Tag Archives: image

Poem Tryouts: This is Where I Want to Be

8:54 a.m. — San Antonio

listening to Bohemian Rhapsody sung by Queen

Hello, everyone, new, old-timer, and in between. I hope you are well. Today is our image prompt and I have a place to get lost in for a while. I often use images from the Facebook group, I Require Art. We have the same tastes. In fact, I began following them in order to have a source for images. Then an unexpected thing happened. My Facebook friends enjoyed seeing the paintings I chose. I have almost as much fun seeing who likes what. Sometimes, we even discuss the paintings.

Today’s choice is a recent find and evoked more comment than almost anything I have posted. I remarked that I would like to be there, sitting, looking out over the water, sipping a cup of coffee. Apparently, plenty of people would like to join me. I’ve had to add a guest cottage around the corner.


The painting is Fisherman’s House at Varengeville, by Monet. You can approach the prompt in a number of ways. With each, remember that the painting itself does not have to be part of the poem.

1] Respond emotionally to what you see.

2] Go over the painting jotting down every single thing you note. Look at your notes and find your direction among them.

3] Make the painting part of the poem.

4] Write about your tranquil place. You can do this with, or without, the painting. It depends if you want to use the setting as a character, as in having it to specifically refer to. This might be your anti-tranquil place.

5] Do what your brain started as soon as it saw the painting.

Yes? Good. I shall see you Thursday for links and Tuesday for another prompt (and on your blogs, should you respond to this).

Happy writing, all.



Posted by on 29/09/2015 in exercises, poetry


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Poem Tryouts: A Single Image

7:00 a.m. — somewhere in the air between SF and SA

listening to the click of keys as my husband slays in WOW

Hello, all. I have been enjoying the poems that have been translated and wish I had the time to comment. Hopefully, once we are settled for our month in San Antonio, I can go back and reread and comment.

My mother is safely in SA in a guest apartment [with the same floor plan as the one she will have] waiting for her furniture, and us, to arrive. At this end, my two brothers and I were all together for the first time in twenty-five years. We have vowed to never let THAT happen again. The flat is packed out and there is just enough left that Skip and I are camping out. It’s rather fun until we go into the kitchen to microwave something and the microwave is no longer there.

This week is a lovely, easy prompt. Truly. Find a single image and stare at it. What is it you want to convey to your audience about the image? Convey it in a Japanese short form poem, such as a tanaga, renga, tanka, haiku or… there are others out there. Remember that it is not about the syllables.

These are small bites. Feel free to write on several images, each with its own conveyance.

I shall see you next Tuesday, for the next summer prompt.

Happy writing, all.


Posted by on 17/06/2014 in exercises, poetry, Summer


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Poem Tryouts: Devastation

8:32 a.m. — Atlanta

listening to Kenny Rogers singing The Gambler

Hello, all. Image day, today. Sometime last week an email arrived from my brother with the photograph I am going to use. When I opened the image, I was momentarily stunned. I have seen many war photographs, but something about the composition of this one hits me at the core. You will need to click on the image so it fills your screen, to get the full impact.

kiev imagur

I’m not asking you to write a political poem, or even a poem about battles and revolutions, although, you might allude to these events. Instead, zoom in on several spots and look for one image, within the larger whole, that speaks to you. Even within the scene you zoom into, you can pick a smaller image, a single item.

You have a number of paths you can try:

You can compare the devastation to that left by nature’s storms.

You can speak to the devastation wrought by man.

You can do a straightforward description with no comment from your speaker.

You can write metaphorically about an image and allude subtly to the larger cause.

You can go where your mind takes you.

I shall see you Thursday for a couple of links; Friday for the prompts roundup; and Tuesday for a regular prompt [the body will come back, but breaks are needed].

Happy writing, everyone.




Posted by on 25/02/2014 in exercises, links, poems, poetry


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Into Place: Tuesday Tryouts

8:04 a.m.

