Overheard – I really wanted my middle name to be Thomas

MiddleNameOverheard.jpgFor a few months, I commuted to work twice a week on a bus, and this one was overheard on one such ride. Although this was the first “overheard” I wrote down, it took me a while to draw it. The young man who was speaking was talking to another man across the aisle, although the two did not appear to know each other otherwise. The disappointment of the young man with his mother seemed to revolve squarely around his middle name – no other example of her “failings” was presented.  Pen and watercolor pencil on paper by me.

To view the other “Overheards” in this series click on the title:
I Expected the Notary to be on a Unicycle
Meat and Potatoes, Myself 

Have a great Thursday!

Notary on a Unicycle and an Award!

NotaryUnicycle.jpgI’ve been working on a series of ink and ink wash illustrations of snippets of conversations I’ve overheard randomly – thus I’ve been affectionately calling them “Overheards”. The conversations are already out of context in most cases, and I’ve tried to heighten that by making the conversations between fruits and birds. Don’t know where this will go, but may I present to you the first one and say that there are more on the way!

Right before I left for my Asia trip, I was nominated for the Blogger Recognition Award by Steve D’Adamo of Red String Paper Cuts. Luckily, I don’t think the nominations expire, so here I am, accepting it a month later! Thank you, Steve! Thank you also for introducing me to several more really cool bloggers in your nomination post!


To accept the award I must:

Thank the bloggers who nominated me and provide a link to their blogs.

Write a post to show my award.

Give a brief story as to how my blog got started.

Give two pieces of advice to new bloggers.

Select 15 other bloggers for this award.

Comment on each blog to let them know I nominated them and link them to this post.

Thank the bloggers who nominated me and provide a link to their blogs.
I was nominated by Steve D’Adamo over at Red String Paper Cuts. Steve and his friend Jesse Gutierrez started RSPC not long after I started Illustrated Poetry and they have always graciously allowed me to hang around and occasionally contribute to their blog. Always good stuff over at RSPC! Thank you again for the nomination!

Give a brief story as to how my blog got started:
I actually have a confession to make: this was supposed to be an author blog. Towards the end of grad school, I wrote a novel – my first, to be precise (it was also my first serious attempt at writing anything non-science since college). Like most first-novel-attempts, it wasn’t very good, but also like many first time novelists, I didn’t realize that at first (it was definitely my baby). So I was trying to figure out what to do with this novel, how to get it published, and the first piece of advice everyone seemed to dispense in those days to aspiring authors was to start a blog. So I made a WP account…and then did nothing with it. I didn’t really want to write about writing and somewhere along the line, I realized a half-hearted author blog wasn’t going to cut it. But I didn’t give up on blogging and decided to blog about and connect with people through something I had always been really passionate about: art and poetry.  And I am so glad I did!

Give two pieces of advice to new bloggers:
I am probably the last person who should be dispensing blogging advice! But, if pressed, I would say: 1) blog about what you are most passionate about – doesn’t matter if that seems quirky or offbeat. Some of my favorite blogs on WP are quirky or about highly specialized topics and that’s what makes them great. 2) It’s your blog, it should be fun – it doesn’t matter if the prevailing advice is to post once a day or to write posts tagged with the top 10 trending tags, if that’s not fun for you, don’t do it. Need a blogging break? Take one.

Nominate 15 other bloggers – Well, it’s not going to be 15, and this is the part where the whole awards thing breaks down for me – my nominees are always “no strings attached” and I free them from any sort of obligation in regards to acceptance or post writing. It’s hard enough to find the time to post when we do! I hope folks visit and enjoy their blogs and discover new writers to follow.

