Featuring cherita!

April 30, 2018

Ekphrastic April, Day 30: "The Bedtime Book"

I started this month of ekphrasis with a children's illustration and I will end with another picture from a children's illustrator. The cherita was written in response to a prompt given on the Cherita Poets on Site Facebook group on April 6:
cherita prompt: making your plans 5, 10 and 20 yr plans!
I didn't post the cherita, but decided to use it here instead.

"The Bedtime Book" (1907) by Jessie Willcox Smith [1863-1935].

books on the bedside table

another pile
sits on the floor

her five-year plan to
finish at least ten
--the rest will be a gift

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved.

Jessie Willcox was an outstanding illustrator whose output for books and magazines is dizzying. She created all the covers for Good Housekeeping magazine from December 1917 to 1933!

I hope you enjoyed Ekphrastic April and National Poetry Month 2018. I will be posting more ekphrastic cherita in the future since it is great fun for me to research works of art and write what each piece inspires in me.

Have a great May! If you live in the greater Boston area, poetry continues this coming weekend with The Mass Poetry Festival taking place in Salem. This will be my eighth year attending!

April 29, 2018

Ekphrastic April, Day 29: "Two Children in Front of a Billboard for Grand Cirque"

"Two Children in Front of a Billboard for Grand Cirque" (circa 1930) by Marianne von Werefkin [1860-1938].

not enough saved...

the circus poster
seduces them again

her hand slips into her pocket
to check one more time

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved.

April 28, 2018

Ephrastic April, Day 28: "Leaving the Munitions Works"

"Leaving the Munitions Works" (1919) by Winifred Knights [1899-1947].


munitions factory workers
go home on time

the Great War ended
they're no longer desperate
to be instruments of death

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved.

April 26, 2018

Poetry Friday--Ekphrastic April, Day 27: "Peonies and June Bug"

"Peonies and June Bug" (1871-1872) by Eva Gonzales [1849-1883].

fragrant June

the peonies in bloom
should have been left uncut

within hours petals begin
to fall and the June bug's
dinner grows stale

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved.

Since we're finally moving into warmer weather here, I'm looking forward to the trees, plants, and flowers playing a little catch-up. Before we know it, it will be peony time. And June bug time.

People write poems and songs about the oddest things. The June bug is one of those oddities and appears in a song by the B-52s.

The swimming bug in the video is definitely a carnivore, but the June bugs I'm familiar with are vegetarian.

"June Bug" appears on the album Cosmic Thing, which was released in 1989. I was a children's librarian at the time and one of the story hour families gave me the CD for Christmas. I can honestly say it is the BEST job-related gift I ever received. I played it for years. I can no longer remember the name of the gift-giver, but I'm forever grateful for the gift.

Irene will be sharing the gift of poetry today at the Round-Up being held at Live Your Poem. Irene, too, has been writing ekphrastic poems this month.

Ephrastic April, Day 26: "Girl Posing in a Hat with Tassels"

"Girl Posing in a Hat with Tassels" (circa 1918-1922) by Gwen John [1876-1939].

Sunday services

befitting her situation
she's dressed in black

this week she adds a tassel
oh, how he would have loved
the joke

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved.

I really should read up on Gwen John, the brief Wikipedia biography shows a complex personality who lived an unorthodox life. I guess she's a project for another time...

April 25, 2018

Ekphrastic April, Day 25: "The Sands of Life"

"The Sands of Life" by Mary Curtis Richardson [1848-1931].

the sand box

mother dreams
of beaches

babe discovers the
principle of gravity
on her own

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved.

April 24, 2018

Ekphrastic April, Day 24: "The Writer"

The lovely painting below was created by a woman who was born in the town in which I work. Mary Bradish Titcomb, born in Windham, NH in 1856, became a teacher in its small country school. She then headed down to the Boston area to teach before moving on to fulfill her destiny as an American impressionist painter*. Titcomb died in 1927 and was buried in Windham.

