Poetry Month Challenges Day 28: Xanadu and Xylography

Xanadu Satellites in Xylography by Maria L. Berg 2023

Xanadu & Xylography

Last year I had a lot of fun with Xanadu, the mythical paradise from Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s poem Kubla Khan, and the muse’s roller-rink in the Olivia Newton John movie. I made a rollerskate filter and attempted a shape poem in the shape of a rollerskater. Today and tomorrow, with this wonderful faux-summer weather and my family coming out to enjoy it, this is my Xanadu, right here where I am. My “stately pleasure-dome” with an ice-cold lake and an awe-inspiring view of Mt. Rainier. I’m so glad I mowed yesterday. So how could xylography be a contradiction to an imagined paradise like Xanadu?

How is xylography even an abstract noun? Xylography is the art of making woodcuts or wood engravings; the art, craft, or process of printing from wooden blocks. You may say, I know what a wood block is: I can touch it, I can see it, I can smell it. Yes, it’s a bit of a stretch to say that xylography is an abstract noun (like Xanadu), but right there in the definition it says it is an art. And what is art? There we have the abstract nature of xylography.

Xylography has a permanence. The image carved into the wood, the relief image left on the surface, can be painted or inked and printed again and again. Xanadu is impermanent, a fantasy, always changing.

Today’s Images

To find the xylography in Xanadu and the Xanadu in Xylography, I found some laser-cut wooden puzzle pieces I designed when we were just starting Artifact Puzzles, and tested one of my puzzles on a thinner wood.

Xylography in Xanadu or Moonman by Maria L. Berg 2023

The Prompts


Today’s prompt is to write an index poem.

Poem A Day

Today’s prompt is a title prompt “You Are (blank).”

The Poem

You Are Xylography of Xanadu

Aggression and apathy, 1
Like a woodblock carving of my dream destination

Beauty and barbarism, 3
slathered in every sparkling color and pressed to every surface

Calm and chaos, 4
everywhere I look, you are art, you are craft, you are the first

Desire and disdain, 5
you endure, changing with each replication, creating

Expression and ego, 6
wonder and surprise with wear and tear

Fear and faithfulness, 7
every chip and ding a new depth, an interpretation

Gossip and graciousness, 8
of time, I remember when I carved you

Honor and helplessness, 10
a simple quarter note on a staff

Idiosyncrasy and integrity, 11
the curved blade slipped and somehow turned

Joy and Justice, 12
like a serpent burying its fang deep into my index

Kindness and knowledge, 13
finger, and the blood, and the pulsing pain

Luck and loss, 14
they are all in that wood block to be printed

Misery and mercy, 15
again and again, in every color not only red

Need and nonsense, 17
my only print was all indigo on brown paper

Opportunity and opportunism, 18
thick and textured like paper towels from school

Pleasure and patience, 19
bathroom dispensers, I’ve never understood carving

Quality and quirk, 20
wood without fear, xylography is not

Reality and romance, 21
the art for me, though lovely

Sadness and satisfaction, 22
perhaps my Xanadu is a land

Thrill and tiredness, 24
where I never carved my finger

Urge and use, 25
and carve you in every relief

Value and vanity, 26
to illustrate every fantasy

Wonder and wisdom, 27
in an ever-changing, ever-growing

Xanadu and xylography, 28
book of life, we share in the calm

Yearning and yield, 29
moments between

Zeal and zealousness, 30

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