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The Masterpiece: a Chain Poetry Challenge

John has been writing poetry since his school days. He was awarded the "Best Poet 2014 and 2021" Hubby Awards.

Madame Monet in a Japanese kimono, 1875

Madame Monet in a Japanese kimono, 1875

A Brief History of Collaborative, Collective, or Chain Poetry

Collaborative, collective, or chain poetry is an alternative and creative technique for writing poetry by more than one person. The principal aim of this type of poetry is to create poems through the collaboration of various authors/poets, trying to form a unified voice while still maintain their individual voices.

Examples of collaboration abound in Japanese poetry. Though the precise accounts and records of many such events are either lost or missing.

One of the most famous examples of collective poetry writing was the poem collection titled Ralentir Travaux by Surrealist French poets André Breton, Paul Éluard and René Char. These three poets collaborated to write the poems in this collection over just five days in 1930.

During the 1940s, Charles Henri Ford, an American poet, invented what he called the "chain poem", where each poet wrote a line and then sent the poem to another person (to continue) in another part of the world, by post.

In 2007 a collection of American collaborative poetry Saints of Hysteria: A Half-Century of Collaborative American Poetry was edited and published by Denise Duhamel, Maureen Seaton and David Trinidad.

Collaborative poetry writing has been used in schools and colleges to teach students teamwork and to discover ways in which they are connected.(source: Wikipedia)

Study of a Figure Outdoors: Woman with a Parasol, facing left, 1886

Study of a Figure Outdoors: Woman with a Parasol, facing left, 1886

The Aim of This Article and How to Approach the Challenge

A few years back I wrote an article called "Poem Without an End" which included a Christmas poem I had written that lent itself to being added to. I was amazed by the response as at that stage I only had a few followers here. People wrote a stanza of poetry each in "comments" on the hub to follow on from the previous commenter's stanza. It worked out very well and at the end I compiled all the contributions into a single poem as part of the hub.

Similar challenges have been issued since, including one by Frank Atanacio called "Spirits Sat as Mourners" that was also very successful. The difference being that in that instance contributors wrote their own hubs for their stanza of poetry and placed a link on Frank's original hub.

For this particular challenge I don't expect everyone to spend valuable time writing separate hubs for one stanza of poetry (unless you really want to). The main problem being that to make it effective you would have to copy the previously written parts of the poem onto your hub and would probably be hit with "duplication" label.

So, that being the case, and also to save having to leave links everywhere, I just ask that anyone who wants to take part just write their stanza here in "comments." Check the last comment before yours that is contributing to the challenge and follow on. If I see more than one following from the same stanza I will use my poetic licence to work them in as I deem best.

At some stage when I feel there has been enough stanzas added I will probably call an end to the challenge and then compile them all together as the completed poem as part of the article (also giving credit to each contributor).

Flowered Riverbank, Argenteuil

Flowered Riverbank, Argenteuil

The Challenge!

Now comes the interesting part. If you join this chain poetry challenge you have to try to keep the style and voice of the poem as close as possible to the preceding verses, so that to uninformed readers it will appear that only one author has written the entire poem.

Sounds easy, you say? Well maybe it would be if the poem had a traditional style, rhyme or meter. But this one doesn't! The poem you will be adding to was started by an acquaintance of mine Andriealphus as a "chain poem challenge" elsewhere. At the time of writing I was the only other person who had accepted the challenge, and because I loved the subject I thought it would be a great challenge for my fellow writers and decided to use it here and see if the response would be better. (I know of a few poets here whose writing would suit this style)

Rules :

  1. Follow on from the previous stanza in comments
  2. Try to retain the voice and style of the poem
  3. Keep your stanza/verse to approximately the same length as those before
  4. Make the subject matter appropriate to the story
  5. If it inspires you, feel free to return and add another verse
Scroll to Continue
Water Lilies and Reflections of a Willow (1916–19)

Water Lilies and Reflections of a Willow (1916–19)

Claude Monet was one of the most famous painters in the history of art and a leading figure in the Impressionist movement.

