Double Original Friday – A poem for the Versatile Blogger Award

IMG_2959It is good to be back after a little break, which included a camping trip to Sequoia National Park. It is fortuitous as well, I think, to start posting again on the first day of National Poetry Month. Right before I left for my trip, Little Monster Girl nominated me for the Versatile Blogger Award – thank you, LMG! If you enjoy comics that are fun and off-beat (and often NSFW), then you should definitely check out Little Monster Girl and follow along with Zela’s antics.

As regular readers know, I take a very liberal approach to awards and take a mix and match approach to them – but here are the official rules of the Versatile Blogger Award:

  • Display Award
  • Thank the person who nominated you ✔
  • Share seven facts about yourself
  • Nominate up to 10 other bloggers


I thought this award was a good excuse to put up the “Portrait in Letters” painting above (acrylic on recycled paper) and make the seven facts about myself into a poem (it is National Poetry Month, after all!). All of these are true, no April’s Fools:

It was broad daylight
when I would prep cadavers
for $12 an hour back in the day

But night when
I turned to see Robin Williams
once dining at the table next to me

A home without
an overflowing bookshelf
is not home for me at all

Home is also in the desert
where I am free,
roll the windows down

Stop for a date shake,
but never a soda –
never have liked those.

Forget that time I got
seasick in a kayak
and remember the time

I went to the Louvre by myself,
reading every single placard,
as I always do – no one waiting
impatiently for me to finish!

My nominations are always “No Strings Attached” – so these folks should feel no pressure to take up the award – I only hope to introduce more people to these fabulous bloggers. This time I wanted to highlight Illustrators, particularly science/nature themed illustrators:

1.The Science of Illustration: Ms. Choudhury describes her two major passions as “science and art” and she works to visually interpret new and interesting science. Science communication and illustration is so incredibly important, I hope you all check out her work. 

2. Red Newt Gallery: Dr. Landin’s tagline for her blog is: “Where art and biology collide” – SOLD! I was introduced to Dr. Landin’s amazing art blog because she also illustrates for one of my favorite blogs – A-wing and A-way – and I am so glad I now get another regular dose of her art! 

3. The Forester Artist: Mr. Livingston is a forester in Northern California and draws and paints the incredible nature and life around him. I am consistently blown away by his art. He has also illustrated three children’s books and has some pretty adorable dogs!

4. J.C. Morley Arts: Mr. Morley works in a number of mediums, with a bent towards the abstract, and the quality and breadth of his work inspires me to be a better and more diverse artist. 

5. Victor Szepessy Artist: I think this is Mr. Szepessy’s second Versatile Blogger Nomination – but in terms of versatility, one can never have too much of that, right? In terms of art, Mr. Szepessy draws and paints very cool doodles, comics, and portraits. I always look forward to his next creation.  

Thank you again, LMG! I wish everyone an enjoyable and peaceful weekend!


This Poetical Life – A Remembrance for Dr. Amir D. Aczel

On November 28, 2015 Dr. Amir D. Aczel, acclaimed mathematician and bestselling author of more than a dozen books on science and math, passed away unexpectedly. I have read two of his books, Why Science Does Not Disprove God and Finding Zero, and I would heartily recommend both books.  Dr. Aczel had a very rare skill: he had the ability to translate complex and abstract scientific ideas into engaging and accessible stories for a general audience. The world needs scientists like Dr. Aczel – willing and able to make science available to everyone – more than ever.

Not only that, but Dr. Aczel was a kind and thoughtful person who took the time to personally respond to fans and readers. And this is something I know firsthand. Over a year ago, only a few short months into my blogging adventure here on Illustrated Poetry, I wrote my first post about “found poetry.” In particular I was discussing the definition that had been advanced by the poet Ronald Gross: ‘”Found Poetry”  typically preserves the words as they originally appear, but may rearrange them into lines to “bring out their poetic quality.”‘ I was in the middle of reading Why Science Does Not Disprove God by Dr. Aczeland one passage in the book had struck me as found poetry and so I included this rearrangement and pairing of his words with one of my photographs:


Later that day, Dr. Aczel himself wrote a comment thanking me! I was so surprised and thrilled – I called my partner over to the computer and was shouting “Look, look, I can’t believe it – LOOK!” I was truly touched that he not only took the time to read that post on my tiny little blog floating out there in the vast ocean of the internet, but he also paused to write a kind note. It was incredibly encouraging and I have never forgotten it. Thank you again, Dr. Aczel. Feel free to head over here to read the full original post, “This Poetical Life.”



Halloween Doodle and the Posts of Halloween Past

HalloweenDoodle15It is a gmish of illustrations and poetry today, the day before Halloween. The above doodle (pencil on paper) was fueled in part by the piles of halloween candy that keep appearing at work! It was inspired as a revisit to a poem that I featured on Illustrated Poetry back in April (remember, I can’t manage to plan posts around the relevant holidays!) – “Horror Movie” by Howard Moss. Definitely worth a read today or tomorrow! Also, if you would like an Alan-Cummings-sounding Scottish gentleman to read another scary poem to you – “The Twa Corbies” – I recommend my Halloween post from last year.

