On Poetry

April Is National Poetry MonthNational Poetry Month was inaugurated by the Academy of American Poets in 1996. Over the years, it has become the largest literary celebration in the world with schools, publishers, libraries, booksellers, and poets celebrating poetry’s vital place in our culture. The Academy of American Poets is a non-profit organization founded in 1934 to support American poets at all stages of their careers and to foster the appreciation of contemporary poetry. This year Israeli-born American illustrator Maria Kalman was chosen to create the official National Poetry Month Poster.

David Whyte, poet extraordinaire, says poetry is language against which we have no defense. We inhabit a moment in which defended language is practically all we know, and so we are re-learning our basic human need of poetry to flourish. Many of the wise guests of the Peabody Award-winning public radio conversation and podcast On Being, spontaneously bring a poem into their reflections on mystery and meaning in life. Check out the vast compilation of poems On Being has curated for the Poetry Radio Project -Mary Oliver to Wendell Berry, from John O’Donohue to Rumi to Pablo Neruda and many more. Listen. Read. Watch. Enjoy.

On Being and the Poetry Foundation collaborated to launch the Poetry Radio Project. Through features and conversations with poets in a variety of contexts, the project seeks to enrich and deepen listeners’ perspectives on global events and American culture and to expand listeners’ engagement with contemporary and classical poetry.

30 Ways To Celebrate National Poetry Month from the Academy of American Poets & poetry book recommendations from The Artful Blog for enthusiasts and educators:

Out Of Wonder: Poems Celebrating Poets by Kwame Alexander (Author), Chris Colderley (Author) & Marjory Wentworth (Author), 2017.

A beautiful and inspired book that brings poetry to life with a culturally rich collection of poetic tributes that extends the legacies of poets from around the globe. Out of gratitude for the poet’s art form, Newbery Award-winning author and poet Kwame Alexander, along with Chris Colderley and Marjory Wentworth, present original poems that pay homage to twenty famed poets who have made the authors’ hearts sing and their minds wonder. Stunning mixed-media images by Ekua Holmes, winner of a Caldecott Honor and a John Steptoe New Talent Illustrator Award, complete the celebration and invite the reader to listen, wonder, and perhaps even pick up a pen. Exemplary words and inspired pictures make this a multicultural masterwork.

Ten Windows: How Great Poems Transform the World by Jane Hirshfield, 2015.

A brilliant collection of essays on how the best poems work, from the master poet and essayist. “Poetry,” Jane Hirshfield has said, “is language that foments revolutions of being.” In ten eloquent and highly original explorations, she unfolds and explores some of the ways this is done -by the inclusion of hiddenness, paradox, and surprise; by a perennial awareness of the place of uncertainty in our lives; by language’s own acts of discovery; by the powers of  image, statement, music, and feeling to enlarge in every direction. The lucid understandings presented here are gripping and transformative in themselves. Investigating the power of poetry to move and change us becomes in these pages an equal investigation into the inhabitance and navigation of our human lives.

Closely reading poems by Dickinson, Bashō, Szymborska, Cavafy, Heaney, Bishop, and Komunyakaa, among many others, Hirshfield reveals how poetry’s world-making takes place: word by charged word. By expanding what is imaginable and sayable, Hirshfield proposes, poems expand what is possible. Ten Windows restores us at every turn to a more precise, sensuous, and deepened experience of our shared humanity and of the seemingly limitless means by which that knowledge is both summoned and forged.

Forest Community

Forest & City View Of OAS1S Innovative Tree-Like Homes 

A revolutionary 21st century concept design emerges from Dutch designer and visionary Raimond de Hullu of OAS1S whose mission is to create synergy between people and the planet by ultimate green architecture: reinventing the timeless and sustainable qualities of forests through unique tree-like structures and forest-like communities. Eco cities that cultivate a harmonious sense of  place within contemporary culture merging architecture and nature, using ancient natural balance and green technology practices, for sustainable living. All the usual comforts of home, but with added consciousness and coolness! #forestfromthetrees

Inside Looking Out View OAS1S Living Architecture 

The ‘Treescrapers’ consist of wood and leaves, collect sun and water, plus provide oxygen, shelter and food, with tall, slim tree-like dimensions and spectacular vegetation facades. The basic architecture is shaped as a number 1, and gives people the experience of being one with nature. Each home can be combined with others to create forest-like districts that mix trees with tree-like houses, in an organic and public, compact and car-free lay-out. Construction is completed using recycled wood, organic high-value insulation, green walls and triple glazing to create off-grid, 100% self-sufficient homes. #realgreenliving

OAS1S reshuffles existing design dogmas because with a little different organisation, you can create much better communities. You can combine high-density housing with a park area, an energy and recycling plant, plus an urban farming site and a resort, OAS1S is all-in-one.

~Raimond de Hullu

OAS1S A Unique Concept For The Future Of Green Living Where Nature & People Become One

Visit OAS1s to learn more about their current global pilot projects -Ecoresort, Boutique Hotel, Spa & Music Studio.

Earth Hour

Earth Hour 2017. Around the globe, millions of people, businesses, and landmarks annually set aside this hour to host events and switch off their lights, to shine a light on environmental protection and action. This year Earth Hour is at 8:30pm March 25th 2017. There’s never been a more critical moment for the world to show solidarity for and a strong commitment to fighting climate change. Coordinated by the  World Wildlife Foundation and other volunteer organizations in an ongoing effort to achieve massive environmental impact by helping change laws, lives and our planet. There’s still so much more to do! Take Action. #lightinthedarkness

Mindful Mandala

Daring Dahlia: From The Flower Mandala Project

 If we could see the miracle of a single flower clearly, our whole life would change. ~Buddha

The Artful Blog recently posted new images throughout the Art Practice Site, some of which are part of a new ‘Flower Mandala Project’ in bloom. The beginning of a five season project encompassing: Spring Summer Fall Winter Spring. The goal of the project, being Jungian in nature, is to resonate aesthetically and as a meditation tool, to be both mystical and mindful. Based on an archetypal depth psychology premise Carl Jung illuminated: exploring the mandala as psychological expression of the human psyche and totality of the self. #artfulagenda #seedcenteroftheself

Follow The Artful Blog on Facebook for future updates and insight into the project and other things of interest related to both the site and blog & more.

Be More Tree

Be More Tree: A Journey Of Wisdom, Symbols, Healing, And Renewal, by Alice Peck (Author), Melissa Launay (Illustrator), Published by CICO Books, September 2016.

Discover how all trees can mirror us, teach us, and heal us. From author Alice Peck who reflected on the Maple tree in her backyard, and began to notice and then study its intricacies and changes, which became her regular meditation and inspiration. In Be More Tree Alice sensitively and eloquently shares what she has learned from that Maple tree, and from the trees all around us. Every tree tells a complete and ongoing story -from its powerful taproots to the birds that alight on its fragile high branches. Trees reflect our lives through their perseverance and seasonal rhythms -always changing yet consistent. They evolve along a much more protracted timetable than humans. Like us, trees feel and react to their environment, and communicate with us in subtle but distinct ways.

Here readers are invited to investigate and cherish trees from four perspectives: their roots -wisdom and understanding; their branches -symbols and rituals; their leaves -healing and science; and their seeds -transformation and spirituality. All of these elements show us how, although they live outside us, trees offer a path to our inner selves. From the Bodhi Tree to the Garden of Eden, the Druids to forest monks, medicines to tire swings -people have always received physical, psychological, and spiritual sustenance from trees. Filled with insights from botany to poetry, ecology to mythology, and herbalism to sacraments, Be More Tree explores the ways these grounded yet soaring entities can steady and move us, teach and transform us, inspire and comfort us. #fortheloveoftrees

A wonderful book for readers interested in the intersections of nature, folklore, and spirituality. Beautifully written and illustrated with an inspiring ecological point of view, that includes fervent prose, meditations, mantras, and prayers to help deepen the reader’s relationship with themselves, nature, and the interconnectedness of all things. This is the book The Artful Blog wanted to write! For more tree magic mystery and lore see previous posts: Art Of The Tree & Book Of Trees.

As A Dream

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I love your silence. It is so wise. It listens. It invites warmth. I love your loneliness. It is brave. It makes the universe want to protect you. You have the loneliness that all true heroes have, a loneliness that is a deep sea, within which the fishes of mystery dwell. I love your quest. It is noble. It has greatness in it. Only one who is born under a blessed star would set sail across the billowing waves and the wild squalls, because of a dream. I love your dream. It is magical. Only those who truly love and who are truly strong can sustain their lives as a dream. You dwell in your own enchantment. Life throws stones at you, but your love and your dream change those stones into the flowers of discovery. Even if you lose, or are defeated by things, your triumph will always be exemplary. And if no one knows it, then there are places that do. People like you enrich the dreams of the world, and it is dreams that create history. People like you are the unknowing transformers of things, protected by your own fairy-tale, by love.

~Ben Okri, Astonishing the Gods

Flower Lovers

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This is that magical window of quiet time that comes during the darkest month of Winter. In New England, February is a great time to cozy up by the fire, reading and sketching out big dreams and garden plans for the year ahead. It’s a welcome opportunity for a fresh start that The Artful Blog looks forward to every season. #wintertherapy

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As ideas grow and seed catalogs start pouring in it’s easy to get caught up in flower fever! Leafing through the glossy pages is an annual ritual that gets gardeners through the Winter with dreams of growing something new and wonderful for the next season. That said, it’s important to keep in mind how much room you actually have to plant and what you can afford after you consider irrigation and compost and other critical supplies. That’s why it’s important to take the time at the beginning of the year to make a master plan. The planning process will help you refine your goals, identify necessary supplies and schedule all of the important dates and tasks to have a successful flower growing season. Some ideas to get you started might be to create: Garden Specs Worksheets, Cutting Garden Wish List, Garden Supply Shopping List, Garden Design Sketch Pad, Seed Sowing Schedule, Field Notes, Sample Cutting Garden Plan, and a Botanical Materia Medica Journal. #botanicalbeginnings

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One of the places The Artful Blog draws inspiration from is the beautiful Floret Flower Farm -a small family run flower farm in Washington’s Skagit Valley that specializes in growing unique, uncommon and heirloom flowers. Known in the industry as a thriving research and education farm dedicated to giving flower lovers the tools and information they need to grow the gardens of their dreams. In addition to maintaining the farm, they also teach workshops for fellow farmers, designers, and flower lovers so students can explore their fields, and learn their tried and true farming methods, as well as how to arrange with local, seasonal material. And for those who aren’t growing their own flowers, they’ve developed a worldwide network of growers, Floret’s Farmer-Florist Collective, through which you can access locally grown blooms, wherever you live. #fortheloveofflowers

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All of this has led to the soon-to-be-released book “Floret Farm’s Cut Flower Garden: Grow, Harvest, and Arrange Seasonal Blooms,” which gives step-by-step details on how to cultivate your own flowers in any size space. The book shows off some of the most stunning varieties they have ever grown on the farm, many of which are primarily available to wholesale growers. But because they wanted folks to be able to grow the same flowers you see in the book, this last year they developed their latest offering: the Floret Seed Line. In the online shop, they offer more than 100 hard-to-find flower varieties sourced from the finest seed breeders in the world, plus dozens of Dahlias, Spring Flowering Bulbs, tools & supplies, and paper goods. Including a gorgeous 2017 Garden Journal & Daily Planner The Artful Blog picked up earlier this year. Brimming with loads of helpful advice and gorgeous photography. #blissfulblooms

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Floret Farm’s Cut Flower Garden: Grow, Harvest, and Arrange Stunning Seasonal Blooms, by Erin Benzakein (Author), Julie Chai (Author), Michele Waite (Photographer), March 7, 2017.

From Erin Benzakein, a leader in the locaflor farm-to-centerpiece movement and owner of internationally renowned Floret Flower Farm, Cut Flower Garden is equal parts instruction and inspiration -a book overflowing with lush photography of magnificent flowers and breathtaking arrangements organized by season. This beautiful guide to growing, harvesting, and arranging gorgeous blooms year-round gives readers vital tools to nurture a stunning flower garden and use their blossoms to create showstopping arrangements. With irresistible photos of Erin’s flower farm that showcase exquisite blooms, tips for growing in a variety of spaces and climates as well as step-by-step instructions for lavish garlands, airy centerpieces, and romantic floral décor for every season, Floret Farm’s Cut Flower Garden informs and entices gardeners of all skill levels.

For more garden & flower inspiration see previous post Art Of The Seed about the Hudson Valley Seed Library, known for artful seed collections featuring original artwork that celebrates the beauty and diversity of heirloom gardening.