As we pass the summer solstice’s longest day of the year, I am playing frisbee with my children after nine pm, reading without table lamps, and reevaluating the colour match of my carpet to my couch. I am acutely aware of the balance between day and night, and more importantly, the quality light that summer affords.
While compiling a list of summer poems, I came across this poem Liminality, by Janina Aza Karpinska. The poem was posted with a painting of a night scene, but the original inspiration was a sunny afternoon picture. Suggesting night instead of day changed a woman’s moment of dining alone from a scene of confidently stopping to smell the flowers, to an isolating, cold, stark, disconnected and lonely portrayal that didn’t quite match the words. While both show a woman who "holds the space between arrival and departure" (the new woman is even still in her coat), the painting changed my participation in the scene from joining an inviting table to a voyeuristic discomfort--from a beaded curtain to an exposed, gaping darkness, from smirking sunglasses hiding the woman's thoughts to an unknown blank pane hiding me. I couldn’t stop thinking about it and this ultimately prompted me to make two lists—one for summer night poems and one for summer day poems.
I am reminded of this today as I read another poem: Dusk at Baie des Anges, 1932, by Barbara Crooker. Seeing things “in a different light” is a cliché because of its surprising, yet undeniable truth—light changes our impressions of what we see. Does it reveal truth? Maybe, but is a summer dress viewed indoors any less real than one in “natural” light? No, but the setting’s light does colour our emotions about what we are seeing. As a companion to my Summer Nights list, here is a list of Summer Days poems.
However, just as summer nights invite dream and illusion, we find an abundance of light does not always reveal an underlying warmth, happiness, or even clarity.
Come Spend Summer in the Girl Cave, by Sarah Carleton
We might think of a “cave” as dark and dank, but the cave in this poem offers a colorful and inviting respite from our daily secrets and lies. Here, girls can take a break from keeping ourselves and our spaces mess-free and from worrying about what our husbands don’t like. A perfect summer vacation poem.
The Yellow Kite, by Gennady Katsov (translated by Nina Kossman)
Travel with the yellow kite, like a passenger, into summer reveries.
The Language of Light, by Siobhán Mc Laughlin
The quality of summer light is akin to a religious experience, but “is it enough?”
Old Home, Ogunquit, ME, by Liz Hutchinson
A wonderful poem on women whose faces are worn smooth being ever bathed in light.
Las Flores, by Laura Chalar
A summer house is haunted.
Swimming Lesson, by Jo Taylor
Swimming lessons may be a quintessential summer experience, but, from both the child’s and mother’s point of view, they are a difficult experience.
Mademoiselle Boissiere by Sarah Russell
The secret life of an old maid in her summer memories.
Persistence of Memory, by Akshaya Pawaskar
The emotion dripping from this poem is a perfect take on a very recognizable painting.
Chagall's Poet with the Birds by dl mattila
A traditional Shakespearean sonnet with rhythm and rhyme used to great effect, this poem offers a nod to nostalgia.
Claude Monet, Grainstacks in Bright Sunlight, 1890, by Grace Marie Grafton
As summer comes to a close, readers can console themselves in the capture of its golden light in this poem.
Jennifer Met lives in a small town in North Idaho. She is a nominee for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net anthology, a finalist for Nimrod's Pablo Neruda Prize for Poetry, and winner of the Jovanovich Award. Recent work is published in Cimarron Review, Nimrod, Ninth Letter, Superstition Review, and Zone 3, among other journals. She is the author of the microchapbook That Which Sunlight Chases (Origami Poems Project) and the chapbook Gallery Withheld (Glass Poetry Press). More at www.jennifermet.com.
Call For Throwback Lists
There are six years worth of writing at The Ekphrastic Review. With daily or more posts of poetry, fiction, and prose for most of that history, we have a wealth of talent to show off. We encourage readers to explore our archives by month and year in the sidebar. Click on a random selection and read through our history.
Our new Throwback Thursday features highlight writing from our past, chosen on purpose or chosen randomly. You’ll get the chance to discover past contributors, work you missed, or responses to older ekphrastic challenges.
Would you like to be a guest editor for a Throwback Thursday? Pick 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.
Let's have some fun with this- along with your picks, send a vintage photo of yourself too!
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