Hello, everyone. Is it only Tuesday? Let’s see what we can do to entertain ourselves. I decided, based on the way you all fall with delighted cries on any image I post, that I will post images the last Tuesday of each month. Based on the exercise I set with the images [if I set one], you may hunt out your own image and post it on your site with the resulting poem. While it’s fun to see what everyone does with the same prompt, if an image doesn’t work for you, then it’s not much good.

We are continuing with place, and that is one reason you may wish to choose your own, if what I have does not have a strong sense of place for you. Remember that the sense of place can be positive, or negative. or both.

Choose an image and ask yourself a series of questions. Is the sense of place physical? Emotional? A balance, or imbalance of both? What establishes the mood of the place? What draws you? Be specific.

Ivan Shishkin

Go over your chosen image, starting with the bottom left corner and moving over it, jotting notes, as you go. Note everything you see. You never know, until you reread what you have seen, what might prove useful, or might provide your focus. No detail is too small. You might look at an image as it is and jot notes, then zoom in once, jot more notes, and, if you can, zoom in a final time and jot more notes. Or, jot everything you think you have noticed. Go away for a bit and come back and go over it again.

Place is that important. Writer Peter Huggins says:

“In painting, chiaroscuro, the use of light and dark, provides definition, contrast, the heightening or lessening of emotion; in addition, I would argue, it allows viewers a way into the painting. In poetry, place serves a similar function: readers can enter the particular world of the poem; however, if readers languish in the general world of no place, then nothing will happen for them, neither the excitement and explosion of language nor the complex connection of realized experience.


“…I would suggest that these poems arise from these places and are rooted in these places just as day lilies or tulip poplars are rooted in the places from which they spring. I would even go so far as to suggest that these poems would not exist (or would exist in a radically different and probably diminished way) apart from their respective places. Place provides form, shape, and being to these poems…”

Write a poem that conveys a sense of the place in the image you have chosen; or about the connection with the speaker describing it; or about the place in the abstract, so that it stands for something else; or using the sense of place to provide an anchor for story.

I see people rubbing their hands with glee. Go to it. I shall see you Thursday, possibly for an interview with poet, James Brush; if not, then announcements, and we will have James next Thursday. Friday sees another roundup of prompts, and next Tuesday, well, place, of course.

Happy writing.


Posted by on 31/01/2012 in exercises, poetry, writing


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Thursday Thoughts: More Words That Have to Go

8:57 am — Atlanta

Hello dear readers. I hope everyone is well and writing. Today, I shall speak about a group of words and then we will take a week’s break from my telling you what you should not be using. Next week I shall talk about some internet resources I have found worth bookmarking. Then, it’s back to words that should be used sparingly.

The grouping for today:

this is,
is when,
is where,
here is/are, there is/are

The main problems with these phrases are their blandness, lack of specificity, and use of verbs of being, which contribute to the blandness. They say nothing. I said in a blog about active versus being verbs: This is not to say never use being verbs. Sometimes we want to have a state of being, but too much being leaves the reader with a fuzzy, and often dull, image. There is nothing to see when something is, as opposed to something running, singing, breaking…When you use being verbs, do so with deliberation and an awareness of the effect.

You read: “Look. There’s John.” Or you read: “Look. John is standing over by the fountain.” Which gives you a picture?

You read: “Where’s the bread?” “It’s here.” Or you read “The bread is on the cutting board.” I am still using a being verb in the second example, but I am talking about the state of the bread’s location. I am being specific about “here”.

In poetry your phrasing will be less stilted, but the rules of specificity and sensory imagery still apply. You need to give the poem and your readers something to hang onto: active verbs, specific whens and wheres.Your objective is to engage the readers’ senses.

Be aware in your own reading, not just of poetry, but of newspapers, magazines, and novels, of how often these phrases appear and how much the writing lacks because of them. Be aware, too, of the writing that does not use these phrases and how much richer and more concrete what you are reading about becomes.

Short and sweet today. I am in recovery mode from having a temporary crown put on a molar yesterday. I shall see you back here tomorrow for the last of the short roundups. Next week we are into May and I shall return to the regular roundup list. Tuesday will be ballad day, and next Thursday, bookmarkable sites.

Happy writing.


Posted by on 28/04/2011 in poetry, writing


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Tuesday Tryouts: Blazon It!

