat! So here is my burning first question for you: What is the relationship of music and the written word, for you? How does rhythm show up in your poems, assuming it does?

Paul: My instincts when thinking on this point go to the concept or idea of flow. Rhythm is such a natural thing to me. I don't have to think about it and being in it brings me very much into the present moment. It's the same with writing. Once I open the door it just comes and I find myself in a very similar mental state as when I'm playing music. Words just appear and I think because I am open to all the possibilities I tend to catch them in a rhythmical way. I hope that makes some kind of sense.

That’s interesting because I can really feel that flow in your writing, for sure. And I can imagine your writing coursing through an open door like a rhythm might. 

Thanks for that. So I’d like to know what does performing poetry bring to your writing practice and vice-versa?

I try to find and create lots of opportunities for poetry readings because it’s so energizing! Like sharing on our blogs, sharing by reading in front of an audience and being in community with other poets feels so good. Reading elicits an immediate response that I’d imagine would feel like performing in a concert. It makes me feel really high on my writing. And it keeps me going and attending to my regular practice. It’s hard for me to find time for readings or attending poetry meetings and events, but it is always, always a good thing.

I’ve never read to an audience but I imagine it’s exactly the same buzz as playing on stage. I’m completely with you on the time thing too. I’m slowly removing the things I don’t need or want from my life, to free me up to just do what I love. Music, meditation and writing.

Tell me about your writing practice. Do you have plans or goals? What motivates you to blog your poetry? 

My current practice really revolves around blogging and online communities like Toads and dVerse. Having regular prompts to write to helps to stretch me sideways and opens me up to other forms and that provides sufficient motivation. I don’t have a regular practice yet, in the sense that I do with music or say meditation. My writing schedule is fluid at the present and more so because I have recently moved off grid into a cabin in the woods. I would love to get into the habit of writing every morning, as I did throughout NaPoWriMo but it’ll come when it comes. I’m not going to force the issue. It’ll come. When did you begin writing and how has your journey unfolded?

Cabin in the woods, off the grid? That is so idyllic. Years ago I had a cabin in the woods but didn’t manage to get completely off the grid. How are you accessing the internet?

I’ve always been a voracious reader and wrote poetry at a young age. I was first turned on to poetry by the antics of Archy and Mehitabel, by Don Marquis. I wrote poetry in college and as a young adult, and then mostly retreated into private journals for a number of years. When my kids were very small I started a short-lived mom-ish blog that quickly re-kinded my poetry jones and the blog turned into the mostly-poetry creative writing endeavor that is the runaway sentence. Workshopping poems between the Toads community and my local poetry group and sharing online has really helped me grow. In terms of practice, it’s always changing and evolving, right? Lately I’ve been much less focused and have found it difficult to write anything at all. It’s partially because of the darkness here in the USA and around the world, which I struggle to hold, let alone address. And it’s also because I work so much (full time plus) and my kids are growing up… they are now 12 and 14 I want to be with them while they still want to hang out with me.

Also lately, I’ve started playing guitar again after many years. Like, 30+ years. And I’m fooling around with the idea of writing songs, but I have no idea what I’m doing. Maybe that is a good thing, we’ll see. I would love to know more about your music. Do you write songs in addition to drumming? Who and what are your music and writing inspirations? 

Thanks for that Marian. Such an interesting story. I agree it is an evolution and I totally get the ‘global dissatisfaction’ thing. It’s a big part of my choice to move off grid. I get internet via my phone but can’t/won’t write on it. Too fiddly. I tried tethering to my laptop but to no avail, so for now I access internet randomly via cafes and the like. My writing output has consequently slowed. I might need to experiment with pen and paper. I’m hoping a Tablet/different provider might solve the problem long term. The cabin is for the summer initially and then I move to Glasgow for 6 months to house sit for a pal. I’ll use the cabin at weekends and then Spring 2019 will be decision time regarding the cabin purchase. All part of a conscious transition to a simpler life.

I’m an OK guitarist and like a warble now and then round the fire with friends. I’ve only ever written a couple of songs and not sung them in public. Yet. I did wonder if any of my poetry might work with music and that might be a direction for me to explore. I recently recorded a poem with a fellow musician playing a Kalimba. Yet to blog but it sounds wonderful.

