Some approach the pandemic blues by taking on a personal jogging challenge; others create and publish a book!
The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has prompted some people to seek creative ways to cope with isolation and feelings of dislocation in society and in self. A Woodstock resident used her artistic abilities to console herself – and to come to herself during difficult times. Lisa Kagan discovered that writing poetry and creating art has become a balm for the soul, and this has led to a book she published last summer called “Coming Home to Myself”.
For nearly two decades, Kagan has held workshops throughout the Portland area through his business, âFamily Heirloom Artsâ – a business dedicated to helping individuals and families celebrate their own life stories and milestones. important parts of their lives, through the creation of illustrated heirloom books: “As a student at Wesleyan University in Connecticut, I wrote and illustrated my first family heirloom book, which would eventually become the genesis of the creation of my company. ”
Even before he could speak, at a very young age, Kagan started painting life-size papier-mÃ¢chÃ© birds with his father, Neil Kagan, who is also an artist. When she was three years old, she and her father collaborated on the creation of her first illustrated book. “I did the illustrations and told the story,” she says, “And he wrote the story and then put the finished book together.”
So, as the COVID-19 pandemic continued, she continued to write and create art which she describes as “serving as an intimate companion to navigate the passages of life.” This collection is an ode to the kindness and generosity the world so desperately needs, and the power to turn that attention to ourselves. ”
A simple 112-page 7Â½ “by 7Â½” book, it contains nine chapters which she describes as “exploring the essentials of the human experience: courage, passion, patience, grace, faith, resilience, wonder, gratitude and renewal. “. Each chapter includes four to seven short poems, accompanied by lavishly colored paintings imbued with the influence of nature.
“I have always been drawn to nature and its endless design wisdom. In the spirit of John Burroughs’ quote -” I go to nature to be soothed, healed and my senses to be put in order “- âThroughout my life, I have felt like I was at my best when I was immersed in the beauty of nature.
Indeed, nature was a panacea for many during the pandemic. To read Kagan’s book, some say, is to experience the beauty of language and nature through poetry and art, and to be exalted and inspired to continue through difficult times.
In the chapter titled “Resilience”, his poem “Poems For Myself” illustrates the simple beauty of his writing. It contains images of resilience that the reader can identify with, especially in these times when a virus and its variants have upset us:
Poems for me
This year I wrote poems for myself
word for word
an attempt to anchor me
in the middle of a swell that completely overwhelmed me
each poem has become a small meal
that I cooked for myself
even though i thought i wasn’t hungry
the act of writing consisted mainly of arriving
stating: “I’m still here, I guess that counts for something”
some days the poems were more like love songs or odes to beauty
fish something in the universe
that I could catch,
something that could confidently announce, “There are still beautiful gifts awaiting you”
in the morning poetry offered the goodness of silence
when it was hard to know where else to look during the day
to write was to befriend me again.
Lisa shares her home in Woodstock with her musician husband Lewis Childs and their nine year old son who attends Lewis Elementary School. “I started the Family Heirloom Arts studio based in our home, where I host art and writing programs focused on personal storytelling.”
Lisa has published an original art and poetry book, “Emergence” (2009). She continues to offer art and writing workshops and retreats throughout the Pacific Northwest. She is the co-founder of the Touchstone Retreats program and host through Portland Women Writers.
Lisa’s book can be purchased through her online store – tinyurl.com/avmfb5kr