Here it is the poem I promised last week.
This is one of the poems I wrote for my ekphrastic poetry class. The class was a generative class so the idea was to look at a picture and create a poem from it. This class was even more focused as we studied still life or “Nature Morte” paintings. These are images depicting inanimate objects. Nature Morte literally translates to, “dead nature” can get a bit depressing as the items in the paintings often represent our darker nature. The pictures are also frozen in time and it’s left to the viewer to figure out what happened before or after the image was captured.
It’s difficult to pick which poem to share, but I’ve decided on my poem, Remembering. The painting inspiring this poem is Rachel Ruysch’s Forest Floor with a Classical Facade Beyond. This work dates to the Dutch Golden Age of painting in the late 17th and 18th centuries. Ruysch enjoyed great fame and reputation in her lifetime and her works sold for more money than other artists of her time. Still life and nature were her most common subjects and she was known for the detail of her painting.
Here is the original painting we viewed:
Part of the assignment was to take a photo that recreates the original painting using only things we have in our home. We couldn’t go out and buy stuff. The idea was to stretch our creativity into another medium while being forced to do some creative reinterpretation of the art.
Here’s my picture:
The house in the picture is a model of the home where Heather grew up in England. She made the model many years ago and I borrowed it. I was drawn to the house in the original painting so I wanted that to be the main element in my version. The house had a mystery to it and suggested that it was abandoned but in the past would have been the focus of the scene. I recreated my version of the flowers using quilting fabrics. When I took the photo there weren’t any blooms in our garden and so I had to make do. If you look carefully at the original art you’ll notice flowers in there that don’t bloom at the same time during the year giving us a clue that Ruysch may have taken months or even years to complete this still life.
I titled my poem Remembering because that was the feeling I had during my free-writing time with the original painting. There is something in this picture that speaks strongly to the past and someone remembering what used to be happening at this house.
Here’s that poem:
after Rachel Ruysch’s “Forest Floor with a Classical Facade Beyond”
Before the vine started growing out of Clara’s heart. Before nature took it back. When we thought electric cars and vaccine would save us all. Wonderful days. Clara would run and laugh and chase butterflies. She’d ride the scooter around the pond. Trees, paths, the garden. Ahh, the old house.
And that’s it for this week. Do let me know what you think of this poem and what you think of ekphrastic poetry.
I think I’ll be writing a few more of this kind of poem.