The Patron Saint of Childhood

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The Patron Saint of Childhood
by Jacki Kellum

For this blog post, we were asked which Patron Saint that we would like to become and why. My response is as follows:

When I was in the 10th grade of my rural, Cottonland -community school, the class opened the book and read William Blake’s Lamb and Tiger poems from The Songs of Innocence and Experience. At the risk of sounding cliché, I assure you that a light exploded in my mind. There it was: Someone before me had realized that adults are simply incapable of recognizing the child that lived within my soul. Not long after that, I went to the University of Mississippi and pursued my first majors in both English and in visual art. Like William Blake, I wanted both to write and to paint from the images that welled within me.

The art department at Ole Miss was not the university’s priority. At that time, Ole Miss was very conservative and art was viewed by most there to be a bit radical. I was offered a grant to pursue an MA in English, and because of financial reasons, the pursuit of that MA was my first priority. When I was in grad school, ater paying tuition for a full course load, any extra classes were free. Invariably, I would take a full course of English classes; and on the side, I would take another load of art classes. For my MA in English, I wrote my thesis on William Blake. His efforts to bring mankind back to the sensitivity of its childhood envigorated me. I have spent my entire adult life in trying to carry Blake’s torch forward.

While pursuing my MA in English, I took as many writing courses as were allowed. When I went before the graduate committee for my second masters’ degree in visual art, one of the professors said to me, “You already have one MA, why do you want another?” My response was a resounding, “Because a picture’s worth a thousand words.”

To this day, I still paint and write, and essentially everything that I create has something to do with my own childhood.

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In the Pink – Watercolor Painted by Jacki Kellum

I paint the flowers that I remember from my grandmother’s garden.

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Thanksgiving – Watercolor Painted by Jacki Kellum

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December River – Watercolor Painted by Jacki Kellum

I paint the landscapes that whispered to me, as a child.

To understand the meaning of the two landscape paintings, see: https://jackikellum.wordpress.com/2014/12/02/how-does-a-painting-mean-december-river-a-jacki-kellum-watercolor-in-tribute-to-joni-mitchells-river/

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Alligator at Dawn – Illustration by Jacki Kellum – All Rights Reserved – Burned in Mississippi House Fire

And finally, I have in the past and I am beginning again to write and illustrate for children.

I began the following picture book about 13 years ago and had begun to illustrate it before my house fire destroyed all of my art:

Swamp Dawn
by Jacki Kellum

There’s a brief, enchanted moment,
As the moonlight turns to day,
That the Frogs are busy belting,
And the Gator lets them play.

Copyright Jacki Kellum October 15, 2015

All Rights Reserved

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Concept art for Swamp Dawn by Jacki Kellum – All Rights Reserved

Although the message is subtle, Swamp Dawn is a time and place when the adult [Gator] and the child [Frogs] live in peace.

To read more about the fire that nearly destroyed my life [but didn’t], read: https://jackikellum.wordpress.com/?s=Mississippi+BUrning

Here is the poem that was evoked from that blog post: https://jackikellum.wordpress.com/2015/10/14/my-moonlight-dance-in-mississippi/

About turning blog posts to poetry: https://jackikellum.wordpress.com/2015/10/15/turn-your-blog-posts-into-creative-writing/

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Ladybug Calling [Jacki Kellum’s Self-Portrait]
……….An Illustration by Jacki Kellum – Burned in Housefire

At the beginning of October, I began the WordPress Poetry Class [Writing 201]; and although it has been over 12 years since the fire destroyed my art and seriously dampened my spirit, I was amazed that I was able to simply pick up and begin writing again–and the same child’s voice was there.

If you look under the Menu and look at the October archives, you can see my October writing. All of the poetry and the new picture books have been written, as a result of my beginning that class.

Sainthood?

So, that is nice. I like to write about children, but is that enough to qualify me for Sainthood?

While I am in no way a saint [this post is for fun–it is a response to the writing prompt], the following may make me seem saint-worthy:

analogousredmixpatsheila

Last year, I taught art to people with Parkinson’s, and more than anything else, I challenged the students to let their child-hearts out to play: https://art4parkinsons.wordpress.com/

While teaching art in Mississippi schools, I was named National Teacher of the Year, and after 45 years of having done so, I continue to teach art to people of all ages. In the art classes, I challenge my students to think, feel, write, and paint. My continuous mantra to them is to never grow old in spirit.

Copyright Jacki Kellum October 15, 2015

All Rights Reserved to the Content of This Entire Post

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “A True Saint.”

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