Inspiration – response to Creative prompt

How do you make an artwork based on inspiration? I grumbled to a friend last night.  “It’s like trying to make a painting about painting.”

Inspiration – I think of it as breathing – like respiration is breathing – inspiration is a breathing into, and I see the word spirit in that.  And thinking of breathing-in spirit to someone, brings me to the Judeo-Christian story of the Creation of the universe, and that first kiss of life, when the Maker breathed into Adam.




into deep silence breaks the word

at the sound the world unfurls

sound light, darkness parts

spiraling onto the chaos and

starting the great heart

of creation beating

life begins


yet though galaxies pour molten

into air and trees open

lungs, birds jump upwards

fish dive into life, animals crawl

there still remains to

be made a truth keeper

of it all


a gardener

carer, steward of living richness

the very why this environment

came to being


small reflection

of maker, from the soil blown to life

by potter, speaker, poet of word

who began it


G_d’s breathing sound

embodies the man to life ever

emboldens him to move and begin

he cries back


Becoming a spoken poet – Sarah Kay

I can divide my spoken word journey into 3 steps

  1. I can, I can do this
  2. I will, I will continue
  3. I realized I didn’t have to write poems that were indignant if that wasn’t what I was.  There were things that were specific to me.

It’s more than writing about what you know – it’s about gathering up all the knowledge and epxerience you have had up to now to help you dive into what you don’t know.

The TED talk starts with her poem “If I should have a daughter” – for a few mins.  But if possible, take the 20 minutes to watch her whole talk.  She is an exciting communicator and teacher – and there is a strong possibility that after viewing this talk, you will want to write poetry yourself.

Getting Mentors – don’t ask!

Here’s a great piece of lifetime advice (among many) by Pentagram partner, Michael Beirut:

“People always want to look for mentors – then they say “Will you be my mentor?” Do NOT do that.  You don’t need their permission you don’t need to tell them they’re your mentor.”

“Anyone you know could be your mentor – you just need to start listening, be curious and paying attention.  You don’t even need to meet the person – a TED talks person could be your mentor – you can have as many as you want – I’ve had hundreds of mentors – it’s free for the taking – just don’t tell them, that’s all!

Writing poetry with Rita Dove

Rita Dove is someone who is easy to listen to – but has the smarts to say interesting things with even simple language – she is a poet, former US Poet Laureate.

“Every time I sit down to write I try to feel that I’m starting over. It’s all new. It’s all fresh, and I’m learning as I go. I don’t want to do what I did before. I have to trust my inner artist who knows that there will always be sympathetic strings, and that I will pick up on them. I do know objectively that—even though I might feel terrified before a blank page every time—it’ll work out somehow. Maybe this poem won’t come off, but I don’t think of utter failure.”

VQR Magazine (A National Journal of Literature and Discussion), Winter 2016

In the following 33 minutes video, Rita is asked the questions many would love to ask if given time with her – beginning with questions for the aspiring writer, and developing into larger questions including the Big L word (literature).


Questions asked include:

Where does your inspiration come from?  (she keeps a notebook on her at all times to write things which catch her attention by sight or sound), Do you believe it takes a wealth of experience to write a poem?  Are we striving towards post racial literature and art?  What’s your process of turning historical moments into poetry?


If you, as I do, find her engaging and want to know more about her life/writing, I’d recommend the aforementioned magazine interview (which they kindly time as a 29 minute read – I love that helpfulness even as I ponder what speed of reader takes 29 minutes – someone who reads War and Peace every winter?  or is this based on someone who reads only occasionally?):


Or listen to her in action, reading her short poem responses to the picture series by Jacob Laurence “Migration Series”, as part of the group of poets’ responses reading at MOMA 2015 – which is referred to in the VQR magazine article.


Loyalty and Kindness – Drawn IN (Carole Bury)


Artist: Carole Bury


Both a beautiful statement and illustration, by artist Carole Bury.  You can see more of her work on her website  She works through fine art, paper, textiles, drawings, often with the subject of birds and flight and associated emotions of joy and release.

“As my pencils and charcoal dance and skitter over the paper I sense I am releasing the secrets of myself and those of my subject. Drawing is an internal dialogue, a conversation between artist and nature, during which each small detail is discussed. By its very nature my drawing is an invitation to the viewer to ‘listen in’.”


Golden Flight Feathers – by Carole Bury