Meanwhile, I’ve been playing with adding Halloween words to the Poetry Generator. If you haven’t been introduced to the Poetry Generator, click here – you may or may not thank me, as it is quite addictive. It will make random poems for you based on either words you supply or a standard set. I’ll be tweeting out my Halloween generator poems today and tomorrow – they’ll appear in the Twitter sidebar here at IP or follow me on Twitter.

Have a safe and fun Halloween!

Found Poetry Thursday – Green Table 1992 – Holzer

IMG_1298I am always on the look out for poetry in everyday life and so I was thrilled when I came across Ms. Jenny Holzer’s large outdoor sculpture, “Green Table 1992”, on the University of California, San Diego campus. It is exactly as titled: a massive green granite table (students do sit on and use it for studying or eating, so it is functional as well). But carved all over the table are poems – ranging from full verses to one-liners – by the artist (including the one above). IMG_1300These poems tackle all kinds of topics, many controversial – but what struck me in particular were her monostiches, or one-liners. Like the Surrealists, Ms. Holzer is using a familiar format that pervades our culture (how many “Pearls of Wisdom” are passed down as monostiches? “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush,” “A watched pot never boils”…) and turning it on its head. Click here to see some one-line “pearls” from the Surrealist poets, see below for a couple more from Ms. Holzer. Her website has a whole gallery of “projections” of poems and words she has done around the world. Photographs by me.



Awards and First Posts!

IMG_0620I would like to thank Mr. Opher Goodwin for nominating me for the Creative Blogger Award – thank you so much! His blog, Opher’s World, never ceases to impress me for its scope and variety. He is also the author of 43 books, which is also quite the inspiration! Thank you again!

I practice a hybrid/moderated form of blog award acceptance – I gratefully accept them and sincerely appreciate the nod and then tweak them to be “No Strings Attached” (which is an award that was started about a year ago, and is exactly what it says it is).

So here are 5 bloggers that I “No Strings Attached” nominate as Creative and Awesome and you should check them out! If any of them wish to take up the Creative Blogger (official rules below*) or No Strings Attached Award baton, they are most welcome!

1. Create Art Everyday – it is as advertised! Ms. Laura creates art everyday and shares this journey with us. It is like art-fitness-motivation – with good humor and encouragement. Not to mention beautiful art.

2. Fiery Tail Imagery – Ms. Scott is sharing her journey as a professional photographer with us, which is always enjoyable to read. In addition, she often creates stunning digital works of art with her photographs and these become a form of completely visual storytelling!

3. Totem Wood – Mr. Laurent Domergue carves amazing large scale works of art in wood – often with a chainsaw and an ax! Need I say more? His blog is in French, but his art is international and needs no translation to amaze (although Google translate can assist, if you’d also like to read his often light-hearted commentary on his work in English).

4. Tales of a Swallow – Ms. Nira Chimera creates multimedia collages and paintings, often accompanied by poetry. Her work bursts off the screen in color and raw emotion. I always look forward to new posts.

5. Csisza – Ms. Csisza’s drawings are movement and color personified. They are simply lovely and an example of how art can speak volumes without a word.

Instead of 5 facts about myself, I wanted to share my “first post story” – which is another “award” (or blog fad? meme?) that’s been going around. I’ve enjoyed reading about people’s first posts and it’s always fun to see how a blog evolves – at the very least, it is a trip down memory lane. I’d never done anything like blogging, so my first post, in the beginning of May 2014, was definitely a test post. My hopes for this post were very very low: Could I successfully upload a picture and publish it? So I did it (or hoped I did) and promptly called my sister on the phone and said – “Quick! Go to this web address and tell me what you see!” I waited as she booted up her computer and typed in illustratedpoetry.com – when she laughed and then asked what the heck was this website, I declared success and Illustrated Poetry was born. Here is what I posted:


Not original art, I know – I think it came off of Pinterest – but at least it was poetry themed! The top photograph of the keyboard is by me. Happy Wednesday!

(*The rules for the Creative Blogger award are: ° Nominate 15-20 blogs and notify all nominees ° Thank and post the link of the blog that nominated you ° Share 5 facts about yourself to your readers ° Pass these rules on to them*)

Poetry Bookstores Around the World!

IMG_0373I knew that Hay-on-Wye, Wales, was known as the “Town of Books,” and that I, naturally, had to visit such a place. What I didn’t know that it was also the home of another dedicated poetry bookshop – some of you may remember I made a stop at the Grolier Poetry Book Shop in Cambridge during my Poetry Scavenger Hunt late last year.

So, map in hand, I went in search of The Poetry Bookshop. I meant to take a photograph inside to show you all the wonder of floor to ceiling books of poetry (mostly second hand with a smattering of new), but I was so excited upon entering and seeing the potential poetry treasures that awaited me that I completely forgot. This is a representative photograph taken in another nearby bookshop.

IMG_0377Due to budgetary and luggage weight concerns, I had to be very discerning about the number of books I bought. After much deliberation, I decide to buy an anthology of WWII poets for £5. I have always loved Wilfred Owen’s poems and from that interest, I’ve learned a fair bit about WWI poets over the years. Standing in the shop deliberating over my armful of candidate books, I realized that I knew very little about WWII poets and poetry and this fact made the decision for me.

