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1/28 Weekly creativity contest winner & new prompt

Hope is a beautiful thing. And so is the collection of entries for this week’s creativity contest.

Our winner is book artist Rebecca Coll, who crafted a highly creative piece. Rebecca writes: “I pretty much decided to fall in love with Emily Dickinson’s poetry when I was in the 3rd or 4th grade and learned we had the same birthday… Although I’m not sure I’m as smitten as I used to be, the poem on the attached piece is one I have always liked. It describes hope in such a powerful way — as opposed to the desperate hopes you hear so much about. SO I decided to use that poem as inspiration for a paper cutout pop-up ‘book.’ It’s not really a book, more like a card with a hardback cover…. The outside cover is the Dickinson poem and inside is a gold papercut ‘tree of life’ with a red bird perched on a branch. The tree of life is the symbolic image I used for the ‘soul’ where Dickinson says our hope sits perched. Gold is for the precious nature of our souls and the red of the bird is for the fire and strength of our hopes.”





From Terri Fischer, a series of photographs. Terri writes: “The collage entitled ‘hope’ [below] is a collection of photos that I took of a few of my friends while we watched the inauguration. My good friend Sarah is from England, and has been obsessed with the campaign, election, and inauguration of President Obama (I still love saying that!). She hosted an little Inauguration Day party for a group of local moms that were home that day. Sarah is on the right, hand to mouth, likely stifling a sob.”


“‘Obama2’ [below] is, of course, from the same day. I love this photo because it signifies generations to me–mother, daughter, and baby doll, engaged in this historic moment. I feel that the role mothers play in shaping the future of this country is highly underrated! This photo speaks to me of both hope and responsibility.”


“‘Broo,’ [below] is a photo of my fourth child. OK, so really, she’s only watching Kung Fu Panda, but doesn’t that sweet little face make you think ‘hope’?”



From Brittany Vandeputte, a poem with photographs: Brittany writes, “Again, a silly poem inspired by recent events.”


Please just a nibble.
Please just one bite.
Just a morsel of chicken.
Iʼll catch it mid-flight.
No one will notice.
No one will see.
Theyʼll think you ate your dinner,
When it was actually me!


From Jennifer Johnson, a poem:

Hope (The Thing With Feathers)

Some screams are ones you never will forget.
That day, the cries of raw distress
reminded me of blood on black macadam,
an elbow scraped, a shredded dress,
the gravel ground too hard on naked knees.
The common childhood playground casualties.

I went outside, prepared to cluck and shush
assurance — anything to halt
that run of ragged noise, too full of pain,
too flavored by the angry salt
of tears, too close to language to ignore.

I looked around the park but saw no child.
My ears found her — a wounded crow
was dragging one dark wing and hurling sound
at cats who crouched a pebble’s throw
away from her, tails twitching, inching closer.

I broke the clowder’s circle, scared them off,
but terrified the trembling bird.
She hopped away, still shrieking. I stood still
and willed her quiet. She preferred
to flap her one good wing and curse us all.

What could I do? She was no condor, tern,
or albatross; was neither rare
nor lovely. She was common. Did she know
this? Were her cries akin to prayer?
Her voice alone was keeping her alive:
her almost-human hope that she’d survive.


From Marsanne Petty, two entries (again! Go Marsanne); a photograph and a prose piece:

a) “We go to Savannah, Georgia, every year for vacation. We’ve been to the Pirate’s House Restaurant a couple of times. It’s a pretty good restaurant. Anyway, this lantern hangs by the front door, and according to each of the pirates that have taken us on various tours, it was there as a beacon of hope to those on the Savannah River. It may have worked; it may not have. Regardless of the truth of the story or the usefulness of the lantern, it makes for a nice photo.”


b) Hope

Everyone knows there’s no such thing as a happy ending. She had heard it her whole life, especially from her mother. After three failed marriages and one husband who died, she could agree with her mother that there wasn’t much hope. But that didn’t stop her from trying to believe.