I may have realized that I don’t like writing about writing, but I sure do enjoy it when talented authors do! In that vein, I have nominated 5 writers who I really enjoy following and often write about writing in an interesting way:

  1. Jane Dougherty Writes – I think Ms. Dougherty was the second or third blogger I followed and she very kindly endured novice-blogger me! Ms. Dougherty is the author of nearly a dozen books (by my count) and hosts fun microfiction challenges.
  2. Myths of the Mirror – this is D. Wallace Peach’s author blog and she posts interesting articles about writing fantasy (need to design a magic system, anyone?). Her series of posts about deciding to terminate her contract with her previous publisher and self-publish her novels was absolutely top notch and I highly recommend it.
  3. M.C. Tuggle, Writer – a writer of many different types of fiction, Mr. Tuggle posts on a similarly wide range of writing topics. I really appreciate that he scours the web and WP for good articles and posts about writing so you don’t have to!
  4. Kate M. Colby – I think I ran across Ms. Colby’s blog right after she started it, before her first book was published and she’s now on her third! I find her approach to discussing issues in publishing and writing to be refreshing and approachable. I also admire her systematic and businesslike attitude towards her own work and her decision to self-publish.
  5. American Writers Exposed – Sometimes you need some relief and a hilarious internet meme about writing and Ms. Jessica and Ms. Sandi post these alongside updates and articles about the nitty gritty of writing and publication. Their blog has the feel of a friendly support group for writers.

Okay! Thank you so much again, Steve, for the nomination! I hope everyone’s week is off to a good start.

Found Poetry Thursday – with random poem bonus!


It’s been a little while since I posted some poetry that I found out in the wild! This one was spotted at an exhibit on the history of photography at the Museum of Photographic Arts in San Diego. It took a little digging to identify the author and origin of the verse – this particular display was on the camera lucida, an early projection device for artists, and did not provide information on the quatrain. Miss Eliza Savage was the long time pen pal and “beta reader” for the Victorian era author Samuel Butler (1835 – 1902). His literary legacy has all but waned but his work was cited as an influence by Aldous Huxley, E.M. Forster, and George Bernard Shaw. Miss Savage wrote this “poem” in a letter to Mr. Butler, although a biography of Mr. Butler reversed the order of the lines. Photograph by me.

A couple of poetry links to round out this evening:

  1. For a wonderful fully illustrated version of “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” by T.S. Eliot (which is one of my favorite poems) – head over to Julian Peters Comics at this link here. Then linger a bit on his site to see a number of the classics beautifully illustrated.
  2. I’m now using three different poetry generator websites to make random poems – basically algorithms that generate random poems from either user supplied text or a standard set of words. If you put the “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” into the Interactive Haiku Generator (link below) you can get haiku like this:

    Sudden spreads the overwhelming

    We and it’s us

    On a night so tedious.

I have found these random poems to be both a great source of inspiration, a way to “unstick” from writing dry spells, as well as good Surrealist poems in their own right.

Here are the three sites – but fair warning, they are very addictive! Enjoy!

Interactive Haiku Generator 

Dada Poetry Generator

Thinkzone Poem Generator 

Aleatory Thursday is back!



Entopic graphomania sounds like it should be an exotic or rare medical disorder, but is actually a creativity technique that utilizes random chance to generate unexpected artistic outcomes. I’ve been gradually working my way through the list of Surrealist techniques on this Wikipedia page – applying them with the intention of coming up with new ideas and phrases for poetry. Entopic graphomania is the process of drawing lines between the imperfections or random marks on a piece of paper and using the pattern as an inspiration.

I modified it a touch for my purposes – I asked my wife to put around twenty random dots all over two pages of text. One was a page from a remaindered (and broken up) El Greco art book and the other was an article about exercising in harmony with the phases of the moon (which I have never tried – I am lucky when I exercise at all, moon phase or no). She didn’t know what I was going to do next with the pages and I told her she was free to place the dots anywhere she liked.


Then I took a marker and drew lines connecting all the dots. I experimented with radiating lines versus more linear arrangements. I followed the lines and transcribed all the words they crossed to create four aleatory (random) poems.


Here is one of them:


for fitness and health

is involved followed recovery slower

rate of exertion

times a week to stopping natural the to

is interval completely

as completely human themselves Cyclic have and restores technique

are done lunar moon

exercise cycles noon

in targets bursts times finally

time of maximum are done maximum energy

down to near the resting     the circadian cycle. Tracking this pattern, the

repeated limit rest in a period toward exercise

then 30 year old 50 

for a 200 lb beats

be to week energy done to cycles

O (full moon) 



———   squares    —

I rather like “are done lunar moon/exercise cycles noon” as a couplet!

