Tag Archives: poetry

Words and Wednesdays

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I’ve had an “itch” to write recently—well, more than recently. I’ve been writing since I was in high school. I remember giving my high school English teacher a short story I had written. She liked it. My college English profs told me that I thought—and wrote—well. One even asked me in front of the class how I had learned to write. I was between my junior and senior year in high school taking a second-year college level British lit course from Beowulf to the beginning of the nineteenth century, using the ubiquitous Norton Anthology of British Literature, Volume 1, with the famous portrait of Queen Elizabeth I on the cover.

I don’t know when I fell in love with words, with reading. Mama says it was from birth. She read to me and to my sister all the time, often falling asleep herself before I did. She grew desperate and tried everything to read me to sleep: the “begats” from the Bible, dictionary definitions, and even encyclopedias. I would wake her to “finish the story.” The love of words has never worn off.

I am in a writer’s group on Facebook, and one of our regular rhythms is Wednesday Words That Work. I think about the words that work. I am not a good memorizer, but I remember things that I have read and heard that resonate with me:  Tennyson’s short poem “The Eagle,” “He clasps the crag with crooked hands. . . . “; the scene at the end of Keats’s “The Eve of St. Agnes” when the lovers slip through the quiet halls of the castle as if in a dream; the “unquiet slumbers” of Cathy and Heathcliff at the end of Wuthering Heights; even the opening lines of Pride and Prejudice and the reminder that every young lady needs a husband (not much has changed in the last two hundred years!) I could probably go on for a long time remembering the words that worked for me.

The words that work for me are those that I visualize. As a teacher, I have taken all kinds of learning styles inventories, and the results are remarkably similar: I am a visual learner. It is not surprising, then, that I am also drawn to photography and other visual arts. Pictures may be worth a thousand words, but a phrase or two of well-chosen words can inspire a thousand pictures as well. While I devour Regency romances by the dozens (finishing one this afternoon, probably), I will forget about these novels quite quickly. The novels and books I remember are the ones that use words to create vivid pictures and scenes as I read.

As I write, I think about the poetry, too, that has been inspired by art. (There is a fancy name for that kind of literature): Browning’s “My Last Duchess” ( which may or may not have been inspired by real people or real paintings—with Browning, who knows?); “Musee des Beaux Arts,” and quite a few others.

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Pictures, words, images.  Stay tuned for more about an online course I am writing.

In the meantime, please enjoy this new-to-me blog, Words and Images by Cynthia which combines words and images. I have gotten lost in Cynthia’s writing and photography. I found her through another interesting and inspiring website, The Creativity Portal.

Divergency? A Thoughtful Thursday

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I went for a walk today at the state park. It was a beautiful morning—temperature outside right at 70 degrees (in January, no less!), blue sky, breezy, but not so breezy that I felt as though the wind were pushing me down the road. I was in a thoughtful mood, trying to figure out what I wanted to “say” with my images today. I received an email from David du Chemin, one of my “mentor photographers,” even if he doesn’t know it!, announcing his next project about storytelling in photographs. I has some ideas of things I wanted to look for.

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I wanted to explore the idea of openness again since the theme for Adventures in Seeing—The Book is openness. I was also looking for light and shadow and contrasts—and anything else that presented itself to me.

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What I found was “divergency.”  I thought of Robert Frost’s poem that begins, “Two roads diverged in a wood.” And the idea of divergence as splitting apart into more than one way came to mind. How often do I come upon situations wherein there is more than one way to get to the same point? As an educator, I thought about divergent learners who do not always follow the linear path we teachers set for them. Again, the idea is that there is more than one way to reach the same destination. And, of course, there is the book Divergent, which I must admit I never quite finished. I noticed as I received the images today, that my photographs are definitely “divergent.”untitled-48

One thing that focusing on the concept of contemplative photography has taught me is that I have to be open to new ways of seeing even when I am seeing the “same old, same old.” I thought about that as I walked through the park. I have walked there regularly for a whole bunch of years, and the road I follow has not moved; the curves are still in the same places. . . . Yet, each time, it is different. The camera helps me see the new things.

“You don’t make a photograph just with a camera. You bring to the act of photography all the pictures you have seen, the books you have read, the music you have heard, the people you have loved.” – Ansel Adams

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And then I saw this “story.” One of the very first poems I found that has stayed with me (besides “Nothing Gold Can Stay”) is Tennyson’s poem, “The Eagle.” I can imagine an eagle sitting in the top of this tree overlooking the lake, waiting for the precise moment to release his talons and dive for his prey.

The Eagle

BY ALFRED, LORD TENNYSON

He clasps the crag with crooked hands;

Close to the sun in lonely lands,

Ring’d with the azure world, he stands.

