Poetry Challenge ‘The Art of Progress’

connoisseur by Norman Rockwell

  Adam Dustus who has a wonderful poetry blog kindly suggested a poetry challenge which featured this painting – The Coinnoissoir’ by Norman Rockwell.  I have called the challenge ‘The Art of Progress’ because of the corresponding post I wrote over on Echostains – which also provides a link for this challenge. Clicking any of the paintings will take you over there to see what I’ve written about this painting and the other two – and why I think they represent ‘progress’.  The challenge is to write a poem or Haiku about ‘progress’.  You can use any of the pictures as a prompt or just write about ‘progress’ itself.  The poem can be serious, humourous, short or lengthy.

The Railway Station by William Powell Frith, RA. 1862


Please note;-

The idea behind the challenges is to publicise Bookstains (as well as having creative fun) so therefore it is imperative that the poet link to Bookstains to further the challenge.

 In return the poem is copied to the challenges particular page and the poets own website mentioned with a link and the poem critiqued on not only Bookstains but also on the poets own blog or website.

 If you wouldn’t put the poem on your own blog, please don’t send it to mine and expect me to promote it.  This is a genuine challenge – so please play fair:-)  

 I wracked my brains trying to decide which painting to go with, but just couldn’t decide.  So, I thought I would just write  a short Acrostic poem about progress itself and what it means.  Sometimes progress is no such thing.  It can be two steps forward then two steps back – so in effect you can go all around the houses to end up in the same place!  Sometimes we over complicate the simplest of things – sometimes the old way can be the best. Sometimes the act of being seen to be progressing – progression for progressions sake can actually be destructive.

 Paving the way to a future uncluttered,

 Ripping down structures all boarded and shuttered

 Oiling the wheels of our Brave New World

 Gasping for air as through life we are hurled

Ringing the changes whilst wringing our hands

Eking existance in strange no mans land

Searching for new ways, disgarding the old

  Seeking the grail but finding fools gold.

©Lynda M Roberts 2010


Turner The Fighting Temeraire 1839


Jessicasjapes who has a wonderful poetry and prose blog has contributed this poem based upon Frith’s painting ‘The Railway’ Thanks Jessica!

The Railway Station by William Powell Frith 1862.

I stand on the station,
my eyes assaulted by the throng:

The fretting lady, flushed and hyperventilating,
begging with unladylike candour,
a loved pet dog to carry onboard,
her remonstrances ignored by officious officialdom.

The bossy family, self centred and fraught,
hurrying behind a flustered porter,
luggage heaving en masse,
loyal wife dragging indulged children.

The foreign tourist, feigning ignorance,
reluctant to submit precious monies,
the cabbie insistent and world-weary,
outstretched hand insistent.

The brave warrior heroes, uniformed and disciplined,
fighting red-eyed mistiness,
parting loved ones for distant fields of fire,
love torn for country and family.

The wedding party, tearful with happiness,
wishing everlasting good fortune,
excited whispers deafened by announcements,
a bride departing for a new chapter.

The schoolboys, motherly embraced,
hiding embarassment and apprenhension,
a fresh scholarly challenge awaiting,
far from the warm bosom of home.

The professional criminal, outfoxed and undone,
restrained within a foot of freedom,
apprended in full view of tired wife,
a future apart within walls.

A railway scene in 2010?
No, a flashback memory of 1862.

Technology progresses,
People remain the same.

© Jessica D’Angelo 2010


Our third contribution is from turtle memoirs.  Please check out this wonderful creative blog!  The poem is called ‘Coinnoisseur’ and it is based upon the Rockwell painting. 

Call me a connoisseur of love.
I stand in front of modern paintings,
study them till eyes go thick with tears
and paint runs thin again—fast and faster
colour flows to colour back in time, now there
it is, no there, and there… and ever further back
to reconstruction of first moments, the big bang
of creativity that gives me now, this universe
before me. Outside of time I realize futility
in such thinking—how can there be start
or endpoint to what’s circular?

New eyes fit patchwork pieces back together.
I gaze in wonder at this painter’s perfect rendering of vision.

