Archive for October, 2014

Of Heaven and Earth



Beauty.  A Rhinoceros or an Italian painting from the Late Middle Ages and Renaissance?

I attended an exhibit of 500 years of Italian painting from Glasgow Museums at the Milwaukee Art Museum (MAM) last week.  It was a great romp through art history – who was influenced by whom and who were the influencers.  The images selected for the MAM website are the best ones, I think.

One of the centerpiece works in the exhibition is a painting of the Annunciation by Sandro Botticelli.  Mary’s expression is what interests me when I see paintings of The Annunciation.  How does she react when the Angel Gabriel appears to tell her she is about to be with child.  Therefore, I was especially fond of Botticelli’s version from Glasgow Museums, painted 1490-95.  Botticelli uses sparkling gold lines to symbolize the Holy Spirit piercing Mary, a symbol used by Medieval artists.  On the other hand, he is almost severe in the depiction of the interior arches and columns that separate Gabriel and Mary, exploring the early Renaissance of perspective drawing.

Botticelli painted other versions of the Annunciation.  One, from 1485, is in the Metropolitan Museum in New York City is similar to the Glasgow painting.

There is another Botticelli Annunciation in the Uffizi Gallery in Florence from 1489-90 that places Gabriel directly in front of Mary. Here, Botticelli emphasizes the use of perspective as the eye follows out the window to the countryside beyond.,_annunciazione_di_cestello_02.jpg

In all of the Botticelli versions, Mary looks serene and thoughtful, but in other artists’ hands she can look startled, shocked, disbelieving and even dismayed.  Or she can look most pleased and delighted.

Imagine a virgin rhino

Visited by an angel

Touched by the Holy Spirit

The pleasure spreading

Over the tough hide


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Haiku Moments

Maple close up

The maples are spectacular right now.  Always last to show and always worth the wait.

We raked and raked leaves yesterday and by mid-morning today the lawn was full of them.  I moaned about all the leaves still on the trees but my husband said, “Just look at how beautiful the maples are.  It will be worth raking more later on just to experience this.”

The mindfulness of paying attention and finding one haiku moment each day used to be so important to me.  I don’t know why I stopped, but I have resumed the daily practice of keeping a haiku diary.

Here is my favorite haiku from the past week.

leaf clings

to rain-soaked windshield

never give up



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Poetry Festival

Poetry Walk at the Wisconsin Poetry Festival

Poetry Path at the Wisconsin Poetry Festival

A poetry festival that includes readings, round tables, workshops and a walk along the Rock River – not a bad way to spend a Saturday.

Several ideas for new poems came to mind during the 2014 Lorine Niedecker Wisconsin Poetry Festival in Fort Atkinson, October 10 and 11.  If you are not familiar with Lorine, here is a website with lots of good information

The newsletter of the Friends of Lorine Niedecker, Solitary Plover, recently published two of my poems.  The guidelines for submission call for poems that honor Lorine in theme, style or content.  For me, that means poems about nature and about place. *

A popular question for the leaders of one of the Round Tables at the Poetry Festival was “Where do your ideas come from?”  Both poets talked about the importance of keeping a pen and paper handy to jot down that thought you think you will remember but will not.

The photo above is one of the poems written on the Poetry Path, which extended from the Farmer’s Market in downtown Fort Atkinson to the Dwight Foster Public Library.  It’s a haiku, consistent with the Festival theme, “The Short Poem.”

I thought the instructions were to write six words about yourself.  Here’s my Poetry Path poem.

Curious Explorer / Creates / Her own map

*  See pages 8 and 9 of the Summer 2014 issue of Solitary Plover for my poems Dedication to Sound, March to June and Oak Savanna.


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The Poetry Reading

Dunlop family cemetery near Mazomanie, WI

Dunlop family cemetery near Mazomanie, WI

I always wanted a career I could continue into my old age.  Alas, given the choices I made, it was not to be.  However, poetry is something that I can do until I am quite elderly as evidenced by some of the readers at yesterday’s reading.  Poets from this area whose poems were for the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets 2015 Calendar, read at a local bookstore Sunday afternoon.  Using walkers or canes as needed, sometimes having difficulty speaking, they read some really good poems about children and grandchildren, gardens and birds, lost loved ones and dear friends.

The poets at the reading – young and old and in-between – all wrote about some small slice of their experience that touched them enough to write about it.  Poetry is really distilled emotion.  Maybe that’s why people turn to poems when they are grieving or need to smile.

The “best” poems at a reading are usually the ones that evoke laughter from the listeners.  So now I have a small but growing, I hope, file of humorous poems.  For Sunday’s reading, we each read our Calendar poem and had the option of reading one more.

I read a poem I thought had a pretty good punch line, and the audience laughed when I finished.  It was ridiculously gratifying.

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