Greetings, Poetry Lovers! Continuing a recent theme, I've received more wonderful, creative New Year postcards as part of Jone Rush MacCulloch's Poem Postcard Exchange, and I look forward to featuring them next week. (Or the next couple of weeks, depending on how many I can fit in a picture!) These surprises in the mailbox really brighten a day, especially in winter.
Today I thought I'd share mine that I sent out this week to everyone. I hope these cards make it by Saturday, the beginning of the Chinese/Lunar New Year!
Jone always adds a nod to the Lunar New Year (and its animal) as a an option for creative inspiration. The postcard exchange itself is inspired, she says, by the Japanese custom of Nengajo - sending out greetings for the New Year.
Jone shared that her own birth year's animal is the water dragon, so she's related to Nessie. ;0) (Slaintѐ to that, Jone!!) The animal for 2024 is the wood dragon.
Online you'll find all kinds of info, customs, and folklore surrounding these dragons as well as the other animals. The New Year is a huge holiday in many Asian countries, with countless people travelling to their home towns to celebrate, and many businesses closing for a week.
As for me, I've always loved dragons. (My first published/now out-of-print book, a Scholastic Rookie Reader called Sir Mike, featured an imaginary one!)
For my postcards, I reached back into my own misty imagination to find dragons. Did anybody else "sculpt" treasures from a simple dough in the kitchen, and bake them into being? My mother was very supportive of the creative messes my brother Mike and I could make. Thank you, Mom.
Oh - and Happy 44th Anniversary today to my mother, Nita, and her Valentine, Jack!
Flour, salt, water
Our mother showed us
how to form dough
into whatever we wanted
bake it, wait for it to cool.
I made dragons
with pointy wings
and arrowhead tips on their tails.
Their edges browned.
I painted them purple
and royal blue.
If I close my eyes,
I can see them
feel the warmth
of their fiery
©2024 Robyn Hood Black
Fun note: In more of my own internet explorations about Lunar New Year dragons, many days after I wrote this poem, I discovered that their lucky colors are purple and blue. How about that?!!
The background for my poem card came from some canvas-textured papers I dyed with indigo powder during a recent online mixed media workshop I took. I scanned a small sheet into my computer and enlarged it a wee bit to make it 5 X 7 size. For the dragon, I carved a little block of "Easy Carve" (like linoleum, but much softer and easier on the hands). I had drawn a quick sketch - just from imagination, as I was trying to recall freely drawing dragons as a kid - and made a simple outline of it on the block, then loosely carved away.
I printed the image individually on each card. Some came out with fairly crisp, even impressions - the usual goal for printmaking, and others were a bit messier. But, my favorites ended up with gradated amounts of ink over the image, kind of ghostly, like the one above. I thought these blended in with the billowy nature of the indigo wash, adding a hint of mystery, maybe.
Final note: If you search online for "Here Be Dragons," which maybe a few of us (?) thought was a common warning found on very old maps, you might discover as I did that a Latin variation appeared on a globe at the beginning of the 16th Century... and that's about it. But I do love me some illustrated sea monsters and such on antique maps!
Thanks for reading my rambles. Now, get out your compass and ramble on over to Beyond Literacy Link, where the ever-generous and creative Carol has our Roundup.
Happy Valentine's Day to all you LOVE-ly people!