Saturday, August 24, 2013

Poet Ray Greenblatt, Giotto, and Joseph Cornell

Maryland poet Ray Greenblatt's most recent collection is Leavings of the Evening (2010, Foothills Press). His ekphrastic poems are inspired by his work as a docent at Philadelphia's Rosenbach Rare Book Museum and Library, which houses 18th- and 19th-century art as well as literature, and by his membership in the Brandywine River Museum, which houses the Wyeth collections. Greenblatt organized two ekphrastic readings this year at the Wayne Art Center.
Giotto's "The Kiss"


Does it matter in an early auto in the 20s
          over nearly impossible dirt tracks
          Aldous Huxley traveled days to honor them,
          since his friend D.H. Lawrence
          had raved about the Chapel's celestial beauty?

Not too many years ago
          my friend Glenn flew from New York to view them,
          humble art student
          cadging money from his single working mom
          to see what in art folios were fantastic.
Scrovegni Chapel, Padua, Italy
Scrovegni had the Chapel built a rascal playing at nobility lavish with love and art, then lost all his money the structure nearly razed. We pass by students eating gelato under medieval arches shadows of those buildings having etched the earth for centuries, students mostly talking about sex, food, where to find a job, Giotto included humans like them also in his universe. Not just the varied brushwork the myriad characters the years of striving, the deepest blue ceiling represents eternal night seen through heavenly eyes, Giotto worked for money to survive as well as his faith. Does it matter that afterwards in an outdoor trattoria the local wine today tastes exquisite the pasta like manna- yes, I think it does.

Cornell's "The Cockatoo"
JOSEPH CORNELL'S BOXES Had he gone too far? He saw the clouds of cobwebs drooping from rafters, the cord and bulb swung in the breeze from an unknown source or was it his fear, he scratched his gritty jaw, he now could smell the damp of the cellar no more than shadows. He stared down at the unfinished wooden box, the row of individual teeth the little heap of hair the eyeball in his palm peering up at him. No, aloneness did not have to be insanity, he spoke outloud to hear each word weighed and measured. Back to the glossy cut-outs the worthless 5 & 10 beads the innocent plastic toys. Crush that crate bury it in the cellar find the door and breathe deeply in the night just in time.

painters and poets

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