Meet Your Local Poets: Spotlight on Linda Verdery
Linda Verdery, a Bremo Bluff, Va. resident, is a career educator with graduate degrees in English and Humanities. As an undergraduate she studied Art History and Painting. Both painter and writer, she is affiliated with the Annie Gould gallery in Gordonsville and a poetry study group in Charlottesville.
Say a few words about your connection with poetry and art.
Writing poems and making paintings are complementary. I frequently dream in both images and words. I see landscapes as portraits and portraits as landscape. And a still life is a character with moods and atmosphere.
When did you begin writing and painting?
I’ve always been a reader and scribbler. When we learned to outline notes with Roman Numerals, I put mine in story form with small pics. Teachers were cartooned in the margins. I stopped painting when I won a blue ribbon for a Magnolia Blossom the Elementary Art Teacher had improved. It was her prize.
After retiring and expecting to write art criticism or fiction, I took the leap and enrolled full-time as an undergrad in Painting. A few weeks in, my honest teacher who allowed me into the program declared, “You can’t draw.” So, I augmented with night school classes at the Community college. Aspirations are high when you’re steeped in Art history.
What role do emotions and life experience have in the creative process?
Wow! You might as well ask,”Why make Art or write Poems?” E.L. Doctorow describes Billy Bathgate as “a little criminal of perception.” That fits my sensibilities. Specific feelings or responses determine my palette, composition and mark making, just as a specific form, syntax, diction and imagery convey a poem’s intent. Fortunately, most of this is intuitive. Both my interior and imaginative lives are expansive. The challenge is editing and revising. I love the physicality of moving oil paint around, scraping and redrawing. And, I compose pages and pages in longhand with #2 pencils.
Is there a perspective you can share with beginning writers or artists?
I believe the right-brain/left-brain or visual vs verbal dichotomy is nonsense. Skills can be acquired if you have curiosity and vision. I still struggle with punctuation and perspective drawing.
Also, play to your strengths. If you are a story teller, explore narrative painting and poems. If music is significant, chances are emotion will drive your lyrics and colors. Big thinkers usually have an axe to grind, a protest to examine and express with honed argument—visual or verbal.
I’d also recommend finding a group of kindred spirits. Creating is hard work; it exhausts confidence. You need supporters.
Sestina- In the Balkans
………………….from an essay by John Berger
In the death
of winter, peasants carve white birds to hang
in their kitchen windows with drinking
neighbors, or chapels where children sing.
The construction is simple- two bars of pine
soaked, sliced: head, body, tail of the bird
wings splayed, hung from a cord- now bird
a Dove against death
wood becomes bird, Dove from pine
we wish to hold in hand, but hang
to the dark to sing
its round the table’s drinking
in, being more than a bird
a Work, like a painting, a poem to sing
distance to death
to all that hangs
from the hooks at the abattoir, ropes from pine
to be not a noose, but a pine
hope chest- a dowry for drinking
where beauty breaks against thirst’s hang
where flowers pierce boulders, mosses line birds’
nests. Beauty always- in despite of…..death
So we sing……
the white bird’s plumage, though pine
sculpted from the fallen tree’s death.
We, too live after the Fall, suffering in, drinking
in not the bird’s
song, but our making, to hang
in an instant – a made message to hang
for the real birds
who laud and pine
for mates, whose deep drinking
Inside, a white wooden bird
wafts in the warm kitchen air where neighbors are drinking
Outside, head, to wing, to tail, birds shiver to death.
—Sharon Ackermon, Poetry EditorFollow us!
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