2010-02-24 / Arts & Entertainment News


ekphrasis: | n.| (rhetoric) when one artist’s work inspires another to reimagine it in a different medium
BY EVAN WILLIAMS ewilliams@floridaweekly.com


To ungild the daylight, or to bruise the light with a half-drawn shade, and then the late afternoon undressing: the shop girl at the turn of some other century, so much soap and oil and perfume, so many matrons in robes, in chinchillas, in pearls. She once apprenticed as a milliner, scissors rapping on the table, threads, wires, feathers, silks, spangles, and ribbons, spinning a buckram shape, a saucer hollow, a crush of felted velvet. And for her own woven hat, a small bit of stuff with gallantry, a well-dressed flower. She removes her hatpin, a beaded knot of agate and silver, and she lifts the hat, freeing a field of straw and hair, so that the undressing of light has begun, the turn of this moment of voices and whispers and songs, the debris of every life having sung and cursed and cried, of every prayer, of every arrestment of beauty that stills someone. Impossible not to regard death, no matter how we unflower this moment with her, now reclining, now

at rest, where we are also naked, receptive, where the quiver of our own flesh, in this sheltered, shuttered light, remains a surprise, a delight, and the dimming light remains, remains.

—peom by James Brock, art by Ellie Guas


The Greeks called it ekphrasis, when one artist’s work inspires another to reimagine it in a different medium. In November, 12 artists and 12 poets paired off to create poems, sculptures, paintings and photographs based on each other’s work. It’s the fourth year the local collaborators have explored the limits of the Greek concept and brought their work to the stage in a program called ArtPoems.

Poets will read their poems alongside the art it was inspired by, or vice versa. This year they’re upping the ante by including music, and a finale featuring flutist Kat Epple performing along with a video production that includes all the artworks combined. Two performances are scheduled, one at BIG ARTS on Sanibel, and the other at Alliance for the Arts’ Foulds Theatre.

“When we first used that phrase (ekphrasis), it frightened everyone,” said poet Joe Pacheco. “So we used ArtPoems, which really explains what it is.”

Mr. Pacheco wrote a poem for the show based on a painting called “I just dropped in (to see what condition my condition was in),” inspired by the Kenny Rogers song. “So I wrote a poem inspired by the painting and the song,” Mr. Pacheco said. One of his poems, “Return of the snowy clover,” was given physical form with a painting of a snowy clover.

“(ArtPoems) kind of shakes the muse for both artists and poets to push the envelope a little bit and move in different creative directions,” said poet Lorraine Vail.

Participating artists and poets include Ellie Gause, Martha Graham, Shelia Hoen, Dennis Joyce, David King, Don Mauer, Andi McCarter, Joshua Myers, J.R. Roberts, Paul Rodino, Carol Rosenberg and Susan Sadler. Featured poets include Jim Brock, Don Brown, Vince Faraone, Katelyn Gravel, Tanya Hochschild, Mary LaVelle, Bob Maxeiner, Mr. Pacheco, Katie Pankow, Rachel Peacock, Sid Simon and Ms. Vail. 


in the know

>> ArtPoems >> BIG ARTS on Sanibel Island at 8 p.m. Friday, Feb. 26. Info: 395-0900. $10. >> Alliance’s Foulds Theatre in Fort Myers at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 3. A suggested $5 donation benefits arts education and related programs offered by the Alliance for the Arts. RSVP to 939-2787. >> There is a reception 45 minutes before each show.




Buckaroos earn an 8 second livin’
ridin’ bulls named Hanky Panky,
Bullocity and Robin.
Bullridin’s ain’t for sissies.
Jake, Clay, Travis or Buckshot’ll
splain to you,
“Climbin’ aboard a bull
clingin’ to his back like burdock,
ain’t no stention of ranch work.
When we splode thru the chute,
Snorty’s a freight train.
Best bail out, kiss the bull goodbye.”
Buckshot sucks back, sighs,
“Think on it…Bull’s 2000 pounds with horn
Cowboy’s 160 pounds with hat.”
Chaparral Charlie whips back,
waves an arm at the universe,
boots bull round arena,
Bull humps, twists,
bucks cowboy into the air
like popcorn from a hot skillet.
The salty victor digs dirt as Charlie
tumbles like a weed for the rails, his
star-spangled bandanna floatin’ loose.
— poem by Tanya Houchschild, art by Don Maurer


This is no Robert Frost kind of fence.
No, this chain link model never smells of neighborliness.
Go over this once intact fence and it is blue-jean rip time.
This scar- your-ass fence screams, “No Trespassing.”
If you were being chased, maybe in a genuine hurry,
this fence becomes the tear-your-testicles model.
Somebody, maybe some inner city gang
resented that wire web, no longer wanted to be kept out.
Did they see it as separating them their turf, their safety net.
Life-threatening is not a shallow slogan in gang warfare.
Best case scenario, let’s say that the fence, uncut, whole,
makes a kid late for Algebra, his first period class up at
the high school, and so a note gets mailed to his house.
For that, his dad beats him, a different definition of life threatening.
Some too many beatings later the kid drops out.
It’s a school that didn’t understand his differences.
Wiser teachers might have seen his uniqueness,
making it a safer place for him. Perhaps his English
teacher could have used Robert Frost’s “Good fences make good neighbors”
to teach values, not just as pieces for multiple choice test questions.
A time comes for that late-for-Algebra drop out, thick with rage,
brings a bolt cutter to the fence. A dark night, when not even the whores
are out, and cuts the hole and dedicates it to his son of a bitch father.
To me that torn chain link is a monument, a confrontation asking,
“What fences choke me? What is it I need to escape from?”
Look at a fence like one you know> “Escape” he calls it.
Oh, by the way.
What do you need to escape from?
What fences are keeping you in?
And what fences have you built to keep others out?
—peom by Sidney B. Simon, photograph by Joshua Myer


Dealin’ with prima donnas,
Star-struck ego mamas—
Are you talkin’ to me?
Prima donna, gonna be,
gotta superior attitude—
YOU to me.
Prima donna wannabe ,
understand, it’s beyond me,
donna prima dreama
gossipy schema .
All donnas’ traumas,
drama glamma always shinin’.
Prima donna always whinin’,
It’s all about me!
Are you’re talkin’ to me?
Calm down frazzled mama,
Prima donna misery—
Overrated, not a mystery.
Claimin’ fame, Oh—
the torture of the donna mama,
Prima donna history.
All the while, hold your
plastic smile, toss your head,
grit your teeth, your behavior
is so beneath—
Am I talkin’ to you?
— poem by Lorraine A. Vail, art by Susan Sadler


(Poem found on Sanibel Beach)
To the tune of I’m Looking Over
a Four Leaf Clover
Rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated.
Mark Twain
I’m the snowy plover someone looked over
And I’ve been overlooked before —
That mound of feathers was not my remains,
Along with the shells and Diet-Cola stains.
The reason I’m remaining might need explaining —
I lie dead flat on the shore,
So when someone looks over a snowy plover
I’m just not there anymore.
This two ounce rover found a new male plover
And built another nest on the shore —
Tourists will search on the sand in vain,
We’re safely tucked under seaweed and rain.
No need for redemption or wildlife protection
From what grim future lies in store —
No one’s looking over this snowy plover
Someone overlooked before.
— poem by Joe Pacheco, art by David King

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