In 1883 Monet moved to Giverny. Here, he loved to paint outdoors in the gardens that he helped create. The water lilies found in the pond had a particular appeal, and he painted several series of them throughout the rest of his life; the Japanese-style bridge over the pond became the subject of several works, as well.

In 1912 Monet painted a series of 12 waterlily paintings commissioned by the Orangerie des Tuileries, a museum in Paris. He chose to make them on a very large scale, and to serve as a "haven of peaceful meditation." This project consumed much of Monet's later years. Monet once stated, "These landscapes of water and reflection have become an obsession for me. It is beyond my strength as an old man, and yet I want to render what I feel."

His health was now an obstacle, as well. Nearly blind, with both of his eyes seriously affected by cataracts, Monet finally agreed to undergo surgery for the ailment in 1923.

Monet's famous water lilies turned redder as his cataracts progressed. After getting corrective surgery he destroyed most of the "red lily" paintings, angry that no one really mentioned it to him. Ironically, these paintings were probably what made his impressionistic style so famous in that time -- artists started taking more risks with color and such during this point. (source:

The Masterpiece

"The boy sitting behind you says you look like a masterpiece.

Ask him, has he ever seen a Monet up close?

Close enough to see nothing but muddled strokes of weedy lakeshore?

Close enough to dip his fingers into the ridges

where oil paints hardened under an artist's gaze?

Close enough to breathe onto the blood lilies?

Ask him, why did he paint them red?" (Andriealphus)

He grinned like Carroll's cheshire cat.

"Through clouded and bloodshot eyes I imagine.

Be my waterlilies!" he says,

"Feel my breath and let my fingers delve,

become my masterpiece instead.

A brush has never touched a canvas as fine as your fair skin.

Let the masters weep in jealousy,

and Van Gogh slice his ear in envy at the beauty of your nakedness." (Jodah)

Self portrait with bandaged ear

Self portrait with bandaged ear


Now it's your turn. Please write your response in the comments below, remembering to check those immediately before yours for the last written stanza of the poem. If you do decide to write a separate hub for your stanza of verse, make sure you leave a link here in comments.

The Finished Masterpiece

All contributions have been received and I have put the finished poem together with only some slight edits. I hope everyone is happy with the result. If you think I could improve the order of stanzas etc, feel free to let me know.

Please go to 'The Finished Masterpiece" to see the completed poem.

Thank you again to all who contributed.

© 2015 John Hansen


John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on September 19, 2015:

Hey Diana, looks like I have to go add another stanza to the finished poem :)

Thanks for this contribution.Quite beautiful.

Diana L Pierce from Potter County, Pa. on September 19, 2015:

No tears splash water below,

From the bridge beneath his feet,

Nor can his brush paint his thoughts,

From the mystery maid he seeks.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on August 21, 2015:

Thank you Cris, I am sure everyone appreciates your comment. Now you have to check out the final poem/compilation in "The Finished Masterpiece."

CrisSp from Sky Is The Limit Adventure on August 21, 2015:

Now, this is a masterpiece! Brilliant idea. Awesome job. Way to go, all of you wonderful creatives out there.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on August 14, 2015:

All done, go check it out. (see link above comments)

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on August 14, 2015:

Hi Jo, very well done. Thank you for joining in :) your stanza tells a great story in few words. I'll enjoy adding this in.

Ann Carr from SW England on August 14, 2015:

I like Jo's verse; intriguing.


Jo_Goldsmith11 on August 14, 2015:

Hello! Here you go. Thank you for the invite. I hope you like this? :-)


He begins walking toward the multi colored painting

Vivid blues of every shade come into focus

It is as much as he can see through his cataract eyes

A woman with the dress of lace and diamonds

She is searching his thoughts

Reds and greens weave through his brain and a revelation gives birth

The journey on this road of accomplishments he made

The lady disappears through the canopy of the trees ahead

He is alone again, standing there with a brush and empty canvas

Ruby Jean Richert from Southern Illinois on August 14, 2015:

I couldn't resist. This was so much fun and a great idea. Thank you....

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on August 13, 2015:

Thank you for returning with another wonderful stanza Ruby. I will look for the best place to weave it in.

