I have been introduced to so many of you through Ms. Kerfe Roig’s amazing collaborative blog, Method Two Madness, and vice versa, that it almost doesn’t need an introduction. But if by chance you found your way to Illustrated Poetry by another means, I do strongly recommend you head over to Ms. Roig’s blog and check out the art and poetry posted daily by both Kerfe and her best friend Nina.
Ms. Roig sent me this haiku way back last July, in preparation for a possible series on seasonal transitions. I knew immediately what I wanted to do for an illustration – a textured, layered collage. But two things happened on the way to this post: I needed to take my blogging hiatus and I also kept wondering, “how do I photograph/scan/etc that piece for display on the internet?” These last few weeks, I have been making a lot of new starts, and I am so glad I made this one of them. The world is going through so many transitions, and while they may not be seasonal, this poem still feels timely. Haiku by Kerfe Roig, collage (mixed media on cardboard) by me.
Every weekend in January my neighbor put out a large printed sign that said “FREE” on the sidewalk in front of his house. Beneath it was a blue tarp piled high with mandarin oranges. Our block is a main thoroughfare for walkers and joggers, who often leaned over and took a few oranges as they went by. But it was almost comical, from my vantage point across the street, to see cars driving along, minding their own business, then suddenly jerk to the curb and screech to a halt. Doors would fling open and sometimes several people would pop out to scoop up armfuls of the fruit.
A glance at my neighbor’s house clearly yielded the source of his problem – a towering orange tree that was sagging with fruit. But my neighbor also used this bounty as an opportunity to give away other things as well; books, nicknacks, magazines, and spare parts were brought out from the bowels of his garage in boxes and plunked next to the bright orange lures.
Like many others, I went for the fruit but stayed for the boxes of free books and magazines.
In general, I was pretty good about saying “no” (you would understand how remarkable that was if you saw my bookshelves), but how could I say “no” to four issues of a mystery magazine, two from 1977 and two from 1978? Thus I acquired my first copies of Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine. The short stories were good, but the real surprise for me was when I found the mystery poetry!
I consider poetry “found” when it pops up in unexpected places. True, many literary magazines take both short fiction and poetry, but mystery isn’t a genre I often associated with poetry. That misconception has now been corrected!
Ellery Queen is still in publication (their website is here) and still accepts poetry submissions for “Detectiverse.” They are, in fact, the longest running mystery magazine in the world. I couldn’t find much information on the poet, Mark Grenier, other than his publications in Ellery Queen and Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine (SciFi poetry too!). He was featured in a 2006 article in the Irish Times for conducting poetry workshops for patients at several Irish hospitals. (Side note: “Grenier” is a very poetic last name, it turns out – there are several other published and famous poets that share it.) So, the author of this mystery poem is mostly a mystery himself, for now…
This was an illustration I did last year, finishing it before I had to take my hiatus from this blog. I was in a “no outline” phase, practicing building up an image from repeated mark-making.
Although a corn moon usually refers to the full moon in September, at least there is the lunar connection for the Lunar New Year today. My apologies to Mr. Summers for the long delay between our correspondence and this post! Mr. Summers is a much decorated poet in many of the Japanese traditions. His personal blog, Area 17, can be found here! He also runs an organization, With Words, that brings poetry workshops into schools and to the public in the U.K.
Drawing (ink on paper) by me. Happy New Year to all!
Noah Purifoy (1917 – 2004) was an American assemblage artist who tackled issues of race and society. He spent the last 15 years of his life working on 10 acres in Joshua Tree, California. That space is now the Noah Purifoy Outdoor Desert Museum (click here for the website). It is, without a doubt, worth the bumpy off-road trip (navigable by regular car). His assemblages will stay with you long after you leave.
I missed Silent Sunday because of travel – so it became a Monochrome Monday! I hope everyone had a great weekend.
It is slowly eroding, between a public restroom and a playground, shaded by shaggy trees. I have run by it a hundred times and never stopped, the long low form is the color of sand and earth and blends in well. But this one day it was hot and so we veered off and panted in the same shade as this mysterious sculpture. I had to laugh when I bent down to examine it and found the invitation above – Poems here.
It took a fair bit of googling to discover its identity – use the word “sculpture” as a search term and the much more famous works of art in Balboa Park crowd it out of the results. It is the Poetry Bench. Built in 2006 by 20 women out of cob – a natural building material made of clay, sand, and water and in use for thousands of years – it was meant to last a year. But a decade on, although a little worse for wear, it still invites us to sit a while in the shade and perhaps give it a poem. Patiently waiting and letting us hurry by.
(You can see more pictures of the bench and read more about its construction and subsequent lifespan extension here)