Thursday, January 31, 2019

Instructions for Living a Life ~ A Tribute to Poets of Our Time

Instructions for living a life. Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it. ~ Mary Oliver

January 2019 is the month when the world lost the voice that will always be Mary Oliver. The death of a poet, one of our time, always strikes a chill of fear into my heart..
I ask the question: Who remains? In compiling this writing prompt, I initially had in mind a way in which we could all pay tribute to a poet who inspired with her gentle wisdom and perception of the human condition, but we have been given the opportunity to do so already in other posts.

Then I got to thinking: Why do we only really Pay Attention to a poet's body of work once they have passed away? So I returned to my question: Who remains? Who is the poet - still living -  who speaks to you in a profound way? Therefore, for this challenge, I wish you to share a quote from a contemporary poet's work and write a poem as a tribute to his/her style, voice, themes, wisdom.

"I sometimes hold it half a sin
To put in words the grief I feel;
For words, like Nature, half reveal
And half conceal the Soul within.

But, for the unquiet heart and brain,
A use in measured language lies;
The sad mechanic exercise,
Like dull narcotics, numbing pain.

In words, like weeds, I'll wrap me o'er,
Like coarsest clothes against the cold:
But that large grief which these enfold
Is given in outline and no more.”

Alfred Lord Tennyson, In Memoriam

Here are a few poets to consider, but please feel free to choose your own favourite and follow Mary Oliver's advice: Be astonished. Tell about it.

Margaret Atwood

Jane Hirshfield

Robert Bly

W.S. Merwin

Billy Collins

Roger McGough

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

The Tuesday Platform


I am in need of music that would flow
Over my fretful, feeling fingertips,
Over my bitter-tainted, trembling lips,
With melody, deep, clear, and liquid-slow.
Oh, for the healing swaying, old and low,
Of some song sung to rest the tired dead,
A song to fall like water on my head,
And over quivering limbs, dream flushed to glow!

There is a magic made by melody:
A spell of rest, and quiet breath, and cool
Heart, that sinks through fading colors deep
To the subaqueous stillness of the sea,
And floats forever in a moon-green pool,
Held in the arms of rhythm and of sleep.

There is something about poems by Elizabeth Bishop that stir my soul and my muse from time to time. Greetings poets, wayfarers and friends, it's a beautiful day here and I am looking forward to reading poetry with a cup of coffee.

If you have any thoughts to share, ideas you wish to release into the wild or a world view to express, then you have come to the right place. Please share a poem of your choice and enjoy the company of your fellow scribes. We look forward to reading you and hope you have a wonderful day ahead.


Saturday, January 26, 2019

Weekend Mini Challenge: Sarcastic Percussion

Image result for how to be a woman caitlin moran
Welcome to the Weekend Mini Challenge with Kim from writinginnorthnorfolk.

I have been reading How to be a Woman by Caitlin Moran. It’s a humorous book by one of my favourite journalists, whose Saturday column in The Times Magazine is a weekly read for me. I’ve also been listening to the serialisation on BBC Radio 4, which has had me laughing out loud.

One phrase that jumped out at me this week is ‘sarcastic percussion’. As I rolled it around my tongue, wondering what sarcastic percussion might sound like and pondering all of its interpretations, my mind threw up a couple of other similar phrases, such as ‘vitriolic violins’ and ‘optimistic flutes’. All of which led me to this week’s prompt:

Choose an instrument, give it a characteristic adjective or a personality, and write a poem about it, in any form of your choice. It doesn’t have to be about the instrument or music. But it must include a phrase like ‘sarcastic percussion’. You can take it wherever you want – I can’t wait to see what you make of it!

Using the poetic cymbal of your finger, join in by clicking on Mister Linky and filling in your name and url – not forgetting to tick the small ‘data’ box. And please remember to read and comment on other toads’ poems – I’m hoping for an exotic orchestra of poetry!

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Bits of Inspiration ~ Poet Discovery

Hello Toads and visitors! I'm excited to introduce you to a poet I discovered over the holidays. Her name is Jessica Helen Lopez. I am currently reading her poetry collection, Always Messing With Them Boys, and she hit me with wow from the first poem. She is sassy, bold, frank and was the former City of Albuquerque Poet Laureate and the Poet-in- Residence for the Albuquerque Museum of Art and History from 2014 to 2016. I could go on and on about her, but for brevity you can learn more about her here.

Image result for jessica helen lopez

Today I want to focus on her poem, Mama is a Poet

"oh silly mama 
why are you always scratching
words out of your head,
like nighttime pulgas, like old-school
rollers wrapped around the pelos of your bangs,
pink little pieces of crazy?"

(Translations: pulgas - fleas, pelos-hair)

And again I say Wow!  For today's challenge I want you to express why you write poetry. There are so many ways to approach it. What it means to you. How you began. Critics who don't get your journey. Be bold about it. (In case you don't know it. You are already bold. Anyone who places their work on the internet knows it is available for the world to read. Kudos to all of you!)

As always share a new poem inspired by this challenge, drop it into Mr. Linky, and visit your fellow poets to read why they write poetry.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

The Tuesday Platform: The Departed

As many of you must have come to know, the Pulitzer-prize winning poet Mary Oliver passed away last week at the age of 83. She leaves behind a treasure trove of more than 15 poetry and essay collections and a legacy that is going to last for many generations to come. As we remember the much-loved poet, I am sharing her elegy to her soulmate, Molly Malone Cook, which captures the nature of a human relationship in such an empathetic and curious voice — can we really say that we know someone in their entirety?:


All of a sudden she began to whistle. By all of a sudden
I mean that for more than thirty years she had not
whistled. It was thrilling. At first I wondered, who was
in the house, what stranger? I was upstairs reading, and
she was downstairs. As from the throat of a wild and
cheerful bird, not caught but visiting, the sounds war-
bled and slid and doubled back and larked and soared.

