Thursday, November 22, 2018


In the foreword to WORLD MAKE WAY, editor Lee Bennett Hopkins says,
"When you look at art, you may see and feel things differently than your neighbors or friends or classmates. You might focus on a work as a whole, or you might zero in on a small detail that jumps out-- a patch of sky, a sailboat, even a swirl of color. Looking at a work of art can produce a range of emotions and reactions. It can make you happy or sad; make you laugh, think, ponder, or wonder. World Make Way features 18 poems especially commissioned for this book, written by contemporary poets. Reaching deep within their hearts and souls, each poet interprets what they unearthed after viewing a specific artwork. The arts and their artwork stem from many parts of the world, were created at different times in history, and depict a wide variety of subjects. A wide range of mediums-- such as oil paint, pencil, and ink-- were used as well. The pictures capture your eye, just as the poems capture your ear. 

 And that pretty much sums up this book. Eighteen terrific poets (including several who are regulars on Poetry Friday)- Alma Flor Ada, Cynthia Cotten, Rebecca Kai Dotlich, Julie Fogliano, Charles Ghigna, Joan Bransfield Graham, Lee Bennett Hopkins, Irene Lathan, J. Patrick Lewis, Elaine Magliaro, Guadalupe Garcia McCall, Marilyn Nelson, Naomi Shihab Nye, Ann Whitford Paul, Marilyn Singer, Carole Boston Weatherford, and Janet Wong-- each wrote a poem in response to artwork from the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The oldest piece, I think, is an image of a duck, painted over 3,000 years ago for "a decorative floor in the palace of Egyptian king Amenhotep III."
with a poem written by today's Poetry Friday host, Irene Latham.  The newest piece of art was painted by Kerry James Marshall in 2014; Marilyn Nelson wrote the poem for that piece. Each two-page spread includes the artwork and the poem.  End matter includes information about the poets and also about the artists.

A really interesting collection.

"This Is the Hour"
Irene Latham

This is the hour
where sun dreams
when river
its silky song.

This is the hour
Duck wades
into warm
whispery grass
onto its nest

This is the hour
Duck asks:

        What is yours?
        What is

River answers
        Look how 
        your wings

        How my eyes

Yes, Duck says.
                Now I see--
                this is the hour
                  almighty sun
                gives itself

                to everything. 

Irene Latham

Marilyn Nelson

In this space quiet as a laboratory,
artists as focused as the kitchen staff
of a 4-star Michelin Guide restaurant
give themselves up to organized chaos.
They were born with a compulsion
deeper than skin-deep, deeper than black:
Every cell of their body says Make Art.
Their hearts repeat: Make Art, Make Art, Make Art.

Here in the studio's silence
artists demonstrate that freedom means
exploring unlimited potential,
playing a part in creation.
How beautiful the human body is.
How complex light is on black skin.
How a story can emerge from colors.
How a yellow curve can become a dog.

Whether you're a woman, whether you're black,
no matter who youare, you can make art.
Art rebuilds our hope for a shared future,
it restores our courage, revives our faith.
Here in the studio, as on cave walls,
our species reaches toward undying truths.
Every work of art was once unfinished:
part in this world, part imagined.

Irene Latham, at Live Your Poem, is hosting today's Poetry Friday.


Kathryn Apel said...

I find ekphrastic poetry such a challenge. I'm always worried that I might interpret the art wrongly, or that my response might not do it justice... Lee Bennett Hopkins' foreword really spoke to me.

Molly Hogan said...

This is one of too-many books that I've been excited to buy that then got buried beneath an avalanche of other books and papers. The poems you share are beautiful. I especially love Irene's with "whispery grass", beautiful alliteration, and the flowing rhythm. Thanks for reminding me to dig it this book. (That makes two books, dusted off and vying for top spot on the TBR pile now that I've been reading PF posts!)

Donna Smith said...

Sounds like a beautiful collection.
Love Irene's last lines:
"this is the hour
almighty sun
gives itself

to everything."

Mary Lee said...

"Art rebuilds our hope for a shared future,
it restores our courage, revives our faith."

Irene Latham said...

Carol, thank you for sharing from this collection! We were assigned pieces to write about (usually I choose the art I write about), so it was indeed a challenge! And the book shows how amazing our imaginative minds are... the poets writing these poems make all kinds of leaps from the art to words. It's a collection that begs re-reading, too... lots to discover. xo

Linda B said...

It is a beautiful book to savor, and to learn from! Thanks for reminding me of this book. Time to get it out again! Hope you had a nice Thanksgiving, Carol! Thank you!

Ruth said...

I can't wait to hold this book in my hands. It looks so lovely.

Margaret Simon said...

I love this collection. Poetry begets more poetry with books like these. Makes me want to go write another poem. Thanks for reminding me of the power this book holds.

author amok said...

I love ekphrastic poetry. This looks like a beautiful collection. Gorgeous alliteration in Irene's poem -- it made me feel the birds swimming along the river.

Elaine Magliaro said...

I was worried at first when Lee sent me the image of the painting that I had to write my poem about. I had expected it to be an impressionistic work of art. Instead, I got a painting of a Chinese emperor's horse/charger done circa 750! I really feared I'd never get the inspiration to write a poem about Night-Shining White. Then I read the museum's description of the painting of the horse "With its burning eye, flaring nostrils, and dancing hoofs, the fiery-tempered horse epitomizes Chinese myths about Central Asian "celestial steeds" that "sweated blood" and were actually dragons in disguise." I did a little more research and got my inspiration--and the words started to flow as I wrote a mask poem in which I spoke in the voice of the horse. Lee asked for just a few minor changes to the first draft that I sent him. What a relief!

Brenda at FriendlyFairyTales said...

It's a beautiful book, and those are two gorgeous selections.

Jone said...

What an amazing collection. I loved Irene’s poem.

Michelle Kogan said...

Such a rich collection of poems and art in this book–it's become a favorite of mine. Thanks for sharing it and the two moving poems also–they both transport us to another place.