This was the first Overheard I did – inspired by a snippet of conversation I heard on Waikiki Beach last year. The speaker was just so earnest, it drew my attention away from the ocean views. I wonder if he was actually talking about food, or something else? I did wind up being fairly literal and making the speaker a potato himself. You can see the other Overheard I’ve posted here. Have a great weekend!
I wanted to reveal the next drawing in my “Major Arcana” series for August’s Draw-A-Bird Day. Officially, Draw-A-Bird Day is April 8th each year: you can visit the D.A.B.D. website here – thank you to M.R. Emberson of A-Wing and A-Away for introducing us to it! A number of artist-bloggers here on Word Press have been celebrating it by posting a bird drawing on the 8th of every month. Laura at Create Art Every Day is hosting this month’s birdy gathering! Thank you, Laura!
The Emperor is a Jabiru stork, one of the largest birds in South America: large males can stand 5 feet tall and have a 9 foot wingspan. They eat small animals of almost any variety – frogs, lizards, crustaceans, and even mice and other birds. Drawing (colored pencil and ink on paper) by me. Have a Happy Draw-A-Bird-Day! If you’d like to see the other two drawings in my bird themed Major Arcana series: The Tower and The Wheel of Fortune.
I didn’t design my trip to Japan to revolve around haiku, although considering the content of this blog, it would have been fitting! I went to Japan to hike on the Nakasendo Way (the old Edo era highway between Kyoto and Tokyo, now the equivalent of a national historic trail), be immersed in a totally new place and culture, and unplug. People do, in fact, plan whole trips around Bashō and his poetry (the tour company I used – and would highly recommend – even offers a “Bashō Tour”). I am not so organized a traveler, however; it turned out that I would walk in the footsteps of Matsuo Bashō (1644-1694) on at least two occasions during my trip.
Matsuo Bashō is one of the four Japanese haiku masters – together with Yosa no Buson (1716-1784), Kobayashi Issa (1763-1828), and Masaoka Shiki (1867-1902). Bashō moved around quite a bit during his life, living in a number of cities, as well as traveling extensively, including on parts of the Nakasendo Way.
Our second night on the trail, we stayed at a traditional Japanese bed and breakfast, called Sinchaya – or New Tea House. I learned “new” is a relative term in Japan, and seems to mean that the inn is merely several hundred years old. Across the road from the B&B was a beautiful pond and garden. I could see the garden from my room and was drawn to wander around and take photographs of it (like the photo above) while I waited for dinner to be ready. There was a brass plaque in the garden, but as it was entirely in Japanese and I was entirely out of reach of Google translate, its meaning remained a mystery to me.
The next morning, our guide informed us that it was tradition for the innkeepers to see us off as we lumbered back onto the Nakasendo Way. Our two lovely hosts did just that, enthusiastically waving and watching until we turned the corner and were out of sight. As the trail glided up between terraced rice paddies, our guide causally mentioned that Sinchaya – in particular, its pond and garden – was the source of a famous haiku written by Bashō. I looked it up later and discovered I had been part of a ritual going back 350 years.
Kiso no aki
Seeing friends off
being seen off, and now —
autumn in Kiso
Later in the week, back in Tokyo in a torrential downpour, we darted from high-rise portico to high-rise portico with another guide. Sheltering under a non-descript overhang in the Nihonbashi district, our guide pointed to a beautiful stone with a brass plaque on the sidewalk. “Matsuo Bashō lived here,” she proudly proclaimed before asking, “Has anyone heard of haiku?” I raised my rain-slickered arm high. The plaque commemorated a haiku he wrote in about 1677:
Yado no Haru
This is a hokku
Matsuo Tosei’s (“Green Peach”)
home on New Year.
Tr. Gabi Greve
Several websites remarked that this haiku was Bashō’s official “grand opening” as a professional poet and teacher. Nihonbashi is now a maze of high rise office buildings – the bashi (bridge) spans the river in the permanent shade of an elevated highway. But tucked in every corner was history and in at least one case, poetry.
