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Page 135

Flashbacks: Echoes of Past Issues

N C L R ONLINE

135

FINALIST, 2019 JAMES APPLEWHITE POETRY PRIZE BY J.S. ABSHER

Gentile Bellini, John the Baptist (Istanbul, 1479)

COURTESY OF THE ARTIST

Art cannot save us, a sick man says to the no one listening (emperor and clown, lover and priest pay him no mind): but what fool would say it’s worth it to be saved without art? When Gentile Bellini painted the Baptist’s unshouldered head (he says), the blood at the cut bubbled and winked, mimicking utile et dulce the executioner’s art. But when he showed his royal patron the deft product of his hand (the dark prison, the tumbled body, Salome’s décolletage), Mehmet, his eye practiced in the ruler’s arts, objected, I admire the brushwork and coloring – they make me half in love with death. But see – his nail gouging the painted wound – see how his neck protrudes? It should contract: the art of the slaughtered body is one I’ve mastered by repetition. Mehmet dragged in a slave, a man who once had sung for him in full-throated ease. What can you do for him with art? endymion (acrylic on canvas, 30x24) by Jarrett Burch

He commanded the Jew’s beheading. Maestro, paint – and paint quickly: how well you catch the exquisite fastfading violet! To cut throats, fast, before they slice yours – that, too, is art.

J.S. ABSHER lives in Raleigh, NC, with his wife, Patti. His full-length book of poetry, Mouth Work, won the 2015 Lena Shull Book Award and was published by St. Andrews University Press. His two previous collections of poetry are Night Weather (Cynosura Press, 2010) and The Burial of Anyce Shepherd (Main Street Rag, 2006). Several of his poems have been selected as finalists in NCLR’s James Applewhite competition. Most recently, he won the Clint F. Larson Poetry Prize from BYU Studies Quarterly. Absher is currently engaged in writing a book of creative microhistory based on the lives of several men and women in Winston-Salem, NC, in the 1890s. He also has a second full-length collection of poetry nearing completion.

JARRETT BURCH, originally from the foothills of north Georgia, lives in Durham, NC. His paintings have been purchased by clients in Raleigh, New York City, Los Angeles, Toronto, and Hamburg, among others. He has exhibited throughout the Triangle in both group and solo shows. He is affiliated with Raleigh’s Visual Art Exchange and the Durham Art Guild and is in the artist registry of The Painting Center in New York City. His work has been juried by many distinguished judges, including Anne Strauss (Metropolitan Museum of Art); Peter Nisbet (Ackland Art Museum, Chapel Hill); and Vanessa des Claux (Tate Modern UK). See more of his work on his website.

Profile for East Carolina University

North Carolina Literary Review Online 2020  

A literary review published online annually by East Carolina University and by the North Carolina Literary and Historical Association.

North Carolina Literary Review Online 2020  

A literary review published online annually by East Carolina University and by the North Carolina Literary and Historical Association.

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