Editor’s Note: I WISH showcases 33 poems with a gallery of portraits inspired by old-fashioned photographs of faces staring at us with serious, veiled expressions from a bygone time. The book features a series of portraits by renowned Belgium illustrator, Ingrid Godon, accompanied by philosophical meditations written by Toon Tellegen I WISH has been reprinted many times and was nominated in 2013 for a prestigious Dutch award. At time of this writing, it is unknown if a planned gallery showcase of the original paintings slated for April 22, 2020 in New York City’s Boerner Gallery will be held, or whether the planned appearance by Ingrid Godon will be possible.
Here below, actress/director/poet and writer Tonika Todorova and one of her twin sons, Jaxon, share their reaction to the book.
Ever let your mind free fall into a line of thinking that is simultaneously brilliant in its reasoning, yet often questioning its existence in your current reality? But if you accept that reality is purely subjective, could you not suspend your cognitive dissonance enough to ponder more deeply? What if you wished you could have ordinary courage or stand amidst a nodding crowd to say That, I will not do? Or what if you pondered what it would be like if you didn't know you wee gonna die in the end?
A book of prose by Toon Telegen based on illustrations by Ingrid Godon offers timeless musings about life, and in these reviewers’ view, it will be as simple or as complex as you need it to be for you.
Thoughts inspired by illustrations
What you read in this book of wistful poetic prose is inspired by, and based on portraits with eyes that allow you to peer into delicious intimacy. The portraits themselves look unposed and perfectly candid. It is as if the artist caught her subjects off guard.
There is a little boy, sevenish, perfectly groomed, white colored shirt and a red bowtie. His pale face is accented by flushed cheeks and sandy blonde hair, combed to one side. The name reads “Jean”. His piercing blue eyes are staring off in the distance. His opening thoughts are “I wish I had a friend, and we’d both saved each other’s lives at risk of our own.”
Or, you find Violetta, a young girl with a headband and straight hair falling down to her chin, and her violet (of course!) eyes pierce with certainty in her quest for knowledge: “I wish I knew what life is”.
Or, you look into Rosie’s rebellious gaze as her thoughts flow on the page: “I want to fight something”...You read on and you find all of it perfectly apt.
I WISH is what you wish
In these writers’ opinion, every story is both universally relatable and individually tailored. Through the perspective of a nine year old, a statement like “I wish I wasn’t scared of dying”, means having fear of being squashed by a train, or being hit by lightning, or eating poison. But for a middle aged adult, that fear might extend to disappearing one day, with no legacy, no memories of you lingering in anyone’s mind. And staring into the eye of Suzanne, the portrait that inspired those thoughts, a child finds defeat and resolution, whereas an adult might see absolute terror.
In the context of now
Of course, nothing can be observed or critiqued without the acknowledgment that our society is profoundly changing and will never return to certain social paradigms prior to COVID-19. So it is with the background of a global pandemic, that these writers want to highlight to you one of the poems inspired by the portrait of Red Riding Hood, aptly named after the red babushka covering her head, with the hope that it reaches you how you need it to most:
“I wish something had suddenly been canceled, without anyone knowing why, and I’d climbed up onto a table after I’d heard and was dancing with joy. “It’s off! It’s off!” I would call out quietly while dancing. It would be the happiest I’d been in my whole life! I wish I had that feeling every day. Without anyone being able to tell by looking at me.”
For more information and to purchase the book, visit the Amazon webpage for I WISH.
Photos Courtesy of I WISH
Sponsored by www.dutchculture.com
About the Authors: Tonika Todorova and her son Jaxon DuFloth:
Tonika Todorova is a freelance writer and director that goes by the self imposed title of Adventure Architect. She experiences a lot of performance with her eight year old son, Jaxon, by her side, and his reflections on Chicago theatre offer a refreshingly new perspective for her, and hopefully, others. Jaxon practices autonomous learning and is proud to be an Albany Park Chicago Children's Choir singer.