Creative prompt: music to image

Here is some lyrics-free music by Songs of Water to imagine to, to use as a creative springboard.

You can listen to the instrumental music alone – or watch the video with its performance and glimpses of back projected images, for further prompts.


Poetry of Resilience – Irina Ratushinskaya

Poetry can inspire by acknowledging a person, telling their story, celebrating their life’s witness.  I just came across a poem by Luci Shaw, which tells us another poet/person’s story, their persistence through harsh circumstances.  Encouraging.  Luci’s poem begins with her introduction to Irina, in italics.

Irina Ratushinskaya
—Russian poet and physicist who was sentenced
to seven years in a Soviet labor camp for writing about
freedom and God. We met at a conference in Oxford
and gave a joint poetry reading.

In the gulag, denied paper, she wrote her
words on soap, then rinsed them off into the icy air
like breathing hope into the world. The words
she held safe in the wide freedom of her memory.
They were words of faith and love and outrage.
They were like her children, held in her mind’s
embrace for all those years until she could
speak them aloud and own them without fear,
un-silenced and un-cowed.

I have her little gold pill box, a love gift, still
holding in its minor space a breath of her courage.

Luci Shaw

Irina Ratushinskaya

Irina Ratushinkaya‘s account of her gulag imprisonment and how she and the other women survived, supporting one another, is published in her book: “Grey is the Colour of Hope” (resissued Hodder and Stoughton, 2016, Sceptre imprint.  ISBN: 9781473637214 available as paperback and e-book/Kindle)

Part of Irina’s poetry, in the poem “I will live and survive” is quoted in the Guardian’s fascinating obituary:

And I will tell of the first beauty
I saw in captivity.

A frost-covered window! No spy-holes, nor walls,
Nor cell-bars, nor the long endured pain –
Only a blue radiance on a tiny pane of glass,
A cast pattern – none more beautiful could be dreamt!
The more clearly you looked the more powerfully blossomed
Those brigand forests, campfires and birds!
And how many times there was bitter cold weather
And how many windows sparkled after that one –
But never was it repeated
That upheaval of rainbow ice!

If you’d like to read more of her poetry, its books are titled:

  • “No, I’m not afraid”
  • “Beyond the Limit”
  • “Pencil Letter”
  • “Dance with a shadow”
Bookjacket "In the Beginning"

early formative memoir: Irina Ratushinskaya

She has written the memoir of her earlier years as: “In the beginning: The formative years of a dissident poet”.

Her novels are “Fictions and Lies” and “The Odessans”

Creative Takeaway

Do you know someone who you deeply admire for their persistence through life, despite great difficulties?  Perhaps they could be a theme to inspire your song/poetry/visual art/dance/craft.  You may find this an encouraging exercise, which strengthens your own resilience in life.

A sight for the ears – exhibition tie-in

Edinburgh, Scotland: Last night, I was at the book launch of a pamphlet book of poetry “Seen/Unseen” written in response to the artworks in an exhibition “Hidden Gems” at the City Art Centre, Edinburgh.

There was a brilliant turnout, in part due to the fact that there were 30 poets involved and most of them were there to read their poems.  Kate Hastie mc-ed the event, having curated the book and the writers – all like herself drawn from the Scottish Graduate School for Arts & Humanities.  Or, to put it another way, many doing Masters and PhDs in Literature or Writing.  And to put it another way, rather likely to be our next generation of published professional writers.

The poets were responding to artworks such as the picture and sculpture shown (photos from City Art Centre website)


Time travel and Pizza

Time travel and pizza….. Well, what more could you ask for in a short animation?  Looking at the website,  I came across this oscar-nominated short video.  Just two minutes of your earth time.  Or is it more?  Or less?

Creative Takeaways

Slippery Edge like to feature the work of creative folk – have a look at their website and see if your work might fit their style.  If so, you can submit it to them.  They draw from artworks around the world and may be another shop window to display your work.  And certainly, a good place to view a lot of good work from a wide range of international sources.

Categories they’re looking for work in are:

  • advertising
  • architecture
  • art
  • cinematography
  • music
  • photography

Art = “a fresh seeing”

If you know anyone who loves Matisse’s cutouts but says “I’m scared to make art” or “I dread old age”, show them this video.  Eunice Parsons is a vibrant, working collagist in her 90s. She works with huge pieces of paper, ripping them and rearranging them carefully into new, eye-popping pictures. (Note: she made this video at age 90)


Cold? Try garlic mushroom macaroni cheese

Today’s creative prompt is “cold” – my creative response is cooking a garlic mushroom macaroni cheese, recipe courtesy of the fantastically named food blog “Amuse Your Bouche”.


As made by “Amuse Your Bouche” on her blog

Here’s the story….. today being a crisp, autumnal day, I visited my favourite cafe at an art gallery (what’s not to like).  However, today I had no lunchtime companion – and I’ve discovered that the number one rule of an enjoyable eating experience, as laid down by food critic Jay Rayner in an earlier post is true….. i.e. have a good eating companion to hand.

So, I dashed home with the aim to recreate the cafe’s glorious smell and sight of plates piled high with “garlic mushroom ‘n’ mac”.  A google search later, right off the bat, a new to me blog popped up “Amuse Your Bouche”.  I know that mine won’t taste so well as the creator’s – I accidentally tipped too much unweighed pasta twirls into the saucepan of hot water – so the sauce to pasta ratio is very low.  (I comfort myself that the fat content is lower).  All in all, best to use the blog cook’s own photo.

Why I love the blog’s name is that it’s a play on words – in very expensive restaurants, there is an extra course called an “amuse bouche” – literally something to amuse your mouth/tastebuds.  (it’s in French).  But this down to earth blog is cheery and declares that is is all about “simple vegetarian recipes”.

And my dining companion?

Jan-Michel Basquiat.  I’m watching the end of a recent BBC documentary on him, called “Rage to Riches”.  If you live in the UK you can catch it on BBC i-player.  I recommend this documentary – I have seen others and this is the best – it draws widely on primary sources – Basquiat’s sisters, his early galleryist, the girlfriend he was with when he changed from very poor to very rich and several other key friends – and there’s the video he was in with Blondie (Debbie Harry importantly bought his first painting – wonder where that is now).


Creative workspace: Roz Chast – cartoonist

In the recent post by New Yorker cartoon editor, he mentioned a cartoon by Roz Chast, very much part of the magazine for decades. Here are a few more of her creations:




Viewable on her website

You can also find her cartoons in her many books.

Her creative environment I find fascinating – there is such a range of interests and a strong love of craft.  Her personality comes across: angsty but finding comfort in drawing as a way to remember, a way to process – possibly a response to the fact that her parents didn’t talk about important things in life.  The actual workspace is quite simple: 2 filing cabinets full of drawings, plenty of paper, a well-lit desk space with drawing tools ready to hand.