The Art and Poetry Project

KIMG0939Sometimes the answer is just under your nose, isn’t it? Today, instead of my usual picture book reviews, I’m going to write about another one of my language joys: poetry. I was a poet long before I started writing picture books. Ironically, my mom was taking a course in Children’s Literature (to get re-certified for teaching) when I wrote my first real poem (“Alice and I go fly cross the sky…”)  when I was 7 or so and I’ve been interested in poetry ever since.

A couple years ago I made contact with P at my public library who runs poetry readings, etc. and had posted about a project she was starting connecting poetry and art. As is the case with most creative projects, it was amorphous at first: maybe we would find artists and each create something with the same prompt, maybe we would find artists and create poetry based on their works, maybe some combination…who knows? The goal was ultimately to have an exhibition pairing the art and poetry. For two years, I’ve been visiting museums and practicing writing using art as my inspiration. We’ve held meetings to hone our craft and share our ideas. I’ve written a lot, but even after making contacts with a few artists, I haven’t had luck hitting on the right partnership.

Then last month one of my sons had a piece of art in a local gallery as part of their youth exhibit.  My friend P saw the exhibit too and said I should write something based on Robbie’s work (titled “Behind the Cat”).  By the time I finished working on my cat poem, I realized the answer had been there all along.  The result:  next summer I’ll be presenting an exhibition of poetry based on the artwork of my children. The artwork in the photo at the top of this post represents two of the works I will include: “Circles and Patterns,” and “A Happy Accident” It’s perfect — tying together art, poetry, writing for kids and…my children themselves. I have a long way to go to get the art and the poems both ready but now I have a goal. And that’s pretty exciting.

So the moral of this writing story is a quote from the 1939 film “The Wizard of Oz”: “If I ever go looking for my heart’s desire again, I won’t look any further than my own backyard; because if it isn’t there, I never really lost it to begin with.”

More picture book reviews later this week: it’s summer vacation, after all.

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