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Posts Tagged ‘Poetry’

My gallery of original artwork is now continually updated as a page. This page can be found as a tab at the very top of the page above the banner, along with “About Me” and “about Spinal Cord Injuries” (since February 2012). It’s much more iinteresting than either of these. Please check it out.

Here is my artwork posted til then:

Welcome to my gallery of original artwork, calligrams. The word calligram means “beautiful writing”, probably because the letters and words are arranged into an image. It is sometimes called concrete poetry. I prefer to describe it as visual poetry. From most recent:

Calligram – The Beginning of Love

Calligram – Reach For THe Sky

Calligram – Music Breaks My Heart

Calligram – Music Sets Fire To Your Soul

Calligram – Music Sets My Heart On Fire

Calligram – Life Is A Gift

I Am What I Think And Do

Calligram – Just Another Dream

Just Another Dream

Calligram – I Dream Therefore I Am:

I Am What I Think And Do

Calligram – Lost in the music:

Calligram – One more for Valentine’s Day:

Valentine’s Rose

Calligrams – For Valentine Day:

Heart On Fire

For Valentine Day

What Is Love

Calligram – The Sweet Sleep – Anastheasia

Sweet Sleep – Anastheasia

Calligram – Adversity, Forging Steel In Great Heat

A Christmas Calligram

Calligram – Blood Diamond

Calligram – Blow Your Own Trumpet

Calligram – Bubbles

Calligram – Let Your Heart Sing

Calligram – Reach High, Dream Deep

Calligrams – Destiny
The next two are meant to be viewed together as one work:

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I am exploring the power of visual poetry.

My friend and I were sharing our thoughts on the meaning of “character”. Our thoughts can be summed up as
Watch your thoughts, they become your words,
watch your words, they become your actions,
watch your actions, they become your habits
watch your habits, they become your character
watch your character, it becomes your destiny.

This was a “light bulb” moment for me, and I immediately saw how powerfully this message could be conveyed using visuals, and turning this into visual poetry – a calligram, or calligrams.

Take two extremes of people whose thoughts, words and actions changed the world:

Calligram – Hitler’s Destiny

Hitler was a destructive tornado, a cold dangerous wind that blew through Europe. The power of his words swept ordinary people into acts of bigotry, hatred and cruelty. The character and destinies of millions were changed.

Calligram – Gandhi’s Destiny

Gandhi was committed to non-violence, human freedom, equality and justice. His ideals of truth and non-violence led to acts of passive resistance. His words and actions sent ripples of change around the world. Ripples that continue to remind us of alternatives to war and military action.

Words can inspire, but combined with typography or calligraphy, colours and shapes, transformed to visual poetry, become powerful and provocative.

Other poetry – calligram posts:
Calligrams – Visual Poetry
Blood Diamonds
A Christmas Calligram
Poetry – Calligrams

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More calligrams!
A `calligram` is a poem, phrase, or word in which the typeface, calligraphy or handwriting is arranged in a way that creates a visual image. The image created by the words expresses visually what the word, or words, say.

Since I found out about calligrams and poetry I have played around with the idea of calligrams, letting it cook for a while in my sub-conscious, taking it out every now and then, and now I’ve come out with a few images that I like.
First was the Christmas calligram, then a Blood Diamond.

I have a few phrases that resonate with my soul, and inspired more calligrams

“Something that makes my heart sing” This can be music, or a painting, or sculpture that moves me to tears or laughter, or something I’ve read or heard about that inspires me or gives me something to aspire to. Or it might simply be a memory. Or feeling proud of my children and their achievements.

“Reaching for the stars” I love the image of a star as being something to reach for, dream about and that inspires goals. There’s something about the infinity of the night sky broken by pin pricks of light that makes me want to reach out past the world I know and search for more – needing to know more, do more, be more.


“Blowing your own trumpet” We’re not supposed to do this. But sometimes I’m so darn happy that I’ve been finally able to move a muscle or make a movement that shouldn’t be possible after damaging my spinal cord all those years ago, that I just have to let the joy out!


I love watching people blowing bubbles. Well, I love watching both the person and the bubbles. I recently blew coloured bubbles onto canvas, and it was fun. There is something amazing about a bubble. That it can exist, even for a few moments, is incredible. And each one contains a small rainbow, floating and shining.

Watch this space for more …

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A while ago I posted “A Diamond is Merely a Lump of Coal That Did Well Under Pressure” At the time I was reflecting on the power of this imagery, how it encapsulates so many ideas about strength, inner beauty, hard work and so on.
But take a look at the blood diamond calligram “Not All Diamonds Are The Same”

The literary and visual image of a diamond as a thing of beauty and desirability has been tarnished by their use to fund corrupt governments and military activities in parts of Africa. However, the Kimberly Process sought to keep these Blood diamonds, or conflict diamonds from being traded. The governments of participating countries are required to certify where the diamonds have come from and to guarantee that the diamonds being traded are conflict free. The diamond industry and various NGOs such as Global Witness, as well as other member states, are official observers who can check that the certification process is genuine. It has been successful in helping some countries reduce the flow of conflict diamonds and to increase official stocks but Zimbabwe is a notable exception.
So it seems incredible that the Kimberley Process has authorised exports by two companies operating in Zimbabwe’s Marange diamond fields. Members of the military are known to have tortured and killed workers in the mines, and used the money from the diamonds to fund illegal government activity. Global Witness has suggested that members of Zimbabwe’s ruling party may use revenue from the area to fund the intimidation of voters ahead of elections.
As a result of the decision to authorise the Mirange diamonds Global Witness has withdrawn from the Kimberly Process, an organisation it helped set up.
Previously, The EU and the US had blocked any move to lift the ban, but late last year said that Zimbabwe has made considerable gains in addressing areas of non-compliance. It’s hard to see how, especially as the military is still involved in running the mines.
Lifting the ban undermines any credibility that the Kimberly Process may have had, and raises the question why, the US and EU have suddenly changed their positions.
Consumers can no longer be reasonably sure that a diamond certified by the Kimberly Process is not a blood diamond. The only thing a responsible person can do is insist on seeing the provenance of the stone being purchased. Some retailers, such as Michael Hill, already do this.

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How could I have lived this long and not known about about calligrams? I love letters and art, so throw poetry into the mix and voila, there is a thing of such beauty it takes my breath away.

I’ve seen letters cleverly arranged into shapes to create an image that expresses the meaning of the letters or words. Simple, nice. For example,

Letters or words create a visual image of themselves

An image created using related words

But calligram poetry! It’s beautiful:

Apollinaire's Dessin

Apollinaire's Dessin Il Pleut

Apollinaire's Eiffel Tower

Guillaume Apollinaire was a French writer born in Italy in 1880 of Polish parents. He famously wrote a book about calligrams, published in 1918. (Makes me feel really ignorant, having not heard of or seen these wonderful visual poems.) Calligrammes: Poèmes de la paix et de la guerre 1913- 1916 (1918) from An Introduction to Guillaume Apollinaire. He also wrote the children’s books “Madeleine”, which I do know about.

Other beautiful calligrams that I’ve found:
(Click on the title to find out more about the author)

DIAMOND

*
*the*
*diamond*
*on my hand*
*reflecting love*
*stars , dance*
*an endless*
*diamond*
*sky*

Tears

t        a            d
e                       o
a         r             w
r               i           n
s                v
e            a
  s               r
t                              s
r            o             a
e            f                d
a
m            s                 f
i                 o                a
n                  r            c
g                r                e
o
w

(Sometimes it is called concrete poetry – I suppose because the visual element gives a solid dimension – but I don’t like this description at all) This author calls her poem a concrete poem …

‘A gentle breeze … “

Apparently calligram means beautiful writing, and so it is!

I’ve started creating my own calligrams. These can be viewed in My Artwork and Calligrams Where you will find calligrams for love, inspiration, hearts, music, valentines and more …

If you’re interested, the context for these calligrams can be seen in these posts:
The Power of Visual Poetry – Destiny
Calligrams – Visual Poetry here you will find calligrams of hearts, stars, music and more.
A Christmas Calligram
Blood Diamonds

Calligrams for Inspiration

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Years ago I discovered a world where art intersects with words. Two of my passions gave birth to a third passion, calligraphy. I call my version of calligraphy letter art, where there are no rules or limits to what can be created. I might feel like doing a water colour wash then add letters and words in one or more media applied with any sort of tool, from brush, nib, stick, card or finger. Or I might start by drawing letters in rubber then wash over the top, peeling off the rubber to reveal a message.

"Letter Art" in watercolour wash

Once, when I was at a party I became animated about how much I enjoy this. The next moment is etched in my memory. Some woman piped up “Next you’ll be doing cake decorating.” Initially I was shocked that she would mock me by comparing art with cake decorating, then I realised how judgemental I was being. I began to think about how creativity finds an outlet whatever, and that judging and comparing creativite outlets in an attempt to diminish one or both, is to demean the human urge to express ourselves, to interpret the world, to discover beauty, or do whatever.

