Ghosts of the Past on Tuesday Tryouts

30 Oct

8:07 a.m. — Atlanta

listening to the washing machine

Hello, everyone. May all of you in the storm’s path be safe, preferably with electricity. Those who live outside the storm area but know people in it, I hope you are able to get news of them.

Today’s prompt is an odd and somber group of photographs. I think them special and compelling. I shall give you one photo here and the link to many others, as well as an interesting article about the woman who found the original negatives and what she did with them.

Dutch historian Jo Teeuwisse discovered 300 negatives in a flea market and began to research the sites of the photos. [Yahoo News] When she found the modern sites, she overlay photographs of them with the old photographs, with haunting results.

photographic images belong to Jo Teeuwisse

There are others more haunting but this one keeps speaking to me. Read the article in Mail Online News and then, move over to Teeuwisse’s Flickr site where you will find all of her work.

Choose a photograph that speaks to you, as this one does to me. The poem does not have to be about war, or soldiers. You can develop themes from these images such as the transience of some things, and the permanence of others. The images may remind you of something, in which case, write about that. Or, you may wish to create a story of the moment.

The object always is a poem, so there is no right, or wrong [If you are overtaken by a bit of flash fiction, well then, for heaven’s sake, post that!]. Write. Post. Come back and read others.

I shall see you Friday for the roundup and next Tuesday for a prompt slanted more towards our NaNoWriMo participants.

Happy writing, all.


Posted by on 30/10/2012 in exercises, poetry, writing


Tags: , , , , , ,

51 responses to “Ghosts of the Past on Tuesday Tryouts

  1. The Happy Amateur

    30/10/2012 at 9:16 am

    Hi Margo,
    hope your kids are doing fine. This Sandy is really something, a bad storm.

    Thank you for this post, the link. I think what this woman does is truly amazing. I’ll be looking through all the photographs..if power stays on.

    Take care,

  2. vivinfrance

    30/10/2012 at 9:36 am

    Opening your post today gave me quite a shock: – a déjà vu kind of shock. I recognised the first few places straight away because there hasn’t been a huge amount of change in Cherbourg since 1944. In our département of Manche we have constant reminders of the débarquement, as the Normandy landings are known in French, and the memory is kept very much alive here each year on 6th June, and also November 11. I have written on my blog of the emotional ceremonies held at the bottom of our hill each year at the memorial to the multi-national crew of a downed Lancaster bomber which took place on the night of 5th/6th June.

    I live about 50 miles from those first scenes, and know the area very well. The modern photographs give the orientation, but when we bought our first house in France in 1989, there were very few road signs and those badly sited, so that navigation was a nightmare.
    The superposed photographs are poignant

    • margo roby

      30/10/2012 at 10:46 am

      I hadn’t thought [and should have!]. of course these will be familiar to you. ‘Poignant’ is the word I was searching for and could not pull up.

      I am curious. If you look at some of the photos from a different city, is the poignancy different because there is no personal link, or do the photos do their job?


      • vivinfrance

        30/10/2012 at 12:04 pm

        I think no different, just in sharper focus.

        • margo roby

          30/10/2012 at 12:09 pm

          Huh. Interesting. I must thank my sister-in-law who sent me the first link that sent me searching.

  3. JulesPaige

    30/10/2012 at 10:14 am

    I can’t remember where I saw other photos like this from another photographer. That photographer combined the shots so that half was new and half was old of the same place. I think these are amazing. Thanks for sharing this find. I was watching the Antiques Road Show last night and it is amazing what people bring in, as well as the value. For example there was this whimsical pig that was a stoneware bourbon bottle – found inside a barn wall, the gal paid about $200 but it was worth about $2,000. Another item was a rather large whirligig in fairly good shape. And another which really wasn’t worth a whole lot but was interesting was a group of items from the 1800 explaining the art of hair weave and plaiting and making things out of woman’s hair. Like earrings and such. The unique photo that went with it was of five sisters standing with hair almost down to their ankles! along with the photo was an ad for the soap they used to wash their hair.

