Poetry

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.

Found Poetry Thursday – Detectiverse

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!
IMG_4560.jpgI 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…

 

Short Poem Saturday – Corn Moon – Summers

KXSX3001.jpgThis 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!

Found Poetry Thursday – The Poetry Bench

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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)
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Excerpt Wednesday – I dream of being a weed – White

Idreamofbeingaweed_2.jpgI was immediately impressed by Ms. Jana White’s poem I dream of being a weed, posted way back in February. I’ve read other poems about weeds, both literal and metaphorical, but her take on these hardy little plants is both beautiful and unique. She also created a lovely drawing to accompany her poem (a poet after my own heart!), so I decided to let this one sit for a while and incubate in my imagination. I wanted my illustration to be different and complementary to hers. A photograph of a grasshopper, taken by me on a recent run, became the inspiration to return to this poem and create a photo collage. Ms. White’s blog, Poetry of Light, is wonderful and I encourage a visit over there to experience some of her poetry. To hop directly to the full text and original illustration of I dream of being a weed, click here. Photo collage by me. Have a great Wednesday!

Excerpt Wednesday – (anyone lived in a pretty how town) – Cummings

anyonelived_cummings.jpgWomen and men(both dong and ding)
summer autumn winter spring
reaped their sowing and went their came
sun moon stars rain
E.E. Cummings (1894-1962)

I distinctly remember struggling with E.E. Cummings’ experimental poetry in school – i carry your heart (probably still his most popular poem) presented no challenge, but much of the rest of his work seemed so strange: it was my first introduction to abstract poetry. I also remember that when I finally read anyone lived in a pretty how town, this was the moment I felt like I “got it.” Oh, that’s what he’s doing, I said to myself with a sigh of relief (for my grade in the class). No longer under the threat of a term paper, I have since come to truly appreciate Mr. Cummings’ experiments with language. But anyone lived in a pretty how town is still my entry point to his work and experimental methods. If you would like to read the whole poem, click here (there is also an audio file of Mr. Cummings reading the poem!). Collage (mixed media on newsprint and digital) by me.

Illustrated Thursday – Sonnet: Now I See Them – Palmer

NowISeeThemAs life has conspired to delay my return to art making (Life: “Oh, you are back from vacation? Good! I had been delaying so many minor crises at work and home until you returned!” Me: “Uh-oh.”), I wanted to repost one of my favorite collaborations from about a year ago. Michael Palmer’s Sonnet: Now I See Them is a surreal and modern take on a classical form: the sense imagery is rich and the symbolism of the numbers is fascinating. Mr. Palmer has collaborated extensively over the years with musicians and visual artists and this poem reflects that interaction. If you’d like to read the whole poem, head over here to the Poetry Foundation and see what you think. Drawing (ink on paper) by Chiara Ricci-Tam. She has her own blog on WordPress, Chiaroscurale, where she posts her experiments with art that she does in between her scientific experiments. Stop by and say “hello”!

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
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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 Golf Links – Cleghorn

TheGolfLinksWhen I tour the Illustrated Poetry archives, I usually find myself in “revision and update” mode; like with any draft, time gives me fresh eyes to see my old posts. But occasionally I come across a published post and think, “no revision necessary, I would do it exactly that way again.” That is a pretty good feeling (rare as it is!), and so I’d like to re-post one that earned such an accolade.

As I mentioned a year ago, this trim quatrain has become the lasting legacy of poet, activist, and educator Sarah N. Cleghorn (1876 – 1959).  She devoted her life to working for numerous causes and published a great deal, but the continued fame of The Golf Links has led her to be most closely associated with the movement to end child labor in the United States. Published over one hundred years ago, this poem feels firmly rooted in the past; however, in many parts of the world child labor is a current and ongoing problem. Perhaps this mighty little poem still has work to do…Photograph and composition by me.

Excerpt Wednesday – I am Singing the Cold Rain – Henson

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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.