Wendy Webb On Tour: New Folding Mirror Poet and Poem

Today we have the first of the Folding Mirror poems created by Norfolk poets that are featured in the etips summer issue; etips is available free from this link. Wendy Webb has kindly allowed the poem to be published on this site as well.

Interpretation and Structure

I interpreted the poem as being about the big question of life and death, and whether we can assume from there being a beginning that there will be an end.

This is questioned by the inclusion of the word ‘not’ into the line next to the middle in the lower half of the poem; the only difference between the words used in each half of the poem.

While I was probably on the right track about the philosophical grandeur of the subject, Wendy has kindly clarified that the poem is about Bob Dylan.

As Sarah James did with her Mistress Clover poem, Wendy has divided the two halves of the mirror poem further, which is an interesting development in the Folding Mirror form.

Now over to the poem, and thanks to Wendy for creating and sharing On Tour.

ON TOUR Wendy Webb

Together Through Life.
The latest example.
So this enigma plays endlessly with words and tunes,
until we hear all earth Blowin’ in the Wind.

It has a beginning
so we may assume there will be an end.

Although it is the Never-Ending Tour

so we may not assume there will be an end.
It has a beginning

until we hear all earth Blowin’ in the Wind.
So this enigma plays endlessly with words and tunes,
The latest example.
Together Through Life.

Sarah James’s New Poem: Mistress Clover

Today we have another great Folding Mirror poem by Sarah James.

eTips Folding Mirror Feature

But firstly I’d just like to mention that Caroline Gill has written a substantial feature on the Folding Mirror poetry form in the eTips summer issue, which is edited by Wendy Webb.

There are Folding Mirror poems by Caroline, myself and several other poets, as well as lots of other great poetry, writing and advice.

If you’d like a PDF copy please let me know, or ask Wendy at eTips.

Sarah James and Mistress Clover

Now over to Sarah James for her epic new Folding Mirror, which is preceded by her explanation.

The Form Blossoms and Grows

Over the past week, I’ve been folding and unfolding the possibilities of Marc’s form. My poem Mistress Clover was consciously written as a folding mirror poem. Initially, a simple observation of rain on clover in my garden, this soon became a metaphor for luck (as seen in card games), power and fickleness, in the form of infidelity. The triangular nature of such a relationship is symbolised by the clover’s three leaves, ironically one short of the supposedly lucky four leaves.

I liked the fact that the folded mirror form gave me the two women (sides) fighting over one man, and the swing from mistress back to wife (as well as the swinging nature of luck). But I then decided to try folding the poem again – so that each stanza/mirror side folded in the pivotal line ‘aced’ is itself folded around a pivotal mirror line (‘count’ and ‘ring’). The claustrophobic, disorientating/deceptive ‘hall of mirrors’ effect of the multiple folding seemed ideal for the subject matter…

Mistress Clover

Three-leaved but still lucky enough, maybe,
your club hand catches each jewel
of rain intact
them as teardrops
see how each one gives you
the perfect poker hand over her


but in the end the Queen
of true hearts may reclaim them
for her diamond
sometimes love’s pale
spaded flowers produce the strongest suit
bleed luck to keep a promise

Sarah James, poet and short story writer

Turner’s Chichester Canal Finishes off First Round of Romantics

The fifth artist to feature in the Romantic interpretation series is J.M.W. Turner. This will conclude the first round of five paintings and poems, with another five from the same artists to follow.

Introduction and explanation

I thought I had completed all ten in the series before publishing any, but then couldn’t find any Turner ones when it came to his turn. And Turner was my favourite artists before the series! I tell you, the poet’s mind!!

So I did this one yesterday after finding the painting both beautiful and a nice fit for the Folding Mirror theme, with it’s horizon pretty much dividing the painting in two.

Thus, the poem works from the top of the painting down, with the horizon the middle.

The Structure

The structure mirrors in words per line (6-5-5-3-4-11-4-3-5-5-6).

The line lengths are pretty much the same, and the punctuation too. The only difference is that the commas in the third from outer lines are one word different from each other; with the top half after the first word and the bottom half after the second word in the line.

The Poem

An Autumn Sunset in Chichester (Chichester Canal by J.M.W. Turner)

ruddy sky brightened by setting sun
shimmering golden rays falling down
but, in reality rising up
through mauve dusk
to lilac hills, where

sailing ship and cathedral stride the natural horizon

on golden pond, a
cream light stretches
to boat, men and birds
between trees with autumn leaves
ripples darken the corners to ochre

The Painting

Turner's Chichester Canal
Turner's Chichester Canal

Copied from Wikipedia

Thomas Girtin’s Kirstall Abbey the Fourth Romantic Poem

Today’s fourth poem in the interpretations of Romantic art series is Thomas Girtin’s Kirkstall Abbey. The abbey is still standing, and is now on the edge of Leeds.