Ruby Jean Richert from Southern Illinois on August 13, 2015:

The blue light shining in the glittering sky

A vision of splendor to all who pass by

Surely the master's stroke of the heavenly arc beautifully placed

Is a student's wishful plea for words tatted with lace.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on August 13, 2015:

Thanks Ann, as far as I know I am only waiting on one more contribution.

Ann Carr from SW England on August 13, 2015:

Looking forward to reading the finished poem; exciting!


John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on August 12, 2015:

Thanks Audrey, that's wonderful. I have an idea where to place it in the poem. Stay tuned.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on August 12, 2015:

Thanks Audrey.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on August 12, 2015:

Jo, thanks for commenting so kindly and letting me know you intend to contribute. I will hold off with combining all the verses until I receive yours. Glad the Lulu info helped. hugs.

Audrey Howitt from California on August 12, 2015:

blue follows movement,

impasto, a curvilinear brandishing of light,

marking the distance

between student and master

in an arc of sky

Hi John--my contribution --but I think it doesn't fit well with the last comment--sorry about that

Audrey Howitt from California on August 12, 2015:

I'll have to think on this--

Jo_Goldsmith11 on August 12, 2015:

Hello Jodah!

This hub was just full of information, beauty and oh what a challenge!

Like Faith, Monet is by far a brilliant artist in his time. And the beauty we can still enjoy today from all his work.

This is a great challenge! I am really looking forward to adding to this.

I first wanted to stop in and let you know that, up for sure. Shared too.

And thank you so much for all the challenges to help the rest of us, keep our mental energy flowing and giving it a work out! You are the best.

The information about LuLu and the free ISBN number is an answered prayer! So, smile my friend. You are a gift!

Hugs. :-)

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on August 12, 2015:

Hi again Marj. I think I may have all the verses that are going to come. I have been doing my best to arrange them as I think best with just a little editing. I will probably post the finished poem as a separate hub with a link on this one to it. My book is available on Lulu and iBooks...there's a link on one of the earlier comments. I'd really appreciate it if you were to purhase a copy. Bear in mind it's my first eBook so the formatting etc isn't perfect, but it's taken me seven revisions I think to get it where it is. It will all be easier next time. If you need help let me know.

travmaj from australia on August 12, 2015:

Hi John, you have certainly had some excellent responses to your challenge - I'm sure you'll fuse it altogether beautifully although I imagine a difficult task. I'm interested in your poetry books also - I really have to get my act together technologically - I'll try and check it all out...cheers -

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on August 11, 2015:

Hi Jo, both books 'On the Wings of Eagles" and "I Laughed a Smile" have mostly the same content...except the former has one extra poem. Originally they were in different formats, one ePub, the other PDF but now they are both ePub. They are available through Lulu and iBooks, soon Barnes and Noble and Nook (not Amazon). I may try publishing another book through Amazon soon just to see how it compares. Thanks again.

Jo Alexis-Hagues from Lincolnshire, U.K on August 11, 2015:

John, thanks a lot, the info on publishing with Lulu will be quite useful as I'm thinking of publishing but I'm currently torn between Amazon and Lulu. I wanted to purchase one of your books, but I couldn't seem to find them on Amazon. However, I'll probably get it from Lulu. Wishing you every success, you deserve it.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on August 11, 2015:

Hey Phyllis, thanks for ontributing. I like it, a perfect ending to the poem I think.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on August 11, 2015:

Thanks Faith.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on August 11, 2015:

Hi Jo, I think I have sorted out the poem satisfactorily. Just waiting to see if there is any more to add. Publishing with Lulu wasn't bad and now that I've done it once it will be easier next time. Getting the formatting to look right in the eBook was the hardest, though you and just type it in a word document and Lulu automatically produces the contents page and converts the document to ePub or PDF you can only use certain fonts and have to make sure the chapter names or poem titles are in Heading 1. They also provide a free ISBN number if you want. Overall it was easier than expected however.

