Short Poem Saturday – Haiku by Knoll

LadyBugsHaiku_KnollThis 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,, 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!

Excerpt Wednesday – In The Third Year Of War – Treece

IMG_2865Henry Treece was a published poet before World War II, so it is fitting he documented his experience as an intelligence officer in the Royal Air Force (from 1941 – 1946) in poetry as well. He wrote In The Third Year Of War from the center of a conflagration for which he could see no end. We have the benefit of history to know that in ~ 1944 the end of the war was indeed coming, but it does not lessen the despair we feel coming from his poem. After the war Mr. Treece focused on fiction and is primarily remembered today for his historical fiction novels for children. Mixed media collage and composition by me. To read the entire poem, click the “read more” button or scroll down.


Excerpt Tuesday – Indian Boarding School: The Runaways – Erdrich

The only time I look at the stats page on my WordPress dashboard is when I accidentally click on it when trying to do something else! So this was how I learned that I had just put up my 400th post a couple of days ago. It is just shy of 2 years ago that I started this blog – and I can safely say I had no idea what I was getting into when I started – so it is amazing to me to see that number! But most of all thank you for joining me on this journey. Who knows where the next 400 posts will take us?

That peek at the stats did lead me to poke around and determine which Tuesday posts had thus far “won,” so to speak (feel free to click on either one to pay it a visit) –
My collage for Robert Okaji’s poem At Sunrise We Celebrate the Night’s Passage had the most “likes” (92)

– and –

Geo Kalpataru’s colorful drawing for A.E. Housman’s When I Was One-and-Twenty had the (well deserved) highest number of views (177)

For today’s post, I decided to revisit an excerpt that didn’t light up the stats page, but is still one of my favorites. Louise Erdrich is the author of multiple books, stories, and poems and a small independent bookstore owner (if you are in the Minneapolis area, you can pay Birchbark Books a visit!). Her poem Indian Boarding School: The Runaways was my first introduction to her work and it has left a lasting impression. You can read the whole poem here. Postage stamp collage, imbued with all of the metaphor and meaning that postage can carry, and composition by me.

Short Poem Saturday – Second Fig – Millay

A Saturday morning spent playing around with photo collages and a cheeky Edna St. Vincent Millay epigram is time well spent, I say!

Have a wonderful weekend, enjoy the collage, and perhaps be inspired by these three links:

1) Ms. Chiara Ricci-Tam, my friend and collaborator in science as well as art, has started her own WordPress Blog! I have been like a broken record over the last two years telling her that the folks on WP are some of the best there are, and that I have made new friends and connected with amazing artists, authors, and poets here. Now she’s here too –  and so, if you don’t mind, click on over to her brand new site Chiaroscurale and say hello!

2) Wave Erasure Books – a vibrant conversation on Twitter, started by Beat Company, reminded me of this awesome site and the one below. You (or the program if you click “random poem”) can erase words from classic texts to create something entirely new. You can also submit your erasure creations to their website to be added to the online collection.

3) Howl your work – this program will take any line you provide and “Howl with it.” I don’t think there is any other way to explain other than to show the results. I put today’s epigram into the algorithm, and this is what popped out:

safe upon the solid rock the ugly houses stand come and see my shining palace built upon the sand!
America upon safe roof street after we’re Passaic, caresses
rocking Long suicide, singing Spaniard sanity radio rose fate were
returning hands to twelve gas a soul trucks governments! Bridge a not
demonic Chinatown the together of up Moloch who entered my soul early!
Moloch in whom Light streaming out of the actual pingpong of the moon
& their hands & a hung jury, and harlequin speech of suicide,
demanding instantaneous

Behold the power of random chance, computer algorithms, and Howl by Alan Ginsberg!

