Friday, February 24, 2023

Poetry Friday: Talking back to Art

Fairy rock, Iceland


In February, we're still exploring our 2023 theme of transformation in all its forms: conversion, alteration, metamorphosis,  mutation, growth, evolution, revision, modulation, change..  (I'm going to repeat this list every month, for my own benefit, so I know how wide the possibilities are.)  We're also repeating a challenge we've done several times (and one I love):  ekphrastic poetry---which is a fancy way of saying poetry that responds to art. 

This challenge can be done anytime, anywhere a piece of art (painting, sculpture, graffiti, woodblock print, collage...etc.) inspires you to think longer and deeper about the world.  You know you've picked the right piece of art when you want to talk back to it---ask it questions, or dispute its premise, or praise its insight.  As a group, we each threw in two photos that could provoke such a response, and as of blogging this, I don't know what everyone picked.  

As for me, I picked my own photo, probably because I've been dying to talk to this troll woman ever since I saw her on the streets of Reykjavik, Iceland. 

Known as Iceland's "hidden people," trolls (along with  fairies and other folk not easily seen)  are often portrayed as greedy or evil.  But-- if you treat them with respect (the Icelanders say)-- they can be helpful and wise.  So instead of talking back to her, I thought I'd simply let her speak. 

What words would this giantess have for me, should she choose to reveal herself? 



Sunlight will turn me to stone,
they say, leaving me cliff and fissure, 
strata and sediment, mineral and sand

my nose a crag, my eyes, two black nooks,
my arm, an outcrop of granite 
dangling over the sea 

So come, young one,
take a story; I’m unburdening
myself of invisibility. 

Soon, I will be rock,
forever seen. A mountain. 
I think I’ll like that.

            ----Sara Lewis Holmes (all rights reserved)

You can find my poetry sisters ekphrastic poetry here;


Poetry Friday is hosted today by Tabitha Yeatts.  And for next month, here's  our challenge: 

Poetry Peeps! You’re invited to our challenge in the month of March. Here’s the scoop: we’re writing an etheree. This ten-line form begins with a single syllable, and each line expands by one syllable until the tenth line has ten. We’re continuing with our 2023 theme of transformation, but how you interpret that topically is up to you. You have a month to craft your creation and share it on March 31st (hosted here at {fiction, instead of lies!}) in a post and/or on social media with the tag #PoetryPals.

What stories do you  have to tell?


  1. What a generous troll, to give away stories before becoming a part of the permanent story of the landscape!

  2. I honestly wish they'd put this poem on a plaque and post it next to her! It's perfect, craggy nose and all!! Hurrah!

  3. Sara, what lovely personification you gave to this giantess. I like her.
    "I’m unburdening /
    myself of invisibility"
    Such an interesting thought, and then that she's looking forward to becoming a mountain, forever seen. So sweet.

  4. Oooh. "I’m unburdening / myself of invisibility." How many older women would like to do that, troll or otherwise!?

  5. I'm curious about her would be interesting to hear a troll love story. Maybe her beloved was turned into a cliff years ago.

  6. This is such a surprising direction to take the troll lady! I love that you use the lore to create a way for her to still exist in the world, even as she unburdens herself of invisibility. Lovely.

  7. A former neighbor was Norwegian-born, told us that children were told trolls would "get them" if they went out after dark. She was very afraid of the dark. I like your poem for this troll woman, delightful that she will give up being invisible, then the words "forever seen." seem like a yearning from her. You packed a lot in the poem, Sara!

  8. I wanted to write to this troll, but absolutely nothing came to me. I so love what you've done with this. I appreciate hearing her voice, but even more, your language is so rich that I can actually see her becoming the landscape. The last line wraps it up beautifully.

  9. This is a wonderful post. The first thing that fascinated me were all the words for transformation. And your photo and poem led me to imaging this troll becoming a piece of rock, which seemed perfect. I’d love to go to Iceland!

  10. This last comment was from me.

  11. You always find ways to tuck a bit of magic into your work...and do so with this giantess---just the title starts me into the idea of story. On on my way to find a rock to hear the rest.

  12. Ditto to what Liz said. The poem should go right next to the troll!

  13. Sara, in the first photo I see the troll as a frightening individual reaching out to capture little ones. After reading your poem, I feel the gentle spirit of the giantess opening up to another experience. Her rugged look would become a fine addition to the mountain. Well done.

  14. What a wise and generous troll woman.

  15. I wonder if, in the heart of every troll, lives the dream to be seen? I hope her transformation to the elements is a welcomed one.

  16. Oooh, I love this — the generosity and tenderness with which you treat her. ❤️ The fairy rock is perhaps this troll, well into her future, still giving.


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