More than Meets the Eye


It’s Poetry Friday! Join me in this Friday’s round up at Reflections on the Teche.


Last month Margaret Simon over at Reflections on the Teche dreamed up the idea of inviting people to participate in a photo exchange she called “More than Meets the Eye.” The idea was that we would send a photograph from our area to an exchange partner then each of us would write a poem about the other’s photograph. I was paired with Catherine Flynn (who blogs at Reading to the Core); she sent me beautiful pictures from in and around Bridgewater, CT.

I get nervous about writing poetry – even though I’ve watched my blogging friends write a poem a day for all of April and I’ve popped in to the Poetry Friday round ups to read and occasionally share – and when I’m nervous about writing… I research! The first thing I stumbled upon was Trip Advisor where a found poem leaped (haha) out at me. So… just for laughs…

Lovers Leap Gorge
Trip Advisor Found Poem

This is a simple roadside pull-off with a nice view.
Great photo op.
No facilities exist.
Daylight use only.
Overnight parking prohibited.

But the stories, legends and history of the area deserve more than a tongue-in-cheek found poem. I was entranced by the sounds of the names, the newspaper articles from when they flooded the valley (covering over the Barnum house – yes, related to the circus) to create Lake Lillinonah (named for the young Pootatuk woman who, according to legend, leaped off the gorge with her lover). I learned that Still River runs into the lake and so much more. I wish I could have worked it all in.

And then… well, I tried free verse and a mask poem. I tried a little of this and a little of that and I couldn’t quite get what I was looking for. I wanted the circus (the sound of the calliope) to weave into the legend into the idea of man-made creation (because I’m assuming the legend is at least partly created and I know the lake is). It was the idea of weaving things together that led me to write my first-ever pantoum. It’s got my own twist – I used a refrain – and I tweaked the lines a little, but close enough.

Catherine, Margaret, here’s a Bridgewater/Lovers Leap Gorge/Lillinonah pantoum. Thanks for the inspiration!

“I feel sure bits and pieces of the old valley will come bubbling up to the surface of the lake for years.” Mrs. Sewell Montgomery in the Connecticut News Times

Bits and pieces of the old valley
Bubble to the surface.
A lingering lilt of calliope
Ripples through the water.

Bubbles to the surface.
A lover, she leaps and her echoes
Ripple through the waters
of the man-made lake.

Did your lover leap? Do his echoes
Glide like a canoe over
The man-made lake
Where Still waters cover legends?

Glide in your canoe over
The lingering lilt of calliope
Where Still waters cover the legends and
Bits and pieces of the old valley.

-Amanda Potts, all rights reserved

24 thoughts on “More than Meets the Eye

  1. I so enjoyed your story, filled with your voice, behind the poem … and the ditty that you wrote in your search …and how wonderful is that legend? Wow, perfect material for a pantoum. I love how you jumped in and put in your twists and line tweaks to the form and included the questions. I’m so glad you took up the challenge.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Alice. It’s been nearly a week since I published this, and now I think I’m glad I took up the challenge, too. We’ll see if I manage another poetry post this week. Surely the kind comments here help steel my courage!


  2. The only way is through, and you worked through this challenge to the other side with a poem that captures the history as well as the eerie echo of legend. Awesome!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Margaret – and thanks for the challenge. I love poetry and enjoy writing it (a little) but I’ve really never shared any. This challenge and the Poetry Friday space really helped me move forward. And so many kind comments! On to the next!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Amanda, I love how you kept searching for new ways “in” to the photo, and I love where you landed. Yay for “calliope” ! What a great word. I do hope you’ll join us more often… thank you for sharing your words!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Irene! I’m a little blown away that you commented (and a lot shy) given that I’ve read your poetry. I appreciate the encouragement more than you can know!


  4. I love the way your research is woven together to create this poem. Not only do we hear echoes of lines, but there is the wonderful alliteration of the “l” sounds. “Where Still waters cover legends” is a beautiful line. It makes me think of all the history that has been flooded over in these projects. Well done!


  5. And you “leaped” too, into a wonderful poem. It’s a wonderful legend/story to hear about, thanks to Catherine’s photo and your research and poem. And I love your rhythm and use of “calliope” along with the strokes of a canoe. We have a lake here in the mountains that covered a town. Some say echoes from it can be heard at times.


  6. Amanda, I really enjoyed this poem….the thought that went into writing it and the perseverance to get past “easy” to write what you wanted to see. Wow! I research too—when I’m scared to start writing. It feels like productivity instead of procrastination. lol. I hope you’ll write and share again. This is lovely. And, isn’t the pantoum fun? Kinda like sudoku with words 😉 .


    1. “Sudoku with words” – YES! And I love Sudoku – that’s exactly the part of my brain that was firing as I moved and changed the lines in this poem. What a great metaphor.


  7. This is wonderful, Amanda! I love how deftly you wove different aspects of the lake and the legend together. I never knew there was a Barnum house down there! Finding the right form for our poems is sometimes half the battle, isn’t it? Thank you for writing such a beautiful, thoughtful poem about this special place.


    1. Thanks, Catherine! And thanks for the picture prompt – led me to so many interesting places. The article I link to in the post was full of neat information. To be fair, the house was not actually PT Barnum’s, but it *was* his relative’s.


  8. I thoroughly enjoyed reading about the process involved in creating your wonderful pantoum. Research often provides a way in, doesn’t it? I had lots of false starts in this challenge, but found it all the more rewarding because of that. I’m so glad you joined in and created this beautiful poem. I love the refrain and the use of calliope. “…the lingering lilt of calliope”–what a great line. You wove in so much to create this rich piece. Nice job!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Your words do weave much into this poem. I like it! I enjoyed reading about your writing process, too. As always, I learn so much from my POetry Friday friends. And I’m glad I’m not the only one who struggles with false starts.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Masterful choice of form! The way you used Lillinonah so differently in each first line was just fabulous!


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