Tuesday, 17 January 2012

A challenge for you.

"Oh, you drew a poem!" 

That was what a friend of mine commented as he flicked through the pages of the sketchbook I recently completed for the Arthouse Co-op's 2012 Sketchbook Project.

 I had started the project as a kind of enforced brainstorming endeavour.  I planned to fill the crisp white pages of my new sketchbook with as many scrawled and messy ideas as I could think of, but then a red ribbon emerged and it coiled and writhed in my head.  I had to follow it.

So, I drew a poem...Apparently.

I like it.  I like its wordlessness, but I have found myself wondering what it would sound like if it could speak.  I imagine it with not one, but a hum of many distant voices, intertwined, all whispering different stories.  Which is where you come in.

Your challenge is to be one of those voices.  It's not a competition, there's no definitively correct interpretation, no particular plans for commercial publication and, although I may post my favourites here, or on my website, your words will remain just that.  It is simply an interesting thing to do and purely just for fun.

So, take a look at the slide show below or follow this link where you will find all my illustrations:  Write your poem (nothing too explicit please) and leave it at the bottom of this post.  Feel free to leave your name and details or post anonymously, It's completely up to you. 

My brother says there's a reason why people don't illustrate poems until after they are written and that my challenge is impossible...I reckon he's nearly right...but not quite.

#drewapoem challenge


  1. It’s time: a far off buzzing floats upon
    The shaping airs across a startled world
    And, warmed by the faintest glow of rising sun
    And sculptured by the inconsequential breeze,
    The leafswarm lifts above ancestral trees
    Following some destiny or fate or chance.
    It starts in blood and, in that crimson dance,
    The oft repeated story is unfurled

    The Birthwood’s leafswarm curls above the morning
    Shaped on that chilling and uncaring breeze;
    It’s time. An ancient power fills the dawning
    The lifestream trickles through the undergrowth
    Seeking some purpose or identity or both
    Whispering faintly of a future power
    Seeking, where the naked woodlands tower,
    An illusory safety beneath shadowless trees

    The cord cannot be cut; it frees, and binds,
    Her ribboned hair, her eyes upon her book.
    That far off buzzing echoes in her mind,
    Bulges to thunder as she starts to see
    Her roots beneath, her path among the trees,
    Stitches a sort of meaning from the storm
    And in that meaning, freed from fears of harm
    Coils unknowing to that turbid brook

    That bleeds new dreams into an empty land
    And dreams new darkness into crowded air,
    The future is uncoiling from her hand
    She speaks;her meanings tangled and unheard
    The swarm inflames her senses, blocks her words
    She must follow where the path unrolls
    A path she only thinks that she controls
    For in the end the book was always there.

    1. Fab! Thank you for being the first to post.

  2. It came from nowhere, a trickle at first
    And I watched as it thread its way through the shifting grasses
    Towards barren forests.
    Feeding life into silence,
    Thoughts into minds
    And warmth into veins
    And I followed.

    Through the past, buried deep beneath the trees,
    Through white forests in darkness
    Burned black on my retina,
    Down rivers of fear
    Springing delicate dreams
    To the path through the woods
    And I followed.

    Then it coiled in my hand
    And I weaved it a name
    From the dreams I once had
    and the life I once dreamed
    Thinking now I shall lead,
    I shall make my own path
    And now it will follow...

    But it lay lifeless and limp until it was freed
    And I watched as it thread its path through the shifting grasses,
    Towards shining forests
    Of love and of laughter
    Dancing bright in the moonlight
    Towards unknown horizons.
    And I followed.

  3. Béatrice Brèquehais25 January 2012 at 01:06

    Marche !
    Ne t'arrête pas !
    Suis le fil de la vie dans la forêt des défis .
    chaque arbre est une bataille
    Chaque arbre est une victoire...
    Plante ton avenir dans le profond de la Terre,
    Nourris le du sang des rivières...
    Un être passe,
    un espoir s'envole,
    un autre s'arrête.
    Tu te perds peut être!
    Mais ton chemin est là,
    Il te mènera à moi ...


    1. Ah un poéme Francais! Merci bien Béatrice, c'est fantastique et je l'aime!

  4. Sap from the still, silver trees
    runs blood red.
    Bark curls like skin from wounded knees.
    The stillness belies the shrill whistle
    of wind over the white ground and
    a wisp of silent breath lifts the scarlet balloon
    away to the thistles.
    A soft silk satin sash
    torn from Red Riding Hood's cape
    twists and unfurls into
    Delicate cupped hands of beautiful girl child.
    Blue rippled water draws the ribbons down and on.
    Little boy, rooted like a gnome,
    watches enthralled
    as the ribbon slithers

  5. Class 2 - A 2 Class Village School. 10 children. A proud teacher.

    My Red Ribbon

    My red ribbon wiggled through the taut trees.
    Sun rises, colours, soft blue and buttercup yellow
    Pour in a silent flood
    bringing the calm hope of a new colourful day

    My red ribbon got tangled in a tree.
    It wove and curved and slithered
    Towards apple trees
    I can hear birds and leaves and branches shaking.