Sometimes these aleatory experiments result in new poems, sometimes new artwork, sometimes I wind up not picking up the results at all – but they are always interesting and fun to do.

The aleatory archives:

Experiment 1 – Cut ups

Experiment 2 – Ink Splatter

Experiment 3 – Parsemage

Click on the “read more” or on the post to see the other three Entopic graphomania “poems”


Poetic wanderings, real and virtual

IMG_3264Wanderings of the Real…

Harvard is blessed with a plethora of libraries and reading rooms (including the Woodberry Poetry Room that I visited for stop 5 of my Poetry Scavenger Hunt) – a little while ago I stumbled across this display of graphic novels in Lamont Library that included this stirring advertisement for an illustrated version of Ginsberg’s Howl. A different spin on the iconic lines than I put on them when I accompanied them with coffee for my Ginsberg “Place Mat.” 

Wanderings of the Virtual…

– I’m not sure what will happen to this blog once winter has truly ended, but for now, you can see pictures from this record breaking Boston winter paired with Samuel Beckett quotes at M(Becket)TA. I’ve read Waiting for Godot, but I had no idea how intimately Samuel Beckett knew a bleak winter…

– Need a poetic pick-me-up? I find that using either the Random Poetry Generator at ThinkZone or the Interactive Haiku Generator at the Language is a Virus website usually does the trick. These are virtual versions of aleatory creativity techniques – and I think the Surrealists would have approved. But I warn you – these websites can be addictive…

For the Haiku Generator, you can enter any text of your choosing and it will fit it into the forms of famous haiku:

(using quotes from M(Becket)TA in the Haiku Generator = Samuel Beckett meets Basho)


No one else

Along this world but I,

This tears hell.

apologies to Basho

– If, like me, you are fascinated by where the artistic impulse comes from, why we make art, and who we make it for, I encourage you to become acquainted with the story of Henry Darger (1892 – 1973). He was a janitor living in Chicago and unbeknownst to anyone, at least until he was on his death bed, he wrote a fully illustrated 15,000 page fantasy novel. His art is now world-famous. I first became aware of his story when, on a lark, I rented a documentary entitled “In the Realms of the Unreal” at my local video store (which dates the encounter since those no longer exist!). The good news is that the full length documentary is on YouTube for free (and has been up for quite a while with thousands of views, so I am hoping that means it is a legitimate source) – you can find it here. I was reminded recently of how amazing Darger’s story is when original Super-8 footage of Darger’s apartment was posted here.


Some random links for randomly generating randomness…

I’ve been having fun with my Aleatory Experiments (you can view the first three in this series by clicking 1, 2, and 3): cutting up words, making a mess sometimes, letting random chance rearrange the words, and then doing the necessary clean-up of paper bits, ink, and cardboard. But it turns out that you can do these sorts of experiments while sitting at your computer in your pajamas (if you want) and there is no clean-up required!

Random Poem Generator

I give full credit to Mr. John Sapiro (check out his awesome blog!) for posting about this random poem generator site and introducing it to me – you can (and should!) check out his post about it here. But visit the Random Poem Generator on ThinkZone and see what technology hath wrought! They have a couple of preset lists – “Sea” and “City” – but you can add your own. Here is just a sample of the chaos that ensued when I tried it with the “Sea” word list:

“The sailor grows like a rough seashell.
Whales rise!”

Random Erasure Generator

I’ve featured the Erasures website from Wave Books here before – but what I didn’t realize (or maybe they added it later, I don’t know) is that they have a “Random Erasure” button that will erase a random 50% of the chosen text. It will also do this iteratively, as I did on their site with the opening passage from Moby Dick:




>> This substitute pistol flourish throws upon; I take nothing in their degree. <<

Sounds like the beginning of a great poem to me!

Random Story Writing

Mr. Dominic Peloso, the creator behind Even in the deepest heart of chaos, a glimmer of order can be found, takes photos generated at random by the internet using a key word and makes comics out of them – essentially mini-stories – with predictably absurd and often funny results. It is unclear if the site is updated regularly anymore, but take a highly entertaining tour around his archives and marvel at all of the random!