contemporary collage paintings
the process
Leslie Avon Miller

My life flows when I'm in my art.

Jean De Muzio

Friday, October 14, 2011

Painting Poetry

Another Night
Leslie Avon Miller 

In response to a poem by David Whyte

Poetry is just the evidence of life.

If your life is burning well, poetry is just the ash.

~Leonard Cohen


Under the weight of air
her flesh forms valleys
and mountains.
Mushrooms sprout
on the surface of her skin.
A mouse sneezes in her left lung
and behind green eyes
John Henry wields his hammer.

The earth whirls
the ground tips, totters
her glasses lost, she fumbles.
In her pocket awaits a key
but where is the lock?

Her heart in its nest sings foolishly.

~Suki Poet

Last line is from Linda Gregg's poem Alma in the Dark.

In response to a poem by dawoo

Hardly Noticed Moment
Leslie Avon Miller

In response to a poem by David Whyte

i believe that poetry at its best is found rather than written. traditionally, and for many people even today, poems have been admired chiefly for their craftsmanship and musicality, the handsomeness of language and the abundance of similes, along with the patterning and rhymes. 

i respect and enjoy all that, but i would not have worked so hard and so long at my poetry if it were primarily the production of well-made objects, just as i would not have sacrificed so much for love if love were mostly about pleasure. what matters to me even more than the shapeliness and the dance of language is what the poem discovers deeper down than gracefulness and pleasures in figures of speech. i respond most to what is found out about the heart and spirit, what we can hear through the language. 

best of all, of course, is when the language and other means of poetry combine with the meaning to make us experience what we understand. we are most likely to find this union by starting with the insides of the poem rather than with its surface, with the content rather than with the packaging. 

too often in workshops and classrooms there is a concentration on the poem’s garments instead of its life’s blood. it may be that the major art in poetry is the art of finding this shining—this luminosity. it is the difference between a publishable poem and one that matters.

Linda Gregg

If you cannot be a poet, be the poem.

~David Carradine

For me, making a piece of art is about the moments of life; being aware of them and being grateful for them. My collage paintings reflect some moment that otherwise might fly by while I am thinking ahead or behind.

I experience poetry in much the same way. Poetry I read and am taken in by is often a window into the life experience of another person. I can resonate with that moment. I think that’s why I like haiku so much.

When I write a moment rather than paint it, I don’t worry about rules, or shoulds, or making something pretty. I try to capture a moment so I can look at it in contemplation.

Here is one of my poems. Although it has a sadness, it also reflects love and honoring the moment, at least in my eye.

last rites

standing beside my mother’s nursing home bed
i stroked her once strong hands
into my memory.

in a few days I would wash her hands
for the last time.

as i gently brushed soft sheer skin,
she looked down
and said “boney old bones”.

~Leslie Avon Miller

More poetry at The Poetry Center