Friday, April 19, 2013

Paint Me a Poem: Poetry and Art...Plus Dance!

Since April is National Poetry Month and today is also Poetry Friday, I didn't want to miss the chance to post some more dance-related poems by my new friend Justine Rowden -- this time from her book Paint Me a Poem: Poems Inspired by Masterpieces of Art

A few years ago, when Justine was working at the National Portrait Gallery, she noticed that a lot of people had no reaction at all when they stood in front of a painting they hadn't seen before. This gave her an idea!

"I felt my first endeavor ought to be a book that proposes a way to look at any painting and find the spark, the joy, in that work," she says. "Forget historical references. Look for the passion in the art!" And thus her work began on Paint Me a Poem.

For the book, Justine chose 14 paintings from the National Gallery of Art and created poems to go along with them. "Each poem suggests just one possible way to look at that painting in a new way," she says. Here are a couple of my favorites, which both reflect Justine's love of dance. Yes, she is a kindred spirit!

Green Plums by Joseph Decker, c. 1885.
Courtesy of the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC.

Green plums rolling
Yeah! rockin' and rollin'
Out of their box
Onto the stage
Ready to swing their stems,
Moving in rhythm
To a juicy tune. 
The beat, it gets to them--
Swaying side to side, 
They go even faster
Until finger-snapping hands 
Put them back in their box. 

Moving White Fluffs

Meadow by Alfred Sisley, 1875.
Courtesy of the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC.

The sky is full
Of fuzzy white polka dots.
As they move on, 
Do you think
Those dots are really
Dancing the polka
While they drift away?

Doing the polka
Takes time to learn
And where could they
Hear the music
To get the dance just right?
So, maybe it's not
The polka at all they're doing. 

Maybe it's just a slow glide 
They make up
As they go along. 
Then why do you suppose
They call them "Polka dots" --
Those funny white fluffs
In the blue, blue sky?

Beautiful poems, right? So what does Justine hope that children will take away from the book? "I would like to think that children will look at the paintings, really connecting with the art, and perhaps even write original poems about the paintings themselves,"she says. I hope that some adults have that reaction, too!

Find out more about Paint Me a Poem at Irene Latham at Live Your Poem is hosting the Poetry Friday roundup today, so you can find more poetry for children and adults there, too!


  1. Must get this book! I love ekphrasis and did a series of poems for adults inspired by art that hangs in the National Museum of Art by Women. Talk about inspiring! Thank you for sharing.

    1. Hi, Irene. Thanks for stopping by and for hosting the roundup a few weeks ago. I'm SO far behind in everything that I still need to finish going through the Poetry Friday posts from way back then. How neat that you've also been inspired by museum art. Maybe I will have to take a pencil and notebook to the next museum I visit :)

  2. So very unique.. I like the thought behind this book. The poems and paintings are both very beautiful! thanks for sharing this wonderful book Kerry!

    1. Hi, Reshama. Thanks for your comment. The rest of the poems are just as beautiful, but I only included a couple with movement themes in them. I hope you get a chance to read the whole book sometime :)


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