Saturday, April 18, 2015

ARTSPEAK! Poem #18 "Snake to Butterfly"

Hello, and welcome to day #18 of ARTSPEAK!, my Poem-a-Day Project for National Poetry Month 2015, in which I am writing from images found in the online collections of the National Gallery of Art and focusing on dialogue, conversations, what does the piece say? 

Today's piece is "Snake and Butterfly" from the workshop of Johann Teyler.





Is anyone else humming Heart's "Dog and Butterfly" right about now? :) And no, that "snake" pushed out there to the right is not a mistake. I wanted it to look like a snake... it just didn't look right any other way (believe me, I played around with it for a while!).

I think I can strengthen this poem in revision by paying attention to internal rhyme and word choice. I love the basic idea, though, and don't think the meaning of the poem will change at all. But. One never knows with poetry! A poem is like citrus fruit: it ripens on the tree, and will hang there ripe for a really long time, just waiting for wind or a hand or rain to come along and change everything. Delicious!

Speaking of delicious, be sure to visit central Florida gal Sheila Renfro to see how our Progressive Poem is progressing!

Friday, April 17, 2015

ARTSPEAK! Poem #17 & WON TON AND CHOPSTICK by Lee Wardlaw

Hello and Happy Poetry Friday! Be sure to visit sweet red Robyn at Life on the Deckle Edge for Roundup. Also, be sure to visit Buffy's Blog for the latest in our Progressive Poem!

First, a look at WON TON AND CHOPSTICK: A Cat and Dog Tale Told in Haiku by Lee Wardlaw, illus. by Eugene Yelchin.

How much fun to see Won Ton's (haiku) adventures continue! A dog is not a welcome new family member... at first. :) My favorite section in the book is called "The Banishment."

Picket fence lament:
Woe is meeee-ow! the crowd howls.
Cue for an encore.

Pounced a plump mouse but
set him free. Just not hungry.
Maybe tomorrow.

Alone, Q-curled tight.
Night is cold without you, Boy,
despite my fur coat.

-- Lee Wardlaw

-----------------------------------
Poor Won Ton! Don't you just love "Q-curled" ??

And now, poem #17 of ARTSPEAK!, my Poem-a-Day Project for National Poetry Month 2015, in which I am writing from images found in the online collections of the National Gallery of Art and focusing on dialogue, conversations, what does the piece say? 


Today's piece is "Bathers Caught in a Storm" by Felix Vollotton.


Right away I knew I wanted to write in the wind's voice! (I am in North Dakota, after all... so much wind rolls across these prairies!)



Thursday, April 16, 2015

ARTSPEAK! Poem #16 "Self-Portrait as a Country Road"

Hello, and welcome to day #16 of ARTSPEAK!, my Poem-a-Day Project for National Poetry Month 2015, in which I am writing from images found in the online collections of the National Gallery of Art and focusing on dialogue, conversations, what does the piece say? 

Today, and for the next few days, I am with my father in the windy prairie-lands of North Dakota (where he lives). It's a long road from Alabama to North Dakota.

Which is why today's piece is "The Road" by Edgar Degas.


Another etching! Isn't there something so beautiful about roads like this one? Maybe it's the country girl in me, the wanderer, the hermit. But I look at this picture and I want to be inside it. Which is how I came to my poem... I asked, what does the piece say.... about me?



Be sure to visit Ruth at There is No Such Thing as a Godforsaken Town to see what our Progressive Poem's mermaid-girl is staring at!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

ARTSPEAK! Poem #15 "Sailor to Dog"

Hello, and welcome to day #15 of ARTSPEAK!, my Poem-a-Day Project for National Poetry Month 2015, in which I am writing from images found in the online collections of the National Gallery of Art and focusing on dialogue, conversations, what does the piece say? 

Woohoo! We're halfway there!


Today's piece is "Man Crying Out" by Rembrandt.


This piece makes me think "anguish." I mean, this fella is not a happy one. I see pain and heartache. And his mouth is open, like he's calling to someone or something. And he's wearing that hat! I don't know, but it made me think of a sailor. So I started asking myself, why is this sailor so upset? What are the words pouring from his mouth? It could be so many things! A lost love, perhaps?? But this is intended for children. So I thought back to Renoir's little dog, from poem #8. What if this sailor had lost his dog?


