micropoetry

Double Original Friday – Bird Watching

black and white monoprint of a skeletal bird and a haiku

The bird watching from the car is good.
Peregrine, kestrel, loggerhead shrike
Winter fog no winter has known.

I wrote this short poem while on a long drive through California’s central valley in the middle of January. Interstate 5 there is straight as an arrow and flat, plowing its way through hundreds of miles of farmland. It was bitterly cold and dry and a heavy fog hung over the fields. It looks for all the world like ordinary fog, except when you get out of the car and the mix of chemicals and animal waste hits you. By many measures, the central valley of California is one of the most polluted areas of the state, but it is also one of the breadbaskets of our nation and a place of startling diversity of wildlife – particularly predatory birds you can see from the highway. Poem and monoprint (ink on mineral paper) by me. Have a good weekend!

Short Poem Saturday – Haiku by Knoll

LadyBugsHaiku_KnollGoing back through the archives, I found this illustration I did last year and I couldn’t resist reposting it. Ms. Knoll’s haiku has the same positive effect on me it always has – and with the front page of the news pretty much universally gloomy, I didn’t think it hurt to post a happy, fun poem. I’m pleased to say Ms. Knoll continues to be extremely active, with a forthcoming poetry book for June 2017 and lots of new poetry focused on social justice and current issues. She always has new stuff happening – her website: http://triciaknoll.com/

Original text of the post:
This haiku puts a grin on my face every time I read it. And it never fails to launch me on an extended trip down memory lane as well – from the greenhouse in my grandparents’ backyard to one I visited once in Iceland. I consider this one of the superpowers of the haiku: they are a reservoir of memories stored in present tense words. Ms. Tricia Knoll is an award-winning poet working and living in Portland, Oregon. Her website, triciaknoll.com, has more of her wonderful haiku as well as links to many of her published poems and books – I definitely recommend a visit! Painting (acrylic on cardboard), digital collage, and composition by me. Have a wonderful weekend!

Short Poem Saturday – Haiku – Roig

photograph of Roig Haiku collageunleaf me and go
your shadows are ghosting me
lost blurred indistinct
– Kerfe Roig

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.

Illustrated Thursday -Bashō finds me in Japan

TKHU7896.jpgI 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.

Okuraretsu
okuritsu hateha
Kiso no aki

Seeing friends off
being seen off, and now —
autumn in Kiso

CBLD9906.jpgLater 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:

Hokku nari
Matsuo Tosei
Yado no Haru

This is a hokku
Matsuo Tosei’s (“Green Peach”)
home on New Year.
Tr. Gabi Greve
DGBO9080.jpg

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!

Short Poem Saturday – The Written Word

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Today’s poem is another one from the poetry mystery folder. The credit for writing these snappy six lines of good advice has bounced around over the years, occasionally credited to Madeleine L’Engle or Elizabeth Yates. Both authors have cited the poem as inspiration, but there is no indication either of them wrote it. The first record of publication I could find was around 100 years ago, but otherwise the authorship remains obscure. I revisited my illustration for this poem: I decided I liked the medium of photocollage that I used in the original but wanted a more abstract take on it. Photos, collage, and composition by me.

Interested in helping to solve any of our other poetry mysteries? Information is always welcome!

dead center by Ann Atwood

In the Mohave by Patrick Orr

A Hallowe’en Haiku by Clement Hoyt 

 

Excerpt Wednesday – I am Singing the Cold Rain – Henson

IMG_3512.jpg
i am turning in the gray morning 
of my life
toward home
Lance Henson

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.

Short Poem Saturday – A Farm Picture – Whitman

FarmPicture_WhitmanThrough the ample open door of the peaceful country barn,
A sunlit pasture filled with cattle and horses feeding,
And haze and vista, and the far horizon fading away.
Walt Whitman
(1819 – 1892)

Today’s illustration is courtesy of my dear friend and fellow scientist, Ms. Chiara Ricci-Tam. The unique line quality of her illustration comes from the fact that Chiara drew this with light on a large sheet of photographic film. These sheets of film are normally used to visualize proteins from inside cells, but here she has co-opted one for artistic purposes. Chiara has a blog, Chiaroscurale, where she posts her other occasional artistic experiments. I do recommend a visit!

I have one anthology which lists this Whitman poem as an ekphrastic one (typically a poem about another work of art), but there is no specific painting or artwork mentioned. But ekphrasis can also be a vivid description of a scene, and this one certainly clears that bar, reminding me of my hiking trip in the Welsh countryside last year  – as well as so many landscape oil paintings from Whitman’s era. Drawing (light on photographic film) by Chiara Ricci-Tam. Have a wonderful weekend!

Excerpt Wednesday – Reclining Figure – Hall

RecliningFigure_Hall.jpgDonald Hall (b. 1928) continues in the poetic tradition of Robert Frost by living and writing full time on a farm in New Hampshire. The Robert Frost Farm is now a historic landmark after changing hands many times and a long battle by preservationists. Mr. Hall’s literary career is arguable as noteworthy as Frost’s – he too has been Poet Laureate of the United States as well as winning two Guggenheims and a long stretch as poetry editor of the Paris Review. There must be something special about New Hampshire farmland…Reclining Figure is a very short ekphrastic poem inspired by Henry Moore’s sculpture of the same name. I intentionally did not look photographs of Moore’s sculpture before working on this illustration; instead I relied on my aggregate memory of Henry Moore sculptures I’ve seen over the years. This poem evoked very specific colors for me. To read the whole poem and view the sculpture on which it is based, click here. Painting (ink on paper) and composition by me.

Short Poem Saturday – Profile – Po-jen

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Sung Po-jen’s illustrated book of poetry, Guide to Capturing a Plum Blossom, was published in 1238 in China, making it the very earliest example of an art book. This masterpiece would have been lost entirely if not for a single copy of the 1261 edition that survived the Mongol conquests. This copy spent the next 600 years passed and sold privately from artist to scholar to collector until its importance was finally recognized in the late 1800’s. Drawing (ink on paper) and composition by me, translation by Red Pine.