Entries Tagged as: poetry

Inspired by Poetry

April 6th, 2012, Comments (11)

How fun that the theme is language this month and it is also National Poetry Month! I'm often inspired by poetry. Poems are often so visually rich, that I see great images in my mind as I read them. This happened when reading "The Guest House" by Rumi. I read the line, "a crowd of sorrows," this image immediately popped into my head and I had to create it.

Do you have a favorite poem? Have you created work based on a line of poetry or a whole poem? Tell me about it!

Guest Post by Maya Stein

December 23rd, 2011, Comments (6)

On Creativity and Patience

the canvas


Enough has been said about that blank space, the pause

of possibility pointing to a still-unnamed story. We don’t need

another poem about potential, or the way we bend at the knees

toward the dark tunnel we hope might lead to greatness. Instead,

I want to celebrate the opening mark of the pen, the infant half-inch of paper

glued to the upper right-hand corner. The inaugural dip of a soaked brush

that lays a line of paint down flat. The “yes” that finally tilts the doer

into doing. This poem is for that plucky charge into the gauntlet, the dogged push

through all those voices arrowing critique. This is for the stroke that bursts the bubble

clinging us to fear. The hand that reaches in not for beauty, but for rubble.


I always think art lives in us long before it comes out of us. Things take time to percolate, to take shape, to find their edge and expression. A poem can be inside of me for days, for weeks, before I finally throw my line into that great river of mystery and fish the words out.

Now, for example, a poem by the title of “crooked mouth” is swimming around in there somewhere. I’ve had those two words swirling in my mind, and occasionally when I’m driving or doing laundry or taking care of the grocery list, a little thread of the poem they’re containing reveals itself. I know…that is to say I trust…that at some point, enough threads will appear that it will be time to sit down and sort them out. And what I ALSO know and trust is that to hold myself hostage in front of my laptop before the poem is ready to be birthed is an exercise in futility and self-flagellation.

I have come to understand each poem, each work of art, is a being all its own, gestating for an indeterminate amount of time before it’s ready to materialize. I never know how long it’s going to take, only that time is the decider here, not the urgency of a blog that needs an update or a literary journal that’s bearing down with a deadline or the fact that it’s a quiet house and raining outside and a cup of coffee is to my right and what better setting to make the writing happen?

There are certain kinds of work for which imposed deadlines make me hustle in a good way, intensify my focus and powers of imagination, wrangle my skills expediently. But personal creative work is a different animal altogether, and I’ve learned that what’s required of me to write - more than a dazzling display of linguistic acrobatics or an impressive vocabulary or a large body of knowledge about poetic form - is the simple act of patience.

I say “simple” but patience is often anything but. In a world where quickness is king, it’s uncomfortable and even terrifying to have to wait for anything, and it’s easy to feel pressure when other people around us are birthing a multitude of creative projects, painting and publishing and putting their work out there as if it took no effort at all. The dizzying landscape of creativity that’s floating out there in the world can bring a false sense of immediacy and pressure to producing quickly. And so taking any time whatsoever can give us the feeling that we are falling behind, which in turn creates the worst kind of self-flagellation of all, that we are not enough.

But patience isn’t idleness. It’s not laziness. And it’s not impotence. I see patience as a vital limbo between ideation and fruition, a necessary field of space and energy where a lot gets decided, where the architecture of our work begins to assemble its bones, and where we are subconsciously sifting through our material and locating the heart of what is asking to be expressed.

It’s true that for some people, the time gap between when an idea moves into tangible form is very short. And it’s true that some ideas will take less time to be actualized than others. But I’ve found it vital to listen more closely to what my poems are telling me by giving them more space and time to find their voice. Because when the moment comes – as it inevitably does – for the piece to emerge at last, it’s more like an assembly, a transcription, a threading together. There’s a peace to it. A communion between inner and outer worlds, the fishing line taut and ready to reel the mystery in.


MAYA STEIN is a poet and creative nonfiction writer. She has published two collections of personal essays, "The Overture of an Apple" (2003) and "Spinning the Bottle" (2004) and, most recently, "Enough Water," a collection of poetry and photographs (2006). She has been published in a number of print and online literary journals, including Margins Magazine, Culture Star Reader, and cleansheets.com, as well as the anthology "Lust For Life: Tales of Sex and Love." Most recently, she appeared in Six Word Memoirs' "It All Changed in an Instant" and also won first prize in Alimentum’s inaugural poetry contest. Her weekly "10-line Tuesday" poems reach nearly 900 people around the world. Maya also recently completed "Tour de Word," a two-month traveling poetry project that brought writing workshops to children, teenagers, and adults in 25 states. Maya facilitates writing workshops online at www.feralwriting.com. Her poetry can be found at www.papayamaya.blogspot.com.

