Brushing Up On Non-Writing Skills

Last week Sarah Handelman, a former intern who is in working as a freelance designer in London, emailed me a blog posting about an exhibit at Mayor Gallery of 44 of Sylvia Plath’s pen and ink drawings. Many of these detailed images of farm animals and house pets, ordinary objects such as women’s shoes, an umbrella and a Chianti bottle, and scenes of small town life have been included in biographies and the afterwards of her novel The Bell Jar but I have never seen them assembled as a collection. More than her poetry, her sketches show a love for the simple and homey. There’s nothing dark and disturbing here.

Like Plath, many artists are adept at more than one medium. This is true of the authors collected in The Writer’s Brush: Painting, Drawings, and Sculpture by Writers by Donald Freidman. The dust jacket features one of Plath’s cubist inspired paintings, “Two Reading Women,” which shows a sophisticated use of color, texture and perspective that’s not apparent in her quaint, rather straightforward sketches.

The coffee-table sized book is full of surprises. Faulkner’s artwork couldn’t be more at odds with his much-admired dark, lyric novels about the South. Influenced by the Art Nouveau style of popular illustrators such as Aubrey Beardsley and John Held, Faulkner produced handmade, illustrated books as gifts. He often took as his subjects the flappers and their beaus and set them against the backdrop of parties and social clubs. If Sherwood Anderson had not suggested that he write a novel, he might have tried to make a career of illustrating for fashion magazines.

Another favorite is E.E. Cummings, who studied art in Paris, hung out with Picasso, and published a collection of ninety-nine drawings and paintings. The pieces featured in The Writer’s Brush show a whimsical, gestural, colorful style. He never struggled to reconcile his desire to both write and paint, believing that the function of all the arts is “the expression of that supreme aliveness which is known as ‘beauty.’”


Kris Somerville is the marketing coordinator of The Missouri Review

All The World's A (Excavated) Stage

It is impossible to be a theater buff and not be a fan of Shakespeare.  It is even more impossible to be a fan of Shakespeare and not be excited about the recent news that they have found the theater where Romeo and Juliet and Henry V were first performed.

After a dispute with the landlord at their previous venue simply named The Theater, Shakespeare moved his company the Lord Chamberlain’s Men to The Curtain Theater north of the River Thames in Shoreditch, an area east of London’s business district.  The theater was the main venue for his plays for about two years until the Globe Theater opened across the river in 1599.  Ben Jonson’s work was also performed there.

Like the Globe, the Curtain was a polygonal structure and served as a venue for all sorts of Elizabethan pastimes such as bear baiting, sword fights and acrobatics.  Scholars were left with the impression that Shakespeare was never quite happy with the venue and found his real home at the Globe.

Nevertheless, the Curtain was one of Elizabethan London’s longest surviving theaters, functioning as a playhouse until the 1620s.  The discovery of the Curtain follows other recently significant Shakespeare-related archeological finds.  Remains of both The Theater and The Rose were discovered down the road from the Globe in 2008.

As someone who enjoys playing groundling at the Globe when I am in London, these archeological finds make me excited about what there is still left to learn and discover of Shakespeare’s world.

Kris Somerville is the marketing director of The Missouri Review