    My red ribbon is twisted to a tall caring tree,
    From the forest in the midnight sky
    To a hidden hollow where we can hide.
    The curls and curves are like ghostly trails
    But the sunlight lights up its journey.

    My red ribbon undulates through undergrowth
    Through the dark trees,
    Through the midnight sky
    The grabbing roots devour,ed my poor suffocating ribbon.

    My red ribbon is winding through the dark trees
    with pointy green leaves
    Twisting round and a round the silver bark
    of the forgotten ones.

    My red ribbon is in the water
    glowing ruby red;
    as red as a ladybird
    as red as flower rows
    as red as rosy cheeks...

    My red ribbon is looping round the tree.
    It is flying. It is wiggly.
    Rap round the tree red ribbon...

    My red ribbon twined around the trees
    changing dimension, direction and speed
    It meandered amongst the slim silver trees.

    My red ribbon is cradled in my hand;
    From deep underground to a tangle in my fingers.
    A Swish past trees with speed, a glimpse of sunshine
    and the torn bark softens.

    My red ribbon blows in the breeze
    Sweet sounds glint on eyes
    I get closer
    The sweet sounds get louder
    Birds follow
    I look to the right -
    A field of buttercups.
    I thought they was beautiful.
    The forest was full of sun.
    All the animals going home.
    I found my my way home.

    1. Wow...actually a bit smile-teary! No wonder you're proud! Your class write beautifully & their poem is wonderful. What a fantastic teacher you must be and how lucky they are. Thank you!

  6. If you should ask whence came this story
    With its distant harsh beginnings
    With its scarlet convolutions
    With its joys and tribulations
    With its mysteries and riddles
    With its children in the forests?
    I should answer I should tell you
    From the cold light of the dawning
    From the buzzing of the beehive
    Over endless scarlet water
    From the mystery behind us
    To the mystery around us.

    And if you should say, well why this story?
    I would suppress my irritation
    And patiently would answer thusly:-
    For the memory, for the journey,
    For the lives that went before us
    And for children doomed to follow
    For the wisdom born of anger
    And the anger born of wisdom
    For Eloise inquiring woodnymph
    For Isaac more impish than elven
    For the dawn of understanding

    And if you should still continue
    Asking , OK where's it going?
    I would heave a sigh and tell you:-
    Down the roads we all have followed
    Through the forests and through darkness
    Beneath the dreams that float above us
    And above the thorns that threaten.
    Following endless scarlet waters
    From the mystery around us
    To old beginnings and new endings
    To the mysteries yet to come

    And if you say , "What are those mysteries?"
    Then finally I'll lose my temper
    And purple now with indignation
    Shout ,"can't you feel the wind behind you?
    Don't you wonder what they're learning
    Under rocks and in their stories?
    Don't you hear the darkness buzzing?
    Can't you see your dreams escaping?
    Can't you see the pages turning?
    Can't you see I'm playing scrabble.

    1. Oh that made me laugh!
      Hiawatha, I know who you are & I love you.

  7. Poem by Jamie Godsafe (twitter @Quernain)
    Taken from my flickr set http://www.flickr.com/photos/naomiadams/sets/72157628870133083/comments/
    & witten as part of the #drewapoem Challenge.

    If you look out of the kitchen pane,
    Stand on your tiptoes on a clear wintry day,
    Across the fields lie two proud thickets,
    Fed by a river of red flowing their way.

    Pass me that book, it shows you the path,
    See these photos, see this tall oak of a man,
    And see this laughing willow just here,
    The river of red, they were both in it’s plan.

    You say you’re bored with nothing to do,
    Sit down here for a while and breathe in this book,
    Go back a page, can you see them now?
    The river of passion flows in lovers looks.

    One sweetheart reaches for another,
    That warm look of love crosses the cold divide,
    They break away and less becomes more,
    Their river flows fast, free and swelling wide.

    It started as a thin, stray, lost thread,
    Buried deep in the roots of another time,
    Other lovers forced to hide the truth,
    An offering to propriety's stale shrine.

    Escaping to a world of sunlight,
    The thread meandered through the close-knit cabal,
    Healing their wounds, opening their eyes,
    Light touched the ground birthing a living canal.

    A sapling came bursting with green life,
    Filled the wasteland with branches spread wide and far,
    A rich forest sprang from its raw source,
    Its vibrancy burning like the brightest star.