"The Writer" (circa 1912) by Mary Bradish Titcomb [1856-1927].

we, who cannot travel

force bulbs surrounding
ourselves with fragrance

under a sunny window
we almost believe what we write
to those who are traveling

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved.

*A sad note: much of Titcomb's work, put into storage, was destroyed in a warehouse fire.

April 23, 2018

Ekphrastic April, Day 23: "Dolls"

"Dolls" by Jacqueline Marval [1866-1903].

Grandma's guest room

grandkids tasked
with disposing of her junk

the pile
of playthings no one
will touch

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved.

April 22, 2018

Ekphrastic April, Day 22: "Self Portrait with Candles"

"Self Portrait with Candles" (1910) by Lily Delissa Joseph [1863-1940].

in the dark

she whistles
but is no longer afraid

the self-portrait
finished, she realizes she
knows who she is

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved.

April 21, 2018

Ekphrastic April, Day 21: "Teresa Gathering Pansies:

"Teresa Gathering Pansies" by Laura Theresa Alma-Tadem [1852-1909].

the nanny, her arms full

Teresa wanders off
to the patch of pansies

she begs
forgiveness before
beheading each one

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved.

April 20, 2018

Poetry Friday--Ekphrastic April, Day 20: "Wash Day--A Back Yard Reminiscence of Brooklyn"

I was first attracted to this painting for its subject matter--hanging laundry. I grew up in a time before dryers became prolific and laundry was hung on a line to dry. I have fond memories of fragrantly fresh, but stiff, towels, and of mothers gossiping over a fence as they attended to their laundry. Secondly, I was stopped in my tracks by this part of the title: "Reminiscence of Brooklyn." Although I wasn't around in 1912, I didn't think Brooklyn, NY would have looked like that!

I found that the artist, Ada Walter Shulz, was from the Mid-West and spent the greater part of her life in Brown County, Indiana. So, a little research led to a Brooklyn, Indiana, in Morgan County. Morgan County shares a corner with Brown County.

"Wash Day--A Back Yard Reminiscence of Brooklyn" (1912) by Ada Walter Shulz [1870-1928].

wash day

can there be anything
more perfect--

warm sun
soft breezes and
a willing helper

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved.

National Poetry Month delights abound, visit The Opposite of Indifference where Tabatha is rounding up the poetry links for today. And, if you haven't visited yet, head over to the Team Imperfect blog for its book birthday!

April 19, 2018

Ekphrastic April, Day 19: "Girl with Cat in the Birch Forest"

"Girl with Cat in the Birch Forest" (circa 1905) by Paula Modersohn-Becker [1876-1907].

they do not love me

I will run away
deep into the forest

within the birches
no one is there to holler
if the cream is licked

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved.

April 18, 2018

Ekphrastic April, Day 18: "Self Portrait, the Artist Hesitating between the Arts of Music and Painting"

If you have a few minutes, take a look at the portraits of Angelica Kaufmann--what a collection of self-portraits!

"Self Portrait, the Artist Hesitating between the Arts of Music and Painting" (1794) by Angelica Kaufmann [1741-1807].

all things being equal

I would choose a life
of music over art

a painting may draw
a tear but a well-struck chord
will tear at my heart

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved.

April 17, 2018

Ekphrastic April, Day 17: "Wildflowers"

"Wildflowers" (1875) by Ellen Robbins [1828–1905].

early October

fading pastel coverlet

heavyweight blankets
aired out readying for
winter sleep

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved.

Ellen Robbins was a friend of Celia Thaxter. She stayed with Thaxter and painted the flowers in Celia's noted garden.

April 16, 2018

Ekphrastic April, Day 16: "Women Sewing"

"Women Sewing" by Elizabeth Wentworth Roberts [1871-1927].


women gather
to gossip and sew

none speak of sons
who may require their handiwork
in the near future

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved.

April 15, 2018

Ekphrastic April, Day 15: "Windfalls"

"Windfalls" by Sophie Gengembre Anderson [1823-1903].

barely three-years-old

she is given a basket
to hold the windfalls

no one cares if apples
destined for the cider press
come with teeth marks

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved.