I'm wondering now if I should title the poem "To Jack" and let the reader discover it's a dog?? We'll see in revisions. :) Meanwhile, I will be traveling the  next few days -- hoping I am able to write and get these posts out on schedule!! Be sure to visit lovely Robyn at Life on the Deckle Edge to find out how our Progressive poem is progressing!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

ARTSPEAK! Poem #14 "The Music Lesson"

Hello, and welcome to day #14 of ARTSPEAK!, my Poem-a-Day Project for National Poetry Month 2015, in which I am writing from images found in the online collections of the National Gallery of Art and focusing on dialogue, conversations, what does the piece say? 

Big THANKS to everyone who has been reading and commenting on these poems! My enthusiasm is rather rollercoasterish (it's a long month!), and your encouragement really helps! Mwah!

Today's piece is "The Music Lesson: Studio of Gerard ter Borch the Younger" by an anonymous (Dutch) artist.


So this piece really speaks to me because I am a new cello student. There is nothing quite so humbling as learning a new instrument, especially when one is an adult and knows full-well how the instrument should sound!

Some of you  may remember that I picked up the fiddle last year... well, I kept having this niggling feeling that I chose the wrong instrument! So, at the start of 2015, I moved to the cello. And I fell in love!!

I have a wonderful teacher -- he actually taught my son to play the cello many moons ago. He reminds me often that failure is just part of art -- and not to be so hard on myself. Every day, I am learning. And every day, I spend part of my practice time just being one with the instrument. Closing out all those other voices and allowing myself to experience music.

So all that goes into this poem! I first considered writing from the girl's perspective... but she doesn't look very happy, does she? It seems to me she's trying very hard, and her teacher is getting on to her. I didn't want a sad poem... I pretty much always want to write about joy. Poetry for me is a way to love the world. So I decided to write from the instrument's (is it a mandolin? Oh World Wise Web, please do tell!) point of view. And since I didn't know exactly what kind of instrument, I tried to write the poem in a way that it could be any instrument.





... and now I am not so sure about that puddling beneath the chair! Kids would probably imagine another kind of puddle -- which, I'm sure, in one music lesson or another, has actually happened! I need to think about how I can carry forward the bumblebee metaphor... but not now. Later!

Be sure to visit Renee at No Water River to find out what's the latest with our Progressive Poem!

Monday, April 13, 2015

ARTSPEAK! Poem #13 "Clothesline Season"

Hello, and welcome to day #13 of ARTSPEAK!, my Poem-a-Day Project for National Poetry Month 2015, in which I am writing from images found in the online collections of the National Gallery of Art and focusing on dialogue, conversations, what does the piece say? 

Big THANKS to everyone who has been reading and commenting on these poems! My enthusiasm is rather rollercoasterish (it's a long month!), and your encouragement really helps! Mwah!

Today's piece is "A Monday Washing, New York City" by an unknown 19th century American artist.


I chose this painting today because it has Monday in the title. :) Plus it is just such a great scene...historical and domestic and such beauty in a world of concrete and brick! I do adore fabric, and this reminds me of quilts on a line, which I especially love!

I thought first about having one item of clothing speak on its experience of being hung out with its friends. (Wouldn't "Undershirt" be  fun title?) I still think that could be a great poem! But then I started thinking about the clotheslines themselves, and how they join and soften these two tall, hard-edged, erect buildings. And that was my doorway into the poem:






Be sure to visit Doraine at DoriReads to see how our Progressive Poem is progressing!

Sunday, April 12, 2015

ARTSPEAK! Poem #12 "Says Snow in Spring"

Hello, and welcome to day #11 of ARTSPEAK!, my Poem-a-Day Project for National Poetry Month 2015, in which I am writing from images found in the online collections of the National Gallery of Art and focusing on dialogue, conversations, what does the piece say? 


Big THANKS to everyone who has been reading and commenting on these poems! I can feel my enthusiasm starting to wane (it's a long month!), and your encouragement really helps! Mwah!

Today's piece is "New England Farm in Winter" by unknown 19th Century American artist.

I love the blue skies in this one! And it's not a deep snow, so right away I started thinking this is the end of winter, or perhaps even spring! Even here in Alabama we've had an April snow before... looks completely different than a winter one. So I went with that line of thinking, mainly because it's hard to say something fresh and new about snow! It's been done and done and done beautifully. But snow in spring? Now there's a fresh angle.... what would the snow say?





Be sure to visit Margaret at Reflections on the Teche to see how our Progressive Poem is progressing!

