Monday, January 25, 2016

Inspiration Monday: The Tomato Collection

I decided the time was nigh for another "Inspiration Monday" post highlighting another artist who's given me inspiration for the work I'm doing.

My mom teaches in a school district close to my home town of Grosse Pointe, Michigan, and a few years ago a writer/performer named Kevin Kammeraad had visited her school. Soon afterwards as a gift we received this book in the mail, signed by Kevin for my daughter, called The Tomato Collection, a quirky collection of poetry, photos and artwork.

I was instantly intrigued by this book, and have enjoyed reading it with the kids. It's delightfully creative, random, silly and poignant from page to page. It also sparked something inside me, and made me think, hmmm, it might be fun to start writing poems again. Before too long it also made me think, hmmm, maybe I could put them together into a book...

A few years and a pile of full sketchbooks later, it's still coming together, thanks to that little spark of inspiration.

This excellent video was just posted recently about Kevin Kammeraad and his work, and I love it. I love the philosophy behind what he does, and it gives me loads of encouragement. I hope it does for you too.

More at

Other "Inspiration Monday" posts: Shel Silverstein - Mercer Mayer - Dr. Seuss - Maurice Sendak - The Decemberists and Other Musical Storytellers - Aaron Becker - Rooftops in Paris and London

Monday, January 4, 2016

A New Poem for 2016

Happy New Year from the Gnomes of the Cheese Forest!

I made some good progress on the book (which is actually two books now) over the Christmas holidays. Mostly I spent some time organizing the second volume and which poems will be a part of it, including a brand new one which has been a concept in my noggin for a long time and finally flowed out onto paper.

Enjoy this little epic, which will likely be included in the second volume...

THE HOUSE ON THE ROCK (second-ish/third-ish draft)

When all’s said and done, at the end of the day,
I have a strange feeling that God wants to play,
So put all your masks and your mirrors away,
And we’ll meet at the House on the Rock.

We’ll garden for stories, we’ll dig up old books,
We’ll bring in the criminals, captains and cooks,
And dress in a way that brings quizzical looks
From the bishops who don’t understand.

We’ll steal every treasure, collect to our pleasure,
And load it all up in a ship of great measure,
And sail ‘cross the wide open sea at our leisure,
Until we arrive to find land.

For here there be monsters and bumps in the night,
So come with us now, let us flee and take flight,
And turn all the dirges and darkness to light,
And meet at the House on the Rock.

For ‘round any corner, much to our surprise
A merry-go-round of fantastical size,
Each beast and behemoth a sight for sore eyes,
Could be waiting for us to ride it.

Then on to the market to sell off our wares,
Our cotton and candies, our sugars and squares,
Contraptions designed by intelligent bears
With a clockwork monkey inside it.

We’ll walk where the coffee flows sticky and strong,
And every freak finds a place to belong,
If you need to find me, I’m lost in a song,
But we’ll meet at the House on the Rock.

Through terrible tunnels we’ll carefully tread,
And duck down to dodge what may hang overhead,
What gallant explorers, still living or dead,
May have travelled these caverns before us?

And could there be places that no one has seen,
Untapped and untethered in spaces between?
If we found one, would every print magazine
Come and knock on our door to implore us?

Let’s find out together, we’ll draw our own map,
We’ll note every danger and each booby trap,
And scout out the safe spots to have a quick nap
On our way to the House on the Rock.

A city of doll houses winds through the street,
With cobblestone labyrinths under our feet,
But know there are those who are less than discreet
Who lurk in each crevice and crack.

So keep your watch wound, take note of each sound,
Be wary of each alley cat and each hound,
But fear not, for if you get all turned around,
Take comfort, for I got your back.

For here’s where the jester’s tales sputter and spin,
The feast at the fire‘s about to begin,
So fill up your mug, wipe your feet and come in,
And we’ll stay at the House on the Rock.