Writing with Pictures: Poetic Advice

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Stanly Kunitz, in the August 1988 issue of The  Paris Review, described well the process of getting art from the head to the page. As a believer that illustration is “writing with pictures,” I often find advice from writers to be particularly use in my teaching and professional practice.

“The poem in the head is always perfect. Resistance starts when you try to convert it into language. Language itself is a kind of resistance to the pure flow of self. The solution is to become one’s language. You cannot write a poem until you hit upon its rhythm. That rhythm not only belongs to the subject matter, it belongs to your interior world, and the moment they hook up there’s a quantum leap of energy. You can ride on that rhythm, it will carry you somewhere strange. The next morning you look at the page and wonder how it all happened. You have to triumph over all your diurnal glibness and cheapness and defensiveness.”

Stanley Kunitz (1905-2006) won many awards for his writing including the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Pize. He was the U.S. Poet Laureate in 2000.

To Draw from Life is to Learn About Life

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“My advice: draw from life as much as you can stand to. That’s where you really learn things. And learn to express your real, personal feelings. And don’t worry about creating masterpieces or only drawing the pretty things. Look for the commonplace, the unnoticed details of everyday reality. To draw from life is to learn about life. But, you need to be compelled by some inner need to fill the blank page. It’s gotta come from inside.” -R. (Robert) Crumb, from An Illustrated Life; Drawing Inspiration from the Private Sketchbooks of Artists, Illustrators and Designers by Danny Gregory, How Books, 2008