Saturday, February 26, 2011

SPARK Day - Nancy Claeys & Poem #332

Photo by Nancy Claeys of A Rural Journal

This past week I had the privilege to work with Nancy Claeys, writer, photographer, and blogger at A Rural Journal.  We were paired up through Amy Souza's  SPARK, trading writing and photographs ten days ago as inspiration.  For ten days we each moodled, me with my little pen and Nancy with her big camera, creating works in response to each other's creations.

This powerful eagle weather vane photo I received from Nancy on February 16 could have taken any one of the four cardinal directions as I imagined looking to it for meaning and answers.  Reading through Nancy's blog gave me insight into her life on a farm and as an admirer of old barns and country landscapes.  

I looked up the history of weather vanes at Weathervanes Plus, surprised to learn that "The popularity of weathervanes exploded when a papal edict from the 9th century A.D. helped bring the weathervane to the skies of most of Europe.  Rome declared that every church in Christendom must be adorned by a cockerel, a symbol to remind Christians of Peter's betrayal of Christ: 'I tell thee Peter, the cock shall not crow this day before that thou shalt thrice deny that thou knowest me.'" (Luke 22: 34)

As I wrote and thought and read Nancy's words, roosters and birds from all weather vanes - past and present - whispered through the sky.  Hence, this.

Ten days ago, I sent Nancy an old poem, a sad poem.  I wondered how she would interpret it with an image.  

Here is her hauntingly beautiful response which made me suck my breath right in.

Photo by Nancy Claeys of A Rural Journal

This opportunity to work with an artist one has never met, to share pictures and words, is a true joy.  Thank you to Nancy for her partnership in this round, and much gratitude to Amy Souza for making this space and time for us all.  

My first experience with SPARK was SPARK 10, exchanging work with artist Amy Souza (photograph & painting) as well as Amanda Brainerd (digital illustration).  Keep your eyes out for SPARK 12, which I promise to announce here.  Just like Poetry Friday, all are welcome to play!

Students and Teachers - consider setting up such a project in your school.  This type of collaboration can work long distance as well as close by.  It would be perfect for homeschoolers, and again, I offer to help set up such an opportunity for any children who might wish to try this.  If you try this as or with children, please let me know as I would love to feature your work and process here.

Are you still wondering how weather vanes work?  If so, check out this diagram at

(Please click on COMMENTS below to share a thought.)


  1. Again, Amy, I thank you for such inspiration. These poems and photos paired together are so powerful. You never cease to amaze and I love that!

  2. It was such a pleasure to work with you Amy -- your beautiful poem "Found Button" truly challenged and inspired me to create a photo worthy of your poem's powerful message.

    And your response piece to the weather vane photograph is nothing short of amazing.

    I couldn't have asked for a better partner for my first Spark experience. :)

  3. What a powerful collaboration! I loved the pieces and want to try this with my students. Our school does not have much access to cameras and video equipment so
    I thought of the website as one source of images and a safe place for students to search.

  4. Katrina, Nancy, and Ruth, Thank you for your notes! Ruth - please let me know if you do give this a whirl. That looks like a great website, and I will pass your recommendation along. A.

  5. Amy, what beautiful words--as always. So much feeling compressed so tightly, as if this tiny ball will crack and fly loose with feeling. It's such a surprise how the photos and poems fit together, as if each one was a joint project, as well as the overall work. Lovely!