Friday, May 20, 2022

Friday Writings #27: Watching and Witnessing

Hello, dear wordsmiths. How are you just now?

How are you coping with this time of war, plague, natural disasters, and the deep disturbance many people are cast into by all the stress? How are those around you managing? Horror and anxiety are natural reactions. We need, more than ever, to be kind to ourselves and each other.



I see that we at P&SU are encouraging each other, in our writings and comments, to keep our spirits up despite the terrible things we confront daily. That is certainly preferable to sinking into despair – which only makes everything worse, and is seldom useful.

However, I’ve recently been reminded of the need for at least some members of the human race to keep watch – to bear witness to what is happening, and to the ways in which these events affect people. And I realised that poets and storytellers are among those who bear witness. I’d go so far as to say it’s one of our functions.

Keeping watch also means watching over. Our writing is a way we can do that, too: documenting human experience, to both acknowledge it and learn from it, can be one way of caring for each other, both individually and as a race.

We can do it by commentary on specific times and events. Or we can even do it in writing personal stuff about our own experiences and reactions – because each of us is a part of humanity, and expresses what it is to be human. 

We speak as ourselves, each particular individual, and also as plural voices making up a huge collective.

And what do we need to record to make this a human witnessing? Not only the events and experiences, not only our thoughts about them – but above all, I think, our feelings. They can be the hardest things to describe. Sometimes all we seem capable of is a wordless cry. Nevertheless, we can and shall find the words – it’s what we do.

Do we think there will be people – or even other intelligent beings – who in the future will want and need the record of this witnessing? We can’t know. Things look dire, but so they have in past centuries and here we still are, we and the planet. Nothing’s impossible.

How can I be sure that my particular words, of all those being written, will last to reach others in that hypothetical future? I can’t. (I could well suppose it unlikely.)

I think we need to carry on as if, in case – which includes, of course, everything that might help bring about survival: survival with lessons learned, survival and development.

Anyway, regardless of our unknown future, we have the here and now. This matters too. Indeed it’s all that we, who are here now, actually have. Let’s not waste it. Let's raise our voices!

Your prompt for this week (if you would like one) is to bear witness to these times we are living in, and how it feels to be living in them. How does it affect you, and/or how do you observe it affecting others?

Or, you may share anything else you like, on any topic, prose or verse, old or new.

One entry per person, please; prose to be no more than 369 words (excluding title). 

Link, below, to your post, say hello (and more if you wish) here, and please encourage others by reading and commenting on their posts.

And, speaking of human kindness ...

Next week Magaly will invite you to write poetry or prose inspired by something heartening and unselfish a stranger did for you or for someone else.


Image of man holding sign by  Matt Collam on Unsplash.

Friday, May 13, 2022

Friday Writings #26: Curiouser and Curiouser

Hello, Word Artists and Admirers! I’ve been picking up some YA books and revisiting some of my childhood favorites as comfort reading lately. I’ve just finished up a delightful book of biographies written as a series of poems for each entry, Grasping Mysteries: Girls Who Loved Math by Jeannine Atkins. The next stop will likely be Wonderland.

What do Alice and the women I read about have in common?
Curiosity, of course!

So for those of you who’d like a prompt, may I suggest “Stay curious”? You don’t have to use the phrase, but feel free to interpret it in any way you’d like. I’m accepting poetry and prose, fiction and non-fiction. Just be sure to keep all prose entries to 369 words or fewer and one piece per person please and thank you.

Looking ahead to next week, Rosemary will ask you what you would say in order to bear witness to these times we are living in, and how it feels to be living in them.

Friday, May 6, 2022

Friday Writings #25: Let’s Rewrite

The other day, when Rommy graciously hosted my “Upcycled Words” feature, since I was being not-so-gently smacked around by a ruthless cold, I spent some time searching for previously discarded prose or poetry or thoughts, to reuse in a piece of higher quality than the original. The task took me all the way back to the first poem I ever wrote, which was undeniably terrible. I remember the incident and feelings that inspired the piece; and after several re-readings, I could see how my once poetry-hating muse tried (unsuccessfully) to share said situation and feelings in a poetic way. But the result was… dreadful.

I spent most of the day in bed, feverish and headachy, thinking about that appalling piece of writing… and what it might look/feel like if I rewrote it. That last bit is what inspired today’s optional prompt. If you wish to accept it—and I hope you do, my dearest poets and storytellers—I would like you to take a poem or story you wrote many years ago (preferably, one that wasn’t exactly awesome), and rewrite it. Please post both the original and the edited versions.

If your muse isn’t in a rewriting mood, do link a piece of your choosing. Let it be new or old, fiction or nonfiction, short or longish (prose pieces should be 369 words or fewer). Add the direct link to your post; one link per participant. After you share your words, visit other writers and see what their muses have chosen to delight us with. 

next week, Rommy will invite us to share poetry or prose inspired by the phrase, “stay curious”.

photo by hannah grace, on Unsplash

Friday, April 29, 2022

Friday Writings #24: Your Landscape

Hello again, dear wordsmiths.

