Basho Frog Haiku Parody

So, another area of my lack-of-knowledge is Asian poetry.  Bob Wood mentioned in his comment to the last post that another parody of  Basho’s frog in pond poem “won’t hurt anyone,” so here it is:

Frog jumps on old rug/ Cat sniffs, licks lips; frog tremors/ sound of Jenny’s gulp.

The sad thing is, that’s not even a good parody.   Bob’s comment didn’t specify it had to be a good one, but parodies need to be good.  Oh well.

In other news I have little bits of several poems.  I’m not giving up on the postcards, but I’ve been a little distracted.  I thought once registration was over, I’d be focused, but not so much.

(Oh, and in case you didn’t read the last post, the cats didn’t get the frog, if you were worried.)

Got Poem? Not Really

You know that old saw that the path to Hell is paved with good intentions?  That’s actually a mistake.  There is no path to Hell, only a lot of detours and wrong turns.  Which is what I was doing today.

I painted today.  Badly, but I painted.  I’m rusty.  On one 5″x5″ tile that I painted, I didn’t like what happened with the blue, so I caked on pthalo blue over it, and then I sort of went crazy and put more and more paint on it and what it turned into is weird.  Not like the stuff I used to paint at all, which was deliberate and meticulous strokes.  This was like that art that you see in coffee houses that’s really bad and not art, and yet you like it anyway.  (Or not.)  Another tile I painted a sort of gloppy red cat–again way more paint than I needed.

Chris said, “You use a lot of texture in your painting, I’ve noticed.”

Translated that means, “What the hell?”

Now they have to dry since they both have so much paint on them.  But they’re not for me.  Back in March, I did this thing on Facebook where I promised the first 5 people to respond to my Note would get something handmade by me, with the caveat that they would have to wait until after our wedding.  Now, I’m delivering the goods.

When these 2 tiles dry, I’ll see if I can’t take a picture of them and post them here for you to see.  (Of course, you might regret that.)  Maybe next weekend, I can work on the others.

All of this is by way of saying, I didn’t get any poetry done.  But I do consider the day successful, despite the detours, because I accomplished:

  1. 5 loads of laundry
  2. 2 “paintings”
  3. 1 Target run, for cat-related items, including Fancy Feast and litter.
  4. 3 articles in Poets & Writers read

Ok, and on a completely random note, 2 seconds ago the cats were just acting weird, and all of the sudden there was what looked to be a black thing on the floor.  I thought it was a roach (eww!!!), but then it HOPPED!  It was a little frog!  In our house!  So Chris tried to get it but it hopped into the kitchen.  And then it tried climbling up the cupboard!  And then Chris caught it and put it outside.

How in the hell did a little frog get in our 2nd floor apartment??????? 

Now Jenny is looking around for the frog.  I think she’s pissed she couldn’t eat it.

I’m sorry, from now on, my house is a frog-free zone.  I can’t be having little frogs hanging out.  That’s just not sanitary.

But maybe I could write a little frog poem.

Art, Poems, and Art-Poems

On Saturdays, I really need to get out of the house for a few hours, otherwise I begin to root to the couch, and get all depressive.  So today my husband Chris and I went to lunch at Desi Spice, one of our favorite haunts, and then we went to a shopping center in Buckhead that has a Kroger Fresh Fare, which is like the Whole Foods of Krogerdom (although we spit on WF’s anti-union, anti-worker policies).  A World Market and a Binder’s art supplies store are there as well.

We looked at art supplies first and were blown away.  The whole store is underground (basically, under a good chunk of the shopping center) and Chris and I went hogwild.  I’ve been wanting to paint some kind of blue-heavy painting or beach scene for the guest bedroom (which is the only place in this house that isn’t decorated in red), so I needed some supplies anyway.