I often return to that thought, that is, the legitimacy of the human urge to be creative, and that creativity has no boundaries. Whether writing poetry or prose, the writer has a message and uses literary devices to create something special. The artist can blend media, surface, technique and so on. Singing, playing a musical instrument, photography, sculpture are also conventionally regarded as being creative, so why not cake decorating, meal presentation, calligraphy, scrapbooking, dancing, dress design, furniture design, and so on. (incidentally, some of these latterly mentioned creative outlets are regarded as “feminine”, so perhaps there is some gender bias at work here.)

Creativity and imagination are related. Albert Einstein said “Imagination is more important than knowledge”. This inspires me to believe that human endeavour is at its finest when we apply creativity – to look for opportunities, to solve problems, to seek wisdom and understanding. It is through art, literature, music, any creative work or thinking that our spirits soar.

Einstein's "Imagination Is More Important Than Knowledge" in watercolour wash

So what is creativity? I’m not sure it can be defined or measured. What is art?. Where painting intersects with calligraphy, is it no longer art? Clearly that isn’t so, otherwise Colin Mc Cahon wouldn’t be regarded as one of New Zealand’s great artists. Does someone’s willingness to pay for artistic endeavour define a work as art? If someone will pay for a cake to be decorated does that mean that cake decorating is art? I believe it can be, and that it can certainly be an example of creativity.

Is literature only the work of great writers? If only the greatest writers were published, my reading world would be impoverished. I love reading “coming of age” novels (I have realized in the last few years that I have yet to come of age – will I ever grow up?). Barbara Kingsolver is perhaps best known for writing “The Poisonwood Bible” yet it’s “The Bean Trees” and “Pigs In Heaven” that I enjoyed the most. And I’d be a lesser person if I hadn’t read Billie Letz’ “The Honk and Holler Opening Soon”, “Where The Heart Is” and “Made In The USA”. And I find plenty to chew over in Marion Keyes novels.

And good things happen when creativity intersects with technology. I’ve discovered plenty of great writing on blogs. One of the best things I’ve learnt about blogging is that because it provides a great medium for writers it’s become a treasure trove for readers, and a fantastic forum for ideas. It’s a wonderful spark for creativity. It’s a great place to find poetry:

Julia Fehrenbacher of Painted Path writes wonderful poetry and prose.

This via kind over matter

Held

When she slows
quietly down
instead of pushing
urgently forward
When she asks and listens
and receives
instead of talking and telling
and trying
When she bows
deeply
to this light-filled
Now
instead of running
screaming away
It bows deeply back

and she feels herself
falling

freely
falling
safely
falling
softly
falling
back into
the wide open
arms
of Grace

People have always found ways to express themselves creatively, to feel their spirits soar and their hearts sing. Creativity is an essential part of who we are. It can’t be measured and it shouldn’t be compared or minimised, but rather celebrated and embraced, wherever it is found.

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Since I referred to the lines from Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s “Aurora Leigh” (Book 7)

Earth’s crammed with heaven,
And every common bush afire with God:
But only he who sees, takes off his shoes,
The rest sit round it, and pluck blackberries,
And daub their natural faces unaware

I have been reading the original poem http://www.online-literature.com/elizabeth-browning/aurora-leigh/7/. (These lines are about two thirds of the way through Book 7). I have often heard EBB dismissed as a romantic poet or writer of love poems. She certainly wrote about love, but she also wrote about social conditions of her time and was a feminist. She was a well-educated woman and her poetry is full of classical references. “Aurora Leigh” is a novel in poem form, and anyone who doubts EBB’s greatness should take a look at it, or at least at the summary of the poem to get a flavour of how contraversial and shocking her writing must have seemed in Victorian England. There are many on-line, this one is no better or worse than others. http://www.novelguide.com/a/discover/pfs_0000_0023_0/pfs_0000_0023_0_00015.html

The topics covered in this epic poem include prostitution, rape, betrayal, social engineering, and the notion of a professional and independent woman, which EBB was.   There are many religious references throughout the poem but I’m not sure they were intended in the way that some christian preachers have taken ownership of, and I find that amusing. References to pagan gods are also used extensively.

Anyway, Elizabeth Barrett Browning is certainly worth reading. She is as at least as great a writer as any of her contemporaries, and I’m only sorry that it’s taken me this long to rediscover her, and to look beyond the quotations and platitudes that are attributed to her.

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