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The Lion and The Unicorn

tapestry series

Welcome!

                                   

The Lion and the Unicorn Tapestry website invites you to a feast of the fantastical by postmodern poet Emily Isaacson. Lean into the lush gardens of literature, the castles of the mind, medieval wanings of the internet realms, or domains and portals to the hearts of humankind.

In all her poetic words, kind deeds, and vivid tapestries of multimedia art, Emily Isaacson portrays a celestial realm to which we travel on the Clay Road. The Clay Road has been our imminent theme until now, but we return to our roots and to the beginnings of Emily Isaacson's work with the lustrous Lion and Unicorn and their titular influence.

Also join with the mystical rambles of Emily Isaacson as she writes her medieval blog highlighting the makings of a poet and her career as a writer. She is a mythic soul, a solitary unicorn.

Weep, dance, cry here in the throes of an ancient universe as it draws near with riveting crash of cymbals. Be a stone groaning in the dark, see from nearer perspective whether she missed her mark. She is a hunter of visions and supernal influences.

Some people can just see in the dark, and they travel at the speed of light with luminous splendour. It is a miracle that makes a poem; it is an epiphany moment.

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Traditionally the lion represents England, and the unicorn, Scotland. Also, the unicorn is opposite the lion in the Canadian coat of arms. These two have similar natures, but one is proud and bold and one is reticent and reclusive. When you get near to lions they roar; when you get too close to unicorns they hide. Unicorns are generators of the spirit world; they generate ideas and sell dreams.

Is poetry a language that makes Canada a sublime country?

The poets will ask, they will respond in verse, if I know them well . . .

[Photo: Castle reflected in the water is an image of postmodernism]


 

In This Time . . . Quotes

In this troubled time, we are all looking for brilliant, beautiful and insightful poetry.

–Ayesha Chatterjee 

Feminist Caucus Chair and Past President of the League of Canadian Poets 


When poets become buildings, they would be grand and intricate edifices, with rooms containing carved benches and small, locked cupboards.

–Onjana Yawnghwe, from When Poems Are Rooms 


The world is eager for poets. In 2016, more people spent their hard earned money on poetry books than any other year on record. When times are dark, the world always turns to poets for empathy, for answers, for words, bucking and new. 

–Palette Poetry


When asked about the keys to a productive creative life, many writers point to the importance of a strong community. The lonely work of writing is best balanced with active participation in writing groups and readings, connection with readers, and support for fellow writers.

–Poets & Writers


Our society is grappling with a soul-sickness that is ultimately an infection of our imagination. An election may address symptoms, but how do we treat the underlying disease? How to heal the imagination? Perhaps this is what the arts are for...Grabbing hold of us by the senses, artworks have a unique capacity to shape our attunement, our feel for the world. The question isn't whether the arts will shape us, but which.

—from "Healing the Imagination: Art Lessons from James Baldwin," James K.A. Smith's editorial, issue 107


An image is an inner representation of your experience or your fantasies – a way your mind codes, stores, and expresses information. Imagery is the currency of dreams and daydreams . .  It is the language of the arts, the emotions, and most important, of the deeper self.

Imagery is a window on your inner world . . .

Imagination, in this sense, is not sufficiently valued in our culture. The imaginary is equated with the fanciful, the unreal, and the impractical . . . but imagination nurtures human reality as a river brings life to a desert.

—Martin L. Rossman M.D.


Art has been said to be ‘an expression of both hope and despair,’ which embodies all facets of the human condition. The awe inspiring cathedrals of Europe rose from the ashes of plague, cruelty and despair. After which, the forward thinking artists of the Renaissance era emerged in times of religious persecution and political chaos…

—Lori McKnee


Poetry and literature and painting are a glossolalia that the imagination hears in its own language. And in our imagining, we may learn how to be human again... learn how to be empathetic and live with one another, just to the extent that we see one another again, in all our fractured complexity and mixed motives and dogged hopes.

—Image editor in chief James K.A. Smith, The Christian Century


Empathy means realizing no trauma has discrete edges. Trauma bleeds. Out of wounds and across boundaries.

—Leslie Jamison, The Empathy Exam


In times of crisis, we must all decide again and again whom we love ...