Her first hope was that she would get out of this town. That hadn’t happened, what with the abusive boyfriend and lack of schooling. She supposed, really, that her first hope had been to finish high school and go to college in another town. There. That was a much better clarification of her hope. The school thing hadn’t worked out too well – she ended up spending all of her time with the boyfriend, which in turn, led to a failed relationship and failing out of school. And yet she was still in the same small town, alone.

Her second hope was to give her mother a sense of happiness. The poor woman had been through so much, the husbands, the divorces, the death…. What’s a girl to do to help her mother cope with something like that? That had failed too. Her mother had fallen into a deep depression and was reduced to taking medication to get through the day.

Her third hope was to be an artist. She tried, really, she did. She attempted lovely landscapes on napkins, spare newspapers, bits of paper she could find anywhere. A severe lack of money didn’t exactly lend itself to art. When the landscapes didn’t work, she tried people, buildings, individual flowers. All failures.

So she moved on. Her fourth hope was to learn the history of her family. Where did they come from? What did their odd sounding names mean? Could she find more ancestors of her own – other family members, other than her battered, depressed mother? She questioned her mother, who knew nothing. Her own mother had abandoned her to a nearby family when she was four. She could no longer even recall her own mother’s name. The name of the family? Her mother didn’t remember them either, she was gone from their home by the age of twelve, on the street to fend for herself. Any other relatives, then? No, none that she knew of. What of her father? A vicious snort from her mother. Look at your birth certificate, child. I have no idea who he was. No maternal relatives, no paternal name to trace. Hope number four was dashed.

She hoped to take the money her mother had given her and make it stretch far enough to buy food for the two of them. Enough to last the week, at least. So she took the money and walked to the grocery store, closely tallying what she added to her basket. Like every other week, she came up short, even purchasing the cheapest brands of foods, the most cost efficient packages. She went to the register to pay for her meager collection, another hope ruined. They would be hungry at the end of the week.

Walking back home, it began to sprinkle and she thought of her mother’s words – no happy ending. Hope after hope…all failed. She looked up at the sky to see if the rain was going to get harder before she made it home. A rainbow gleamed down at her, reminding her that there was always hope, and it never hurt to stop hoping for something better.


From Cathy Coley, an illustrated prose piece:

Hope’s name is Lucy

epsn0039I love dogs, I grew up with generations of them. For many years living in condos or apartments, I promised my boys, especially K that we would get a dog as soon as we could afford a house. As soon as we moved in, I took them to the local SPCA on a Friday afternoon, near closing to ‘just look.’ The smell of urine and dog and cat fear was everywhere, as it is in these places, even when they are doing their best to find homes for the lost, the lonely, the neglected and the abused. As soon as we walked through the door to the kennels, the first thing we saw adopted us. She was a nervous mangy little cutie we couldn’t get out of our hearts as soon as we saw her. I had envisioned a fluffier, prettier and bigger dog than this tiny bald terrier mix, and we really tried to consider all the others, including puppies we saw, but my heart started racing. I called my husband at work, frantic that we would lose her if he didn’t come immediately with us first thing in the morning. Others stopped at her cage with the “aw” that only the most pathetic can evoke. I really didn’t want to lose her. Neither did K or S. I told the kennel tech we would be back with my husband first thing tomorrow, don’t give her away til we get here! I didn’t sleep at all that night. Of course, my husband was reluctant, but couldn’t turn away from her, either, once he saw her.

I also didn’t want to think I was making a hasty decision. I hoped she really was the best dog for our family. So gave myself a little more than twelve hours to consider bringing a dog with full fledged mange into the house, especially with my beautiful old cat. I didn’t want her to start losing her fur. I had no idea what it would take to get rid of it once we had her home. I learned after taking her to the vet that there are two kinds of mange: a highly treatable and a terrible version that the best thing to do is euthanize the poor creature.

