Found: Poetry, Art, and Longfellow connections

I had a great time leading two workshops at the Longfellow House/Washington’s Headquarters National Historic Site to help celebrate National Poetry Month.

“Something New, Something Strange:” Found Poetry Workshop

This workshop included lots of discussion of found poetry in the 21st century, including the many ways the internet has made found poetry more possible, varied, and hilarious. We tried illustrated found poetry using Henry Longfellow’s poetry, and also pages from a mystery novel and a historical fiction, and talked about fun everyday found poetry from sources like Pentametron and GooglePoetics.

longfellow shipwreck found poem

My found poem of a sea sprite, from Longfellow’s “Musician’s Tale” in Tales of a Wayside Inn.

“Grace Unto Every Art:” Poetry and Visual Arts Workshop

This included getting to talk about the Longfellow family connections to the visual arts (Henry’s wife Fanny Appleton had a brother, Thomas, who was part of the founding of the MFA. Henry’s older son Charlie collected a lot of Asian art on his trip to Japan, and Henry’s younger son Ernest became a painter.) and taking a tour of the first floor of the house. Many thanks to the fabulous rangers who kept an eye on us and answered our dozens of questions as we each picked an object that inspired us to write!

fanny longfellow writing desk

Fanny Longfellow’s writing desk in the parlor of the Longfellow National Historic Site

Inspirational Books
I brought these to the workshops for people to leaf through for inspiration; you can find them at your local library or bookstore (or museum gift shop!):

Missed out on the workshops? There’s lots of cool programs coming up at Longfellow for their summer festival, and the Mass Poetry Festival is this weekend in Salem, MA. I’ll be at the Peabody Essex Museum talking scale in poetry & art on Saturday afternoon. Hope to see you there!

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