Musical and writing influences!! Oh my God. We’ll be here forever!! I’ll try pick some key ones. As a young fledgling drum kit player I was in awe of Stuart Copeland and Vinny Colaiuta. My drumming influences then moved into hand-drum players like Mamady Keita and Famadou Konate (West Africa) and Giovanni Hidalgo (Latin America). I have really eclectic music tastes and am happy listening to traditional Scottish/Irish music, Jazz (Coltrane/Davies),West African Kora, Highlife, Soul and Funk, Heavy Rock (not Metal), singer songwriters….I could go on for a loooong time.

I am trying to broaden my reading list but at the moment my main writing influences include ee cummings, Walt Whitman, W.B.Yeats, Mary Oliver, William Stafford, Pablo Neruda.

Yes, yes to all those. I note that Donald Hall passed away this weekend, speaking of influences. And I just came across this quote that resonates from Mary Oliver: “The most regretful people on earth are those who felt the call to creative work, who felt their own creative power restive and uprising, and gave to it neither power nor time.” This is from her book of essays called Upstream.

It has been so lovely to chat and to get to know you some more. Final question falls to me so here goes. If you wrote a book about your life so far, what would you call it and why?

Paul, I’ve been sitting with this question for a week! It’s a hard one. So, my initial response seems lame but it’s true--I have three books of poetry, the titles of which I labored on and which do describe parts of my life or things about me. They are called Responsive Pleading, SUPERPOWERS or: More Poems About Flying, and Heart Container. Each of those titles, and the sections therein, carry meaning for me and slices of my psyche and heart. I guess if I were to endeavor to actually write a book about my life so far, it might be titled something like Serendipity as a Plan for Living, or maybe She Strives to Continue Learning, or She’s Doing Her Best. Or Please Don’t Talk About Your Diet. Or simply Yay!

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

The Tuesday Platform

Summer-kissed greetings, my dear Toads. Since Rommy is busy readying her eldest for his first year of college freshmanhood, I’ve taken a wee break from my hosting hiatus to fill in for her.

On this summery Tuesday (I might be drunk on summer *don’t tell*) let us share a new poem, or an old poem, or a screaming poem, or a summer-kissed poem, or… well, any poem you like.

As one of our very own poets sagely suggests, in her Dirt Road Dreams:
“Life is a poem
just waiting to be written,
lift your pen and speak.”

Please add the direct link to your poem to Mr. Linky. Visit other Toads. Speak summer poetry.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Micro Poetry ~ It Doesn't Matter

The object of this challenge is to write a poem of between one and twelve lines, in a form of your choice.
Our point of departure is the line: 'It doesn't matter' from Come, Come, Whoever You Are by Rumi.

All are welcome!

More Poems by Rumi

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Unhappy Refrain

Tell me how you feel like these days
Tell me why you don't wanna say it
Tell me now what is on your mind
I'm still gonna listen to you


Sharing your sound
Connecting our feelings
Everyone has found that we've owned this hymn
Now we have found that's all

So we join in

(This prompt brought to you by me and my daughter Anne.)

Introducing Hatsune Miku! She is a hologram performing with a real-life band in front of huge live audiences. Miku and her friends perform music that is written by their fans. I find vocaloid music to be really inspiring and hope you do, too.


Tuesday, June 19, 2018

The Tuesday Platform

By Thought Catalog, Unsplash

Welcome to the Tuesday Platform, your unprompted free-range day for sharing poems in the Imaginary Garden. Please look up from your phone and link up a poem. Then be sure to visit the offerings of our fellow writers.


Saturday, June 16, 2018

Weekend Challenge: Approaching Father's Day

Marcantonio Raimondi, Father Time, late 1400s-early 1500s

For the past month I’ve been re-reading (slowly, slowly) James Hillman’s 1967 essay “Senex and Puer.” In it he examines the psychological, cultural and mythic split between father and son, old year king and insurgent, babycheeked New Year, brooding Saturn and quicksilver Mercury. The essay dates to a surgent time--carpet bombing in Vietnam and rioting in Detroit, the first human versus computer chess match and the Summer of Love on Haight-Ashbury. One side was training thermonuclear missiles on the end of history while the other sang gloriously of the dawn of Aquarius.

