Posts Tagged ‘art’

Mark Twain wrote “Tom Sawyer” more than 80 years before actors Jodie Foster and Johnny Whitaker were born. But when I picture Becky Thatcher and Tom Sawyer, I’m seeing kid versions of Jodie Foster and Johnny Whitaker. That’s thanks to a 1973 musical version of the novel which, while not the best adaptation of Twain’s work, is unfortunately the one that sticks in my head.

Any time you lift words from the page and set them in motion there’s the risk your interpretation will be met with “I don’t get it” or worse, “That sucked”. But if the alternative is that nobody will ever hear those words if you don’t do it, it’s a risk worth taking.

The founders of the poetry film collaboration project Motionpoems were worried that great poems were going unread because people just weren’t reading poetry. So maybe they’d be more interested in WATCHING it.

Motionpoems pairs contemporary poets with filmmakers to create short film adaptations of poems. Some are animated, others live action, some dark, some funny, some so far removed from what a reader might get out of just reading the poem that you might watch it twice because it’s so interesting.

See for yourself. In the waning hours of National Poetry Month and as spring is FINALLY coming to my corner of the Midwest, here’s the Motionpoem “Ecclesiastes 11:1” by Richard Wilbur, film adaptation by Faith Eskola for your viewing enjoyment.

If you find a Motionpoem that speaks to you, feel free to share it in a comment!

Brushing up on my creative skills

Brushing up on my creative skills

My youngest nephew had a baby quilt with one square turned wrong side out. I know this because I made it for him.  Not that way intentionally, of course.  When I handed the stack of cross-stitched squares to my husband who was assembling the quilt (he sews better than I do), one square was facing stitches up.  When it was time to add that square, he just grabbed it and started sewing. Neither of us noticed the error until he held the finished quilt up and there it was near the bottom. I was horrified.

No one will even notice it, said my husband, who is not a good judge of what people notice because he doesn’t notice a lot of things. I will, every time I see it, I said. He refused to dismantle the quilt and fix it and while I knew I could rip it apart in a heartbeat, I couldn’t sew it back together in any presentable fashion.

When we gave the quilt as it was to my sister-in-law, I pointed out the backward square and apologized profusely. She just laughed and said that meant no one else would ever have one like it.

I create a lot of things – artwork, stories, crafts – and I give most of them away to friends and family because that makes me happy. And while I used to agonize over every detail, building and rebuilding the same project over and over until it was absolutely perfect, now if I find a little creative quirk in the finished piece, I leave it.  Because creativity isn’t about perfection, it’s about uniqueness. What makes the things YOU create unique to you?

Creativity requires the courage to let go of certainties. – Erich Fromm

I live my life with an angel on my shoulder, guided by the light of loved ones lost.

I live my life with an angel on my shoulder, guided by the light of loved ones lost.

He’s a World War II veteran, in his 70’s,
and like many of that era, unfailingly polite.
“Please” for more ice chips,
“Thank you” for the bedpan,
“My apologies” for hitting the call button by mistake.
The lone occupant of a room with two beds,
he takes the one by the window
so he can watch the traffic.
He barely dents the mattress, is thin but not bony,
skin wrinkled but not pale and delicate.
He’s golden brown, a boy of many summers,
the same shade as my grandfather who’s a farmer
and I wonder if this man’s the same.
His hair, what’s left of it, is coarse and white
and his blue eyes are pale yet alert.
But it’s his arms that I study as I check his water pitcher.
They rest atop the sterile white coverlet like
fading portraits on a clean canvas.
Forearms covered in pictures, tattoos whose clear outlines
are muddied, the colors bled from age and the elements.
There are dates and a woman’s name,
a pin-up girl like the nose art of a bomber,
a dragon’s head that now spews a dim spark of its former flame.
While the old man sleeps, I try to picture him
as a strong young man whose eyes are clear,
whose heart pumps steadily, whose bare arms are unadorned.
Yet to travel to those places and see those things
that prompt him to wear his history forever on his skin.

In the early 1960’s, only trashy girls moved to the big city to go to art school. Nice girls studied to be beauticians, secretaries, nurses or teachers. That’s what the mother told her daughter when the girl announced that she wanted to leave their small Midwestern town to go to the Twin Cities and study art. So instead the girl moved to a different big city and became a secretary.

At the same time, thousands of miles away in the South, a father was telling his son that he wasn’t going to spend any money sending him to college to study music but instead the son could have a fulfilling career working for a local car dealership. So the boy joined the Air Force.

Encouragement and opportunity; my parents each had one but not the other. They made it a point to give my older sister and I both. They didn’t push us in any particular direction, but if we were interested in doing something creative, they did what they could to give us the chance to try. We learned art, dance and music. Took trips to the public library, museums and exhibits. Read books. Thought, wondered, explored. Our family wasn’t rich by any means; my parents made what sacrifices they thought necessary to make sure we knew there were opportunities in the world to be creative and that everybody had the right to take advantage of them.

I don’t have any kids (aside from the 46-year-old husband and two delinquent dogs I’m raising) but I have great nieces and nephews. The two youngest, who are 8 and 12, and their parents were just here for the weekend. We have several visits a year and from the time the kids were small, I’ve tried to share with them the joys of creativity. And I think it’s paying off. Throughout the three days they were here, we did the popular kid stuff like go-kart racing, miniature golf, and giving my husband’s Playstation a workout. But the oldest also gifted us with a drawing she’d done of a fancy dancer at a pow wow, something she aspires to try. And the youngest asked if he could record his voice speaking into the microphone that hooks to my laptop. There was a trip to the Discovery Center, the local children’s science museum. The eldest sat down at the desktop computer and wrote a pretty decent short story about trolls. The youngest took note of the origami pelicans I’d practiced making and asked if I would teach him how to make them, which I did. And when they left, it was with the promise that they would come for Halloween (my favorite holiday) and help us decorate the yard and record creepy voices to scare the neighborhood kids.

I have no more idea of what my niece and nephew will grow up to be than they do right now. But whatever it is, I hope that I helped to provide, even in a small measure, encouragement and opportunity when they needed it. And that when they have the chance to pass that along to someone else, they’ll do it.