Jo Alexis-Hagues from Lincolnshire, U.K on August 11, 2015:

Phyllis, this is succinct and beautiful, I love it. Shyron's did an excellent job also, I thought I'd already commented on her verse, but I hadn't.

Phyllis Doyle Burns from High desert of Nevada. on August 10, 2015:

Wonderful hub, great idea, Jodah. Here is one from me. Short but sweet. Hope it is okay:

And this the beauty be

From Masters past we see

Impressed upon the boy

Bestowed on her with joy

Faith Reaper from southern USA on August 10, 2015:

Thanks John and Jo. You are kind. Jo, you have always been a brilliant poet. I, too, am looking forward to the end result after John does his magic to pull it all together.

I will share again to see if there are any more takers.


Jo Alexis-Hagues from Lincolnshire, U.K on August 10, 2015:

Faith, beautifully done, I find it incredible how someone with such limited vision can teach us so much about beauty, light and shadows. John, looking forward to reading the end result.

By the way, congtats on publishing your poems. How did you find the process of publishing with Lulu?

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on August 10, 2015:

Thanks for your great submission Faith. No it's not too late, I'm still compiling the final poem so it should be up for all to see in a day or two.

Faith Reaper from southern USA on August 10, 2015:

Hi John,

I apologize for my late submission here to your wonderful challenge. I am off from work a couple of day and decided to give this a go while my husband is resting from knee surgery. If it does not meet with your standards, please feel free to not use it in your final poem or edit as you deem necessary.

Blessings always

Here it goes:

Confessions to friend Georges Clemenceau

Of light encapsulating both torment, joy

Fervent madness in analyzing colors

Consequential spontaneous creations

Season after season of obsession

Capturing different hues in a single moment

Attentive while strolling in Argenteuill

Brushwork bares masterpiece.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on August 09, 2015:

Just a shout out to see if anyone else still wants to contribute to this chain poem. I have started compiling the stanzas together but will leave it open for a couple more days in case anyone else is intending to join in. Thanks to all who have contributed.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on August 02, 2015:

Thank you Genna. It appears Monet is a favourite arist of many here. I hope you'll take part in this challenge too :)

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on August 02, 2015:

Thank you for a great contribution Shyron. This is a very nice verse. Well done.

Genna East from Massachusetts, USA on August 02, 2015:

Hi John...

I started to read this wonderful challenge (Monet is one of my favorite artists), then came back to finish reading some of the beautiful contributions that give this painting a stunning voice through perception and the senses. What an exciting hub. :-)

Shyron E Shenko from Texas on August 02, 2015:

Following Jo (tobusiness)

"The pure white of the lily's skin

Speaks of no beauty from within

Just Monet's way or goal

For feasting eyes

Not feasting for the soul"


John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on August 02, 2015:

Thanks for returning Kim, I'm so pleased with the responses. Just gave to wait and see if there are any more.

ocfireflies from North Carolina on August 02, 2015:


So happy every time I return to see another link in this poetic chain, and Wow, does Jo ever do it justice.


Jo Alexis-Hagues from Lincolnshire, U.K on August 02, 2015:

Hi John, 'sublime' will do nicely. I'm so glad you like my contribution. This is a very good idea, I know you'll have fun putting it all together. Take care and my best to you.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on August 01, 2015:

Thanks Deb, yes I am impressed by the standard of submissions. I'm looking forward to putting it all together.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on August 01, 2015:

Yes Ann, it is good to see the poets among us take up the challenge with some great contributions so far. I just hope Imcan do it justice when it comes to putting it together.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on August 01, 2015:

Well done Jo. The word "sublime" comes to mind. I hoped all the poets would rise to the fore, and they have. Love it, thanks for contributing.

Deb Hirt from Stillwater, OK on August 01, 2015:

I am excited to see what you end up with here. There are a number of fine poets rising to the challenge, so go to it!

Ann Carr from SW England on August 01, 2015:

Great one, Jo!

You've got everyone going, John! Rather you than me, putting all this together, but it's going to be a humdinger of a poem when it finally comes to an end - if it ever does! You've really started something.


