Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Personal Challenge: Visual Pathways with Mary Ann Potter

Hello Toads!  Margaret here, back from my Washington D.C. trip (what an amazing city!) and posting this a tad late today. 

As Mary Ann Potter of "From the Starcatcher" is an artist as well as a poet (she designed and created the above collage) I selected her with a poetry challenge I entitled "Visual Pathways" inspired from an art book I often reference for drawing.  I asked her to select one (or mix them up a bit) and apply it to writing poetry instead of drawing:

1) How can we view things differently?  View things from a mirror, turn our head upside down, look through colored lenses, cross you eyes, look through a hole in a piece of paper, twirl...

2)  When drawing an object, learn all you can about it.  Research its form, history, constituents, then approach it with knowledge to guide you.  We draw the tree from the ground up, but if we understand the hidden part, the root system, our tree will be more convincing in the way we feel it rising up from the ground.  The tree does not begin at the earth line.  Nothing begins where it seems, everything grows out of something that supports it.

3)  Be still within movement, move within stillness.

The following is Mary Ann Potter's very creative response (inspiration came from her collage she designed and the following YouTube video).  I love, love antique and old treasures from the past, so this is a real treat for me.  I hope it is for you as well!

Thank you, Mary Ann.

_ _ _ _ _

This intriguing little scene, the oldest surviving film, was filmed on October 14, 1888; it shows Adolphe LePrince, the son of the cinematographer, walking around the garden with Sarah, Joseph, and Harriet Hartley at their home in Oakwood Grange, Roundhay, Leeds, West Riding of Yorkshire, UK.  They don't do much here.  We see them laugh, walk, turn, and we wonder what LePrince was thinking.  Sarah walks backward, and Joseph's coat flies out as he turns.  The movie was made at 12 frames per second and lasts just 2.11 seconds in its finished form.  It has surprisingly lasted all these years and has ever been re-mastered.  (Thanks, Widipedia.  I never knew about this before.)

It inspired this poem, a different way of looking at film after some research, a little visual pathways to a brief epiphany.

Roundhay Garden:  An Adventure in Celluloid

What little she knew of the world
came from stories;
treasured collections on library shelves,
long whispered mysteries,
mother's advice -
(a lady always...
a lady never...)
Don't do that, daughter.
It's simply not nice."

Even spinsters have hearts.
The auteur is not gentle.
He spins us in circles,
life caught in sprockets.
"You, in the white dress,
now turn and twirl."
Oh, if he sees I'm
a beautiful girl...
(a lady might...
a lady will...)

Squeezing out truth makes us smaller,
I'm told.  We wonder:
What makes a chain tighter,
locks or memories grown cold?

by Mary Ann Potter


Sherry Blue Sky said...

This is a very intriguing challenge, Margaret, inspired by a BEAUTIFUL collage! Just lovely.

Margaret said...

Mary Ann - thank you for your poem. I find it to have layers of feeling; the "what is" and "what is not" acceptable makes me so sad. The lines "Squeezing out truth makes us smaller" is profound, chilling.

When we are not whom we should be, when we allow others to shape us permanently (in ways God did not intend) our potential is stifled.

Watching the video was a bit strange for me. I didn't realize how much sound affects what I see. This video truly allows one to "read" it in his or her own way.

I think this video would be a fun prompt for everyone to write to. I know my mind took off in a specific direction with this one. :)

Ella said...

Mary Ann, love your art, swoon! It is beautiful and so encompasses this era~ I love your poem and your approach. WE all struggle at some point in life with the "what is" and "what is not", as Margaret said I too felt chilled. I find the video adding more to your words~
Margaret and Mary Ann I loved your combine effects! I feel inspired to go dance, draw and release my colored thoughts that seep in daily~ Thank you both :D

Kerry O'Connor said...

This is truly inspirational! I love the way Mary Ann created tension between what was expected from young ladies, and what they expected themselves from life.

Maude Lynn said...

What a cool challenge! And, what an incredible response!

Mary said...

Wonderful response. I really LOVED that last stanza!

Hannah said...

Love that...
"long whispered mysteries..."

This was an interesting challenge. I'm glad to have viewed that clip...I'd never heard of it before. It was eerie being silent and slowed then put in perpetual repeat. I like what you've gleaned from it, Mary Ann, it leaves me hungry to hear more about the lady in white.

Very well done you two!!

Mary Ann Potter said...

I am truly appreciative of all these positive comments. My art and writing started out just as an outlet for me, you know. I spent 37 years teaching high school students about literature, life, history, and possibilities; retirement several years ago gave me the time to pursue them myself. It wasn't until IGWRT that I had a more open outlet. Thanks so much, y'all. I am blessed.

Anonymous said...

very interesting clip - i read your poem (which I like very much!) both before & after viewing, and saw how the endless circle of the characters' movements could drive the sort of repetition you use (about what is & might not be acceptable behaviour in a young girl/lady) - & really, this question does repeat & repeat almost ad nauseam... throughout history, doesn't it? well done, Mary Ann!

Marian said...

wow, there is a depth in your words that is really fascinating. such brevity and depth, i'm really drawn to it. that really is the question, isn't it? thanks so much for sharing, mary ann, i'm impressed. and a very, very cool challenge!

Kay L. Davies said...

What an interesting challenge, Margaret, and what a wonderful response, Mary Ann. And thanks for sharing the old film with us. I can imagine someone seeing it after it was shot — definitely a different way of looking at things then!

hedgewitch said...

So much harder than it sounds to see things differently, to get outside that all-encompassing box we begin building at birth, and which so many help us build(a lady wouldn't, a lady should always) great creative response, and thanks for that amazing bit of film history--ghosts dancing before our eyes.

Scarlet said...

What a beautiful collage, Mary Ann and lovely words to match ~ I specially like the last stanza, ending with a question ~

Wonderful challenge Margaret ~

Susie Clevenger said...

Margaret, what a delightful challenge and Mary what talent you have with the beautiful collage and your poem..

Susan said...

I've been writing a lot of small poems this week from experience, and this one, I believe, meets this challenge. I see I am too late for the linky thing, but here is the link itself: http://susanspoetry.blogspot.com/2012/06/catseye.html

Susan said...

BTW, I will keep this challenge, Margaret, to work with again. I love your multi-layered take on the historical video:
"The auteur is not gentle.
He spins us in circles,
life caught in sprockets."
Stories she reads, stories laid out for her to grow into because others will read her and her home, growing up as a finishing school story.

Kerry O'Connor said...

Susan, I'm so pleased to see that you have been inspired by Margaret's challenge. This was not an open challenge to all, but a personal challenge between 2 members of real Toads. However, we do encourage others to try out the ideas expressed here for themselves.

Lolamouse said...

Wow, ladies, I'm impressed! A fascinating challenge and a truly inspired response! Great job!

Susan said...

Thanks for the info, Kerry. I blush! The absence of the linky should have been the clue!

Helen said...

Mary Ann, your poem and collage are beautiful ...

The film clip was fascinating and inspired me to find music that fit the dance-like movements of the subjects! I did find the music and wrote a poem inspired by that music (and the film clip) for Poetry Jam!
Great challenge, Margaret!!!