Sunday, September 9, 2012

Ekphrastic Poems by Mary Jo Bang

Abstract Painting, Blue
(Ad Reinhardt, Abstract Painting, Blue, Oil on canvas, 1952)

Why are children jealous
of their fathers? Steps
run up against the stones
which gate tombs,
flagstone oratories
where the organ murmured,
where the dead posed face.
Nothing water bottles!

A youth carries out in leaves
a greyhound. Do they cry?
They cry I. I am not unaware.
The curious remain
a chorus. Time took a step
and said, who expired?
Some rich person,
another right hand.

And art?
I was occupied.
Exempt at the time.
One of the monstrous figures
that sculptors attach
by the shoulders to gutters
squeaked and twisted.
I encouraged a smile.

Art gave me the first
conditions of art,
which is idea. Isn't this the "here Me I exist"?
That positive orates the room.
In drama everywhere is seen,
as I see you. It is better
than the mirror.

Scissors sound from the vault
and then ... And then? And then
the street woke up me.
I had a dream. It was Saturday.
What do you want?
Theory to be forced to answer the curious.

Rock and Roll Is Dead, The Novel Is Dead, God Is Dead, Painting Is Dead
(Bruce Pearson, Rock and Roll Is Dead, the Novel Is Dead, God Is Dead, 

Painting Is DeadAcrylic on styrofoam, 2003) 

Ultimately, it's forensics.
Electric energy permanently turned
to a flat state.
A stainless steel basin
out of which the caged Eden weasel eats

what Eden weasels eat.
From the iceberg, you can see
any number of active disasters,
each with its own way of unraveling
into further catastrophe.

In the next scene,
the colored domino moments meet
in a clap-clap racket that meshes
with a lean hiss
from a deflating inflatable snake.

Chaos is a scream. This is all I know:
it's cold although not completely
covered in ice. People still exist.
Can we discuss the role of allegory
in private mythologies?

Mirage metamorphosis
advances unhampered.
We're at...

In an interview, Mary Jo Bang described her own approach to ekphrastic poems: "I am taking an existing work of art and rewriting over it. I'm imposing a new narrative on it, one that is partially suggested by the artwork itself and partially by something that comes from within. Sometimes that thing is an autobiographical moment, sometimes it's a larger concern, social or political or intellectual."

A review of ekphrastic poetry by Mary Jo Bang and Debora Greger.

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