April 14, 2018

Ekphrastic April, Day 14: "Violets"

You may have noticed the lack of women artists of color represented in my Ekphrastic April offerings. Sadly, the list of women artists, who, in the past, were recognized for their talents, is small compared to the list of men. Even sadder is the smaller list of African-American women artists. My search was made more difficult by limiting my choice of artists to painters, and, those whose work is in the public domain. I did find Pauline Powell Burns [1872-1912]. "Violets" is reported to be in the National Museum of African American History and Culture collection, but a search at the NMAAHC site came up empty. Still, I found the painting at an art auction site, and, since the work was produced prior to the artist's death in 1912, I'm certain it is in the public domain.

"Violets" by Pauline Powell Burns [1872-1912].

hubbub at the hive

bees understand
nothing of the trade-off

when an artist
divests the garden
of its violets

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved.

April 13, 2018

Poetry Friday--Ephrastic April, Day 13: "The Poet's Voice"

It's a special day! The doyen of children's poetry, and Guinness World Record holder, Lee Bennett Hopkins, is having a birthday! I've selected a painting by Alice Bailly, titled, "The Poet's Voice," to help celebrate. Mr. Hopkins is a proponent of ekphrasis as is evident in his recently published anthology, World Make Way: New Poems Inspired by Art from the Metropolitan Museum of Art. If you missed his interview on NPR, click here.

Today's ekphrastic cherita is part of the challenge I've set for myself for National Poetry Month. I'm featuring the artwork of women artists, many of whom never received the respect they deserved during their lifetimes. Each piece of art will be paired with a cherita.

"The Poet's Voice" (1923) by Alice Bailly [1872-1938].

the poet's voice

reaches the ears
of the crowd

for some an oracle
for others never getting
beyond the auricle*

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved.

Thanks to Lee for guiding listeners' (and readers') ears (and eyes) to poetry, and for helping shape poets' words so that they survive the passage to brains and hearts. And here's to Poetry Friday participants who share their love of poetry and poets!

To find other birthday treats being served today, visit Robyn at Life on the Deckle Edge.

*Auricle = the outer ear

April 12, 2018

Ekphrastic April, Day 12: "The Witchball"

"The Witchball" (1931) by Mary McCrossan [1865-1934].

home decorating

never one to take
unnecessary chances

she includes a
prayerful angel along
with the witchball

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved.

Witchballs originally were glass floats used in fishing. A connection was made between witches who floated after being cast into a body of water and the fishing floats that did not sink. Later they were thought to protect a home from witches and other evil spirits, and subsequently morphed into decorating accents!

April 11, 2018

Ekphrastic April, Day 11: "Portrait of Anna Vaughn Hyatt"

"Portrait of Anna Vaughn Hyatt" (1915) by Marion Boyd Allen [1862-1941].

at his knee

the zoologist's daughter
absorbed anatomy

she studied sculpture
and became as close to a god
as a women could be

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved.

Anna Vaughn Hyatt, an accomplished sculptor, became one of the highest paid women in the United States in the early twentieth century.

April 10, 2018

Ekphrastic April, Day 10: "Goats"

Even if you don't like goats, I think you'll admit the piece is invitingly spring-like.

"Goats" (1934) by Dorothy Adamson [1894-1934]. The only biographical information I was able to find stated that she was an animal painter who specialized in hunting dogs.

hobby farmer

goat cheese not
as popular as expected

his new sign:
Poison Ivy Control

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved.

Climate change has allowed poison ivy to move further north. It is now everywhere in New England and can result in nasty rashes. A few years ago I discovered that goats eat poison ivy, and, that farmers rent out goats! Great idea. And, in case you're worried about the "poison" crossing over into goats milk (and cheese), rest assured it does not!

April 9, 2018

Ekphrastic April, Day 9: "The Piano"

"The Piano" (1888) by Berthe Morisot [1841-1895].

afternoon practice

the torture
of being the page-turner

her feet move
to a different tune
...as the sun fades

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved.

