Wake the Day

One of the men in my neighbourhood heard I studied fine arts. He’s in a band that was doing a fundraiser for cancer. He asked, if he provided the supplies, could I create a painting of the album’s title song that could be auctioned off at the CD release party? As he was very persistent, I eventually agreed. Then I tinkered around on Facebook, as one is wont to do when the clock is ticking, while listening to the song, by After Autumn, which is sort of sweet and sad and ultimately about not giving up.

I had no idea what to put on that blank canvas staring at me. I thought of a tree with the lyrics branching out of it. Then I realized that I’d rather do a portrait, which made me imagine a face that was open, strong, determined, and neither smiling nor frowning. Something Mona Lisa-esque. I remembered a profile picture of a Facebook friend, which I downloaded and began replicating. While staring at the tiny digital image on my screen, I gave the wonderfully expansive, egg-shell white canvas some of the broad strokes of my friend Silvia’s distinctive features: her resolute jaw and cheekbones; Jackie O wide eyes; generous, enigmatic mouth; and broad swish of eyebrows. The photo of Silvia I had chosen pleased me greatly as it had high contrasts of light and shadow, just like Silvia’s personality. She’s a tough kitten with a big heart and wicked sense of humour — a feisty, dark, cerebral beauty.

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Please excuse the thumb I rely on it for proportioning.

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Yes, the midcentury glass bowl was full of paint by the end.

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Ah, red.

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I finished the painting on stage with the band at their CD release party, as they played “Wake the Day.” The lyrics are painted in her hair. I hope you like it, dear reader.

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Of Haiku, Heart and Art

I belong to a haiku group on Facebook. Though this may conjure up images of a cardigan’ed bunch who bend back the spines of leather-bound volumes as we compare Bashō to Blyth, I assure you, dear reader, the reality is far from it. Ribald and sometimes bawdy, this virtual roundtable was founded by a Dorothy Parker in the form of Milla Goldenberg, who, with a wide-open mind, enforces only one rule: 5-7-5. (or, 17 sounds if you’re feeling more Issa and experimental.)

“Haiku are best appreciated through the intelligence of the heart.” — Robert Spiess, American haiku poet.

Ruth Grayson’s Haiku. Concept and styling by Ruth Grayson, photography by Joshua Fogel (www.joshfogel.com.)

Multi-national, -gendered, -cultured, even multilingual, this group posts once a week or more, be it a cheeky observation, confession, an offload of grief or anxiety, to assuage a broken heart or, just because they’re really gifted at the art form. It’s a creative safe space where everyone’s warm-hearted, has a broad sense of humour, and is allowed to express oneself without criticism. Find us at Haiku Wednesdays on Facebook, and slam a poem or two down. (And yes, we all admit to counting syllables on our fingers.)

“Haiku is not a shriek, a howl, a sigh, or a yawn; rather, it is the deep breath of life.”
— Santoka Taneda

Photography by Joshua Fogel.

LA-based editor and writer who’s been published in The New York Times (Modern Love), Milla, who also blogs at MillaTimes.com, came up with a rather creative project for the inaugural volume of Haiku Wednesdays: The Book, which will showcase the best of the first year. She went through volumes of verse and handpicked the 50 best examples. The writers of those 50 were then required to provide original art to accompany their haiku, whether it take the form of graphics, illustration, painting, sculpture or a photograph. Those who felt challenged by this aspect were invited to lean on marketing wiz-kid and graphic designer Joe Luna (Joe at Monkeypickles) for assistance. Yours truly was charged with the layout and design of the book. When the deadline closed for art submissions, the three of us were audibly blown away by the originality, creativity and enthusiasm of all involved. The book is still very much in production, but here is your sneak peek.

Our space is open to all. So come see, stay awhile, look for the book and, as Milla says in the group’s tagline:

Let’s make poetry / Once a week or any time / Just because we can.

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