Thursday, March 23, 2006

Art About Art

Been thinking about this topic again, ekphrastic art -- art about art. In the current issue of Kaleidowhirl (guest-edited by moi) Jeanine Hall Gailey has a poem that continue to intrigue me: "Ode to Jeffrey Koons." It's the opening stanza I keep re-reading, pondering how it manages so well to evoke a painting I'm not even familiar with:

O commodities trader
with hallucinating toddler soul,
you coax monstrous floral puppies
to romp through museums,
space-age rabbits to eat
silver carrots on plexiglass altars.
Overpaid street entertainer, balloon artist.

Poems about paintings fascinate me, maybe because as the daughter of a painter, I grew up watching paintings grow up. I think my ideal way of going through a museum would be to have a headset that whispered ekphrastic poems into my ear as I viewed the paintings.

Lynne Knight has a fabulous book, Snow Effects, that focuses on an art exhibition that came through San Francisco five years or so ago, "Impressionists in Winter." Small Poetry Press was wise enough to print color reproductions of the art on facing pages, so poem and painting are paired.


Sunspinner is a new zine out of southern California, but I won't hold that against them. Their dual focus is on poetry and fiction, and they also post interviews. High quality work, very attractive site, issues not too crowded and easy to read. And of course, I'm plugging them because they plugged my poem, "Waking Early at Dottie Lou's", which is in the current issue of Kaleidowhirl -- thus proving that everything that whirls does eventually come around. (I have no idea what I mean by that.) (And here's to you, Dottie Lou, wherever you are reading this.)


  1. Have you seen Mark Tansey's "The Innocent Eye Test" (1982). Check it out; seems appropriate here... might try Google images?

  2. Casey --

    Now I have, on your blog. There's way too much going on in that piece for an ekphrastic poem to poke its nose in.

    I know I have a cow poem around here, someplace, though. I must; I'm a Taurus. If I find it, I'll blog.


  3. Thanks for the kind words Rachel!
    Here are some of his images. He's very controversial. He does paint, but he does more sculpture I think than anything else:
    silver rabbit with carrot:
    Flowering puppy:
    balloon dog:

  4. Jeannine --

    Thanks for pointing me in Koons' direction. Silver Rabbit is an amazing image. I'm a fan of sculpture, but haven't tried any ekphrastic poems on it. Rilke's Torso is a daunting standard to try to live up to.

    Kind words entirely deserved. Glad you don't mind my quoting the first stanza here. I thought it was a good plug for the Kaleidowhirl issue.