Thursday, 6 September 2012

More about Real Toads

I recently mentioned my photographs had featured on the poetry site Real Toads.  I now have permission to share with you some of the words they inspired.  This is just a glimpse into the Real Toads’ world.  If you want to see the poems in their entirety you will need to go to the links on that particular post. I know some people are not poetry enthusiasts but the imagery conjured up in these poems will impress anyone who enjoys playing with words.

This woodland scene proved popular and was used by more than one.

Flipside Records wrote a wonderful tanka – a form of Japanese poetry. 


crooked stick arched back

cocked head commanding focus

woodwind orchestra—

mystical machinations

turning paper into trees

(Please note that all these are quoted with the written permission of the authors and if you wish to re-quote them in any way you will need to go to their websites, find their e-mails and ask for permission!)

I love the idea in that last line – ‘turning paper into trees’.

Joy Ann Jones (aka hedgewitch) also used the woodland photo for the inspiration for her poem 'Snuffing Out  the Dead' which contained a wonderful image in which

the bright ball
bounced over August's wall and autumn's coat of clouds
shook out her rain.

Susie Clevenger, of Confessions of a Laundry Goddess’ (what a great blog title!),  also used this woodland photo for her poem ‘Hope in Green’ which I love.  She has kindly given me permission to use it here but please note the copyright remains with Susie and if you wish to quote it you need to contact her.

Hope arrives dressed
in the color green
to rid shivering roots
of their frosted caps.

A gentle wind sings
a hallelujah song
of winter’s end.
Its echo flirting
with new born leaves.

In an ancient celebration
trees dance among the moss
thanking spring for its
warm kiss upon their limbs.

 Peggy Goetz had difficulty loading my Small Copper photo so used one of her own for her poem ‘Butterfly Cloud’ which begins
What magic whim of nature
to make a thing of such
beauty, a fluttering kaleidoscope
of blossom colors like a cloud of
flowers rising from the meadow…

and has the incontrovertible last line –
lucky are we to share this world. 

Kerry O’Connor explored the Welsh form of poem - Cyhydedd Hir – for her poem

The first tercet read

Daisy bright hopper,
Flitting small copper,
Is this Spring proper, in my garden?

Isn’t ‘Daisy bright hopper’  just a perfect image of the Small Copper butterfly?

Marian at Runaway Sentence also used this picture which proved popular among the Real Toads.

I am quoting her whole poem, ‘Of a Feather’ because it defies picking one or two lines…

    I don't know how
    copper turns to dust
    must be a condition
    of summer fade--
    Settle amidst the green
    the flora's different
    every flavor--
    Let it float over you
    and take you higher.

Hannah Gosselin's poem, 'Just You', used the Small Copper picture on her blog 'Metaphors and Smiles'.  It ended with the lovely lines:-
            light and life glowing
            on pure powdered
            gossamer garment.

Ella at ‘Ella’s Edge’ was another who used the Small Copper for her ‘In the Garden’,  which was another poem of great skill.  As with all the poems it was hard to choose an extract but I loved the ending:-

service begins
 she folds her wings

What a fantastic image of a butterfly.  I have watched butterflies all my life. I have taken literally thousands of photos of them, They have been the major love of my natural history existence and yet never have I thought of such a marvellous, and accurate, image. That’s one simulacrum I’ll never forget.

Kay L Davies was the only one who used a picture of the Liverpool skyline that I posted and her poem, ‘Liverpool Sky’ began
Liverpool sky
I do wonder why
this glorious hue
happens so few
times in one human life..

Brenda Bryant at ‘Rinkly Rimes’ used this family history picture of mine.  Her poem, ‘In Amber’, was a wonderful view of the way in which we perceive old family photos.  It included the lines:-

But my ancestors merely gaze and do not seem to feel.
But, just before the photographer exhorted them to freeze,
Did they giggle a little bit; did they joke and tease?

And finished:-
Yet we've preserved their solemnity, set in amber, for all time.
We misjudge those captured almost seems a crime.

Perhaps the most moving of the poems by the Real Toads was the one which used this image of David’s gravestone.

