June 29, 2012

Poetry Friday--Ekphrasis

I love ekphrastic poetry, which, simply put, is art about art. It provides a puzzle in that I have to find the original work being written about. The internet makes it easy to find the original works. Twenty years ago, though, I might never have been able to appreciate the ekphrastic poem by Eavan Boland titled "Degas's Laundresses."
Degas's Laundresses

You rise, you dawn
roll-sleeved Aphrodites,
out of a camisole brine,
a linen pit of stitches,
silking the fitted sheets
away from you like waves.

You seam dreams in the folds
of wash from which freshes
the whiff and reach of fields
where it bleached and stiffened.
Your chat’s sabbatical:
brides, wedding outfits,

a pleasure of leisured women
are sweated into the folds,
the neat heaps of linen.
Now the drag of the clasp.
Your wrists basket your waist.
You round to the square weight.

Wait. There behind you.
A man. There behind you.
Whatever you do don’t turn.
Why is he watching you?
Whatever you do don’t turn.
Whatever you do don’t turn.

See he takes his ease
staking his easel so,
slowly sharpening charcoal,
closing his eyes just so,
slowly smiling as if
so slowly he is

unbandaging his mind.
Surely a good laundress
would understand its twists,
its white turns,
its blind designs:

it’s your winding sheet.
Prior to the internet, art was mainly seen in library books. If you were lucky, your public library may have had an adequate collection, but many, if not most, art book collections are lacking in depth. Today, with internet search engines, it takes mere minutes to find a particular work of art.

Here are two I found:

Repasseuses courtesy Musée d'Orsay.


La repasseuse courtesy Musée d'Orsay.


Neither picture may be the one Boland examines since she clearly talks about the laundresses grasping their loads of folded laundry. I'm going with the top picture, though, because it shows the "roll-sleeved Aphrodites" with the one woman yawning because it is dawn and she's still half-asleep.

Surprisingly, there are several more Degas works containing laundresses to be found online. These hardworking women appear to be a favorite subject of his. Next week, I'll look at another Degas laundress picture.

Make sure you stop by Paper Tigers for the Poetry Friday Round-Up.

June 26, 2012

June 24, 2012

June 22, 2012

Poetry Friday--Using the Page

I'm attracted to poets who use the layout on a page to give motion or meaning to their poems. For example, here's a short poem by Octavio Paz:
Exclamation

Stillness
                not on the branch
in the air
                  not in the air
in the moment
                            hummingbird

Doesn't the irregularity of the lines bring to mind the flickering maneuvers of a hummingbird in flight? (A great excuse for including the hummingbird video below!)





Here's another use of space with a haiku by Marlene Mountain:
                                                 stick
my neighbor's rooster hops the          i throw

How much fun is that? Of course, a forced use of space can get pretty gimmicky, but, all in all, it's a simple tool that poets can utilize to add dimension to their work.

Join Amy at The Poem Farm for this week's Round-Up.

June 19, 2012

June 15, 2012

Poetry Friday--"Daystar"


Here is a poem that speaks to every woman who has ever had to spend her days and nights taking care of her family. I'm not saying that there aren't rewards to being a wife and mother, just that it can sometimes mean that palaces will go unbuilt.
Daystar
by Rita Dove

She wanted a little room for thinking:
but she saw diapers steaming on the line,
a doll slumped behind the door.

So she lugged a chair behind the garage
to sit out the children's naps.

Sometimes there were things to watch--
the pinched armor of a vanished cricket,
a floating maple leaf. Other days
she starred until she was assured
when she closed her eyes
she'd see only her own vivid blood.

She had a hour at best before Liza appeared
pouting from the top of the stairs.
And just what was mother doing
out back with the field mice? Why,

building a palace. Later
that night when Thomas rolled over and
lurched into her, she would open her eyes
and think of the place that was hers
for an hour--where
she was nothing,
pure nothing, in the middle of the day.


Here's Ms. Dove reading the poem for Bill Moyers:

Rita Dove reads 'Daystar' from BillMoyers.com on Vimeo.


A Year of Reading is the place to be for the Poetry Friday Round-Up.

