Calligraphy – Studs Terkel

MEDIA FOR: Calligraphy Two-page spread from Geoffroy Tory’s Book of Hours (1531). 4 of 67 “Book of Hours” Two-page spread from Geoffroy Tory’s Book of Hours (1531).

Two-page spread from Geoffroy Tory’s “Book of Hours” (1531). Library of Congress, Washington D.C.

In a 1961 interview, Studs Terkel, a well known radio personality who interviewed working class people (“Working” One of the greatest bestsellers of the twentieth century: Studs Terkel’s classic oral history on working in America “People talk about what they do all day and how they feel about what they do”), asks James Baldwin after Baldwin’s first twenty years as a writer, “Who are you, now?” Baldwin answers,

“Who, indeed. Well, I may be able to tell you who I am, but I am also discovering who I am not. I want to be an honest man. And I want to be a good writer. I don’t know if one ever gets to be what one wants to be. You just have to play it by ear and . . .    pray for rain.” – James Baldwin

Reading poetry provides many of us with the words. The multi-layers of understanding help us manage ourselves through daily struggles. Some writers add music to their poems like Bob Dylan (2016 Nobel Prize in Literature). Some poets, like Langston Hughes, use the pattern of the words and phrases whether writen down or read aloud to move us ahead. Explore the art of calligraphy while expressing yourself through poetry.

Using the two alphabetical charts of examples of calligraphy provided prepare and fill 4 pages in your sketch book with guidelines (4H pencil) and practice the letter forms using a calligraphy pen and ink. Letter forms should be around 1″ high (with descending and ascending reaching another 1/2″).

Choose one poem from the poems provided and rewrite out the poem using calligraphy on the paper provided. Center the calligraphy to fit on the page. If you would rather write another poem please submit it to me in an email for review before the next class period meets.


Calligraphy -the art of beautiful handwriting. The term may derive from the Greek words for “beauty” (kallos) and “to write” (graphein). It implies a sure knowledge of the correct form of letters—i.e., the conventional signs by which language can be communicated—and the skill to make them with such ordering of the various parts and harmony of proportions that the experienced, knowledgeable eye will recognize such composition as a work of art. Calligraphic work, as art, need not be legible in the usual sense of the word.  (Britannica)