8:33 — Atlanta

Hello all. I decided to show you the BLAZON. The form is not stressful and can be fun.You will need to think metaphorically, much like the delight song I asked you to write some weeks back, or surrealistically, as we did some months back. I have provided links for both posts, as we have new readers, and my long time readers may need a refresher. I know I would.

Here’s an excerpt from a BLAZON, a poem that itemizes the qualities of something or someone beloved:

Free Union
a 1931 poem by Andre Breton

My wife whose hair is a brush fire
Whose thoughts are summer lightning
Whose waist is an hourglass
Whose waist is the waist of an otter caught in the teeth of a tiger
Whose mouth is a bright cockade with the fragrance of a star of the first magnitude
Whose teeth leave prints like the tracks of white mice over snow
Whose tongue is made out of amber and polished glass
Whose tongue is a stabbed wafer
The tongue of a doll with eyes that open and shut
Whose tongue is an incredible stone
My wife whose eyelashes are strokes in the handwriting of a child
Whose eyebrows are nests of swallows
My wife whose temples are the slate of greenhouse roofs
With steam on the windows
My wife whose shoulders are champagne
Are fountains that curl from the heads of dolphins over the ice
My wife whose wrists are matches
Whose fingers are raffles holding the ace of hearts
Whose fingers are fresh cut hay

If you wish to read the entire poem, you can find it here. Note that Breton starts at the top and is working his way down the form of his wife. That is one of the conventions of a blazon.

Shakespeare, in his Sonnet 130, wrote a blazon, but did so by listing what the attributes of his speaker’s beloved are not.

My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun;
Coral is far more red than her lips’ red;
If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun;
If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head.
I have seen roses damasked, red and white,
But no such roses see I in her cheeks,
And in some perfumes is there more delight
Than in the breath that from my mistress reeks.

I love to hear her speak, yet well I know,
That music hath a far more pleasing sound.
I grant I never saw a goddess go;
My mistress when she walks treads on the ground.
And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare
As any she belied with false compare.

Your Blazon

I am going to broaden our options by suggesting that we can pick a person, or an object, or even a concept and that we can write a blazon where we dislike rather than like something. For one of the things/persons you love/hate, itemize the qualities this thing/person has.

To help you create images of the surrealistic kind, consider, as you list, how each quality affects you and your senses (touch, taste, hearing, smell, sight) and your emotions and your imagination.

List at least fifteen qualities and next to each, jot sensory associations. In case you have not gone back to the postings, I have copied an example of metaphor associations: Patience: turtle, stone, the colour grey, glaciers…they are your associations so don’t worry if others might think them odd. You will only have the metaphors and imagery, in the end.

Pick the ones you like and model your lines after Breton, or Shakespeare, or come up with your own way to list the attributes. You want specific images, sensory associations where possible.

Once you have about fifteen lines, arrange them in an order that makes sense to you, and reads well. Eliminate lines that don’t ring true, or don’t fit. Figure out how you want to end your poem. Finally, post the poem and post your link in comments, or post the poem in the comments here. Most of all, have fun with this.

I will see you Thursday for more words to avoid, and Friday for the week’s wrapup. If you know anyone who would enjoy blazoning, feel free to share. Happy writing.


Posted by on 19/04/2011 in exercises, poetry, writing


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Thursday Thoughts: To Be or To Do

9:09 am, Thursday — Atlanta

Verbs. No part of speech communicates as effectively as a richly active verb. Whenever you come across a dull being verb (am, are, is, were, was, be, being, been), try to reorganize your poem so as to employ, instead, a better and more active verb. You want the reader to interact with the poem and that happens with active verbs.

Here is what Moat and Fairfax, from The Way to Write, have to say: “Imagine you were around at the moment the rudiments of language were being discovered. First came the grunts in the shape of names — MAN. WOMAN. FIRE. Then from outside, MAMMOTH! One big name, speaking danger. But with it a new need, the need to name something entirely different. ‘What’s that mammoth up to?’ The verb was born.

Dependent on nouns, but powerful.

