Saturday, July 03, 2010

On Kathe Kollwitz

I have been taking full advantage of all the art in the city and find myself madly running around just to catch exhibits before they close. One of my favorites so far have been the Kathe Kollwitz exhibit, now closed, which was going on the the Galerie St. Etienne in midtown. I've always loved her work from the very first time I saw them. I have never seen any in person, so this was a special treat for me. I found myself loving the work she completed earlier in her career, especially of when she was still training.

They are quite different from the drawings that she is more known for. These were more academic and meticulous, but not overworked. I found her linework so delicate and skillful and studied the confident stroke in each mark. Confidence and boldness rings through all of her drawings, but the earlier ones held a quiet confidence. The compositions were compelling and none were executed in an overly fastidious manner. Unfortunately I couldn't take pictures of the work and could only find one image online.

Some of her more complicated themes depicting war, death, loss and suffering are reminiscent of a modern Goya near the end of the 19th century and at the turn of the 20th. She certainly had her obsessions. She explored these themes, along with the theme of self-portrait extensively throughout her career.

I learned that her father had recognized her great talent and excellent skills in draughtsmanship thus arranged for private instruction at a young age. How progressive. He believed in her exceptional skill so much that he did not want her to marry. He was afraid that marriage and the role of a woman in those times as a wife would demolish any hopes of her daughter's career. He was ahead of his time. Yet, despite marriage, she forged on.

I wonder if she is an influence on Kiki Smith? Some of her charcoal drawings remind me of Smith's own drawings (the feeling of the drawings, not the execution). Her images are fresh in my mind. I think about them extensively and carry them with me. I wonder how they will arise in the exploration of my own work and development.

Friday, April 30, 2010

NaPoWriMo #30 - free day

30/30 = mission accomplished!


Silence stuck like a bad reputation.
Like a felony,
Like forefinger and thumb with superglue,
Like sap,
Like Catholic guilt,
Like a moment you can never take
back but only regret during your
morning shower the next day.
Your anger builds empires out of molehills.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

NaPoWriMo #29 - front page news


You’re almost there, and inspiration for your next to the last NaPoWriMo poem is at your fingertips! D.S. Apfelbaum recalls what William Carlos Williams once wrote, “It is difficult/ to get the news from poems,” but asks, “Who says you can’t get poems from the news?”

For this prompt, choose your favorite newspaper or online news provider. Jot down five to ten headlines that jump out at you and without reading the articles, select elements from each headline to create a new event about which your poem reports.

Alternately, let short-format sections inspire you. Write a poem in the form of an obituary, a personal ad, a classified ad, etc. (Bonus points if you can pull off a poem in the form of a crossword puzzle.)
This is technicolor yawn but it's 29/30 and I'm running on fumes!

Read between the lines

Looking for someone that will
screw me over, instead of promises
of taking long walks on the beach.
Adhere to the seven-year itch (if it lasts
that long) and continues to facebook-stalk
their ex’s profile. Must be hot; great personalities
are a maybe – we’ll play it by ear.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

NaPoWriMo #28 - Intuition


Today’s prompt is provided by member, Julie Jordan Scott.

Arthur Koestler wrote: “The moment of truth, the sudden emergence of a new insight, is an act of intuition.” Akin to a “sixth sense,” intuition brings pieces together. It gives the gift of heightened awareness.

One single, specific memory I have from a math class comes from the first day of geometry class. I was 15 years old.

The teacher asked “What is intuition?”

I raised my hand — an unusual act for me when math was involved. “Intuition is having a hunch,” I said, “sort of knowing or having an idea of something out of the blue, like without really knowing you somehow know.”

What does this have to do with your life and your poetry?

Take a moment to remember a breakthrough moment in your life or a “freeze-frame” moment from long, long ago. An “a-ha” or an “epiphany” moment or a moment that has a story yet to tell.

Let’s prepare to write a poem using our intuition intentionally today. Write this prompt on your page: “When I remember my “a-ha moment” from my past, I understand the place I am meant to go with my words and poetry today is … ”

Restate the prompt as you free-write and don’t write a poem yet. Instead, go about your business of the day purposefully not writing a poem.

Notice surprising turns of phrases you hear. Listen to people who say things to you that seem especially surprising, lyrics to songs. Eavesdrop intentionally. Wait for at least 2 hours and then write your poem from the words your intuition and your free-writing gave you.
Come Hither Pretty

I want to go to the barbecue blowout someday
I want to be a prison guard in the movies
where Disneyland is Hell and God
is a squirrel stuck in an oak tree.

$.31 cent scoop day at Baskin Robbins today

And here's a poem by Charles Bukowski, for you to enjoy while you eat your three scoops.

The Ice cream People
Charles Bukowski

the lady has me temporarily off the bottle
and now the pecker stands up
however, things change overnight--
instead of listening to Shostakovich and
Mozart through a smeared haze of smoke
the nights change, new
we drive to Baskin-Robbins,
31 flavors:
Rocky Road, Bubble Gum, Apricot Ice, Strawberry
Cheesecake, Chocolate Mint...

we park outside and look at icecream
a very healthy and satisfied people,
nary a potential suicide in sight
(they probably even vote)
and I tell her
"what if the boys saw me go in there? suppose they
find out I'm going in for a walnut peach sundae?"
"come on, chicken," she laughs and we go in
and stand with the icecream people.
none of them are cursing or threatening
the clerks.
there seem to be no hangovers or
I am alarmed at the placid and calm wave
that flows about. I feel like a leper in a
beauty contest. we finally get our sundaes and
sit in the car and eat them.

I must admit they are quite good. a curious new
world. (all my friends tell me I am looking
better. "you're looking good, man, we thought you
were going to die there for a while...")
--those 4,500 dark nights, the jails, the

and later that night
there is use for the pecker, use for
love, and it is glorious,
long and true,
and afterwards we speak of easy things;
our heads by the open window with the moonlight
looking through, we sleep in each other's

the ice cream people make me feel good,
inside and out.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

NaPoWriMo #27 - Acrostic Poem

Carolee Sherwood wonders if you’re running on fumes like she is. She hopes her prompt takes some of the heat off and points your exhausted brain down the path where your 27th poem lies. Take a word that’s part of you — your name, your birth month, your favorite animal, your guiding principle. Write that word vertically down a page and use the letters to start the lines of a poem. When you’re done, you’ll have an acrostic poem. (Though the prompt could be as simple as “write an acrostic poem,” the word sounds scary this late in the month. This prompt is designed to ease you into the final stretch. Don’t stress too much about the word you choose. NaPoWriMo is just for fun. Are you having fun?)

Morning comes
And the first sounds of dawn
Reaches for my
Cowering conscience
Hoping for dream-land again.

Monday, April 26, 2010

NaPoWriMo #26 - get scrappy

It’s getting late in the month, and finishing NaPoWriMo is going to take every bit of resourcefulness you have. Jill Crammond Wickham reminds us about the bits and pieces of poems we may be carrying around.

Today, before you start writing, you need to do some digging. Dig through your backpack, purse or desk drawer and find a scrap of poem written on an old envelope or bank deposit slip. Unearth an old journal or notebook.

Find a poem that you started, or perhaps one you abandoned. Read it through. Highlight the lines or phrases that please you. Do not cross anything out (yet)! You now have two choices: finish the poem or take the parts you like and begin a brand new piece.

If NaPoWriMo has you a little crazy, there is a third option: take the parts you don’t like and use them to inspire a new poem.
By Any Other Name

We can call it love
So we know
It will end
As the summer
Wanes into a
Color-filled sidewalk
With leaves
Wet and freshly dead.