1-21-2008lucy-006When I brought her to the vet, the vet tech looked at her and kept saying how lucky she was and what a wonderful family we must be, etc, but it looked like she probably had the latter version of mange. They sent us home with the treatment for the treatable kind after running tests. We all, the vet tech, the whole staff there, and family crossed our fingers, prayed and hoped. Well, two years, a lot of chewed shoes and otherwise, a lot of escapee chases around the neighborhood later, Lucy is a healthy, slightly spazzy, loveable, beautiful part of our family. After fearing she wouldn’t take well to the baby when she arrived, no one in this house seems to love each other more than Lucy and Baby C. Every time I take her into the vet’s office for a check up, they can’t believe she was adopted, she is healthy, and she’s one of their favorite patients, having come back from nearly completely bald mange to this beautiful shiny coat. Look at the hope in her eyes in the before of her before and after pictures. I know there is a lot of a grander kind of hope in the air these days, but we were hers, she was ours, and with her, hope came to great fruition.


From Kelly Warren, a photograph entitled “Hope for a New Day”:



From me (Miranda): A poem written as I waited in the car with a sleeping baby while my mother ran into a few stores to take care of errands. A few moments are better than none!

Hope is
an iridescent spider’s web
spun fresh each morning,
strong enough to catch
the sustenance that flutters by.

Hope hangs in the alcove
silver in early sunlight


This week’s prompt: “Clock”
Use the prompt however you like — literally, or a tangential theme. All media are welcome. Please e-mail your entries to by 10:00 p.m. eastern time (GMT -5) on Tuesday, February 3, 2009. The winning entry receives a $10 gift certificate to Writers should include their submission directly in the body text of their e-mail. Visual artists and photographers should attach an image of their work as a jpeg. Enter as often as you like; multiple submissions for a single prompt are welcome. There is no limit to how many times you can win the weekly contest, either. (You do not have to be a contributor to this blog in order to enter. All are invited to participate.) All submissions are acknowledged when received; if you do not receive e-mail confirmation of receipt within 24 hours, please post a comment here. Remember, the point here is to stimulate your output, not to create a masterpiece. Keep the bar low and see what happens. Dusting off work you created previously is OK too. For more info, read the original contest blog post.

10 Comments Post a comment
  1. cathy #

    these are great this week! each is so completely different from all the others! i was sure we would be obama’d. yet only one! thanks for the e.d. poem reminders, too, jen and rebecca. a big congratulations to rebecca!

    brittany, baby c and lucy are in cahoots as to who will eat c’s food as soon as adult eyes even blink. i can totally relate to your poem and photos!

    and those i didn’t mention: brava, ladies. i really love all of these entries!

    clocks, hmmm not very inspiring at the moment. all i can think is time to finish my manuscript!

    January 28, 2009
  2. mamasmagicstudio #

    Congratulations, Rebecca! Your book is just lovely. And obviously I’d appreciate the Dickinson reference…. in spite of my somewhat cynical reference, I am a HUGE ED fan!

    Cathy, I had a similar experience with my cat (then a scrawny kitten) when she “adoped us”– though we didn’t have nearly the medical issues that you did. I’m so glad your pup ended up to be healthy.

    Great story about the lamp, Marsanne! it does make for a nice photo — thank you for sharing!

    Brittany, your poem is just charming. Made me smile, as did the pics.

    Terri, your pics are wonderful. What a tribute and beautiful way to remember the day. And amen, alas, about the underrated role of mothers (but I’d like to think folks like us are slowly changing that!)

    Miranda, I will be keeping your very true comment “a few moments are better than none!” as I think about “clocks” 🙂

    January 28, 2009
  3. Is it just me or has the quality of submissions gotten exponentially better of late? They were good before, but really ladies, you all have outdone yourselves the last few weeks. I don’t think I’m competitive anymore. *lol*

    Rebecca – Your book is breath-taking. I’ve developed a sudden obsession with little red birds and I just love the piece you created. How do you do it?

    Terri – I LOVE the “three generation” picture-the doll is just priceless. I can see that picture winning contests.

    Jen – Wow. What a powerful poem.