A bit of excitement in my life – recently I was one of five local poets invited to submit poems to a group of local artists who wanted material to be inspired by. Because these artists were working in visual media (paintings, ceramics, installation…) I chose to submit haiku.

We were given the choice to submit eight haiku or six longer pieces. I did some market research by asking several artist friends – not members of the group wanting material, as I thought that could be unethical – whether they would prefer to be inspired by a longer poem or the single image of a haiku. They all said haiku. Naturally, the haiku I then submitted to the group conveyed very direct, immediate visual images.

Three artists chose five of my haiku between them, to work from – in very individual ways. I was amazed and fascinated by what they did in response to my words; and also by what other artists did in response to the other poets’ longer pieces, e.g. stark, angular ceramic towers in response to my friend Sarah Temporal’s poem about Rapunzel, or softly rounded and gently coloured bowls for Matt Hetherington’s The Kiss.

The resulting exhibition (which opened with a poetry reading) was in a local gallery called Small Works Gallery – so, obviously, the artists created ‘small works’ for this project even though some of them normally go large. They included notes of their processes for the public to read.

You can see all my five haiku and the works they inspired at my Stones for the River blog (which is for my own small works!) but I was particularly struck by what Shelly Anfield had to say about our shared local landscape. Here are those haiku and her resulting paintings.


Autumn dusk

blue hills darken sharp-edged

against pale sky




darkness gathers

the old mountains

stand their ground


 She said:


I feel a deep connection to nature and am fascinated by the dichotomy of fragility and strength that exists within all life and the corresponding constant striving for balance. For me, the landscape is a perfect metaphor for the complexities of human life. There is chaos and order, and within that a perfection that is difficult to comprehend. I approach my work as a form of meditation and hope to inspire a moment of stillness and contemplation within the viewer. 

Rosemary Nissen-Wade's haiku incorporating imagery of the mountains and sky inspired me and a response felt inevitable. I generally have a preference for painting large immersive pieces, so the haiku with its brevity seemed to suit the small scale of paintings I chose to create for this exhibition.

... Also, as Rosemary and I are both local artists, I chose to represent Wollumbin, the sacred mountain of our local region, which resides in a World Heritage listed area.

 That was pretty wonderful, I thought!



If you would like a prompt today, I’d love you to share something of your own landscape with us – in a visual enough way that an artist might recreate it in another medium. (No, you don’t have to do it in haiku!) Feel free to illustrate it with your own pictures, including photos, if you wish.

Otherwise, please share anything you would like, old or new, verse or prose – prose to be  a maximum of 369 words. Link us, below, to your relevant blog post, leave us a few words here if so inclined, and have fun reading what others share too.

The prompt will stay open all week – but later submissions may not receive so many readers. If that happens, please don’t be discouraged.

May your writing be a sanctuary from the troubles in our world – or a safe way of relieving the stress!

Next week, Magaly will invite us to take a poem or story we wrote many years ago (preferably, one that wasn’t exactly awesome), and rewrite it. She would like us to post both the original and the edited versions.

Friday, April 22, 2022

Friday Writings #23: Write Your Medicine

I am alive!

Yes, my dear poets and storytellers, after spending two weeks walking around like a (coughing) corpse, I’m nearly feeling like myself again. How are things with you and yours? I hope everyone is healthy of flesh and spirit. These days, the former seems to be always threatened and the latter suffers because of it. As some of you already know, my entire immediate family was down with either COVID or severe colds. Everyone else is fine now, except me—things tend to take longer when one’s immune system isn’t all there.

Now, because when it rains it pours viruses, Rommy’s husband and her youngest have been touched by the COVID monster. Rommy (her enviable immune system) and her oldest child are standing strong. Still, send healing words/energy/wishes her way. My sweet Rommy’s 50th birthday is coming up (on the 27th), and I’m certain that a healthy family would be a really good gift.

With that in mind, today’s optional prompt—thought of by our Rommy—invites us to shape our words around the idea of “medicine for the body and/or soul”. I’m really excited about the prose and poetry this topic might brew to life. Because of rather obvious reason, healing and such often spills into my ink. I will enjoy reading the medicine you write.

As always, if this prompt isn’t for you, please share a piece of your choosing. Let it be new or old, fiction or nonfiction, short or longish (prose pieces should be 369 words or fewer). Share the direct link to your post. One link per participant. After you add your words, visit other writers, sip their inked thoughts, and let them know that they do for you.

next week, Rosemary will invite us to write poetry and prose inspired by our own landscapes.

and last, but never least,  save some healing wishes (and actions) for our Green Mother