And since about 85% of my worldly possessions, including all my art supplies, are still in a storage unit in Lincoln, Nebraska, I “had” to buy new.  I bought acrylics and canvasses; Chris bought some lovely colored pencils.  (We went to Michael’s to buy brushes because I knew there would be some inexpensive ones there–as much as I love sable brushes, I just couldn’t justify dropping $150 in brushes alone, although I did see some real beauties at Binder’s.)

Tomorrow I will do some painting, maybe some studies for the large canvas I bought.  As soon as we got home, I had visions of mixing paints and “getting all creative,” but alas, my duty was to poetry.

Which is ok, because I did get some work accomplished.  Day 17 is written, and considering it’s only 5 days past due and I should be deeply ashamed of my tardiness, I’m rather impressed with it.  The postcard is of Bertel Thorvaldsen’s statue Il Pastorello (why is the title of a Danish picture in Italian?), which is known everywhere else except on the back of the postcard as Shepherd with a Dog (1817).  So I entitled it “Pastoral” (that was a stretch, huh?) and it’s basically about the boy waiting on the tree stump to be relieved of his shepherding duties for the night.  It’s not great art, but I like it–maybe because of its simplicity.

My Day 18 poem, only three-quarters written, is based on German photographer Herbert List’s 1937 work, Greece.  I’ve been putting off writing about it until today, even though I kept coming back to it.  I mean, it was interesting to me, as b&w photography always is, but I couldn’t find a “way in,” if you know what I mean.

 It’s just a bare-chested guy with some phallic columns behind him.  What kept drawing me to the photo, however, was how disproportionately large the man in the foreground appears, compared to the columns.  That was what intrigued me more than anything–that the perspective was weird.  Not that (as usual) I have any language to talk about art, but the picture is visually striking because the man is so large.  I think the reason the poem isn’t quite done is that I’m still not sure what I want to say about it–I’m coming up against that age-old test of whether or not a poem is worthwhle, the “so what” question.  It seems dumb to write a poem about a man being big.  Hopefully tomorrow I will be able to come up with a pithy-yet-deep couple of last lines that makes the poem work.

In other news, I received word from Slapering Hol Press that I was not their 2009 chapbook winner.  But hey, as a contestant, I can buy the winning chapbook for the incredibly reduced price of $2 off!   Whoopdee do.  Can they afford it?  I like the chapbook contests that actually give you a copy of the winner for free.  It’s a nice consolation prize.

Oh, well, off to bed.

Hmm… How to Take This?

Today, I saw in my inbox I had received a response to a poetry submission I sent off maybe 3 or so months ago.  This is what they said:

Thank you for your interest in and submission to [Journal Name].  We are currently reading submissions and will make our final selections by the end of September.  Please feel free to contact us if you have not received a reply to your submission by October 1st.

I  guess  it’s nice and all to  receive this, if I was wondering what was taking so long. . .  but now it’s given me false hope.  I think I’d rather they just have said, “Dear JC, um. . . no,” as opposed to this in-between fandango.  

Editors, kindly note:  Either a yes, or no, please.  Or,  if you must “thank” me for the submission, send it as an auto-reply just as soon as I sent the poems to you.  Don’t prolong the agony, and wait till 3 months have already passed to tell me you received the submission and wil be making a decision soon.  I’ve pretty much already decided it’s a lost cause. 

Talk about procrastination!

Guilty :-(

Bless me Father, for I have sinned.  It has been 5 days since I wrote a poetry postcard.  (And about 6 years since I went to Confession, while I’m at it.)

So I haven’t been writing in my blog because I feel like all I have to say is that I’m so busy with registration that I haven’t been up to writing my poetry postcards.  This is somewhat true–I have been crazy berserky busy and not feeling the whole writing thing.  And indeed, when I get home, I’ve just been playing Tetris to decompress.  Which is not the best use of my time, but there it is.

So mea culpa:  I am indeed 5 days behind which makes me very, very naughty.  Now I could point out that I have only received 10 postcards myself, so really, having sent out 16 full poems, and not “epigrams, quatrains, and American sentences” to quote Christine Swint, I’m doing better than some people.  But that’s just diversion from the truth.   Frankly, I should be flogged for disappointing all those people who are probably tweeting about what a terrible person I am.

