Thursday, June 27, 2024

A friend of humanity

It doesn't matter how you live and die, it's how the bards wrote it down.
~Terry Pratchett

Ancient Irish poetic traditions are very interesting. (I wrote about them in 2016.) There was a whole elaborate system of poet apprenticeship, and "the training took place in schools under an Ollamh and was long and arduous. Poems were created in the dark while lying down. Traditional payment was in gold rings, horses, land or apparel." In the dark while lying down! Sounds like sleeping to me, haha. ("Ollaimh" in Scottish Gaelic means "professor." Perhaps professors are descendants of the highest bards?)

What was the point of bards? This quote "somewhat doubtfully attributed to Giolla Brighde Mac Con Midhe" explains one function: "Were it not for poetry, [we] would not know of a goodly hero after his death nor of his reputation nor his prowess."

Thinking about that reminded me of the tv series The Witcher. Have you seen it? Here we have a bard (Jaskier) trying to convince a hero (The Witcher) that Jaskier can help him out. The Witcher needs the bard to memorialize him so he can go down in history but, more immediately, Jaskier can persuade people to give The Witcher ale and money:

He wiped out your pest, got kicked in his chest
He's a friend of humanity, so give him the rest
That's my epic tale: our champion prevailed
Defeated the villain, now pour him some ale

If you want to be fancy about it:

All this to say, I'm glad in the modern era that we can all be bards and memorialize more than just the "heroes."


The Miss Rumphius Effect has the Poetry Friday round-up. Thanks, Tricia!

Weaving baskets

The sensation of making something with her hands from just a bunch of sticks and a knife was so empowering that “what started out as merely making a basket,” she explains, “became about making a life.”
~Deborah Needleman talking about Annemarie O'Sullivan

For Art Thursday, basket weaving. Delia Fian has an online class teaching how to weave invasive grasses! What a good idea.

American Indians : first families of the Southwest
John Frederick Huckel, Fred Harvey

The cries of London, circa 1830
John Thomas Smith

Not of the fold
by Frederick Morgan, circa 1881

Blind Basket-Makers, 1871
after Hubert von Herkomer

Frau beim flechten in Fatuc Laran, Lactos, Cova Lima, Osttimor
By David Palazón, Tatoli ba Kultura

For more baskets: Basketmakers' Association (UK) Instagram account

Monday, June 24, 2024


The return makes one love the farewell.
~Alfred de Musset

I couldn't decide what to post for Music Monday until I heard this cheerful, if pointed, request. It's a song from 1930 that's been performed by everyone from Doris Day to Ella Fitzgerald to the Original Rabbit Foot Spasm Band (?).

Marion and Sobo Band:

Thursday, June 20, 2024

William Blake, burning bright

The true method of knowledge is experiment.
~William Blake

Welcome to the Poetry Friday round-up! So glad to have you here!

A while back, I wrote an imaginary interview with Edna St. Vincent Millay, inspired by Renée M. LaTulippe's "interview" with W.B. Yeats. For today, I decided to do one with William Blake. Here we go!
Dates: b. November 28, 1757; d. August 12, 1827
Trivia: He illustrated a book by Mary Wollstonecraft (Mary Shelley's mother)
To read his poetry:
For more information: The Blake Society

Please welcome poet, painter, and printmaker William Blake!

Me: Thank you so much for joining us today, Mr. Blake.

B: Hear the voice of the Bard!

Me: That's the plan! Can you tell me where you're from, Mr. Blake?

B: I wander thro’ each charter’d street,
Near where the charter’d Thames does flow.

Me: Ah, yes, London! What made you decide to become a poet?

B: To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour

Me: That sounds wonderful. How has it been going for you?

B: I made a rural pen,
And I stain'd the water clear,
And I wrote my happy songs
Every child may joy to hear

Me: Excellent.

B: Light doth seize my brain
With frantic pain.

Me: Oh no! So it's not all happy songs.

B: Joy & Woe are woven fine
A Clothing for the soul divine
Under every grief & pine
Runs a joy with silken twine

Me: You said it.

B: The man who never alters his opinion is like standing water, and breeds reptiles of the mind.

Me: Wow. I'm going to have to think about that for a minute.

B: In what distant deeps or skies.
Burnt the fire of thine eyes?

Me: Are you asking me questions? Who's asking questions here?

B: The Questioner who sits so sly
Shall never know how to Reply

Me: ...


Addendum: The quotes by William Blake are from Introduction to the Songs of Experience, London, Auguries of Innocence, Introduction to the Songs of Innocence, Mad Song, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, and The Tyger.


Leave your links with Mr. Linky!

Decorative animals

As the nineteenth century was drawing to a close a luxurious new style was taking Europe by storm...It seemed like an antidote to the ugliness of the modern age.
~Stephen Smith on Art Nouveau

For Art Thursday, art professor Anton Seder (again). This time from his Das Thier in der decorativen Kunst (The Animal in Decorative Art), 1896.

Thomas Negovan used Kickstarter to raise money for a beautiful book version of Anton Seder's work. (Out this December, $69)

Monday, June 17, 2024

Not too far

Got stranded on a weird planet, might not be home tonight …

For Music Monday, L'Impératrice featuring Maggie Rogers with "Any Way":

Thursday, June 13, 2024

A summer dance

In 1975, [Hartnett] made the great and bold political statement that he was going to no longer write in English but that he was going to "court the language of his people" with the publication of A Farewell to English.

Happy Poetry Friday! In addition to a poem, I'm including a quote below that I find encouraging. I started a new hobby/form of exercise this week and it's lovely to hear I don't need to worry about being bad at it. :)

Another mentor poem! This end of this one by Irish poet Michael Hartnett (Mícheál Ó hAirtnéide) struck me as good inspiration, with all the "she was a ..."

from Death of an Irishwoman

...she clenched her brittle hands
around a world
she could not understand.
I loved her from the day she died.
She was a summer dance at the crossroads.
She was a card game where a nose was broken.
She was a song that nobody sings.
She was a house ransacked by soldiers.
She was a language seldom spoken.
She was a child’s purse, full of useless things.

read the whole poem here



Dare to Care has the Poetry Friday round-up. Thanks, Denise!

Art illusions

I invite you not to be serious!
~Vika Bren

For Art Thursday, Vika Bren, who turns her body into remarkable paintings:

Monday, June 10, 2024


I burnt any yearning for the industry’s approval to the ground and that’s when it all started working.

For Music Monday, Chinchilla with a live version of "1:5." The fly costume is wow, and the lyrics are striking. How often do people sing about ratios, anyway? (Note: she does drop two f-bombs.)

Thursday, June 6, 2024

Full and open

How can you sing prayerfully of heaven and earth and all God's wonders without using your hands?
~Mahalia Jackson

Happy Poetry Friday! A poem from the Poetry Foundation today. I've been known to praise imperfection now and then, haha.

At Church, I Tell My Mom She’s Singing Off-Key and She Says,
by Michael Frazier

I ain’t off-key. I just stepped out the key
so when I return,
you can understand the key a little bit better.
The preacher isn’t the only
teacher. Why hit a note on the head
when I can kill it? You mean to tell me
you come here week after week
and want the same old Amazing
Grace? Just cause the Blood will never lose its power
don’t mean a melody won’t.
My ministry may not be song, but I got a song
to sing. I done made it from Sunday
to Sunday. You expect me not to celebrate
and thank God, with my hands raised,
my flats off, my full and open


Michael Frazier has a Persona writing prompt that might interest you.

Tangles and Tails has the Poetry Friday round-up. Thanks, Tracey!

Free to make mistakes

Anything that engages your creative mind — the ability to make connections between unrelated things and imagine new ways to communicate — is good for you.
~Girija Kaimal

This Art Thursday, I'm celebrating creativity for everyone...

Here's how making art helps your brain

Research shows the arts promote mental health

Why being creative is good for you
Quotes from that article: Creativity, according to Maya Angelou, is a bottomless pit: "The more you use it, the more you have," said the novelist.
"Creativity will always provoke your fear," says [Elizabeth] Gilbert, who has come to terms with her own artistic anxiety by "talking to it in a friendly way… I acknowledge its importance and I invite it along". Equally, we should allow, or even embrace, our mistakes.

38 Amazing Ways to Be Creative (Even if You’re Not!)
P.S. I'm in New Hampshire celebrating a family member's 85th birthday, so I scheduled this early.

Monday, June 3, 2024

The prettiest tree

Gossett initially only intended to write and perform music for family gatherings around the holiday season, when he would share ideas with family members and create music together.

Dylan Gossett for Music Monday: