“Whatever you think you can do or believe you can do, begin it. Action has magic, grace and power in it.” – Goethe
I’ve had ideas percolating for months. Ways of merging words, poetry, haiku with design, film, theater.
Who am I, someone who has spent most of her professional life as a writer, to dip my toes into the pond of visualization?
As a recent book reminded me, “Who am I not to?”
I will fail, and I may have to abandon some ideas.* But I will learn along the way. Maybe, if I’m lucky, I’ll also find co-conspirators and collaborators to help—and enhance—my more ambitious ideas. It’s tempting to want this all to be mapped out before I begin, which pretty much ensures I’ll never get started.
This article and this one, Ira Glass’ famous words on taste and “the gap,” Painting in the Dark, the aforementioned book (and related podcast, especially the episodes with Elizabeth Gilbert), and this print remind me of the power of doing. Of getting started. Of taking the first step and not getting so concerned about steps two, three, ten and eighteen.
With that in mind, I’m participating in Elle Luna’s The 100 Days Project. My project will involve writing haiku and pairing each one with an image I’ve created. I don’t expect each entry to be perfect or great…maybe some days they won’t even be good…but at the end of the 100 days, I hope to have a few gems I can polish further.
You can follow along with my progress on Instagram.
I hope you will.
And more than that, I hope you’ll take the action you’ve been merely considering.
Goethe was right. There is power in it.
* So far failures include a just-for-fun book cover design that was greeted with crickets by the author (and almost everyone else), as well as some space designs for Society6 that ran into some compression issues—design friends if you have a couple hours to advise (ahem, teach) me where I went wrong and answer the question “Can these designs be saved?” let me know. Thank you.
I am still looking back at my poetic past to help boost my confidence as I continue to reboot the poet part of myself. In doing so, I was reminded of a project from ten years ago that never quite got of the ground.
I had shared several haiku I had written with a graphic designer, and he was going to create poster designs featuring each one. He never finished. At the time, I was disappointed.
Now I am not.
Now I know that I can design them myself. And I will.
I love how evocative poetry can be as words on a page or screen, but I’ve also been curious about what more succinct poetic forms would look like when paired with visual art.
Before I get around to that though, I thought I’d share some of the haiku that will be part of this project.
He likes to pretend
That the car commercial leaves
Guard him like angels
Just before the end
Our air tastes of razored mint
Violence made sterile
Every blue starched guard
Must wholeheartedly conspire
To share their customs
She was bright knee socks,
marble cake and Scrabble tiles
crooked on the board
Sharp yet buttery
Comfort in a gourmet guise
If she could give you
A star in the galaxy
It would taste like tea
I gave up on poetry for awhile.
Mostly because I wasn’t getting any better at writing poems.
I was getting worse.
Sinking into self-indulgent catharsis.
Trying to overcome heartbreaks.
And hoping that with just the right words and rhythm I could convince some universal force to right what I perceived as wrongs against me.
So, as I said, I gave up.
Then I found a couple of poems I wrote about a decade ago.
They sang to me. They told me that the awkward poems I had written while in a funk were by no means all I had to offer. They encouraged me to dive back in. They reminded me that I am still a poet (among many other things).
Here they are.
Night becomes a scarf
wrapped around my neck
The color not pitch black,
but the deepest, darkest
Sky leans into Sand
letting a full moon
glisten in every grain
Sea lowers her waves
to a comfortable whisper
She guides me through
this beautiful blindness
Telling me of children
waking up in Japan
and you, fitfully sleeping
Find me here someday
listening to these secrets
of darkness before the dawn
It’s the best bedtime story
We could ever hope to hear
AN ODE OF SORTS
I will never write
like Billy Collins
My poems will never
contain tenuous conversation
between shampoo bottles
mathematicians searching for Pi
in the back alleys of Athens
or clichés that are reborn
from the ashes of dry toast,
becoming bread pudding,
(without a single, shriveled word)
There will be no insightful humor
Like the folly of saying I love you
with paper mâché cats or rabbits
I will never write truth
So deceptively simple
that we might as well be eating
a single orange for dessert
Kindly given by a Cypriot waiter
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