Highlights of 2021 – Thank you for the Love

First of all we want to say a warm-hearted thank you to all of you who visited, commented, inspired and prompted us with photo and poetry challenges. It has been another extraordinary year with beauty and loss, where kindness and magic was still to be found when we were ready to see it.

As in previous years, I am delighted to share a gallery of the posts you liked the most, season by season.

Winter

The most popular posts this season were Sunlight on her Wings (a haiku later featured in EarthRise Rolling Haiku Collaboration 2021), A Dash of Dazzle, Special Moments (featuring a tanka first published in Ribbons), Softly Softly, Happy Homecoming and Violet Ray.

Spring

Spring gave birth to many beautiful and creative initiatives where we could meet virtually and lift each other’s spirits.

In April 2021 Placing Poems invited poets to write about real or imagined journeys away from the stifling realities of the pandemic to create a poetic cartography of adventures for everyone to enjoy.

I am honoured and delighted that my poem Presence was selected for inclusion. You can find it on the map when you scroll north and click on the marker for the Cairngorms National Park. Presence was the most popular post in Spring and became the most popular post of the year.

Other popular posts in Spring were Natural Healing, Welcome to the World, Gold in the Shadows, Wonderful World (featuring haiku first published in the Asahi Shimbun, Autumn Moon Haiku Journal and Sharing Our Horizon) and Lily of the Valley.

Summer

Travel restrictions were lifted and tourists flooded into the Highlands. We decided to stay close to home to avoid the crowds and enjoy the magic of familiar places.

We also wanted to protect our area’s natural beauty for future generations and started the Tranature Grove with Trees for Life. The trees in our grove are carefully planted in protected sites in the Scottish Highlands where they will create homes for wildlife and forests for the future.

The most popular post in Summer was Caring for River Wildlife, featuring the calendar I contributed four photographs to in aid of our local wildlife trust. Other popular posts this season were Red Rose (featuring a tanka first published in Ribbons), The Changing Season, Dandelion Clock, Colours of the Setting Sun and A Postcard from the Country.

Autumn

Autumn started off warm and offered some glorious walking days where the colours were just beginning to change. A new calm had returned to the area and it was a joy to be out and about.

The most popular post in Autumn was Weathered Wood (featuring a haiku first published in Haiku Dialogue). Other popular posts were Garden Gold, A Serene View, Community Spirit, Stars on the River (featuring a haiku first published in The Bamboo Hut) and COP26 (featuring a haiku first published in the Asahi Shimbun).

Thank you for walking along with us here.

If you want to read more about our year, feel free to check out the 2021 highlights on our sister blog Whippet Wisdom.

We send you our warmest wishes for a healthy and happy 2022 – may your year be filled with joy, peace and wellbeing!

With love from Xenia xxx

Photographs by Xenia Tran, edited in lr.

Lens-Artists Weekly Photo Challenge #180: Favorite Images of 2021

Haiku: Falling Petals

detail from a piece of pastel art featuring a woman

falling petals
he finds his mother
behind the rain

© Xenia Tran

pastel art of a woman appearing through a rain of cherry blossom

Working with pastels has been a hobby for many years and in my younger years my pieces were on display in cafés, art centres and at a local hospital.

My poems are mostly inspired by real-life experiences and sometimes by a dream or meditation. The above haiku was inspired by a dream and I tried to re-create the moment that sparked the poem in this painting.

I am deeply honoured and delighted that this poem was awarded an Honourable Mention in the International Section of the 2020 Haiku Invitational at the Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival. A big thank you to judges Agnes Savich, Beth Skala and Gary Hotham for selecting my poem and many congratulations to all the winners.

The above haiku was subsequently featured in the World Haiku Series 2020, facilitated by the Akita International Haiku Network with a beautiful Japanese translation by Mr Hidenori Hiruta. A warm-hearted thank you to Mr Hiruta for including this poem in respect of the 326th anniversary of Matsuo Bashõ’s passing and all the souls of those who lost their lives to COVID-19.

Wishing you all a wonderful Wednesday,

with love from Xenia xxx

Photographs and original art (soft pastel on glass paper) by Xenia Tran.

Word of the Day Challenge: Hobby

A Moment of Inspiration

Regular readers of this blog will know that the natural beauty of our world is a constant source of inspiration to me and today I am showing you what lies behind the way my photographs and poems are shared together.

It all began during a week’s Summer School at the Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry, Queen’s University Belfast, and my visit to the Linen Hall Library in July 2007.

a man with a hat reading a paper in a library

Images and Reflections, both as book and exhibition, was one of the landmarks of the Linen Hall Library’s Open Door Millennium Festival and also marked the opening of the Library’s extended premises. It brought together vivid photographs of the Ulster of the last century with powerful contemporary writing by many of the province’s leading literary figures.

Seamus Heaney selected a photograph from the 1930s of a threshing scene that fitted perfectly with his poem Threshing Day. Michael Longley chose a photograph of a towpath of the early 1900s to accompany his poem In Memory of My Parents. Brian Keenan selected an old photograph of children at a cottage in Glenoe and created the poem Album to sit alongside it. Gerald Dawe immediately decided on a photograph of an emigrant family leaving Derry in the 1930s and knew that was the image he wanted to write a poem for.

Graduation Hall at Queen's University, Belfast

Gerald was leading our poetry workshop on writing poems for and from photographs as part of the Summer School. He told us that the photograph of the emigrant family leaving Derry was pinned to a board above his writing desk for months and he enjoyed spending time with it, growing familiar with the faces inside the photograph and when the Linen Hall Library asked him if they could have a poem for the exhibition he approached it from within the image and wrote it in the mother’s voice. It is a beautiful poem called Snap, symbolising both the idea of a snapshot and the being snapped away from a life they knew.

The poem has since been included in his Selected Poems (published in 2012).

Queen's University Belfast with Summer flowers

Prior to my week in Belfast my photography and my writing had been separate interests and I rarely brought the two together. Since then I’ve written poems to accompany photographs from a variety of angles and taken photographs to accompany existing poems. I will always be grateful to Gerry for sharing his insights during his wonderful workshop.

Images and Reflections is a book I treasure to this day and it continues to inspire me. It is available from the Linen Hall Library and from Amazon.

Wishing you a blessed Sunday and a peaceful week ahead,

with love from Xenia xxx

Photographs by Xenia Tran, edited in lr.

Lens-Artists Weekly Photo Challenge #115: Inspiration

Your Daily Word Prompt: Vivify

Castle Ardvreck (Highlands, Scotland)

We are delighted to share this beautiful poem by Carol L Hatfield which was inspired by our photographs of Castle Ardvreck from yesterday’s Wordless Wednesday post Castle in the Rain.

In Other Words....

Castle Ardvreck

My thanks to Xenia, whose photos inspired this poem.

(photo from castlesfortsbattles.co.uk)

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