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

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