The poem was by Mark Windham at ‘Awakened Words’.  I should love you to visit the post he did called ‘Two Houses’.  I haven’t quoted it here for two reasons- I couldn’t find an e-mail address to ask his permission and it didn’t lend itself to having just an extract quoted.   I found I had to read it twice before I caught the full import of the ‘two houses’ images he portrayed and when I did I wondered how someone who (I hoped) had not lost a child could capture the night time in that house so well.  Mark felt that the end result was ‘unfinished’ but I thought it was perfect just as it was and that any further attempt at changing it would perhaps spoil the effect.  It was interesting that one comment was “a poem is never really finished, just abandoned”.  I don’t think I agree with that.  As both reader and one-time poet I think there comes a time when a piece cannot be improved upon. Like a painting, there comes a moment to lay down the brushes and accept that any further work is not going to enhance the end result.

And finally, Susan Chast, used the photos as an opportunity to make a tribute to me.  I’m vain enough to have been utterly delighted by it and to quote it in its entirety (with her gracious permission, of course).  I expected my photos to inspire all sorts of things but a tribute never entered my head.  Thank you so much Susan – your generous words didn’t just make my day, they made my month, season, and probably my year!

Tribute to Scriptor Senex from Scriptor Nova:

When you opened your photography portfolio
and offered more kinds of toads and flying
flowers than I had seen before in the Imaginary
Garden, I was indeed grateful.  You show
the pattern of your life in images and in walks
over low endless hills, through mossy woods
and along aisles of memorial stones where
you touch me with your shortest poem
and your longest sorrow, entice me with flying flowers
and point to the littlest lives rustling in the undergrowth.  

Dear Sir Scriptor, you may be an older writer than I, 
but you are no "scriptor senex" of the English literary tradition—
you are no Gloucester or Polonius bemusing and amusing
in parody of the wisdom of elders—you are the real thing:
scire quod sciendum.*

( *Scire quod sciendum translates as 'Knowledge worth knowing'.)

As I have said before this was a really positive experience and I hope others among you who are photographers will feel able to offer sites like Real Toads the use of your photos.  And thank you to all the poets who so generously made available their poetry for this blog posting.


  1. Lovely post, and interesting provocative poems.

    I have to agree with your final correspondent:
    "scire quod sciendum" indeed. :o)

    1. Thanks Carol - your Facebook comments about me were definitely one of the other big positives of the year for me!

  2. It was great to see all these again, John, and to visit your blog. I love your quote at the top about not being old. Made me smile. Thanks again for sharing your striking photography with us over at real toads.

  3. yay! what goes around, comes around, seems an apt summation here. so glad to have made your acquaintance, John. more, please!

  4. Knowledge worth knowing...perfect for you and your blog.

  5. Hi John— Thanks for letting us know about this post. It's wonderful to know how much you enjoyed the poems inspired by your photos.
    All best wishes,

  6. This is awesome, John. What a great way to compile all the tributes to your beautiful work.

    I'm e-mailing Mark for you. I'm sure he'd love for you to feature his poem as well.

    1. Thanks fior e-mailing Mark, I hope people will go to his site and see the whole poem because it is very moving and very good.

  7. Scriptor Senex,
    What a pleasure to make your acquaintance though Imaginary Gardens! The Tribute I wrote met with the approval of all in the Garden who visited! I'm honored to be in your blog posts. I hope we repeat this experience sometime in the future. Yours,Scriptor Nova

  8. I loved how you gathered and complied your thoughts with ours~
    It was wonderful, you were open to the experience! I love all that your beautiful photos inspired! Thank you John, this was wonderful to read! :D I now want to read all the poems again! Stunning~

  9. I'm overwhelmed by your photos and poems. I love poetry, but I find it HARD WORK. I need to abandon that thought and think of writing poetry in a more positive light. You are so generous in your sharing. I love that you do.
    Have a great weekend, you and she who drinks tea!

  10. I am very grateful for this warm response to all the poets who were inspired by your work. Creativity is more of a two-way street than one might imagine of such a solitary process. Every artist needs an audience, and that picture or poem has meant something to someone else is a very enriching experience.

    Many thanks for being a part of Real Toads.

  11. This was a wonderful way to share your talent with others.
    Enjoyed the poems too....haven't written any poetry since schooldays....maybe again one day.

  12. It's all so lovely - thanks for being both a fecund fountain and a voluminous viaduct for deep beauty.

  13. I'm only sorry that, due to having a house full of visiting relatives around the time your IGWRT pictures were on offer, I missed joining in! Maybe next time? Thanks for making a potpourri of snippets for your visitors to enjoy here today.:)


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