Thursday, January 11, 2018

Creative Joy Progress Report

I have now had four hours of creative joy in this new year, the two hours I spent writing at BookBar -  the indie bookstore/cafe on Tennyson Street in Denver (see my previous post) - and two more this week.

One of the hours was just spent here at home doing a careful review of my chapter-book-in-progress in preparation for a conversation with my editor. To make the hour extra-special I put Cool Whip on my Swiss Miss hot chocolate, and it was a most satisfying hour indeed.

But the most creative hour of creative joy was yesterday, when I went with Kate, my partner in the creative joy project, to the Denver Art Museum for the final week of "Her Paris: Women Artists in the Age of Impressionism." Our mission: to look at beautiful paintings and write poems about them, or about anything at all, really. Kate brought along her sketchbook, too, for creating a visual record of our visit.

Here are the three poems I wrote from the "Her Paris" exhibit, paired with the paintings that inspired them, as well as the one I wrote in the small exhibit featuring statues and paintings of the Hindi elephant god Ganesha. The beauty of this kind of creative hour is that the poems don't have to be good. They just have to be written - and in order for me to fulfill my own personal objective, written with joy. I have to have FUN writing them. And I did.
Anna Archer
Young Woman Arranging Flowers
About 1885

We do not know the year
or the month, or the day,
but we know the moment.
You stand erect, even stiff,
in your dress of jade velvet,
golden hair tightly coiled,
absorbed in positioning
yellow and white flowers
in their careless profusion,
lavish, almost lewd, their petals splayed,
drooping beneath the extravagant
weight of their blooming,
alive in this instant,
this instant,
this one.

Louise Abbema, Lunch in the Greenhouse, 1877

Little girl with the sunlit curls,
it is not your pink bow,
as big as you are,
that catches our eye,
but the sagging socks,
gray worsted bunched at the ankles,
as you stand, just barely on tiptoe,
gesturing with outstretched hand,
too busy to tug at knee socks,
the bright sun tangled in your bright hair,
too busy to care.

The Last Days of Childhood
Cecelia Beaux, 1883-85

But how did you know?
We can only say afterward
That this was the last,
And not even then.
Which farewell was the final one?
Which moment the marker
That tells us the when?
I lost a piece of my childhood
Just yesterday.
Then I found it,
And then I lost it again.

Broken Tusk – Poem for Ganesha

My tusk is broken, too.
All of me is, really,
Mainly the parts you cannot see.
Am I an Overcomer of Obstacles like you?
It depends on what is meant by overcoming.
But I guess it’s clear that brokenness
Isn’t a deal breaker here.
Even an elephant with a broken tusk
Can grant prayers.
Even a woman with a broken spirit
Can continue praying.


  1. I enjoyed your poems so much, Claudia, and can feel your creative joy in them!

  2. Thanks, Maribeth! I did have so much fun doing this!

  3. Lovely. I found the exhibit inspiring, too. --Rebecca