A Little Poem for Spring, and Some Attempts To Tree-vise It

I’ve been working on several new poems recently, which is greatly satisfying. But in the moments when I’m not scritching a pen on paper or rearranging my words and lines on the computer screen, I’m craving COLOR. Last week I got my hands on some sheets of blue and green card stock and a damned sharp X-acto knife. Nobody thought better of letting me use such a dangerous tool, so here’s what I made with it:

Gone are days that find me lost

Arranged that way, the poem sure is hard to read. (Tip:  start with the topmost row, reading clockwise; then the middle row; then the lower row. I know; if you need the instructions, the layout isn’t working.)

I had fun cutting out all those leaf shapes, though, so I did that some more and tried another arrangement:

Now I pause from parsing the gray

Now I pause from parsing the gray

But then I got anxious about venturing too far away from the world of text, so I went and got some to slice up. This one is my favorite, not only because of the text but because of the layer it adds:

Hello, grass:  greetings, and welcome

Hello, grass: greetings, and welcome

I’ve been meaning to get back to making poem-trees ever since the wonderful “Poetry Off the Page” workshop experience I had with Nance Van Winckel last summer. It feels great to be thinking again about how to combine word and image. In these simple collages, I’m energized by the way the bright greens contrast with the dark blues and hint at the nearness of YELLOW, which must be zinging around just underneath all the chlorophyll.

And now that I’m not quite so scared of that X-acto knife, I may be able to persuade myself to use it to cut out some sturdier, cardboard leaves to collage onto canvas boards to make three-dimensional trees using the medium I love and fear most, in equal measures: paint.

I’ll let you know.

In the meantime, happy Spring to you!


10 comments on “A Little Poem for Spring, and Some Attempts To Tree-vise It

  1. takatobimasu says:

    Wonderful, Jennifer! What a lovely trilogy!

  2. jik says:

    a welcome welcome to spring in all its guises! wonderful!

  3. Nice work, Jennifer. Wow. Great colors! All the versions were legible to me. They did seem to get more legible as you revised. The last one was probably the most easily read. I enjoyed the look of the tree as one poem. Did you have a box of bandages nearby? (Every time I work with stained glass I cut myself at least twice, and X-Acto knives always deliver one poke, which is enough to make it necessary to stop work until the paper won’t get mussed.) It was good to see this work on a sunny (!) early spring morning.

    • Thank you very kindly, Anita! I appreciate your feedback about legibility; that’s one thing I question as I experiment with these poem-trees. Thankfully, no blood was shed in the making of these collages. My only injury was a sliced fingernail, which needed trimming anyway. It’s scary to hear about the hazards of the sharp materials and tools in your work! I think I’d better add band-aids and disinfectant to my art kit.

  4. cupcakemurphy says:

    These are so gorgeous. They make me remember how limitless creativity is.

    • Thank you ever so much, Cupcake! Springtime sure is inspiring after the grayscale winters of the Pacific Northwest. (If I had blooming bottlebrush and bougainvillea to look at right now, I think my head would blow straight off.) Cheers!

  5. Nance vw says:

    Oh, what a cool tree! The leaves of words! Each tree a line, a grove as stanza! Glad to see this! Thanks.

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