May 26, 2016

Poetry Friday--Marc Chagall



Last Friday, Michelle H. Barnes posted a poem, "Chagall's Muse," which she had written for her husband on their anniversary. The subject is Marc Chagall. His first wife, Bella, with whom he was very happy, is the speaker.

After viewing a video Michelle shared. I remembered a book I had purchased from a book fair in elementary school, Famous Paintings by Alice Elizabeth Chase (©1951). It was a favorite book, but I never read it, I simply spent time with the paintings, one of which was by Marc Chagall.


Here's the Chagall piece, "Snowing," which the caption lists as owned by St. Louis, City Art Museum.

Since my book is titled, Famous Paintings, I assumed "Snowing" is a well-known piece. Funny thing, though, I spent a number of hours looking at Chagall's paintings and drawings online, and I didn't see "Snowing" in any of the sources I looked at. I checked the St. Louis Art Museum's site and there was only one Chagall piece listed and it is titled. "Temptation" (a.k.a. "Adam and Eve"). I did find "Snowing" online in one place, and that was scan of a 1987 postage stamp from Gambia that featured the work!

A reverse search in TinEye, using the picture in my book, came up with 0 hits! I next contacted the helpful librarians at the NH Institute of Art's Teti Library. They attempted to locate the painting for me, but had no luck either. "Given how difficult this work is to find, we think that it might be part of a private collection," they concluded. Although they included links to other source materials, I think I've spent enough time on this wild goose chase and will let it remain a mystery.

The following, though, is a more positive result of a day or two spent immersed in Chagall.

Click on the image to enlarge for easier reading. © Diane Mayr, all rights reserved.

Since Chagall lived until 1985, his work is still under copyright (expires 70 years after Chagall's death). His works won't be in the public domain until 2055, which means I can't legally use his paintings to illustrate a poem. Instead, I decided to illustrate my poem in the spirit of a Chagall painting using bright primary colors, a photo of him taken in 1910 that is in the public domain, and a few of the symbols he repeatedly used in his paintings. I made Chagall's face green since he had painted himself with a green face! (Click here for examples.) It actually works better without the real thing because I'm the speaker in the poem, and anything I create could only be "like" Marc Chagall!

As for my use of rhyme again this week, it's proof that not every exercise leads to improvement! I promise, no more rhyme!

Julie is hosting the Round-Up this week at The Drift Record. Have a safe holiday weekend!



May 24, 2016

May 20, 2016

Poetry Friday--"Instructions to Mother Skate's Au Pair"


© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved.

Don't ask me where this came from. It started with a line about mermaids and somehow ended up as you see above. If you're not familiar with a mermaid's purse, the purse reference might be puzzling. Along the beaches here in New England, I've often come upon the little black cases known as "mermaid's purses." I originally thought they were bladders, like some seaweeds (bladder wrack) have to keep them afloat. I was wrong! The cases contain, or once contained, a baby skate! Here's a short article about mermaid's purses that has good photos. (Skates and rays are related according to a Wikipedia entry.

I don't generally write in rhyme (and for good reason--squid and live?), but this poem pushed me in that direction. I had to indulge myself in some punning to get through it!

If you are having difficulty reading the text in the illustration:
Instructions to Mother Skate's Au Pair

Please carry my offspring beneath your arm,
safe and secure, away from all harm.

I need not be tethered all night and all day
watching over a baby who gets in the way

of my own pursuit of bivalves and squid,
shrimps and crabs--why, I need them to live!

As long as you are an adequate nurse,
in exchange, dear Mermaid, you'll get a purse.

Margaret at Reflections on the Teche is hosting the Round-Up today--see you there!

May 17, 2016

Haiku Sticky #358

Yesterday, I had a little medical screening test, which messed me up time-wise. I forgot to post a haiku sticky earlier this morning because I kept thinking it was only Monday.


© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved.

May 15, 2016

Happy Haiga Day!


© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved. Art by Hokusai (1760-1849).

May 12, 2016

Poetry Friday--Mass Poetry Festival Review

The weekend of April 29-May 1, I attended the 2016 Massachusetts Poetry Festival in Salem, MA. I've lost count, but it's at least the fifth year I've taken part.

This year seemed different, but I haven't been able to put my finger on why! In looking over my notes, I find most are barely legible, so, my review this year will consist of a bunch of random quotes, titles of individual poems or books suggested by poets, and, a few photos.


My favorite session was a talk by Edward Hirsch. I was expecting a poetry reading, but Hirsch basically explained the origins of poetry to us all! Here are a few things he said:

Poetry "has a sustained life in culture."

The "meaning is in the relationship" between the poem and the reader. "The reader has been left out of the equation."

A poem "gives us this gift of privacy plus participation."

"Read a poem aloud--you are the instrument of that poem."

A writer of poetry has an "optimistic hope that someone will read it in the future."

He specifically mentioned a book of poetry by Afghan women. I searched online and found Songs of Love and War: Afghan Women's Poetry by Sayd Bahod Majrouh. I believe this is the book he spoke about since much of his talk had to do with work, song, and its relationship to poetry: "meter migrated into poetry from physical work." (See Kurious Kitty's post for today.)

Another enjoyable session, one that is held every year, was a panel discussion on the "State of Poetry." This year's panel was outstanding (left to right in the photo below): Gregory Pardlo, Ada Limón, Richard Blanco, and Sandra Beasley. Jennifer Jean was the moderator.


Tidbits from the session:

GP spoke of the "transmany," that is, today's poets claim a broad range of American-ness rather than one identity. He also said poets are in conversation with the larger world--they can no longer assume there is one audience for their work.

AL noted that the proliferation of social media enables a single poem to be shared and reshared, and, it can end up being read by those who don't normally read poetry. It also provides an opportunity for poets to easily "brand" themselves.

RB added that the "diversity of the self" is evident today. He identifies himself as Richard the gay guy, Richard the Cuban, Richard the engineer, and also Richard the poet. Blanco thinks we should drop the word diversity and use inclusive instead.

SB said, "You can engage through the act of listening" and that we should stop the "white framing" and listen to other voices.

I didn't note who said it, but one of the panelists said that "poetry as entertainment is okay."

One more session I'll mention had a panel with Laurin Becker Macios, David Rivard, and Charles Simic. Macios studied under Rivard and Simic at UNH and shared that once, after reading a poem in class, Simic told her, "It's a great poem, I think it needs a cat in it." She said, "Charlie taught me to be playful." She told the group that her college work was "overgrown with metaphors, but David taught me to landscape."

An interesting statement from Rivard: "'Who fed you the poison eels?' is one of the questions of poetry."

The B & B I stayed at while at the festival is the Stepping Stone Inn. It is the blue building next door to the witch museum. This was the second year I've stayed there, and I definitely recommend it!


Many of the festival's sessions took place at the Peabody Essex Museum, and although I didn't go to view the art and artifacts, I couldn't help but notice the surroundings as I went between rooms. Here are two very striking floors that I simply had to photograph!



Violet Nesdoly/Poems is hosting the Poetry Friday Round-Up this week, so please stop by!