Saturday, April 11, 2015

ARTSPEAK! Poem #11 "Before the Race"

Hello, and welcome to day #11 of ARTSPEAK!, my Poem-a-Day Project for National Poetry Month 2015, in which I am writing from images found in the online collections of the National Gallery of Art and focusing on dialogue, conversations, what does the piece say? 


Big THANKS to everyone who has been reading and commenting on these poems! I can feel my enthusiasm starting to wane (it's a long month!), and your encouragement really helps! Mwah!

Today's piece is "Riders on the Beach at Dieppe" by Rene Pierre Charles Princeteau.

A long time horse lover, I have vivid memories of my father taking me to the races when we I was wee and we lived in New Orleans. I loveloveloved the Black Stallion books (and the film) -- maybe that's why I was drawn to this picture? Also, my sister and I had dreams: I would train a horse and she would be the jockey and we would win the Kentucky Derby! 

I am particularly drawn to the horse in the middle. I knew right away I wanted to somehow give that horse a voice. (Hey, I'm a middle child... I often feel for the one in the middle!) Although I did get distracted for a little while thinking what I might do in the voice of the beach.... but ultimately decided the middle horse had my heart. (I'll save the voice of the beach for some other poem. :)






Friday, April 10, 2015

ARTSPEAK! Poem #10 & THE POPCORN ASTRONAUTS!

Hello, and Happy Poetry Friday! Be sure to visit Michelle at Today's Little Ditty for the latest line in our Progressive Poem... and Laura at Writing the World for Kids for a poetry tip & Roundup!

First, I've got a new poetry book to share with all of you, THE POPCORN ASTRONAUTS And Other Biteable Rhymes by Deborah Ruddell, illus. by Joan Rankin. It's full of fun, imaginative poems -- all about things we eat in different seasons: strawberries in spring, peaches in summer, apples in fall, cocoa in winter.

Here's my favorite poem (full disclosure: I was born in Georgia, which makes me a Georgia peach... and I happen to LOVE peaches to eat!) :

Speaking of Peaches...
by Deborah Ruddell

There is so much to say about peaches,
but it's hard to know where to begin.
Do you start with the flowery fragrance,
or the summery sweetness within?

or the juice, as it stickily trickles
from your lips to the tip of your chin?
Or the sunset of beautiful colors
on the flannelpajamaty skin?

How 'bout that "flannelpajamaty"? Pretty awesome, right? Check out the book... it's lots of fun!


Next, I offer you poem #9 of ARTSPEAK!, my Poem-a-Day Project for National Poetry Month 2015, in which I am writing from images found in the online collections of the National Gallery of Art and focusing on dialogue, conversations, what does the piece say?

Today's piece is "Cutout of Animals" by an unknown 19th Century American artist.



I wanted to write on something "different" today, so I selected this piece which reminds me instantly of Noah's ark! Everything is in double here, as if the artist folded the paper in half and allowed the paint to bleed through. My next thought was, "The Zoo Inside You." I love that title! But this isn't really a zoo, is it?And there are people, too. Hmmm... I started writing, thinking about how one spirit animal just isn't enough to represent a human... we have many characteristics of many animals. So I listened, and it seemed to me that this piece was talking directly to the reader:





Okay, so that was tough! And I'm not completely happy with it, though I do like parts of it. (The camel with its canteens... yes!) The ending is a cliche... I was thinking maybe the raven could offset the predictability, but maybe not enough ?? I really wanted to include the people we are -- the child within, and our future selves -- maybe I need to develop that some more. And I am no longer sure about the title.... maybe "The Zoo Inside You" makes it more clear to a child-reader? Things to think about when I revise! Thank you for reading. xo

Thursday, April 9, 2015

ARTSPEAK! Poem #9 "Boat on a Pond"

Hello, and welcome to day #9 of ARTSPEAK!, my Poem-a-Day Project for National Poetry Month 2015, in which I am writing from images found in the online collections of the National Gallery of Art and focusing on dialogue, conversations, what does the piece say?

Today's piece is "Girl in a Boat with Geese" by Berthe Morisot.

Isn't this a lovely piece for spring? I first considered writing this poem from the geese's perspective... I imagined them taunting the girl in the boat. And then I started thinking about the boat itself. What would the boat have to say? The first lines that came to me were, "I am but wood / in a world of water." And then I went back to the geese, thinking, what if that was their taunt to the boat? But, I don't know, the painting is so joyful... I didn't want to "spoil" it with negativity. So I came back to the boat.



