Facebook Twitter pinterest.png  Google Plus

Omphaloskepsis Blog

From artist to artist, cross-disciplinary validation

May 13, 2010


Poet Laureate and Pulitzer Prize winning poet Rita Dove.

John and I prepared the girls, played them a recording of one of her readings online, got them involved and psyched up to go. We didn’t have a sitter, you see. Selfish of us, but we both wanted to go. And both of the children enjoy reading poetry. A couple of months ago, at age 7, Xyta walked around for weeks with a 5 lb. book of The Top 500 Poems and was reading it in the car where ever we went. She had graduated from her children’s poetry books we had bought for her. So tonight, after cello lessons, and fat greasy burgers at Red Mill...our usual Thursday routine, I rushed home to get them into their pajamas before heading out to symphony hall to meet John. A 10 year old boy started out the evening by reading his poem about his song of himself. That was all it took. The girls were hooked.

For me, although the poetry was great, the best part of the evening came later, during the interview-after the reading. Rita talked about her process of writing her newest book. How much fear she had when creating new work. “me too!” my inner voice replied loudly. How she was concerned both that the work might not find an audience and that the work might find an audience but not be good enough. “me too!” my inner voice replied loudly. She said that she was getting requests for poems and was concerned that there was no way to tell if they were any good, that they only wanted them because she was Rita Dove.

I’ve been asked to be in a couple of shows, work unseen and I have the same concern. I’m going to submit the work and it’s going to get accepted and who will I have to help me evaluate it? The two people who’s opinions and presentations I trust with my instrument are on the east coast and busy teaching new hoards of students. I haven’t met anyone here yet I feel safe enough with to accept a critique from them. Not that they don’t exist, just that I don’t know them. And understanding the work is not criteria for critiquing it and moving an artist into the next level of development with a piece.

Rita also said that if it was easy, it would be boring. Sometimes she writes 30-50 drafts of a poem. That’s what I’m talking about. If it’s too easy, it IS boring, mindless, tedious.

I appreciated her perspective. I’m feeling those feelings right now as I’m thinking about, and preparing for a new series of paintings even as I’m continuing to explore two other series of paintings. What if the idea is shit. Worse, what if the idea is shit and people like it? Then I’m screwed! What if people hate it, then I’m ashamed. It’s scary.

Anyway...enough about feelings except this... I was glad to be thoroughly validated in a cross-disciplinary fashion. Now here’s a poem by Rita Dove.

Hades' Pitch        
by Rita Dove

If I could just touch your ankle, he whispers, there
on the inside, above the bone—leans closer,
breath of lime and pepper—I know I could
make love to you.  She considers
this, secretly thrilled, though she wasn’t quite
sure what he meant.  He was good
with words, words that went straight to the liver.
Was she falling for him out of sheer boredom—
cooped up in this anything-but-humble dive, stone
gargoyles leering and brocade drapes licked with fire?
Her ankle burns where he described it.  She sighs
just as her mother aboveground stumbles, is caught
by the fetlock—bereft in an instant—
while the Great Man drives home his desire.

Tags: Poetry, artists
Category: Poetry

Please add a comment

Leave a Reply

(Your email will not be publicly displayed.)

Captcha Code

Click the image to see another captcha.

blog comments powered by Disqus