A Poem to Inspire

July 8th, 2010, Comments (15)

In Blackwater Woods

Look, the trees
are turning
their own bodies
into pillars
of light,
are giving off the rich
fragrance of cinnamon
and fulfillment,
the long tapers
of cattails
are bursting and floating away over
the blue shoulders
of the ponds,
and every pond,
no matter what its
name is, is
nameless now.
Every year
I have ever learned
in my lifetime
leads back to this: the fires
and the black river of loss
whose other side
is salvation,
whose meaning
none of us will ever know.
To live in this world
you must be able
to do three things:
to love what is mortal;
to hold it
against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;
and, when the time comes to let it go,
to let it go.
~ Mary Oliver ~
(American Primative)
Oh, this poem touches my heart! I hope it inspires you as well. I read it and immediately thought of the Life theme this month. I'm off to an out of town wedding and  I hope you all have a lovely weekend.
p.s. The art above is "Butterfly Tree" and is available here.

Featuring Fabulous Creative Every Day Participants

April 16th, 2010, Comments (15)

Every so often I feature the work of some of the amazing Creative Every Day Challenge participants. There's so much great work happening out there and we may not have time to get around to see it all, so I hope to share with you some work you might not have seen. I love the way you're all being inspired by the senses theme and I hope this work will inspire you to play with it even more this month!

Eva, of the blog, To be determined, created this super cool zentangle featuring the 5 senses:

Kim Mailhot from Queen of Arts, created this hilarious and creative "Spring Walkabout" post, which I encourage you to read. Here's just one of the beautiful photos from her post.

Julie Engelhardt, who blogs at She Dreams of the Sea, posted a picture of luscious berries along with this delicious poem. Yum.



the taste

of berries







on your tongue

not mine

Painting "Rocks and Mussels," Terrill Welch of Creativepotager's blog, found herself remembering the "smell of seaweed, the salt air, and the roar of the surf." I feel like I can taste the salty ocean air when I look at it too!

On her blog, Bobbi's Art, Bobbi Lewin has created gorgeous pelican images that are delighting her sense of sight (and mine too!)

Susan Loughrin, from the blog Organicsyes, has been doing a project she calls, "A Melody a Day" and recording these melodies on video. Here's her most recent one, called River Song. Beautiful!

So much beauty! Thank you all for sharing your creations with the world. You inspire me and so many others!

Inspired by Rumi

September 30th, 2009, Comments (15)

a crowd of sorrows, mixed media on panel, 12"x12"

I'm often inspired to create a painting when I read a poem, sometimes an image so powerfully hits me when I read a line that I just have to make it real. That happened this week with a poem by Rumi called "The Guest House."

I've read this poem many times before. I think I've even posted it here in the past, but sometimes a new reading will bring out new things. This time around, I read the poem in Martha Beck's The Joy Diet (which I'm reading with Jamie Ridler's book group.) I was sitting outside by a lake, reading the chapter on truth, when I read the poem again and I was struck by the line "a crowd of sorrows" which I immediately saw as a group of three black birds swirling in a red house.

As I wrote about yesterday, I rode the inspiration train to do some late night collaging one evening and then some late night painting after that. I felt so compelled to bring this piece to life and loved the whole process. So nice when things flow like that. The collage elements you see in the previous post are mostly covered up. I never know exactly what's going to stick around when I do a mixed-media piece, but you can see bits of it in the ground and up close the layers are lovely.

Have you been inspired by any poems lately? Have a grouping of words ever pulled you to create something tangible?

Here's the Rumi poem for your enjoyment. It's a beautiful poem that has touched me in many ways. Perhaps it will spark some creativity for you as well.

The Guest House

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.

Be grateful for whatever comes.
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

-- Jelaluddin Rumi,
translation by Coleman Barks


p.s. The original of this piece sold, but there are prints available here.

What the Full Flower Moon Can Teach You About Creativity

May 8th, 2009, Comments (11)

Today or tomorrow (depending on where you are in the world) marks the start of the Full Flower Moon (also known as the Full Planting Moon or the Milk Moon.) When I thought of the Creative Every Day Challenge's theme of Nature this month, one of the first things that sprang to mind was the moon.

moon under water

I'm a big fan of the moon. My astrological sign is cancer, but beyond that I'm just drawn to it. I love its rhythms and its beauty. The painting above is called "Moon Under Water" and can be purchased here. I dreamed of the moon under water one night, and when I first sketched the image of this painting, it inspired the following poem:

I dreamt last night
that the moon was under water,
not the whole of it,
just half,
as if she was too hot for this summer night
and decided to take a dip.
Finding it bracingly cold
and frighteningly vast in its darkness,
she kept her face dry and safe
above the water line.
But just the legs of the moon
were enough to give the ocean
an ethereal glow
that startled the fish from their slumber
which caused the waves to ripple and dance.
And when the stars moved in
for a better view
the surface lit up like a discoteque
and the air hummed
like a refridgerator late at night.
On a distant shore the waves lapped, lapped
on the rocks
marking the thumping heartbeat
of the skinny dipping moon,
shivering and alive.

