unleaf 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.
I wrote this haiku in response to a Ronovan Writes Haiku Challenge (if you don’t know about these, I do recommend them) almost two years ago – and it is amazing to me that it’s been that long. But it is still one of my favorite haiku I’ve written, as it satisfies the science nerd inside of me, so I am reposting it! The challenge words way back then were “Snail” and “Turtle” and the first thing I thought of was that they both have shells, albeit made of very different materials. “Molluscs” and “Chelonii” are the taxonomic Orders of snails and turtles, respectively. Poem and photo (one from a long ago trip to Sequoia National Park) by me. Have a wonderful Friday!
Cheered on by a chorus of voices as you die,
“Go now! Go to the light!” Still, Don’t die!
– Carol Muske-Dukes
I flew recently to attend a friend’s wedding and air travel is my excuse to stock up on physical copies of magazines and newspapers and do nothing but read them cover to cover while doing all the waiting that one does at an airport. In this pursuit, I wound up with a copy of T: The New York Times Style Magazine and was delighted to find their “A Picture and A Poem” feature: a previously unpublished poem with a purposefully commissioned piece of art. This week’s pairing was the poem Live, Die: A Ghazal by Carol Muske-Dukes with a sculpture by Nari Ward. I loved the poem and so I wanted to see what my response as an artist would be to her words. I love the contrast between my piece and Ms. Ward’s and how we gathered the words into the art so differently. Drawing (ink on paper) by me. To read the complete poem and view the sculpture together, click here.
Rosa que al prado, encarnada,
te ostentas presuntüosa
de grana y carmín bañada:
campa lozana y gustosa;
pero no, que siendo hermosa
tambien serás desdichada.
Juana Inés de la Cruz
(1651 – 1695)
Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz is a woman whose life was made up of remarkable contrasts: the illegitimate daughter of landed gentry, a brilliant teenager forbidden to attend school, and finally as a nun who wrote many non-religious works. She is also hailed as an early feminist and agitant for women’s rights. Drawing (ink on mineral paper – paper made from rocks, not trees, in honor of Earth Day) by me, translation by William Weaver. Have a lovely Saturday!
E.E. Cummings’ outspoken and often contrarian political views got him into trouble on several occasions during his life – he was even accused of being a spy in France during WWI. His love poetry has had enduring popular appeal – I personally have been to two weddings where his poem [I carry your heart] has been read – but his satirical and political poetry, while perhaps lesser known, make up another major theme in his work. This epigram is a small salty taste of it – and no matter your political persuasion, it is perhaps a feeling we have all had at one point! Drawing (ink on paper) and composition by me. Have a great weekend!
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.
I remember learning many years ago that William Carlos Williams was both a physician and a poet – that he chose both professions equally and in turn each informed and influenced the other. I have always found this to be remarkable and refreshing. There always seems to be a tendency to be “either/or” and not “both” in this world! This excerpt comes from one poem in a series entitled “The Descent of Winter.” It is known by both its first line and by a section number – 10/30. If you would like to read the whole text of “10/30” AKA “To freight cars in the air,” scroll down or click the “read more” link. Mixed media collage and composition by me.
This is also a piece of mail art – the collage is on one side of a postcard. I’d love to send it to someone! If you’d like to receive this postcard in the mail, use the “contact” tab above to send me an email. There is no charge for the card or postage – international is okay too! It’s been taken – thanks, everyone! I’m hoping to post more mail art again soon! (I’ll update the post when it’s taken.)
I fully admit this one started as a doodle during a work meeting and then I kept working on it, having a good time blending the graphite on the matte photo paper that I rescued from the recycling bin a while back. The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock by T.S. Eliot is one of my favorite classic poems, one I return to again and again (you can see a very early illustration attempt of mine here!). My goal has been to pair the poem with more abstract and non-narrative imagery, but for a much more literal (and superbly executed) illustrated version of the poem, I highly recommend Mr. Julian Peters’ comic. You can read the whole poem here. Have a lovely Wednesday!
Robert Hayden probably knew a thing or two about cold winter mornings, having grown up in Detroit in the early part of last century. He published his first poetry book at 27 and later went on to become the first African-American appointed as Poet Laureate of the United States. You can read the full text of the poem here. Photograph (of Aristide Maillol’s statue Mountain), lettering, and composition by me. Have a good week!
Today’s poem, by Mona Van Duyn, is a wonderful example of ekphrastic poetry – poetry in response to another work of art. I responded with my illustration for the poem before I checked to see precisely which Goya painting Ms. Van Duyn was referring to – you can see a photograph of that painting here. I focused on the color and shape of Ms. Van Duyn’s poem – and I think the movement from Goya’s painting through Van Duyn’s poem to my small attempt resembles a game of telephone! But that may be one of the super-powers of ekphrastic art: it takes on a life of its own. Ms. Van Duyn was the Poet Laureate of the United States from 1992-1993. Painting (acrylic on illustration board) and composition by me. Enjoy!