#folktober #ekphrasticchallenge. Day Twenty-Seven. To celebrate the launch of my new poetry collection “As Folktaleteller” I am downloading 93 folklore art images, 3 per day in October and asking writers to write poetry or a short prose inspired by one, two or all three images. Please join Jane Dougherty, Dave Garbutt, Jacqueline Dempsey-Cohen, Merril Smith and I, plus those who react to the images on the day, as we explore images from folktales.

F 1.27. Sluagh

F 1.27. Sluagh

F 2.27. Sirin Vasnetsov_Sirin_Alkonost

F 2.27. Sirin

F 3.27 1200px Wendigo Wintery_Forest

F 3.27 1200px Wendigo Wintery_Forest


Sirin (F 2.27. Sirin Vasnetsov_Sirin)

They seize the skies each night
Wings unfurling in lancet arches –
Cathedrals of flight
yearning toward heaven.

Yet the weight of endless tears
turns their exquisite faces
ever earthward.

They gaze down on us, luminous
in an ecstasy of grief.
Reflecting back the
celestial glory they seek.

Jacqueline Depmsey-Cohen

Reedbeds of the Euphrates

—– original home of Sirin and Alkenost (birds of joy and sorrow)

Sharp-edged reeds, in waist high water
we wade and watch
bog thrushes, Basra Reed Warblers
and crakes, always glimpses of crakes—
disappearing, tied to this habitat,

and then we see two
crakes with womens’ heads:
The black Alkenost singing of floods
to come, the return of marshes
the rising river

and another!
Sirin walking through reeds
carefully, her head, moving as she walks
‘quip, quip, quip’
“the paradise is gone
reed beds drained, the rain
never falling,
plough and harrow moving where
crakes walked, marsh harriers flew.”

Which is true? Which is lie?

-Dave Garbutt

Sirin and Alkonost (Inspired by 2.27, Sirin and Alkonost, The Birds of Joy and Sorrow)

In this time of in-between,
when only pine and fir stay green,
the other leaves turn red and brown,
and fog tiptoes in to obscure sight
but carries sound.

Look up, and you might see,
the two sisters in a tree,
on a bough of oak or birch,
there they sit–
or rather perch.

They sing of joy and sorrow,
they make you forget tomorrow,
they are beautiful, their songs enchanting
owl and raven winged—
they sing, entrancing.

Golden Sirin should remain a stranger,
her wondrous voice lures you to danger.
Raven Alkonost, is difficult to find—
as happiness is fleeting—
her song may make you lose your mind.

The world you thought you had,
beauty that may not make you glad.
Twin-edged, sorrow and delight,
bird-women of joy and sorrow,
bring both darkness and light.

In this time of in-between,
beware of the invisible and the seen
stay clear
of birds with women’s faces and hair,
run from their songs that float in the air.

-Merril D Smith

Sirin and Alkonost (inspired by F2: 27)

From beneath the first rocks uprooted,
the first source sprang in ribbons
of water-feathers, sparkling with song
and the soft melodies of comfort.

Water and wind, feathered fish-birds,
flying on billowed rivers, sisters, mothers,
wingtip to wingtip, owl and swallow,
swoop, sweep in their silent dances,

on their tongues, high, excited chatter
and the crooning flute music of remembrance,
they weave a life story, embracing birth,
death and all that lies between.

-Jane Dougherty

Bios and Links

-Jane Dougherty

lives and works in southwest France. A Pushcart Prize nominee, her poems and stories have been published in magazines and journals including Ogham Stone, the Ekphrastic Review, Black Bough Poetry, ink sweat and tears, Gleam, Nightingale & Sparrow, Green Ink and Brilliant Flash Fiction. She blogs at https://janedougherty.wordpress.com/ Her poetry chapbooks, thicker than water and birds and other feathers were published in October and November 2020.

-Eryn McConnell

is a poet originally from the UK who now lives in South Germany with their family. They have been writing poetry since their teens and is currently working on their second collection of poems.

