A dance of poetry & art…
Poet: Jennifer Tan
Jennifer Tan has won the Short Works Prize for Poetry in 2016 and in 2020, and was long-listed for the Vallum Award for poetry in 2020. She has been published in the poetry anthologies of Tamaracks: Canadian Poetry for the 21st Century, and The Beauty of Being Elsewhere: Poems of Journey and Sojourn, and on the website of The Wild Word. Her haikus have found their way to the Asahi Haikuist Network. She is a regular contributing poet and member of the Tower Poetry Society.
When did you start writing poetry?
In my mid-teens I had to write two poems for an English class. It took me thirty years to recover from it to choose to write poetry and contribute to our local poetry magazines.
Why do you write poetry?
Writing poetry is something I dared myself to plunge into while knowing that the risk is not going to be catastrophic. It is quite a safe activity. It is an escape burrowing through words and then seeing the light. It is liberating when writing a poem evolves beyond what I started with and ended up as a surprise. Writing is a pleasant way to discover more of the self, nature, and understand the state of our world while indulging with words that chart their own melody.
What is the best advice you have ever received and would share with new poets?
I don’t recall any specific advice but you learn from listening to what other poets appreciate in poetry and their positive comments on yours.
(Like participating in a Tower Poetry Society workshop! More info here!)
Can you comment on your process?
I start with an image, or a situation, or a phrase I picked up that intrigued me. I would scribble lines on paper, choose an appropriate word to replace one that does not carry the mood to match the poem as best I can. I would rearrange the lines to the pace of the poem and remove words that stumble the flow. Some days later I will go through it again to make it better. I would not write if I were hungry.
Is there anything else you wish to share?
Be aware of the power of language and that you have access to it. Be easy on yourself in the process of writing. Read a variety of books. Be open to possibilities and ideas. If you want to write a poem it is probably that you know you can and you will write one.
Landscape Artist: Anna Kutishcheva
“I was trained as an illustrator, and the process of reading, feeling and coming up with a visual representation of the author’s idea is a puzzle that never ceases to amaze me.” https://landscapesbyanna.com
Why did you choose that poem?
The poem ( THE STUFF WE ARE MADE OF by Jennifer Tan) is simply beautiful, and for me, it was a love from the first read. The poem is very dynamic and reads like a spell; it has a deep and profound meaning. The water is such a fantastic element; it even remembers what happens to it. Just think that the water in your cup touched billions of sentient beings and witnessed innumerable events! The water is a stream, just like a stream of life. The water is a giver and a taker of life, and it is present as an allegory in many stories and teachings.
The poem reminded me of Sutras of Mountain and Water by Dogen:
“Water ascends to the sky as rain.” It mounts high heaven, it’s inside flame, in thinking, analysis, discrimination, in awareness itself, there’s nowhere it doesn’t get.
“Water descends to earth as rivers, whose marrow is the sages. Water’s not just rivers and seas, it makes rivers and seas from within water…Nonetheless, there is no water inside the lands, nor lands within water.”(From Abruptly Dogen, a recently published translation of the Zen master’s writing by Kidder Smith).
Also, I painted water many times: streams, lakes, waves, reflections and depth. So the poem called to me!
What were the challenges? What was easy?
My task of creating an illustration was both easy and hard. Every line is inspirational and creates so many visual associations, yet I had to choose only one, the most compelling image. My final choice was to paint an infinite opportunity and change; stillness.
Can you tell us a bit more about your process from idea to finished work? Why those colours and shapes?
The central work is landscape, acrylic on canvas, 24×36, inspired by a photo of North Ontario lake by my friend. I used a limited palette, mostly a mix of magenta and green, which can create many hues of blue and purple. There are many islands on this lake, and moonlight travels between and far beyond these islands, creating space and opportunity. Then I had a lot of fun with the frame, which was created digitally with adobe fresco. Here all movement happens.
Size of the piece. How is it mounted? Price if for sale. Where is it available ?
acrylic on canvas, 24″ x 36″ $1,800 without frame (the frame is digital)
Available for sale from email@example.com
@anna_kutishcheva – https://www.instagram.com/tamara_h_campbell/
Anything else you’d like to share?
The best part of creating artwork is to become one with the subject. This time it was the magical water and its play. And I still don’t know what it is!
Other Projects/Art Available:
I published a whole book in this style – Singing Woods…
We hope you have enjoyed this second dance of poetry and visual art.
ARTISTS, there are poems still available to choose from and time to get in on the project… https://towerpoetry.ca/po-art-ry-poems/
POETS, stay tuned… we will open up submissions towards the end of 2023. As for what will happen with PoARTry, we don’t know.
This is an organic project, and we are thinking of a possible exhibit or publication. Who knows?! What we do know is that we have a lot of exciting work by talented poets and artists to share with you each month!
Did you know? You can pop over to our Tower Poetry Facebook group for discussion!