When an artist meets a poet

Or in this case dozens of poets spanning the ages from Shakespeare to Plath.

Timeless and modern classics are treated to a thoughtful ethereal visualization resulting in a book to lose yourself. Step away from troubled frenzied times to a world of fanciful and sometimes heartbreaking tales of human emotion across the life span.

Here, the artist is Jackie Morris and the book is “ The Barefoot Book of Classic Poems.” Jackie Morris is herself an author and, as mentioned earlier, an artist, who takes poems such as “ The Stolen Child” and “ This Is Just To Say” and wraps them in  evocative visual treatments that transport the attentive reader into the world of the poem. Fairies with wings of butterflies riding owls and playing musical instruments. Trees tall and forlorn in an autumnal landscape in “ The Road Not Taken”. 

Cover image of The Barefoot Book of Classic Poems

What is the magic when word and image unite to create a third element more whole and enchanting that either one alone?

For me, many things come together in a book of poetry and art. The feel of the paper, a bookmark,  and even just turning the pages  add to the particular personality of a book. Reading a poem and delighting in the musical quality and the rhythm of the words alters the perception of the present, allowing the reader to step into another space, a different time. When that poem is accompanied by art, the imagination takes flight with the added dimension of color and shape. It escorts the mind into a creative zone allowing subconscious  ideas to surface, thus rejuvenating creative flow.


The visualization of the magical

 In “ A Spell For Sleeping’ by Alastair Reid, we read a tale about a lost king’s daughter. Told with a dreamlike quality, the princess seems to move alone through a world of grief, with ghosts as companions, as the rhythms of nature continue on, sympathetic, but undeterred. This dreamy quality is enhanced by Morris’ artwork as she weaves in elements from the poem. Rich with pattern and texture, you feel the princess is now watched over by the creatures of the poem and the sickle moon.

What is the benefit of reading and absorbing images in a book such as this, particularly for artists?

This book is aimed at young readers as an introduction to poetry and it hits the mark. But, why should kids have all the fun? Poems are very much like puzzles, requiring thought and consideration to distill exactly what is at the heart of the poem. Deciphering the rhythm of the poem, the use of specific words to express a singular meaning requires metaphorical thinking, that is, linking two unrelated things or concepts through the use of metaphor. This leads to divergent thinking which allows the mind to think outside of the box and super charge imagination and creativity. When images are added to the mix, we become aware of how color and shape, line and texture are used to support the thought of the poem and a new synergy is born. The magical is visualized.

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