Wednesday, September 26, 2012

NEWPORT: Poem Drawings by Sam Thurston

Poem Drawings by Sam Thurston
Newport Natural Foods and Cafe Gallery
Opening: Friday, September 28,  6 - 8 pm

Artist's Statement: Sam Thurston

For years I had wanted to "illustrate" poems that moved me, but I never understood what would work for me. The first one that stayed in my head in my 20's held the key to how to do it, but I could not see it.

  I heard a noise and wished for a sight,
  I looked for life and did a shadow see
  Whose substance was the sum of my delight,
  Which came unseen, and so did go from me. 
                                                       (Anonymous, 16th c.)
Then when I was in my 60's talking to a painter from England, Timothy Hyman, who liked to take Moleskin accordion sketchbooks and illustrate them with images of his life, some realistic and some fantastic. Had he ever "illustrated" poems I asked? 'No,' he replied, adding 'I am too old to do it now, and so are you.'
from Dido Queen of Carthage by Geoffrey Chaucer

That must have been what I needed because the next day I did my first poem drawing, starting with the anonymous "I heard a noise" poem. I had finally found my formula.

If I took a poem that I did not associate with anyone else, one that I had heard no one else read or comment on, a poem that gave only a hint of physical description so I would not get pulled down into illustration, and if I let myself be moved by the mood rather than the facts of the poem, I could find a sensibility that was offered by the poet to me to use, and I could build on that.
from Patterson by William Carlos Williams

from The Witch of Atlas by Percy Bysshe Shelly
After doing some of my favorite poems in this way I next went searching for poems that were new to me so I could think up my image during that first surprise of the poem. I did about 50 poems during a year and then my mood shifted and I stopped.

Will I return to them? Yes, if I can find the new equation.
- Sam Thurston

Show of Poem Drawings by Sam Thurston
Newport Natural Foods and Cafe Gallery
194 Main Street
Newport, VT 05855
(802) 334-2626
Hours: Monday thru Saturday, 8am to 8pm /      Sunday, 10am to 6pm