So, obviously, I ended up abandoning that first-thought line. I also ended up cutting another favorite... I had opened the poem with this stanza:

Once a tree,
I am no longer
rooted.

I love that! It could be the haiku version of this poem! As in....

boat --
a tree no longer 
rooted

But it gives away the whole poem, doesn't it? When what I want to do is leave a surprise in there for the reader. The way it stands now, the reader gets to discover that unrootedness with "tree" at the start and the later mention of "wings."

Funny thing: I just realized I've written this title like 3 different ways! I think I like "Boat on a Pond" best. Thank you for reading!  

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

ARTSPEAK! Poem #8 & Our Progressive Poem!!

First of all: Hello, and welcome to latest installment of Our 2015 Progressive Poem! It's so much fun watching this poem grow and develop day by day. Thank you to everyone who has delivered their lines so far... and to those yet to come, I am so looking forward to wherever you're going to take us!

You'll notice a couple of changes in this version of our poem. Jone's first line has been edited slightly, at Jone's request. (She and Joy decided "deposits" was redundant.) Also, I've broken the lines into couplets (one way to add white space to long lines). And with my line I've brought the poem back to the delta!

It looks to me like we may have a mermaid on our hands, now that we have moved from bare feet to tail... A delta mermaid? Interesting! I'm excited to learn more about our "she" as the poem progresses.



She lives without a net, walking along the alluvium of the delta.
Shoes swing over her shoulder, on her bare feet stick jeweled flecks of dark mica.

Hands faster than fish swing at the ends of bare brown arms. Her hair flows,
snows in wild wind as she digs in the indigo varnished handbag,

pulls out her grandmother's oval cuffed bracelet,
strokes the turquoise stones, and steps through the curved doorway.

Tripping on her tail she slips hair first down the slide... splash!
She glides past glossy water hyacinth to shimmer with a school of shad.

Take it away, Mary Lee!


And now, here's poem #8 of ARTSPEAK!, my Poem-a-Day Project for National Poetry Month 2015, in which I am writing from images found in the online collections of the National Gallery of Art and focusing on dialogue, conversations, what does the piece say?



Today's piece is "Head of a Dog" by Auguste Renoir.


Cute, isn't she? (I don't know, but I imagine her female.) Renoir did lots of portraits, but not many of animals.

A painting like this leaves little mystery in terms of POV, but it allows all sorts of freedom when you start thinking about who this dog might be talking TO.

When I started writing, I was thinking this is a homeless dog, and I started writing a profile, like they do at the animal shelter. Then, I started thinking about how this poem could be To the Boy Who Passed By the Window at 10 AM This Morning (or somesuch). And then I thought, what if this little dog's beloved owner has died? Could the poem be an elegy for the good and faithful owner?

But I couldn't get any of those to work the way I wanted to. AND THEN, finally, I landed on the poem that wanted to be written:




Readers who have been keeping up: notice something in this poem?? There it is again... waiting!

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

ARTSPEAK! Poem # 7 "Friends Like Us"

Hello, and welcome to day #7 of ARTSPEAK!, my 2015 Poem-a-Day Project for National Poetry Month 2015, in which I am writing from images found in the online collections of the National Gallery of Art and focusing on dialogue, conversations, what does the piece say?

Today's piece is "Mortars and Pestles" by Elizabeth Moutal.

Okay, so this is a tough one. How to give voice to inanimate objects, and also create a poem that can stand-alone?? Hmmm.... looking at this piece, my mind jumped instantly to friendship. How we can look different on the outside, but aren't our hearts the same? The power of friendship. But, oh my, a friendship poem? Hasn't that been done and done and done? I was pretty much groaning as I got started. But look at them, those mortars and pestles... they look so cheery and proud. I decided to give it a shot. 



I spent more time on this poem than I have on any in the series so far... and at some point I just had to STOP, so I could publish this post! I imagine I will keep working on that ending... I really wanted the four voices to join together to create some sort of lovely chorus. There's nothing wrong with what's there, just that it's kind of expected. (Have I mentioned before how much I love the element of SURPRISE in poetry?) Something to keep tinkering with. And isn't that one of the joys of poetry? The endless tinkering? Trying this word and that? Playing with words? JOY! 

