Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Pairing poetry and art in Zumbrota April 19, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 7:08 AM
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Lois' jellies and pickled beans photographed in July 2009 at the Faribault Farmers' Market.

In the dark, dank depths of the dirt-floored cellar

she stocks a treasure-trove of jewels

in jars upon slivered planks—

Thus begins my poem, “Her Treasure,” which I will read this Saturday, April 21, at the Poet-Artist Collaboration XI Gala Reception at Crossings at Carnegie in Zumbrota. The reception begins at 6:30 p.m. at Crossings with guests treated to refreshments and to music by pianist Matthew Rivera. The event then moves next door to the State Theatre for poetry readings with on-screen art at 7:30 p.m.

Yes, art. And poetry. Together. One inspired by the other.

I’ll meet “my artist,” Connie Ludwig of Goodhue who created a watercolor, “Pantry Jewels,” inspired by my poem about canned fruits and vegetables stocked in a farmhouse cellar.

The works of 25 other poets and of 25 other artists are also included in this juried exhibit.

Once I learned Connie’s identity, I contacted her, asking her to share some information about herself and about the process of creating her poetry prompted piece. Unlike me, Connie is not a novice at this poet-artist collaboration. This marks her tenth time participating in the Crossings event.

Recently retired from the Zumbrota library, Connie is an established artist who typically works in pastels from her home studio. In the summer she does pastels outdoors and on her front porch.

But this time, for this show, Connie opted to work in watercolor, which, she says, “more often than not has control over me.”

Drawing on childhood memories of the huge garden her family planted every year at their home in St. Croix State Park along the Minnesota-Wisconsin border east of Hinckley, this artist understands the content of my poem.

My aunts and my mother were survivors of the Great Depression and gardens and canning were very, very important to them. So you can probably deduce that your poem about the dark basement, dirt floor and canned jewels reminded me of them.

When I read it (your poem), I could picture the light on the jars when I used to go down and get them. And I knew both the physical resemblance to jewels and the equivalent worth of jewels was how they felt about their canning endeavors. You wrote a poem that reflected an important part of their lives.

Fortunately my husband has cousins that enjoy canning. The models for the three jars that I used to illustrate your poem are Mary’s peaches and Greg’s pickles. I took a picture of them and painted both from that and the actual jars. Jim (my husband) could hardly wait for me to finish so he could “open and eat.”

Well, Connie, I can hardly wait to see your art, “Pantry Jewels,” paired with my poem.

FYI: Click here to read more about Poet-Artist Collaboration XI, including a list of the participating poets and artists. The exhibit will be on display through April 26. Please join Connie and me at the Gala Reception and at the poetry reading.  I’m second on the list to read my poem and Connie to talk about her art. We’d love to meet you.

Copyright 2012 Audrey Kletscher Helbling