Poem Explanation and Interpretation

The poem has the same amount of words per line on each side, with the lines working out as containing a
5-7-7-8-9-5-9-8-7-7-5 word structure.

The line lengths in the two halves are not exact, but roughly form diagonal lines from the shortest on the outside lines to the longest on the inside pair.

The punctuation and capital letters do not match exactly.

The poem divides the painting into a top half above the arch of the river Aire containing the abbey and nature, while the bottom half contains people and man-made structures.

This has been interpreted as being symbolic of the past, present and future as Girtin saw it during the Enlightenment period.

The Poem

Nature and Society: Thomas Girtin’s Kirkstall Abbey

Clouds spread up on high
casting a shadow beyond the blue sky.
The sun shines down upon Kirkstall Abbey;
illuminated and shining light bright in reverent glory
framed by a living olive green horseshoe above where

Aire divides nature and society

over rustic farmhouses interrupting a line of green trees
with people passing on through; making their way
to meet God beyond the flowing water.
Two people and a horse walk away;
on their way to civilisation

The Painting

Girtin's Kirkstall Abbey
Girtin's Kirkstall Abbey

Copied from Wikipedia

Gainsborough’s Mixing of Humanity and Nature the Third Romantic

The third ‘Romantic’ artwork in the series of ten interpreted within Folding Mirror poems is Thomas Gainsborough’s Sunset: Carthorses Drinking at a Stream (circa 1760).

Poem Structure

The poem has the same amount of words either side of the folding middle

The line lengths are also similar and diagnonally decrease in length from the outer line to the inner on each side.

The punctuation and use of capital letters also mirror on each side of the poem, and it does this by having the middle line start the second half of the poem.

The Interpretation

The horizon provides the dividing line of the poem, with the sky and nature above and the ground and humanity below.

The Poem

Enclosed in wood on the sunset horizon

Shades of grey and blue spread across the evening sky
cover canopy of fluorescent leaves circling up on high.
Green trees and lone stump hang below the night,
but over the fading glow of the passing light.

Enclosed in wood on the sunset horizon

woman and child leave the safety of lit path.
One man and grey horses in dark shadows below,
resemble guides of nature within their realm once more.
Silver leads to black and their route along twighlight’s floor

The Painting

Thomas Gainsborough Classic
Thomas Gainsborough Classic

Copied from Wikipedia

William Blake Provides Second Artwork in New Poetry Series

Today’s second artwork in the Folding Mirror poetry from ‘Romantic’ art series is an interpretation of William Blake’s Sabrina’s Silvery Flood, which was created in the 1820s.

Poem Introduction and Explanation

The poem divides the sketch into left and right, either side of the flooding water.

The left half is interpreted as being mostly natural and the right man-made.

The left side of the painting is the top half of the poem, and the right side the bottom half of the poem.

The top half of the poem works from the top of the left half of the painting down to the bottom, while the bottom half works from the bottom of the right half of the painting up to the top, before ending in the flooding water.

The words per line either side of the seven word middle are identical
(4-3-3-5-2-2-3-7-3-2-2-5-3-3-4), but the line length and punctuation don’t match exactly.

The Poem

Blake’s River Border Country (Sabrina’s Silvery Flood 1821/circa 1830)

Blanket of the world
covering darkened hill
overlooking nature’s spill.
Tree rising into the horizon
sheltering ewes
suckling lambs
as nature intended.

Two halves of land, a reflecting image.

One has constructed
wooden barn
working farm.
Roof reaching up on high
obscuring sunset sky
beyond flooding lake
now a moving snake

The Painting

A Romantic Sketch
A Romantic Sketch

Copied from the Tate Gallery.

John Constable’s Salisbury Cathedral from the Meadows

Today’s Folding Mirror poem is an interpretation of John Constable’s Salisbury Cathedral from the Meadows.

Poem Introduction and Explanation

I thought it was an amazing painting when I first saw it; which was only this year. When I saw the cathedral in the centre of the painting I thought it would make a good Folding Mirror, so I interpreted it in poetry.

I then did nine other poems interpreting ‘Romantic’ paintings.

It’s a simple poem that mirrors in the three main ways: words per line (4-8-5-8-4), line length and punctuation (a comma each for all the lines).

The poem works from bottom left to top right of the painting; so the painting below the cathedral is at the top of the poem, and the painting above the cathedral is on the bottom of the poem. Bit topsy-turvy I guess.


The Poem

Salisbury Cathedral from the Meadows

Earth, hedge and fence

Tree rises skyward, towering colour above anything man-made

Salisbury Cathedral, horse and cart

Rainbow arches infinitely, translucent light glows over tall spire

Clouds, sky and light

The Painting

Constable's Salisbury Cathedral
Constable's Salisbury Cathedral
Copied from Wikipedia

Jean Knill and Folding Mirror

Yesterday, Jean Knill (who blogs at Blogspot and Writelink) provided the reasons why she loves haiku and an example of her daily haiku diary.