IMG_0661I’m looking forward to filling this gap in my poetry knowledge and discovering some new poets! I had picked out another anthology from the bargain cellar (an actual converted stone cellar, complete with dankness and arch-shaped niches, now filled with books) that was marked for 50p – but when I didn’t have exact change, the shopkeeper threw it in for free. Made the deal even sweeter! If you are ever in Hay-on-Wye, I do recommend stopping by The Poetry Bookshop and foraging for your own poetry treasure!


This one was the cherry on top of some poetry dessert!



Sometimes you find poetry, and sometimes poetry finds you…


I’ve been cutting through various buildings for a brief respite from the cold on the way from the subway station to work. As I was walking along last week down a hallway, I stopped when the shape of stanzas leapt out of a recycling bin at me. I don’t know why someone printed out this Sylvia Plath poem and then recycled it (failed valentine? poetry class assignment? a divine sign that I should illustrate more Sylvia Plath poems?), but it wound up serenading the passersby with rhyme. I left the poem in place as I found it (I apologize for the bad lighting, but that too is an accurate reflection of the environmental conditions), but if you would like to read the whole thing, click here.

Poetry Scavenger Hunt – Stop 5 – Woodberry Poetry Room


Luckily, this week’s Poetry Scavenger Hunt stop took place before the blizzard and near complete shut-down of Boston! I went on my lunch break on Monday, and I admit to rather nervously watching out the window as the snow began to fall and then become increasingly heavy as time progressed. The Woodberry Poetry Room is Harvard’s dedicated center for poetry, located in Lamont Library, and open to the public (you do not need to be affiliated with Harvard to visit – you simply request a pass for the Woodberry Room at the front desk of the library). It has a special emphasis on audio recordings of poetry readings and has preserved the voices of some of our most beloved poets. They host events, sponsor readings, and just inaugurated their own blog, called “Stylus.”


The room, founded in 1931 and currently housed in a room designed in 1949, is warm and welcoming. In the center of the reading tables and on the wall is art and memorabilia commemorating the collection of recordings they preserve.  The story of the audio collection can be found here and is worth a read. Poet and friend Meg Eden originated the idea of a poetry scavenger hunt – her website is here and info about her new chapbook is here. I took the hunt virtual and brought everyone along for a tour of poetry sites in Boston. If you are joining us for the first time, would like to know more, or would like to revisit any of the other stops: Stop 1Stop 2Stop 3, and Stop 4!




That last photograph is the best I could do of a letter signed by Ezra Pound giving Harvard the right to use the recording of his poetry reading – with the explicit exception of the poem “Altaforte” – I would be interested to hear the story behind that!

In the envelope at the poetry room is a poem by Chen Chen:

IMG_3352 See you next week for our 6th and final stop in this series!




Poetry Scavenger Hunt – Stop 4 – Forest Hills Cemetery


Founded in 1848, Forest Hills Cemetery is by no means the oldest cemetery in the greater Boston area, but it has become one of the most famous both for the notable persons buried here and the spectacular statuary and monuments. When I visited the memorial park on Monday, it was sunny and downright balmy for a January Boston day (nearly 40 degrees F!), but with a periodic biting wind.  Overall, though, a good day for the 4th stop on our Boston Poetry Scavenger Hunt (if you are joining us for the first time, would like to know more, or would like to revisit any of the other stops: Stop 1, Stop 2, and Stop 3).

Within yards of the main gate is the powerful Death Staying the Hand of the Sculptor by Daniel Chester French, shown above. The list of the well-known who are buried here is available on both the wikipedia page and the cemetery’s map. I was here to visit two residents in particular – the poets Anne Sexton and ee cummings.

The majority of the other visitors at the cemetery while I was there was a large group of bird watchers. Another lady and I were wandering the same group of graves, and at first I thought we might be in search of the same thing, but our patterns diverged: I was looking down and reading headstones while she had binoculars and was looking up.


Naturally, I am not the first person to seek out Anne Sexton’s resting place to leave a tribute of poetry – on the Sexton family monument just a few feet from Ms. Sexton’s headstone, someone else had carefully arrayed an offering:


I set out for the other side of the cemetery to find ee cummings. After a number of wrong turns and map reading mistakes, I finally arrived in the area where he was supposed to be – and another pair of bird watchers watched as I went in circles for twenty minutes, muttering at my phone (where the downloaded cemetery map glowed uphelpfully).

I was about to give up, when I spotted the family name faintly chiseled on the back of a large block:

IMG_3172But there was still no sign of ee. Only a ring of purposefully placed rocks tipped me off – his headstone was completely covered in fallen leaves and back against a rock wall. EE Cummings: challenging us in life and in death.



Poet and friend Meg Eden originated the idea of a poetry scavenger hunt – her website is here and info about her new chapbook is here. The poem in the envelope I left for Anne Sexton is by Anne Caston:

IMG_3191See you next week for Stop 5!