Click on the pictures to see enlarged versions of the images.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

A Word

(That Red One by Arthur Dove, 1880-1944, American
Modernist painter)

Arthur Dove was one of the first American abstract artists. He worked in oils and pastels and watercolors and also created collages and assemblages. He came to influence Georgia O’Keefe (1887-1986), famous for her canvases filled with the landscape of one large flower. She once said that “the way you see nature depends on whatever has influenced your way of seeing . . . I think it was Arthur Dove who affected my start, who helped me to find something of my own.”

Like O’Keefe, Dove created images representing the essential elements of nature. But his art was clearly more abstract than hers. “I would like,” he said, “to make something that is real in itself that does not remind anyone of any other things, and that does not have to be explained like the letter A, for instance.”

What is the poet to do? He looks at the image above and responds with a clever classroom exercise that ends with a pun.


Give me I said to those round
young faces a round word
and they looked at me
fully puzzled until finally
several cried What do you mean?

I mean I said round round
you know about round
and Oh yes they said but
give us examples!

Okay I said let’s have a
square word
square maybe
will lead us to round.

And they groaned
they groaned and they frowned
every one except one
little voice way in the back said

~ Gary Gildner, American poet and novelist, from Heart to Heart: New Poems Inspired by Twentieth-Century American Art

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