Pictures of Poems: “All for a Day,” Robert Sward

Sward poem

I think it is high time for a picture of a poem. So, a drawing of “All for a Day” by Robert Sward. Hey, look, I illustrated something that isn’t at least 200 years old, preferably 400. Since this is a contemporary poem by a living poet, I’m not going to copy and paste it here, fair-use-wise. But here is a link:

You should read it. I really, really love this poem, and I don’t usually like modern poetry unless it is written by a few very talented friends that I am so incredibly lucky to know.

I like “All for a Day” because it captures a feeling of creative frustration – this massive, overwhelming mess of emotions and thoughts and images and moments – and distills it into a few perfect lines. That’s what good poetry does for things. One reason I have almost completely stopped trying to write is because of the thing in this poem. For whatever reason, I feel all these Big Things much less with drawings than with words.

Sometimes I get into this intense panic that I won’t have enough time – like ever, in my life, before I die – to draw everything that I want to. So I don’t mind that much if I mangle some pieces in my rush to get to the next thing. (This is a little bit of a lie, because in the moment of making a Big Mistake, I sort of want to smash my markers, cry, and watch Dateline NBC. But I get over it.) On the other hand, the thought of writing, like really writing and trying to write something good, just makes me panic in general. Like a complete, full-body, I DO NOT WANT TO DO THAT kind of panic. Those are very different kinds of panic right there.

So, I think writing might not be the best thing for me to be doing, even though it is very possible that I am better at writing than drawing. I certainly have more formal training in writing, like a bazillion-times more education. But I don’t know. Maybe I will get to it someday after I draw all the things I have haphazardly listed to myself all over my house, notebook, and iphone. So many things… And right now I have no desire to write a poem about any of them.


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