Short Poem Saturday – El Hombre – Williams

ElHombre_WCWIt is strange for me to think of William Carlos Williams as being undiscovered or overshadowed: his poetry certainly keeps up with all of the other titans of poetry in every anthology I come across. And yet, during his lifetime, his work was consistently overpowered by his contemporary T.S. Eliot. It would be the Beat poets who would “discover” and elevate him and his work – although the appreciation was apparently not mutual (my thanks to Matt over at Beat.Company for that lead!). I have been strongly drawn to working in collage for WCW poems these last few weeks – collage and composition by me.

Excerpt Tuesday – “To freight cars in the air” – Williams

WCW_ToFreightCarsI 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.)


Excerpt Tuesday – At Sunrise We Celebrate the Night’s Passage – Okaji

AtSunrisewecelebrate_IIIf you tour around enough blogs on WordPress, you will eventually start recognizing certain Gravitar pictures as belonging to particular people. I distinctly remember the first time I saw the one belonging to the poet Robert Okaji, because it reminded me of a picture of the rotors inside an Enigma encryption machine. I was certain I’d enjoy the work of someone with such good Gravitar picture taste – and Mr. Okaji has not disappointed! I have been a fan of his work ever since then, putting me in the good company of thousands of others. So it is my great pleasure to present an illustration of one of his recent poems, “At Sunrise We Celebrate the Night’s Passage.” I definitely recommend taking a moment of your day to read the whole poem, which can be found here at his fantastic blog O at the Edges. Poem by Mr. Robert Okaji, mixed media collage and composition by me. Enjoy!

Double Original Friday – Black Star

Black StarRight before Halloween, Ms. Kerfe Roig of MethodTwoMadness posted a beautiful drawing of a bat and wrote about the precarious conservation state of most bat species (check it out here!). Many years ago, I attended a presentation by a scientist from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service where he detailed the efforts to find the origin of White Nose Syndrome in bats. White Nose Syndrome is a fungal disease that is decimating bat populations in the eastern U.S. It turned out that a hiker in New England – not a scientist or a Forest Service employee – provided the photograph of the bat that had been identified as “patient zero” of the epidemic. I have always been struck by that fact – that any one of us could be the singular witness to an important ecological event and that what we see and remember is so significant. Today’s poem and illustration are inspired by the memory of the bats I would see as a child and Kerfe’s post. Poem, drawing, and mixed media collage by me. Have a great Friday!

Old Poem Saturday – Life – Treasone

Life_TreasoneIIIt is a great pleasure to be able to revisit this particular short poem and update my post about it. When I presented this poem back in March of this year (you can click here to travel back in time to it), I mentioned that the poet herself was a bit of a mystery. Despite the inclusion of this poem in multiple anthologies and the wide debate about the usage of metaphor in poetry it provokes, the only information about Ms. Treasone I could find was a two-line obituary for a woman of the same name that did not mention poetry.  But not long ago her daughter, Ellen, contacted me and let me know that it was her mother’s obituary and that I made the correct identification. I asked if I could share her note with you all, and she agreed.

She wrote, “I told her how proud I was of her for writing such a poem that would make people think, although it was very short, she told me it just meant; life is hard & a struggle and if you can figure out a way to cope and remember your mistakes, you can have a chance at happiness in your heart.”

A lovely sentiment – and I couldn’t agree more. I redesigned my illustration to reflect a mandala. Photo collage and composition by me, poem by Ms. Grace Marie Treasone (1925-2011), a poet and resident of Sarasota, Florida.

Excerpt Tuesday – Fixer of Midnight – Denney

fixing-a-holeThe yawning of this awning
In the moonlight 
Was his problem of the night…

It is my pleasure to present today’s illustrated excerpt: the poem is “Fixer of Midnight” by Reuel Denney (1913-1995), illustrated by Mr. John Sapiro. Mr. Sapiro has a fabulous blog where he mixes up music, art, photography, and words into eclectic – often animated – and always interesting digital assemblages. I was thrilled when he agreed to make one in response to a poem for Illustrated Poetry!

Despite finding acclaim as a scholar of American culture and sociology, Mr. Denney considered himself first and foremost a poet. Read the entire poem here – it is a breathless tale about a very ordinary problem that takes on mythical proportions. Enjoy!