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The last portrait made me stop to take a second look. Unlike the other monks, this one was gazing directly out at the viewer. His face was painted in the standard Yamato-e style, just lines for the eyes and a hook for the nose, but there was something strangely expressive about the minimalist painting: a slight tension in the angle of his eyes, one hand holding a brush in midair, as if hesitating.
The bald little monk stared up at me out of his portrait, as if he were trying to speak to me. The plaque beneath the painting read:
Monk Anchin (1244-1316)
Collection of Seitokuji, 14th century, artist unknown
There was no background or architectural detail in the plain portrait, but there was a lit candle-stand beside him, a common pictorial convention for depicting nighttime. Why would the artist take pains to portray Anchin, unlike the other poets, writing by candlelight?
The Dream Diary of Monk Anchin – Felicity Drake
The Forest of New People – Thom Connors
Time’s Arrow – C. Heidmann
The Stars Don’t Lie – R.W.W. Greene
Ben Bronstein is an illustrator and advertising production artist based in Brooklyn, New York. When he isn’t drawing by hand or pushing pixels he’s most likely baking sourdough bread.
Michael M. Jones lives in southwest Virginia with too many books, just enough cats, and a wife who’s always ready to provide an alibi and/or a shovel. He has a degree in Theatre he never uses, is working towards a Master’s in Children’s Literature which is just an excuse to read more books, and blames his Santa fixation on working retail at the mall during the Christmas season. He’s the editor of Scheherazade’s Facade.
For more information, visit him at www.michaelmjones.com
Q: Do you have a garden? Have you ever grown your own food?
A: When I was young, we had a huge garden with all sorts of herbs, veggies, and flowers. I used to spend hours reading among the plants. My current tiny apartment doesn’t have room for gardening, but I still love the idea of it. Luckily, Seattle is a very green city. Even if I don’t have plants of my own, growing things are all around me.