for in this society

for in this society (an ekphrastic poem about “Wolves” by Sam Rueter)

 

the hand that grabs up her thigh

carries pain and humiliation

on her lips a singular finger lie

silencing her through intimidation

 

grabbed at the breast

the supple skin ravaged by lust

her naked figure undressed

though she remains hushed

 

they steal her glow

with their grasp and their gaze

a man and his ego

forever unfazed

 

though she holds onto her mind

as they gather around her frame

she is a woman they find

with a heart like a flame

 

she will rise from the depths

of their dark demented ways

they cannot steal her breath

the evil fails to decay

 

for in this society 

they say women are deranged

for in this society

the patriarchy remains unchanged


The poem above is an ekphrastic work about the painting  titled “Wolves” by Sam Rueter. Sam is a local artist living in Charleston, SC and she creates art inspired by the female experience and anatomy. ‘Wolves” spoke to me in particular because I feel that it perfectly encapsulates how life is as a woman in a patriarchal society. When writing about the painting, I chose to write about what was actually taking place in the painting (such as the hand up the woman’s thigh) and then added a bit more life to the story. The rhyme scheme present is truly very simple but I think the simplicity can be appreciated when talking about such a dark and complex painting.  For the writing, some of the first poetry that I read when I really got into poetry was that of Rupi Kaur and Erin Hanson. I think that I emulated some of their writing style into the poem, along with the choice of making the entire poem lowercase. The stylistic approach of lowercase letters brings a certain softness and femininity to the work.

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Venus of Willendorf Ekphrastic Poem

Venus of Willendorf by Unknown

Each stipple inutile for others touch,

To the hands of stone journeyed the water,

Predetermined to man, ne’er for more,

To give spawn, as they call youth, but as years

Bear, paleness tholes, wise fruits ferment to wine,

Sentient of the intolerable load,

As the bird grasps below, the chicks leap.

 

Startling the eye, held in high repute,

The beauty in Her each gouge and indent,

To limit her sinful, yet is she more?

Lord Justice, what are we to worship her?

Only in passing or in eternity?

As she still stands, still held, are we the man

Who takes her meaning withdrawn from her hand?

 

Venus of Willendorf was one of the first sculptures to be carved in about 24,000 B.C.E. It’s very simple, it’s of a woman’s body and it has basic features and the most intricate part is of what may either be hair or a headpiece on the woman’s head. The reason I chose to write about her is because of her symbolism. It can’t be pinpointed exactly, but looking at other art pieces and taking history into consideration, her symbolism is of fertility. Fertile women tended to be worshiped, but are still held in the regard of being there for a man to use, which begs the question of if even worshiped women are free. I chose to break this poem into two stanzas of different perspectives. The first is of the woman carving herself and the second is the viewer over time. The reason I did this was to create more of an understanding of the meaning; what it could mean to her and what it may mean to us. Although we don’t have a clear answer, we can assume her view if she was the artist. It is important for us to understand her perspective and appreciate the progress to where society views gender roles today.

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Winter Coat

By Zane Hull

My dark coat envelops me in a soft hug, protecting me from the cold of the outside; the snow falls softly onto the ground, drifting through the sky in some unspoken, secret rhythm, each drift a sway in an unknown dance routine. A single snowflake lands on my nose; though it melts quickly, it still leaves a long-lasting impression, the tip of my nose now wet and cold. As a shiver runs down my spine and I pull my coat closer to my body, desperate to savor the warmth it provides, I wonder briefly if I have ever left such an impression on anyone.

“The Magpie,” by Claude Monet, 1868-1869

I decided to write more about how this poem made me feel, rather than what it depicted. The way that the solitary magpie in the middle of the painting leaves such an impression on the reader is not unlike the way that a snowflake leaves an impression on you before melting away. It is brief, but noticeable. There also may be some unintentional wordplay at hand, as the way that Monet used color for shadows in this painting ended up revolutionizing the Impressionist movement at the time. I really wanted to try and capture the beauty of nature that Monet easily depicts in this piece as well; gentle words like savor, sway, softly, and drifting were purposeful choices, as well as the multiple commas. There are not any line breaks, as I felt it would take away from the flow of the piece, which is meant to flow naturally like a snowflake.

