Still Life with Poetry, oil on panel, 12" x 16"
This is an especially personal painting in which I pay homage to a number of poets I met in my youth, most of whom I got to know and work with at regular poetry workshops at Circe's bar in Worcester in the late '70s. Primary
among them is Mr. Carle A. Johnson, who happened to be my English teacher at Boys' Trade. Best teacher ever. Thus, Mr. Johnson's book is front and center. He introduced me to the rest of these poets, including a brief meeting with Worcester native Stanley Kunitz, who served as Poet Laureate of the U.S. twice, in 1974 and again in 2000.
The story of this painting is a bit muddled. I'd originally intended to showcase only Worcester area poets I've met, hence the presence of Kunitz, and the absence of Donald Hall and Russell Edson
(whom I've also met). I didn't remember that Mark Pawlak is from Buffalo NY until it was too late, but I seem to remember him being helpful to me at those workshops, so I left him in. The broken Worcester Artist Group mug
denotes the next step in my artistic development after those workshops. The fact that it's broken isn't symbolic, though, it's just that I'd managed to break both of my WAG mugs within a couple of weeks of one another, some
20 years after I'd acquired them. They are useless as mugs now, but I hung onto them out of sentiment.
I've been asked about the significance of time on the clock; it indicates only that the light in my studio was about right at about that time, nothing more. I suppose one could make a case for the clock being a nod to the
brevity of life, but really it's just there to hold the books up. Which it didn't do particularly well (I knocked the whole set-up over a couple of times while I was painting it), but that much was indeed deliberate, insofar as poetry is a precarious endeavor. So I made an especially precarious composition to reflect that.
The books depicted are:
"Herculaneum Via A Plectrum" by Carle A. Johnson
"Nicodemas" by Nicholas Karcasinas
"The Buffalo Sequence" by Mark Pawlak
"Brief Lightning" by Mary Driscoll
"Across the Mutual Landscape" by Christopher Gilbert
"The Persistence of Memory" by Mary Fell
"Thin Ice" by Louise Monfredo
"The Link" by Jack Sughrue
"Whisper to the Earth" by David Ignatow
"Selected Poems 1928-1958" by Stanley Kunitz
"Cranberry Smoke" by Michael Hood
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