Word Pictures. Picture Words

PHILADELPHIA — The Philadelphia Museum of Art had a special exhibit of the calligraphy of the 17th-century Japanese artist Ike Taiga, as well as his wife, Mamie.

As is customary, he illustrated the words with scenes of woods, mountains and a few people here and there. Often Taiga and Tokuyama Gyokuran (his wife, really) used the poems of others but sometimes they wrote their own verses as well. Illustrated words, or captioned pictures is a strain of modern art, too, but the current efforts so often are diary entries where the young artist whines at best, lectures viewers at worst.

One Taiga work struck strongly. It shows a man sitting at a window, looking at a pastoral scene. The poem is “Convenient for Chanting Poems” by Li Yu (1611-1680) (translator not named):

My window shutters with no set purpose open on a mountain view:
I need not go in search of poems, poems come here of themselves!
Don’t marvel that my purse is poor, while I’m rich in poems and verses:
It’s only since I’m living here, in a little paradise.

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Tuesday’s flights were delayed by well-reported storms in the middle of the country, particularly in Texas. Our 4:15 flight from DFW to XNA took off more than four hours late. On arrival home, we found our checked luggage to be soaked through. Doesn’t Dallas put tarps on those luggage carts? But we didn’t really have a monetary loss on which to file a complaint. The bags and shoes dried out, we washed all the clothes, and as I had wrapped important columnist documents (several government proclamations of welcome) in plastic bags so while damp the ink didn’t run.

So I resort to griping here. If a duffel or a suitcase falls apart the next time I use it, or a similar calamity, I still have the claim checks.

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The conference sessions of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists are covered thoroughly by Dave Astor for Editor & Publisher, which is searchable. May I suggest the key words “columnist” and “Philadelphia” to start with. -30-

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