Author Archives: Karin Fisher-Golton

Amazing May 29: Creativity

photo by Karin Fisher-Golton

photo by Karin Fisher-Golton

Creating, in all kinds of ways–writing, drawing, beach sculpture, improv, more–has been a lifelong joy for me. However in recent years when I think of creativity, the first thing that comes to my mind is children writing poetry.

I have been fortunate to have opportunities to teach children poetry in partnership with a wonderful and skilled elementary school teacher, Deborah Weinstein, on a few occasions in the past couple years, including a 12-week afterschool class. We plan to do it again next fall.

Though our expectations were never low, we found ourselves impressed again and again with what the children created—the beauty, the cleverness, the humor, the meaning, and the deft use of poetic techniques.

One lesson worked so well in her second grade class that we did it again in the afterschool program. The topic was ekphrastic poetry, which is poetry inspired by a work of visual art. As Jan Greenberg describes and demonstrates so beautifully in her rich collection, Heart to Heart: New Poems Inspired by Twentieth Century American Art, ekphrastic poems can fall into a variety of categories, including stories, description, interpretation, and giving voice to a depicted object or person.

HeartToHeartCoverAfter discussing several ekphrastic poems in a group, the students choose art, in the form of cut pages from art calendars laid out around the room. Then they were let loose to write ekphrastic poems.

The first time we did this we wondered if the assignment would be too abstract. Instead it was as though we’d just released some poetry-writing fish into water. The excitement and enthusiasm levels were high. The poems were brilliant. Some children wrote multiple poems. Sometimes several children wrote about the same piece of art, creating fascinating opportunities to compare.

We’ve come to think that children’s natural, uninhibited creativity when met with the creativity of visual artists, blossoms to the extreme. To me, ekphrastic poems have become the epitome of creativity. One person’s creation inspiring another’s.

So here’s a recipe for a creative bonanza: Choose a painting, sculpture, photograph or other piece of art that attracts you. Let your inner muse loose. Write a poem. OR choose a poem that attracts you, and let it inspire you to paint, draw, photograph, or sculpt.

poetry friday“Pizazz” (below) is an ekphrastic poem that I wrote, inspired by Andy Warhol’s 1983 color screenprint, Grevy’s Zebra, which you can see here. If you’re left wanting more poetry, visit Diane Mayr’s Random Noodling blog. She is hosting Poetry Friday this week.

PIZAZZ
(inspired by Grevy’s Zebra by Andy Warhol)

Zip!
My stripes dazzle,
Surprise, a
Confusing maze.
I zoom. I zigzag.
Am I arriving?
Or leaving? Have
I got your eyes
In a daze?

Zing!
Are you dizzy?
Where’s my start?
My end? Observe
Closely. You’ll
See less of me, the
Wizard of active haze.
I’m Grevy’s Zebra.
Or am I?

Karin Fisher-Golton, ©2013

And one more thing on Amazing May 29…I want to acknowledge and express my gratitude for the the life and work of Maya Angelou. I love the beauty and meaning in her writing, and I love the way she read her own words. Click here, to hear Maya Angelou read her poetic picture book Life Doesn’t Frighten Me.

Thank you, artists of all kinds. Thank you to the artist in all of us.

Amazing May 28: The Night Sky

Today marks the new moon. Tonight will be one of the nights when we can see the stars best. Have a look!

I find it comforting and awesome to know that people in the same hemisphere, no matter what language, tradition, or situation can look up and see the same stars (albeit with a lot more detail in places with less human-generated light). And people everywhere see the moon in the same phase.

Recently I was on the phone with a dear friend 330 miles south of me, she at the beach, me looking out my window. I loved that we were both looking at the moon.

Humans have seen the moon and stars and followed the positions of the planets for thousands of years. There are stories, information, and beauty in the night sky that transcend time and place.

photo by Todd Vance

photo by Todd Vance

Thank you moon, stars, planets, and space.