Photo by Russell Lee courtesy Library of Congress.

June 12, 2012

June 10, 2012

June 8, 2012

Poetry Friday--Poets on Poems



First of all, congratulations to Nastasha Trethewey who yesterday was named the new U.S. Poet Laureate!

Secondly, I'd like to offer five little poems about poems for Poetry Friday:

[haiku]
by Matsuo Allard

deep in my notebook a lily pad floats away


The Last Poem in the World
by Hayden Carruth

Would I write it if I could?
Bet your glitzy ass I would.


The Poem
by Donald Hall

It discovers by night
what the day hid from it.
Sometimes it turns itself
into an animal.
In summer it takes long walks
by itself where meadows
fold back from ditches.
Once it stood still
in a quiet row of machines.
Who knows
what it is thinking?


Poem to Be Read at 3 A.M.
by Donald Justice

Excepting the diner
On the outskirts
The town of Ladora
At 3 A.M.
Was dark but
For my headlights
And up in
One second-story room
A single light
Where someone
Was sick or
Perhaps reading
As I drove past
At seventy
Not thinking
This poem
Is for whoever
Had the light on


Ars Poetica
by Archibald MacLeish

A poem should be palpable and mute
As a globed fruit,

Dumb
As old medallions to the thumb,

Silent as the sleeve-worn stone
Of casement ledges where the moss has grown--

A poem should be wordless
As the flight of birds.

                                            *

A poem should be motionless in time
As the moon climbs,

Leaving, as the moon releases
Twig by twig the night-entangled trees,

Leaving, as the moon behind the winter leaves,
Memory by memory the mind--

A poem should be motionless in time
As the moon climbs.

                                            *

A poem should be equal to:
Not true.

For all the history of grief
An empty doorway and a maple leaf.

For love
The leaning grasses and two lights above the sea--

A poem should not mean
But be.

I'll meet you over at Jama's Alphabet Soup with my spoon in hand!

Photo by theclyde.

June 5, 2012

June 3, 2012

June 1, 2012

Poetry Friday--"Jones Beach, 1965"



Last week I shared a postcard poem, and postcards from the Boston Public Library's Tichnor Brothers Collection. I then found a postcard image of a place I remember from my childhood--Jones Beach on Long Island, New York.

Jones Beach, Robert Moses State Park, Captree State Park, Fire Island, were all places where I spent lots of time on the beach. Reading, perhaps, but mostly I remember being prone on a blanket baking in the sun. That was a time before sunscreens--ignorance was bliss!

The postcard above triggered memories of the summer days I spent at the ocean beaches and inspired this list poem:
Jones Beach, 1965

Blankets edge to edge
to edge with barely a
foot's-width between.
Salt air--sticky on your skin,
fishy in your nose.
Hundreds of transistors
tuned to one AM station.
The same summer song.
The redolence of Coppertone--
the only suntan oil anyone uses--
slapped on, rubbed in,
washed off, applied again.
Fear-tinged screams
of delighted children.
Taunting ocean waves.
Pruned skin, chattering teeth.
Sand in cracks and places
sand should never be.
The flap of an umbrella.
Wicker baskets shade
tuna fish sandwiches.
Thermoses full of
sugar-laden Kool-Aid.
Waxy paper Dixie cups.
Nectarines--juice running
down your arm.
Mincing steps along
the edges of blankets so as
not to burn your soles.
"Oops, sorry. Sorry. Ouch!"
The shooosh of a shovel
thrust deep into wet sand.
Clinks of sea glass in a tin pail.
Shouts from parents.
Italian ice. Lick, lick,
lick, lick, lick, squeeze.
Whispers behind hands.
The sun, the sun, the sun.
Baking 'til what can only
be described as a shiver
runs across your skin.
The unacknowledged urges
just under the surface
waiting to ride the waves.

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved.


Carol's Corner's the place to be for the Poetry Friday Round-Up, so be sure to visit.

If you're in the southern NH area, tomorrow is the 29th annual Friends of the Library of Windham Strawberry Festival and Book Sale. Stop by the Nesmith Library's table and say hello--my stint is from noon to 2:00.

Postcard courtesy Boston Public Library.