Not so powerful when the mammoth is merely being, when for instance he’s sleeping; but when he’s acting, when for instance he tosses you over his head, very powerful indeed.

Nouns may be the most loaded words, but verbs are the most dramatic.

‘The mammoth is asleep under the tree.’ That expresses a state of being; a calm observation — you might say it gives a false sense of security.

‘The mammoth sleeps under the tree.’ That’s more powerful. You get the feeling that the mammoth is putting his back into it. His sleeping has almost become an act. The reader is put on the alert.

‘The mammoth has gone to sleep under the tree.’ More powerful still. That really does suggest action. It also points out that the mammoth was awake beforehand. Now the drama’s creeping in. He might wake up.

All three statements are in the present. They all say the same thing — to the untuned ear. And that’s the point. The tuned ear detects the difference. A difference of meaning, and a difference of power. The writer must have an ear; and by discipline he must tune it to register where the power, and so the meaning, lies.”

Active vs. Being

This is not to say never use being verbs. Sometimes we want to have a state of being, but too much being leaves the reader with a fuzzy, and often dull, image. There is nothing to see when something is, as opposed to something running, singing, breaking…When you use being verbs, do so with deliberation and an awareness of the effect.

A friend, Kaspalita, who is part of a duo who created a network for writers, Writing Our Way Home, wrote a poem this morning that illustrates my point and he kindly allowed me to use it as an example.

I snort up the letters in your poem
enjoy the soft edges of your vowels
your consonants draw blood

I’m spraying ink onto the page
nothing is wrong/nothing is right
the paper skits under the speed of my hand

in the morning
illuminated in a pool of dawn
I see a heap of broken words, and
on the floor, dark letters cast aside in last night’s frenzy

the only things moving are motes of dust
caught by the sun

by Kaspalita, March 17, 2011

Note the active verbs and how they set the tone and drama of the poem. Be conscious of the images they give you. Find the being verbs. The speaker is speaking of a state of being in all cases. The being verbs are necessary, but are, as they should be, a small percentage of the verbs.

Go through one, or more, of your poems and highlight the active verbs and the being verbs. See how many being verbs you can make active and if you leave a verb of being, do so because you know it is the right verb.

Thank you if you stayed through to the end. There was no way I could shorten this [and I could have made it longer!]. If you have questions, or something you wish to comment on regarding verb use, please do comment.

I will see you tomorrow for the Friday roundup of prompts and exercises and Tuesday for the next phase of dialogue poems.

1 Comment

Posted by on 17/03/2011 in poetry, writing


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Thursday Thoughts: It’s All About the Nouns

8:12 am, Thursday — Atlanta

Good Day to all. If you remember, last Thursday I set an exercise to prove a point about the strength of nouns in writing. In case you haven’t read last Thursday, here it is. You might revisit the post anyway to remind yourself how dreadful my adaptation is, before reading the poem below.

When you read Masefield’s poem “Cargoes,” note the specificity of nouns. Ask yourself how those nouns affect your reading of the poem. How do they affect the mood of each stanza? How does the imagery affect you sensorily?



John Mase field

Quinquireme of Nineveh from distant Ophir
Rowing home to haven in sunny Palestine,
With a cargo of ivory,
And apes and peacocks,
Sandalwood, cedarwood, and sweet white wine.


Stately Spanish galleon coming from the Isthmus,
Dipping through the Tropics by the palm-green shores,
With a cargo of diamonds,
Emeralds, amethysts,
Topazes, and cinnamon, and gold moidores.



Dirty British coaster with a salt-caked smokestack
Butting through the Channel in the mad March days,
With a cargo of Tyne coal,
Road-rails, pig-lead,
Firewood, iron-ware, and cheap tin trays.

A book I think everyone should own is The Way to Write by John Fairfax and John Moat. It is a slender volume on language. They say this about nouns:

“The word noun comes, one way or another, from the Latin word nomen which means (here we go again) a name. ‘The name of a person, place or thing …’ Knowing what we do about names and the power they command we can surmise that nouns are important. They are, in fact, the most important, and for one good reason. Of all the parts of speech, only nouns are independent. All the rest, directly or by implication, depend on the existence of nouns for their own existence. Nouns depend on nothing.
TIGER. Bang. It stands all on its own.
But, ‘RAN’ or ‘PUNY’ or ‘INTO’ or ‘MOREOVER’ or ‘STEAD­ILY’ — they just don’t figure. Not on their own.”

