I hope you are having a Wonderful Poetry Month! In my corner of the virtual world, the Kidlitosphere, bloggers and poets are celebrating all month long with fun and inspiring projects. You can find a roundup by the terrific Jama Kim Rattigan at Jama’s Alphabet Soup.
One of these years I’ll have it together to do something beyond a few special posts on my robynhoodblack.com blog in April. Like last year, I’m participating in the Progressive Poem today and will host Poetry Friday this coming Friday.
But I did sneak over to the studio to finish a little project I’ve been wanting to make for weeks. (I was “homebound” in early April finishing some freelance writing assignments and hosting company.) This little framed mixed media piece features highlighted text from CROWN JEWELS – OR GEMS OF LITERATURE, ART AND MUSIC, compiled by Henry Davenport Northrop, D. D., copyright 1887 by J. R. Jones. The original text was given a glossy acrylic wash and boasts a vintage heart key, a snip of vintage lace, and a small fancy vintage watch hand from France.
The frame is one of four I found in an antique shop a few years ago. It’s about 4 and 1/2 by 5 inches – wooden, made in Italy. It has the loveliest handpainted turquoise color, with antique (very antique-y looking now!) white paint as well. It’s full of character (slight imperfections), and I kept the little triangle brass hanger attached at the top.
I was tempted to keep it, as I rather like the simple message this old text yielded. But I also love it when someone comes along and says a piece like this speaks to them, or they have the perfect person in mind to give it to. So I listed it in my Etsy shop.
Whether it sells quickly or hangs around a long while, I wish its sentiment for you always: that your life is full of heart-poems! Happy Poetry Month.
Hope you are enjoying a Happy Poetry Month!
Today I have a special treat. Children’s poet and author, sought-after writing teacher, and Poem Farm blog creator Amy Ludwig VanDerwater has embarked on a wonderful project this month that she graciously agreed to let me share here.
Each day in April, Amy has been “Drawing Into Poems” – her daily “drawing/seeing/writing study into poetry.”
“I chose this project because I have always wanted to learn to see better, to understand through seeing, to develop my own sensitivity,” she says in the introductory post here.
(Don’t miss the great books she’s listed as resources on that page. I smiled at a couple of old favorites, THE ZEN OF SEEING by Frederick Franck and DRAWING ON THE RIGHT SIDE OF THE BRAIN by Betty Edwards. Others I’m putting on my to-read list.)
Here’s a taste of her project.
On April 4th, Amy shared this drawing of a bowl:
On April 5th, she shared a poem inspired by that drawing exercise:
Don’t you love all those associations? And such lovely imagery?
“a dream / of old coyotes / a dream / of sun-warm deer” makes me swoon.
Another favorite of mine from this project is her cemetery sketch from this past Monday (April 15):
I LOVE the lively composition here – so much life for such a “grave” subject, no? And what wonderful reflections, such as the winding thought penned above the arched tombstone, “Always… These tombstones remind me… not to worry…”
I’m enjoying Amy’s reflections in her blog posts, too. Here’s an excerpt from this same day:
“What places make you feel grateful and reflective? It is important for all of us to find places where we can find our quiet selves and just think. Cemeteries slow me down and help me remember what matters most to me. I wish that I could talk with all of the people buried here, learn from them, hear their lessons.”
My mother instilled in me a love of walking through cemeteries, too – sketching, pondering. Amy’s drawings and words help us appreciate such contemplative moments and places.
At just past the mid-way point of this project, I asked Amy what she’s learned so far.
“Halfway through my month of Drawing into Poems, I see that drawing and writing are even more alike than I had imagined,” she says. “There’s that initial flash of love, followed by circling around and around, trying to make clear outside what you see and deeply feel inside. I’m studying shadows now, and roof lines, noticing the silhouette of a milk carton and the way our mother cat’s tail curls around her smallest kitten. I am seeing more because I am looking differently; drawing has opened up another window for me. I plan to keep drawing in my notebooks even after April is over so as not to lose these new eyes.”
