Friday, July 31, 2009

Sutphen and Morley

People liked the Christopher Morley, so I'm going to give you some more. But first, here's a little taste of Soundings by Joyce Sutphen, who really knows how to translate sounds into words:

Somewhere, between the breeze
and the faraway sound of a train,
comes a line of birdsong, lightly
threading the heavy cloth of dream.

You can read the rest of Soundings here.


by Christopher Morley

In your Great City
I see, in jewellers' windows,
Clocks that tell the guaranteed Correct Time;
And in front of those clocks people always halted
Adjusting their watches.
But suppose there were displayed, beside the street,
Some great poem,
Telling perfect Truth or Beauty,
How many passengers
Would pause to adjust their minds?


An Enigma in the Woodpile
by Christopher Morley

An American friend of mine,
A man in a newspaper office,
Is very wealthy.
He tells me he has an income
Of 10,000 interruptions a year.


An American Mystic
by Christopher Morley

But you do not understand the subway,
Said an American mystic
Sitting next to me at the Rotary Club.
It is a travelling hermitage,
A flying monastery,
A nunnery that moves at fifty miles an hour.
Into its roaring wagons
Thoughtful men and women descend with joy:
They know that there,
The only place in the whole city,
They can meditate undisturbed.


excerpt from The Man With The Rake
by Christopher Morley

...And at such times
I plant the seeds of poems.
It takes poems a long while to grow --
They lie germinating in the dark of the mind;
But next spring, very likely,
There may emerge the green and tender shoots
Of two or three bright stanzas.


excerpt from The Painter
by Christopher Morley

...True! I said --
Beauty is like the Medusa:
Look her in the face, and you run mad;
But like Perseus,
Study her reflection in the polished shield.
Look upon life in the mirror of some art
And, perhaps, you will stay sane.

Thursday, July 30, 2009


Joseph Stella, 1877 - 1946. Stella was born in Italy, but came to the U.S. when he was 18. You can read more about him here and here.


Old Brooklyn Bridge

At the Base of the Blast Furnace

The "Hole in the Wall"


Sunday, July 26, 2009

Stolen Sweets Are Always Sweeter

Maybe it's because I've been thinking about Harry Potter lately, but this poem, written perhaps two hundred years ago, seems like it would fit in perfectly if there was an orchard at Hogwarts.

Song of Fairies Robbing an Orchard
by James Henry Leigh Hunt (1784 - 1859)

We, the Fairies, blithe and antic,
Of dimensions not gigantic,
Though the moonshine mostly keep us,
Oft in orchards frisk and peep us.

Stolen sweets are always sweeter,
Stolen kisses much completer,
Stolen looks are nice in chapels,
Stolen, stolen, be your apples.

When to bed the world are bobbing,
Then's the time for orchard-robbing;
Yet the fruit were scarce worth peeling,
Were it not for stealing, stealing.


An idea for artists, the general public, or teachers...
This week for Art Thursday, we have Artist Trading Cards. They would also be very cool to make with poems on them, like this card and this and these.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Poetry Challenges

The magazine Poets and Writers has a nice list of poetry challenges (prompts to get you started writing) here. Check it out.

Christopher Morley

Poems from a 1922 collection by Christopher Morley.

A Pragmatist
by Christopher Morley

The American poet Lindsay
(A mercurial fellow)
Began his career
By codifying the ways in which a poet
Can get a free meal.
Here was a seer!
Here was a man with strong grasp of essentials!


by Christopher Morley

The pearl
Is a disease of the oyster.
A poem
Is a disease of the spirit
Caused by the irritation
Of a granule of Truth
Fallen into that soft gray bivalve
We call the mind.



A Moment of Meditation
by Christopher Morley

I was told that America was a free country,
But I found many of its substantial citizens
Terrorized by the advertisements
Into believing it was immoral
To wear a straw hat
Later than September 15th.
Wise men know
There is no such thing as a free country --
There never will be.


Advice To Those Hiring Young Mandarins
by Christopher Morley

When I was private adviser
To Her Celestial Serenity The Empress
It was my duty
To interview young mandarins
Applying for important positions.
I always chose those who were shy,
For shyness in a youth
Is commendable.
It is a sign that he is aware
This is a perplexing world
And it is not well to uncover
His golden soul
To those who would not understand it.


Tick Douloureux
by Christopher Morley

I am wounded
In a fatal artery.
The vein of Time is cut,
The minutes are bleeding, bleeding away.
Bartender, make me a tourniquet for this hemorrhage
Or I shall tick to death.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Rebellious Stones and Insightful Monkeys

The Gallery 1988 SF just hosted an exhibit called "Battle Royal," which featured a number of artists, including Martin Hsu and Patrick Gannon. I had to share their work with you. Martin's paintings are part of a series called The Legend of Naii, a tribute to his grandmother.

He says, "She was the center of our family and will always be my inspiration. For as long as I can remember she's always had silky white hair...In these images she's depicted as a goddess warrior who defends the white lily forest from demon pests. If the white lily forest were her family, then the pests are the hardship and any other odds against it."

The Vigilant Tiger
by Martin Hsu

The Righteous Crane

The Insightful Monkey


Patrick Gannon works with cut and torn paper. "A sneeze can be disastrous," he says in an interview about the process. I'll bet.

