What Makes Art Beautiful?

Skipping Star Productions
I've just returned from teaching a week long class on "Speaking Pictures: A Poetry Workshop Considering Visual Art" at Anam Cara Writers and Artists Retreat on the Beara Peninsula in the west of Ireland. One of the assignments we did together was to choose a piece of art somewhere in the retreat that was puzzling to us and write from that uncertainty. I think it worked well for most of the poets and it made me realize that writing from a question is much more natural for me than trying to write of "a thing called beauty." Why is that?

On another day, our group took a field trip to two local galleries looking for art that moved us. We had a line of a poem to get us started and a few ideas on how to braid the artwork into our own lives. For me, this exercise was much more of a struggle. I adored the different images of Nicola Slattery's work that we saw at Mill Cove Gallery. In fact, I think four out of five us wrote on a painting done by Slattery -- and yet because I loved her images so much, it was more difficult to write from the work.

Perhaps, however, I've found a cover artist for my next book?

Artist: Nicola Slattery


  1. I like Slattery's work a lot. And yes, an image of one of her artworks would make a wonderful cover.

  2. Thanks, Maureen. Did you know her art before this? I have a sense of seeing her cards around. She is English but well represented by Irish galleries and shops.

    1. Hello Susan - thanks for your kind remarks about my work and I would love to see a painting of mine on your next book cover - as long as you send me a signed copy! Yes I do have cards around and even one of this image "Flying Past". Did you see the booklet "Poets Meet Painters" for year 2011? There are three poems based on two of my images and I think "Red Shoes" has resonated with several other poets.

      I am English with an Irish born Father from Kildare. I was born in Coventry but now live in rural Norfolk and currently have an exhibition in Norwich at Mandell's Gallery. Any chance of your writers group making a trip to Norfolk one day? Norwich is "a fine city" (according to the City Council ... but it is quite true) with history back to Romans and beyond and art traditions ranging from medieval to contemporary.

  3. Dear Nicola,

    I just found your response; thank you! And yes, a signed copy for sure. My next book, House of Sky, is with the publisher now ---- so I will hopefully be in touch in the next year or two (book publishing is slow).

    If you ever get to Seattle, WA I would love to meet! I lived in England when I was in my 20's --- both in London and in Lancaster but have yet to get to Norfolk --- I will keep it in mind.

    All best and thank you for your art!



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