Monday, May 18, 2015

Poetry Inspired Art

"Ars Poetica" is in its fourth year here on the west side of Puget Sound.  

Here's how it works: Poets submit up to three poems to a jury that selects the "winning" poems which are then presented to local artists who choose one or more poems to interpret in their chosen medium. 
When complete, the art is displayed in participating galleries, and culminates in author-artist events at the galleries, where the poets read their poems alongside the artwork inspired by their poems, and finally, the artist speaks about his or her creation, and how the poem inspired it. 

Yesterday I had the privilege of reading my poem, "Magnum Opus" at the Front Street Gallery in Poulsbo. My poem uses music as a metaphor for the intricate working of our bodies, and I was curious to see what the artist created. 

There was no mistaking the "snare drum heart" when I saw it hanging on the wall. Bold and striking, beautifully colored and crafted, it sang out, a fabulous stand alone work. I felt it captured the musicality and physicality of my words brilliantly, and added so much depth to the reading experience, knowing that as I spoke, listeners had that image before them. 

It was a gift to hear Steve Parmelee, an assemblage artist, speak about his process, and to talk to him afterward and learn that my poem has inspired him to use other musical instruments in his new work. (Visit his Facebook page for more images of his fascinating assemblages.)

I asked Steve if I could share his photo of "Drum Keeps the Beat." He readily agreed. Here it is along with my poem.

Magnum Opus

Every day the divine composes your score. 
Your body, your bones, your marrow are measured.
Your breath flows in whole notes and quarters, 
in rests, in sharps and flats. 
Your accordion lungs, snare drum heart,
cello kidneys all play in acoustic trio.
Your mouth a flute, your blood a concerto.

Each movement, each platelet and modulation
marked, magnificent as the spleen, efficient
as the central nervous system synapsing 
a cantata transmitted as by telegraph line
a hymn ringing over high-spined mountains,
spanning rivers, spilling lymph and bile, 
spit and sweat into the echoing ocean. 

The infinite orchestrates each movement 
your cells an ensemble multiplying and dividing
in crescendo at dizzying speeds, forgetting 
everything but harmony and rhythm.

Each morning the sky explodes
with golden-fugued fire and the world is sparked 
into melody, each body sliding from sleep in glissando
joining the symphony. The metronome ticks, 
the conductor’s baton pierces your heart:
You stand upright and sing.

Assemblage artist Steve Parmelee explains his creative process

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