“I love the way words and pictures work together on a page. I have also noticed how when wise words have visuals added to them, they seem to travel further online, like paper aeroplanes catching an updraught.”
Chris Riddell, Art Matters
Illustration by Davide Bonazzi
“Clear night, thumb-top of a moon, a back-lit sky.
Moon-fingers lay down their same routine
On the side deck and the threshold, the white keys and the black keys.
Bird hush and bird song. A cassia flower falls.
I want to be bruised by God.
I want to be strung up in a strong light and singled out.
I want to be stretched, like music wrung from a dropped seed.
I want to be entered and picked clean.
And the wind says “What?” to me.
And the castor beans, with their little earrings of death, say “What?” to me.
And the stars start out on their cold slide through the dark.
And the gears notch and the engines wheel.”
Clear Night by Charles Wright 1982
Painting by Devin Leonardi
“…reading should be…intensely alive. The book should be a ball of light in one’s hand.”
Painting by Charlie Mackesy
“If a fish is the movement of water embodied, given shape, then a cat is a diagram and pattern of subtle air.”
Doris Lessing (1919 -2013)
Illustration by Endre Penovac
“One day I will find the right words, and they will be simple.”
Jack Kerouac, The Dharma Bums
“Beauty is truth, truth beauty,—that is all
Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.”
John Keats, Ode on a Grecian Urn, 1819
Painting “Imagem de Leiture” by Silvana Cimieri
“Remember, a line cannot exist alone; it always brings a companion along. Do remember that one line does nothing; it is only in relation to another that it creates a volume.”
Henri Matisse (1864-1954)
Art by Laura Berendsen Hughes
This is The Dipper, a poem by by Scottish poet, Kathleen Jamie. It’s impossible to write about a bird and make it breathtaking, but here it is, completed and placed by an expert for us to consider. Honoured.
I saw that she wrote issue instead of flew. As soon as I saw issue, I saw the water give birth to the bird. The poem itself (in my head) flooded and fell, green with experience and cold and difficulties. When I saw solitary, the poem itself soared away and lit (her word) on a rock, alone, and looked at me with sunlight behind it and mockery between its claws. When a poem contains this much information and experience, I have to keep reading and re reading, clenching my small claws and hoping.
When she wrote lit instead of perched, that’s when the sunlight entered the cold, and the poem, and me. When she wrote swept stupidly, I stood still and admitted old age, a huge hot relief. This because it may be possible that I no longer have to stop the flow. When she wrote wrung, I saw the bird turn and turn again to give that ripple of solid sound. When she wrote supple, undammable, I saw bird muscle, throat muscle and opera and anger. Value and beauty are not ownable. They are beyond our hands. The last two lines won’t finish. They keep playing, calling on courage.
This poem, if you allow it, is a massive experience.
Is this right? I don’t know. Kathleen Jamie is a master. She extracts and then sculpts what she wants to say. I am an amateur reader and can’t do that. But she makes me try hard and dig for it. Or the bird does. Something does.
Photography by Michael Woodruff
“After all, colour in itself has no colour — it’s simply a construction of the mind: a sensation, like the Humming Chorus from Madame Butterfly and the smell of honeysuckle.”
Painting by Milt Kobayashi
“Whence did the wondrous
Mystic art arise?
Of painting speech
And speaking to the eyes
That we by tracing magic lines
How to embody
And colour thought.”
The Origin and Progress of Letters
Art by Liz Y Ahmet