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Emily Monahan – Amadeus Adaptation

I believe that the play Amadeus would transfer into a ballet adaptation quite well. The story of a hero turned tragic ending is a prominent plot point in famous ballets. Think of ballets such as Swan Lake or Giselle, which have a similar storyline. Thus adding to the validity of the adaptation. It would also take inspiration from classical and romantic era ballet. Keeping the period the same would only benefit this adaptation of the “classicalness” that ballet portrays. 

The greatest strength of this adaptation is within the music. Music ties the whole play together, and adding dance will only strengthen it. The music would be taken from Mozart’s own repertoire. In theory, the music would go chronologically with the play along with the referenced music. It would be interesting for different dancers to dance to the music, perhaps taking the most critical or iconic pieces and creating a “character” of them. For example, the Queen of the Night’s aria would be used for the Magic Flute to depict that opera. During the part of the play when the opera was on stage. I think ballet and opera are somewhat similar, so this would align quite well. The prima ballerina would dance as the Requiem and a possible pas du deux may occur between the Requiem and Mozart during Mozart’s death scene. 

The period that Amadeus takes place in would correlate with some beautiful costumes on stage. The drama of the fashion of the 1780s matches the drama of a traditional performance tutu. The play’s female characters, such as Constanze, would dress in these tutus. Perhaps taking inspiration from the costumes of the romantic era of ballet. However, it would be pretty interesting to dress the dancers representing the music in beautiful, elaborate “pancake” tutus. Differentiating these dancers from the actual characters of the play. They would represent the music, the character that sings it, or the moment in Mozart’s life. The Magic Flute costume may be dark, villainous, and regal, with lots of beading and sequins. This would be to highlight the Queen of the Night’s aria. I think the Requiem costume could be a deep red, symbolizing the death soon to come. This color is foreboding yet elegant, perfect for the song and its context. For Mozart and Salieri, a costume that represents the period but is also moveable to allow for jumps, turns, and lifts. Frankly, the male fashion of the time matches a lot of male ballet costumes anyway. Big wigs are synonymous with this period when looking at the time’s fashion. I think this could be a lesser version of these wigs used for the Corps de ballet when movement is less strenuous. Another option could be headpieces that symbolize the qualities of these wigs. 

Maybe I am biased by my love of the art form and involvement in productions of different ballets myself, but with this knowledge, it would translate well. The drama and beauty of the ballet are great responses to the play Amadeus. The ability to take the play’s drama, music, art, and era is almost perfectly shown in the use of ballet.

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Picking Flowers

by Julia Deicicchi

There they sit in their matching dresses

Pink for the brunette, blue for the blonde

Their long wavy hair pulled back 

Free from all of their stresses

 

What a lovely day to pick some flowers

Who shall they give them to?

“In the Meadow” by Auguste Renoir

What kind are they?

I hope April doesn’t bring any showers

 

Tall trees line the meadow so green

The skies so blue, with few clouds in sight

Friendship and flowers fill the air

The natural ambiance brings light to the scene

 

The girls in the meadow, what a sunny day

Being together is such a joy

Every blonde girl needs a brunette best friend

That is very true, I must say

 

I found this painting online, and it caught my attention. It was simple, yet beautiful. I definitely focused more on the art, as I knew nothing about the artist, and I didn’t purposefully try and emulate a specific poet. I wrote what I saw and some of my initial thoughts after analyzing the poem. I tried to create some sort of rhyme scheme, but poetry is not my forte. I chose words that were descriptive and naturalistic to highlight the sunny and nature filled painting. I tried to be objective, stating what I saw, but I also certainly added in my own descriptive words or thoughts to add more emotion to the poem. Moreover, I wanted  to create a lighthearted and simplistic poem, because that is what I felt from looking at the painting. I love the simplicity of this painting because sometimes it is nice to not have to find a deeper meaning, rather just appreciate the talent in the artwork. 

