Saturday, October 16, 2010

October 16: Belfast Poetry Festival

I spent a good part of today in Belfast as a participating poet in the Belfast Poetry Festival. This spring, I was paired with sculptor and mixed media artist Beth Henderson. She and I have spent this past summer sharing ideas and each other's work in order to produce something for the Festival. The work was hung on October 1, but everything finally came together today as various teams of poets and various kinds of artists (dancer, photographer, several painters, sculptor, glass artist, and metal artist) presented the fruits of their collaborations in four different venues around town for the Festival's Gallery Walk. The exhibit that Beth and I put together is hanging at Roots & Tendrils Gallery through October.

Beth and I realized early on that we both draw from the natural world for creative inspiration. She created several works based on images in my poems about Bald and Ragged Mountains, and I wrote or adapted poems to go with some of her pieces. Some of Beth's pieces:

Of the work she showed me, the ones that spoke to me the most featured owls, a personal favorite creature of mine ever since my mom collected owls when I was a very young child. I respond to their charisma as cool and beautiful birds, and they also resonate for me poetically as symbols of great significance in many world cultures. So in response to her owl art, I challenged myself to create a mixed media piece combining my poems, various images and icons I've collected, quotations from other writers' stories about owls, and photographs. The resulting work is called Owl Stories. I created ten different pieces, which I then strung like prayer flags and hung from a branch I found in the back yard. I think it's one of the most truly creative things I've ever accomplished.

This afternoon Beth and I talked about our collaboration, and then I read several poems to a jam-packed house. The energy was high at all the galleries, and I was reminded of the boundless creativity that we each possess. In several ways--today's Gallery Walk being one of them--I think the universe has been reminding me lately to keep tapping into that creative spirit inside me and remain open to the creativity of myself and others. Sometimes when I get too wrapped up in the more dry aspects of my professional life I shut myself off from this energy or don't make enough time for it.

Today's poem is an adaptation of one I wrote as part of Owl Stories in response to this image created by Beth:
Snowy owl waiting:
a pale stone on the tundra
with fierce yellow eyes.

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