It is good to be back and I’m looking forward to catching up on everyone’s blogs. Don’t worry, you’ll be subjected to more pictures from Japan for many Silent Sundays to come!
i am turning in the gray morning
of my life
I am indebted to Mr. Leonard Durso for introducing me to Lance Henson’s work on his most excellent poetry blog (if you aren’t familiar with Mr. Durso’s blog, click here to rectify that oversight!). I bookmarked his post featuring I am Singing the Cold Rain way back in October of last year, but I did not have the medium to realize my illustration for it. Enter transfer printing, introduced to me recently by my illustration class instructor. The line quality was exactly what I was looking for – I made a number of attempts for this verse, but this was the one that clearly spoke the words of the poem. To read the whole poem, also in the Cheyenne language, head over here. Mr. Henson has a blog as well – his poems are haunting and will stay with you for a long time. Illustration (ink transfer onto newsprint) by me.
I took the photo above inside Fallen Star, a site specific sculpture by Do Ho Suh located on the University of California, San Diego, campus. A visit to the “house” is a disorienting experience – and it is meant to be. It is a meditation on Mr. Suh’s experience emigrating from South Korea, leaving behind everything he had ever known. The house is mounted hanging over the ledge of a tall building, tipped at a 5% grade inside and a 10% grade outside. For reference, the chandelier hangs perfectly perpendicular.
It has been a little while since I shared some of my favorite illustrated poetry links from my travels around the internet and WordPress, in particular.
1. Artpoems by Ms. Jacqueline Davis – her whole blog, Driftless Page, really, is a breathtaking (and inspiring) exploration of calligraphy, word art, and book arts. It’s probably good she doesn’t have the “like” button enabled on her posts, because I would push it many many times!
2. Two illustrated poems by Ro? Comic – Ro? Comics are not usually poetry based, but the artist, Stay Square, has illustrated two poems, Momentos, 1 by W.D. Snodgrass and In the Desert by Stephen Crane. In the Desert is one of my favorite short poems, so it is awesome to see it made into a poetic comic strip.
3. Bustin Garin makes mixed media collages that often feature words, text, and script. His blog is in French, but his work needs no translation. The sheer variety of his art inspires me to recycle everything into a collage! If only mine would come out as good as his…
Enjoy the links and may your house be always level!
A Saturday morning spent playing around with photo collages and a cheeky Edna St. Vincent Millay epigram is time well spent, I say!
Have a wonderful weekend, enjoy the collage, and perhaps be inspired by these three links:
1) Ms. Chiara Ricci-Tam, my friend and collaborator in science as well as art, has started her own WordPress Blog! I have been like a broken record over the last two years telling her that the folks on WP are some of the best there are, and that I have made new friends and connected with amazing artists, authors, and poets here. Now she’s here too – and so, if you don’t mind, click on over to her brand new site Chiaroscurale and say hello!
2) Wave Erasure Books – a vibrant conversation on Twitter, started by Beat Company, reminded me of this awesome site and the one below. You (or the program if you click “random poem”) can erase words from classic texts to create something entirely new. You can also submit your erasure creations to their website to be added to the online collection.
3) Howl your work – this program will take any line you provide and “Howl with it.” I don’t think there is any other way to explain other than to show the results. I put today’s epigram into the algorithm, and this is what popped out:
safe upon the solid rock the ugly houses stand come and see my shining palace built upon the sand!
America upon safe roof street after we’re Passaic, caresses
rocking Long suicide, singing Spaniard sanity radio rose fate were
returning hands to twelve gas a soul trucks governments! Bridge a not
demonic Chinatown the together of up Moloch who entered my soul early!
Moloch in whom Light streaming out of the actual pingpong of the moon
& their hands & a hung jury, and harlequin speech of suicide,
Behold the power of random chance, computer algorithms, and Howl by Alan Ginsberg!
Written towards the end of a very colorful and intensely creative life, “Let it Enfold You” by Charles Bukowski (1920 – 1994), describes his arduous personal journey. I wanted to create something that attempted to capture the gesture and resolution of the journey – while honoring what came before – all in one picture. Drawing (colored pencil on paper) and composition by me. To join Mr. Bukowski on this journey, for a few minutes at least, read the whole poem here. I am indebted to Beat Company for introducing me to this poem – in the comments section of my About Me page, no less! Proving once again that the WP community enriches, supports, and inspires us.
There was an open figure drawing session very near my house that featured two models each week – one male and one female – which was absolutely wonderful. During this session, after a few rounds of posing independently, the two models decided to do interactive poses – for this one, the female model lay across his lap and wound up looking directly at me for the whole pose! Sadly, this series was discontinued at the close of 2015. Drawing (charcoal on newsprint) by me.