05 March 2011

ArtPoem I

Another round of ArtPoems.

This year I had the pleasure of working with ceramicist Andi McCarter.  What makes ArtPoems different from other ekphrastic poetry endeavors is that the creativity works both ways.  The poet creates a poem from an existing piece of visual art (that's the typical), but also in this collaborative event, the visual artist creates a new piece of art inspired from an existing poem.  This year, Andi drew my name for her artwork.

Andi really wanted to do something with my poem, "The Dance of the Polyglot" (I was really pleased that she got the whimsy of that poem), but the imagery just didn't come together for her.  So she selected an older poem, "Dances: Ingrid, 1966."

This is what Andi produced:

How cool is that? And here's the poem:

Dresses:  Ingrid, 1966

I hold the sawtooth-framed photograph,
a two-inch square black and white, while
Ingrid, you hold your mouth in an oh,

waiting for me to see how you look
like your daughter Cassandra, then, all
fragrant mop-haired and girl-frocked,

the flounce of your skirt poofing
with Spanish wind.  And it’s also your mother
you wish me to see, she kneeling to you

and facing full to the camera, a woman
arrested in two directions.  Ingrid, I confess
I did not pay attention to your beauty

for once, not this moment, not that moment
in the past.  I could not even see your
dress, but only my male-tilted idea of it,

even now.  I saw only your mother’s
white purse, a patent-leather and gold-
buckled affair, a purse good enough for Anita

Ekberg to remember to retrieve at the club
after dancing with that man-goat American
Frankie Stout in La Dolce Vita, a purse

too gauche for Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy,
but not too crass for Jackie Kennedy
Onassis, which once opened would

smell of mink oil, ambergris, lipstick,
and Bilbao, which once opened would
bounce on a spring, like a woman’s laugh

after a man’s too forward, too direct
word, and then would quickly snap closed,
no, no, no, and laughing still. 

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