Poetry has been requesting my attention quite a bit lately. Above you see a fragment of a child’s poem, one of ten I hand-lettered on muslin for an upcoming event this Sunday at Constitution Marsh. If you look near the upper right corner of this page, you’ll find the link to my Calendar page, which goes into more detail about The Hudson Highlands Land Trust River of Words Poetry Trail (as well as the other upcoming poetic events which have buttonholed me.)
A moment of digression before the pith of my post: For the last few years, the Hudson Highlands Land Trust has sponsored a regional River of Words program. River of Words is a national environmental literacy organization which seeks to connect children with their watersheds via poetry and art, and I am part of a great Land Trust team which offers free workshops in our local schools.
I was asked to choose ten poems from the hundreds generated in our programs and to help find a way to display them throughout the exquisite landscape of the Marsh. I decided to letter them simply on large pieces of unbleached muslin, which will then be driftwood-weighted, twined and hung along the trail by my teammates.
I’ve had a sense of Christmas all week, knowing that the children who come on Sunday have a happy surprise in store. Seeing their poems floating in the trees and thrusting out of the ground will help them treasure their poetry and their landscape, and remind parents why both are so important.
It’s been a while since I have practiced calligraphy, and I’ve savored it this week. It’s been fun to be so close to fresh poetic imagination, and satisfying to letter the poems I midwived in the classroom. But the best part was this dawning realization: one of the fruits of age is the progressive retirement of the inner critic. In the heavenly silence that ensues, we can go back to enjoying the process, as children do constantly. I relished exploring the letters themselves. As designer Eric Gill said, letters are things, not pictures of things. Making them felt like putting forth little round berries and pointy leaves of my own.
My poem, Nonfiction, describes my earliest pleasure with letters. (This is the poem which recently won a 2012 Willow Review Award.) If you would like the written text of the poem, please contact Willow Review for a copy of the issue in which it appears. If you would like to hear me read it now, please click here: Nonfiction
Is there a process you particularly enjoy?