Friday, March 9, 2012

Entry # 44 - "Some Thoughts on Bulbs and Words"

Photo Credit - Jan Bowman 3/9/12
This week as I watch the lovely process of  “Mary Amaryllis” (for this is what I’ve named her) reaching for the sun from the windowsill in my dining room, I am struck by how a bulb gives its all for the beauty of its bloom.  In fact “she” seems only to require air, morning sun, and just a little soil and water as she raises her hopeful face to the world. 

Just as writers rise early, their hearts and minds filled with hope – this Amaryllis blooms, even as I settle into the sunlight of my office to plant words in the hope of creating something lovely and powerful on the page.  And whether we write poems, fiction, or nonfiction, the task - the sacred work of writers - is to find words, the best words, that will touch readers as we share our connections to the complex beauty and pain of living.     

I found a poem, Bulbs, by New Zealand poet, Mary Ursula Bethell, (1874-1945) in a copy of Art & Wonder: An Illustrated Anthology of Visionary Poetry from The Metropolitan Museum of Art.  The work, selected and introduced by Kate Farrell, uses two works of art combining pictures, paintings and poems to explore “visions of paradise, secrets of existence, and the world of dreams.” 

Here is a portion of the Bethell’s poem, "Bulbs":

“I have planted lilies, but will they grow well with me?
Will they like the glitter of this north-looking hillside?
Will they like the rude winds, the stir, the quick changes?
Would they not have shadowy stillnesses, and peace?”

Mary Amaryllis - March 9, 2012

And later the poet answers her questions with a whimsical assessment of the process.

“All these lovely lilies. I wish they would grow with me,
No other flowers have the texture of the lilies,
The heart-piercing fragrance, the newly alighted angel’s
Lineal poise, and purity, and peace---”

Bethell’s poem is accompanied by a color monotype of two sheets by American artist, Mary Frank from her 1977 work, “Amaryllis” which I cannot post here. 
Today,  I include new photos of my “Mary Amaryllis” and I think these lines from the poem relate to the blooming of an amaryllis, as well as the growth process of writers as they paint with words, using the color of language and emotion on the page.

Waters Edge - Photo by Jan Bowman 3/9/12
    I am reminded that Harriet Doerr said, “I have everything I need. A square of sky, a piece of stone, a page, a pen, and memory raining down on me in sleeves.”

Any Thoughts on this process?

Jan Bowman’s work has appeared in Roanoke Review, Big Muddy, Broadkill Review, Trajectory, Third Wednesday, Minimus, Buffalo Spree (97), Folio, The Potomac Review, Musings, Potato Eyes, and others. She won the 2012 Roanoke Review Prize for Fiction. Her stories have been nominated for a Pushcart Prize, Best American Short Stories and a story was a finalist in the “So To Speak” Fiction Contest. She is working on two collections of short stories and currently shopping for a publisher for a completed story collection. She has nonfiction work pending publication in Spring 2013 Issues of Trajectory and Pen-in-Hand. She writes a weekly blog of “Reflections” on the writing life and posts regular interviews with writers and publishers.   Learn more at:


1 comment:

  1. Hi Jan,I don't know you but I almost feel like I do and I am so impressed by the way you look at the natural world. Keep showing us what is possible. I hope to write like this one day. Thank you. Helen