Anyway, when I last left off, I was talking about the poem, “L’Artiste Dégénéré,” about the Egon Schiele picture, and I said that I only had one more line.  That didn’t wind up being true.  I rewrote the last couplet, and I have to say, I love this poem.  It’s not perfect, but somehow, to me, it captures the spirit of the painting.   It’s only 12 lines long but they’re really good lines.  I almost feel like I was embodying the spirit of Bob Wood when I wrote it–which is not easy to do.

For Day 15, I wrote “Prelude,” based on François-Xavier Fabre’s 1790 painting called The Death of Abel.  As all of these ekphrastic poems that I’m writing seem to be, it’s a direct address, in this case to Abel, about taking that fateful walk with Cain, which I imagine happens in a wheat field.  Now, I have no idea if Cain cultivated wheat, but considering domesticated wheat started in Turkey, and there’s speculation that Eden was in Turkey,  I thought, why not?  I don’t have great love for this poem, but it’s not terrible.  Probably with some good revision it could be decent.

The poem I wrote for the 16th was “The Moon Titan Falls in Love” (although I’m still hemming and hawing about the name. . .  I also kind of like “Nocturne” for a title), based on The Sleep of Endymion, by Anne-Louis Girodet de Roussy-Troisnon (1793).  (I was very disappointed to discover that despite the first name being “Anne,” the artist is male.)  And so the poem is about the myth, that the Moon Titan Selene fell in love with Endymion and didn’t ever want his beauty to fade, so she asked Zeus to let him sleep immortally.  That wouldn’t be my first choice to ask as a gift from the gods, but at least they had the Menae for children.  The last two lines of the poem read awkwardly, though.  Not sure if it’s a matter of syntax or if it’s a grammar issue.   That will have to be worked on, at some point.

My hope is to write at least 3 poems this weekend–maybe even 4–so that I will only be 2 days behind.  Two is acceptable.  Five is pathetic.

Anyway. . . hope everyone is doing well, and writing, writing, writing!  I will get cracking on my own writing this weekend.

The Procrastinatrix

That would be me.

I have been crazy-busy at work the last several days with registration and panicky students who send 8 e-mails when 1 or 2 would suffice–so crazy, in fact, that when I came home yesterday I made friends with Mike’s Hard Lemonade.

Those of you who know me know I’m not much of a drinker.  And those of you who know booze know MHL isn’t much of a booze.   But I’m a lightweight (from a drinking perspective, at any rate), so after 3 I pretty much just went to bed.

All of this is by way of saying my Daily Poetry Postcards have been non-existent since the 11th, and I feel really bad about putting them off.  Even the motivation of not wanting to disappoint the people to whom they were to be sent couldn’t outweigh the fact that this past week is the week before school, and writing poems was low, low, low item on the totem pole.  

Worse, I mislaid the Kuzma Petrov-Vodkin postcard, so I didn’t even get that in the mail on the 10th.  So technically, I’m 5 days behind.  There are 5 people (6 really, if you count the Day 10 person) who probably cried for hours and hours when they opened their mailbox and found no poem from me.  I mean, they’re probably suicidal.  

However, today I was somewhat productive in making up for my procrastinating misdeeds, and wrote two poems.  One was on Michelangelo’s David (1504) (please don’t tell me I have to link to that–if you don’t know what that looks like, you’re even more  ignorant of art than I am, and there’s no hope for you EVER)–although to be fair, the poem is about the entire statue, and not just the crotch shot which the postcard depicts.  The other was about Two Girls Embracing (1915), by Egon Schiele, an Austrian artist accused of being lewd and pornographic and degenerate.  Here is a quote from Jonathan Jones’ article that discusses his work (from the April 19, 2003 issue of the Guardian):

His work has a specific presence, aggressive, unignorable, practical. They are pornographic. They insist that the erotic is as great and heroic a subject as wars or religion. And they question whether art has to confine itself to representing life second-hand. That’s what is extraordinary about Schiele’s art: it does not comment on life, it takes part in life. It is not like pornography. It is pornography. It is also high and serious art, a doubleness that may only have been possible in Vienna on the eve of the first world war.

