My Whitman poetic study was carried out on two different walks. As the introduction to the grasslands, the first visual walk on the Hempstead plains on Long Island was in late September 2014. The second walk was one year later in late August 2015. The first visual palette of the grasslands incubated across the Atlantic, and was painted in my studio in Spain in October 2014. The tactile walk inspired not only a new palette but a long group of poems that was revealed in September 2015 back in Spain. The poetry replay is based on Walt Whitman's long poem ‘Leaves of Grass.” It was only after publishing his own essay, “NATURE” it was Ralph Waldo Emerson who acknowledged Whitman's uniqueness and close connection with the essence of the land praising the long poem as an eloquent example of his philosophical ideas portrayed in poetic verse. I found that the visual walk inspired poems based more on my emotional encounter with Whitman in a location related to his poetry. Both walks were located in the grassland preserve on Long Island and the poet himself wrote about his walking journey across Long Island. During the tactile walk, I saw a lonely stalk of a bushy native prairie grass blowing in the breeze. It reminded me of Whitman's beard and his break from traditional poetic meter at that time in 1850.
Snyder's Mt Tam
Mt. Tam is located outside San Francisco and was approached from two different directions: Mill valley and the Pacific Ocean. The foggy mist engulfed the first walk in the summer of 2015, on a rainy day with muted colours. The second walk was one month later that same year on a cool cloudy walk with abundant wildlife adventures including rattlesnakes. Both visual and tactile walks inspired my poetic canvas. Gary Snyder's poem dedicated to a walk on Mt. Tam is the focus of this replay poetic canvas. In 1967 poets Snyder and Ginsberg proposed inviting people to walk a circle path of Mt. Tam. They chanted Buddhist prayers at key points on the mountain in a long meditation which culminated in Snyder’s poem: “The Circumambulation of Mt. Tamalpais.” Snyder’s memorable walk has been repeated on an annual basis by residents of the San Francisco Bay and friends as encouraged by Snyder himself. The Buddhist chants in Snyder’s poem combined with my own inspirations from my visual and tactile walks are the base of this poetry series about Mt. Tam.
Wordsworth Mt. Helvellyn
The Lake District in England was the focal point of this poetic canvas inspired by Wordsworth’s poetry and my two walks in 2015 (spring and fall). Wordsworth’s poem was written as an ode entitled: “To---- On Her First Ascent To The Summit Of Helvellyn.” The National Portrait Gallery (UK) depicts Wordsworth on the summit of Mt. Helvellyn by artist Haydon, 1842. On both of my walks, I was accompanied by colourful ferns and grazing sheep that covered the slopes. Nonetheless, the tactile walk gave me a close up view of this immense landscape with a variety of flora and fauna that took me by surprise with their lasting effect. My first walk was an overall visual intake of the landscape in spring. The second one was a two-day walk in autumn. This long walk included a rocky scramble on the sharp edges of Striding Edge on the summit of Mt. Helvellyn and a misty stroll under the shadows of the peak in the valley below. The two perspectives inspired various poetic verses.
Antonio Machado walked the Guadarrama Mountains from the time he was a boy on excursions with his teacher Francisco Giner de Rios. The poet walking along making new paths was the most famous line in Antonio’s repertoire, “Caminante no hay caminos...” (Walker there are no paths...) He claimed that you make the path by walking. I have followed his footsteps from Fuenfria Valley up and over the Guadarrama Mountains, as noted in his brother’s notebooks. For many, Machado only walked in Soria, but his youth was spent in Madrid, and looking out on the horizon was Guadarrama. Later in life he looked up at Guadarrama from Valsain, a village close to Segovia. Machado reminisced about his old friend Guadarrama of his youth in a poem; “Eres tu, Guadarrama, viejo amigo?” For this poetic canvas I arrived from Segovia to Valsain, to see his point of view. It was truly a spectacular sight. I walked along the river through the forest of the wild Valsain Pine that attracts you as soon as you enter the forest. Its radiant copper trunks are magnetic. I was lucky enough to stumble upon a decomposing Valsain Pine. It showed me its brave heart in a quiet moment alone. This was my first tactile walk that changed by poetic style.