Notice in your reading of poetry, when you like a poem, whether the writer uses strong nouns and verbs; if you don’t like a poem, ask yourself what is missing…

Next Thursday, a little on verbs and a final thought on adjectives and adverbs; tomorrow is the prompt roundup for the week; and Tuesday, more dialogue poems.

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Posted by on 03/03/2011 in exercises, poetry, writing


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Tuesday Tryouts: Your Metaphor

9:05, Tuesday – Atlanta

I was going to start a new series of exercises with dialogue poems, but wrote a metaphor poem last week, in response to a We Write Poems prompt, that I enjoyed so much and feel is too good an exercise not to share.

By: doraelia ruiz


The first thing you need to do is visit the original poem on which I based mine, N. Scott Momaday’s “The Delight Song of Tsoai-talee“. I will post mine below, so you don’t have to leave the page a second time.

Jot a list of qualities you associate with yourself. Next to each quality write things you associate with that quality.

from microsoft


Patience: turtle, stone, the colour grey, glaciers…they are your associations so don’t worry if others might think them odd. You will only have the metaphors, in the end.

Pick the ones you like and write a line beginning with I am + the thing you are + a place, or action, or time. That will be much clearer on reading the two examples. You want specific images, sensory associations where possible.

Once I had about fifteen lines, I rearranged them in an order that made sense to me, and read well. I eliminated a couple of lines that didn’t ring true, or didn’t fit. Finally I figured out how to end my poem, because following Momaday for his ending would have been difficult.


from microsoftMy Delight Song

I am the words I write
I am a dragon swimming the ocean’s depths
I am a stone waiting to be picked up
I am a stand of evergreen bamboo
I am a grain of dust carried on the wind
I am the smoke of incense spiraling skyward
I am a cloud through which the sun shines
I am the border between night and day
I am the red berries of the winter ash
I am the grey heron hunched against the cold
I am the cry of a train in the night
I am a photograph fading out of focus
I am a scrap of paper left as a bookmark
I am a fingerprint on the minds of students
I am all these things and
I am the words I write.

After “The Delight Song of Tsoai-Talee,” by N. Scott Momaday

Enjoy and do post a link in comments, so I can enjoy too. Thursday will be Revision: Verbs and Nouns and I know you won’t want to miss that! Friday is our roundup of sites. Next Tuesday will be Dialogue Poems.


Posted by on 22/02/2011 in exercises, poetry, writing


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Tuesday Tryouts: More Than a Comparison

8:20 am, Tuesday, 8 February, 2011 – Atlanta

Today, I would like you to do two final metaphors and, for the purpose of Thursday’s discussion of parts of speech, turn one of these pieces into a poem [unless you wrote right into one].


Describe a building as seen by a man whose son has just died in a war.
Do not mention the son, war, death, or the old man doing the seeing.

Freewrite in prose (or poetry if you have been inspired in that direction).

In order to accomplish the prompt, what did you have to do? Articulate it to yourself.

Creating a metaphor
simile: indirect comparison? metaphor: direct comparison?
NO! A metaphor provides the identification of two unlike things.
where a simile compares two things which are similar in nature.

Metaphor: from the Greek metafora: to transfer to. When using a metaphor, you are transferring the properties of one thing to another:  “Juliet is the sun”. Not Juliet is like the sun, hot, bright, yellow…but Juliet IS the sun, the centre of Romeo’s universe, the giver of life and nurture.


Describe a lake, or other natural scene, as seen by a teenager who has just killed someone.
Do not mention the person killed, death, or the teenager doing the seeing.

Freewrite in prose (or poetry if you have been inspired in that direction).

No pretty images for the post, to not interfere with your own images. I shall see you Thursday, poem in hand, ready to begin a revision process.


Posted by on 08/02/2011 in exercises, poetry, writing


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