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



Friday, April 15, 2022

Friday Writings #22: Upcycled Words

 Hello, Word Artists and Admirers! You may be asking yourself, "Hey, wasn't Magaly supposed to be hosting this week?" Yep, you'd be right. An unexpected gift of a birthday cold has got her feeling under the weather, so I offered to step in so she could get some much needed rest. Her screen time is a bit limited at the moment, but I'm sure she'd appreciate any well wishes you have to offer. 

Here's to Magaly knocking out the cold in her system.

For those who'd like to use a prompt, I'm going to stick with Magaly's original prompt, Upcycled Words: take previously discarded prose or poetry or thoughts, and reuse them to craft a piece of higher quality than the original. As always, poetry and prose are welcome, as are fiction and non-fiction. Please keep prose to 369 words or fewer and one entry per person, thanks!

Looking ahead to next week, I will ask you to shape your words around the idea of "medicine for the body and/or soul." Have fun everyone!

Friday, April 8, 2022

Friday Writings #21: What’s There

Hello, dear wordsmiths. What is there in front of you today? (A flower, a desert, a problem, a new path?)

Georgia O’Keeffe, in the book of her work I’ve been looking through recently, says that on her first trip to New Mexico there were no flowers; there hadn’t been enough sun. But there were lots of bones, particularly of cattle, so that’s what she painted.

(While doing so, she realised that much of America is cattle country – which pleased her. Writers at that time dreamed of creating ‘the great American novel’, but for artists there was no corresponding idea of 'the great American painting'. The vogue was for Cubism, influenced by the vision of European painters. O’Keeffe elected to paint her own country, in her own style.)

Haikuists, too, traditionally look at what’s right there in the moment and write of that. Today there are many departures from that tradition; not everyone is a haiku purist any more. Nevertheless I like this, which was recently posted in a facebook haiku group:

How to Write a Haiku

Details confuse me,
so when I see a rose,
although I do not know
its pedigree, I write down “rose.”
And when I cut it,
I do not know whether
I should cut it on a slant
or straight, or underwater twice,
so I write down “cut.”
And when I put it in a vase,
I do not know whether it is raku
or glaze, or, perhaps good plastic,
so I write down “vase.”
and when I see two red leaves
on the earth beside the rose bush,
I do not know from which tree
they have fallen
so I write down “red leaves.”
And as I set the vase
and the leaves on the table,
I write down
     rose just cut
     beside the vase
     two red leaves
And although I do not know
the details of what I have just done,
the sadness of it all
cracks my heart open.

Naomi Beth Wakan

This poem first appeared in Segues (Toronto: Wolsak and Wynn, 2005) and Sex After 70 and Other Poems (Toronto: Bevalia Press, 2010).

One reader commented that haiku can be more specific:
But sometimes a more precise word is better, for instance "blackbird" rather than "bird" etc. And sometimes a vague word works better and sometimes a more precise one. Haiku writing is an art with guidelines not rules.

All very true – and I don't think it invalidates the poem. In fact, the blurb of one of Wakan's books says: Wakan shows by example that the "rules" are not to be taken as impediments, but rather as guideposts on the journey....

[Someone also wondered why simplicity should make the poet sad. I think that was a misunderstanding; I believe Wakan meant to convey the ‘wabi-sabi’ which many Japanese poets strive for, to do with the ephemeral nature of all things.]

Anyway – your optional prompt today is to look and see what is present, in your surroundings and/or your heart, and write of that.

We accept verse or prose, old or new, formal or free (prose to be a maximum of 369 words, excluding title). Please share by linking below to the relevant post at your blog, ONE link per person; then enjoy each other's writings.

Next Week, Magaly will invite us to Upcycle Words: take previously discarded prose or poetry or thoughts, and reuse them to craft a piece of higher quality than the original.

(Rose photo © Rosemary Nissen-Wade 2019.)


Friday, April 1, 2022

Friday Writings #20: A Piece of Cake

Hello, Word Artists and Admirers! I am using my turn at hosting to wish one of the admins of this page a happy birthday a few days early. Happy birthday, Magaly Guerrero!

While you are free to write on any topic that speaks to you, in honor of Magaly’s birthday I’m making this week's suggested prompt about cake. Simply include the word cake somewhere in your piece. I’m taking poetry and prose, fiction and non-fiction. Just be sure to keep prose to 369 words or less, and it's one entry per person, please and thank you. 

Next week, Rosemary shall suggest that we look and see what is present, in our surroundings and/or our hearts, and write of that.