11 July 2011

The Art of Poetry and the Poetry of Art

Every child is an artist.  The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up. 
~ Pablo Picasso

Many moons ago, I took an art class.  I was around twelve years old and I loved art.  The idea of painting filled me with excitement.  Eager to express the poetry inside me, I paid rapt attention to the teacher’s instructions.  Alas, the class was teaching portraiture and depth and dimension has never been my strong suit.  My people did not look anything like a real person.

An art teacher worth her weight in gold would have taken one look at my work and would have noticed my fascination with colour and symbolism.  Perhaps she would have encourage me to try my hand at capturing the essence of flowers or landscapes.  Even abstract expression.

Maybe my teacher was conditionally loved as child.  Maybe her art mentor scoffed at her paintings.  I am not sure what she expected from a twelve year old girl ~ how many prodigy Picassos or Pugins are out there?!  Whatever the reason, my efforts were condescendingly mocked.
That was the last art class I took.  Discouraged, the brushes stiffened in their jars, the canvases languished in a forgotten corner and the paint shriveled up.  I had no talent for painting portraits.

But who said portraits are the only thing worth painting?

It has only been recently that I have discovered my talent for word painting.  But I still did not connect that to art.  Until I read a chapter in Susan Goldstein Wooldridge’s Poemcrazy.  In chapter X, Susan encourages her readers [and poetry students] to embrace art and poetry wherever you may find it and to find poetry prompts in unlikely places.  One of these prompts involved creating an “I am . . .” collage.  She says:


Cut out colors, pictures and words that help define you. . . .Glue it onto cardboard or into your journal in a minicollage. [1]

Why, I can do that kind of art!  Art is about expressing some truth or feeling or thought without words.  Since this is a poetry exercise, you are encouraged to use words if they point to some aspect of who you are, but it is not required.  I love words, so I used throughout my collage to express aspects of my personality.   Susan suggests using cardboard or paper, but I loved the idea that this was a form of art, so instead, I went to my local Michael’s and bought a canvas.

In the course of creating my collage, I found that not only was my poetic creativity exercised, the ghost of a failed art class was exorcised. 

What would your “I am . . .” collage look like?  A bit of coloured glass, a blue bird’s feather, the top of a baby acorn?  Play around with different objects and materials.  Maybe you’ll release some ghosts of your own and discover the artist within.

Oremus pro invicem,
~ Mikaela

[1] page 141, Poemcrazy, Susan G. Wooldridge, Three Rivers Press, 1996
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