Thursday, May 23, 2019

Old Photograph Pantoum

Good Poetry Friday, Friends!

It's Memorial Day weekend finally...and despite hot and humid weather, opening pools, grills and flip flops, I'll still take time to remember our fallen guardians of freedom.  
Recycled book art (c) Linda Mitchell

This week's poetry round-up is hosted by Dani at Doing the Work that Matters. Hop over to her blog and find all kinds of poetry for the holiday weekend.

I've had some fun with research recently that led to this blog post. 

When my grandparents home was cleared out, my aunt gathered photographs and slides to scan and save digitally for posterity.  I am most fortunate to have photographs of people in my family tree much farther back than I can remember because of her efforts.

Additionally, I'd inherited one of my grandmother's recipe boxes. The box was full of hand-written cards, newspaper and magazine clippings--even some ripped off back-of-package recipes. I love that little box of Grandma so much I made a cookbook of sorts illustrated with the photograph collection to share with my sisters a few years ago.

One photograph shows my grandmother as a young woman reading a magazine. I tried to find that specific magazine volume by hunting for the tiger on the cover. I looked in Library of Congress, online archives and Ebay. I couldn't find that Collier's Weekly cover anywhere...and eventually gave up.

Flash forward to a week ago when I was perusing Pinterest and saw some antique Vogue covers... when it dawned on me that I had never looked there for my grandmother's magazine. It took me less than a quarter hour to find it... Collier's Weekly Magazine from February 4, 1939.

Courtney, W.B., et al. “Collier's.” The Unz Review,

The photograph of my grandmother...who I imagine was smiling for her be husband, my grandfather, became the inspiration for a pantoum draft.

Old Photograph

*****This poem has been removed for revision****

The fun? 

I've been researching the 1930s. Some people I've focused on weren't famous. I've gotten to know them through records left behind. There's mention of one of my subjects in this 1939 issue of Collier's. So fun! It kinda feels like my grandmother wanted me to find them. 

If you want to peruse this issue of Collier's, you can here.


  1. Oh Linda, this poem is delightful. I appreciate how you have placed us in that moment and time, and reveal how much life can change so quickly. I had no idea how much research went into writing poetry until recently. I have been reading about the 1930's , 40's and 50's but focusing on completely different topics!

  2. Well done, Linda! I love how you've woven your grandparents story together with world events, and your word choice of "davenport." My husband's grandmother used that word also, but I'd never heard it until I met her. I wonder if it was a regional term?

  3. Such a wonderful post, Linda. Loved hearing about your grandmother's recipe box, and your successful hunt for the magazine! Your poem is beautifully done; the poignant shift at the end has such impact. I also love the photo of your grandmother -- that split second moment in time, wonder what she was thinking?

  4. Your pantoum is masterful! It's so hard to get the just right lines that will fit into other stanzas seamlessly. You've done it here and ended with that beautiful image of your grandmother reading alone, waiting. And davenport is such a great word!

  5. What an amazing treasure hunt, now documented in your pantoum! Love it! And I love that photograph too. Isn't it fun seeing grandparents as young adults? I have some wonderful photos of my grandparents being playful that I also treasure.

  6. You are a great detective! Love that you've combined family history and world history, all in one poem. And the pantoum form seems to reflect your detective work, adding one clue at a time until you've completed the story of your poem.

  7. Pinterest to the rescue! Very cool that you found the cover. That's a sweet photo of your grandmother. Your poem is great, and I like your flip flops, too!

  8. Linda, you rekindled my interest in research and ephemera with your recycled paper book art picture and your use of an old photo to bring a family story to life. Your stanzas unfolded beautifully providing a peek into the thoughts of a young girl sitting on her davenport. That word is a shot out of the dark for me, resurrected by you. My grandmother had a davenport so the word must have been popular early to mid-20th century. That would be an interesting research project.

  9. Stunning poem. Wow. Love all the detective back story on finding the cover! What a connection you must feel now to your grandmother!

  10. Such a good story, even the 2nd time around! You are so lucky to have this treasure trove of recipes and photos. Where was that davenport located? I'm intrigued to see that the printed label is already stuck onto the cover in 1939, and I love the interplay between what's IN the photo and what's outside the frame, what's happening now and what's about to happen. Fun indeed.

  11. Linda, what an exciting discovery! Your grandmother was a lovely young woman. Your poem grabbed me from word 6: davenport. I don't know that last time I heard that word used. I remember my grandma used it, and my mom did as well. I bet if I asked my children what it is, they wouldn't have a clue!

  12. Serendipity must have heard your call when you found the cover on Pinterest and matched it up with the lovely image of your grandmother. I like the shift in safety that presents itself in your poem, it works very well.

  13. How interesting! I'm so glad you were able to track it down. It's miraculous to find such treasures as we explore!

  14. You are so clever/talented! Love this story - and your successful search! And wow, am I loving your recycled artworks. (They're eye-catching as I scroll through, playing catch-up!)


Friendly, positive comments and feedback are always welcome here. Please let me know I'm not just whistling in the dark!