Thursday, December 27, 2018


Poetry Friday

© Joyce Ray

This year I had decided to celebrate my muse by producing something concrete with my poetry. Jone Rush MacCulloch planted the idea a couple of years back when she was my Winter Poem Swap partner. She sent the most beautiful desk calendar with her exquisite photos and poems that perfectly capture each image. I knew I wanted one of my own someday. So thank you to Jone for the inspiration!

This is one of my 2019 calendar pages. I took this photo at a Greek monastery - Byzantine, holy and still, yet I felt prayers and footsteps in the the ancient stones.

I am grateful for every writing partner in the Poetry Friday community. May we all be led by light in the new year.

Donna at Mainely Write has gathered more inspiration from everyone at the Roundup. Thank you, Donna!

Friday, November 16, 2018

Happy Haiku News

New mural at Asian Rural Institute, Japan by artist Iris Burbank
I'm sharing happy haiku news for this week's Poetry Friday. My entry for Whole Life Soaps' haiku contest is one of the Honorable mentions! It was number 8 out of 500 entries. That makes me pretty excited. Here it is:

my skin, your skin
scrubbed into one people-
clean living

You can read the excellent Honorable Mentions, Runners up and Winning Haiku at Whole Life Soaps' Blog.

When I heard about this annual contest from Rattle Magazine just days before the deadline, I decided to give it a shot. The winning entry gets printed on a line of soap! Pretty cool. If you like to write haiku, keep your eye out for Whole Life Soap's annual contest next fall.

I wrote the poem while living in a multicultural environment in our volunteer assignment in Japan. I was introduced to this music video by Kwabena, one of the Asian Rural Institute's participants from Ghana. It's titled "Different Colours, One People" and is by Lucky Dube.  The idea of different skin, one people leaped into my writing process.

Linda has the Roundup over at Teacher Dance with a Rosemary Wells Giveaway!

Friday, November 2, 2018


Poetry Friday is here and it's almost stick season in the northeast. Some leaves remained on their trees long enough for those of us who have been away to see some color this year, so I'm grateful for that. I'm also grateful for Jama who's hosting today's poems and their authors! Her posts are always gorgeous (and delicious), informative and inspiring.

Today's post is PASSIONATE about our responsibility to VOTE in Tuesday's election. Go read the poem by Judith Harris, enjoy the wonderful art, and get ready to cast your vote in the most important election of our lifetimes.

On Halloween,  my husband and I left Japan after two months volunteering at the Asian Rural Institute. We had been appointed as short term missionaries by Global Ministries. As we flew over Alaska in the middle of the night on our way home to vote, the view out my window was peaceful, almost ethereal. I was surprised at the words that emerged as I began to record this scene in a poem. Here is my haiga.

Photo and poem  Joyce Ray Copyright

right wing slicing through
stillness over moonlit clouds 
spurs at the ready

Thursday, June 7, 2018


Brontë Sisters - Bob Ray photo

MY soul is awakened, my spirit is soaring
And carried aloft on the wings of the breeze;
For above and around me the wild wind is roaring,
Arousing to rapture the earth and the seas. 


The long withered grass in the sunshine is glancing,
The bare trees are tossing their branches on high;
The dead leaves, beneath them, are merrily dancing,
The white clouds are scudding across the blue sky. 


I wish I could see how the ocean is lashing
The foam of its billows to whirlwinds of spray;
I wish I could see how its proud waves are dashing,
And hear the wild roar of their thunder today! 



(Acton Bell, pseudonym of Anne Brontë, December 1842. From Poems by Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell) 


In May of 2017, I enjoyed a dream trip to the UK to pay homage to some of my favorite authors. Since Jane Eyre holds a special place in my heart (the only novel I re-read periodically), I set my sights on Yorkshire, England. From the moment we arrived at Haworth and looked up the steep main street, cobbled with pavers leading to the Brontë Parsonage at the top of the fell, I was in heaven.

Thanks to the Brontë Society, the Brontë parsonage is essentially as it was when Patrick Brontë, a curate, brought his family there in 1820, except for a side addition added by a subsequent owner. The dark stone is the same as all the old Haworth  buildings, giving the town a sombre effect.

 Brontë Parsonage

The large dining table where Charlotte, Emily and Anne, under the pseudonyms of Currer, Ellis and Acton Bell, penned and discussed their stories is strewn with manuscripts, inkwell, tea cups and sewing box.

Parsonage Parlor or Dining Room

Charlotte wrote in 1850:
‘We did not like to declare ourselves women, because we had a vague impression that authoresses are liable to be looked on with prejudice.’

They were forced to reveal their identities when there was a misconception that the author of Wuthering Heights was one in the same as the author of Jane Eyre.

Branwell, their brother who died young from alcohol and opium abuse, also wrote and painted. 2017 was the bicentenary of Branwell’s birth, celebrated at the Brontë’ Museum with an exhibit, “Mansions in the Sky.” Branwell’s writings and drawings were displayed with poems by Simon Armitage. Branwell painted this portrait of his sisters and included his self-portrait but later covered it over.

Branwell's portrait of his sisters


I learned so much about this family and drank up every detail. The Brontë children were writers from a very early age. They created tiny manuscripts about their imaginary worlds featuring the Duke of Wellington and Branwell's toy soldiers. Two older sisters died very young from consumption, or tuberculosis. Emily and Anne also succumbed to TB. Charlotte, pregnant and married less than a year to her father's assistant curate, died in her prime.

Parsonage Kitchen
The BBC documentary “To Walk Invisible” had been filmed in 2016. I recommend it highly for all Brontë fans. The period costumes worn by the actors were displayed throughout the house, which helped me imagine Charlotte, Emily or Anne just ready to don a bonnet for a walk on the moor.

Charlotte’s actual shoes and dress are displayed in the Museum.

Charlotte's Shoes

Charlotte's Dress

 A storyteller guide gave a wonderful tour of the churchyard and area surrounding the Parsonage. He encouraged us to enter a local stationer’s in what was the Haworth post office during the Brontë’s time and say hello to the proprietor, Margaret. 

She is the great-great-great granddaughter of the Haworth postmaster during the Brontë era. We had a lovely chat. She showed us the huge drawer sectioned for individual stamps and the wide wooden counter where “the girls mailed their manuscripts.”  I caressed that well-worn counter and absorbed whatever it had to give. 

Me Writing Wuthering Heights!

There was a wonderful project going on during my visit. Since there is no original Wuthering Heights manuscript, visitors were invited to create one. I set aside my strong dislike of Heathcliff, and along with over 10,000 other visitors, wrote one sentence! The manuscript is now bound with the list of all who transcribed it and will be on display this year during Emily's bicentenary.
 On the storyteller’s advice I bought a recent biography of this literary family, The Brontë’s by Juliet Barker. I am loving it and reliving my trip all over again. 

One of these days. I'm going to bake Moggy Cake,  (love the name!) a Yorkshire dessert which looks like gingerbread to me. First I have to locate some black treacle. I thought I might substitute molasses, but they say the taste is different. 

The visit to Haworth was a highlight of our literary tour, but the homes of other authors were inspirational, too. I’ll be sharing more of these. Meanwhile Anne Brontë’s bicentenary is in 2020, in case you’re interested!

Kiesha at Whispers from the Ridge has today's Poetry Friday Roundup.