    I’ll have to come back to the article. Thanks again. So far here – the creek has risen, Some tree limbs down, but the power remains on…so far. And still it rains…

    • margo roby

      30/10/2012 at 10:48 am

      I love Antiques Roadshow, Jules. I have a miniature of one of my ancestors. The back of the frame is cut out to show a woven braid of her hair.

      And still it rains. I’m working hard on the power staying on there and in Vermont. I have a feeling my daughter is out of luck. I have sent out a carrier pigeon to find out.

      • JulesPaige

        30/10/2012 at 1:17 pm

        I’ve seen some horrific damage to NYC but Washington hasn’t been in the news. Hoping she is OK.
        I wonder if my brother in Upstate NY got snow? But they know what to do with snow there.

  4. JulesPaige

    30/10/2012 at 10:41 am

    In honor of those who fought then for freedom and those still ‘fighting’.

  5. val dering rojas

    30/10/2012 at 11:34 am

    Amazing. Haunting. Poignant. Gives me the simultaneous feeling of time passing and time standing still, and what if we could see *everything* that happened at a particular place all at once? Would it be total chaos? Or is time somehow perfectly ordered and choreographed?

    We are all ghosts.

    • vivinfrance

      30/10/2012 at 12:02 pm

      A great idea for a novel, time-switching constantly back and forth and into the future. Edward Rutherford writes a little like that and his books are utterly absorbing.

      • margo roby

        30/10/2012 at 12:08 pm

        I adore Rutherford’s books!

      • val dering rojas

        30/10/2012 at 9:46 pm

        It’s a fascinating concept, isn’t it? I haven’t read any Rutherford novels, maybe I should! I just commented with what came to mind, but I’ve always been intrigued by the thought of time travel, or time overlapping. What’s amazing is all of the new knowledge about the illusion of time that is shattering traditional concepts.

    • margo roby

      30/10/2012 at 12:07 pm

      Val, I love the thought of a viewer, or witness, someone who can see different eras happening at one place.

      • val dering rojas

        30/10/2012 at 9:48 pm

        I think I’ve been obsessed with that idea ever since I saw a physicist on TV talking about the universe folding over on itself.

    • JulesPaige

      30/10/2012 at 1:13 pm

      Val – I’ve seen this concept played out in/on different Sci-fi shows. Star Trek The Next Generation did something similar to what I think you are talking about. Where time moves differently and those out of ‘phase’ are caught in the middle, relieved as well as experiencing disbelief yet also understanding.

      • val dering rojas

        30/10/2012 at 9:54 pm

        Yes, I’ve seen things like that too. I wonder if time travel and being able to move through time is sort of a universal fascination because of regret. Being able to go back and make a wrong right, or to stop something horrible from happening…but it gets so complicated.

        Anyone read Stephen King’s 11/22/63?

        • margo roby

          31/10/2012 at 7:33 am

          A time travel classic is Jack Finney’s Time and Again. I heartily recommend it.

  6. barbara_

    30/10/2012 at 1:06 pm

    I’ve seen similar things, but none so well done. She manages to get the viewpoint angle, light, and distance just right. Very, very cool. Thanks Margo.

    • margo roby

      31/10/2012 at 7:33 am

      You can tell she fell in love with her subject, Barbara.

    • barbara_

      01/11/2012 at 7:54 am

      The subject is what entices. But her process–that is no small thing. I could fall into something like that and not come up for air. All the puzzles before you even get to the art.

  7. Sabio Lantz

    30/10/2012 at 2:40 pm

    I’ve seen ghosts — they are the past fading into our present. But I’ve also seen our present fade into our future. Not sure what you’d call that. I chose to write on one such experience. “Unwanted Views

    • margo roby

      31/10/2012 at 7:34 am

      Yay! I’ll be over momentarily to read, Sabio.

  8. Kathleen Kirk

    30/10/2012 at 4:25 pm

    Wonderful, and thanks! I have shared your blog links with my poetry workshop so they can try your assignment, too!

    • margo roby

      31/10/2012 at 7:35 am

      Good to see you, Kathleen. I would love to see some of the poems that come out of the workshop.

  9. Misky

    30/10/2012 at 5:08 pm

    Such amazing photos, Here’s my offering.

