It had been a long time since I heard any poetry. Or read any. It’s not that I don’t like poetry, I really do, I just hadn’t been paying it any attention. It was a true delight then to attend Piero Guglielmino‘s talk dedicated to poetry in children’s literature. He read us, and discussed, so many poems in so many different styles; beginning with poetry to read to babies in the womb, moving through rhyme and action verse for babies and toddlers, then on to nonsense verse, haiku and poems that take an entire illustrated book to tell. All in Italian, some translated, and all completely new to me. Here are just a few of the huge stack of amazing books Piero worked through:
It was just wonderful, two whole hours to just stop and listen to such a range of poems. I now have a list of poetry books to seek out in libraries and bookshops that goes up one arm and down the other. There were too many to say which were my favourites, but the haiku had the biggest immediate impression on me because of their powerful simplicity. What wonderful inspiration for illustration! On my working days I now have a haiku warm-up illustration that I can choose to do: I pick out a haiku (copied from the internet, but yes I will seek out some books), think about it, then draw or collage whatever it brings to my mind. And maybe even write my own response on the reverse of the post-it.
This is the first one I made. The Haiku made me think of my Grandpa who had an armchair he loved to sit in. In his last year he had it positioned so that he could see the birds on a little bird feeder just outside the window. Rather than looking at the peonies, he would watch the birds. I remembered the way he used to curl his hands over the ends of the armchair. I made this little illustration with ink and tissue paper and pencil crayon, just quickly to capture the moment. A drawing made just for me, for the purpose of thinking and being quiet and nothing more. That’s also rather precious in the middle of working towards a big project for a publisher.
I’ve started a little book to glue them into. I’d love to say I’ll do one every day, but even just one a week feels like a special moment of calm and thoughtfulness. Early in the morning when my household is still asleep. This new exercise alone is a precious idea that came out of Piero Guglielmino’s workshop, and one for which I am very grateful; thankyou Piero!