    It's bright luscious fruit soared high and low,
    Berries like red balloons spread across the land,
    Falling on tables of rich and poor,
    And the river of red flowed from hand to hand.

    Oak and Willow's seed flew with the wind,
    And found fertile soil across the seven seas,
    Canada, Australia, France too,
    And many more welcomed their reviving breeze.

    When you were born, tiny in my hands,
    The river gushed around you, calling out loud,
    Oak and Willow and forests of kin,
    I give you Rowan rising from those roots ploughed.

    When we played cat's cradle with red wool,
    You were learning to hold what I was given,
    Read this book and see you're not alone,
    Through you these fallen trees will go on living.

    Go play in the garden with the trees,
    The red river waits under the grass and sees,
    Like it did for me and your Granny,
    Waiting for you to bring it seeds on a breeze.

    If you look out of the kitchen pane,
    Stand on your tiptoes on a clear wintry day,
    Across the fields lie two proud thickets,
    Fed by a river of red flowing their way.

    No you can't see them, they are not there,
    They will spring from your rowan tree yet still young,
    Waiting for you to meet your own true oak,
    And spread joy with who knows what children to come.

    Look at that book, follow the red path,
    Right to the last page with a photo of you,
    See, you're never lonely like you think,
    That river is always with you through and through.

    1. Jamie...Thank you!
      Loving everyone's poems...especially how each poem brings something different.

  8. At the start of your life
    Hanging on by a thread
    Unsure what's to happen
    Heart full of dread
    Then, out of the darkness
    A glimmer of light
    Follow the thread
    Take charge of your flight
    I've found the bodkin
    I'm holding the key
    A little girl reading
    Balloons on the spree
    Look out for the stream
    I don't want to falter
    Barbed wire to catch me
    As well as the water
    Help is at hand
    In the shape of a boy
    Twisting and turning
    Heart filled with joy
    He'll lead me to find
    The end in a book.

  9. My Nan's amazing. :)

  10. There's a path through the trees
    Trailing hither and yon,
    There's a path through your mind
    There one minute and... gone!
    There's a paths through the roots
    Which flows through night and day,
    You'll drift off down the river
    Then float up and away.
    This way through the wild wood
    Is a path we all hold.
    You weave your bit and then...
    Someone else must be bold,
    And walk their bit of path
    However long it may be
    So some other can discover
    Their path through the trees.

  11. Eloise Adams (Age 7)6 February 2012 at 09:34

    A red path through the gloomy woods
    The trees are swaying, moved by the cold wind
    The ribbon trail moves on.
    From one wood to another.
    Darker and darker as the trail
    Moves onward and around.

    A little girl sits leaning on a tree, reading a book.
    I wonder what the book could be.
    The ribbon curls like a snake,
    Comes down in a circle,
    Ties a bow
    And on it goes.
    Around a bend
    And into a hole in a tree,
    Under the roots whilst the trees keep swaying,
    Out from the roots into a heart shaped forest
    And stretching itself like a shoelace,
    Into a lake, washing itself clean.
    Up. Out, and balloons fly free
    Into the mist.

    Now the ribbon has been rolled and coiled
    Into a ball cupped in two hands
    Turning onward into a cat's cradle.
    A little boy with yellow hair
    Pokes the ribbon
    The ribbon swirls itself into:
    A mermaid,
    A face,
    A hand,
    And suddenly gone
    Back to the book.

  12. Imagination is a wonderful thing
    It is as long or short as a piece of string
    and maybe because this one is red
    it has twisted and turned inside my head.

  13. The seasons, like thread
    Tie Spring to Autumn to life
    Birth then death then birth

  14. My life,
    it pulsed through my veins
    and every pulse a journey,
    a chance to experience.
    an invitation to explore
    an opportunity to be.


  15. really like these last two. Nice to see a haiku. Sonnet anyone?

    1. Agreed. Very nice indeed!
      I am absolutely loving this challenge.

  16. Thought is a funny thing, capricious and free.
    Left unattended, it will chase through the trees.
    It will dance in the shadows and leap through the air
    (distracted in part by a little girl's hair.)
    It will go unseen places in the roots of your brain
    and be be unaffected by the wind and the rain.
    It zigs this way and that way, ignores warp, and shuns weft:
    Only the thought knows which path it finds best.
    It'll jump in the waters and bob in the breeze,
    wind through the woods just as free as you please.
    Gathered together, it'll start to make sense...
    until it springs loose of your hands and your fence.
    "Be childlike in nature" the sages have said
    "Take delight in your life and the path that you tread".
    Let your thoughts lift you up, make you laugh, unconcerned -
    May you dance with red ribbons til the final page turns.


