Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Poet Catherine Chandler Meets Edward Hopper in an Empty Room

Catherine Chandler is an American-Canadian poet, teacher, and translator. A graduate of McGill University, where she lectured in Spanish in the Department of Translation Studies for many years, she has written five books of poetry, including the full-length collections Lines of Flight (Able Muse Press, 2011) and Glad and Sorry Seasons (Biblioasis Press, forthcoming, March 2014). Her poems, translations, reviews, scholarly papers, and audio recordings have been published in numerous print and online journals and anthologies in the US, UK, Australia, and Canada. Her poem "Coming to Terms" was chosen by A.E. Stallings as the winner of the Howard Nemerov Sonnet Award (2010), and Lines of Flight was nominated for the 2013 Poets' Prize. Catherine currently lives in Saint-Lazare, Quebec and Punta del Este, Uruguay.

Edward Hopper, Sun in an Empty Room, 1963
Zeeman’s Paradox
(Imagining Edward Hopper’s Sun in an Empty Room, 1963)

Sunlight streams into an empty room
through an undraped window to the walls and floor
in silence, like the silence of a tomb.

Don’t go looking for the bride and groom.
They’ve split. No, they don’t live there anymore.
Sunlight seeps into the empty room,

where absences – a trace of her perfume
and echoes of their voices – underscore
the silence. Like a vacuum or a tomb,

deserted beaches or a barren womb,
this is the after scene. Not the before,
when sunlight graced the corners of this room

that’s now for rent. The landlord took his broom
and swept unwanted remnants out the door, 
whistling in the nice, clean, sunny tomb.

These dark, unlikely angles, I presume,
and blackened trees know what I’m searching for
is sunlight, not a shadowed waiting room
gone silent like a long-abandoned tomb.

A strange video about the life of Edward Hopper with great period photographs and film.

painters and poets

Friday, November 15, 2013

Poet Ken Pobo, Odilon Redon, and Rene Magritte

Kenneth Pobo’s poems have appeared in Indiana Review, Mudfish, The Cider Press Review, The Fiddlehead, and Hawaii Review, among literary journals. His chapbook Placemats is forthcoming from Eastern Point Press. His poetry collection Introductions appeared in 2003, Ordering: A Season in My Garden in 2001. 
Ken Pobo teaches literature and creative writing at Widener University in Chester, PA. He received the prestigious Lindback Award for Distinguished Teaching in 2007. 

Bust of a Man Asleep Amid Flowers
by Odilon Redon
Bust of a Man Asleep Amid
Flowers, Date Unknown
Before he falls asleep, he and his
sweetheart have tea.  She’s been angry
with him all day.  When they reconcile,

kind of, he slips out to the prairie,
sits with the moon, having tea
with her sweetheart, while Saturn undresses. 

The man hopes he won’t dream,
sees himself as Pegasus, but no
winged creature ever visits at night. 

Most of life is drab, like old linoleum—
tonight, again, no rescue comes,
but poppies, daisies, and roses sneak up,

open buds wide, shield him from sprites
that play practical jokes.  In the morning
he tells his sweetheart that he’s forgotten

his dream.  He walks to the cramped shop
in town which barely survives
year after year, shelves holding glass

figurines he makes in the back room,
animals, flowers, and heroes that dream
about their maker, love and fear him.

Ophelia Among the Flowers, 1905-08

Ophelia Among the Flowers
by Odilon Redon

To clarify the dreams of flowers,
an interpreter often gets wounded,

a single hand hurt in the dark. 
I gave up hope, knew that the rose

would offer secrets to me, a woman
carried away by a stiff current.  Are you

losing hope too?  Here, take this garland
that I made when I learned that the sun

warms only corpses.  No forget-me-not
shies away from a cemetery plot—

they bloom in the breath of who
you loved. 

Morning breaks.  Look—
an impossible garden overhead.

The Birth of the Idol, 1926

The Birth of the Idol
by Rene Magritte

Land runs away from water, preferring
the comforts of lemon squares and tea
among Victorian houses.  The mannequin

chooses between water’s wild whips
and the land whose hornets hang
like pendants, wishes

that undialed days would last,
has tried to give birth for centuries—
it’s uncomfortable to wait that long,

so it follows the wind’s hoofprints
back to Eden, still flowering, still
off limits, a closed park to sneak into.   

Read Pobo’s essay “Poets Among the Stones” here

painters and poets