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Revs Revels

The Cadaver Tomb of Rene de Chalone

Alone in the Church of St. Etienne

A figure stands, offers his heart to god

What god could do with it

He does not understand

You cannot cook a stone heart

You cannot eat

 

Without the steady beat

You cannot make art

But the scrawl of blood in the dirt

What could you see in worship

Mortality a shroud to slough 

What use does one have for a stone heart

 

If god took his sacrifice

Just to hold what was given

To lay down with death and be comforted

To watch one decay

To lay down in the snow with that disavowed

Part of yourself, and be afraid

 

Piece by piece drop your formidable armor

Expose yourself to him

We bones lying bare

Await yours

Should one look for peace in a house of god?

 

What use for a stone man rotting

Unobserved by the world

His shredded flesh

His heart cold

Light a candle for those who still wait

And pray in a church

And hope for an answer

 

I wanted this poem to encapsulate the mystery of the statue; including who the key figures are involved in this work– us, the audience, the statue, and god.  Every time I look at it, I come away with something new, so I wanted to include different ideas that would work more to create a general feeling with some context rather than a description, as well as attempting to show what one who looks upon the statue may feel or bring meaning to.  To me, there is a distinctly religious tone, with the statue’s placement in a church there is the assumption that it is god that the statue is offering his heart to, rather than simply raising the heart upwards.  The statue is modeled for the Prince of Orange, Rene de Chalon; however, despite being made in his honor and physically placed above his bones, he is represented as a decaying corpse rather than a whole.  I did not want to mention the artist, as I felt the work was more important and worth focusing on as the subject.  I did not necessarily model my poem after any specific poet or other work, but I wanted to make it freeform with no particular rhyme scheme, as I felt that rhyming would not fit the tone.  I did; however, ensure that the first stanzas would be of equal length (six lines each), until the end.  I wanted each stanza to be somewhat self-contained, focusing on a different aspect of how one could view the work.  The break of the pattern at the end was meant to give more emphasis to the conclusion that would bring both the religious tonalities and the audience’s view into focus.

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New Ekphrastic Poem

Chapel of The Holy Cross 

Your grand and gloriousness stands

What to Know Before Visiting Chapel of the Holy Cross - Sedona Tour Guide

Effortlessly proud atop the ruby monuments

You call home. Viral in spirituality and 

Abundant in visitors who make the trek in hopes 

To soak up every last drop. You’re a spectacle and 

A vast mystery, caloused hands worked day and night 

To plant between those Earth made pedestals.

I long for a slice of your beauty and your Venus-like

Attraction, for I can’t even count the pictures that 

Loiter through rolls of camera. Capturing you at every 

Angle. The art of subdility is the root of your seduction, 

As you stand quietly, peering at the peasantry below you. 

Begging you for light 

Only your highest power could give.

 

I chose to write an ekphrastic poem about The Chapel of The Holy Cross in Sedona, Arizona because it is one of the most beautiful structures I have ever seen in person. I also wanted to structure my poem in a way that emulated a sonnet, with little to no stanza breaks. I feel that this style does a lot for poetry when needing to explain one particular subject in detail. Sometimes stanza breaks can feel almost story-like when read aloud, therefore, I strayed away from this style. I left more lines enjambed than not because I feel that by doing this, it helps the lines to bleed into each other and make the piece feel like one giant thought about a certain thing. When actually describing The Chapel in my poem, I focussed mainly on the effects it has had on not only me, but all the visitors that come to see The Chapel. The poem predominantly praises this gorgeous monument and I tell the story from the perspective of someone who almost envies the utmost beauty this structure exudes.



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Pieta Ekphrastic (Areito)

Pieta

A mother, her son who must

move a mountain for love.

a dark and dried-up body,

a withered thorny crown,

an esoteric visual of grief.

 

Gold plated halo, where are her

well-worn and mighty wings?

 

How long has she prayed? 

How raw are her knees?

 

Make no adjustment of His body,

let His limbs hang as He did.

Holding onto to holiness

under her fingernails, filed

down from gripping

everything she loved.

Holding Him as if he’s more than

an ugly raw-boned carpenter’s son

with an unwieldy conscious

observed by those who’ve faced

those unspeakable grievous words,

It is finished.