  10. Sabio Lantz

    30/10/2012 at 5:11 pm

    Great images, BTW, made me think. Thanks for the prompt.
    I see you haven’t activated “follow by e-mail” — hope you are still considering it. That way, when others post their poems, I will know.

    • margo roby

      31/10/2012 at 7:37 am

      Sabio, I used to have ‘follow by email’ but everyone became inundated by emails so that I shut it off and hoped people would wander back. I think next Tuesday I’ll ask readers about it and about Mr. Linky [which my gut still doesn’t want, but I can’t tell you why.]

      • Sabio Lantz

        01/11/2012 at 8:35 pm

        Ah, thanx for the reply. I’ll drop you an e-mail about these issues.

  11. Hannah Gosselin

    30/10/2012 at 8:18 pm

    What a great find, Margo!! My day slipped trough my fingers so I’m not sure…this whole week did really…poetically behind. I did enjoy wondering through all of these images though….there’s one in particular whispering an inkling of poetry to me. Just wanted to thank you in case I didn’t make it right back here though. Smiles and I hope your kiddos are doing okay. 🙂

    • margo roby

      31/10/2012 at 7:40 am

      Hannah, I know. I feel like I am holding back the walls of a dam sometimes. I am learning to call halts and to declutter myself of anything but the things that make me happy, make me smile, are necessary to continue breathing. It’s when my poetry disappears that I know it’s time. I admit, you can’t declutter yourself of children, so that takes some ingenuity.

      • Hannah Gosselin

        05/11/2012 at 9:31 pm

        I love how you describe this feeling…so true…yes, and being sick has drained me and made the boys more work, too. Soon things will change…such a good point though…when the words wither that’s a sign for sure. :)’s to you, Margo…talk more soon.

  12. scotianightpoetry

    31/10/2012 at 8:46 am

    Reblogged this on My Bewildered Brain.

    • margo roby

      31/10/2012 at 8:51 am

      Thanks, Brian :-. I’m glad to spread these images around.

  13. Sara McNulty

    31/10/2012 at 6:11 pm

    Incredible photographs. Thanks for the link. MIne is up.

  14. Sara McNulty

    31/10/2012 at 6:12 pm

    I adjusted the email address. Hope it shows up.

    • margo roby

      02/11/2012 at 7:24 am

      Yep, Sara. Everything where it should be.

  15. barbara_

    01/11/2012 at 1:20 am

    Hard to handle

    • margo roby

      02/11/2012 at 7:25 am

      I know. Makes me want to devote myself to a these photos for a year or two.

  16. markwindham

    01/11/2012 at 7:19 pm

    The usual disclaimers: Poetry? Prose? eh. But, Hey! I found time to write something. 🙂

    • margo roby

      02/11/2012 at 7:26 am

      Well, hello there! You are doing better than I, Mark. The well is dry here, but the water always comes back.

      • markwindham

        02/11/2012 at 10:10 am

        there is water, but no bucket! I am back to needing that 32 hour day. Rode around with this one most of the day just hoping it would still be there when I had time to write it down.

        • margo roby

          03/11/2012 at 9:49 am

          Mark, I love that. Not that you have no bucket, but the image. You need to speak sternly to your mind, but I know what you mean. It’s the Peter Principle sort of thing. Your brain is saying: ‘Oh, look, rest time has expanded.’ I find that without having to squeeze out time to write, my brain gets lazy. hence, no wordle poems for a while.

          • markwindham

            04/11/2012 at 11:01 am

            sadly, there really is no expanded rest time. Quite the opposite really. I am getting our business back in gear while firing out resumes here and there, so I have been non-stop busy. Getting business cards, getting a website up, working the phones, constant networking, etc, etc … I am also looking at getting back into school, getting some new certifications. Anyway, there has actually been very little free time to devote to writing, which sucks. Killing me being away from it. But, i do think some of my results have been a little better than when mass producing.

            • margo roby

              05/11/2012 at 7:38 am

              ‘But, i do think some of my results have been a little better than when mass producing.’ Well, if this poem is anything to go by, I agree, Mark.

              Wishes for continued good luck being sent your way.


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