Be sure to visit Catherine Johnson for the latest in our Progressive Poem!


Monday, April 6, 2015

ARTSPEAK! Poem #6 "Mother Chicken's Plea"

Hello, and welcome to day #6 of ARTSPEAK!, my 2015 Poem-a-Day Project for National Poetry Month 2015, in which I am writing from images found in the online collections of the National Gallery of Art and focusing on dialogue, conversations, what does the piece say?

Today's piece is "The Sick Chicken" by Winslow Homer.

I worked for quite a while on this poem from the little sick chick's perspective, but I never could get it to work quite right. One of the problems for me using that point of view was how little a newly-hatched chick would know about the world. The poem kept getting shorter and shorter -- until I switched my focus.

See how that Mama chick is looking up so expectantly... as if she knows exactly what is going on? Having had some experience keeping chickens, I know how fragile these new babies can be! And then, there it was, the poem that wanted to be written:


Please be sure to visit Ramona at Pleasure from the Page to see how our Progressive Poem is progressing!

Sunday, April 5, 2015

ARTSPEAK! Poem #5 "Cat & Bird"

Hello, and welcome to day #5 of ARTSPEAK!, my 2015 Poem-a-Day Project for National Poetry Month 2015, in which I am writing from images found in the online collections of the National Gallery of Art and focusing on dialogue, conversations, what does the piece say?

Today's piece is "Cat Watching Caged Bird" by Jacques Callot.


Now, here is a conversation! So many things could be happening in this piece... but the cat doesn't look particularly menacing, does she? Certainly curious... and the bird is not cowering in a corner. It seems to know it's safe on its perch. I imagined this as a daily happening -- could these two possibly be friends? I decided to explore this idea by writing a poem for two voices. 



What would your Cat & Bird say to one another??

By the way, an interesting theme is emerging... 4 of the 5 poems I've written this month have somehow addressed the idea of waiting. The chair wasn't just waiting, the girl was most definitely waiting, the rocks were sort of waiting in their stillness, and today Cat speaks of waiting! 

I tell you, poetry is a wise, mysterious beast. It reveals our hearts to us.

Be sure to visit Charles Waters' blog to see how our Progressive Poem is progressing! 


Saturday, April 4, 2015

ARTSPEAK! Poem #4 "Prayer of the Black Rocks"

Hello, and welcome to day #4 of ARTSPEAK!, my 2015 Poem-a-Day Project for National Poetry Month 2015, in which I am writing from images found in the online collections of the National Gallery of Art and focusing on dialogue, conversations, what does the piece say?

Today's piece is "The Black Rocks of Troubille" by Gustave Courbet.


I thought it would be fun to try a landscape, and the colors in this one really mesmerized me. I sat with it for a while -- was it a storm? Maybe... or maybe not, as those boats seem to be moving rather calmly. Sunrise, or sunset??

Then I got to thinking about all the motion in the poem: the clouds, the water, the boats. But poor old rocks... what kind of life is theirs? And then it came to me: even a rock must be grateful for something....




And how is our Progressive Poem progressing, please visit Laura at Writing the World for Kids to find out!

Friday, April 3, 2015

ARTSPEAK! Poem #3 "Girl, Waiting"

Hello, and Happy Poetry Friday!! Be sure to visit (singing!) Amy at The Poem Farm for Roundup --  which I am sure will be amazing here at the start of National Poetry Month!

Also, be sure to visit Heidi at My Juicy Little Universe for the next line in our Progressive Poem! We're off to a grand (alluvium, barefooted) start.

And... welcome to day #3 of ARTSPEAK!, my 2015 Poem-a-Day Project for National Poetry Month 2015, in which I am writing from images found in the online collections of the National Gallery of Art and focusing on dialogue, conversations, what does the piece say?

Today's piece is "The Railway" by Edouard Manet.

A couple of things drew me to this piece. 1) the contrast between girl's dressy white dress and the dirty steam 2) the contrast between the girl's dressy white dress and her mother's practical black 3) the mother's bored expression and how her back is turned -- clearly what is a marvel to a child is not a marvel to her! 4) the sleeping puppy and open book.

If I was writing this poem for the adult audience, I would totally write from the mother's (if this is indeed the girl's mother) point of view! Alas. I tried for a while to write from the train's perspective ... what must a train think about all the people it sees on the platform? But there's too much hidden from the train's view that I wanted to mention. Which leaves the obvious choice: the girl herself.