Poetry Friday: Wordless Picture Book Art & Ekphrastic Poetry

It’s the first Friday of the month, so that means another critique group challenge. We have a new name! Heidi, Linda, Margaret, and Molly and I are now the Inklings! It was my turn to provide this month’s prompt, and I confess, I was at a bit of a loss. Then I received a postcard from the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art about their new exhibit: Speechless: The Art of Wordless Picture Books. As I read about the announcement, I thought, what a perfect opportunity to write ekphrastic poems. Here is the prompt I shared with my fellow Inklings:

Write an ekphrastic poem in response to a favorite scene in a wordless picture book (or any painting/photo/piece of art you choose).

I am a huge fan of wordless picture books. I am also a huge fan of the Carle and live close enough that a visit to Amherst, MA is the perfect day trip. Before I selected the image I wanted to write about, I packed my great-niece and nephews along with my friend Colette into the car and headed north on I-91. This show, curated by the brilliant David Wiesner, is a celebration of storytelling through images, and it did not disappoint. Along with original artwork from old and new favorites, the walls were adorned with life-sized characters from the books. My six-year old nephew was quite taken with the images from Christian Robinson’s recent book, Another, so this is the image I chose to inspire my poem for this month’s challenge:

from Another, by Christian Robinson (Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2019)

Please be sure to visit my fellow Inklings to read their responses to this month’s challenge:

Molly Hogan @ Nix the Comfort Zone
Linda Mitchell @ A Word Edgewise
Heidi Mordhorst @ My Juicy Little Universe
Margaret Simon @ Reflections on the Teche

Then head on over to A(nother) Year of Reading, where Mary Lee Hahn is hosting the Poetry Friday Roundup.

14 thoughts on “Poetry Friday: Wordless Picture Book Art & Ekphrastic Poetry

  1. Catherine, your post is so much fun! I love your illustration choice, your illustration, and poem pairing, especially the lines “that can be tucked away/ into the secret spaces/ of your heart.” gosh, I love the Inklings name. Thank you for links to the Eric Carle Museum and to the incredible David Wiesner’s website. His Mr. Wuffles is my favorite; it’s fascinating to learn it took him so many years to come up with story idea for his alien magazine illustration, which led to Mr. Wuffles. When I first read that book we had a cat that looked like Mr. Wuffles. I wrote a chapter book about our cat. It didn’t get published, but I did get a hand written note from the editor. I’m happy that you were able to visit the Eric Carle museum with children; It seems like a great exhibit. Thank you for all the wonderful shares.

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  2. Oh boy, do I want to “stumble into the joyousphere”! Kids will love this poem of possibility and adventure, and even though you do describe the scene quite particularly, it’s open enough to apply to a general concept of portals, to stand alone. I also love your presentation. Nicely done (or as Mary Lee would say very appropriately in this case, “Well played!” 😊)

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    • I might as well just tag along here, because, YES: well-played. And YES to “joyousphere!” And lookie here: the “mote” I wished for in Margaret’s poem!!

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  3. Joyousphere! is a stunning and absolutely perfect word. I love it and that your poem comes from a postcard to a trip to sharing with children. Such a great poem. I was going to compliment you on sharing the poem that I thought was maybe a forward in the book — but, it’s the poem you wrote! It really should be the forward of the book. I don’t think Mr. Robinson will mind at all! Well done, Catherine!

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  4. Your poem bounces with joy on that playful background. I envy you in getting a real time visit to the Eric Carle Museum (and with kids who marvel). I, too, love “joyousphere.”

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  5. Like Margaret, I envy you, too, being so close to the Carle Museum! I love the wordless books, have a colleague who used them for students’ writing prompts sometimes. Your choice of adventure in the poem fits the page so wonderfully, Catherine. Like others, pondering that ‘joyousphere’ is what childhood is all about, isn’t it?

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  6. Catherine, How could you have actually added more to that beautiful illustration? It is hard to believe, but I think you have done it. After reading your words I looked at the illustration afresh. Wonderful! I love so much the “joyousphere” of that place, the “redyellowgreenblue” balls “floating like motes of stardust”

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  7. This is a perfect poem for your grandbaby. I love what you did with it and from the art you chose. I love the dancing little motes line and that cheer that you can tuck away in those secret spaces in your heart. Tender yet brave. We need to take that first step sometimes that seems so scary but can bring us into something beautiful. I hope this one gets published. I would want to hang this in my classroom.

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  8. That is a wonderful prompt. I love your poem – the idea of stumbling into the “joyousphere” (yes, please!) and tucking happiness away in the “secret spaces of your heart” so you always have it when you need/want it. Wonderful!

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  9. I will be thinking about a wordless book to write a peom to this month. I love the work of David Weisener.
    I also like reading the word ‘portal’ in your poem. It’s a favoritee

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  10. I loved that illustration and love where you went with it! Your presentation–background, spacing, word placement, etc.–enhances the whole. Who can resist a visit to the joyousphere!? Thanks for taking us along. This is a gem of a poem! I will echo the “well played” comment offered earlier!

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