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.”