—Frank O’Hara, from poem “To the Film Industry in Crisis”


I don't think art is propaganda; it should be something that liberates the soul, provokes the imagination and encourages people to go further. It celebrates humanity instead of manipulating it.

—Keith Haring


Our guilt is denied, our sense of personal responsibility is numbed, to the degree that we perceive the sacrificed lives as statistical abstractions and our personal comforts as more real. By such choices we are revealed to ourselves. Where our treasure is, there is our heart. By and large, in the once-Christian democracies of the West we have been measured in the scales and found wanting.

—Micheal O’Brien, The Family & the New Totalitarianism (2019)


There is a demeaning and even violent assumption that everyone needs to think in one particular way, and if they don't they are wrong, savage, barbaric—all those words that were used to justify the alienation and extermination of people. Listen: the contents, discontents, and complexities of woman-being in our many worlds, the ways of "feminisms," are numerous. The world is pluriversal. It is multipolar. And isn't that also its beauty?

A God Who Wails and Dances: A Conversation with Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor

     Image Journal, No. 109


I resolutely reject the nostalgic bent of so much "art & faith" paradigms that posit a false dichotomy between faith and contemporary art, or tend to reify some past era as the "golden age" of faithful making. To believe in the call of creativity is to be waiting to see what we'll make next, because what the worlds needs is ever-unfolding.

—James K.A. Smith, Editor of Image Journal. "For the Sake of the World."


How human awareness works is also an undecided question, and not only because the price we often pay for consciousness is inattention. Since that encounter in Mozambique, I’ve found myself wondering: What happens when creatures from separate species become aware of each other? Is there something there, something shared or shaped between them? Or do their sensoriums simply overlap—like car alarms setting each other off—in isolation, without reciprocity?

—Klinkenborg, Requiem for a Heavyweight


In the best spirit of Oscar Wilde's critic-as-artist, Klinkenborg takes Giggs's own remarkable prose as both provocation and invitation. The reviewer rivals the author's creativity and in the twining of the two, it's hard to tell whether this is a duel or a dance. In either case, the result is a kind of literary spectacle . . .

—James K.A. Smith, Editor of Image Journal


For it is in our choices that we experience the limits of our self-understanding and the pressures of our unchosen circumstances. We are forced to make our decisions within the liminal space between the generality of what we know and want and the particular demands of our circumstances. It is a shadowy realm, between the possible and actual, and it is here that human freedom becomes both real and burdensome. It is the place where we feel most deeply our helplessness—and our need for outside illumination or aid.

—Jennifer Frey, Image Journal  Issue 109, Recording Angels: New Fiction by Phil Klay and Christopher Beha


[W]e strive to deliver diamonds, not coal, this holiday season. 

—David Frankel, CEO

Victoria Trading Company 


Truly we’re boxed in an annex

Of the mansion

                           of your text.

 

—“Plague Psalm 90”  Philip Metres

      Image Journal, Issue 110


Getting your work online and marketing it well is no longer optional, it's imperative.

And, for many creatives, healers, and solopreneurs it doesn't come naturally. It can be overwhelming. It can stir up shame, fear, frustration, an impulse to hide . . .

—Room Magazine Newsletter, Nov 2021


‘Human sin. Broken relationships. Loneliness. Take the most agonizing question of your life—that's the question Jesus came into and walked.' Which seemed a good way to think about what drove men like Dismas and Anthony-Maria to become monks. An agonizing question for which there were no apparent answers, a yearning without apparent remedy.

—from "The Underground Life of Prayer"

2022 Glen Workshop instructor Fred Bahnson in Image issue 77


I was asked to consider what Taylor describes, in Sources of the Self, as the postmodern denial of "strong evaluations"—our late modern allergy to "thick" versions of meaning and goodness. I suggest that those denials are mostly repressions that keep coming back in other forms.

—James K.A. Smith, Editor of Image Journal, "Contemporary fiction can't quit religion"


Lewis, while admitting "in the filth of war, the baresark shout / Of battle, [the spirit of man ] is vexed" (SB,7), affirms that the human spirit will not be crushed, a theme he retunrs to later in "De Profundis." In fact, the poem ends with an affirmation negating much of the poem's earlier morose tone: "Though often bruised, oft broken by the rod, / yet, like the pheonix, from each fiery bed / Higher the stricken spirit lifts its head / And higher—till the beast become a god"(8).