Today, I feature an extract from an email conversation I had with Jean in the early stages of the Folding Mirror form.

Jean has also kindly allowed this site to use a neat Folding Mirror poem she created for a Writelink competition last year.

I think you can see the haiku influence in the Folding Mirror, and thanks again to Jean for publishing it here.

Jean’s thoughts on haiku and Folding Mirror

The similarity between haiku and the folding mirror concept is the syllable count. This is very constrained in a haiku, which in its pure form, is three lines of 5, 7, 5. so it is actually a form of folding mirror poem.

But my understanding suggests that there is more freedom in the folding mirror poem as the author selects the number of lines and the number of syllables in each line on the first side of the mirror. The poem can also be several stanzas if required. The constraint in the second half only relates to the author’s earlier decisions.

Neither is the author constrained as to subject matter, whereas the pure form of haiku should make some reference to nature and the seasons. (You’ll note therefore that the haiku in my diary are not always pure!)

Jean Knill’s The Nursery

How can
this room stay pink,
when all the medics say
this new baby will be a boy?
She has to find a way
to turn it blue
and right.

Contact: jean@jknill.fsworld.co.uk

Jean Knill and Haiku

As I have stated on this blog, the structure and idea of haiku was a big influence on my first Folding Mirror poem, and today I am happy to inform you that we have a guest writer and poet who has been creating quality haiku for a long while.

Jean Knill (who blogs at Blogspot and Writelink) will first of all introduce what writing haiku and poetry means to her, and then there is an example of the daily haiku diary she ingeniously writes.

Tomorrow, Jean will compare haiku and Folding Mirrors, and there will be a Folding Mirror she submitted to the Writelink Folding Mirror competition in 2008.

Jean Knill: My Haiku Diary

Introduction and Explanation

One of the bloggers I follow recently wrote a post entitled, ‘Why I Hate Haiku’. I was intrigued and found I had to agree with some of what he wrote. But his conclusion was that 17 syllables was just not enough to express what he wants.

I don’t agree with that. It’s a challenge, but it’s a great way to express the essence of a moment that I want to remember.

I first learnt about haiku on a college course as a mature student when I was about 34. I’d been going through a bad patch in my life, after my first husband left me and our two children.

One evening I found a babysitter and went to listen to some music in my local church. I thought it might be uplifting, but I found it bitter sweet, and in this mood I wandered home along the path by the river in the dark. Selfishly not thinking about my children, I couldn’t care less if there was a psychopath around to bump me off. It would have been a happy release. Silly me.

My college assignment to write a haiku drifted into my mind as I looked at the reflection of the moon in the water beside me, and this just popped up in my head.

The moonlight shimmers
as the breeze stirs the water
on a warm June night.

I’ve never forgotten it. Every time I think of it, I remember my hopeless mood and how fortunate I am to be not still in that place.

So that’s why I love haiku. I couldn’t be without them in my life. Now I write a haiku diary, picking a small moment or event in each day that seems memorable. I always stick to the 5-7-5 syllables but not always the Japanese rules on content. How factual or poetic they are varies a lot but reading them afterwards usually brings back the emotions and feelings along with the memories.

Here is the haiku diary of a recent holiday in Egypt. It helps me recall exactly what we did on each day, so my haiku are very personal. But hopefully it also has some interest for other readers as well.

Wed 18 Mar

Luxor is hot and
so noisy. Why did we choose
to holiday here?

Thur 19 Mar

We walk out from the
oasis of our hotel,
swim above the Nile.

Fri 20 Mar

Early start for the
West Bank – those temples and tombs.
Wonderful Luxor.

Sat 21 Mar

We visit Luxor’s
soaring city temple and
the sphinx avenue.

Sun 22 Mar

On George’s birthday
cruise to Dendora, I buy
Egyptian textiles.

Mon 23 Mar

Restaurant haven
means we can eat away from
the sudden sandstorm

Tues 24 Mar

Karnak is biggest
of all the temples, and where
pharoah gods once ruled.

Wed 25 Mar

White birds sitting on
the Nile float upstream till the
flock lifts to fly back.

Thur 26 Mar

Meet Egyptian kids
at Medinat Habu – most
colourful temple.

Fri 27 Mar

Tiny, little birds,
yellow breast, black on top,
turquoise shoulder flash.

Sat 28 Mar

Cruise ships manoeuvre
awkwardly across the Nile.
One goes on its way.

Sun 29 Mar

Tented enclosure
is where we eat Egyptian
food beside the Nile.

Mon 30 Mar

Riding on camels
alongside the river, through
wheat and sugar cane.

Tues 31 Mar

Have a final dip
in the hotel’s swimming pool
Tomorrow we leave.

Wed 1 Apr

We fly through the night.
Pinpoint lights below seem like
stars all up-side-down.

Contact: jean@jknill.fsworld.co.uk