About two weeks ago, my grandmother passed away of natural causes (not Covid-related) at 102 years old. Her funeral was held last week amongst continuing coronavirus restrictions and the pastor noted that she was born during one pandemic (the 1918 Spanish Flu) and died during another – but that this isn’t what defines her, or anyone’s life.
Since she died, I keep coming back to this poem by Carol Muske-Dukes – maybe because my grandmother lingered in a semi-conscious state for almost a week before she died, maybe because it describes so accurately how we didn’t know how to let her go. I had done this drawing as a response to the poem 4 years ago – and when I went back and looked at it last week, it felt unfinished. Now that I had a face to go with the poem, I added the details and shadows it needed. I also added the final words of the poem onto the drawing directly, to fix them there permanently.
If you’d like to read the whole poem, which was part of a series of art-poem collaborations at The New York Times Style Magazine, you can go here.
Since Monday’s post had a science themed collage for Phil’s Kick-About Number #4, I visited the archive to see about another science themed collage. I came across this one, for a William Carlos William’s poem. I laughed because I got the background image for this one – you can see the “heat” and “cold” peaking out from the lady’s shoulder – from the same source as the center image in “Mirror Neurons.” It was a science textbook from the early 60’s I got for free out of the discard pile at the library. The science in it was outdated and often overtly sexist and racist – so I cut out the best of the illustrations and art and consigned the rest to the dustbin of history.
The entirety of the poem is posted after the read more tag, along with the text of the original post and a link (which is still good, I checked) to an online archive of Williams reading his own poems.
After Tuesday’s polaroid eye doodle post, I went back into the archives to find another eye to go with it for today – and I found this collage I did for the poem “Science” by Robinson Jeffers. This is actually a revision of one of my very first posts, and I still like this revised collage better (if you’d like to compare, the original collage is below the read more tag). This one is more focused and captures the mystery I was going for better.
A little bit more about Mr. Jeffers, from the original text of my post:
“I had several science related writing deadlines this last weekend and during a bout of procrastination, I decided to revisit my illustration for the excellent and mysterious poem “Science” by Robinson Jeffers. I found I was still happy with my collage (which is not always a given when revisiting an illustration!), but decided to change the field of view in order to cast a more ethereal mood. If you’d like to see the original post with the full collage, head right over here. Mr. Jeffers led a very colorful and extremely successful poetic life – he is one of the few poets to have been on the cover of Time magazine and his face was featured posthumously on a postage stamp. The sharp decline of his popular legacy is often tied to his staunch open opposition to WWII and other viewpoints considered unpatriotic at the time. Mr. Jeffers spent most of his life in Carmel, California, and built his home and a four story tower by hand out of stone. Read the full text of “Science” here.”
I was going through all my old posts (over 450 of them – yikes!) in order to organize and archive them and found this gem from 5 and half years ago – I clearly like making collages with polaroid film! I fully admit that some old posts did not age well, but this one struck me the same as it did when I first put it up. Although it is boiling hot where I live right now, I reason that this poem doesn’t have a season: the mouse is always trying to find shelter from the elements be they hot or cold.
Text of the original post, with information about Lorine Niedecker below.
I posted this originally in August 2015 and that definitely feels like more than 5 years ago! Continuing on the theme of surreal this week, these surrealist proverbs were published in 1925. Both men survived the horrors of WW1 – Paul Éluard worked at a military hospital for much of the war, where he was assigned to write letters to dead soldier’s families. He wrote up to 150 per day.
The text of my original post is below. I hope everyone is staying safe and healthy!
My recent “return” post about being in the desert brought this piece I did a few years ago to mind. I checked again today and didn’t find any additional information about Mr. Orr aside from a few references in contemporary books to the poem and nothing after 1920. A mystery he remains. The original text of my post is below.
Going 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!
…In a red world, imprint
the valentine and blush of romance for the dark…
Marvin Bell (b. 1937)
It’s been a little while since I posted a new illustrated excerpt and it seems good timing to post this one – from Marvin Bell’s amazing short poem Mars Being Red (Mr. Bell is helping me continue a space theme after last week’s announcement of the discovery of the TRAPPIST-1 exoplanets, you see). Marvin Bell is a widely decorated poet, including being the first state Poet Laureate of Iowa, and is very active in the poetry community with more than 20 books of poems in print. You can read all of Mars Being Redhere. Monoprint on newsprint by me (it was so so good to be working in this medium again after a long break from it!).
Furthering our theme of exploration and discovery, Little Monster Girl invited me to participate in her Weekly Chat this week – and the theme of the questions is “World Traveler” and is part of Cee’s Share Your World Q&A. Head on over to LMG’s blog, compare our answers (there are some interesting convergences) and sample some of her comics while you are at it! (although, warning: they are not always safe for work)
Ever run out of gas?
No – although I was the passenger once in a car that did run out of gas. The gas gauge was broken and my friend’s system for knowing when to get gas mostly involved her “gut feelings”. We were on the freeway when the engine began to sputter and lurch, and she veered off the next exit. The engine died as we coasted to the top of the off-ramp. There was a gas station right there though and luckily for us, it was downhill.
Which are better: black or green olives?
I love olives, so both. You can’t pick one over the other – a ridiculous notion!
If you were a great explorer, where would you go?
I try to be an explorer in as many ways as I can be today – traveling, meeting people from all over the world who have lived such different and fascinating lives, and expanding our understanding of the natural world as a scientist. Like LMG, I too will be traveling to Southeast Asia in a couple of weeks (perhaps our paths will cross, LMG?), and so the adventure continues!
Favorite 3 Quotes (it is very hard to choose 3, I’d like to say)
“The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existence. One cannot help but be in awe when he contemplates the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvelous structure of reality. It is enough if one tries merely to comprehend a little of this mystery each day.” – Albert Einstein (1879 – 1955)
“Above all, it is a matter of loving art, not understanding it.” – Fernand Léger (1881 – 1955)
“Find what you love and let it kill you.” – Charles Bukowski (1920 – 1994)
I even did an illustration for this one a little ways back!
Bonus Question:What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up?
Last week I was so grateful to be able to go out with some dear friends to hike in the desert and take 100’s of pictures of wildflowers. We went to Anza Borrego State Park, which is a simply fantastic place and a hidden California gem (no entry fee, no fee to camp in 95% of the park). The visitor center was staffed almost entirely by volunteers, who took the time with each one of us in waiting in line to send us to the best flower viewing locations. It made me grateful for our national and state park systems, which are always sadly underfunded, and the army of volunteers which keeps them going!
Next week I will be teaching a science workshop for high school students and I am looking forward to their infectious enthusiasm! It never gets dull to get excited about science!
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.
This 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!