Anna Elkins is a traveling poet and painter. She earned a BA in art and English and an MFA and Fulbright Fellowship in poetry. Her writings have been published in journals and books, and her paintings hang on walls around the world. She has written, painted, and taught on six continents. She is the author of the illustrated vignette, The Heart Takes Flight, the novel The Honeylicker Angel, and the poetry collection The Space Between. Anna has set up her easel and writing desk in the mythical State of Jefferson. www.annaelkins.com
There are over 100 gorgeous sketches by Anna in Wings, many of which come with addresses so that readers can find the bistros, cafés, inns, châteaux, villages and other sites.
Recently, we traveled to Morocco and France together, and visited many of the sites she had sketched. Here are her impressions:
The most recent trip I took to Paris was a kind of pilgrimage. I had spent seven months the previous year creating over one hundred illustrations for Erin Byrne’s luminous book, Wings. Many of her stories are set in Paris. I had been to some of the sites I drew, but others I had only “met” through photographs.
My birthday arrived right after I did. Erin suggested we meet at Le Bistrot d’Henri—one of the very first Parisian sites I had sketched for her book. I had first encountered this charming spot in her story, “Two Boys in a Bistro”—long before I knew I would one day illustrate its exterior, let alone celebrate my birthday inside. I will always remember the moment my friends and I found the address. We had taken a wrong turn and finally made it to Rue Princesse. And there it was: the bistro just as I had imagined it while sketching it, with Erin waiting inside to welcome us.
It was like that for every place in Paris—known and new, from the Luxembourg Gardens to Les Editeurs. At every turn, I felt a shiver of delightful recognition and a sense of being welcomed inside the stories the sketches were based on.
The illustrations in Wings are invitations to the stories. They beckon you inside. They say “welcome.”
View Anna’s images here
If what you are following, however, is your own true adventure, if it is something appropriate to your deep spiritual need or readiness, then magical guides will appear to help you. If you say, ‘Everyone’s going on this trip this year, and I’m going too,’ then no guides will appear.
Your adventure has to be coming right out of your own interior. If you are ready for it, then doors will open where there were no doors before, and where there would not be doors for anyone else. And you must have courage. It’s the call to adventure, which means there is no security, no rules.
—Joseph Campbell, A Joseph Campbell
Companion: Reflections on the Art of Living
WING: Gifts of Art, Life, and Travel in France is a book about how I was changed by traveling around France with the ghosts of artists and historical figures who shared with me their guides to living.
Soon I will introduce you! First up will be the photographer known as “The Timecatcher of the Twentieth Century”
I’m so excited to be a part of this fascinating interview series! Read about how I get started writing, my biggest challenges on the road, inside tips from my collection of stellar mentors, and a reading list of travel books that will incite your wanderlust.
When you are finished with mine, peruse the archives for interviews with the best travel writers from all over the world.
Thank you so much to Rolf Potts, whose books Marco Polo Didn’t Go There and Vagabonding are in places of honor on my bookshelf!
The week of filming celebrated all I love about Paris. People welcomed us graciously, showed interest, and eagerly offered ideas – a book signing here, a party there, anything at all. In cafés, connections sparked, continual electrical currents. At sunset, the Seine flickered as people wandered along the quais, or stopped to listen to jazz trios jamming on bridges. The city invited all to be enthralled, charmed, romanced.– “Out Into Paris”, Postscript in Wings, Gifts of Art, Life, and Travel in France
Michelangelo sculpted his Slaves during years of unceasing labor for pope after pope, often waiting for payment, and to me, the marble captives carry his own desperation.
– “The Mystique of Art”, Wings
Gratitude to my awesome filmmaker, Rogier Van Beeck Calkoen, whose work is meticulous, gorgeous, and brilliant.