Words or Pictures—THAT is the Question

Posted on October 14, 2014. Filed under: Art, Family, Just fun!, Poems, Poetry | Tags: , , , , |

Now that I have a my first collection of poetry coming out, a lot of people have asked how long I’ve been writing. Here’s the scoop about that: My first poem fell out of me in second grade. I knew it was good because Mrs. Kepple pinned it on the bulletin board for a really long time. Even better, it was in the center among the other kids’ poems that made the cut. However, since I hadn’t found it very difficult to write, I didn’t believe it was very good. I mean, it wasn’t like subtracting or anything.

I'm not even holding a pen.

I’m not even holding a pen.

In a fourth grade parent/teacher conference, Mrs. Schweitzer told my mother that I should be a writer. No, she told Mom I WOULD be a writer. That declaration seemed strange since I’d been sitting on my dad’s drawing board since I was in diapers. I was all about following in his artist’s footsteps and I can’t even remember what I wrote for Mrs. Schweitzer that impressed her.

A Poetic Coming to Terms with Limitations

By high school I was writing little stories for the newspaper, which were never published. Maybe it was because I was a freshman and the editorial staffers were older and therefore, superior. Maybe it was because I was a mini-hippie and probably wrote inflammatory pieces about the cafeteria food. But I got straight A’s in art, which wasn’t easy at St. Scholastica. Later, I attended the Young Artists Studio Program at the Art Institute of Chicago, a Saturday morning deal for the twisted kids who needed more school. Suddenly, I wasn’t the best artist in the class. I was surrounded by the best artists in their classes. It was demoralizing, but I still ranked a collage in the semester show.

I didn’t like being mediocre, so I decided to ditch the whole quandary. After high school, I got married and had babies. I knew I’d be good at that! I still wrote poems—about motherhood, politics, bad marriages and dysfunctional families. Notebooks were cheaper than canvases–and the pile grew.  Once in awhile, I even submitted them for publishing.

Meanwhile, my brother went to college at the University of Iowa’s Writer’s Workshop. He thought some of my poems were good enough to publish and recognized that subjective viewpoints can make or break artists. Since he was the editor of the school paper, he published me. That was cool.

So much for the early days as a poet and artist. I’ll come back with more later.

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Saturday, June 16, 2012

Posted on June 18, 2012. Filed under: Cancer | Tags: , , , , |

I felt like lolling around this morning, so Scott whipped up an excellent breakfast. Going to the hospital everyday for these 9 am appointments is like holding a job—and I’ve been a freelancer for 13 years—so my weekends are precious again. I followed breakfast with a walk because I knew if I waited, I wouldn’t do it. I did a little over a mile. It was really hot out there…mid 90s! I also inspected my patio pots.

My plan was to plant myself in my studio and paint, which I did. I finished a painting a started in class and decided I hated it. It needed to be softer. I’ve been stuck on doing something purple, so I broke out the big new block of paper and made a second attempt. I think I succeeded. I need to look at it again tomorrow. Scott said the piece looked darker and heavier than my previous pieces. I didn’t think of it that way, but maybe I’m just putting the creepies, that I periodically entertain, on paper. Either way, it’s therapeutic.

After painting, Scott and I had “date night.” I’d heard about a play, “Sexy Baby,” a spoof on kiddie beauty pageants. It was performed mostly by men in drag, but there were a few women in it as well as a few men who were not in drag. It was hilarious from start to finish and poked fun at everything in society. Plus, the characters were well-developed, there was a lot of fun music and the costuming and facial expressions brought continuous raised eyebrows. Well done. Chicago has great small theater productions. Best of all, Scott got me a margarita. Salt and everything. I was told I could drink alcohol on non-arsenic days, so I savored it. It’s been awhile since I had one, so I forgot how good they taste. Yum.

It was too early and too nice a night to come home, so we drove downtown and attempted to see the skyline from the planetarium, but there was a music/dance festival ending at Soldier Field, so traffic was routed back to the Drive. Lightning fflared in the southern skies. We arrived home just before a long-awaited summer shower. I know it’s still spring, but with 90-degree temps, it’s a summer shower. Enjoy.

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    A writer and cancer survivor chronicles her renewed dedication to art and words..

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