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Archive for the ‘poetry’ Category

Blogging helps to create communities. We are exposed to people from all around the world, some of whom may be like us, but many of whom are quite different. What is critical is that we interact with each other—we “like” and comment on the postings of others. All of this takes place in a virtual world and we develop relationships in that world. Wouldn’t it be cool if we could meet each other in person, in “real” life?

It may sound like the story line for a corny Hollywood movie, but an American photographer recently met an Irish poet in Paris, thanks to the efforts of a New Zealand blogger who had much earlier highlighted their respective blogs. As you might suspect, I am that photographer; Damien Donnelly of deuxiemepeaupoetry.com is that poet; and Liz Cowburn of exploringcolour.wordpress.com is that blogger.

Several days ago I said a few words about Damien when I re-blogged one of his postings with photos from our time inside the Grand Palais in Paris, so his name may sound familiar. When I first made plans to visit Paris, I thought there might be a chance that I could meet Damien, but what I did not realize at that time was that he was preparing to leave Paris. As it turned out, I made it to Paris before he left.

We agreed to meet for lunch. Have you ever met someone in person that you met initially on-line? Did you worry that the on-line “persona” would not mesh with reality? I really encourage you to read Damien’s poetry, which I previously characterized as “personal and universal,” and I can reassure you that he is just as thoughtful, introspective, and engaging in person. During our lunch together, we shared deeply details about our personal lives and our connection with Paris.

One of the things I remember best was Damien’s description of how long it took to reach the point when he felt comfortable telling people that he was a “poet.” You see, like many creative people, Damien has a full-time job and crafts his verbal art in the remaining time. Gradually, though, writing appears to have taken on a greater role in his life. As of a few day ago, he no longer has that full-time job and in a few more days he is leaving Paris.

Is he calling it quits? As the French would say, “au contraire”—Damien is in fact returning to Ireland to pursue a dream. You can read more about it in the “About Me” section of his website, but the essence is that he plans to find and renovate a property in Ireland that will serve as a writers’ retreat and bed-and-breakfast. Damien is also working on a novel and I believe more of his poetry is about to be published.

Why am I writing all of this? First of all, I want to let you all know how wonderful it is when the virtual world and the real world overlap—meeting and spending time with Damien was one of the highlights of my three weeks in Paris. I hope to have the chance to meet more of my readers whom I consider friends. Maybe New Zealand?

Secondly, I am personally inspired by someone who decides at age 44 to go all in on his passion, who has the courage to radically change the course of his life in pursuit of his creative vision.

Let me end with the words of a short poem that Damien posted a few days ago, part of a series of poems as he prepares to leave Paris. This one was entitled “Bookends; Timing is Everything.” (In order to get the full impact of the poem, you should click on the name of the poem which is a link to the original posting with Damien’s accompanying photograph and brief words of explanation.)

“Coming in

is easy.

Learning when to leave

is an art

not easily understood.”

Damien Donnelly

Damien in the Grand Palais

 

Damien Donnelly

Damien in the Grand Palais

 

Damien and Me

Damien and me after lunch.

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

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So many creative people are multi-talented and Irish poet Damien Donnelly is no exception. His poetry, which can be found on his blog at deuxiemepeaupoetry.com is both personal and universal and often prompts me to look deeply inside myself. You definitely should check out his website.

He is also a talented photographer. I was thrilled last Sunday to have the chance to spend some time with him as we photographed the inside of the Grand Palais in Paris. Here are some of his wonderful photos from that day.

Deuxiemepeau Poetry by Damien B. Donnelly

Last Sunday, this masterpiece of beaux-arts architecture, le Grand Palais was open to the public for a few hours and I rushed in along with fantastic photographer, and now street sketch artist, Mike Powell, on one of his last days in Paris, in order to snap a little of the light under the glass.

All photographs by Damien B Donnelly

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Another photo of a chickadee? Chickadees are so common that they fade into the background to the point where we no longer notice them. Nobody would travel a great distance to see a Carolina Chickadee (Poecile carolinens) like this one and there were no throngs of curious spectators to ask me what I was photographing.

What was the attraction for me? One of my fellow bloggers, Mr. K.A. Brace, a thoughtful and insightful poet who writes in a blog called The Mirror Obscura, posted a poem today entitled “The Brilliance” that really resonated with me. In the poem, he spoke of the “brilliance of the ordinary.” I encourage you to check out this poem and other wonderful poems—one of the cool features of most of the blog postings is that they feature an audio clip of the poet reading the featured poem.

“The brilliance of the ordinary”—I love that combination of words. Children (and pets) approach life with boundless curiosity and endless fascination with the most mundane, ordinary aspects of our everyday world. I want to regain more of that childlike sense of wonder.

chickadee_winter_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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Soaring summer temperatures have caused the water level in some areas of my marshland park to drop and Northern Water snakes (Nerodia sipedon) can now be seen trolling these shallow waters for prey. Yesterday, in one small area I saw three of these snakes and managed to get shots of two them.

Sometimes the snakes will sit on brush and logs just above the level of the water, as in the first photo, while in other cases they submerge their bodies in the water, with their heads sticking out of the water, as in the second photo.

I like the way that the first image shows the details of the snake’s scales and like how the second photo highlights the marking on the snake’s body (and realize that some folks may find both images to be creepy).

snake2_blogstriped_snake_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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Why do hawks scream? That question ran through my head yesterday during a visit to a local garden, when the call of a hawk rang out almost continuously for long periods of time.

Twice I managed to see the hawk, which I think may be a Red-tailed hawk (Buteo jamaicensis) and got some shots of it. Although I was able to get a shot of the hawk perched on the limb of the tree (the second photo here), I prefer the first image.

I had observed the hawk flying to the branches of a tree that was relatively near to where I was. The photographic challenge for me was that the hawk was mostly in the shade and the sharp upward angle made it tough to get a good shot. After a few minutes on the branch, the hawk took off and I got a couple of photographs before the hawk disappeared into the trees.

I really like the outstretched wings and tail of the hawk as it took to the air. Note too that the hawk’s mouth is open—I think he was still screaming.

hawk3_bloghawk2_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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If I were a woodpecker, I would want to be a male Downy woodpecker (Picoides pubescens) and slam my head into something soft as a pillow—like this cattail—and not always into solid wood. Of course, you can end up with a mouthful of cattail fibers, and not just a tasty bug.

Downy woodpecker with mouthful of cattail

Downy woodpecker on cattail

More seriously, scientists are doing research to figure out why woodpeckers don’t end up with concussions, given that they can slam their heads into wood with the force of 1,000 times that of gravity, according to an article on livescience.com. By comparison, humans can survive a force of up to G’s, according to Air Force research, though there are reports of race car drivers surviving a force of over 100 G’s. According to the article, Chinese researchers are studying the microscopic structure of the bones surrounding the brain and also the beak to try to understand how the woodpecker’s brain is protected. If you are interested in the research, an article on a website called Inkfish explains in layman’s terms the research methodology and some of the preliminary conclusions.

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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The world seems changed after the rain. The falling rain stripped some of the delicate petals from this lotus flower but left behind a glistening trail of water.

From the perspective of beauty it seems like an equitable trade—the transformed flower still takes my breath away.

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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