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of T: The New York Times Style Magazine and was delighted to find their “A Picture and A Poem” feature: a previously unpublished poem with a purposefully commissioned piece of art.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.
Translated from Gaelic, “Devil, Maggot and Son” by Frank O’Connor tackles a very traditional theme with a mixture of attitude and catchy turn of phrase (especially in this first stanza) that has always made it a stand out for me – a uniquely paranoid offering on our impending mortality. You can read the whole poem (as well as click through an interactive presentation on the poem) here. Photos and composition by me. Enjoy!
This short verse comes to us from the 13th-14th Centuries – although via a very modern medium – I was introduced to it by a blog post called “10 Short Medieval Poems that Everyone Should Read” (this poem is number 4). I never took a class or studied Chaucer or Medieval literature, so all the poems in the article were new to me. I find it fascinating to watch the English language transforming into something that is nearly recognizable to our modern eyes. The name of the author of this poem is lost to the mists of time – but the composition and collage are by me. Click on “Read More” or the post if you would like to see a Modern English translation of the Middle English.
The illustrated poetry for today is a combination of Old Poem Saturday and Aleatory Thursday! The poem is “Death,” a quatrain by John Vance Cheney, and the composition, drawing, and collage is by me. The art was inspired by my second experiment with aleatory (introducing random chance) creativity techniques – I splattered ink on a NASA press release and transcribed the words that could still be read. This time I was inspired to use the splattered paper itself while the words describing the stars and galaxies that remained led me to pair it with this poem.