-Spriha Kant

developed an interest in reading and writing poetries at a very tender age. Her poetry “The Seashell” was first published online in the “Imaginary Land Stories” on August 8, 2020, by Sunmeet Singh. She has been a part of Stuart Matthew’s anthology “Sing, Do the birds of Spring” in the fourth series of books from #InstantEternal poetry prompts. She has been featured in the Bob Dylan-inspired anthology “Hard Rain Poetry: Forever Dylan” by the founder and editor of the website “Fevers of the Mind Poetry and Art” David L O’ Nan. Her poetries have been published in the anthology “Bare Bones Writing Issue 1: Fevers of the Mind”. Paul Brookes has featured her poetry, “A Monstrous Shadow”, based on a photograph clicked by herself, as the “Seventh Synergy” in “SYNERGY: CALLING ALL WRITERS WHO ARE PHOTOGRAPHERS” on his blog “The Wombwell Rainbow”. She has been featured in the “Quick-9 interview” on feversofthemind.com by David L’O Nan. She has reviewed the poetry book “Silence From The Shadows” by Stuart Matthews. Her acrostic poetry “A Rainstorm” has been published in the Poetic Form Challenge on the blog “TheWombwell Rainbow” owned by Paul Brookes. She also joined the movement “World Suicide Prevention Day” by contributing her poetry “Giving Up The Smooch” on the blog “The Wombwell Rainbow”, an initiative taken by Paul Brookes.

-Gaynor Kane

from Belfast in Northern Ireland, had no idea that when she started a degree with the OU at forty it would be life changing.  It magically turned her into a writer and now she has a few collections of poetry published, all by The Hedgehog Poetry Press Recently, she has been a judge for The North Carolina Poetry Society and guest sub-editor for the inaugural issue of The Storms: A journal of prose, poetry and visual art. Her new chapbook, Eight Types of Love, was released in July. Follow her on Twitter @gaynorkane or read more at www.gaynorkane.com

-Dave Garbutt

has been writing poems since he was 17 and has still not learned to give up. His poems have been published in The Brown Envelope Anthology, and magazines (Horizon, Writers & Readers) most recently on XRcreative and forthcoming in the Deronda review. His poem ‘ripped’ was long listed in the Rialto Nature & Place competition 2021. In August 2021 he took part in the Postcard Poetry Festival and the chap book that came from that is available at the postcard festival website. https://ppf.cascadiapoeticslab.org/2021/11/08/dave-garbutt-interview/.

He was born less than a mile from where Keats lived in N London and sometimes describes himself as ‘a failed biologist, like Keats’, in the 70’s he moved to Reading until till moving to Switzerland (in 1994), where he still lives. He has found the time since the pandemic very productive as many workshops and groups opened up to non-locals as they moved to Zoom. 

Dave retired from the science and IT world in 2016 and he is active on Twitter, FaceBook, Medium.com, Flickr (he had a solo exhibition of his photographs in March 2017). He leads monthly bird walks around the Birs river in NW Switzerland. His tag is @DavGar51.

-Merril D. Smith

lives in southern New Jersey near the Delaware River. Her poetry has been published in several poetry journals and anthologies, including Black Bough Poetry, Anti-Heroin Chic,  Fevers of the Mind, and Nightingale and Sparrow. Her first full-length poetry collection, River Ghosts, is forthcoming from Nightingale & Sparrow Press.  Twitter: @merril_mds  Instagram: mdsmithnj  Website/blog: merrildsmith.com

-Jacqueline Dempsey-Cohen,

a retired teacher and children’s library specialist, considers herself an adventurer. She has meandered the country in an old Chevy van and flown along on midnight runs in a smoky old Convair 440 to deliver the Wall Street Journal. She is a licensed pilot, coffee house lingerer, and finds her inspiration and solace in nature in all its glorious diversity. Loving wife and mother, she makes her home in the wilds of Portland OR. www.MudAndInkPoetry.art 

2 thoughts on “#folktober #ekphrasticchallenge. Day Twenty-Seven. To celebrate the launch of my new poetry collection “As Folktaleteller” I am downloading 93 folklore art images, 3 per day in October and asking writers to write poetry or a short prose inspired by one, two or all three images. Please join Jane Dougherty, Dave Garbutt, Jacqueline Dempsey-Cohen, Merril Smith and I, plus those who react to the images on the day, as we explore images from folktales.

  1. Pingback: Folktober challenge day 27 – Jane Dougherty Writes

  2. Pingback: Folktober Challenge, Day 27 – Yesterday and today: Merril's historical musings

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