Blog 8: Illustrating Poems

I have been working with Daniela Huhurez who specialises in ink illustrations, very beautiful, and she has been using my poems as a starting point for new work she has been doing. I’ve been fascinated to see how she has used my words and combined them with images. The sample below is recognisable to me from the context of my poems, but they’ve been reshaped into her drawings into this new context. The ink drawings were shaped from the series of sonnets I wrote around the theme of growth.

She has done a series of drawings based on several pieces I’ve written, all of which are amazing. Some of them are really interesting imagistic intepretations of the poems’ material, and I’ve started writing poems in response to her illustrations, so we are building up layers of collaboration.

Daniela’s tutor has a thought about us producing a short phamplet called Conversations, which focuses on the collaborative elements to the work we have done together. With this in mind Daniela’s asked me:

Do you think that having the poems illustrated is something that enhances the experience of reading and understanding the poem?
What you want your reader to get from the experience of reading your poem is going to be influenced by the illustrations around it; Stevie Smith’s drawings around her work I find really endearing and curiously illuminating towards her poetry. The childish elements of her poetry suit her sketches, the humour and the lyrical rhythms. Poetry illustrations next bring to mind William Blake’s artistic creations, again that format of clear images and symbols and poetry with much rhyme. An image brings emotion to the surface clearly, which perhaps allows the reader to access the poem in a new way? Writing a poem is an act of sculpting blank space on a page, a poem’s shape is intrinsically illustrating it’s meaning. Blank Media Collective is one organisation I know that encourages active collaboration between different mediums and I’ve worked with one of their illustrators previously in issue 37. I suppose I see illustration as a way of guiding a reader into a poem, which can be really effective and enhance their understanding of the poem. It depends a great deal on how the writer conceives of their poem, I am always happy to see my writing evolve into a new format and develop in new directions and quite like Daniela pulling different images from my work and playing with them, and then the images come back as I write about them further, as if passing it back and forth between mediums.
What positive or negative things do you see in this collaboration between arts?

I think the positive things are the regeneration that collaboration gives when two people find inspiration can pass  easily. I’m excited to have began writing about Daniela’s response to my poems, although I feel like there’s still a lot to explore in my response to her response! I think the only danger is in simplifying the process too much. Perhaps also there is something secretive in my poems sometimes, which I wouldn’t want to lose the feeling of.  It is important that the form is appropriate to the subject, it fits that Daniela draws in ink as it’s such a writerly material! It is inspiring bringing fresh vision to your material and seeing it in a new light.

There’s probably a lot more I could add on this later! But these are my initial thoughts. Here is a sketch made of me at the sketch-o-matic booth to conclude:


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