It’s hard to believe when there are six-foot snow piles out the window, but spring will be here eventually, and with it comes the Massachusetts Poetry Festival! I’ve attended the festival for several years (find my reactions and updates from the 2014 festival here), and this year am excited to announce that I (Meg) will be leading an ekphrastic workshop at the Peabody Essex Museum, for poetry and art lovers of all levels of skill and experience.
Inspired by the Palettes of Light project and using artworks from the Art & Nature Center’s show Branching Out as well as the story-telling photography of Duane Michals, I’ll be talking about the things curators and poets have in common, and providing writing prompts and exercises for participants.
Program description: Artworks speak to poets–but do these works speak to each other as well? How does the proximity of one work to another inspire new ideas and connections that one piece alone does not? In this workshop, we will explore unusual pairings in current exhibitions at the Peabody Essex Museum and discuss the ways curators, like poets, use juxtaposition to evoke surprise and curiosity. We will also practice close-looking strategies which then inform our poetry writing practice. Writers and art-lovers of all levels of experience welcome: just bring your eyes and your imagination, (and possibly your favorite writing implement), we’ll provide the rest!
The festival organizers haven’t released the weekend’s final schedule yet, but when they do we’ll update with specific times and places. The festival buttons to attend the whole weekend’s events are extremely low-priced for the sheer volume of programming available, and the headlining poets look like a great line-up. The festival buttons also get you in to see the Peabody Essex Museum free for those days, which is a bonus. Hope to see you there!
I’m fortunate that my day job (as a museum educator) allows me to be creative on a regular basis, in addition to my writing career and artistic hobbies. Occasionally, the two even intersect in a fun way, such as when I recently got to write a ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ style gallery guide for kids and adults to explore the Peabody Essex Museum’s maritime collection, or in a few weeks at the annual local museum conference.
Palettes of Light will be ‘popping up’ at the New England Museum Association’s pre-conference event this November in Cambridge, MA. NEMA is hosting a ‘Pop-Up Museum.’ Pop-up museums are defined as ‘an exhibit created by the people who attend the event, on a particular theme, for a limited period of time.’ This event’s theme invites museum professionals to exhibit what they create outside of work. I’m looking forward to providing my addition: sample images and poems from the project, and am especially looking forward to seeing what other creative endeavors are presented by friends and colleagues.
Palettes of Light began with Michele’s desire to add an extra dimension to her photography. As a long-time fan of poetry, she reached out to Meg to propose a collaboration. In an early conversation, Meg said she found herself drawn to both Michele’s floral close-ups and the high-energy luminous abstracts. On a second look, Michele suggested that the sharp focus of one balanced the abstract nature of the other, and that they could be paired by color, form, and feeling. Such a pairing lends each photograph more layers, like a soundtrack under a compelling piece of dialogue. Intrigued by the idea, Meg offered to write a poem for each pair which could apply to both at once, but which would read a little differently depending on the image the reader preferred. Thus Palettes of Lightwas born.