photography

Mars Being Red – Bell

red monoprint of nude woman with poem by Marvin Bell

In a red world, imprint

the valentine and blush of romance for the dark.

Marvin Bell (b. 1937)

I went out into the desert to see the NEOWISE comet at the end of July (figured I wouldn’t be around to see it the next time in 5,000 years) and also saw a spectacular show from Jupiter and Saturn. I fell asleep before Mars rose blood red in the sky, but my friend told me about it in the morning. I’ve been thinking about Marvin Bell’s poem and my red monoprint from a couple of years ago ever since. The original post, including a little about Mr. Bell, is here.


I also did some experimentation with my old polaroid camera when I was out in the desert. This is what happens when you try to take a picture of a cactus with only car headlights for illumination:

For reference (and to alleviate the nightmarish quality of the polaroid above!), here is a nearby cactus in the early morning light:

On a side note: I am really terrible at self-promotion, so I have told exactly one other blogger-friend, but I do have an Instagram account! (@merb02 or click here) I admit when I first started on IG, it was basically a repeat of Illustrated Poetry, but from here on out, it will be new and different pieces from what I post here. So if it’s your jam, it would be great to see you on IG too.

Monochrome Monday – The Noah Purifoy Outdoor Desert Museum

UGNT8774.jpg

Noah Purifoy (1917 – 2004) was an American assemblage artist who tackled issues of race and society. He spent the last 15 years of his life working on 10 acres in Joshua Tree, California. That space is now the Noah Purifoy Outdoor Desert Museum (click here for the website). It is, without a doubt, worth the bumpy off-road trip (navigable by regular car). His assemblages will stay with you long after you leave.

KCRO8868.jpg
XEMG7018.jpg

I missed Silent Sunday because of travel – so it became a Monochrome Monday! I hope everyone had a great weekend.

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!

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.

We interrupt this regularly scheduled post…

WKQG4943.jpgYesterday I witnessed a terrible accident.

We are driving to meet a friend for dinner, heading the opposite direction of our commute, the opposite direction of traffic. Traffic flows easily at full highway speeds, or faster perhaps.

I hear it before I see it. An explosion a quarter mile ahead. I don’t see the inciting incident, but others do. I see a smear on the diagonal vector, no longer parallel. Time is slowing down, and the cars around us pause at 65+ miles an hour.

The nose of the car shoots up into the air, points at the sky. A metal pirouette, a Nancy Rubins’ in real life. It lands on its side and in some complicated equation of forces, begins to tumble. I am pulling right hard: the road ahead is a cloud of debris, spinning off at impossible angles.

And I watch it go 1…no, no, no, no, no…2….no, no, no, no…3 lanes of traffic, wheels over roof. It slams mid-somersault into the earthen embankment on the shoulder with another explosion of dirt.

shit. shit. shit.

And tumbles back to rest on its roof in the slow lane.

Call 9-1-1! Call 9-1-1! I shout and we are out of the car, running. Others are running too, converging on the car. Colored fluids are pouring from its exposed silver belly. Every one of our faces is a grim mask.

Because we are sure the people in that car are dead. Maybe not yet, but soon.

Instead, there she is: a woman on her hands and knees, looking up at us out of an upside-down window frame.

“It’s only me in the car. I’m okay. I was wearing my seatbelt.”

She is bleeding from small cuts all over her legs, the glass pressed through her pantyhose; she is dusty;

and she is okay.

As we help her out of the car, there is only the present, no past and no future. It occurs to me: I witnessed an honest-to-god miracle.

That feeling has stayed with me since yesterday.  It happened in an instant is always the cliché on accidents, and we are taught to always avoid clichés, but, but, but

I think over and over again…

Be kind.
Drive like you care about life.
Wear your seatbelt.