    Cathy – I have a similar story about getting Sammy. I was wanting to get another dog, and had just heard about rescue. I was on and Atlanta Pet Rescue had this adorable cairn puppy and 1 year old Sammy who’d already had 2 homes and was in rescue for the 2nd time. He had EPI (pancreas doesn’t produce digestive enzymes) and had almost starvd to death and had chronic diarrhea. At the time, I was sick as a dog with gluten intolerance, but didn’t know it and had every gasro issue under the sun. I could so relate to what he was going through. I wrote rescue about the cairn, but mentioned an interest in Sammy, too. They were ready for me to come get him right away! Tom and I weren’t married yet and he was NOT in favor of taking on a sick dog. Sammy didn’t help matters by being a totally lethargic skin and bones stinky dog with a greasy coat and no personality. I went w/ Tuendi to meet him in Atlanta and he was in doggie lala land, but I said “If you want to come live with me, I’ll take you.” He put his paw on my shoulder and slept under my seat the whole way home. Over time, with meds, he got better (still needs meds) and while we were in Ohio, he became a great competitor in the terrier trials. Goes to show what a little love can do.

    Kelly – Please tell me that’s not another view from your house. I’m getting depressed. 😛

    Marsanne – Beautiful picture and great story. Loved the rainbow at the end.

    Miranda- It’s amazing what you’re able to write in the car. Perhaps you should re-consider where you put your office. *lol*

    January 28, 2009
  4. Rebecca #

    Thanks for the kind words all. To answer your question Brittany, I created the piece by using a thick marker to draw the basic image of the tree on a regular sheet of paper. I then (very carefully!) cut around it with a sharp razor. Once the tree was completely cut free I spray-painted both sides of it gold. I did this because it made the tree stronger and thus better able to withstand the folding of the book and also, since it’s a “pop-up”, the reverse needed to be gold as well. The bird was drawn on double-thick red handmade paper and cut with a razor as well.

    What you can’t see very well in the picture is that the tree and the bird are set on “pop-up” hinges so that when you open the book they come forward about a third of an inch and half an inch respectively. The cover is a simple case binding (with Dickinson misspelled — oops! oh well, next time I’ll shoot for perfection).

    This was my first CC contest submission after following the blog and doing the prompts privately at home for a long time. Perhaps I’ll have to try this again…

    January 28, 2009
  5. That was fun, thanks for the photo comments. Cathy, I’m happy to have fulfilled your “Obama’d” cliche expectations. I just couldn’t help myself. 😉

    Rebecca, the book is so very pretty!

    Miranda, what a beautiful poem! I’m hoping to get a little asleep-children-in-the-van time very shortly…

    January 28, 2009
  6. cathy #

    ooo, i hope it didn’t sound that bad, terri! what you did was lovely, i just thought there’d be more than one. briefly considered it myself until i looked at my dog! my boys have wanted one for so long, and i even longer. i adore the baby shot! have you submitted it to the live w/regis and kelly beautiful baby contest? if not, you should!

    i love that lucy’s story inspired thoughts of other rescues. they do love being loved so much!

    January 28, 2009
  7. Sorry, Cathy, Did not mean to come off as defensive–I so often do in this realm. 🙂 It was not intended as sarcastic; I do so love a good cliche! 🙂

    January 28, 2009
  8. cathy #

    thanks for clearing that up, terri! i just hope i had cleared up my intent. these things unfortunately do not translate tone of voice and facial expressions, and to be honest, at times, i even have difficulty with that in person! i’m often afraid i’ve offended someone, or not known i had when it hadn’t occured to me.

    January 28, 2009
  9. wow, another great batch! congrats, rebecca! i admit to harboring a secret desire to create books. 🙂

    terri, i too love the three generation picture. that’s magical.

    jennifer and cathy, both your pieces really moved me. i’m such a sucker for animals. jen, i want to know what happened to the crow! cathy, all my current animals those in need of a home. both my cats were campus kitties, and isabelle is a service dog flunkie who was about to go to the pound.

    brittany, isabelle does the same thing with my girls…yet she’s tall enough to place her chin in the table and just look pitiful. she’s very hard to resist. 🙂

    marsanne, loved your story, especially the last paragraph, and miranda, i agree; your ability to write on the fly is very admirable!

    January 28, 2009

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