Creative Conundrum

I’m on break for seven more glorious days (including the weekend). I desperately need a mental break, so I’m trying not to slip into my old “Thanksgiving Break” habit of spending the entire time grading papers, catching up, and updating my grade book.

There is a pile of books on the floor in my crafting space, paint, ink, and a bin of stamps begging for attention–not to mention the words, words, words in my head needing to come out!

So many things to get into, so little time.  But…I’m determined to get my hands stained with ink and paint and stuck to something this week.

What about you? Are you planning any creative adventures this week?


Poetry Break with Jasmin Oya

“A Moment to Reflect”

For the last several weeks, my mood has been “poetry.”  I’ve been reading it, thinking about it, writing it.  Perhaps, this mood has been driving my need to get in touch with what I call “ur-Chandra,” the person I was eons ago, before “life” invaded “living.”

When I was a teenager I spent whole evenings reading classic and contemporary poets, memorizing and writing favorites in a red spiral notebook designated for words that struck me in a particular way. (I still have that notebook).  I’d then pen my own lyrics till the wee morning hours.

Although my profession allows me to enjoy poetry regularly, long, long evenings with poetry and my thoughts are rare.

A few days ago, I treated myself to time with poetry.  Instead of grabbing one of my “go-to” collections, I read from The Ghetto of Eden, a stirring collection of poetry written and self-published by my mentee, Jasmin Oya.  I’ve had the collection for several months now, and though I have read many of the poems, I’ve not been able to give the book the attention it deserves.

The book is divided into two sections–“The Beginning of Man” and “The Fall of Man.”  The 143 pages offer a sensual mix of spirit, flesh, and song, a prayer to the sacred and desecrated in all of us. Despite its title(s) the poems are not “religious” in the traditional sense, but they are spiritual.   Some of the poems are a little “raw,” but the painful honesty of “the story” that unfolds makes the collection difficult to leave on a shelf collecting dust.

“Time Out for Verse”

Jasmin is one of my favorite people. She is a senior, graduating this year and heading to a prestigious university for graduate school.  I love her to pieces–she is unapologetically Jasmin, and she loves humanity and knowledge and a good challenge.  She has been writing poetry since she was a preteen. She performs at various venues and enjoys facilitating poetry workshops for children.  She is a spoken word and a paper and pen poet.  She’s also an activist who often uses her work to speak up and speak out.

I am sharing two poems that demonstrate the flexibility of her artistic expression.  The first is from The Ghetto of Eden:

“The Prayer”

I believe in God like I believe in my mother’s palms.
I believe in Him like I believe in my mother’s mouth
and knees.
Her tongue and every hallelujah that
yawned with it.
I see Him in her posture.
I’ve been trying to mirror it since young
since young,
I’ve been trying to reflect her old.
All the prayers that have seen more days than me.
The ones answered and the ones that haven’t/won’t/will.

For I am no one without them.
For I am one with them.
For I breathe because they did.
I believe in God like I believe in tomorrow.
I believe in Him like I believe in today.
How exhausting they both can be
smelling of morning breath,

prayer and gospel.
These days aren’t easy, most of them are lies about what’s really hurting.

what lies beneath
who we are when
the room is empty.
when they’ve all gone home.

the party is over.     the
decorations are worn.
the night is fast asleep;
you’re left wondering,
who turned off all the music.
where have all the people gone.
who stopped dancing first.

Prayers don’t have room for the pride.
Put that to the side.
Gather yourself away from all the noise.
I’m learning to stop mourning the morning.
Find solace in the silence.
To stop fitting God into the nearest human body.
Believe into what I have yet to see.

The second is a spoken word piece Jasmin performed three years ago for a Black History Month event.  “For the Black Artist”–

If you want to read more of Jasmin’s works, I encourage you to purchase her book on Amazon.  It is well-worth the few bucks.

Be sure to take a poetry break this week!

