The essay is “On Drawing” by poet Michael Burkard (Poetry*, July/August 2020).
Mary Hackett was “a self-taught artist who spent much of the year in Provincetown [Massachusetts].” Michael Burkard writes of striking up a friendship with her while on an extended stay there.
One afternoon Mary said to me, “Michael, you love art so much, but you don’t even draw!” I immediately replied, “Mary, I can’t draw.” Mary immediately said, “Oh for God’s sake, don’t let that stop you!”… I have been drawing ever since. One of Mary’s fine paintings is entitled The Big Me Standing in My Way. Fine advice for anyone. And this is the best advice to young poets I can think of.
… Often I return to drawings a good while after they’ve begun. As in my writing, I am at times intrigued by a mistake. I prefer to think of it as a mis-take. I sometimes mix drawing with something, usually a poem or a failed poem I have written. And often I am drawing small sequences. I think that just having drawings in the vicinity of poems creates possible relationships which otherwise would not occur.
*The eponymous magazine founded in 1912 by Harriet Monroe.
(c) 2020 JMN