Tuesday, May 01, 2018

NaPoWriMo Day 30: Georgia O'Keeffe Paints Watercolours, 1974

Prompt: Write a poem that engages with a strange and fascinating fact. It could be an odd piece of history, an unusual bit of art trivia, or something just plain weird.

LAST HURDLE OF THE MILE. Day 30! Finally! 

Lists and lists of trivia later, what caught my attention was Georgia O'Keeffe losing much of her eyesight in 1972, due to macular degeneration. One of the striking things I came across in some quick research about this condition was that it can result in blurred vision, and also no vision in the center of vision field. Also, a grid of straight lines may appear wavy, and parts of the grid may appear blank. 

My SO gave me the very interesting science fact that butterflies see in UV light, and a little poking around dug up that this was actually known in 1965, and that the 'how' was nailed down by Helen Ghiradella in the 1970s - right about the time when O'Keeffe lost her sight, and was continuing to paint with watercolours.

So I experimented too. Hahahahaha. 

I incorporated some of O'Keeffe's comments on one of her most radical abstract pieces, 'Light Coming on the Plains', in the poem.


dawn is an   e  b                l o
                             b and  f      w of light
it comes and goes for a while   ( dis  app  ea   ring  h
                                                                                     o )
                                        before it comes
light is a b l ur  ring  a dis  a pp  ea  ring  a ring
dawn is colours bleedingintotheiredges
Hol             loW           Cen      trE

                                                            a      e
butterflies dance in ultraviolet w     v    s  and cu  r
                                                                      i n

the lines in my mind are straight
in my eyes they dis  app   e  a r  come and go for a wh i le
  is a  w     y    g    ri  d


NaPoWriMo Day 29: Cypress

Prompt: Today, we’d like to challenge you to write a poem based on the Plath Poetry Project’s calendar. Simply pick a poem from the calendar, and then write a poem that responds or engages with your chosen Plath poem in some way.

Sylvia Plath must be laughing at me right now; I'd only just responded to 'Lady Lazarus' on Day 27, and now whee, I get to do it again! I picked 'Elm' for my poem this time, and used one of her phrases ('Diminished and flat') as well as allusions to some of her imagery for a more concrete link.

Like Plath herself, I've struggled with depression for a while, so 'Elm' was particularly resonant. The response, if it's a response at all, came in images linked in bizarre ways, so I just wrote everything down without pausing to analyze where it all came from. I still don't know. 


Root. Tap root.
Tap tap tap, goes the root, deep dark thing
Plunging beneath light’s reach, snaking down

The original crooked man’s crooked mile
Sucking up blackness and brimstone, fire
Burning slow in the veins.

I am a spider’s web of filament fronds
Transporting blood through the world’s most complex
Delivery circuit, each blood cell containing a tiny

Fragment of hell.
Filament sunsets red as heated wires.
The moon is a great white murder eye

Pitilessly watching. Diminished and flat
I am clubbed to pieces, a skinned fur seal
Doll-broken on the floor.

Shhhh. Don’t speak.
The littlest shriek
Brings down the wrath of God.