  17. There once was a ribbon that bended,
    A metaphor wasn't intended.
    It flowed beneath breezes
    And under the treeses
    And where it had started it ended.

    1. Was not expecting a limerick! Thank you!

  18. In the forest,
    Fifty firs.
    Fifty first,
    my human years.
    While through the woods
    the water ran;
    Red ribbon river,
    bleeding bourne,
    Through the skin,
    Pale tributaries
    Crimson cottons
    in violet vein;
    And a scarlet satin scarf,
    wrapped itself round fifty firs,
    tied together towering trees.
    There will be no fifty two;
    There will be no fifty three;
    There is no ribbon left in me.

  19. A ribbon
    Red, sinuous, seeking
    Through a forest
    Glade, field, clearing
    For a child
    Small, loving, kind
    With a heart
    Big, caring, innocent

    A mother
    Talented, loving, special
    A father
    Successful, loving, gentle
    Two children
    Sweet, loving, amazing
    A sketchbook
    Beautiful, evocative, delightful

    - it starts with a ribbon.

  20. From unformed dreams the path unfolds and winds
    itself between the trees of restless time.
    The cord which feeds and frees bleeds life renewed;
    New hope, new love, new tears, new stories twined
    With sorrow tightly bound between each page.

    The hum begins with distant beats that rise
    And fall with flowing tides. The path is caught:
    It writhes and twists as carried on this wave
    Of sound it searches out some small retreat.
    Dives deep below the ground to dance alone.

    But no: Above, beneath, the trees are there.
    The path is stitched in time and weaves itself
    Around, between dark totems tall and wise,
    To streams of conscience weeping, wild and raw
    until, at last renewed it springs and swells.

    And in the dark the lifethread burns its path
    Between the trees of restless time once more.
    The past wound tightly, bound and balled, breaks free
    To coil itself a cradle from the beat
    Of distant songs and whispered fears entwined.

    Then from the pulsing throb of formless dreams
    A new lifesong cries out new hope, new tears.
    The yarn unwinds and folds itself between
    New trees. It curls and dances in the changing breeze.
    A new dream bound between each turning page.

  21. James Jimmy Stuart20 February 2012 at 09:01

    This is a place you can call home
    Spend some time and be alone
    Be at one with yourself
    This is great for your health
    No one to tell you what to do
    Only nature and you
    No streets and cars
    Where you can be alone with the stars
    Its time to walk beneath the trees
    And walk amongst the leaves.

  22. Did someone ask for a sonnet?

    Can you see where I've been my dream bound love?
    Feel life pulsing through me, reckless and free?
    Hear the trees calling the night sky above?
    Roots bound to the earth as you are to me .
    Two lives stitched together our paths entwined,
    Wet from the rivers of hope and despair.
    Thorns tear the ribbons of love as they bind
    Us, our paths sewn into the mindight air.
    Don't ask where the thread leads to my lover
    Its truth unravelling into the dawn.
    Hear the trees whisper lies to each other,
    Illusions so real and perfectly drawn...
    I must wake once more from these shining trees
    And you my sweet friend who the morning frees.

  23. A red ribbon binds us all to the world
    With each atom bound to the distant stars
    It winds round the past as our future unfurls
    And it cuts leaving deep and invisible scars.

    With each atom bound to the distant stars
    Our lifesong calls out to the blackness above
    And it cuts leaving deep and invisible scars
    As we search for a purpose, for life & for love.

    Our lifesong calls out to the blackness above
    The answer though simple is hard to be found
    As we search for a purpose, for life and love...
    But living and loving is purpose abound.

    The answer though simple is hard to be found
    It winds round our past as the future unfurls
    But living and loving is purpose abound
    It's the ribbon which binds us all to the world.

  24. I don't have a poem for you, but I would like to say that your sketchbook knocks me off my socks. I really love it and I can't wait to see it in real in the arthouse library!

    1. Thank you! Very glad you like it...Love your stuff too. Have fun in NY!

  25. Hi Naomi,
    Your book was the last book I saw as I tried to get as many books as possible through the Sketchbook Project library at Canada Water. It was my favourite. I came to your website this evening and found your challenge asking for your illustrative poem to be given a voice.

    Here's my little version of what it spoke to me.

    Pulling at my heartstrings
    nestling me in
    a voice with no words
    between us no void

    Into a black hole
    where love overflows
    from hence the wind blows
    to places unknown

    in whose hands it is sown
    entangling their souls
    dissolving, unseen
    unwritten, these words from the trees.

    Hope you like it.
    I'd love to share the poem to your sketchbook on my facebook fanpage- Sandhya Speaks.

    Loved it and hope to speak again :)

    1. Thank you! I'm so glad you liked my illustrations and I love your poem, it's wonderful! Please do feel free to share...and thank you again.


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