Ekphrasis: Art & Poetry edited by Liz Blood
Many of us are familiar with the experience of looking at a painting and feeling an immediate, deep-seated reaction. Art can awaken our innermost dreams and thoughts that otherwise might be difficult to access. Often we are able to put these reactions into words. Matisse’s dancing figures, for instance, return me to a night with dear friends on a beach in the Philippines. The lights of the shore played behind us as we laughed and I thought even then that the moment would go, that my friends would return to their country and I to mine. His dancers kindle within me embers of joy and sadness— joy for the friendships I am fortunate to have, sadness for the fact of goodbyes. At other times, words are inadequate, and a painting’s brush stroke or quality of light, like those on Van Gogh’s hay bales, strikes a note I cannot name. We are delighted to bring this new column to Art Focus, wherein a poet will respond in verse to a visual artist’s piece of work. The word “ekphrasis” means a description of or commentary on a visual work of art, and is often a writer’s imaginative understanding of the piece. In this inaugural column, poet Caitlyn Paley responds to local artist Denise Duong’s painting, Anticipated Serendipity.
unobserved…and by doing so changes something in our life, expands somewhat the space of what we are.” Whether you are familiar with poetry or hardly ever read it, it is our hope that the poems you find within Ekphrasis, and the art that inspires them, uncover a layer, a way of understanding to which you can relate, and perhaps one you might not otherwise have considered. n Caitlyn Paley’s work has appeared in Metazen, The Austin Review, Moria Poetry Journal, Shampoo, Otoliths, and Indefinite Space, among others. Caitlyn holds an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts. She is the editor-in-chief of 491 Magazine. Denise Duong, of Oklahoma City, is a Vietnamese-American artist with a nomadic soul. She was educated at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and enjoys traveling with her husband Matt Seikel, and bull terrier Debo. These adventures inspire the many stories in each piece. Each of her whimsical, textural narrative pieces are inspired by these adventures and are made mainly with paper, acrylic, and ink. Liz Blood lives in Oklahoma City, works for the Arts Council of Oklahoma City, and is a freelance writer. She is a graduate of Vermont College of Fine Arts, where she earned her Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing.
A Menagerie of Wild Futures by Caitlyn Paley I am tree-trunked to this earth, despite the hobo campground I call my head, my hive mind, my arms laden with the memories of those I carry along, always, the weight of them. I stare at blimps, try not to think Hindenburg, try not to be Hindenburg, scowl at hand-painted signs that say “Bloom where you’re planted,” but sell at least one potted plant in every dream. I’ve finally reached the age of wild, and I’ve learned a thing or two: After you glut, after you starve, after you drink, you must decide to look to the future, to sing, to speak, to dig your heels down into more forgiving soil. I am tree-trunked to this earth— I grow.
Poetry, like visual art, is a kind of discovery. Polish poet Adam Zagajewski says poetry “discovers within the world a layer that has existed Denise Duong, Oklahoma City, Anticipated Serendipity, Mixed media, 40” x 30”
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