Tag Archives: Art

else where




between two poles

no defined place


when does the sun

reach the ground?


mirror evidence

tells the line is direct



a line of inquiry


the real work–

outside language


underground river

jet stream

blood stream



or are we

a minor state


where inter sect

the absorbing art


What exactly is inspiration??

“A work in progress generates its own energy field. You, the artist . . . are pouring love into the work; you are suffusing it with passion and intention and hope. This is serious juju. The universe responds to this. It has no choice.” -Steven Pressfield, The War of Art

When asked what first inspired me to study and write poetry, I tell a story about eight-year-old me absconding with A Concise Treasury of Great Poems (a tattered paperback printed in 1958). Eight-year-old me read Shelley and Stevens and Thomas out loud in a barn, from atop a hay bale to a casual audience of horses. . .

I talk about a high school teacher who assigned for us to choose a famous poet from a list, read several poems, and then emulate the poet. Without that assignment and that dedicated teacher, would I be writing poetry now? Would I have ever “met” Lorca? gained a solid understanding of Emily Dickinson (even though the appreciation came many years later)?

Inspiration, a power that eludes us, seems to always be outside, and there is a magic formula to find or invite it in.

There is one thing I wish I knew when I was getting my degree in poetry: it’s about putting in the work. It’s not about romanticized memories or over-interpreted superstitions. It is definitely not about the stories other people tell you about yourself, and not that other people (or you) label you as a poet. It is putting. in. the work.

I wish I knew this when I was busy making excuses during a 5 year period when I was in a miserable work situation, or afterward when I told myself I didn’t even keep a journal all those years because “I couldn’t”.

The point is to write and not worry too much about what other people think. Learn what works for you, and try to create those conditions as often as possible.

I do thnk it is a writer’s obligation to read other writers, and generally inform oneself about the genre and craft–not to mention learn about a wide variety of subjects outside of one’s own limited immediate “world”. But collective wisdom says to do it because you need to, not to impress others.

Some sources that have helped me include Natalie Goldberg’s books, The War of Art by Steven Pressfield, and a book called Free Play by Stephen Nachmanovitch.

The epigraph at the beginning of Free Play is: “Paint as you like, and die happy”(Henry Miller)

And, as Steven Pressfield says: “You are the knight. Resistance is the dragon.”






If she had a sea

If she had a sea


If she had a sea, her sea

is smothered

in the dark wall

preserved in rubble

and ash; if she had

a voice, her voice


chamber of the repeating

image, as any

private gesture

repeats in daily


she reaches

back to pinch

a stem between thumb

and second finger,

gold dress slips

from her shoulder,

illusion of movement,

feet pointed

toward a sea

on the far side

of the wall, one

basket, one plant,

one woman, illusion

of white flowers

on trace of green.

The surface of linen

dress peels back

in patches, as if

watching her burn

over a held flame.



Reference: woman picking flowers, fresco, Pompeii; National Archaeological Museum, Naples

Handing down embers

Handing down embers


gravity does not prevent we are distinct

with each other; fluid blue, paint

against the likelihood of reaching,

and the outer-reaching in strings and blots upon it


we are noisy together, varied radios

working wavelengths, but reaching

brings us to the catalytic canvas, distinct


and noisily circles our fingers

through pools as hues make gold speak

true, mythopoeic fact:


creates, and knowledge assumed from many fires

extraction till we cradle our implements


in extraction, even though descent,

to pour our bequest into the site,

where the hues speak true


and true to our inherited noise, the ember

pours from one hand to the next hand

to the next


Twentieth-Century Poetry and the Visual Arts

by Elizabeth Bergmann Loizeaux, (c) 2008; Cambridge University Press

One of the topics of this blog will be to contemplate readings that have provided me an opportunity to see life in general in a different light, that I hope will serve as a starting point for others to pursue intellectual challenges and, I assume, insights.

While reading the introduction to this textbook, and frankly, wondering why I am someone who reads textbooks for fun . . . I realized I had previously only a basic understanding of “ekphrasis”, which typically means a written response to visual art. Many years reading and writing poetry, and then the completion of a degree in Poetry, does not mean “one” (me) thoroughly understands a subject. Recently, for a variety of reasons which I will touch on in other posts, the insights are a-flowin’.

Loizeaux makes a point that:

” . . . out of the ekphrastic situation, the simple, ‘blameless fun’ of looking at pictures, balloon big issues of life and art. The ekphastic poet . . .comes to the painting seeking friendship, fun, a little flirtation: in short, connection to others in a world that seems warmer and more certain than his own, only to find it indifferent to him. ‘That simple world from which we’ve been evicted,’ is how Sassoon similarly described the scene in an English landscape.” (8)

Loizeaux refers to the “cry of nostalgic modernity” and the longing for an (idealized) time in the past, while discussing poet Richard Wilbur’s poem “A Dutch Courtyard” (1947) in response to Pieter De Hooch’s painting, A Dutch Courtyard (1658/1660).

Loizeaux’s text “called to light” the relationship between poet, painter, and the public; raised the question, what exactly do we do when we write about art? Why write creatively, in response to art? So many benign exercises in poetry workshops later, as students are encouraged to write poems in response to art, there is much more depth to explore to really understand this relationship.

Any of us who engage in ekphrasis, participate in this dialectical situation where we simultaneously crave to enter the painting or work of art, or experience it more deeply, while knowing the indifference of the painting or art work towards us even as we long for this engagement.

The question of the role of poetry in our current time, is a question for future posts . . . the concept and experience of “nostalgia” is also worth exploring. What is nostalgia? Why do we experience it? Is it a natural condition of being human?

If you haven’t explored Ekphrasis (or have no idea what it is), I encourage you to read the following poems for a start:

“Landscape with Fall of Icarus” by William Carlos Williams

“A Dutch Courtyard” by Richard Wilbur

“Mathilde in Normandy” by Adrienne Rich