January 18, 2021

A Leaf in the Wind Virtual Book Signing and Poetry Reading

 

Since the arrival of several boxes of the paperback version of A Leaf in the Wind: Poems by Jaro Majer, Artwork by Rose Marie Prins, I’ve been busy in spite of the limitations imposed by the pandemic. I have packed, shipped, or hand-delivered dozens of copies of our book.

 

A leaf in the wind book cover

 

The response has been at times moving, at times enlightening, but invariably rewarding. Here’s just a sampling of what some of the readers have said since A Leaf in the Wind was published: 

Your marvelous book arrived yesterday. It is stunning. I wept as I held it in my hands… It’s a loving memorial for every child lost to every woman. The depth of love between mother and child is truly profoundly shown. I’m especially blessed to know you throughout this tragic time. Art heals and tells the truth — so sorely needed.Suzanne Benton, artist

Your book–a beautiful tribute to your son–is lovely to hold. The size seems to capture the simple complexity of your art coupled with Jaro’s heartfelt poetry. The layout is immediately accessible. The illustrations on the left and the text on the right are perfectly balanced. The font and font size are easy on the eyes. Jaro’s poems will resonate most especially with those who are struggling with “the world”. I sense Jaro’s need to blend into something larger than himself. Your foreword is an important key to understanding the book’s origin and Jaro’s struggles with the “real world”–which he recognizes as an illusion. Your leaf illustrations’ rich colors are mixed to great effect. The leaf silhouettes sit on a background of melding greens and yellows, oranges and blues, reds and purples. They complement the poetry. —Patrick Westcott, PhD, Professor Emeritus, Rowan University

 

Interview scene between Colette Bancroft and Rose Marie Prins

Scene from A Leaf in the Wind: Virtual Book Signing and Poetry Reading. Photo by Amanda Staunko

Rose Marie, your book is absolutely stunning — not only visually, but the content is incredible as well. Your foreword is raw, vulnerable and moving and Jaro’s poems are deep and meaningful. I have looked at the whole book, but only read a few of the poems at this point. I feel I need to read them slowly to spend time with and digest each one individually. He was an incredibly talented poet. You have taken a heart-wrenching and utterly devastating experience and created something beautiful out of the ashes. Thank you for sharing your experiences. Both your and Jaro’s words will live on to help others. —Gina White, founder, St. Pete Art Collective 

Your leaves fall and dance around Jaro’s soul words. You are holding your sweet child as close as possible; no doubt his heart is embedded in yours forever. Thank you for being an artist and a voice for many. This voice with art will give many peace of heart and mind… It’s a very important work.Olga Kruse, actor

The most recent response was from a total stranger who purchased A Leaf in the Wind from the Gallery at Creative Pinellas in Largo where it’s on display as part of Arts Annual 2020. The purchaser was so moved by one of Jaro’s poems, “In This One,” that, he said, it made him cry. He went on to say that he bought the book “because it touched my heart.” “I’ve had moments with God that are outside this world, and, as I read this poem I felt like we were walking together through my God moments. Truly precious and beautiful, this poetry is divine. (It) came directly from Spirit. Thank you for following your heart.” —A.V.

 

Rose Marie Prins speaking to the audience during the virtual book signing and poetry reading

Scene from A Leaf in the Wind: Virtual Book Signing and Poetry Reading. Photo by Amanda Staunko

 

If you’ve not yet read our book you may wonder about the title. The following is a brief explanation from A Leaf in the Wind:

The title A Leaf in the Wind evolved as follows: Early in 2016, I received a grant from Creative Pinellas. Upon learning of the award I planned a trip to an artists’ retreat in India, my expenses to be covered by the grant monies. I had, for many years, longed to go to India. Like Jaro I love so much of what India has given to the world, including its unique culture, its delicious cuisine and, most of all, the spiritual path of yoga in its many forms. 

Shortly after my arrival at the Sanskriti Kendra I took a late evening walk through the retreat grounds. Suddenly, I was struck by the sight of a lone, bright pink lotus blossom emerging from the dark depths of a pond. In the receding light of day, with the first stars appearing in the sky, the bloom glowed as if lighted from within. At this time, three months after Jaro’s passing, my grief was profound. The sight of the glowing, pink bloom was a sign of hope and promise; I experienced an epiphany. 

After this, I viewed not just the lotus but all the trees on the property as models for a way of being in the world—they thrived in spite of the drought and New Delhi’s suffocating smog that engulfed them daily. I abandoned my original plan for an art project and started collecting, identifying, and cataloging the leaves on the property. The names of the trees, such as Krishna’s Buttercup, Bodhi Tree, Devil’s Tree and Tree of Sadness, were inspirational. 

Inspirational too, was the golden soil on the property. I collected it and, using a mosquito net that I found in my bedroom, sieved it. Then I baked it to remove impurities and, using an acrylic medium as a binder, applied it to sheets of Indian handmade paper. Next, I placed the leaves that I had collected onto the soft golden ground, carefully traced around them and then painted within the outlines with black acrylic paint. I created a total of eighteen of these sheets with black silhouettes on a golden ground. Before leaving India, I lovingly pressed the leaves between the pages of a magazine, saving them for the next phase of the project. 

Since then the project has undergone several iterations. While at a retreat in Mexico, I experimented with colorful watercolor grounds with tracings and collages of the Indian leaves. Later, during residencies at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts in Virginia and at the Moulin à Nef in Auvillar, France, I added the Indian leaf silhouettes that are included in A Leaf in the Wind. After my return to Florida, I used the actual leaves to make collagraphed prints on textured, golden ink grounds. Thus the Indian leaves became part of my grief therapy. They are also a metaphor for my deceased son, who, besides being “a lover and a fighter” for what he loved, was a lover of all things Indian.

*****

 

Bob Devin Jones reading a selection from A Leaf in the Wind: Poems by Jaro Majer; Artwork by Rose Marie

Scene from A Leaf in the Wind: Virtual Book Signing and Poetry Reading of Bob Devin Jones. Photo by Amanda Staunko

 

Last month a virtual book signing and poetry reading was held at The Studio@620 in St Petersburg. Colette Bancroft, Books Editor of the Tampa Bay Times, interviewed me and Bob Devin Jones, Artistic Director of The Studio@620, read a selection of Jaro’s poems. Below is a video of the Facebook Live event.