The wrinkled sea beneath him crawls;

He watches from his mountain walls,

And like a thunderbolt he falls.

Pictures and Words

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When I was new to scrapbooking, I followed Ali Edwards’s blog. Her philosophy of scrapbooking is “pictures and words.” Together both tell the story of our lives. I no longer scrapbook in a formal kind of way although I may start again. What I have found, though, is the importance of letting photographs and images convey stories. And I’m rediscovering my love of poetry.

Last week, I was walking around the ponds with the camera. It’s winter here in South Carolina (even though the temperatures are not very winterish). But I was out in the coolness, bundled in my son’s Marine Corps sweatshirt, looking at whatever caught my eye. And this cedar caught my eye.untitled-16

And as I looked at the cedar, and then later at the image, Robert Frost came to mind:

Nature’s first green is gold, 
Her hardest hue to hold. 
Her early leaf’s a flower; 
But only so an hour. 
Then leaf subsides to leaf. 
So Eden sank to grief, 
So dawn goes down to day. 
Nothing gold can stay. 

Remember that poem Johnny quoted in The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton? I read that book way back when I was in seventh or eighth grade. The poem “Nothing Gold Can Stay” has stayed with me for more than forty years (yes, I’ve been out of high school for almost 41 years!).  The gold tips of the cedar reminded me that this gold will subside into green as the cedar needles continue to grow. Perhaps if I were to go back to that same tree on the other side of the pond, take a picture of the same branch, those gold tips would be green now. Time passes; youth become adulthood. . . .

The gold of autumn, too, has subsided. I’m waiting for my grandmother’s camellia to bloom in the next month or so. I’m still waiting for the sasanqua camellia to bloom as well. I think I saw some golden buds on the bushes last week. . . . .

This week, look for the gold. And look for the beauty.

Imperfectly Perfect—Contemplative Photography

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There is a philosophy in Japanese art called wabi sabi. It’s not easily defined, however, and my understanding of it is growing daily. In this way of thinking, one understands that nothing is permanent and nothing is completely perfect; there are, though, perfect imperfections. And those imperfections make something “perfect.” It’s a paradox.

Even Robert Frost the poet recognized that nothing is permanent or perfect in the poem “Nothing Gold Can Stay.”

Nature’s first green is gold
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.

I am terrible about knowing the names of the plants and bushes and flowers that grow around my home. But we have this bush that grows around the pond with these wonderful feathery flowers, I guess you call them. They last just a short time, and then they become seeds blowing in the wind.

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In just a few days, these “feathers” open up and become this:

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Soft, ethereal, transient. . . . “Nothing gold can stay.”

Beginnings

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Today is the first Monday in July. It’s the first day of a new work week. It’s another day to begin again.

Liz Lamoreux is offering a free (yes, free) read-along for her book Inner Excavation: Explore Your Self through Photography, Poetry, and Mixed Media. I have had the book for a couple or three years, and I followed along the first time that Liz offered the free read-along. But sometimes, I have trouble finishing what I begin. Today, I am not only a “begin-ner,” but I am setting my intention to become a finisher as well.

My first “excavation” is in my living room. Truly, I do need to have an archeological dig in this room. Who knows what I will find! This morning, I started with my sofa, and here is what I found:

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I’m finishing a “reader’s wrap” made from the Unforgettable line of Red Heart yarns. I am in love with the softness, not only of the colors but of the texture of the yarn.

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There are my “art” supplies—pens and colored pencils that I keep in a wooden box that once held either Cuties or Halos (mandarin oranges). I am an office-supply junkie as well as an art supply junkie.

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I will be using a top-bound spiral sketchbook as my journal for this go-round of Inner Excavations. And I am not going to be afraid to mark up my copy of the book. I’ve already begun coloring over words and phrases that jump out at me.

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I don’t remember how old I was when I first learned to play the piano. My mother was my first teacher, and then Mrs. Wessinger taught me from the time I was in fifth or sixth grade until I graduated from high school. I thought I was going to be a concert pianist when I went to college, but that was not to be the case. However, I took piano lessons from one of the college instructors until I did my student teaching during my last semester on campus. And after nearly forty years, I am resuming those lessons with an instructor at the same college where I studies those many years ago. These lessons are feeding my soul.

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I love sea shells, the colors, the textures, the coolness of them in my hand. However, I don’t get to the coast often enough to collect them myself. So, I resorted to buying some from a local craft store. I keep a jar full of these shells on my piano.

I begin. . . .

     Here

     Now

A journey

                A pilgrimage

                                         A quest

I BEGIN

to answer a call, THE CALL

     The Invitation

I begin a voyage of discovery, of questing

I begin to know me.