Saturday, April 15, 2017

ARTSPEAK! Portraits poem "When Papa Paints"

Hello and Happy National Poetry Month! Here it is, day 15 of ARTSPEAK!: Portraits, my National Poetry Month poem-a-day project, during which I am looking, listening with my spirit ear, and asking these subject to share with me their secrets.

But first: Be sure to check in with Brenda at Friendly Fairy Tales to see how our Progressive Poem is progressing!

Here are the ARTSPEAK! Portraits poems so far:

14. "Whistler's Mother" after Arrangement in Grey and Black, No. 1 by James McNeill Whistler
13. "In the Company of Kittens" after Contentment 1900 by Henriette Ronner-Knip
12. "Sixteen" after Jeanne Hubuturne-1919 by Amedeo Modigliani
11. "Promise" after Portrait of a Little Italian Girl by Maria Kroyer
10. "Portrait of a Writer" after Oskar Maria Graf by Georg Schrimpf
9. "Speaking of the Weather" after Profile of a Woman by Fujishima Takeji
8. "Happiness" after Self-Portrait with Straw Hat by Elisabeth Vigee le Brun
7. "Virginia, Sitting for a Portrait" after Portrait of Virginia (Little Girl) by Frida Kahlo
6. "Paint-by-Number" after Portrait of a Woman by Alexei von Jawlensky
4. "I Am" after The White Cloud, Head Chief of the Iowas by George Catlin
3. "What If?" after Portrait of Camille Roulin by Vincent van Gogh
2. "The Lady Confesses" after Portrait of a Lady with Mask and Cherries by Benjamin Wilson
1. "Mona Lisa in Love" after Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci

Today I've selected a little girl -- who gave me all sorts of trouble! Finally, after HOURS, she decided to speak. Here's what she told me:

When Papa Paints
- after "Portrait of Anne" by George Wesley Bellows

I am no longer 
     just me
I become 
     a white boat
  with a bluebird
    aswirl on 
      a summer sea.

- Irene Latham

Readers, I struggled with this poem! Anne was George Wesley Bellows' eldest daughter. When I did a little research, I found out that he would pay his children 25 cents an hour to sit for him. So I tried writing a poem that was a list of the things Anne wanted to buy with her quarter -- which meant doing some research into 1915 toy and candy prices. But I just couldn't make it work. I stepped away from it and came back with my imaginative eye, and that's how I landed where I landed. Thanks so much for reading!


  1. So glad you stepped away and let your imaginative eye take the lead. This is exquisite. Love the sounds of "...aswirl on a summer sea."

  2. So pretty, Irene, and don't you imagine she feels just that way too?

  3. Love. Love. Love. Love. Love. Love. She is right. She is a boat with a bluebird sail. Love. xo


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