John C. Mannone, nominated three times for the Pushcart, has recent work in Conclave, Magnapoets, The Medulla Review, Rose & Thorn Journal, and Hinchas de Poesía. He edits poetry for Silver Blade, teaches college physics in Tennessee and is a NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador. Visit The Art of Poetry.

The Poetry of Flowers:
An Introductory Essay


It is a familiar thing that photographs simply make good writing prompts and often jumpstart our stalled creative machinery called “writer’s block.” The degree of complexity of visual images will stimulate work in different ways. It is my experience that either simple images or abstract ones provide better results than busy ones. A visual focus will often be more helpful to the writer than a large scale one where it might lead to sensory overload.

Consider the image of a flower. It is effective on so many levels:

    1. It is beautiful and subscribes to our awe of nature.
    2. In addition to sight, it is sensory-rich. Textures might be hinted, and from our recollection, the smell or even sound (imagine the quaking leaves, the buzz of a bee, the swish of wind) have creative impact.
    3. By association with happy and sad things (weddings, anniversaries, funerals), flowers provide a wide emotional range.
    4. In the literature, it is often symbolic and brings with it possible subtext (viz. religious allusions and connotations).
    5. And finally, the floral shapes may have complex geometry that stimulates the mind in much the same way an abstract image would.

For additional discussion on visual stimulus of literary art, see “Seducing Your Muse” on The Art of Poetry.

As limited examples, consider photographs of the lovely Calla lily. Their exotic beauty, intensity of color, and of course, my state of mind, led to these two poems:

Tell Me About Passion

Is it a fire red orchid
or flash of flamenco dancers
frozen for a moment
on a purple stem?
Is it a piece of heart
that bled its beauty
at the very thought of you?
Tell me, I need to know
before my next breath.

(Photography by David Coyote, July 31, 2008)


Arum Lily

Have you ever awaken with your face pallid from the night, eyes moistened with dew of loneliness, but found your long arms stretched, reaching for sol’s warmth to find your emptiness filled with caresses of gold, as if the universe embraced you and left lily-soft persimmon kisses on your lips?

(Photography by David Coyote, August 17, 2008)


John C. Mannone © 2012
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last update 23.03.2016