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Prints + Poems paired, in celebration of National Poetry Month

Ablution, from The Barking Wall by Brendan George Ko

We’ve been pairing art + poems since 2010 (unofficially, farther back than that!) and we’re perpetually pleasantly surprised by what the exercise exhumes. Poetry and art have a symbiotic relationship that goes beyond ekphrastic excellence. Their dialogue brings new beauty to the surface, revealing otherwise invisible interchanges, or magnifying certain moments and motifs. Taking a look at the two works in tandem enriches your experience of each, and opens the mind’s eye to the interplay of the written and visual worlds. Also, they’re just fun to come up with. Give it a whirl yourself and you’ll see what we mean!

In honor of National Poetry Month we’ve put together some new poetry + print matchups to win your word-loving heart. All the poems we are featuring come from our friends at, publishers of the delightful Poem-a-Day series—sign up here! If you ask us, these pairings perform best when left to their own devices, so we’ll be presenting them without comment. Feast your eyes on the first batch, below (click through to the blog for the full reveal), and stay tuned all month for more. —Team 20x200

Paired: Brendan George Ko + June Jordan

These poems by June Jordan

These poems
they are things that I do
in the dark
reaching for you
whoever you are
are you ready?

These words
they are stones in the water
running away

These skeletal lines
they are desperate arms for my longing and love.

I am a stranger
learning to worship the strangers
around me

whoever you are
whoever I may become.

Three cats watching fish in an aquarium, a 20x200 Vintage Edition

Paired: a 20x200 Vintage Edition + Rae Armantrout

Thing by Rae Armantrout

We love our cat
for her self
regard is assiduous
and bland,

for she sits in the small
patch of sun on our rug
and licks her claws
from all angles

and it is far
to “balanced reporting”

though, of course,
it is also
the very same thing.

The Catalogue of Imaginary Beings, Plate No.42 by Johanna Goodman

Paired: Johanna Goodman + Mary Oliver

Wild Geese by Mary Oliver

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting —
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

With poems + prints for everyone,
Team 20x200