poetry and prose about place

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rural to urban

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In one of my recent posts, here, I wrote about a course I took using collage-making as a writing prompt. To help us visualize the method, the teacher (Lynn Davies) gave us examples of collages she had built and asked us to do some response writing. Here is a facsimile of Lynn’s collage and the poem I wrote in response.


collage 2.jpg


Relocating the Rhino


We move,

rural to urban.

Exchange night song

for traffic noise.

Swap canopied trees

for storied buildings,


night stars and Jupiter

for wall switches

and tic-tac-toe

of energy leak

from offices

in skyscrapers.


Beneath our feet,

rocks become fluid,

magma, electric blue.

Footing uncertain

on rocks

that wobble.


We armor ourselves,

chose tenement addresses.

Turn off lights

to save our silver,

wish for stars

in the night sky.


See only

tired workers,


the lights on

way past

quitting time.



Since I am a community planner and environmentalist, the interpretation of the collage comes as no surprise. The surprises (for me) are the rhino as metaphor for humans moving into the urban setting and the comparison of the twinkle of office buildings to the twinkle of rural stars.  Implied is the irony of rural workers, seeking a better life, working even longer hours when they migrate to an urban life.


All my best,

Jane Tims

Written by jane tims

November 26, 2018 at 12:00 am

out of place

with 5 comments

One of the advantages of belonging to a regional writing group — regular opportunities to refresh the writing mind and put new tools in the writer’s kit.


This past month at WordsFall, an annual event of the New Brunswick Writers’ Federation, I took a course from well-known poet Lynn Davies (author of how the gods pour tea, 2013, Goose Lane Editions, The Bridge That Carries the Road, 1999, Brick Books, and others). Lynn’s course Paper Moon, Paper Shoe: Writing and Collage introduced me to an new idea, using paper collage to inspire and renew.


In a couple of very enjoyable hours, Lynn showed us how to build a collage from magazine images and other paper scraps. She showed us examples of collages she had made and set us to work on our own collage. Her instructions were to select images that appealed to us at the moment and not overthink the choice of images. After the images were glued to a card, we took some time to write about the collage and the ideas it suggested.


Here is the collage I produced and the resulting poem.




out of place


An orange tree

in temperate soil,

among caraway

and dill.

One red tile

in a zigzag

of black and white.


Shoes take me

for a walk

in barley grass

and caraway.

Melon rinds

on size five feet.

Too slippery, too wide.


Garlic and dill

by lantern-light.

Ten after ten

on the hall clock.

Pickles and port

and a splash

of blackberry wine.



when the lights go out,

makes no sense at all.

Dormer rooms

too tight

and me too tall.

Caraway among the dill.


Salt on wounds.

Seeds in pickle jars.

Willow trees scratch

at window glass.

Garlic to banish

grinning skulls,

creep beneath tiles.



Next time you struggle for inspiration, consider generating some new ideas with collage.


All my best,

Jane Tims

Written by jane tims

November 20, 2018 at 12:38 pm

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