Oh, The Things You Say On a Winter's Day
by Patrick Gannon

The Golden Sea, It Has Teeth
by Patrick Gannon

Gravity and the Rebellious Stone
by Patrick Gannon

Friday, July 17, 2009

A One-Woman Waterfall

For openers, here's The Emperor's New Sonnet by Jose Garcia Villa:

That certainly was food for thought, wasn't it? I liked the way the motifs came together unexpectedly.

X.J. Kennedy uses words so beautifully to describe the action of the painting below by Marcel Duchamp -- a "snowing" that sifts, swings, and falls, to finally collect itself at the bottom. This kind of poetry (poetry in response to a piece of visual art) is called ekphrastic poetry.

Nude Descending a Staircase
By X. J. Kennedy (1961)

Toe upon toe, a snowing flesh,
A gold of lemon, root and rind,
She sifts in sunlight down the stairs
With nothing on. Nor on her mind.

We spy beneath the banister
A constant thresh of thigh on thigh--
Her lips imprint the swinging air
That parts to let her parts go by.

One-woman waterfall, she wears
Her slow descent like a long cape
And pausing, on the final stair
Collects her motions into shape.


There is a terrific lesson plan about ekphrastic poetry on Read Write Think.

Some examples here. Scroll down a little and read W.H. Auden's Musee des Beaux Arts. Super!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

A Little Something To Keep You Cool...

Five Fans
by Katsushika Hokusai

Woman with Guitar
Late Victorian Era, 1880-1895, hand painted on lace

Admiral George Dewey Fan
1898-1899, Paper, wood

Solar Vintage Fan
by Elena Corchero

Portrait of Laura da Pola, 1544
by Lorenzo Lotto

18th Century English Mask Fan
from The Fan Museum, Greenwich, London

Links for you:
~ A short fan history and a longer fan history
~ How to make a fan out of wallpaper border.
~ Language of the Fan, in case you'd like to be able to say "When may I be allowed to see you?" without using words...

Friday, July 10, 2009

One Silken Thread

This week for Art Thursday, I shared a collection of spiders. I'm still in spider-mode, so here's a poem by the creator of Charlotte, perhaps the most beloved spider of all time.

The Spider's Web (Natural History)
By E. B. White

The spider, dropping down from twig,
Unfolds a plan of her devising,
A thin premeditated rig
To use in rising.

And all that journey down through space,
In cool descent and loyal hearted,
She spins a ladder to the place
From where she started.

Thus I, gone forth as spiders do
In spider's web a truth discerning,
Attach one silken thread to you
For my returning.

by Fir0002/Flagstaffotos

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Walking into the Parlour

"Will you walk into my parlour?" said the Spider to the Fly,
"Tis the prettiest little parlour that ever you did spy..."

~ Mary Howitt

Little Miss Muffett
by Arthur Rackham

by Barbara Klunder
Courtesy of GroundwoodBooks/House of Anansi

Crying Spider
by Olidon Redon

by Susan Seddon Boulet

by Louise Bourgeois
Located outside the National Gallery of Canada. photo by Radagast.

by Ernest Griset, engraved by the Brothers Dalziel

Otto the Spider
by Manuela Vladic-Mastruko

You can read Otto the Spider online free at the International Children's Digital Library.

Bonus spiders:
~Mended Spiderwebs by Nina Katchadourian
~Spider's Web Cup and Saucer by Eleanor Morgan
~Dawn Spider Web by Libby Drew
~The Spider, Moroccan design pattern.
~Preserving a spider's web.
~Not art, but I wanted to include it anyway...A. Missoum designed a pattern for playing chess (8x8 Spider Web Spiral Chess) using the architecture of the spider.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Small Rabbits Bounding Beneath My Skin

I've got a poem by Darcy Cummings, who says, "the 'Alice' poem is from my book, The Artist As Alice... which is a fictional biography (in poetry) of Alice in Wonderland--her life, after wonderland, as I imagined it. The poems start with Alice at age 10 and end with her death at 85."

Alice at Seventeen: Like a Blind Child
by Darcy Cummings

One summer afternoon, I learned my body
like a blind child leaving a walled
school for the first time, stumbling
from cool hallways to a world
dense with scent and sound,
pines roaring in the sudden wind
like a huge chorus of insects.
I felt the damp socket of flowers,
touched weeds riding the crest
of a stony ridge, and the scrubby
ground cover on low hills.
Haystacks began to burn,
smoke rose like sheets of
translucent mica. The thick air
hummed over the stretched wires
of wheat as I lay in the overgrown field
listening to the shrieks of small rabbits
bounding beneath my skin.

Here's a link to a few more of the Alice poems and some information about the writing of the book.

An additional interview with Darcy Cummings

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Stained Glass

“People are like stained-glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within.”
~ Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

Winter and Spring
by Judith Schaechter

Cat Shelter
by Judith Schaechter

Peach Blossom Valley
by Robert Oddy

by G. Owen Bonawit
Sterling Memorial Library at Yale University.
Picture by Henry Trotter, 2005.

by Bogenrief Studios

~ A site with a bunch of free instructional videos
~ Cleveland Museum of Art shows kids a way to make stained glass-like art with tissue paper and cellophane.
~ A classroom stained art lesson