I don’t post much poetry here, but when asked what I do, I generally say that I’m a poet. I’m also a woodworker, writer and quilter. You’re more likely to see my other creative outlets here, but mostly I feel like a poet. One reason I don’t publish much of my poetry here is that I do submit my poems out to journals from time to time (no one publishes my poems, but sometimes I send them out) and most journals consider poems posted to a blog as “previously published,” and won’t look at poems I’ve posted here.
This fall I’ve been taken another workshop on ekphrastic poetry. It’s a twelve week class and I’ve been busy writing a lot of poetry. Basically it’s writing a poem a week and then doing a workshop on all the poems written that week by the class. It’s great feedback and I’ve been learning a lot. As a reminder, ekphrastic poetry is where we start with a piece of art and then write a poem in response.
The poem I want to share this week is based on a 1933 black and white photo of Ernest Gutman taken by Alfred Stieglitz. We do a bit of research into the artist and the media used for the art. Then it is up to the poet to re-interpret the art in a poem. Here’s the photo I was given to work with:
And here is the poem I submitted:
Explorer Andrew Reynolds after “Ernest Gutman 1933” by Alfred Stieglitz Face of an arctic explorer, looking past the camera, into a distant snowy sky, for a hint of rock outcropping to cling to. Body shrouded in white walls with the shade pulled down to shut out the light. Grey face held between light and dark - between bursting suns and fading night. Eyes exploring the photographer looking for that perfect angle to set into wax that metaphor looking at him. Wax to create an empty space where brass can flow. Metaphor to feel how to move from enigma to sheltering rock.
This is considered “draft” quality and the next step is for me to edited and rewrite based on the comments I received in the workshop. This one didn’t generate many suggestions from the other poets, but there are one or two things I plan to change. Sometimes refining a poem comes down to removing a comma or changing a line break – not exactly the same kind of editing you’d do in prose – small details count as big ideas here as a poet is trying to say the most with the least words.
So let me know what you think and what changes you’d make to this poem.