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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Locally Writ: Artist and photographer Joyce Wilkens discovers concision through poetry

Local artist and photographer Joyce Wilkens found an inspiring new world of expression in poetry after experimenting for years with different writing styles.

Wilkens is primarily a visual artist specializing in painting and photography, but, in the last decade, she has gradually been integrating poetry into her creative arsenal.

Outside a few high school classes on meter, Wilkens’ journey into the world of poetry began while she was compiling a series of anecdotes for a book centered on novelty tea cups that her friends and acquaintances had owned over the years.

She would paint each of the cups and then find ways of telling their stories. Using poetry to do so came from a desire for efficiency.

“I have a tendency to ramble,” she said. But the rules and forms of poetry, she explained, encourage concision.

“Most of the time when you write poetry, you’re telling a shortened version of a story … it makes you think about what words you’re going to use and to only use the words that serve a purpose,” she said.

She had found the perfect way to share each story in appropriately teacup-sized measures.

“I wasn’t writing a poetry book, per se,” she said. “I just wanted to tell a story very quickly.”

But as her work on “Teacup Art” came to a close, she realized that the joy of writing poetry wasn’t going anywhere. She now wanted to write for writing’s sake.

She remembered once hearing a writing teacher’s advice to his students.

“I want you to go home and write a poem, just write it, it doesn’t matter what about,” he said. “Then tear it up and put it in the trash. Realize that you have not done this to produce something; you have done it for the experience.”

When it came time to start her latest project, she approached it with that advice at the forefront. She joined writers’ groups and avidly kept up her poetry.

Her most recent work, “Poetry Pie,” is a compilation of rhyming poetry and watercolor companion pieces. About three quarters of the paintings were directly inspired by their accompanying poems and vice versa with the remaining quarter.

“Poetry Pie” represents Wilkens’ desire to share her passion for poetry and painting while she explores humor, inspiration, Spokane, travel and art theory.

“I just want people to find some joy and some happiness in reading the book,” she said. “Let’s just be happy because we get to live another day whoever becomes president. (Let’s) just try to make life enjoyable for each other.”

To aspiring authors and poets, Wilkens offered the following advice.

“If you really have a passion for something and you really feel compelled to share it with more than a small group of people, then try to write a book because a book can reach so many more people.

“Remember that it’s about the experience as much as producing something. Be willing to learn, and don’t be daunted by the seeming enormity of a project. Because if you feel compelled, you will do it.”

Wilkens’ “Poetry Pie” is available at Auntie’s Bookstore.

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