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.”
AN ODE TO A TODDLER BY THE DOG SITTING HOPEFUL BESIDE THE HIGH CHAIR
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.”
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
I 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.
When 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!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org by 10:00 p.m. eastern time (GMT -5) on Tuesday, February 3, 2009. The winning entry receives a $10 gift certificate to amazon.com. 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.