Joaquín Torres García’s Café de París
Oil on canvas. Slate white, red ochre palette. Write it. Write. Les Années Folles in Montparnasse. The avant-garde.
Outline of a rectangular figure here, and another there. Overlaid with black pictographic symbols. We are squat, angular, roughly drawn, says one character. Scratching away brushstrokes, construction of stacked blocks of colour. Write. I put down the word ragtime jazz, the word flapper. Look at the 1920s, the Crazy Years. Left Bank of the Seine. Populate the flat, gridded space with archetypal motifs.
Window frames, awning, roof tiles. And the stars.
Where terrace cafés. Where tracing in writers and artists. Until the Lost Generation, the expatriates, stand upon this stage. Write. At l'Opéra de Paris, Boléro. Shrill piccolo, the oboe. Sharp staccato of a snare drum.
This poem was previously published with Inanna Publications Author Blog and forthcoming in the chapbook Black Rain.
Ilona Martonfi is an editor, poet, curator, advocate and activist. Author of four poetry books, the most recent collection is Salt Bride (Inanna, 2019). Forthcoming, The Tempest (Inanna, 2022). Writes in journals, anthologies, and seven chapbooks. Her poem “Dachau on a Rainy Day” was nominated for the 2018 Pushcart Prize. Artistic director of Visual Arts Centre Reading Series and Argo Bookshop Reading Series. QWF 2010 Community Award.
Editor's note: This artwork was used in an ekphrastic challenge. Read another poem by Ilona and many more inspired by the painting, here.
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