Finally I said, Is that you? Is that you whistling? Yes, she
said. I used to whistle, a long time ago. Now I see I can
still whistle. And cadence after cadence she strolled
through the house, whistling.

I know her so well, I think. I thought. Elbow and an-
kle. Mood and desire. Anguish and frolic. Anger too.
And the devotions. And for all that, do we even begin
to know each other? Who is this I’ve been living with
for thirty years?

This clear, dark, lovely whistler?

Cook, Molly Malone, and Mary Oliver. Our World. Beacon Press, 2009.

I would like to remember David Bowie as well who passed away in the month of January two years back. There is something so tragic about this time when the light either feels too sharp or too dim and everything seems to be jostling for space as plans are made, truths laid out bare, dreams relinquished in favour of destiny, as we look ahead to the many months to come and mark our bodies and souls with the ash of time.

This is Anmol (alias HA) with a rather somber note but please don't mind me. We have a wonderful week ahead full of poetics and we shall start it with certain gratefulness for all that such artists and poets have given to us. For The Tuesday Platform, link up one poem, old or new, to the linking widget down below. Do not forget to visit other poets and share your thoughts with them. Happy Tuesday!

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Weekend Mini-Challenge: Mustn’t Be Fancy

Mary Oliver, that wondrous word-loving mind who just crossed The Veil, said that poetry “mustn’t be fancy.” According to her, “whatever isnt necessary shouldnt be in a poem.”

For todays prompt, I invite you to write a new poem with Mary Oliver’s words in mind. Let’s craft poetry that wastes no words.  

illustration by Deanna Halsall

Add the direct link of your poem to Mr. Linky. Delight in other Toads’ fancy-free contributions. Have a world of fun. Ink a mental wave for our Mary.   

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Your lesser known cryptids....

Hiya Garden Dwellers,

Welcome back to the Out of Standard where I lay at your feet a challenge to shake you out of the ordinary. And today’s prompt is a little more on the wild side than usual.  

Getting comfy with less popular cryptids
A cryptid is an animal presumed to exist by people, even though there is no valid scientific evidence to prove it is real. And oh sure…there are a few that come to mind right away: bigfoot, the lochness monster, yeti, chupacabra.  Those cryptids get all the attention, all the fan fare. 

So today, we are going to dive a little deeper and our pens will get a little weirder. 

Your challenge: Choose a lesser known crypid from this wikipedia list (one you did not know existed) and write a poem about it.  

That's it. The platform is yours. The mic is warm.

Keep in mind
Like every challenge, your poem must by newly written 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, January 15, 2019

The Tuesday Platform

It's seldom that something sweeps me off my feet and makes me gasp in admiration. Greetings poets, wayfarers and friends I came across an incredible poem 'Triste, Triste' by French symbolist poet Jules Laforgue, which contemplates sadness in life.

Triste, Triste

Je contemple mon feu. J'étouffe un bâillement.
Le vent pleure. La pluie à ma vitre ruisselle.
Un piano voisin joue une ritournelle.
Comme la vie est triste et coule lentement.

Je songe à notre Terre, atome d'un moment,
Dans l'infini criblé d'étoiles éternelles,
Au peu qu'ont déchiffré nos débiles prunelles,
Au Tout qui nous est clos inexorablement.

Et notre sort! toujours la même comédie,
Des vices, des chagrins, le spleen, la maladie,
Puis nous allons fleurir les beaux pissenlits d'or.

L'Univers nous reprend, rien de nous ne subsiste,
Cependant qu'ici-bas tout continue encor.
Comme nous sommes seuls! Comme la vie est triste!

English Translation: (Sad, Sad)

I contemplate my fire. I stifle a yawn.
The wind weeps. The rain streams against my window.
Next door a piano plays a ritornello.
How sad is life and how slowly it flows.

I sing to our earth, atom of a moment,
In the infinite screen of eternal stars,
To the few that have deciphered our feeble eyes,
To all that is inexorably closed to us.

And our type! Always the same comedy,
Vices, griefs, melancholy, sickness,
And then we make lovely golden dandelions blossom.

The universe reclaims us, nothing of ours endures,
Nevertheless let everything down here continue again.
How alone we are! How sad is life!

Born in Uruguay, 1860 Jules Laforgue was a master of lyrical irony and one of the inventors of Free Verse. The impact of his work was felt by several Twentieth-century American poets, including T.S. Eliot. He also influenced the work of the Surrealists.

I also found an exquisite song by Indila which goes beautifully with the poem by Laforgue.

English Translation: Last Dance

Oh my sweet torment,
No point in fighting, you start again
I'm just a worthless being
Without him I'm a bit troubled
I wander around alone on the subway
A last dance
To forget my great misery
I want to get away, everything to start again,
Oh my sweet torment

I stir the sky, the day, the night
I dance with the wind, the rain
A bit of love, a drop of honey
And I dance, dance, dance, dance, dance, dance
And in the noise, I run and I'm afraid
Is this my turn?
Here comes the pain
In all of Paris, I abandon myself
And away I fly, fly, fly, fly
Nothing but hope
On this road in your absence
Try as I might, without you my life is nothing but a meaningless shiny decor
Read full lyrics here

If you have any thoughts to share, ideas you wish to release into the wild or a world view to express, then you have come to the right place. Please share a poem of your choice and enjoy the company of your fellow scribes. We look forward to reading you and hope you have a wonderful day ahead.