 —Don King, C. S Lewis, Poet (Pub 2001)


thank you for our argument that ends,

thank you for my deafness, Lord, such fire

 

from a match you never lit.

 —Ilya Kaminsky

     "In Our Time"  issue 55 (From Newsletter Art is Gratuitous).


A glance, a blow, error a kind of cleaving—

Of? Or to? So something else can enter.

Open wide then. It happens

Those two forget themselves, not knowing—

 

What, or who?—so something else can enter

And, in entering, replace them.

We can’t forget ourselves.

 

—Katharine Coles, “Annunciation” 

    Image Journal, Issue 83


While the church’s calendar revisits history, rehearsing the inbreaking of the God Incarnate, the reason Christians need practice waiting is because hope is indexed to what is yet to come. Advent's exercise of memory is only to nourish hope for the future.

—James K.A Smith, Editor Image Journal, Newsletter “Hope Takes Practice”


let the evenings

extend themselves

while I lean into

the abyss of my being.

 

Let me lie in the cave

of my soul,

for too much light

blinds me,

steals the source

of revelation.

 

Joyce Rupp, quoted in [Darkness] Day 6: winter's cloak

    with Janelle Hardy


Something has descended

like feathered prophecy.

Someone has offered the world

a bowl of frozen tears,

 

has traced the veins

 

—Anya Silver “Advent, First Frost” Image Jounal, issue 66


The music waited,

it had time, I had power.

There was not room for my piano,

with standing room only in the hall.

 

—Emily Isaacson, 2020


Having recently wrapped its second season, the show remixes the predictable "teenage drug addict" narrative: it explicitly exposes the toll that drugs can have on relationships while allowing us to walk alongside a teen as she navigates personal identity.

During season two, however, the most prominent themes explored are redemption and forgiveness. In a later episode, after one of Rue's most harrowing withdrawal periods, she calls her sponsor, Ali, to apologize for all the pain she has caused him. He responds with a simple "I forgive you." Shocked and confused, Rue questions how he knows if she really means her sobriety. Ali says, "The hour is certain to come, so we must forgive graciously."

—Malia Alexander, Intern, Image Journal

Euphoria


I hadn't noticed that the arduous labor of reading Hegel would fall during Lent. But now it seems perfectly fitting, and not only because reading Hegel's notoriously obtuse prose is a kind of philosophical penance. What has struck me on this latest re-reading of Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit (published in 1807) is how radically cruciform his philosophy is… Unlike so many philosophies that prioritize self-possession, for Hegel we find ourselves by giving ourselves away. Through sacrifice we discover the gift of an identity. It is only when we lose ourselves that we find ourselves, as he puts it, caught up in the life of the Spirit.

—James K.A. Smith, Editor, Image Journal, his “curation, criticism, and commentary”


“Art in the time of crisis” . . . the vital role of the arts in times of precarity, examining artistic practices born amidst crises. Awaken yourself to the prophetic witness of the arts, asking why so many people turn to the arts during times of struggle.

—Adrienne Dengerink Chaplain, Regent College


[Nashville] is hot chicken on sopping white bread with green pickle / chips—sour to balance prismatic, flame-colored spice / for white people,

I-40 bisected the black community / like a tourniquet of concrete. There were no highway exits. / 120 businesses closed . . .

—Tiana Clark, “Nashville,” published in the New Yorker (2017).


I found an answer in a question Ilya Kaminsky penned earlier this month, "Why [do] so many turn to poetry in a time of crisis?"

My class turned to poetry. In the hope to change and change again, here are four poems we found, read, and treasured. Poems of resistance and of asking, of naming and love, by Ukrainian poets Olga Livshin, Ilya Kaminsky, Natalka Bilotserkivets, and Dzvinia Orlowsky.

—Benjamin Bartu, “Poetry We Admire: Resistance,” associate editor at Palette Poetry, editor at Literistic.


Kahn's paintings continue to tread the border between abstraction and figuration, as he has done throughout his career, but in these new works he forces himself to find strangeness and unfamiliarity in the most intimate subjects, standing right before him.  His figures stretch their limbs with the elegance of dancers, but beyond that it is difficult—and often impossible—to establish any identifying characteristics, whether religious, ethnic, sexual or otherwise. . .