Perhaps the glorious full moon will inspire some art in you this weekend, perhaps a poem will spring forth. The moon is also a constant reminder of the cycles of life which are much like the cycles of creativity. I spoke about these cycles with Jamie for the Your Creative Spark interview and I also wrote about them a bit here and here. It's important to remember that our creativity ebbs and flows and it's perfectly o.k. to experience downtimes. If we ride them like the waves, the whole experience is so much more smooth than if we fight them.

You could also play with the full moon by creating a Full Moon Dreamboard, which Jamie Ridler leads us through every month. These are similar to vision boards, but the idea is to create the vision of what you hope to bring into your life with each full moon. I painted a dreamboard for myself for the Full Pink Moon last month and it was a lovely experience.

Try this: When you reflect on the Full Flower Moon, what does it inspire in you? Perhaps some blossoming or blooming that is wanting to take place? Write, doodle, sketch, or paint whatever comes up.

I hope your weekend is full of inspiration and creativity and fun! In the meantime, go howl at the moon!

Color Inspired by Poetry

April 14th, 2009, Comments (19)

intuitive art tornadodetail
intuitive art detail

Last night I attended the second in a series of Intuitive Painting classes I'm taking (taught by the super sweet, Adria Arch.) We first focused on a series of small (5"x7") collages we'd made of color torn from magazines. Last week, one of the assignments was to paint in colors I normally avoid (for me those were pinks, yellows, oranges) and I used that painting for my Full Pink Moon dreamboard. Well, oddly enough, the color collage I liked best was full of rich pinks and oranges! Go figure. Try it out for yourself. Paint with colors you normally dislike or avoid and see what happens. It might just change your mind about them!

In last night's class we focused on working a few smaller pieces at the same time, using a poem we'd selected as our inspiration. We were asked not to get too literal with the poem (in other words we weren't going to illustrate it), but to let our general feeling about the poem guide us in our color choices and paint strokes.


I, along with a few other students in class chose a piece from Mary Oliver. I picked her poem Wild Geese and although I wasn't thinking about it at the time, I have a feeling my choice was guided by the mother goose I saw on a walk on Friday afternoon. I happened to peek over a bridge to look at the waterfall there and spotted her there on a cement barrier. At first I thought she was just sleeping, but then when I saw the sticks and fuzz surrounding her, I suspeced it must be a nest. I watched her for awhile and she noticed me watching. At one point she stood up and revealed 5 or 6 eggs. I snapped a picture of her with my iphone. Not the best picture in the world as I couldn't zoom in on her, but I love the tree and sky reflections it captured.

I thought it was so sweet, but then I started to worry about the baby geese (goslings). They're so close to this waterfall. Do you think they'll be able to swim away from it when they're old enough to swim? I was up last night worrying about the goslings and couldn't sleep, so eventually I just imagined them easily swimming into the river and that seemed to help. I'm going to have to trust that the Momma goose knew what she was doing nesting there.

Anyways, the Mary Oliver poem is lovely and I thought I'd share it with you in case it inspires some artwork for you! Poetry is so evocative. Try using a favorite piece of literature and imagine what colors it brings to mind for you. Use that as the start for your next piece of art.

Wild Geese

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting —
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

I ended up using different parts of the poem to inspire the three different pieces I was working on. Each piece below was inspired by the lines above it:


the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting —

intuitive art tornado


let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.

intuitive art soft animal


Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes

intuitive art raindrops

They're all quite different! None of them feel complete really, but it was fun to play with color and layering and different ways of approaching a painting inspired by poetry.

I've got much to do and much more to share with you, but for now, do check out my interview at Pecannoot!! And a huge thank you to Jess for inviting me to be the first ever interviewee on Pecannoot! What a treat!

Colorful Poems

April 3rd, 2009, Comments (17)

Our way begins on the other side.
Become the sky.
Take an axe to the prison wall.
Walk out like someone suddenly born into color.
Do it now.



April is National Poetry month. I love the idea of playing with the Creative Every Day Challenge's theme of color and poetry. How could you mesh the two?


You could:

*Write about yourself as a color, as in "I am blue. I am soft, ethereal, just-woken."