My main goal of this poem was to focus more on Mary than Jesus. The idea that Jesus was a son of Mary instead of just the son of God was really interesting to me. The painting felt like it was showing deep emotions about the grief of a mother who has lost her first born child. So, I wanted to focus on the more emotional side of what the painting depicted. I focused a little bit on describing some features of the painting. For example, lines 6, 11, and 19 – 23 are all direct references to the things I saw in the painting. I also chose to capitalize the pronouns used to refer to Jesus because in the Bible, the capitalization of words like “Lord” and “Father” symbolizes holiness and sets God and Jesus apart from each other. I also tried to use words that had a negative or upsetting connotation to represent the sadness that was shown in the painting. I ended it with “it is finished” because those are said to be the last words of Jesus when he was dying on the cross.

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A Friendship Like No Other

A Friendship Like No Other

My dear old friend comes to greet me once again

Sometimes distant but never far

My oldest friend

My constant companion

 

Once was I told with age comes loneliness

However I am never alone

Through every failure, every loss

Even the supposed happiest moments of my existence

My oldest friend has never left my side

 

Although in vain I have tried to outgrow my oldest friend

Never have I shaken them

They have held my hand in every stage of life

Slowly morphing me in their image

 

Now at the end of my existence I can hardly tell the difference

Between them and me

 

In the poem I wrote, I did not analyze the painting at face value or simply describe what I saw in the painting. When I looked at this painting of this man, I saw a man towards the end of his life that had been beaten and broken down by a lifetime of sadness and depression. This is what I wrote my poem about. I wrote my poem as the man in the poem speaking of his depression as a lifelong friend who has never left his side. I focused on the art more than I did the artist. However, I don’t know why Vincent van Gogh painted this work of art specifically. Perhaps maybe the old man in the painting is supposed to be van Gogh himself. I broke the lines in the poem where I did in order to continue the flow and cadence of the poem. I also made the lines short on purpose for ease of the reader. I used the word friend multiple times in this poem in reference to depression. The words friend and depression clearly convey very different meanings. However, for everyone who either has depression or knows someone that does, the use of both of them in the same vein makes sense in a way. I wanted to create a very contrasting juxtaposition with the idea of depression and friendship.

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Three Mile Clock

by Maya Douglas

 

The painting represents the effects of endurance. But the main overlapping theme is time.

The Persistence of Memory by Salvador Dalí

 

The world around me is cold, and stained.

The same way coffee stains my 

Breath. Monday through Friday, over

And over again. It is a never 

Ending cycle. 

 

Growing up, as a kid, I was forced

Into following a tight schedule. 

I would listen to my parents when it’s time

To get up for school and eat Eggo

Waffles. 

 

There has never been a time

In my life that hasn’t been scheduled out.

It started as an innocent, harmless,

And healthy way of what my parents 

Called time management. 

 

That was during my age of innocence.

I got to my Mean Girls stage of life 

And my schedule turned into when

I got to eat and when I would go for 

My three-mile walk.  

 

The exhausted, sixteen-year-old girl

Inside of me is asking why I did this.

Such a simple question that not even 

I can answer to this unintentional 

Harm. 

 

 

I personally have always loved poems by Rupi Kaur. I tried to emulate her in this poem. Her poems are written in a way that every line carries emotion and I tried to stay consistent with that theme, rather than writing a poem using the same diction as William Shakespeare or Henry David Thoreau would. I used diction that is understandable to my intended audience but also comprehensible to other audiences. I tried to convey how the painting made me feel as the overall message of the painting regards the effects of time. But this poem is through the lens of a teenage girl and how an innocent habit destroyed her with time. I focused more on the art and what happens with time because you can see how the clocks are melting and the same thing happened with the anecdotes about schedules. I broke lines where I did because although it may not flow, there’s a sense of predictability of what the next line is going to start with which forces the reader to be attentive. There were key word choices in mentioning stained and relating it to coffee, as well as the mention of Mean Girls because it is a common movie for people in the projected audience’s generation.

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