Archive for the ‘Prairie Art Alliance’ Category

I am not writing poems and songs as frequently as when I was younger, in part because I am spending so much time developing AeroKnow Museum, and in part because I seldom have a reason. There’s no woman in my life (usually the best reason), and there is no call upon me to engage the process. It’s not a matter of having no time. When I have a reason, I make the time. When Springfield Poets and Writers Group (SPW) announced an opportunity for poets inclined to be moved by visual, framed, watercolor paintings created by members of the Sangamon Watercolor Society, and to write a poem that we would read aloud at a gallery reception November 3, I made the time.

Photos of the paintings had been posted at a Facebook site. The implicit hope was that every one of the 10 or so artists who had agreed to paint new works for the project would inspire at least one poet. Poets were to share the painting’s name (or a short description if there was no name) with our poetry coordinator, the current president of SPW. I was happy to learn soon after submitting my choice, that it was available.

Once “the table was set,” that I had seen the painting (or in my case a photograph on which the painting would be based) there was no worry or guilt trip over the first three of four weeks we had to write the poem and put it into a frame we could buy anywhere. A week before the deadline, I was at work when I was hit by an epiphany of words and vision. The words were the first three-line stanza of five I would eventually write, and the visual was the line structure that would be consistent in length and meter throughout. I also had the “voice” which would be one of the two people in the painting. It would not be about “faces” because the painting would show the backs fo two heads facing the other direction in a toy “Jeep” moving toward a simple green horizon under a blue sky.

Saturday morning, poets delivered the framed poems to the gallery site on the 3rd floor at Hoogland Center at the same time the visual artists would be arriving. The gallery hosts would determine how things would be arranged, but we all knew our poems would hang either close below or beside the paintings which had . . . . a  . . . . .mused us!

The event began about 5:30. Event emcee Jan Sorenson was talking to a fellow when I approached and asked if the artist who had created “my” painting had arrived. She said he was the gentleman she was talking to as I approached, and she introduced me to Mike Delaney of Decatur, Illinois. We had a happy intro, and then it was time for some quick pictures where his painting and my poem were hung.

The event went very smoothly, unhurried, and for most of it, sans speeches that began to drone on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on . . . as though some secret patron was paying the speakers not by the minute, but by the hour. At events without microphones and AMPLIFIED speakers, these days — and sometimes even with them —  my hearing is darn near shot to blazes anyway. What I did hear was very educational in the main. The artists spoke first following Jan’s fine introductions of paintings and artists, and then the poets were introduced. We all talked about what we liked about the paintings that had moved us and how we created our poems.

poet Job Conger (left) and painter Mike Delaney (right)

When Jan introduced Mike, his presentation was exemplary: informative, entertaining, and he even remembered how to correctly pronounce my first name!

Mike Delaney

Before I talked about my poem, I took a picture of the audience,

the audience

explaining how they are as important to me as a poet as my poem might be during the few minutes so it would take for me to share it. I said I had correctly anticipated the kids were sisters in the early photo, the basis for the poem I would write, and in the painting. I was delighted with the painting and for the opportunity two write about it. Then I read the poem . . .

We Wander!
                                 by Job Conger

So this will be the way we go:
We go to anywhere I know.
I know because my eager heart has told me so!

My sister is my friend; it’s true.
It’s true that life is all so new,
so new, and there is oh so much for us to see and do!

We’ll take the road less traveled by.
By serendipity we shall fly.
Shall fly so sweetly, fleetly, as we wander far and nigh!

What will Fate choose for us years hence?
Years hence may temper young confidence.
Young confidence shuns grownups’ fussy diligence.

And we shall dream, wandering free,
free, clownish,  cavorting, seekers ’til we . . .
’til we turn ten or maybe, let’s say, seventy-three!

To everyone’s credit none of the poets and artists exited the presentation before it was over. Open microphone nights at other local venues sometimes include “poetry prima donna’s” and “poetry prima daniels” who attend, read their poems and leave early. Not so November 3.

Another poet reads her poem about the nearby painting.

The readings were followed by recognition of the creations of other SWS member painters who had won prize ribbons in a recent annual contest. The event concluded with a “happy trails
from the sympatico emcee, and many of us elevatored down to the Prairie Art Alliances gallery reception on first floor.

Poet Mark Flotow talks about his poem and the colorful abstract painting which inspired it.

One of my favorites at the PAA reception was this by Delinda Chapman.

This photo of purchase information for Delinda’s painting has been slightly color modified.

Mark MacDonald (right), host of the public television program “Illinois Stories” chats with friends at PAA’s reception.

It was an evening well spent. Kudos and thanks to all who attended and participated.


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