They talk about events that shake you up, make you see the world fresh, stripped of the illusion of security and ground, as Buddhist teachers say – and this was one of them. That second to the last statement is for the driver who hit the woman; witnesses said he was weaving erratically between lanes and speeding when he clipped the woman’s back bumper and sent her car spinning. She told us that she never saw him coming and never knew what hit her. Photograph by me, a blurry version of this Silent Sunday. Nancy Rubins creates fantastic (and often massive) sculptures out of recycled metal parts – you can see examples of her work here

Double Original Friday – Motto of the Grand Old Order of Molluscs and Chelonii

turtlesnailhaikuchallengeI wrote this haiku in response to a Ronovan Writes Haiku Challenge (if you don’t know about these, I do recommend them) almost two years ago – and it is amazing to me that it’s been that long. But it is still one of my favorite haiku I’ve written, as it satisfies the science nerd inside of me, so I am reposting it! The challenge words way back then were “Snail” and “Turtle” and the first thing I thought of was that they both have shells, albeit made of very different materials. “Molluscs” and “Chelonii” are the taxonomic Orders of snails and turtles, respectively. Poem and photo (one from a long ago trip to Sequoia National Park) by me. Have a wonderful Friday!

Excerpt Thursday – Ash Wednesday – Eliot

AshWednesday_Eliot_2
Although Ash Wednesday has passed, we are still in the midst of the major spring religious holidays, with Orthodox Easter and Passover yet to come. Thus this heavily allusion laden and symbolic T.S. Eliot poem, which is widely summarized as describing the struggle between disbelief and faith, can still be considered timely. This poem was the first major piece written after Eliot’s official conversion to Anglicanism in 1927 and it marks a definite change in his poetry, evidence perhaps of the change that was wrought in him by his newfound faith. You can read the entire poem here, although I think it is even better to listen to Eliot read the poem himself (click here!). For a much more psycho-analytical/biographical take on the poem, The Guardian featured an article on it in 2014 – you can find that here.

Due to a schedule conflict, this is the first “Excerpt Thursday” I have done – after this week, I hope to have this type of post come back to rest on Wednesdays. Photograph and composition by me. Have a great rest of your week!

This Poetical Life – A Remembrance for Dr. Amir D. Aczel

On November 28, 2015 Dr. Amir D. Aczel, acclaimed mathematician and bestselling author of more than a dozen books on science and math, passed away unexpectedly. I have read two of his books, Why Science Does Not Disprove God and Finding Zero, and I would heartily recommend both books.  Dr. Aczel had a very rare skill: he had the ability to translate complex and abstract scientific ideas into engaging and accessible stories for a general audience. The world needs scientists like Dr. Aczel – willing and able to make science available to everyone – more than ever.

Not only that, but Dr. Aczel was a kind and thoughtful person who took the time to personally respond to fans and readers. And this is something I know firsthand. Over a year ago, only a few short months into my blogging adventure here on Illustrated Poetry, I wrote my first post about “found poetry.” In particular I was discussing the definition that had been advanced by the poet Ronald Gross: ‘”Found Poetry”  typically preserves the words as they originally appear, but may rearrange them into lines to “bring out their poetic quality.”‘ I was in the middle of reading Why Science Does Not Disprove God by Dr. Aczeland one passage in the book had struck me as found poetry and so I included this rearrangement and pairing of his words with one of my photographs:

Fractallife

Later that day, Dr. Aczel himself wrote a comment thanking me! I was so surprised and thrilled – I called my partner over to the computer and was shouting “Look, look, I can’t believe it – LOOK!” I was truly touched that he not only took the time to read that post on my tiny little blog floating out there in the vast ocean of the internet, but he also paused to write a kind note. It was incredibly encouraging and I have never forgotten it. Thank you again, Dr. Aczel. Feel free to head over here to read the full original post, “This Poetical Life.”

 

 

Excerpt Tuesday – Those Winter Sundays – Hayden

WinterSundayRobert Hayden probably knew a thing or two about cold winter mornings, having grown up in Detroit in the early part of last century. He published his first poetry book at 27 and later went on to become the first African-American appointed as Poet Laureate of the United States. You can read the full text of the poem here. Photograph (of Aristide Maillol’s statue Mountain), lettering, and composition by me. Have a good week!

Old Poem Saturday – A Hallowe’en Haiku – Hoyt

HalloweenHoytHaikuI did want to feature a new illustrated Halloween poem this year, and Mr. Clement Hoyt’s “Hallowe’en Mask” haiku is perfect for the occasion. Mr. Hoyt is listed as an influential American haiku poet in numerous sources, but very little information about him is available – so a bit of poetry mystery for Halloween as well! “Hallowe’en Mask” was published in 1963. Photograph and composition by me.