Woman Standing by the Sea (Pablo Picasso)
by Gabriella Mirollo
the sea deposits at our feet.
But while each feature interrupts
and contradicts another,
there is balance in the way she stands
on a small round raised mound of sand,
sandy-gray herself, before a blue sea
inseparable from blue sky,
save the thinnest wisp of horizon.
Her mood too is monotone.
She has holes the wind blows through,
yet arrests the eye
in her graceful abstraction,
the arms she holds above her head.
One hand grips the other by the wrist,
completes the circuit of herself,
the sum of her parts.
She keeps the sky caught in the crook of her arm.
After a few posts dealing with more abstract philosophical matters, I thought it might be good this week to write about my working process and share some of what I’ve been doing when I’m not composing posts and trying to keep up with all the other wonderful blogs out there! In compliance with a personal request I’ve begun with a whole poem of mine, instead of just the usual snippets. Choosing to offer this particular poem in its entirety seemed ironically appropriate for a post about putting pieces and parts together!
I could be
the slick black back
of a sleepless street
smelling of rain and smoke
all is calm but in that calm
whatever it is finds a way
in shimmering puddles
blind fingers reaching
for the world
Speaking of which, before I go any further, I’d like to voice my gratitude to artist and new friend Patti Roberts-Pizzuto, whose excellent blog and shop you can find here and here. Patti works in many media – collage, needlework, paper, painting. She also maintains a blog in which she shares a daily found poem assembled from bits of text she has collected over the years; thanks to her marvelous agility of mind and a sprinkling of pixie dust, these words and phrases always form themselves into beautiful little poems that speak large truths. She recently asked me to be a guest poet, which post you can find here. I’ve also included images of the results above. For lack of my own treasure trove of word scavengings, I cut up a few dozen of my poems, old and new, let them sit in my Tibetan singing bowl until they were ready to be sorted and selected, and strangely pulled together a poem that was a product both of conscious choice and unconscious happenstance and told me something about myself I didn’t know.
like a piece of ice on a hot stove the poem must ride on its own melting
This got me thinking, how is this combination of a little intention and intuition plus a whole lot of happy accident any different from writing “original” poetry? Or any artwork for that matter. I don’t create any new words, I don’t sit down with a plan and execute it to perfection, I just wait until some urgent mood, metaphor, image or theme rises to the surface, locate and re-purpose the same old words from the very limited English language at my disposal, put them together in interesting ways and keep rearranging them until they all fit into some form, one I don’t know the exact size or shape of until it’s done! It’s really more improvisation than creation, and I don’t feel I’ve done a good job unless I’m a little bit surprised by the results, and a little bit guilty if someone praises me for my excellent control of composition! At which point the poem and I exchange sidelong glances because we know the real truth!
|Yesterday's News (Brockton Station)|
This is true of photography too. I am not so self-effacing that I will deny I have a good eye for something that will make a good photograph, but mostly I have good luck and a lot of patience and faith. I don’t really know how the resulting image of what first caught my eye will look until the negative is developed, or what it will mean until I’ve looked at it a few times. Sometimes naming it opens up a whole new world of meaning. Quite often there are things in it I didn’t even consciously register when I aimed my camera: perhaps I sensed them, but I didn’t look for or include them on purpose. And it takes a lot of shots to get that keeper. I save them all anyway, because sometimes a formerly dismissed shot suddenly looks better than I remembered, and it begins a new life outside the file box.