Several years ago I showed this image of a boater in a sea of words to Reka Simonsen, my editor at Holt. She sent me a wonderful manuscript – a biography of Pablo Neruda written by Monica Brown -and asked if I would like to illustrate it in this “wordy” style.This fall our book, Pablo Neruda: Poet of the People won an Orbis Pictus Honor Award and an Américas Award. I am in Washington, DC to receive the Américas award in a ceremony at the Library of Congress on October 5th. It is a huge honor and a thrill to be here.
Whenever I am given a manuscript to illustrate I see it as a door to go through. This book led me to Neruda’s poetry and to Chile. My husband and I visited Chile in 2009 and went to Neruda’s three homes. Here is a street in Valparaiso.
Because of this book I signed up for a Spanish class and I have continued studying Spanish since then. I still have a long way to go! For each illustration I harvested words from Neruda’s poems and memoirs. I wrote lists of words in English and Spanish that related to the subject of that page.
Then I painted the word flow taking words from my lists that rhymed and chimed. The words bounce off of each other with their sounds and their meanings. I considered the way that each word related to the words around it on all sides and I considered the way that the words cumulatively reinforced the meaning of Monica’s text.
If you would like to see the celebration at the Library of Congress you will soon be able to look at a webcast. Webcasts from other years are posted at the website of CLASP (Consortium of Latin American Studies). ¡Viva Neruda!