Initially, I wasn’t fond of this picture–not because it was pornographic. Actually, I didn’t even think of it as porn until all the articles I read about Schiele kept labeling his work as porn.  Actually I still don’t think of it as porn.  (Some of the other paintings I’ve seen, maybe, like Nude with Green Stockings. . . which disturbs me more because of the missing foot than anything else.)

But I didn’t like this picture because I don’t understand the fire-dress-drape-blanket thing that the sub girl is wearing.  At first I thought she was wrapped in an afghan.  But then I saw the red garter attached to her stocking.  I still don’t know what she wearing, but I don’t mind it, so much, because the painting has grown on me.  

I think I like the pissed-off look the top girl is wearing, as if she’s wondering how much longer she has to hold this embrace, which, it must be said, doesn’t look particularly comfortable.  Some might argue that the heavy-lidded eye suggests passion, but I think it’s just the same look that every Victoria Secret model has, that sort of “F-you” look that they cultivate thinking it looks sexy.  (By the way, it doesn’t.)

Unfortunately, that poem about the Schiele picture is incomplete.  It needs one more line that no amount of tinkering tonight seems to be able to accomplish.  So I am putting that line off until tomorrow, and I don’t feel too upset about that.

Unfortunately, tomorrow I will again be three days behind, so my goal is to write 2 poems (in other words, a Day 14 and a Day 15 poem), maybe start a Day 16 poem, and somehow manage to finish that albatrossy syllabus which has been hanging around my neck for days.

And if I get all that done, I might have to drink another MHL.  We shall see.

Damn that Caravaggio

I spent a lot of this evening trying (unsuccessfully–there’s a big surprise) to write a poem about Caravaggio’s Victorious Amor.  When that didn’t happen, I turned alternately to The School of Fountainebleau’s Gabrielle d’Estrées and One of Her Sisters (c. 1595), but gave up in disgust, and then turned to the much more interesting painting The Green Turban (1931), by the Polish Art Deco artist and Garbo-esque Socialite (which, yes, is an oxymoron, but she tried to cultivate that persona) Tamara de Lempicka.  I couldn’t find an image of it to show you, but here is a sampling of her art, which is fantastic.  Alas, that poem wasn’t working either. 

I finally settled on Guido Reni’s David and Goliath (1607) and the poem is about as inspired as the subject.  Which is to say, not very.

The sad thing is, I have to come back to these pictures at some point, and I’m generally dissatisfied with the rest of postcards in the book.  Maybe I’m just grumpy.  The de Lempicka picture is amazing, and I didn’t want to ruin my experience of the picture by writing a dreadful poem, so that one had to be abandoned for the time being.

But it’s that damn Caravaggio that has put me out of sorts.  Let’s be honest, I think I hate it.  To refresh your memory, it looks like this.  When I look at Cupid’s face, I just want to smack those red cheeks till they’re purple.  And then, I want to pluck out his feathers one by one and jam them into his ugly crooked teeth.  Surely Caravaggio would be horrified to know his art inspires violence in me.  But that said, Caravaggio himself was a rougue and killed and brawled with people, so maybe he’d enjoy my response.

And maybe I just need to set that postcard aside.  Permanently.

