Map of the LaBrea Flower Fields
“I adore the theater and I am a painter. I think the two are made for a marriage of love. I will give all my soul to prove this once more.” –Marc Chagall
This is a lovely statement by an artist who loved color as much as I do. But I long ago gave up the theater, so I would amend it to this:
“I adore poetry and I am a painter. I think the two are made for a marriage of love. I will give all my soul to prove this once more.”
In addition to adoring poetry, I’ve long believed that poetry is more like visual art than it is like other writing genres. There are arguments against my belief, to be sure, but I hold it nonetheless. One of my favorite poetry books includes a center section of paintings with poems written about them.
In both poetry and painting, I prefer a certain economy of line not really possible in sprawling novels or exhaustive wall-sized paintings of the English countryside. In both poetry and painting, I like to leave room for readers or viewers to add details of their own, to participate in the story. This is not for every artist or poet. There’s room for us all.
Recently, after a few years concentrating on my painting instead of writing, I was surprised to win a serious poetry prize. I submitted a poem rather on the spur of the moment with no expectations and lo, it won. The win shifted my energy and I’ve been spending more time with poems lately. Still painting, but the balance has changed.
The energy is there again for the writing and I’m enjoying it more than ever. I’m not fool enough to turn my back on it and proclaim “I’m an artist!” Nor have I turned my back on the art. The paint-splattered work table and the drawers and rolling stand with more supplies are still intact in the middle of my living space with paints and tools spread all over. The words and colors are feeding each other, and it’s a lovely thing to experience.
It’s late in the game for me to attain real fame or fortune with either the words or the art, but they are, together, a lovely team pulling my chariot through a new and vivid landscape. I can’t wait to see what’s over the next hill.