The PEM Family Focus on Poetry and Art for MPF

When Meg Winikates was a young girl standing on the rim of the Grand Canyon after a guide had led her family around the monumental piece of nature, she voiced her life goal. “I want to be like that,” she said, indicating the guide.Meg Winikates

And so she has achieved that goal in a slightly different way. Her job is to guide visitors by designing inter-disciplinary programs for the Peabody Essex Museum – art and science programs, art and poetry projects, for example. One of this year’s projects is an interactive poetry program at the Massachusetts Poetry Festival for young people and their parents. And for those young at heart!

The program includes seven activities available Friday and Saturday, April 20 and 21, starting at 10:00. Use the links for any of the workshops below to add it to your own personal schedule:

  • Grow a Poet Tree: Add to our forest of poems by creating your own artful leaves! Contribute lines from one of your favorite poets, write your own poem, or draw an illustration. Come back throughout the festival to watch our poet-trees grow. According to Winikates you can make as many leaves as you like Friday through Saturday.
  • Poet Quest:Pick up your “treasure map” at the information desk and travel the world through PEM’s collections on a quest full of poetry and riddles.Winikates has chosen objects throughout museum representing a variety of cultures, one in at least six galleries, each with writing or sketching activities. The first one you can see as your pick up your treasure map: an orange horse sculpture made out of recycled metal. Here’s a place to write a poem about the pieces or describe it, or engage in a number of fun activities.
  • Words Paint Pictures: What colors do you see in an artwork? How does it make you feel? Poets use words to create images in our minds. Explore PEM’s galleries through poetry and make your own word-art to take home. A docent will lead tours to such objects as Noah’s ark toys and will recite a poem called “The Playroom Writes a Novel” – a poem that lets kids act out the poem as it is recited. Here is the poem:
    The Playroom Floor Writes a Novel
    by Heidi Mordhorst

    Chapter One: A Fine Day for an Outing
    a cozy Kleenex box
    a stuffed caterpillar
    a plastic slice of cucumber
    three pennies
    and a Spiderman motorcycle

    Chapter Two: The Picnic

    the same caterpillar
    the plastic cucumber
    a few stale Cheetos
    a cheerful red bandanna
    and a hard-eyed inflatable kangaroo

    Chapter Three: The Attack!

    the kangaroo
    Billy Blazes’s axe
    a length of string
    a birthday candle and
    a flaming red bandanna

    Chapter Four: The Rescue

    the caterpillar bound with string
    the kangaroo brandishing
    the last Cheeto
    suddenly, a dozen rubber ants and
    a boxing glove!

Chapter Five: The Champions

the kangaroo, deflated
a large cheese grater
a padlock from The GirlTalk Diary
the ants on the Spiderman motorcycle
with the caterpillar, wearing a crown

What fun that poem should be to act out!

  • Poetry in Motion: What does Mozart have in common with rap music? Poetry! Actor, mime, and comedian David Zucker brings to life poems by AA Milne, Lewis Carroll, Ogden Nash and others in this participatory performance.Minikates says one of the delights of this presentation is that Zucker invites participation of the family and kids. Here is Zucker in a YouTube performance before 4th and 5th graders.
  • A River of Words:Meet artist Christine Destrempes and find out about her collaborative art project, River of Words. Then add your own thoughts and memories of water to a growing stream.Winikates explains that Destrempes has a strong interest in water and recently developed an installation for PEM. As she solicits responses from children and families at the Mass Poetry Festival, she will be gathering them for another installation in a Massachusetts museum to go on view later in the year.
  • Make Your Own Magnetic Poetry: Words are the building blocks of poetry. Find the perfect words here and create your own custom set of magnetic poetry pieces to take home or add to our poetry wall. Interns have spent weeks collecting words from a variety of sources and in a variety of looks, and participants will put magnetic backing on them to make their poems. Participants in this workshop will have much more to choose from than plastic refrigerator words!
  • Illuminating NamesMake your name into a work of art inspired by the medieval technique of illumination or use it for the beginnings of an acrostic poem. Winikates says the activity will include supplies like glitter and that they may do a name illumination like those you occasionally see on Google when the site turns its name into an art piece celebrating a creative person.

In addition to the above programs sponsored by PEM, the following events for family and children will be available:

  • Creative Writing About Art We are offering two different workshops on writing about art for students, one specifically for middle and high school ages and one for all ages.
  • Origami, frogs & haiku For a change of pace, we offer Origami Jumping Frogs: A hands-on workshop making origami frogs that actually bounce or hop when touched, finished with a short haiku poem on the frog. You will learn how to fold origami and also how to write haiku. Origami is art and science in one, where a person could learn geometry and physics from this art project. In less than 10 folds, you will learn elementary origami techniques.

Check our schedule for a list of all the events of the Massachusetts Poetry Festival, April 20 through 22 in Salem, Massachusetts.