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3/11 Weekly creativity contest winner & new prompt

Care to dance? A lovely array of submissions for this week’s creativity contest. Our winner is Cynthia Platt, for a beautiful poem. Cynthia sent in this lovely note: “Here’s an entry for you for the ‘Dance’ category. Dancing has always been a big — and joyful — part of my life. Now it’s joyful part of my nearly-three-year-old daughter’s life, too. Thanks for taking a read, and for hosting the blog, which I read, and take inspiration from, regularly!” Congratulations, Cynthia. Your $10 gift certificate has been issued.

Dance Party

Last night we had a dance party.
A dance party
used to mean something
concrete to me.
Late nights,
flashing lights,
speakers pumping out
bass at outrageous decibels.
I am older now, though,
and she is so young.
Early nights have replaced late,
a brightly lit living room has displaced
the dark, pulsing club.
Last night, her music played
sweet and low and lovely.
I am older now,
and she is so young.
The three of us danced
around the living room,
“It’s a dance party, Mummy!” she trilled,
joy suffusing her voice.
And it was.
Last night we had a dance party.
A dance party means something concrete to me.


From Jen Johnson, a fabulous sonnet: “Submitting an oldie-but-goodie this week, something that came immediately to mind with the ‘dance’ prompt. It was written back when I was in my sonnet phase and really fascinated with poetic form and structure. (A fascination that I still have, though these days I have less of the required focus to put it into practice!) The idea originally sparked when I realized that the nursery rhyme for which it is named has fourteen words — so I wanted to see how it would work as an ‘acrostic sonnet.’ The term refers to the fact that this can be read two ways: top to bottom, like an acrostic, by reading the first words of each line ‘down’ the poem; and also left to right, like a typical poem.”

Ashes, Ashes — We All Fall Down

Ring me round with laughing children, dancing
around and around in the pale daffodils,
the yellow, nodding flowers chancing spring.
Rosy sky wipes wet hands down her skirts, spills
pockets brimming with sultry, heavy air.
Full puddles standing in the glossy street
of gravel-gilded pavement call for bare
posies of children’s toes — pink, tiny, sweet.

Ashes of memory, now — bitter, gray.
Ashes only, no longer the burning.
We slog through this muddy field on May Day,
all alone, sodden socks blistering, yearning.

Fall just once to your naked knees. Stumble
down and stop. Now rise, kindled and humble.


From Cathy Coley: “So, when I saw ‘dance’ was the prompt, I knew I could take this in a 1,000 different directions. However, very quickly the idea of dancing on my father’s feet as a little girl, and Baby C dancing on her Daddy’s feet popped up strongly and quickly from the bottom of that full pool. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get good light, dh and baby together all at once since last Wednesday. This is the result of the photos, which I had hoped would inspire a generational poem or something. Alas, bad photos don’t make for good inspiration, especially on Tuesday morning staring at the day’s deadline. But it was great to remember how I felt as a little girl dancing on my father’s feet. And I got a nice shot in of Daddy kissing his girl.”



From me (Miranda): When I was in high school, I won a competition for designing the T-shirts and sweatshirts for an annual dance event. (The win was one of about two happy moments related to my high school years.) I loved drawing in pen and ink, an interest that I inherited from my mother, who supplied me with a homemade light box. The final design is packed in a box somewhere in my attic, but I do have some similar sketches around somewhere — alas I spent nearly an hour tearing apart my just-unpacked house in search of the scrap of paper I was looking for, to no avail.

danceI have a weakness for images of dancers. I’ve always admired the beauty of a high arch. Many dancers have exquisite feet — and many non-dancers have exquisite feet, too. Whenever I notice a person with exceptional arches, I can’t help but ask if she’s a dancer. Unless someone is willing to intentionally point her feet for you (which is a bit awkward to ask of a stranger), the only way to really assess her arches is to casually observe her foot when it’s extended — say, if she’s sitting on the floor with her legs out straight, one crossed over the other, which tends to force a gentle pointing of the foot. Or, if someone is sitting in a chair cross-legged and has a natural turnout, you might be able to observe her arch when she absently points her foot during conversation. Not that I am utterly obsessed with feet or anything, really! Despite many years of ballet, and dancerly aspirations, I do not have beautiful arches — as you can tell from this photo of me en pointe. Just not that impressive. (Good thing that “arch augmentation” isn’t something that most plastic surgeons offer, or I’d have done it by now.)

I still remember the smell of new toeshoes with fondness — that intoxicating perfume of glue, leather, and satin. While I don’t consider myself a stage mother, I admit that I did drag my daughter to ballet lessons at the age of 5. Ballet just wasn’t her thing, however. She never cared for it, so I let it go after a few weeks. Now, I peruse my old copy of Allegra Kent’s The Dancer’s Body Book and Suzanne Farrell’s autobiography, hoping to manifest a little grace in my life, even with my regular old, Plain Jane arches. (Photo credit Jack Foley.)


This week’s prompt: “Map”
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, March 17, 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 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.

5 Comments Post a comment
  1. cathy #

    congrats, cynthia on a lovely poem!

    jen yours bears more readings, i feel there are layers i haven’t tapped in my quck first couple.

    i enjoyed your essay, miranda. as a former childhood dancer, i can tell you, many more dancers’ feet are knarled and deformed, mutated from years of stuffing them in narrow toe boxes for hours of daily practice, one of the painful reasons i quit at 13, at 6 day a week practices. but i do love a good arch as much as you! after i quit i became obsessed with degas’s little dancer paintings, and loved when i was in college, driving 30min up the road to the clark museum to see his bronze ‘little dancer’ whenever i felt like it.

    brittany blogged dance this week, thought i’d see it here. check it out!

    March 11, 2009
  2. Jen #

    Congratulations, Cynthia! Your poem is very sweet — and something I can definitely relate to. My 2 yr old daughter is a dancing fool, bless her.

    Charming pics, Cathy! some wonderful memories there. nice to have them preserved! And yes, “layered” would be an apt word for my poem! I remember writing it felt a bit like constructing an onion from the inside out….

    Really liked your essay, Miranda! I never got into dancing formally, so the glimpse into an unfamiliar world was very interesting.

    March 11, 2009
  3. congratulations, cynthia! my girls and i have dance parties quite often.

    jen, i really love your poem. i’ve never seem a poem written like that before–fascinating!

    cathy, the pic of daddy kissing baby is priceless.

    and wonderful essay, miranda. i have to tell you i am one of those people with extremely high arches! i never thought of it as a dancer’s trait though, as i’m not very graceful. 🙂 i’ve always cursed my high arches because i have such a hard time with shoes. i can’t wear flats unless they have super duper arch support, which is very hard to find in all those cute little flats. i have to have at least a little bit of a heel or my feet hurt all day. i often suffer with terrible foot cramps, particularly at night. i remember talking to a friend of mine who does a lot of athletic training and she asked to see my feet. she kept saying, “relax your foot, kelly”. “relax your foot, kelly”. “relax your foot, kelly”. it took me a good ten minutes to convince her that my foot was relaxed! it just naturally curves like that! it’s a curse! 🙂

    March 11, 2009
  4. I’m so jealous Kelly — although the physical pain sounds awful. Suffer for beauty? LOL…

    March 12, 2009
  5. cathy #

    thanks for compliments, the photos are growing on me.

    kelly, i know how you feel, i’m supposed to wear orthodic inserts for arch support and levelling my hips, alas, i don’t even wear support shoes for my arches.

    March 12, 2009

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