Jo Alexis-Hagues from Lincolnshire, U.K on August 01, 2015:

Ok, John here goes nothing! Following from Kim's. I hope it reads well.

And the boy began to walk away

But in his wake, I heard him say

"I took a trip to Orangerie

Where the ghost of Monet still abides

I sat right down and gazed awhile

Until I heard a soft voice cry.

"Have you ever seen a fluid dream?

Where light evolves into what it touch

Where serenity flows through cloudy veil

Where the magician's brush like lightening rush

Have you ever seen a sight sublime?

A child born of distorted illusion

This flowering pond that traps the light

That lift the heart and beckons the soul

An abstract pulchritude up close

Move back, behold; such tranquil delight."

I hope this is in line with what the others have done. Feel free to edit if needed. My best...


Jo Alexis-Hagues from Lincolnshire, U.K on August 01, 2015:


John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on August 01, 2015:

Yes Jo, please do. Anyone is welcome to do more than one stanza. I may add another myself at some stage.

Jo Alexis-Hagues from Lincolnshire, U.K on August 01, 2015:

John, I've decided to have a go, but it's about 16 lines, can I do it in two stanzas following on from Kim's wonderful submission? You can always edit it later.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on July 31, 2015:

Hi Jo, sorry to hear you are under the weather at the moment. I am not in a hurry to close this challenge so I'll keep it open until you are back firing on all cylinders and are able to contribute. You are one of the hubbers I was looking forward to getting a response from as I thought it would suit. Thank you for your kind words, and get well soon.

Jo Alexis-Hagues from Lincolnshire, U.K on July 31, 2015:

Wow! John I can't believe I almost missed your incredible challenged. This is something in which I would have loved to participate since Claude Monet is one of my all times favourite artist. Unfortunately, I must cry off. I'm a bit under the weather with a head full of cotton wool, or so it seems. If the challenge is still open when I get rid of this pesky flu I may give it a go, but I must say, the standard is exceptionally high. Maj took it to another level but all the submissions are brilliant. Kudos to you Andriealphus and the other writers who participated so far in this artistic and creative masterpiece.

My best always Jo.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on July 31, 2015:

Hi again Maj, glad this poem inspired you, and yes it beats watching the cricket especially with the Aussie batsmen performing badly in this third test. It will be an interesting exercise for me to fuse all the stanzas together but should be good.

travmaj from australia on July 30, 2015:

John, thank you, I'm most happy you like my offering. I found the poem intriguing and suddenly felt inspired to write my version in the same mode. I'm not sure I wrote a continuation from the stanza before (alwaysexploring) but I'm sure you will fuse it altogether when the time comes. Love all the responses. I haven't managed any creative writing for yonks, can't wait now to start over, just need some time. (beats watching the cricket too!!!) Cheers John, will be checking in -

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on July 30, 2015:

Thanks for checking Dana. I am pleased with the quality of responses so far. I just have to wait and see how many more come in. The final,poem should be great.

Dana Tate from LOS ANGELES on July 30, 2015:

Just checking in to see how things are going, I can't wait for the finished product. I attended a poetry class and we did this also it was really fun.

ocfireflies from North Carolina on July 29, 2015:


Thanks so much for providing the platform for without that it is easy to fall down.

; ) Kim

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on July 29, 2015:

Thank you Devika. I haven't seen you around in awhile, I hope all is well.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on July 29, 2015:

Beautiful work Kim. It will follow on perfectly from Maj's as you answered the GIverny question. I am so pleased with the quality of responses so far.

ocfireflies from North Carolina on July 29, 2015:


I had sent this earlier before travmaj's awesome contribution, but maybe it still works (I did a little tweaking)

following as opposed to prior--don't know if

I am making any sense. If it does not work, please feel free to delete and I will try again.


As light turned dark as night turned day

his brushes stroked and streamed

like rippling thoughts

from his abstract dreams

to capture his garden at Giverny

lush in its proper shades

for he saw reflective sources

from which his palette sang

to wit there he sat

content with his pond

while the young boy

dreaming romantic thoughts walked on

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on July 29, 2015:

Beautiful as ever!

Ann Carr from SW England on J