Time was of the essence, and the times were speeding fast away; without a way to name them, hold them, ensoul the split and find a way for psyche to hold the divides together, Hillman (echoing his great influence, Carl Jung) felt humanity risked the cataclysm of primal relapse:

To have no real contact with the forces that are shaping the future would be to fail the kairos (timing) of transition. To come to terms with the kairos would mean discovering a connection between past and future. For us, as individuals, makeweights that may tip the scales of history, our task is to discover the psychic connection between past and future, otherwise the unconscious man within us who is as well the primitive past will shape the historical future perhaps disastrously. (Puer Papers, 4)

Without that contact, that conversation, that conversion into puer-et-senex—some union of sames—King Lear mads England, Prospero locks Ariel in the tree and the Wizard of Oz remains a tipsy, zippered Hollywood trope with no real gizmo for futurity and no balloon back to Kansas.

I first read this essay back in 1990, early in my post-rock n roll adulthood, a personally flowering time of the mind. (I also started a daily work of writing poems.) Back then I found the passages on the brooding old senex most fascinating. I yearned so become my father’s son by becoming my own man, about a work as substantial as his.

I’ve reread the essay several times in the subsequent decades, and the physic offered by naming the problem of senex and puer and then suggesting a way to heal their split with mythic approaches to therapy has always been meaningful.

On this reading, I found the passages on the puer more compelling; I see the eternal youth in my father as his life winds down, an energy and vitality which is timeless, soaring, heady—not much fucking good in earthly affairs (like marriage and family) but ever-eager to walk with the stones.

More than that, however, the present moment yawns diabolically wide.  What is it when the sides get so far apart they are identical in mood of ferocious opposition? Like faces so close together, they stare in hostility at both future and past. How can we back down from our positions when we are so blindingly right? 

One great point HIllman makes is that while the alchemical union of male and female, spirit and soul is the royal work of our individual psychologies, there is also a union of sames, between the split ends of the spirit.

The union of opposites--male with female--is not the only union for which we long and is not the only union which redeems. There is also the union of sames, the re-union of the vertical axis which would heal the split spirt. Adam must re-unite with Eve, but there still remains his re-union with God. Still remains the union of the first Adam at the beginning with the second Adam at the end of history. This division, experienced as the ego-Self split and the chasm between consciousness and the unconscious, is in each of us the unhealed heart of the process of individuation. No wonder our theme is so charged, that we cannot take hold of the senex-puer problem anywhere without getting burnt; no wonder that it cannot be fully circumscribed or contained. It cannot become clarified, for we stand in the midst of its smoke. Its split is our pain. This split of spirit is reflected in the senescence and renewal of God and of civilization. (34)

Now, when divides in our culture are wider than ever—seemingly between an aging white male world and a vibrant multiculturalism much in its youth—I wonder if we’ve learned anything about the split spirit and its healing which may be useful for the tribe.

As we approach the American celebration of the father (a dubious and confusing and somewhat tepid holiday, compared to the maternal sobfest of Mother's Day), what does that figure say about the nature of our personal and collective self-division? How are father and son split? How is the father missing in our culture, what of his initiation and maturity and growth and wisdom has been lost? 

Who are the fatherless flying boys with their mother-complexes and addictive refusal touch the earth of the real love or experience the wounds of growing up? What is it when our ranks are filled with aged perpetual youths? 

Who are the senexes guarding the gates, spiteful of the young (remember, Saturn devoured his children) and locked in sterile rooms of melancholy and depression? What of the bad daddies with greedy, youth-devouring sexuality and unfettered #metoo! license? What of all the unfathered, ever-adolescent sons lost in a woman's fantasy image?

What of the white male patriarchy and its stubborn dominion? 

How does all this compare to the divide in the soul between mother and daughter? 

And heavens, where do we find evidence of a healing between generations? What does that mean for our world, and where to we go from here?

Tomorrow is Father's Day—let's foreground it on this Eve with all the paternal resonance we can summon. I look forward to your verses and excurses and speedy Pop hearses!