 

Microblog Mondays: The Wisdom of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Fellowship of the Ring

I recently began a new swap series in the “All Things Book-Related” group on swap-bot. For the series, swappers must send partners a book-related postcard with a quote from a fictional or poetic work that enlightens, inspires, or “shows us the way.”  The quote may be printed on the front of the postcard or written on the back.

This is the most recent card I received–for Literary Wisdom #3:

Literary Wisdom

Literary Wisdom from Tolkien’s The Fellowship of the Ring

The postcard came from Mandi of Lake Elsinore, California.  She writes, “We hear so much bad news these days that we forget there is still love and happiness in the world.”

The Tolkien quote served as a perfect ending to a class discussion on Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail.”  One of the most important take-aways from our discussion was the need for us to remain vigilant in the quest to protect our freedoms and preserve our souls while doing so.  We protect ourselves during perilous times–such as these–by recognizing the struggle is not all there is, by praying/mediating, by moving in love, and by immersing ourselves in the love of family and friends.

microblog_mondays

Microblog Mondays: Postcards and Shakespeare

I had other plans for today’s microblog, but I’m thinking about the Shakespeare course I teach every spring and the postcards on my desk are waiting to be shared.

[Click image for a closer look and details]

“As You Like It” is from the Postcards from Penguin collection of Penguin classic covers; I received it for a “Book Lover’s Postcard” swap.  The other two are from the Shakespeare’s Plays collection of postcards featuring images from the Library of Congress.  They will be on their way soon to a couple of Shakespeare-loving friends to celebrate the beginning of the semester.

As part of our conversation about Shakespeare’s world, we will discuss Queen Elizabeth I whose portrait was among the postcards on my desk.

Queen Elizabeth in Queenly Glory

The “Ditchley Portrait” of Queen Elizabeth I by Marcus Geeraerts.

I’m looking forward to hearing what students have to say about portraiture and Queen Elizabeth I, particularly after they study a more “truthful” painting: “A Picture of Misery,” Portrait of Queen Elizabeth.  I have a feeling they won’t be fazed by the “enhancing” of portraits.  They live in an age in which they can modify any image with an iPhone and an app.

microblog_mondays

Cup and Chaucer: Mini Pocket Flipbook

One of the most enjoyable snail mail projects I worked on this year was a mini pocket flipbook for a swap in the Cup and Chaucer group on swap-bot.  Cup and Chaucer, as you might have guessed, is a group of swap-bots who love mulling over a great literature with piping hot cup of tea.

I’d never done a flipbook before, but my interest was piqued by the theme–books!  How could I resist?  Besides sticking to the theme, the only other requirement was that we incorporate a pocket.

My “receive from” partner, AnnaM, created a beautiful flipbook–lots of purple and gold, pretty embellishments, and many thoughtful handmade items.  Overall, it was an elegant flipbook, nicely presented.

This is how the flipbook came out of the envelope:

Flipbook Packaging

Flipbook Packaging

Here’s the front cover:

Flipbook Front Cover

Flipbook Front Cover

And the back cover:

Back Cover

“There is no scent so pleasant to my nostrils as the faint subtle reek which comes from an ancient book.” –Arthur Conan Doyle

And everything in between [click an image for a closer look]:

Here’s a closer look at some of the tuck-ins [click an image for a closer look]:

There was just so much “eye candy.” I remember doing the happy mail dance when I opened the package.

The swap came at a crazy time for me–April.  The cruelest month. Remember?  I didn’t even see an opportunity to work on it until the mail deadline date.  I ended up grabbing a bunch of supplies on my way out the door one morning, working on it, and completing it in record time in my office (between classes, of course).  I posted it on my way home.

I chose a color pallet and crafted without a plan:

fullsizerender-57

It was early spring and I was happy to see and play with color again.

True to my “English professor” word, I finished the front cover last (I tell my students to write their essay introductions last).

Bookish Flipbook Front Cover

“Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers.”  –Charles Williams Eliot

Here’s the back cover and everything in-between [click an image for a closer look]:

My favorite part is Dickens’ Dream by Victorian artist Robert William Buss.  I scavenged it from a mailer from one of the textbook publishers. The curly haired lady was also salvaged from an envelope or the back of a postcard.

The flipbook was 5 x 7 inches, a manageable size.  It was bound with washi tape. I tucked in Jane Austen postcards, Project Life cards, star-shaped Post-it notes, washi tape, and paperclip bookmarks–something else I learned to do this year.

Making the flipbook was an easy and fun activity; I’m looking forward to crafting another one. If you’d like to make your own flipbook and need to see more of the process, here’s the YouTube video I reviewed before making my own:

Doesn’t this look like fun for a rainy day?

Series Two: Children’s Book Illustration Postcards 6-10

As promised, I’m back with more children’s book illustration postcards–swaps 6-10.  The postcards below are from various parts of the world and include some of my favorite characters and/or themes–teddy bears, Classic Pooh, Moomin, and Alice in Wonderland.  I was very pleased to be introduced to Rosalie and Truffle (the pink pig and the brown boar–see public swap #7).  Amazon’s description:

Love at first sight does exist! Rosalie and Truffle fall in love when they meet under an apple tree. But their well-meaning friends and relatives discourage them from meeting again. As time goes by, and Rosalie and Truffle improve their lifestyles with yoga and dancing, they realize that neither material growth nor physical perfection guarantees happiness. At last they return to the apple tree and reunite.

Rosalie and Truffle, Truffle and Rosalie is an endearing story of love and trust, with wonderful illustrations. And the story is narrated from both points of view: flip the book over to read the story from the other perspective. This is a charming gift book, perfect for Valentine’s Day or for any special occasion.

Aside from their story of self-discovery and love, they remind me of strawberry and chocolate ice cream.  Yum!

BLC PC #6: From Swededreams (USA): Happy Birthday, Kirsten. From the American Girls Series. Kirsten and her friends traded scraps of cloth so everyone could make a colorful design on a square of white muslin. The designs they made from the bits of cloth slowly grew in their hands the way wild violence bloomed on the prairie. Hallmark.

BLC PC #6: From Swededreams (USA): Happy Birthday, Kirsten. From the American Girls Series. Kirsten and her friends traded scraps of cloth so everyone could make a colorful design on a square of white muslin. The designs they made from the bits of cloth slowly grew in their hands the way wild violence bloomed on the prairie. Hallmark.

 

Public #6: From Mollypop (USA)--From Pleasant Lands 1936. Illustrators: A. Gladys Peck and Eleanor Osborn Eadie

Public PC #6: From Mollypop (USA)–From Pleasant Lands 1936. Illustrators: A. Gladys Peck and Eleanor Osborn Eadie

BLC PC#7: From Eloise (Mexico)--The Family from One End Street, 2004. Cover illustration by Eve Garnett. Puffin.

BLC PC#7: From Eloise (Mexico)–The Family from One End Street, 2004. Cover illustration by Eve Garnett. Puffin.

 

Public #7: From Am-Sophie (Germany): Rosalie and Truffle by Katja Reider. Illustration by Jutta Bucker

Public PC #7: From Am-Sophie (Germany): Rosalie and Truffle by Katja Reider. Illustration by Jutta Bucker

 

BLC PC #8: From Ladybug (Canada)--The Tiny Seed, 1987, by Eric Carle.

BLC PC #8: From Ladybug (Canada)–The Tiny Seed, 1987, by Eric Carle.

 

Public #8: From Milkiss (Korea)--Moomin Characters

Public PC #8: From Milkiss (Korea)–Moomin Characters

 

BLC PC#9: From Sarah (USA)--Heidi by Johanna Spyri, 1956. Cover illustration by Cecil Leslie. Puffin.

BLC PC#9: From Sarah (USA)–Heidi by Johanna Spyri, 1956. Cover illustration by Cecil Leslie. Puffin.

 

Public #9: From Jennifer (USA). From Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll. Illustration by George Soper. "At this the whole pack rose up into the air, and came flying down upon her."

Public PC #9: From Jennifer (USA). From Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll. Illustration by George Soper. “At this the whole pack rose up into the air, and came flying down upon her.”

 

BLC PC #10: From AmyD (USA)--Classic Pooh, "HMS Piglet," A.A. Milne and E.H. Shepard

BLC PC #10: From AmyD (USA)–Classic Pooh, “HMS Piglet,” A.A. Milne and E.H. Shepard

 

Public PC #10: From Widelo123 (USA)--From the cover of Hello, Mallory. Baby-sitters Club #14, 1991.

Public PC #10: From Widelo123 (USA)–From the cover of Hello, Mallory. Baby-sitters Club #14, 1991.

Many of the participants in this “new” series of children’s book illustration swaps also participated when Marjan hosted the swaps.  They are so appreciative of the swaps’ return and that makes hosting them extra pleasurable.  Thanks, Marjan, for laying a strong foundation; thanks swappers, for joining in and spreading postcard happiness!

I’ll be back in a couple of weeks with swap #11.

Until then…enjoy these!

Children’s Book Illustration Postcards: Part V (Final)

We’ve finally reached the end of 122 weeks of children’s book illustration postcards.  I’ve enjoyed our excursion into world of children’s literature.  It’s particularly been a pleasure going through the cards and sharing them again with my little one–who’s really not so little anymore.  Though he is way beyond “picture books,” he still appreciates the books and illustrations and fondly remembers his early childhood reading.

As I consider the fact that this swap was hosted every week for more than two years, I’m impressed that some of us “stuck it out” and participated in every.single.swap.  That is quite a feat!

We end with the final 24 postcards I received.  In this set, there’s a series of postcards I had never seen before–those from Eerdmans Books for Young Readers.  The cards are big (just above 5×7) and colorful with  a snippet of the story featured on the back of the card.  You’ll once again see a few Alice in Wonderland postcards and some from other series, nursery rhymes, and fairy tales.

Although this is the last post of the five-part series, I will begin the new children’s book illustration postcards swap series this weekend and will share the postcards regularly.

If you’ve missed any of the other posts, you can find them here:

Ciao!

Children’s Book Illustration Postcards: Part IV

What? You haven’t had your fill of children’s book illustration postcards? No worries. We have more! In the set below you’ll find some of the same illustrators you’ve seen in parts one, two, and three, but you’ll also find some that aren’t featured in the other posts, Helen Oxenbury and  Selma Lagerlof, for example.  You’ll even find two Cornelis Jetses, Winnie-the-Pooh (yay!), and Wizard of Oz postcards.

Click an image for a closer look at postcards received weeks 76-100.  Have a happy day!

[Note: This is post four of five of children’s book illustration (CBI) postcards I received through 122 weeks of CBI postcard swaps on swap-bot].

Children’s Book Illustration Postcards: Part III

Happy First Day of Summer!

I’m back with Part III of 122 weeks of children’s book illustration postcards. Here are the postcards from weeks 51-75.  Week 68 never arrived. 😦 I’m sure it’s floating around in mail space and will eventually land in my mailbox.  It happens.

If you missed them, be sure to check out Part I and Part II and be sure to look for Part IV and Part V later in the week.

Enjoy! [Click an image for a closer look]

 

Children’s Book Illustration Postcards: Part II

[Note: This is post two of five of children’s book illustration (CBI) postcards I received through 122 weeks of CBI postcard swaps on swap-bot].

If you enjoyed viewing the postcards shared in “Children’s Book Illustration Postcards: Part I,” you’ll have just as much fun with Part II (Weeks 26-50).  You’ll find more Jip and Janneke, Alice in Wonderland, Miffy, and Moomin, but you’ll also find some illustrators that were not featured in Part I.  There’s even a Winnie-the-Pooh illustration! ❤  Click an image for a closer look.