In his words, the artist seeks to capture a "liminal moment, before the apprehension of gender and sexuality, an uncertain moment filled with possibility." This is not an effort to evade or ignore struggles for recognition by communities who have long been marginalized because of difference.  Instead, it is a call to acknowledge a common wellspring of dignity, beneath the surface, which flows into and animates all bodies, each in their own way.

—Aaron Rosen, Visual Arts Editor, Image Newsletter 4/14/22  Read more: Image Journal Issue 33


A Peace Lily adorns my kitchen island, especially apropos during these recent days. This flower is so named because of its graceful white shrouded petal resembling a surrender flag that declares a truce.

—Melissa Capa Rolston, Founder of Victorian Trading Co.


"I became a priest because of a deep, keen yearning to traffic in transcendence... Poets also make transcendence tangible, using the materiality of language—its written shapes, its sonic texture—to give form to the invisible and abstract. Through the artful employment of sound and sense, poetry communicates intellectually as well as emotionally—with the head as well as the heart. . . Poems give flesh to our hopes and fears and cell-deep longings, manifesting what groans most deeply in the bone and loam of things."

Travis Helms, founder and director of LOGOS, Image Journal, Issue 112


Jesuit spirituality often speaks of "finding God in all things."  I understand and appreciate the sentiment. The only problem is: it still requires me to look. And if I'm honest, I'm not always looking. In fact, sometimes I'm exhausted looking for a God who seems to prefer to hide.

But then God shows up when you're not looking, arriving as a surprise. . .

As the poet Jeanne Murray Walker puts it, sometimes, despite our denials, "God blazes up." Thank God that God is not only found by those looking; sometimes it's less about finding and more about being found. 

A Tree. A Rock. A Cloud: curation, criticism, and commentary from James K.A. Smith. Editor of Image Journal.


Surrounded by a terrific cast of seasoned musical performers. . . Garfield gives a blazingly self-assured performancemelancholy and ebullient, nuanced and unabashedly over-the-topthat pays off on Miranda's bet, and then some. And boy can he sell a tune. . . "I'm a f*** theatre major at Wesleyanwhat do I have to offer the World?" Miranda recalls. "And here's a show by my hero, and he's telling me two things at one: It's harder than you think it's going to be, your peers are all going to go get real jobs, and you're going to be the only one knocking your head against the wall of your childhood dream. But, if you love what you do, it is all worth it. And God, I love sitting down and writing a song. It makes me feel so alive."

Adam Green, Vogue Magazine Dec 2021 Issue: on Andrew Garfield.


The notion of art seeking understanding (ars quaerens intellectum) invites association with the notion of faith seeking understanding (fides quaerens intellectum).

Just as faith is a gift of grace that grows toward deeper knowledge, so it seems that art is a gift whose practice leads to a deeper order of understanding.  This seems true not only for the person who experiences art, but also the artist—whether musician, painter, sculptor, or poet.

—Baylor Symposium on Faith and Culture, October 26-28, 2022


To add a quote: email us.


 

What is an online tapestry?

An online tapestry is a series of websites designed by one artist. The web is used as a powerful medium. In multimedia art, more than one medium is used together, and this creates a visual stimulus to inspire viewers and in turn help other artists create more and different art than before. New art inspires artists of all mediums to create something in response, in their art form. This generation of power and ideas is a form of intellectual conversation. People talk back and forth in the art field in various mediums and modes of communication, at time practicing different ideologies, such as Zen, Romanticism, or Transcendentalism. The tapestry is postmodern, rising out of minimalism. The artist notes that it is a maximalist creation, depicting lavish colours, ideas, and an over-stated richness.

Emily: “Could the effect of long-term minimalism be maximalism?”  Read more . . .

 

The Apothecary's Daughter


At the apothecary shop

is the crossroads of medieval medicine,

where change is of the essence,

and time stands alone.

 

She is young, she is strong with laughter,

and her will is steady;

her hazel eyes speak of healing

her lips are a rose, speaking in the wind,

her hands are as skillful as the land,

the tonic bends beneath her hands,

vials and ointments

are scepters extended to the poor and ill:

she is the apothecary’s daughter.

 

Carnelian—

her face is flax damask,

as she travels with a cowl over her head

through the cloister’s silence dead,

she carries the crude anthracite

to her father’s benefactor’s rite.