April 8, 2018

Ekphrastic April, Day 8: "Fish Street, Shrewsbury"

"Fish Street, Shrewsbury" by Louise Rayner [1832-1924].

a walk down Fish Street

her delight in
a stuffy nose

rotting fish
horses and male sweat
today held at bay

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved.

April 7, 2018

Ekphrastic April, Day 7: "Abstract Study"

Today's cherita is a throw-back to the mid-2000s when I was marching in peace rallies (or Iraq War protests). Ringing the Boston Common were police, with helmets and billy clubs (also known as batons--tools of compliance). Overhead flew helicopters. It was an effin' peace rally! Today's painting by Mainie Jellett, "Abstract Study," called to mind those billy clubs at the ready. Thank goodness last month's March for Our Lives was a bit less intimidating!

"Abstract Study" (1922) by Mainie Jellett [1897-1944].

on the common

protesters sing,
carry signs

heavily armed police
ready to protect against
messages of peace

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved.

April 6, 2018

Poetry Friday--Ekphrastic April, Day 6: "Woman with a Pearl Necklace in a Loge"

Brenda Harsham was the first to suggest a work to use in my NPM Ekphrastic April project--a cherita a day inspired by a painting.

Brenda recommended "Woman with a Pearl Necklace in a Loge" by Mary Cassatt. If you're not familiar with Mary Cassatt [1844-1926], please take the time to read up on her, she was one of America's best interpreters of the lives of women.

"Woman with a Pearl Necklace in a Loge" (1879) by Mary Cassatt.

according to Mother

a redhead should never
be seen dressed all in red

I wear a touch
in the most strategic places
--Mother did not raise a fool

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved.

Khan Academy has a 5-minute video on the painting by Cassett, and, viewing it you will get a brief idea of the artist, the subject, and Paris in the late 1800s.

National Poetry Month is in full swing and today's Poetry Friday offerings are being rounded up by Amy at The Poem Farm.

April 5, 2018

Ekphrastic April, Day 5: "The Open Door"

"The Open Door" (circa 1913) by Helen Galloway McNicoll [1879-1915].

long winter

spring finally
arrives in a rush

every pore
of her body absorbs
the April light

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved.

April 4, 2018

Ekphrastic April, Day 4: "Bubbles"

"Bubbles" by Helen Allingham [1848-1926).

soapy water and a pipe

the oldest child says,
"bubbles are spherical rainbows"

suddenly all
Gran's pot of gold stories
subject to debate

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved.

April 3, 2018

Ekphrastic April, Day 3: "Young Woman With a Blue Fan"

Vera Rockline's early work was heavily influenced by the cubist school, she later took up a style all her own. Sadly, Vera passed away at age 38.

"Young Woman With a Blue Fan" (1919) by Vera Rockline [1896-1934].

Vera paints...

cubists' influence
on this young artist

still, she feels the pull
toward lightness--her edges
will be sanded smooth

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved.

April 2, 2018

Ekphrastic April, Day 2: "A Cat"

Artist Henriette Ronner-Knip painted cats and dogs almost exclusively! An obsessive love of pets is not just a late 20th-early 21st century phenonmenon!

"A Cat" (1892) by Henriette Ronner-Knip [1821-1909].

she observes

her legs neatly tucked

--but always
mindful of signs foretelling

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved.

April 1, 2018

Ekphrastic April, Day 1: "Easter"

If you're looking for Happy Haiga Day!, it's on hiatus for the month of April. April is National Poetry Month and I'm celebrating by daily posting a work of art by a woman along with a cherita inspired by that particular work. The cherita may describe the scene, the artist, the style or medium, or simply be a thought/feeling that was engendered by viewing the work.

I'll be celebrating Easter, today, with the work of Swedish artist, Jenny Nyström [1854-1946] who made a name for herself during the heyday of illustrated postcards.

"Easter" by Jenny Nyström.

next to the leftover ham

an opened package
of marshmallow Peeps

we refrigerate
them now in this age
of germaphobia

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved.