Tuesday, 13 April 2021

A Month of Ekphrastic Poetry Writing Prompts

 It's National Poetry Month (which like many of these writing related 'months' is originally a USA initiative but now seems to be embraced worldwide). The idea is to celebrate poetry and poets, though many poets use it as a challenge to write a poem every day (I haven't done that this year!). When faced by that type of challenge many people find it useful to have writing prompts.

A Month of Ekphrastic Poetry Writing Prompts was produced by Lorette C Luzajic for The Ekphrastic Review specifically for National Poetry Month though it has an extra prompt so that it can be used as a poem a day for any month. 

For those who don't know, ekphrastic poetry is poetry inspired by other art forms. I was first drawn to ekphrastic art years ago when the National Galleries of Scotland used to hold an annual contest for poetry written in response to any art work in their collections. The contest no longer takes place, but my interest has continued.

'A Month of Ekphrastic Poetry Writing Prompts' offers a wide range of prompts, to inspire not only poetry but also different ways of looking at art and using art as inspiration. Each prompt is open ended so can be used over and over to inspire responses to different works of art. So there are prompts to base poetry on: the art work in your home: the idea of motherhood as imagined by different artists; pastoral art; confronting your own fears by responding to art showing difficult themes; exploring the stories in or behind artworks. There's even a prompt to write a poem inspired by a work of art you hate! In other words there really is a very wide range of prompts! 

Although these are all billed as poetry writing prompts (it being National Poetry Month after all!) any of them could probably be used to inspire other forms of writing. Some could also be adapted as prompts that don't necessarily directly use art as the inspiration.

I look forward to writing many poems inspired by this publication!

This publication is only available as a download, which may not be ideal for everyone, but it is beautifully designed and very inspiring! 

A Month of Ekphrastic Poetry Writing Prompts by Lorette C Luzajic is available from The Ekphrastic Review

And do check out Lorette C Luzajic's mixed media art on her website here

Sunday, 11 April 2021

Pollution is Pants! Celebrate Second Hand!

From 8th to 25th April, #PollutionisPants celebrates the joy and environmental significance of second-hand clothes in the lead up to Fashion Revolution Week (19th - 25th April). 

‘Pants’ refers to the fact that pants are one of the few things you can’t get second-hand. 'Pollution’ refers to the fact that far too much wearable clothing ends up in landfill or in polluting incinerators. In the lead up to the COP26 Climate Change Conference, it's a good idea to think about the things we already do for the environment that we should feel good about and maybe should do more! Buying and wearing second-hand clothing is one of these.

#PollutionisPants is a joint initiative between St Andrews University student society 'Sustainable Style', Transition St Andrews and Big Dreams Little Footprints. The idea is to share photos of yourself wearing second hand or vintage clothing. 

I don't dress up much these days (for some reason!) and so I saw this as a chance to wear some of my more glamorous clothing! 

I bought all the clothing in these photos from second hand shops in Edinburgh (the skirt came from the Shelter shop in Dalry, I can't remember which specific shops the other items came from! The necklace and earrings are similarly from second hand shops in Edinburgh. The bracelet is a family heirloom and the slippers came from the Clothing Swap at Granton Goes Greener


Saturday, 10 April 2021

Blackford Pond and the Hermitage of Braid

It's a lovely sunny Spring day today, though still quite chilly. We had a lovely walk today around Blackford Pond and through the Hermitage of Braid. 

The pond looks lovely though there aren't many birds on it

it's lovely to see a few clumps of marsh marigolds round the edge

and a few clumps of frog spawn in the water (there are two clumps in the photo below, to the left of the large stick)

We walked through Midmar Paddock 

and into the Hermitage of Braid, to walk alongside the Braid Burn. 

It was lovely to see a pair of sparrowhawks flying around the tops of the trees in the Hermitage, hopefully they were checking out a nest site (or even starting to build a nest!).

Friday, 9 April 2021

Tree Planting on a Sunny Day

After a fair amount of negotiation with Edinburgh City Council, the Friends of North Merchiston Cemetery were able to plant some trees in the cemetery. We had a group of 6 adults and three children (following current Scottish Government COVID guidelines which allow up to 15 people for an outdoor socially distanced organised activity) who planted a variety of trees and shrubs around the cemetery. 

Strictly speaking we were a week late for tree planting (trees ideally should be planted in the UK before the end of March) but given the recent cold weather one week late shouldn't be a problem and we were allowed to go ahead as the negotiations had taken longer than expected. 

The trees were donated by the Friends of Dalry Cemetery who had some left over from their planting - we were given rowan, hawthorn, blackthorn, hornbeam, dogwood and dog roses. Peter from City of Edinburgh Council Cemeteries Department gave a demonstration of tree planting before we started and spray painted signs to show exactly where the trees should be planted. 

Everyone enjoyed planting and we're all looking forward to seeing the trees growing in the future. 


Thursday, 8 April 2021

Zebras in Focus

I think of zebras in Zimbabwe,
see shimmering, stripy signatures
on rotund fairground horses
on Hwange’s endless plain.

You think of the same safari,
remember fiddling with focal lengths,
messing with your light meter
to produce the perfect photograph.

Mounted on black in your album
your memory of zebras in Zimbabwe –
frozen, lifeless images, not perfect
enough for a picture postcard.

I smile and remember the zebras
nuzzling and cuddling each other.
You look bemused and say
you hadn’t even noticed.


(Previously published in Envoi and previously shared on this blog in 2006 and 2018)

Edited to add: The zebra in the photo is a Grevy's zebra seen in Edinburgh Zoo (viewed from the top of Corstorphine Hill).  Grevy's zebras can be recognised by their large ears and narrower stripes. You can read more about the zoo's zebras here. Grevy's zebra is the most threatened of the zebra species and the People's Trust for Endangered Species are fundraising to help restore grassland for Grevy's zebras in central Kenya. You can find out about this work and donate to the appeal here.

Wednesday, 7 April 2021

Tree Following - April Update

 For Tree Following this year I'm following one of the several wonderful old silver birch trees on North Merchiston Cemetery in Edinburgh. Crafty Green Boyfriend and I started walking round this cemetery (and the nearby Dalry Cemetery) every day for our #DailyExercise during the first UK lockdown last year. And we're still doing the same walk almost every day as lockdown continues!

Although many birch trees seem to be already in bud, this particular tree seems to be slow, perhaps because it doesn't get much sun or perhaps because it's old? I don't know! There are a few reasonable sized buds on the tree, here are a couple of them

and the catkins are developing nicely 

But the most exciting news isn't about the tree itself but about some potential residents! One of the reasons I chose this tree to follow is because it is one of the trees on which we fitted nestboxes earlier in the year (you can read about the nestboxes in this blogpost here.) Last week, Crafty Green Boyfriend and I noticed a blue tit checking out the next box and today we saw a blue tit actually in the nest box, looking out at us! We didn't want to take a photo up close, as we didn't want to scare the nesting pair, so we walked away intending to take a photo from further away. Unfortunately for us, the blue tit had flown before we got a photo, but hopefully we'll get a photo soon! It's certainly lovely to know that the birds in the cemetery appreciate the next boxes! 

Edited to add: today we watched two blue tits flying in and out of the next box and chasing off two or three long tailed tits, who wouldn't want to nest in the box, so the quarrel was probably over territory.

Tuesday, 6 April 2021

Easter Monday in the Dells

Snow had been forecast for yesterday but it was sunny here in Edinburgh (though very cold). We had a lovely walk in the Dells along the Water of Leith

The daffodils and few flowered leeks look lovely together alongside this little path in the wild orchard area 

Few flowered leek though very pretty, is an invasive species, and tends to crowd out the natuve ramsons (wild garlic) which, superficially it looks similar too. However few flowered leek can also be eaten, so the advice is, if you're a forager, to pick wild leek and leave the ramsons to grow! It's too early for the ramsons to be fully in bloom as yet but they will no doubt feature on this blog again in the near future! 

The oarch flowers still look beautiful as they progress along the way to becoming cones

and some of the cherry trees are already in bloom 

Lots of birds were singing and hopping about, most excitingly a pair of siskins. These tiny little finches tend to be quite elusive in my experience and before this year I'd only once seen them along the Water of Leith walkway but this was the second time in only a couple of weeks! Maybe they'll next here this year!


For Nature Notes

Saturday, 3 April 2021

Easter Sunshine

 It's a lovely warm sunny day out there today. We had a walk round Arthur's seat, enjoying the quiet paths amongst the gorse bushes

We were delighted to see this dark edged bee fly near St Margaret's Loch 

The Loch itself was full of birds, mostly mallards, mute swans, tufted ducks and black headed and herring gulls. 

Meanwhile, the grey herons are starting to nest in the trees around Duddingston Loch, you can see several of their large, messy nests in the photo below

Yesterday, Crafty Green Boyfriend captured our local friendly robin on camera, feeding from my hand 

This robin is often waiting for us when we visit the cemetery. We leaves some seeds out the top of one of the graves and several birds come down to feed. This robin started feeding from my hand a couple of weeks ago and now regularly does so.