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THE ART BEAT: Kudos to Dutch Nature Artist Paula Kuitenbrouwer on her newest book

8103372-9c1f4a2a29abdb8bf0d1c7398b7d8cabPAULA KUITENBOUWER is a Dutch nature artist. Her particular special gift is to help us appreciate the beauty of the natural world. I’m pleased that she’s compiled a portfolio of her art into a book that includes twenty-four of her drawings along with thirteen short explanations. This master of the tools of her trade shares with us the kind of beauty that can only be found through sustained observation and a meditative approach to art. Paula’s work has inspired a number of my poems but the poem featured below was really fun to write.

Several years ago Paula wrote an explaination to go with a colored sketch that featured a beetle.  Since Paula is a good writer as well as a fine artist, the first line was both an homage to her unutterable respect for life and absolute poetry filled with the promise of story.

“I found a Carabidae beetle in a bucket with water and regretted its death by drowning… “

The line put me in mind of Isak Dinesen‘s unforgettable opening for Out of Africa,

“I had a farm in Africa, at the foot of the Ngong Hills . . . “

Something about those evocative sentences lets you know there’s a good story to come. And there was.

“It lay there for at least an hour and I hoped so much it would give a sign of life. Then I did the most crazy thing imaginable; I turned it on its back, squeezed it gently, and gave it heart massage (don’t ask). Three drops of water came out. I have no clue why I did such a weird thing. Would somebody tell me he or she had given cardiac massage to a beetle, I would have laughed out loud.” [Paula Kuitenbrouwer]

Check out Paula’s fine art at Mindful Drawing.

I REGRETTED ITS DEATH BY  DROWNING

after Paula Kuitenbrouwer

the garden floating in violet and ruby hues,
by the side of the house, a beetle floats too,
so jewel-like, amethyst and brilliant against
the dull gray water, it does not move

it lies there still as the dead of noon across
a bone-colored desert, and her hand so white,
wing-like flutters against its rigor, laying it
on the table, by a pad to sketch with pencils

that minuscule life, no will to release it
into whatever beetle heaven there might be,
laying tender finger to knead a tube-like heart
holding her breath, willing air into spiracles

wishful thinking? a flicker from the antennae?
slight movement of a leg? perhaps, perhaps
some healing pressure, one gentle push,
three drops of water, success in late hours

to savel a beetle, to sketch in varied colors
with time to hug the child and sip hot tea …
a creature rescued from death by drowning
and cherish the mindful drawing for a memory

– Jamie Dedes

© 2012, Jamie Dedes, All rights reserved; Photo credit ~ David Wagner, Public Domain Pictures.net

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TECHNIQUE v. SPONTANEITY IN THE ARTS

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There is a dangerous half-truth that has always haunted the practice and the appreciation of the arts: too much technique will inhibit creativity. Despite constant evidence that too little technique will inhibit it worse, the idea never quite dies, because it is politically too attractive. Young women are usually less susceptible, but young men are often pleased to think their creative activities would flourish best if they could spend more time getting up late in the morning and taking a longer nap during the afternoon. Hence the continuing popularity of Blake’s emphasis on just letting art happen, without too much sweat.” Clive James, Poetry Notebook, Reflections on the Language of Intensity

My current read: a thoughtful book delivered with the characteristic taste, wit and insight of Clive James, Australian cultural critic, poet, lyricist, memoirist and essayist.  The book is a collection of essays and “interludes” on poetry, poets, practice and technique.

Included in Clive James’ impressive opus are books of poetry: Poem of the Year (verse diary) and a collection of four mock-heroic poems, The Fate of Feisty Fark in the Land of Media: a moral poem and other collections.

Time with Clive James is always time well spent.

RELATED:

Clive James.com

Bill Moyes talks with cultural critic, Clive James

Against the Evidence, I Live By Choice ~ David Ignatow

41jATvIjAMLI was reminded of David Ignatow (1914-1997, American poet and editor) yesterday when I read Luke Prater’s poem about the death of a fly, Calvin’s God, which is well done.

In his poem Luke mentions Ignatow, who wrote I Killed A Fly.

I’m thinking Ignatow has a spare and direct style that is worth studying, especially if you are serious about your own poetry. Here is a sample of his work from a favorite collection. There are a number of people who read here who will relate to this, a good Sunday night read.

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AGAINST THE EVIDENCE

by David Ignatow

As I reach to close each book
lying open on my desk, it leaps up
to snap at my fingers. My legs
won’t hold me, I must sit down.
My fingers pain me
where the thick leaves snapped together
at my touch.
All my life
I’ve held books in my hands
like children, carefully turning
their pages and straightening out
their creases. I use books
almost apologetically. I believe
I often think their thoughts for them.
Reading, I never know where theirs leave off
and mine begin. I am so much alone
in the world, I can observe the stars
or study the breeze, I can count the steps
on a stair on the way up or down,
and I can look at another human being
and get a smile, knowing
it is for the sake of politeness.
Nothing must be said of estrangement
among the human race and yet
nothing is said at all
because of that.
But no book will help either.
I stroke my desk,
its wood so smooth, so patient and still.
I set a typewriter on its surface
and begin to type
to tell myself my troubles.
Against the evidence, I live by choice.

© poem and cover art, Wesleyan Poetry Series, used here under fair use