Where is the love the artist felt in painting?
Does it live in colour, easel, frame? Is it light
that shines now in my heart, a knowledge new,
this vision of my own?—All that and more…
A patchwork quilt of moments fuelled by
an inner flame lit long before we knew
the boundaries of time, now waiting
on our rediscovery of desire to keep
forever burning our love creations,
to pass forward, let them linger
in an other’s senses, light
another’s hearth.

©Turtle Memoirs 2010

Our fourth poem comes from Adam Dustus, poet, novelist  and graphic artist, Please take look at this interesting blog!

Standing in the Way 


Dignifying Respects
Paid dues to just remain
Such maddening illusion
Norm standing in the way

©Adam Dustus 2010

16 Responses to “Poetry Challenge ‘The Art of Progress’”

  1. […] Poetry Challenge ‘The Art of Progress’ « Bookstains Says: November 30, 2010 at 4:52 pm […]

  2. Nice piece. Reminds me of something I wrote…

    (but from a totally different point of view)


  3. […] (This post is in response to a challenge over on the Bookstains site – a fascinating place which twins with Echostains. Check them out! Please read the poem first before looking at the painting which it is based upon. Find the Bookstains challenge here: https://bookstains.wordpress.com/2010/11/30/poetry-challenge-the-art-of-progress/) […]

  4. Jessicas Japes Says:

    Hiya, here is my poem based upon the Railway Station by Frith!

    • Lots of detail and great observations lie in this poem! All life is there:-

      “…excited whispers deafened by announcements,
      a bride departing for a new chapter…”

      You’re right – people do remain the same, I suppose if you froze frame lots of people on a railway platform in our time you could pick out the same scenerios – only the clothes would have changed really! That’s ‘progress’ 😀
      Thanks for joining in Jessica – appreciated:-)

  5. Hi – I’m not sure if mine quite suits as a response to “The Art of Progress”, but I did do a write with the Rockwell painting in mind… I’ll let you decide 🙂 – it’s at http://turtlememoir.wordpress.com/2010/12/07/connoisseur/

    • A fine contribution! I think it really does fit the theme of ‘progress’ very well too. I love:-
      “..the Big bang of creativity that gives me now, this universe
      before me…”

      Theres such a lot of great detail in this poem – and a wonderful sense of progression:-

      “forever burning our love creations,
      to pass forward, let them linger
      in an other’s senses, light
      another’s hearth.”

      Perhaps nothing really changes after all – it’s just our perceptions that shift:-D
      Thanks again:-)

  6. Thanks very much, and for your comment on my blog. I like your final observation here, about it being our perceptions that shift… Perhaps not “just”, but I agree, a shift of perception is a type of progress.

    (And just to let you know, there’s a part of my poem that’s repeated above – where you copied it – the left-justified part of the text; was that intentional?)

  7. […] above 4 Line poem is a response to the Bookstains Challenge called ‘The Art of Progress.’  I suggested the Norman Rockwell painting to Lynda as a challenge […]

  8. Lynda, thank you so much for another challenge opportunity. Wonderful poetry on display here from you, Jessica, and Turtle—proud to take part! The Connoisseur is one of my favorite paintings. My post is up:

    adam dustus

  9. Thanks Adam! I like the way that the norm/normality (Norman Rockwell) stands in the way (literally, in the painting) of the ‘illusion’ which is the Modern Art painting (probably Pollock). Although you can’t see his face – you can sense his bewilderment:-) The new versus the old. Thanks for contributing – always appreciated!

  10. dear lynda,

    finally! i have had enough time to peek at this wonderful literary blogpage of yours. i find it very interesting. and the poetry challenges are quite inspirational.

    well, i like the poem from turtle memoirs, it has that kind of poetic structure that nearly resembles shapes and rich in imagery. perfect indeed.

    i commend you for putting so much effort in the promotion of the arts. i hope i could be able to contribute to its furtherance.

    have a blessed new year lynda.

    • Thanks Marvin! Happy New Year!
      The challenges are open indefinitely. I hope to have a lot more this year. I’d be honoured to have you contribute!!!
      I’ll be putting a lot more into Bookstains than I did last year too, plus tranferring some book reviews and film reviews from Echostains to Bookstains.

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