Sunday, February 7, 2010

Ekphrasis Exercise

"Poetry and painting (or any visual art) have long been considered to be 'sister' arts, each in their own way offering a similar means to re-envision or re-experience the world. Moreover, poets and painters have long served as sources of mutual inspiration; a poet in search of 'images' can find an almost limitless supply within the vivid, concrete and evocative 'language(s)' of painting." - Steve Salmoni.

I am going to provide a few examples of Ekphrasis from my own attempts at interpreting the visual artistry of painters in my own poetry.

Paris through the Window, Marc Chagall

Paris Through the Window, Marc Chagall, 1913

Paris through the Window

An open-mouthed, human-faced feline
sits, perched on a ledge in the city of lights,
gazing, aghast at the developing scene
which a two-faced man - half full of the blues
offering an unclaimed heart in his hand
to no one in particular, half looking away,
smiling past the borderland of existence -
fails to notice. Rising from the bodies
of a well dressed couple (every man and all woman)
laying limp and lifeless, the Eiffel Tower
glints and gleams in the illumination
of bright and colorful searchlights, a stoic and
staid edifice of emotionless steel. Unflinching,
a man parachutes down to lifeless humanity.
An empty chair reposes at the table next
to the double-faced Parisian Janus, who guards
the open, glass-paned, sliding doorwindow,
permitting an invisible breeze to refresh
the flower arrangement adorning
the empty table of the man’s solitary blues.

The Birthday, Marc Chagall

The Birthday

A tapestry on the wall of moments,
near a bed, empty in its non-union,
colors the drab plaster of existence
with whimsy, a woman’s tiptoes
strain as she reaches for a contorted
body of her ghost-man bending over
backwards, his pallid lips meet her
rosy kiss by the open window, paned
overlook onto the city, as the universal
clock points out the instant, surprise
shines through her open eyes, his dead
gaze through closed eyes blinds him
to her, and he armlessly offers an empty
embrace as a bouquet in her hands thirsts
for the limbs which blossomed them.

Composition #7, Walter Kandinsky

Composition #7

shout run lightning scream fast blown
technicolor yawn crystalline cloud shards
fragment alluring anniversary helmets
arrowhead rocking chair filtered warble smear
canoe sunnyside up sprocket wheeled wheedle
hurled curls reflection wild cityscape slab
madness cacophony nightmare seasonless
hurricane rainbow lamp strawhat duck sled
potpourri insect disjointed connection furious
fractured slithering inverted freeform dove.

The Old Guitarist, Pablo Picasso

The Old Guitarist

The crumpled figure of aging poverty –
an old man seen through the tint
of bluesy tones, his clothing tattered
and torn, a holy adornment – on a cross-legged
cement sidewalk, leans against the wall
eyes closed to the silent, desolate and absent
audience surrounding him - and he strums
and sings of the destitution in the stark
and barren landscape of his unfulfilled
dreams, the under-appreciation of his soul.


Gerry Boyd said...

What a great collection! I especially enjoyed "Paris through the Window". Thanks.

Sigrid Macferson said...

Ik vind jouw tekst bijzonder mooi Don, vooral de Ekphrasis over het schilderij van Kadinsky!

Thank you so much for sharing Don!

Moira Spaans said...

Hello Don,

Bravo! I love the Picasso painting and you found the words which go with it!

I admire your work Don!

Shoreline Driftwood said...

Gerry, as always, you are very kind. Sigrid, dankjewel. Je bent zo lief.

Shoreline Driftwood said...

Thank you Moira, I'm blushing.