Why I Am Not an Artist (What?!?)

I’ve been missing from this site all winter. I did so well last year, posting once a month, but the cold, dreary months did me in. I spent much of January, February, and March huddled under blankets on the couch, upstairs in my bed, or at my desk working on poetry projects (with gloves). But the birds are singing spring and those poetry projects are out in the world trying to find a larger audience, and April is the time each year when I begin new things, when the creative juices for new projects begin to flow.

I have a number of readings and other projects lined up for National Poetry Month, but this first post of 2015 is dedicated to a project I am taking part in, something new for me and many others across the U.S. It’s called the 2015 Artist Writer Mashup created by the folks at Lamplighter Magazine in New Jersey. Each of the participants has been randomly assigned a piece of art by New Jersey artist, Lauren Clarke. I wasn’t familiar with Lauren’s work before this project, but she does the kind of work I find fascinating, fanciful juxtapositions, more questions raised than answered. And my job this month is to write something (poetry, fiction, nonfiction) in response to her piece, something I will think about through guided questions, conversations with other participants, and deep interaction with the illustration.

I can’t show you the picture I’m working with, but I can share first impressions. And the first impression is FISH. Lots of fish, but also lots of white space, and simple black/white shadings with pops of orange. There’s movement, possible noise, and a story I have to figure out. And the faces of those fish, especially the eyes have something to say. And there’s one fishy who already seems lost.

So I have a month to figure this out and the questions I’m given to begin assume I am not an artist, and true, I am not a painter, though I like to dabble, but not an artist… I beg to differ. The first thing I did this morning was pull my camera out of its bag and walk outside barefoot to capture the red/purple/orange dawn. I am always looking, trying to truly see what is around me, thinking with an artist’s eye.

So this project is inviting. I will take my artist/writer eyes and spend some time with Lauren’s work. Not an artist? I contain multitudes.

Won’t you come with me on this journey?

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