Frank Beltrano – an update on his Square Foot Poems

Frank Beltrano has previously been featured on Reading Recommendations twice, here and here, spotlighting his unique blending of “poetry as visual art” that he has been developing for some time. He’s back now to tell us of the recent art show in which he took part.

Right on the heels of a week spent in Bayfield (read cottage country/Lake Huron eastern shore) with several poet friends writing and relaxing, we came back to London, Ontario, scrubbed off the forest and dressed for an art show opening at the Westland Gallery in Wortley Village.

123 It was a well-attended opening. The gallery is hosting its Square Foot Show (possible link) when artists are invited to submit up to three pieces each that measure exactly one foot by one foot in diameter. From now until August 15th the gallery walls will be lined with approximately 420 pieces from more than one hundred artists.

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I am humbled to be a part of such an outpouring of diverse talent, creativity and skill. I attended the opening with my wife, Marie-Claire Roussel, and Susan M Toy. The works I submitted are similar to my Coffee Shop Mystery shadow boxes which were chronicled in an earlier blog post published by Susan.

4 The poems in the new pieces are part of a series of 64 poems inspired by the 64 hexagrams of the I-Ching. For the past few years I have been reading about the I-Ching, enjoying the ancient myths, coming to terms with its use as a divination tool but mostly being inspired by the shape of the hexagrams that accompany the texts… inspired to write a series of poems with solid lines and broken lines, six lines per poem thus resembling the I-Ching hexagrams. There are 64 combinations of solid and broken lines possible resulting in a 64 poem series. The poems sometimes refer to I-Ching legends (#39 picture) and often are just snippets of life (#59 picture). 7

They often have rhyme, alliteration, repetition and other poetic devices. I have found the form easier to write than shorter more esoteric haiku, and a refreshing break from writing longer more intense or complex forms.

So far I have written 20 of the poems; the three pieces in the show are the first of the visual presentations, but the plan is to write and mount all 64 over the next year or two, show them in a gallery then publish a book of all 64 I-Ching hexagram poems…stay tuned.

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Frank Beltrano Artist Statement
I-Ching Hexagram Poems

The three pieces I am submitting to this exhibition are a sampling of a much larger series of 64 poems on which I am currently working. The verse form is my own creation inspired by the look of the Chinese I-Ching Hexagrams…six lines, either solid or broken. There are 64 possible combinations when working with six lines of two types, hence 64 poems. I have been reading about the I-Ching in three commentaries and sometimes have drawn inspiration when writing my poems from these ancient texts. However many of my poems have just come out of events observed daily in 2015.

The use of materials, coffee stir sticks, burlap from coffee bean bags and wooden hoops is a development of earlier work I did making visual art out of my award winning Coffee Shop Author poems.

It is my hope that you will find the form to be intriguing, the poetry entertaining and the art original.

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