Thursday, May 2, 2024

Writing from the poem of another poet

Hello May Poets,

Isn't it wonderful to be alive in May?

This month, it's my turn to challenge the Inklings to stretch with  poetry. The challenge below came from listening to Commonplace. Conversations with Poets (and other people). 

This Prompt was inspired by Episode 122: Reading Nicole Sealey’s The Ferguson Report: An Erasure

1. Label a copy of one of your poems ‘May Inkling Challenge’

2. Share a copy of your May Inkling Challenge with other members (CHANGED TO ONE OTHER MEMBER) of the group. You can snail mail or share via Google Docs.

3. Spend some time reading the poem

4. Fiddle with, play with, tinker, tear apart, be inspired or stumped by the poem shared with you

5. Write at least one poem for sharing on PF that stems from your reading/writing time on the first Friday of May

6. OR, (Going rogue is fine too)Write a poem in response to another’s reading/writing from your original shared poem.

After our group swapped names and poems, I received a poem from Catherine. It's a poem she has already published at Reading to the Core. I spent some time reading the poem silently and aloud and thinking about it.

These days, I'm enjoying how poetic form constraints can lead to surprises in writing. I turned to constraints for this challenge and limited myself to the word garden of Catherine's original work to make new poems. Except for a Golden Shovel poem. I used only the words of her original to create:

  • haiku series
  • blended with a nursery rhyme
  • elfchen
  • pensee
  • trinet
  • nonet
  • golden shovel (a striking line from the original)

Catherine's original:

In the before times,

when the world still fed on dreams,

forests filled with

hazel, hawthorn,

oak and ash

spread across the land,

sharing their gifts with all.

But dark clouds of greed

Descended on the forest.

The timeless rhythms of 

hazel, hawthorn,

oak and ash

were drowned out the the

thwack, thwack, thwack,

Of the axe.

The forest thinned

and wept.

And the world forgot

How to dream.

The forest remembers

Those dreams.

They whisper to us

On the wind

Of hazel, hawthorn,

Oak and ash.

Be still.


They’re waiting for you.

Catherine Flynn, © 2022

Isn't the repetition of of /hazel, hawthorrn oak, and ash just dreamy?

I took that line from the second stanza as my striking line for this golden shovel.


… rhythms of hazel, hawthorn, oak and ash spread across the land

Once, rhythms


wisdom circled magically in a hazel

tree who passed it to a hawthorn

who shared it with the wise old oak 

who recorded what she could with her many rings. And 

now in our manicured cities of flowering pear and ash

we forget the healing, the magic. Spread

a blanket under an old tree. Gaze up and across

its mesmerizing canopy. Feel once more the

enchantment, the rhythm that makes us one with the land

Linda Mitchell 5/1

For more inkling responses to this prompt, visit

Catherine at Reading to the Core
Margaret at Reflections on the Teche
Heidi at My Juicy Little Universe
Mary Lee at A(nother) Year of Reading
Molly at Nix the Comfort Zone

Last but not least, there's another WORLD poem up on the padlet. Hooray!

Thank you Buffy Silverman for hosting our round-up this week. I'm looking forward to reading lots of new and interesting poems.

Next week, I host the Poetry Friday round-up. I'll be hosting my now annual clunker exchange. Stay tuned!


  1. Linda, what a treasure you and Catherine shared. I love knowing that trees communicate, but you showed us how and blessed us with a lovely golden shovel. I feel the enchantment!

  2. You Inklings create such inventive challenges! Both poems are wonderful, melancholy tributes to trees in “the before times.”

  3. What a great challenge--and nothing like studying a poem closely to discover its riches. Love the magical sharing between the trees, the record in the rings.

  4. Linda, such an intriguing prompt you created and also flew with it! Catherine's poem is gorgeous, love the line you borrowed and and how your poem grew from it,Yay for trees and their interconnectedness!

  5. The magical sharing between the Inkling poets once again echoes to us, the reader. Thank you, Linda and Catherine! And you've inspired me to gaze up at a 'mesmerizing canopy' of spring green leaves that just unfurled at the creek bed near our flat. :)

  6. First, looking forward to those 'clunkers'! Then, it's such a creative prompt, Linda, perhaps one all of us can ponder when finding a special poem. Your link from Catherine's beautiful lines shows that love of the trees by us and among them, in "rhythms/of /wisdom circled magically." I am surrounded by trees at my home and am grateful for them every day! Thanks for a special post!

  7. Oh, wow -- first to Catherine's poem, then to your response, and finally to the both of them together. They give me shivers. What a challenge! What fun! Thank you, Linda!

  8. Catherine and your golden shovel response I have to admit made me sad for our loss that the poems evoke. But I love the repetition of hazel, hawthorne, old and ash and gazing up at a tree is a soothing remedy.

  9. Both poems just beautiful and enchanting (though sad). I like your call to sit still and appreciate the magic and wisdom of trees -- I was just gazing out the window and marveling at how the branches are now full of leaves again . . .

  10. Linda, this is such a wonderful "conversation" between you and Catherine. How lucky we are to get this glimpse. I like the constraints of form, too. It makes me more "essential" with my words. I love "manicured with the land."

  11. Linda, I love how your poem follows Catherine's suggestion to "Listen" to the trees. You did, and they spoke to you in hopeful words. Lovely.

  12. Oh, my goodness! I love trees, and both poems are amazing!

  13. Oh, Linda, you answered Catherine's plea to be still and listen. You responded with a beautiful looking up and remembering. Such a beautiful response golden shovel you share here, and the nursery rhyme mash-up on your Padlet. It looks like you wrote a lot more forms to share with her too. Beautiful gift of stretching with poetry!

  14. This is stunning, Linda. I want to sit under that old tree, bask in its "mesmerizing canopy," and "feel the rhythm that makes us one with the land."

  15. So nice, Linda. I especially love all the tree names in your poem and Catherine's.

  16. Here I am, finally--and so happy to find another canopy! I love that you tried many forms for your responses, and isn't the golden shovel just a queen of forms? Fave line: "who recorded what she could with her many rings." The passing on of wisdom echoes what your challenge asked us to do, passing on our poetry!

  17. This is such a cool exercise! I love Catherine's original--you had so much lovely language to work with. And your golden shovel is exquisite!


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