Amazing May 27: Birds

One of the first times my son alerted me to something other than his own needs and wants, he told me about the presence of a bird. He was about a year old. He couldn’t say the English word, “bird,” but I’d taught him the ASL (American Sign Language) sign for it. At the kitchen table one afternoon, I noticed him signing BIRD. For a moment I thought his sign was arbitrary, but then I listened and, sure enough, I could hear a bird. What a shift in our communication, and how amazing to know that little person was noticing things I had missed.

Today, I was a chaperone on his third-grade class’s field trip. Many of the highlights were connected to birds. We saw graceful water birds, Canada geese flying, and, close to us on a picnic table: a black phoebe with its striking black and white pattern. We heard California quails’ distinctive call, “Chi-caa-go,” and during the times when we got quiet, we enjoyed a variety of birdsong.

Birds delight us with their music, good looks, and the idea of soaring through the air.

brown pelicans, with bonus elephant seals (photo by Karin Fisher-Golton)

brown pelicans, with bonus elephant seals (photo by Karin Fisher-Golton)

Thank you, birds.

Amazing May 26: Bravery

When I think of the men and women we honor today in the United States, on Memorial Day, I think of their bravery.

I want to acknowledge that I am writing as a person with a lifelong tendency for pacifism, and I still sincerely appreciate the people who serve their country.

Those people took a known, grave risk, because something else meant more to them. Some wanted to protect the rights we have in this country; some wanted to safeguard people; some were subject to the draft and accepted that; some had personal reasons we’ll never know. In all those cases, they took a step forward, and said “yes, this is a risk, and I will do this.” And then were required to show their bravery again and again.

photo by Alethe, detail

photo by Alethe, detail

I find all kinds of bravery amazing, from a baby taking its first step, to someone stepping on stage for the first time, to proposing a date or marriage. We hope these things come out for the best, but it wouldn’t take courage if they always did.

Some soldiers did not have the outcome we wish for them all. Today we honor them and their sacrifice. And we honor their bravery, for nobly choosing to take a great risk in hopes of a greater good.

Thank you, brave people. Thank you, soldiers.

Amazing May 25: Pets

Companion animals snuggle their way deeply into our hearts, they entertain us, and they help us in some less obvious ways. Scientists have found health, social, and emotional benefits to having pets. A good summary is here. The Biology major in me is not surprised to learn that humans have a number of benefits in what is a long-established symbiotic relationship.

While we humans get our blood pressure lowered, our moods boosted, our children’s immune systems strengthened, and in some cases the benefits of a rather effective burglar alarm…and while our pets get food, fresh water, shelter, and sometimes excellent medical care…and while we all enjoy each others company, something else amazing happens.

On a neighborhood walk several years ago, it occurred to me that even though my dogs and I were strolling together in the same space, our perceptions were so distinct that we were experiencing truly different, though overlapping, worlds. I was seeing colors and details they could not perceive. They were gathering information via smell that I knew nothing about. They were hearing things I’d never know make sounds.

More recently, we have new pet rats. I’m looking closely for clues so I can tell them apart from various angles. I realized that with their poor vision they probably don’t bother to recognize each other by sight. More likely they use smells I can’t detect.

photo © Karin Fisher-Golton, 2007

photo © Karin Fisher-Golton, 2007

How remarkable that despite such vast differences we come to know and bond with each other, and improve each others’ lives. (There’s a lesson here in our human to human relationships, I think.)

Thank you dogs, cats, rats, parrots, and all pets.

Amazing May 24: Happy Memories

WeddingAlbumFisherGoltonFor the past few days, I’ve been thinking about my husband’s and my wedding and surrounding events, which happened ten years ago this week. This morning I got teary recalling how sweet it was to have multiple generations of friends and family in our home for a brunch the morning after our wedding.

Happy memories are our own personal photo album and free video collection, which we can access any time. Start to remember, and not just the images but the feelings return. When I begin to reminisce, by myself or with others, even more details come back.

Sometimes I purposely try to review some of my favorite moments, to keep those details alive. When I do that, it’s as if I’m stocking a pantry with gifts for myself in the future.

Thank you, happy times. Thank you, memories.

