Session 2 Option 2: Nature and Contemplation


Readings: Lessons From A Painting By Rothko with notes from A Poem a Day from the George Hail Library

              Slow Song for Mark Rothko by John Taggart

              Additional Links


In her essay in “Third Mind’  (Foster/Prevallet, eds.) Marjorie Welish asks that we “consider how a poetic artifact is one that exercises the art of contemplation.” Further, she quotes John Taggart (poet below) who calls it “the wandering process,” that which allows creativity to blossom.


The text and images that follow are the “reading” for this exercise.  I have designed this lesson for those who would like to explore how nature and/or personal context allows you to perceive images.  The purpose of this exercise is to introduce you to ways of seeing your own work.  The work we stitch can be representational, but a narrative exists even when we work in a more abstract style.  


The examples below are interesting to me because they are compiled from two different sources in which poetry was inspired by or written to accompany two Mark Rothko paintings. Interestingly, these works have lingered in my library for some time.  It was only in the review of my Threads of Meaning materials that I made this association and consequently this lesson option. 


The two poems and images are juxtaposed to show a contrast in one’s approach to reading imagery.  Our perceptions are how meaning is derived from imagery.   The viewer (including the artist herself) brings her personal contexts and in this case, the style of writing to describe the work being viewed.  In the first example, the poet, Bobbi Katz describes Rothko from a more concrete standpoint. She takes on the apron of the artist and constructs the painting verbally.


In the second example, the poet, John Taggart senses the artwork in a more physical way.  Granted, the poetry styles are as different as the poets themselves. I don’t want to express a judgment regarding my preference, but would like you to evaluate the pros of each poem.


Spend time with the sample images and poems.  Read them aloud.  Find their rhythms. Find your rhythms.


Make a list or mind map of your discoveries in your journal.

Pull out words (from the poems) that appeal to you and jot them in your journal.

Explore the words as you’ve done in the first lesson.  Pull them apart.

Revisit words that you have explored in previous lessons as well.


Look at your own work for a time - a finished piece preferably for this exercise.  (You can use this method to lead you forward in a work in progress as well.) 


Use one of the poetry “styles” to respond to your work.  Write it down!!

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