THROWBACK THURSDAY PICKS FROM ALARIE TENNILLE
April is National Poetry Month in the U.S. (my home) and in Canada (home of The Ekphrastic Review). It’s also my birth month, though I arrived a week and almost four centuries after William Shakespeare. To simplify my search for throwback picks, I thought I’d share a few favorite poems from past Aprils.
I didn’t realize how recent the celebration is — National Poetry Month was established by the Academy of American Poets in 1996 and observed since 1999 in Canada.
Time Slips – Laura Engle
Short and sweet – I’m always impressed when a poet can say so much in so few words.
“Time slips…fades and flops.” While it “looks like a towel thrown over a rack,”
Engle also captures the sound and motion of a fish flailing about when pulled from the background sea.
Space Station Crew Sees Lots of Clouds – Marc Alan Di Martino
Beautiful view. Great contrast between advanced technology and a child’s delight in birthday cake. We enjoy the frothy, descriptive delight, then are caught off-guard by pollution (“chemical-sweet”) and the great yearning we carry away when we get to that last line.
Painted Hands – Michael Gessner
The combined power, the cave painting of hands still reaching out to us with Gessner’s message, makes me think that perhaps ancient cave paintings were already ekphrastic, art and poetry in one, at a time when written words waited far in the future.
Hitchhikers in Mississippi, 1936 – Lennart Lundh
The poet’s love of words shines through in this beautifully descriptive poem. “The trees have forgotten summer” sets the tone for bleak winter and the even bleaker Great Depression. Although the photo makes us feel gloomy, the final line offers hope.
One Viewer’s Response to Todd Klassy’s 4 Round Bales – Bill Waters
“In a cloudless landscape / everything but the sky/ looks small,” and Waters understands that anything longer than three short stanzas would seem cluttered. He strikes the perfect balance between looking and seeing.
Horizons – Roy Beckemeyer
We are born knowing nothing that has come before us. Here the poet helps us sees new horizons, layers, and cycles. It’s wonderful to read the caption about a reptile footprint and leap to the single front leg of a backhoe.
Man on a Bench – Edward H. Garcia
This art-poem pairing appeared in the first April of TER (2016). I remember it because we have a museum guard created by Duane Hanson at The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art here in Kansas City. This is a quintessential ekphrastic poem, inviting viewers into the art. The man on the bench won’t scoot over, / invite [us] to sit down,” but Garcia makes the invitation.
The Autopsy – Mary McCarthy
I’ve been reading and then writing for The Ekphrastic Review for over five years, and Mary McCarthy’s name was one of the first that jumped out at me as a regular favorite. Here she combines her love of poetry and art with her knowledge of medicine. She’s a registered nurse and deftly explores what we can learn by careful observation, what we may feel we know, and what we can only guess.
Alarie Tennille is a longtime, regular contributor to The Ekphrastic Review. She is a valued prize nomination consultant for the journal, and has been a guest editor for our bimonthly challenges. She has won a Fantastic Ekphrastic award for her considerable contribution to the journal and to ekphrastic literature.
Be a guest editor for a Throwback Thursday! Pick up to 10 favourite or random posts from the archives of The Ekphrastic Review. Use the format you see above: title, name of author, a sentence or two about your choice, and the link. Include a bio and if you wish, a note to readers about the Review, your relationship to the journal, ekphrastic writing in general, or any other relevant subject. Put THROWBACK THURSDAYS in the subject line and send to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Along with your picks, send a vintage photo of yourself!
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