Amazing May 23: Joyous Occasions

Today is the tenth anniversary of my husband’s and my wedding. I truly do believe that every day is amazing; however, there are some days we remember better than others for happy reasons.

photo © Robert Iwamiya, 2004

photo © Robert Iwamiya, 2004

Those memorable days can be days of life events that we wanted and worked for. They can also be days when we were recipients of remarkable fortuitousness. And some, like our wedding day, have both elements of sincere intention and effort alongside elements of blessed chance.

Those memorable days are often shared with loved ones, sometimes one or a few beloved ones, or perhaps a new kindred spirit, or with just the good company of one’s self. And some, like our wedding day, are shared with the mind and heart boggling convergence of people from many times of life.

Those memorable days often set our lives on a new or changed course.

Those memorable days are abundant gifts that we can enjoy and be inspired by again and again via our memories.

I am forpoetry fridaytunate that this anniversary falls on a Poetry Friday, because that made me think to write a poem for the occasion. It is a found poem, meaning the words are all quotes, selected and arranged to create the poem. For more Friday poems visit http://vnesdolypoems.wordpress.com/2014/05/22/poetry-friday-ever-after-edition/.

From Our Wedding Guest Book: A Found Poem

a great beginning

this giant circle
of love and blessings

the sun the moon
the bride the groom

like a dream come true

amazingly intimate and fun day

thank you for sharing

thank you for including us

I laughed. I cried.
I loved your wedding

wishing you
a beautiful happily ever after

be kind to each other

your vows will serve you well

all of G-d’s blessing upon you

a perfect day all around

a lovely completion and beginning
all rolled into one

© Karin Fisher-Golton, 2014

Thank you, wedding and all who made it so.

Amazing May 22: Telecommunication

I am a longtime fan of the telephone. Over decades it has allowed me to stay current with relationships that would not be the same without it. I have had a wealth of laughter, tears, comfort, sharing, and epiphanies with good company by phone.

Though I rarely get to cook with others, which I think is a natural way for humans to work, I often wear a headset and use that time to catch up with dear friends who I dearly wish lived closer, but don’t.

When I visited my grandfather across the country at age ninety-eight-years old, he delighted at my singing for him. I realized that I could continue to do that by phone, and I did.

As with several other topics this month, this is one that I can take for granted. Then I pause, and realize how amazing it is that we can hear not only words but tone and a unique, familiar voice from sometimes thousands of miles away, and usually instantaneously.

Today we have many other ways to communicate as well. Video phones are a particular blessing for families that are separated, especially when there are children to watch grow.

I sometimes think my friends in social media are the villagers I’d keep up with if modern life didn’t spread us all so far apart.

picture by Pbroks13

picture by Pbroks13

Thank you, Alexander Graham Bell and other inventors of telecommunication devices. Thank you, telephone.

Amazing May 21: Glasses

Periodically I marvel at how fortunate I, and so many others, are that glasses exist. Without them the world is quite blurry for me. I couldn’t see a person’s face when conversing with them. I’d have to read a few inches from my eyes. I couldn’t see stars at all.

I am grateful for all the inventions that support our bodies and senses–even the ones I don’t need because it is good to know they are there should the need arise.

photo taken by Karin Fisher-Golton (without even wearing her glasses!)

photo by Karin Fisher-Golton (possibly the first photo she has taken in decades without wearing corrective eyewear)

But there is something about glasses that is easy to take for granted. They are both simple and complex. They have been around hundreds of years. I find it comforting to see them appear in old family photos and know people could benefit from that invention at times when so many others we enjoy today did not yet exist.

I rarely think about what life would be like without glasses, but when I do, I find myself in awe of what they accomplish.

Thank you, inventors. Thank you, glasses.

Amazing May 20: Sunrises and Sunsets

Most every morning and evening a show of color and light appears in the sky—sometimes delicate, sometimes extravagant, and available to anyone who looks.

I’ve loved sunsets in places I’ve lived on the West Coast for the way the light shimmers on water and the reflections of colors. I’ve loved sunsets in the Midwest for the patterns the colors make through leafless trees. My favorite sunsets have clouds, made fancy.

photo by Karin Fisher-Golton

photo by Karin Fisher-Golton

Thank you, sunrises. Thank you, sunsets.