Of Course, Of Course

Yesterday’s poem which I wrote tonight is called “Of a Different Color,” based on Kuzma Petrov-Vodkin’s 1912 painting The Bathing of the Red Horse (the picture at the link is not nearly as vibrant and startling as the print on the postcard is, unfortunately), a very beautiful, but strange image of a naked man riding a horse that dominates almost 2/3 of the picture.  What I know about Russian art could fill a soupspoon (there’s a shocker), so here is an interesting quote about the painting that I found by Molly Priesmeyer in her article “A Horse of a Different Color:  Politics and Aesthetics Collide at the Museum of Russian Art”:

. . . the rich colors in Petrov-Vodkin’s famous 1912 The Bathing of the Red Horse, a painting that offers an ominous foreshadowing of the Soviet future (the red horse stares at the viewer, rising above the world), are surreal or even Chagallesque. The 62- by 72-inch painting is one of the first things you’ll see when entering the newly transformed Spanish-revival Mayflower Church. It’s an iconic image of what the Russian avant-garde could’ve become had it not been rejected for its realistic and transformative imagery.

As a funny aside, I guess that idiom “a horse of a different color” is so ingrained culturally, that of course she used it in her article title, as I did in the poem’s title.  Well, how often do you see a red horse, anyway?

What appeals to me about this picture is that the colors are so vivid and there is something surreal about the picture–I would agree about the Chagal comparison.  I suppose I ought to have made the connection about the red horse as symbolic of Russia, but that would have been too insightful.

My poem is also strange, maybe a little surrealistic.  In the poem, the speaker comments that the sea is “uneasy” because this horse is present, and the horse’s appearance disturbs souls long dead.  While I have to say the horse doesn’t look particularly evil to me in the painting (actually I think it looks kind of cute in prancing sort of way), perhaps somehow I intuited that “ominous foreshadowing” which is why the horse in the poem is a proverbial harbinger of doom.

I don’t know how I feel about this poem.  I read through it, and while I like the words, when I finish reading it, I have to admit I’m like “Huh?  What does this mean?”  Which is not, perhaps, the best reaction to have when you read your own writing.  But I’ll get it in the mail tomorrow. 

And somehow, I’ll have to come up with a Day 12 poem, and a Day 13 poem.  I really want to get caught up.  (Yeah, yeah, I’ve been saying this for days.)

In other news, I received my print copy of Ouroboros Issue 3, the one which contains my poem “The Tears of St. Lawrence.”  And it just occurred to me, that the Perseid meteor shower happens right around now.  It’s too bad Atlanta’s night haze obscures any chance of seing them.

Also, my villanelle “Tulips at the Door” just came out in The Reach of Song, and Her Mark 2010, a day planner with art and poetry for 2010 produced by the Woman Made Gallery (a Chicago art collective), came in yesterday’s mail.  My poem “On Sanitizing Official Versions” is in it.  Maureen Seaton was the poetry judge.

It is a lovely planner, big enough to write in, but small enough to fit in your purse.  If you are interested in buying Her Mark 2010 and supporting a worthy cause, go here (scroll down toward the bottom of the page).  It’s $15 plus shipping, and well worth it.

And now I’m turning into a pumpkin.  Good night, all!

Poem Raider

Day 10’s poem I based on an image in an ancient Greek cup attributed to Euphronios called Achilles and Patroclus.  What was interesting (and fortuitous) about this postcard was that the inspiration for the poem came from an NPR report I heard yesterday on the drive home about Italy going after tomb raiders and trying to repatriate their stolen art (to the everlasting sadness of museum curators who’ve paid good money to buy those pieces), and the reporter happened to mention Euphronios specifically. 

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I did actually take a class on Greek Art, but I can’t say that much of it stayed with me, with the exception remembering a smattering of  details about “red ware” (red figure pottery) and “black ware” (black figure pottery).  To be fair, I was 18 and stupid, and I think I got a D  in that class–trying to identify 100 slides per test when everything looks like red and black figure pottery (or ruins of some sort or another) is not exactly my strong suit.

