It’s World Poetry Day today and less than a week ago I decided to make yet another stressful appearance in the inboxes of my fellow illustrators. In a sugar rush, I asked 5 friends if they were interested in making some super quick drawings inspired by… poems. Short poems. Short poems I’ve chosen for them. They said yes.
Here’s what’s gotten into me: until two or three years ago I had rejected poetry just like I’d shoo Jehovah’s Witnesses away. Or maybe worse. And all thanks to those dark memories from my school years, memories made of mandatory memorization terror (both of the poems, and the critics’ view on them), of lame lyrics I could never relate to and oh, man, the excruciating overdose of indecipherable archaisms.
Recently though, I gave poetry a second chance (thanks, Tara, for showing me the way to truly love it).
Back to the game: I decided to choose 5 poems every month (there is a list, and it’s growing bigger and bigger) and share them with the world. A world that might just come to love them as much as I do. And with a little help from my friends, there will also be yummy custom-made illustrations.
Around each month’s end, the poems and their fresh illustrations will be revealed on a dedicated Instagram account – @5poems (yes, please, do follow us). All goodies will also be printed and exhibited in our pocket bookshop+gallery (Receptor / Cărturești & Friends). When it’s time for another round, the previous small prints will settle into the family album – a permanent collection gathering all illustrations and poems featured monthly.
Here are this month’s chosen ones:
AESTHETICS OF BEING A BIRD by Kenneth Koch
With a half-closed mouth;
When another speaks, glance up
But don’t respond.
After you have eaten
Portuguese songs — a fado, if you please!
(Published in The Paris Review, Issue 120, Fall 1991)
He slept on his hands.
On a rock.
On his feet.
On someone else’s feet.
He slept on buses, trains, in airplanes.
Slept on duty.
Slept beside the road.
Slept on a sack of apples.
He slept in a pay toilet.
In a hayloft.
In the Super Dome.
Slept in a Jaguar, and in the back of a pickup.
Slept in theaters.
He slept in line shacks and, once, in a castle.
Slept in the rain.
In blistering sun.
On horseback he slept.
He slept in chairs, churches, in fancy hotels.
He slept under strange roofs all his life.
Now he sleeps under the earth.
Sleeps on and on.
Like an old king.
I am most grateful to the girls for jumping in so fast (they only had 2-3 days to squeeze the task in their schedules and send me the illustrations) and I’d be really happy around my belly button if you showed off your love by following their work and sharing this piece with a friend, who knows, maybe you’ll get one of the art prints exhibited at the bookshop (they’ll be up there ready to be catcalled starting tomorrow).