Amy’s poetry appears in many publications and acclaimed anthologies. Her first collection for children was released this spring by Clarion Books – FOREST HAS A SONG, illustrated by Robbin Gourley. Led by a girl in spunky red boots, readers explore the woods in 26 poems. From “Song”:
Under giant pines / I hear / a forest chorus / crisp and clear.
Singing its praises are the most respected names in the field of children’s poetry as well as teachers in the trenches. You might also be interested in seeing the art for this book develop – Amy includes a page on her website which chronicles Robbin Gourley’s beautiful illustrations as they progressed.
Now, I know you want to click over to Amy’s blog and check out all the art and reflections thus far this month. And aren’t you thankful we still have a couple more weeks to go in April? :0)
Gracious thanks to Amy for visiting today and sharing her inspiring work!
Happy Poetry Month! Because I’m a poet as well as a visual artist, I especially love April.
About this time last year, with a couple of Atlanta writing buds, I got to hear and meet New York Times bestselling author Austin Kleon. Sponsored by the Georgia Center for the Book, he spoke at the DeKalb County Public Library about his book, STEAL LIKE AN ARTIST – 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative. Ready for more black and white graphics?
You might know writer and artist Kleon from his 2010 NEWSPAPER BLACKOUT:
(I was happy that he signed both of my books with his signature arrow-through-the-head image.)
Do click over to his blog to check out his work. He’s a warm, funny, engaging speaker addressing creativity in the digital age. He’s also a new dad (awwwww…!) and presents common sense ideas about creating in uncommonly understandable terms.
He’s spoken to audiences at Pixar, Google, and The Economist, to name a few organizations. Intrigued? Check out his TEDx Talk. His work has been featured on NPR’s Morning Edition, PBS Newshour, and in The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal.
One of my favorite things about his books is the introduction to NEWSPAPER BLACKOUT. The book contains dozens of “redacted” poems created with a permanent marker and newspaper articles. You’ll have to check out his blog to see examples! Anyway, in the intro, Kleon gives us an abbreviated history of this type of poetry – stretching back more than 250 years! As a lover of found poetry (my first publications in an anthology came in THE ARROW FINDS ITS MARK – A Book of Found Poems edited by Georgia Heard and illustrated by Antonie Gullioppé, Roaring Brook Press, 2012), I was hooked on this surprisingly rich history as well as on the poems. Why not try some yourself?
The few found poem collages I’ve made for my art business and my Etsy shop have found buyers these past few months (Yay! Thanks, Buyers!), so I’m conjuring up some more. Here’s a peek at one just done – when the glue finishes drying (!) I’ll take some real photos and list it tomorrow. I always start with a real page from a vintage book. This one is from p. 47 of A LITERARY PILGRIMAGE, Seventh Edition, by Dr. Theodore F. Wolfe, J. B. Lippincott Company, Philadelphia: 1896. (Such a lovely laid texture on those pages!) I use the real page but photocopy it to work out the found poem before I paint over the original text with gouache, leaving only the bits I want for the poem unpainted.
Once the poem emerges and the paint dries, I attach to a prepared substrate (background surface I’ve already painted – Canson matboard in this case) and embellish with vintage metal elements. I’ve been waiting for just the right piece to use this twisted black piece on (from an Eastern European Etsy dealer!) – it reminds me of a figure, specifically, a Kokopelli type figure playing his flute. A prankster and storyteller, I think of him as a poet, too, and he seemed to fit here beside the “preface” line of “footsteps lightly print the ground.” – a line from Thomas Gray on this page.
Written out, the found poem would look like this:
the poet’s footsteps lightly print the ground
the transcending quality of
of a noble soul
bereft mortals meditate
on the way to
For a look at my process making another found poem collage, click here.
Thanks for stopping by, and wishing you a month full of art AND poetry!
(Thurs. Update – Listed this new found poem collage in my Etsy shop.) :0)