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How To Make Poetry Inspired Art: World Poetry Day

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World Poetry Day (March 21st) will soon be upon us and so, being a world-class poet, I thought I'd do something to mark the occasion. 'Oh cool, Bee! Are you gonna write a poem for it?', I hear you ask. No...that would've made...a lot more sense...I have, instead, decided to celebrate by creating a couple of abstract paintings inspired by poetry. What's the point in life if you don't throw yourself in the deep end and flail about a bit every once in a while?! 

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Granted, it's usually poets drawing upon art for inspiration, more on that next week, but it can be just as interesting to try and recreate poetry in art. Poetry is already an incredibly visual medium so it makes a lot of sense to merge the two together. Thanks to a box of arty goodies that Viking sent me, including the canvases and the metallic pens, I was able to paint a couple of abstract paintings. One of them is based on a poem by e. e. cummings and the other is based on my poem 'tin can daydreams'. 

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she dreams in darkness
so I make her a universe. 

moulding moons from glazed eyes 
freckles blooming constellations 
planets aligning from her 

because to me she sings 
gravity she sings hushed
                                    lullabies, of tomorrows,


close encounters of the third kind.

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'tin can daydreams' is a poem that I wrote for one of my best friends about the ways in which we support and care for one another even when we feel unable to show ourselves that same level of love. It's a permanent reminder of the eternal adoration I will hold for her and our incredible friendship. 

As such, I wanted the canvas to sing with colour, shapes and textures. It needed to be muddled, loud and all-consuming. It also needed to have space-y celestial vibes because the poem relies heavily on that kind of imagery. With all of that in mind, I started with a black base and built up the colour as I went along. I used metallic pens here and there, rained down flecks of black and white with a fine paintbrush, and danced just about every colour of acrylic paint that I owned across the canvas. As you can see, I wasn't too precious with it. It's wild and that's why it works.  

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now winging selves sing sweetly
e. e. cummings

now winging selves sing sweetly,while ghosts(there
and here)of snow cringe;dazed an earth shakes sleep
out of her brightening mind:now everywhere
space tastes of the amazement which is hope

gone are those hugest hours of dark and cold
when blood and flesh to inexistence bow
(all that was doubtful’s certain,timid’s bold;
old’s youthful and reluctant’s eager now)

anywhere upward somethings yearn and stir
piercing a tangled wrack of wishless known;
nothing is like this keen(who breathes us)air
immortal with the fragrance of begin

winter is over - now(for me and you,
darling!)life’s star prances the blinding blue

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I then decided to recreate a poem by e. e. cummings, 'now winging selves sing sweetly', because I've been high on life now that Spring is rearing its daffodil-covered head and I wanted to paint something that was representative of that joy. This poem shares that sentiment. 

I worked with a selection of colours that mimicked the higgedly-piggledy nature of wildflowers and to further push the idea of disordered joy I played around with movement and texture by bouncing my fingertips around the canvas. The blue tones, of course, play upon the 'blinding blue' of the last line. It looks like a Monet that has been sat on and I am all about that life. 

And these are my finished-for-now abstract paintings based on the aforementioned poems...

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(Half of the above was still wet but I didn't have time to let it dry before I took photos so yolo!)

how to make poetry inspired art: 

• pick a poem you feel strongly about. it'll make the process of recreating it easier. 
• read through the poem and note down how it makes you feel. 
• underline images or ideas that are particularly strong that you can then draw from. try not to be too broad because you want your artwork to have a clear message.
• think about the medium it best lends itself to. are we talking paints, inks, good old fashioned pencil etc?
all of that said, allow yourself to be spontaneous. don't take yourself seriously. i find that you can sometimes reap the best results where art is concerned when you just see where it takes you. 

Have I inspired you to go forth and make your own poetry-inspired art? What poems would you like to recreate? Try it! Your creations can't look any weirder than my little abstract babies!

Before you leave, I'd love it if you shared the name of your favourite poem(s), and what you like about it/them, below so everyone can go away with a handful of new poems to read in celebration of World Poetry Day. If you enjoyed this post, let me know. If you'd like to read more, scroll through all of mcreative blog posts or my poems.

*Viking sent me a box of arty goods to help me make this post but the creative madness is all mine.



  1. I've never even considered making poetry inspired art, but I love the concept! I have a fresh pack of watercolours just waiting to get used... thanks for the idea!

    I know everyone's been going on about this book, but I recently read Rupi Kaur's "Milk and Honey" and loved it. I also recently read and loved Claudia Rankine's "Citizen: An American Lyric" - not all poetry, but really thought provoking.

    Kate |


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