pondering the land of lost things with a poem by robert phillips

 

MY VALHALLA
by Robert Phillips

Forget the Museum of Natural History,
The Metropolitan or The Smithsonian.
The collection I want to wander in
I call The Valhalla of Lost Things.

The Venus de Milo’s arms are here,
she’s grown quite attached to them.
I circle Leonardo’s sixteen-foot-tall
equestrian statue, never cast, browse

all five-hundred-thousand volumes
of The Alexandrian Library, handle
artifacts of Atlantis. Here are all
the ballades and rondeaux of Villon,

the finished score of The Unfinished
Symphony, I read all of Edwin Drood
and Answered Prayers. I’ll screen ten
missing reels of Von Stroheim’s Greed,

hear the famous gap in Nixon’s tapes.
There are lost things here so lost,
no one knows they were lost — manuscripts
by the unknown Kafka, far greater

than Kafka’s, his best friend obeyed,
shredded every sheet. The cure for cancer
is here: The inventor didn’t recognize,
the potion went unpatented . . .

In my museum no guard shushes me
for talking, there are no closing times,
it’s always free. Here I can see
what no one living has seen, I satisfy

that within me which is not whole.
Here I am curator not of what is,
but of what should have been,
and what should be.

~ from What Have You Lost?, poems selected by Naomi Shihab Nye (Greenwillow Books, 1999)

 

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chihiro iwasaki’s charming and lively watercolors

 

Chihiro Iwasaki (1918-1974) is one of the most celebrated Japanese artists/illustrators in the world. She’s as popular and beloved in her home country as Maurice Sendak, Eric Carle, or Garth Williams is in America.

 

 

She’s known for her soft, delicate, flowing watercolors of children and flowers, centering around the theme of “peace and happiness for children.” Her artistic style is a distinctive blend of Western watercolor strokes and traditional Eastern painting techniques. She sometimes incorporated Japanese calligraphy in her work.

 

 

 

 

 

I only discovered Iwasaki’s work recently; her pictures called out to me just when I needed them most. They’re certainly a welcome balm for difficult times. I love the gentleness and innocence, the rich beauty and wistfulness in her paintings, and how brilliantly she captures the emotions and posturings of babies, toddlers, and grade school kids.

 

 

 

 

She published about 40 books and made over 8000 drawings in her lifetime. She was a Hans Christian Andersen fan, and illustrated several of his tales which were published in English.

 

 

 

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three food poems by naomi shihab nye

 

“Poetry allows us to cherish what we’re given. Whether it be a heartbreak, a second chance, a soft morning mist, a moment or . . . an onion, poetry, with its impossible-seeming combination of soft lens and precision, brings to our awareness that which might otherwise go unseen, unrecognized, un-cherished. Poetry opens us to life, to surprise, to shadow, to beauty, to insight.”

~ Naomi Shihab Nye

 

 

Happy to join my Poetry Friday friends today in celebrating Naomi Shihab Nye, who was just named the 2019-2021 Young People’s Poet Laureate. An award winning poet, essayist, novelist, songwriter, educator, editor, and anthologist, Naomi calls herself “a wandering poet,” and is the first Arab American to earn this honor.

For the past 40+ years she’s traveled all over the country and the world leading workshops and inspiring students of all ages, using her own writing “to attest to our shared humanity.” She is currently Professor in Creative Writing-Poetry at Texas State University, and makes her home in San Antonio.

Naomi is a natural born poet; she wrote her first poem at age six. As Young People’s Poet Laureate, she will work to bring poetry to geographically underserved or rural communities. With her sensitivity, insight, cultural awareness, compassion and enormous heart, she is the seer and sage we need right now to show us how words can heal, unify, delight, and enlighten.

 

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amy rice’s mixed media art: wistful, whimsical and nostalgic

Recently stumbled upon the work of Minneapolis-based mixed media artist Amy Rice, and was drawn to her unique style right away. Since she grew up on a dairy farm in the Midwest, it’s no surprise that she favors natural and pastoral themes.

Though she took many art history courses in college, she didn’t receive any formal art training, having majored in sociology and women’s studies. Being a self taught artist has worked in her favor, as she has never felt constrained by any hard and fast rules or the need to adhere to convention.

She achieves her trademark style with non-traditional printmaking methods, including hand cut stencils and a Japanese screen printing toy called a Gocco. She uses spray paint, acrylics, gouache, and ink to print on a variety of surfaces, including wood, fabric, and antique papers (handwritten love letters, envelopes, music sheets, maps, journal pages), and “is most satisfied when I can make a tangible or visceral connection between the materials used and the image rendered.”

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musing on alice persons’s “the perfect day”

“Portrait of Ann Reading” by N.C. Wyeth (1930)

 

THE PERFECT DAY
by Alice N. Persons

You wake with
no aches
in the arms
of your beloved
to the smell of fresh coffee
you eat a giant breakfast
with no thought
of carbs
there is time to read
with a purring cat on your lap
later you walk by the ocean
with your dog
on this cut crystal day
your favorite music and the sun
fill the house
a short delicious nap
under a fleece throw
comes later
and the phone doesn’t ring
at dusk you roast a chicken,
bake bread, make an exquisite
chocolate cake
for some friends
you’ve been missing
someone brings you an
unexpected present
and the wine is just right with the food
after a wonderful party
you sink into sleep
in a clean nightgown
in fresh sheets
your sweetheart doesn’t snore
and in your dreams
an old piece of sadness lifts away

~ from Never Say Never (Moon Pie Press, 2004)

 

“Chocolate Cake with Raspberries,” Oil on panel, by Mary Ellen Johnson (2014)

 

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