The children play in burgundy knickers

around the fountain,

but she is as silent as dawn

and threading doves,

as the far-away gallop of hooves

on a crusade.

 

“I can turn a thistle to a daffodil in a day,”

said the passing alchemist 

with a wry smile,

“and the rain becomes

crystals beneath my hand.

My skull is made of wood, not clay.”

 

“What creates the connection

between the roses

are the thorns,”

said the apothecary’s daughter.

“For you are an illusionist,

and I am Carnelian,

the thorn of perdition.”

 

“Hold it to your lantern glass,

for you are a rose—

(I do not want the roses to be without

stems or leaves or thorns . . . )”

said the alchemist.

“Through the glass is a light,

and beneath my heart

there is a country—

you have found the Door!”

 

“Alas,” she paused,

“if there is a country within you,

there is an empire

within me—”

 

“What empire? Apothecary’s daughter,”

he asked with a jeer,

“What empire protects you?”

 

“Why it is the empire of the royal rose,”

she stood her ground.

He looked through his spectacle at her closely:

“The royal rose that entwines the golden arbour—

is that the empire of which you speak?”

 

“It is an aged rose

from which steeps

the sweet perfume of roses’ oil,

as I would know,”

she answered.

“Then be assured

that I not only

know the secret of the rose,

but the place from which it sprang—

that would make a maiden weep.”

 

“I weep as surely

as I live, if I do not know

the medicine of the gorse, the heather,

and of the rose:

it springs from

the rose hip, 

and is a woman’s remedy.

Now, I must be off,

for my smokeless coal

is growing dim

before my eyes—” she said.

Aha! thought the alchemist—

the lady did not know that

we would meet,

for until now I could only dream

of her medicine

to make a woman sweet.

 

The arched passage rang

with his voice,

for he scarce cared to lower it.

“Your father knows both

his friends and benefactors,”

he said, “but does he know his enemies?”

 

“Pray tell, who is his enemy?”

she asked. “There is a robin perched

on his chestnut bud.”

“Why his enemy is anyone who,

with skill, is cunning

and works to undermine him,” he said.

“What is within the human heart, will

eventually flower after its own kind,

for it cannot stay hidden very long.

 

“If, a dance,” he said, taking her hand,

“it must be worked out

as a sequence of steps,

while dripping with sweat.”

 

“The life without it, though,

is passionless,” she said.

 

“Toil in the valleys

of the human heart

for happiness is hard to find,

and when we find it

we let go all too soon.

 

“We breathe and spin

and leap—our faith in our mouths,

our life lived with one last

mournful cry,” he said.

 

They had met at last—

a chance meeting:

“And what is your name?” she asked.

“Waterford,” he answered.

 

“Waterford, the son of crusaders?” she asked.

“Yes, and keeper of the Waterford Journal—

for I can write,” he said.

“You may not remember me,

but I was in your benefactor’s school

as a child. Do you remember I sent you a note?”

 

“Aye,” said Carnelian, “but I could not read it.”

“I will tell you what it said,” he answered.

 

“Do not despise thou love, nor rue its share,

the shelter it provides is providence,

the elegance of home is free from cares,

and thine bent head in prayer is evidence.

I have many flowers in my garden,

each smells so sweetly of the summer’s air,

envelopes of colour, secret wardens,

for all the trust that heav’n keeps guarded there.

If ever I should give my heart to one,

I would find her ’neath an arbour waiting;

my intimations second to her none,

there’d be one song in my mouth abating:

I would give thee my youth’s flattery now

that I may not prove false upon thy vow.”

 

“I remember now,” said Carnelian.

“Then you were last to read it,” he said.

 

“Last was I to read your cream folded note,

when I was still quite young, I would not laugh

at your sincerity, and my wood staff.

My reputation was my ivory throat.

I would take you at your word, upon sea

I float: saline is my buffer, salt pure

that reaches deep into my wounds, censured

as crystalline mine salt, deep in the green,

we move, we float, licensed liquidity.

And now the years have almost passed me by,

I remember you, the boy that once kythed

in books and music, gardens’ flow’r to me.

Do not let me forget the passing age,

that once held me, a player, on the stage.”


            --Emily Isaacson, Hallmark


Medieval clothing photos courtesy of Armstreet Clothing Co.