“Everything you can imagine is real.” ~ Pablo Picasso
Not too long ago, I featured a few word-gems from Charles Ghigna’s, Dear Poet: Notes to a Young Writer (Resource Publications, 2019). When I paired Charles’s words with his son Chip’s art, I didn’t realize that just a short time later they would publish a book together!
In Illusions: Poetry & Art for the Young at Heart (Resource Publications, 2020), these two incredibly talented creatives explore their fascination with dreams and illusions, as they delve into the mysteries of creativity and champion the innate ability of each individual to shape his own reality.
Geared towards tweens and teens (and as the title suggests, anyone who’s young at heart), the 22 poems and images encourage readers to think outside the box, celebrate the fine art of play, and be bold in envisioning all the possibilities.
If there is any “secret” to creativity and courting the muse, perhaps it’s all about accessing one’s inner child, for therein lies openness, intuition, spontaneity, and a direct line to the imagination.
These are poems where daydreaming is actively encouraged, and communing with nature is a holistic, spiritual experience, rich with “Inspiration”:
It is the sound
of the wind
and the silence of the night.
It is the sun
and the moon
and the memory.
In the lyrically beautiful poem, “One,” we are reminded of the interconnectedness of all living things, that time is a continuum, and that there is wisdom to be gleaned by choosing to remain aware, alert, and engaged. Glory and wonder are ours for the taking.
There is clever wordplay, too, like in the whimsical poem, “Art”:
Art is undefinable,
A mystery of creation
Inspired by a pigment
Of your imagination.
Makes me smile every time. 🙂
“Ars Longa, Vita Brevis,” a paean to the art of living, is chiseled to perfection with sculpting as an extended metaphor. There are also several heartwarming love poems, and in “Aries Sideshow,” a splendid bit of magic:
Like a magnet
under the magician’s table
the swan’s reflection
pulls her across the lake,
Chip Ghigna’s stylized black-and-white paintings and line drawings extend and amplify recurring themes of the natural and celestial worlds. Lots of moons and elongated figures (are they tall trees or people or both?) underscore the importance of perception — taking careful second and third looks, finding something surprising you didn’t realize was there.
Trees are a wonderful symbol of growth, strength, creativity, and ancient wisdom. Rooted in the earth, their branches reach for the sky — to higher levels of belief and understanding. An apt metaphor for encouraging young readers to s-t-r-e-t-c-h their abilities by trusting their instincts.
And the moon? An orb of light that’s dreamy, mysterious, beautiful, and changeable. Life holds so many surprises as we make our way through the world. Embrace the mystery: aren’t the questions sometimes more important than the answers? There’s a dark and light side to every situation.
Charles and Chip, father and son, have a unique symbiotic relationship. They practice different art forms, yet both share a similar sensibility when it comes to a reverence for nature, an affection for the fantastical, and a respect for the creative process that begins long before pen touches paper or paint touches canvas. Creatives believe in the primacy of the imagination, and that if, as human beings, we rely solely on our five senses, we perceive only a minuscule portion of what is truly out there. Dream, and then make it so.
How fabulous that Charles’s poems inspire Chip’s art, and Chip’s art ignites Charles’s poetic muse! Don’t you love the dynamic interplay between their works? They have such a special bond that only serves to strengthen their familial one.
I am reminded of Wordsworth’s poem, “My Heart Leaps Up”:
My heart leaps up when I behold
A rainbow in the sky:
So was it when my life began;
So is it now I am a man;
So be it when I shall grow old,
Or let me die!
The Child is father of the Man;
And I could wish my days to be
Bound each to each by natural piety.
Wordsworth celebrated his ability to feel that same sense of joy he experienced in childhood, knowing that this was crucial to sustaining his poetic gift. Perhaps Charles sees the child he was in Chip, as Chip loves and admires the man who influenced who he is now.
Illusions is a treasure for the young at heart. The poems are warm, nurturing, and self empowering, while the pictures encourage us to open our minds to what we can’t readily see. Whoever said, “Reality is an illusion, and the truth lies beyond your wildest dreams” must have been a poet and an artist. 🙂
Enjoy these sample poems.
LIFE’S AN ILLUSION
Life’s an illusion.
A dream on the wing.
A summerful fancy.
A winter of spring.
Life is a circus.
A high-wire act.
A tiptoe of balance.
Life is a garden.
A path in the wood.
An apple tree tease
From shouldn’t to should.
Life is a lover.
A promise to keep.
A wish for tomorrow
In a daydream of sleep.
They are the children
who sit by the window,
their minds and their hearts
full of love.
They are the children
who sit by the window,
in the clouds high above.
In dreams drawn by pixies,
they stream from the sixties
to lead a new band
through the crowd.
They dance and they hum,
they beat their own drum
so silently loud.
They paint and they play
the night into day.
They color the sky
they sit and they wonder
of new worlds yet to come true.
Be still in the world wherever you are,
listen to life’s lullaby;
the heartbeat, the breathing, the giving, receiving,
the sun and the moon and the star.
They all shine true through the essence of you,
a beacon of boundless light;
the father, the mother, the sister, the brother,
all are within you tonight.
Let the flow of the seas, the lilt of the breeze,
the rush and the calm of all time
carry your dreams along rivers and streams
and let you be still where you are.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Charles Ghigna—Father Goose®—lives in a treehouse in the middle of Alabama. He is the author of more than one hundred books from Random House, Simon & Schuster, Time Inc., Disney, Hyperion, Scholastic, and other publishers. He has written more than five thousand poems for children and adults. His work appears in anthologies, newspapers, and magazines ranging from The New Yorker and Harper’s to Highlights and Cricket. He served as poet-in-residence and chair of creative writing at the Alabama School of Fine Arts, instructor of creative writing at Samford University, and as a nationally syndicated feature writer for Tribune Media.
ABOUT THE ILLUSTRATOR
Chip Ghigna lives in Birmingham, Alabama. His paintings appear in galleries, corporations, and private collections throughout the U.S. and France.
ILLUSIONS: Poetry & Art for the Young at Heart
written by Charles Ghigna
illustrated by Chip Ghigna
published by Resource Publications, March 2020
Poetry for ages 10+, 48 pp.
🌳 SPECIAL BOOK GIVEAWAY 🌔
Mr Cornelius and Blue Bear are happy to offer a copy of ILLUSIONS for one lucky Alphabet Soup reader. For a chance to win, simply leave a comment at this post no later than midnight (EDT) Wednesday, May 27, 2020. You may also enter by sending an email with ILLUSIONS in the subject line to: readermail (at) jamakimrattigan (dot) com. Giveaway open to U.S. residents only, please. Good Luck!
The lovely and talented Carol Varsalona is hosting the Roundup at Beyond Literacy Link. Drop by to check out the full menu of poetic goodness being shared around the blogosphere this week. Take care, be well, eat pie, and have a good holiday weekend.
Copyright © 2020 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.