Slam

The daily sketch:

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Not pleased.  I couldn’t resist the reference photo; I’ve got a soft-spot for these little wall-eyed doggos.  But here’s the problem with these delightfully chonky puppers — the chonk adds a number of shadows and contours that I did not map out prior to beginning shading.  So I blocked out the initial shapes: the squarish head, the triangles of the ears, etc, and then drew the left jowl, and then promptly began sort of shading as I went.  The fact that the reference photo was a black dog complicated things further, because there was very little contrast except for fairly subtle shadow defining boundaries between flubber rolls and droopy cheeks and whatnot.  So, as I’m sure is obvious by the mess that is the lower right side of his face, I didn’t have line/contour guides for anything besides the figure outline, and I was trying to contour through shading as I went along, and that went, um, poorly, and I frequently lost track of what exactly I was sketching/shading, or how it corresponded to the reference.  So, I know not to do that; even if those initial lines get erased or shaded over to add depth and shadow in the end, I do actually need to sketch out outlines and boundary lines for any contour rather that try to simply wing it.  For what it’s worth, this was about seventeen minutes, most of that just filling in the flat, dark patches.

After talking yesterday about my consideration regarding returning to poetry and my difficulties feeling comfortable finding my own voice, I went and revisited some of my favorite slam poetry performances via Button Poetry.

A slam poet I have never been and will likely never be; I may not know all the ins and out of my own poetic voice, but I know that slam has a dynamic cadence uniquely suited to performance, and my poems are much quieter, and work the best simply on paper.  I love listening to slam poetry because a good slam performance is just that — like a slam in the chest, a punch to the gut.  I have never listened to any of the poems below without bursting into tears.

I don’t write like this.  That’s ok.  But I really want to figure out, very specifically, how I do write.  I want to become comfortable enough with writing sans automatic and intense self-criticism that I have the room to actually explore my own style and see what works without being ashamed of how rough and unpolished my writing, fresh on the page, is.

Sigh, yeah.  So it looks like the daily poem thing is going to happen.  I don’t know if I’ll post them all yet, but I’m going to make a point to write them, whether or not they see an audience.

I wish, I wish, I wish I had this level of confidence:

(CW: Mental illness, disordered eating)

Poetry

As per usual, the daily sketch:

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Here is the proof that putting in an effort make a difference; I’m fast wilting now, but when I first came home from work, I had an odd burst of energy (might have been the cup of coffee I started brewing before I even had my coat off), and actually made a my-heart-is-in-it attempt at today’s sketch.  I’d estimate it took me between ten and fifteen minutes, which is comprable to yesterday’s time investment.  It’s funny, really, given that both sketches took roughly the same time, the difference in both objective quality and my attitude toward the drawings; I clearly do better work when I’m invested.  Anyway, I don’t think I fully differentiated the light and shadow values, but overall, I’m very happy with the sketch.

I don’t know if I’ve ever mentioned, but I was born and raised in Lawrence, Massachusetts, where Robert Frost is a bit of a hometown hero (he moved to the city in 1885, after the death of his father).  Every year, the Frost Foundation in Lawrence, and the Frost Farm in (relatively) local Derry, New Hampshire each offer a poetry prize (1, 2) in his name.  I’m debating trying to compose something to enter; maybe even a number of somethings.

I defined myself, for a long time, as a writer, which is funny to me now, because I’ve definitely produced more visual art in the last year than writing.  I haven’t really had it in me to really “write” for quite a while.  Even during NaNoWriMo and OctPoWriMo, which are usually my most prolific writing periods, yielded almost nothing this year — a few hundred words on an older, extant story and five disappointing poems, respectively.

I’ll be honest, for a while leading up to this year’s failing, I had been wavering, from poem to poem, about whether or not I was any good at poetry.  I’d been writing it from as young as I could remember, and I know that I was good as a young poet, for a young poet.  I just think I felt like, more recently, I should have been further along in the development of my own style and voice, and I never quite felt confident in having done that.

It’s sort of the way I feel about art now, though I’ve been writing for significantly longer than I’ve currently been painting or drawing.

I do wonder, though, if those feelings wouldn’t be abated with the same sort of daily practice that I’ve been devoting to art.  Would that be too much?  Would that be ridiculous?  Too much on my plate?  There’s just so much about writing that I miss.  I miss going to poetry readings; I miss commiserating with other poets; I miss seeing my name in print.¹  I miss finding just the right word, and the deep, deep satisfaction that accompanies that small victory.  I miss the cadence of lyrical language.

Sigh.

Perhaps there’ll be a daily poem/vignette in the near future.

Let’s see how I feel in the morning.


¹Back in the day, starting when I was, say, 16, I would enter a poetry contest that the Frost Foundation held through our local newspaper (unaffiliated with the Poetry Prize, and meant, presumably, to make poetry more accessible).  It routinely got two hundred plus submissions, and aside from a single year, I placed every time I entered.  There’s still archived photos of my taken at the Tribune offices for my profile in 2010 somewhere online.  It wasn’t anything particularly prestigious or glamorous, but it was gratifying to know that people were reading your words, and that those words were resonating with them.  I would love to reclaim that.  I’d love to feel that feeling again.