In my poem, “Filching Euphronios,” I bring up the NPR report and the “antiquities dealers” who are really no better than “burglars.”  I’m not in love with the title, because “filching” is the wrong word, tone-wise.  It’s a totally awesome word in other respects, but when I’ve used other words like “steal” and “raided” and “fencing” in the poem, which are a bit more serious, “filching” is too light-hearted to describe what is, after all, a terrible crime against a country’s national treasure.  The one plus side of the word “filching” is the consonance of the “f” sound in Euphronios.

I like this poem, actually.  And before you say “JC, you’re always saying you like these poems, so you must be a really vain, self-impressed person,” please know, that’s not true at all.  It’s just that using art for a prompt has really been helpful.  The summer months are usually huge doldrums when it comes to my writing.  For one thing, my writing group goes into hibernation, and I really appreciate and need the structure of having to produce a poem for them every week.  For another, when it’s too hot to think, my brain shuts down, and it’s just hard to write.

Even if these postcard poems aren’t Great Literature (TM), at least I’m thinking about writing, and actually forcing myself to write.  When you have to have a poem to send out or risk someone’s utter disappointment, that’s strong motivation.

Of course, I still owe a poem for Day 11, but maybe I can work on that tonight.  When I’m also supposed to be working on my syllabus for Freshman Seminar.   *Sigh*

Amor Vincit Omnia

I am a postcard behind again.  I should be on Day 10, but yesterday I could not get a poem to work to save my life, and I just wasn’t being inspired by Caravaggio’s Victoriuos Amor (which is clearly a typo for “victorious”–well, Hidden Love is a German publication), which has a cherub standing beside some musical instruments, holding some arrows, and smirking at the viewer.  It’s basically a stupid little, smug looking Cupid.  And, wouldn’t you know?  I just found it on Wikipedia–so feast your eyes on Caravaggio’s Cupid and read a little about the painting.   As for myself, I’m setting it aside for the time being.

This evening I worked on the painting I should have written about yesterday when Caravaggio’s dippy Cupid was annoying me.  And truthfully, it’s not exactly a painting, and it’s not exactly a photograph.   Anyway, the work is St. Sebastian by Pierre et Gilles.  According to Wikipedia (and hey, this is a blog, not an essay, so I can quote Wikipedia with impunity):

Pierre et Gilles, Pierre Commoy and Gilles Blanchard, are gay French artistic and romantic partners. They produce highly stylized photographs, building their own sets and costumes as well as retouching the photographs. Their work often features images from popular culture, gay culture including porn (especially James Bidgood), and religion.

I couldn’t find the 1987 St. Sebastian, which is kind of a lovely picture.  The Sebastian here is fit and a little bit muscular, but he’s also beautiful, with a sweet-must-be-kissed look on his face, and a gentle innocence the picture compells you to want to corrupt, but nicely.

In my poem, which I’ve creatively called ” St. Sebastian II” (to distinguish it from my poem “St. Sebastian” from the other day), I suggest that his face is really a woman’s face “with a mouth like a Revlon ad”–but of course, after reading about Pierre et Gilles’ collaboration as well as their love affair, the face is just a youthful, pretty-boy face.  

I did find their 2009 St. Sebastian  if you want to look at it, which I don’t like at all.  But then I’m not generally attracted to beefy men and “beefcake” as a genre.  It might be the codpiece throwing me off–it looks so stupid.  I think I would have preferred a Speedo.  (Still, if you’re going to go for the porn look, really go all the way, and let his bits hang out.  I’m just sayin’.)  

I realize I am definitely not the intended audience for this work.  I think I liked the gender ambiguity of the 1987 picture–it’s just softer and sweeter, and it must be said, somewhat holy.   Even my poem, which does comment about how the figure looks, isn’t as lascivious as the  poem I wrote the other day.  In some ways, it seems sacrilegious to lust too much after this St. Sebastian, though clearly the speaker of the poem is physically attracted to him.

The 2009 Sebastian counterpart is just too in-your-face–too much f***, too little art.

Tomorrow I’ve got to throw 2 poems together.  I’d like to be caught up.   Love may conquer all, but it doesn’t get the poems written for me.