1. To encourage reading, thinking, writing, conversing and creativity everywhere.
2. To advance the artistry of the written word.
3. To make gift items that will proudly be passed down for generations.
4. To put a picture poem in every home.
I like to use words to create pictures in the mind. I like to make people think, just as I am made to think when I read something provocative, interesting or beautiful. Words are the strokes of the paint brush or the notes of a song. And combining them with photographs of beautiful or memorable scenes or people or other subjects makes them unique. It is a creative outlet for me, and I think it provides a nice alternative to other gift options in the marketplace. The pieces are created to offer a unique and different gift item for those looking to give something unusual, beautiful and personal. But it is also personal and fun for me, because it allows me to write, and to be creative, and to experiment with different presentations for the writing. And I love to write things for specific people, which is what I do in commissioned pieces. It’s a way of making someone feel very special, and I love to be part of that! It makes me feel special too.
Daniel Mark Picture Poems Inc. was formed in 2009. The president and sole owner is Daniel Mark Extrom.
But the history really began quite a while ago.
When my wife and I married in 1989, I wrote a poem a few days before the wedding to celebrate the path that our love had taken. When a relationship begins, we cannot know with any certainty where it will lead us, but my not-yet-wife and I realized it was leading to a committed, permanent union, and this was exciting, comforting, fortunate and frightening! We also realized that we were only following a path that so many millions of people had followed before us, but we also knew that each path is as unique as the couple that takes it. The poem was then titled, simply, “A Wedding Song.” It was later changed to “How Could We Have Ever Known?” A good friend read the poem in the ceremony, which was the first time that my wife heard it, and everyone thought it was a nice touch and something different than what is usually read at a wedding. Plus, of course, it was personal.
On occasion, over the ensuing years, I would write something for my wife or children or even for others. I got a lot of satisfaction writing them, and everyone seemed to enjoy reading them.
I had always enjoyed writing both prose and poetry, and it dawned on me that perhaps there was a business in the idea. But, the fact is that most people do not read poetry, except perhaps in a greeting card. On the other hand, I knew that people liked it, at least when it was joined with music. Obviously, they often like the music more than the words, and sometimes the majority of the words cannot be understood or heard over the music. But usually there is a memorable line, or a memorable chorus or refrain, and people at least remember that, and they will sing along with it. Often, that line or those words will stay in their heads for a long time. And I think they like those words. I think poetic words can do that too.
I came up with the idea of putting the poems with another art form, since it seemed that two arts needed to be present to get people to pay attention to the words. I began to put the words with photographs, side by side, and then actually put the words in the photographs. Finally, I thought about putting the photographs in the text. In 2009, I was introduced to a talented young man who could etch the poems on glass, and he tried it on the picture matting itself. His name is Russ Terry. The etching worked, to beautiful effect. And we could etch names on the matting to make it personal. Then, I found a printer, Richard Saetre at Impro Graphics International, Inc. in Arlington Heights, IL , who could print on the matting, allowing us to experiment with different ink colors and presentation styles.
I began to write more pieces—for weddings, or to memorialize someone, or for almost any occasion. One of the first pieces that was etched was titled “That You Remember Me”, which was written to honor my mother-in-law who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease. “Though I may forget you / it’s important that you see / just how much it means to me / that you remember me.” I wondered how she must feel as she began to realize that she was starting to have trouble remembering things. Did she think we would forget her? That must be terrifying! So this piece is dedicated to all families who suffer from the effects of this condition, and it serves as a reminder to us that we should not forget them.
I have since added to the collection, and now there are many pieces on many subjects, for many occasions. I have written a number of commissioned pieces as well, using theme ideas from the giver, and making room for photographs to go into the piece. More pieces are being added to the collection all the time, and there are endless ideas for more. There really is no limit to what can be done!
These poems generally have rhyme and meter, and although I do some free verse, I prefer the musicality of rhythm and rhyme, and I do not aim to insert hidden meanings or deep metaphor into the poems. Rather, I concentrate on conveying a thought, an idea, or an emotion, and express it in interesting and attractive words and phrases. I don’t try to make the reader hunt for meaning. I want the meaning understood because if you have to hunt for it, this distracts from the beauty of the thought.
These poems are intended to convey an impression of what our hearts intend to say, but at times have trouble saying.
Daniel Mark Picture Poems had an exhibition at The Garlands in Barrington, IL in February and March 2010. Our pieces were also displayed at the Fremd High School Spring Boutique in 2010 and 2011, and at a Bridal Expo in Hoffman Estates in April 2010. I did have space in the Wise Women Gallery in Lake Zurich during 2012, but that store has since closed, to my dismay. I plan to do more exhibitions as the business develops. I very much enjoy meeting people and seeing their reactions to the poems and the presentations, and talking with them about the writing process.