*Write about how a color feels, how it smells, and tastes.

*Paint a wash of your favorite color in a journal and write the lines of your favorite poems over it.

*Play with writing a poem in color, mixing the words with what colors you imagine them to be.

*Turn your head to the right, what's the first color you see? Right a poem about it.

*Use a colorful photograph as the jumping off point for a piece of poetry.

*What is your least favorite color? What is it about that color that you dislike? Write free-form style about it.

*Read a favorite poem. Does it seem to reflect a certain color for you?

*What childhood memories does the color red bring up for you? Let that be a starting point. Red makes me think of my sister's stained t-shirts, popsicles in summer that turned our tongues red, the choke berries in the woods that made me wonder if they really did make a person choke, the red jumpsuit I was wearing the day I got my first period.

Color can hold so many associations, so many memories. Where do those color memories take you?

For more poetry goodness, check out:

*National Poetry Month

*Resources for writing poetry with kids

*Favorite Poem Project

*NaPoWriMo at Read Write Poem

Red bird came all winter
firing up the landscape
as nothing else could.
~Mary Oliver

And I couldn't resist sharing...more Mary Oliver below...


Weekend Update and Some Final Word Links

February 28th, 2009, Comments (2)

I've had such a fun weekend! The hubster and I went to the MGM Casino, where we had a complementary room. The hubster played in a poker tournament while I went to their fancy, shmancy gym to do a workout. They asked for my shoe size in the locker room and gave me a locker with a spa sandals in my size and a soft bathrobe (the gym is connected to a spa) and the shower had a heated towel rack. I had the hot tub entirely to myself (and I was totally giggling in there because it all felt so luxurious.) After the gym, I headed back to our room where I ordered room service and watched a movie (Vicky Christina Barcelona.) I felt totally pampered and exhausted by the end of the night. The hubster won big that night too (I'm not a gambler, but he enjoys poker and blackjack.) In the morning we got breakfast, took a long walk, played a little roulette, and did some window shopping before having a lovely drive home.

Today is the last day of February. I know it's only a couple days shorter, but this month is has just flown by. Swoosh!

Theme Transition:

I enjoyed the words theme and I know a lot of CED participants had fun with it as well. As we move into the Creative Every Day Challenge's (totally optional) dreams theme for March, you certainly don't need to abandon the themes of the previous months. Play can be incoporated into everything (in my humble opinion.) And there are endless ways to play with words.

Here are some more ways to have fun with and get inspired by words:

* Write for your life: Productivity tips for writers.

* Amano Books: Bridgette Guerzon Mills makes gorgeous journals and she now has a blog focusing on art journaling tips too.

* Beautiful book sculptures from artist, Georgia Russell.

* Awesome typographical assemblage from Lou Dorfsman.

* Listen to classic poetry out loud.

* Journal writing prompts.

* Read Write Poem: for those who love poetry

* Tomorrow, Connie of Dirty Footprints Studio Blogtalk Radio program will be interviewing Elena Rego at 12 pm EST. Elena creates absolutely stunning journey manuscripts.

Thank you for playing along with me this month, I look forward to all the wonderful creativity we'll share in March!

Poems to Make Your Heart Sing

February 11th, 2009, Comments (15)

Poetry is much like painting with words. It stirs in me a sense of wonder and sparks my imagination. Sometimes I have trouble sitting still long enough to linger in it, but when I do, I'm almost always happy that I did.

dreaming of the 7 sisters

Today, my painting "Dreaming of the Seven Sisters" is featured in the sidebar of Breathing Poetry, a blog that features wonderful poems from a variety of poets.

What poems make your heart sing? We can all play with words and turn out poetry. It may not be perfect or beautiful, it may not rhyme or fit a particular style, but it will be your own unique expression. 

I recently discovered the work of Billy Collins. Delicious use of words. Check out his Introduction to Poetry or you can listen to him read some of his poems here. Rumi is another eternal favorite and then there's Pablo Neruda, Mary Oliver, and Margaret Atwood.


I've used poems as the source of inspiration for artwork, sometimes just a line of poetry will spark a painting idea (in the piece above the line became a main feature.) There are so many ways art and poetry can blend together.

Has poetry impacted your work? If you're a poet, do you ever use your poetry in other mediums? Is there a way you can incorporate poetry into your creative life this month? Or could you use a poem as the jumping off point for your next creation?

I'll close with a bit of Rumi to inspire you today:

The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you.
Don't go back to sleep.

You must ask for what you really want
Don't go back to sleep.

People are going back and forth across the doorsill
where the two worlds touch.

The door is round and open.
Don't go back to sleep.