10 November 2018 by Lihui Wang
‘I learned The Tempest when I was at high school but I forgot all the beautiful words after so many years. The picture brought all my memories back. I really like the idea of the notebook and so much look forward to the original book.’
‘The picture for The Tiger appeals to me the most and is my favourite. It conveys William Blake’s mysterious words about the flaming coat of the tiger. It is burning! I remember there is a famous band used to sing The Tiger. The notebook seems to be another very artistic and imaginative way to interpret the ideas. What an original experiment for the classical poems!’
‘I really like the picture of Shelley’s Skylark. Skylark is my favourite poem and the picture does express the poem very well. Well done! The illustrator is so full of imaginations and very talented.’
‘My favourite is the Two in the Campagna. Just look at the picture, you can feel that the girl is very sad. But somehow, you also feel there is still hope for her!’
‘It is the cloths of the heavens! It draws exactly what the poetry says and fits what I would imagine so well. How I wish I could draw and write something into the book!’
‘I am curious to know how the picture of the Caedmon’s Hymn was made. It does give a primitive impression, but it is so colourful, lively and full of energy. What drawing tools and skills were used to create such a mood?’
The idea of making such a poetry series started from a very simple but ambitious hope to share the beauty of the English words and their wisdom with everyone trained under different cultures and ways of thinking.
It went back to the days before Snowflake Books was born. Once we heard a discussion on literature from a BBC radio program. It was said that the poet Edgar Allan Poe once talked about the difference between poetry and prose. He said prose was for Truth and for Emotions. Poetry was for Beauty, to appeal to the soul. We have no academic authority on literary criticism to make any judgement on this opinion. However, what Edgar Allan Poe said raises a very interesting point on beauty from a writer’s and a poet’s perspectives. Probably many people tend to think that beauty is an emotion. But emotions are active, personal things such as anger or love and therefore can be selfish. Beauty, on the other hand, is contemplative and universal, appealing to minds great or small, artistic or practical.
This is the concept that moulded the idea of the picture-poetry series of Dear Su Yen when the same named book was near completion. A generous sharing of English culture and history from a well-learned and traditionally trained, but relatively reclusive, English scholar stimulated new thoughts and ideas in a modern designer from one of world’s busiest and most modernized corners. As a result, it is realized that if we can put away the cultural, social, linguistic and educational differences and let the beauty of the poetical words permeate our minds, each of us will have a picture, whether it be a water-colour or pencil sketch or an elegant oil painting which we probably see somewhere and sometime in spite of the busy paces of our modern lives, loosely yet vividly formed in front of our eyes and between the lines. However, few of us would have the courage and confidence to draw down this mind-picture with our own imaginations and emotions stimulated by the poems as the author and illustrator Su Yen did in the notebooks. Great art and literature should not separate or cast barriers among us, but instead unite us by the evocation of the universal sense of beauty and encouragement to interpret our own experience of life that can be woven together into human wisdom and knowledge.
It is hoped that this idea can be appreciated and shared by our readers’ participation in recording their own thoughts and even drawings on the blank pages provided in the notebooks. In the many moments of our lives, there is always a special one that can motivate us to have a fresh start in looking at the present from what we call a classical world of the old time.