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



Romana said...

Love what you did with language in this poem, Shuku! It's an ekphrastic poem. You've achieved both a literal and a metaphorical translation of a visual medium.

Shuku said...

Thank you so much Romana! I didn't even know there was a name for that - now I know, I learned something ELSE awesome today! Ekphrastic!

Shannon Blood said...

That is a visceral experience! One of the things I like about the shape poetry is how it really slows everything down and squeezes the attention into the poem.Well done!

Shuku said...

Thank you Shannon! I'm so glad you liked it (I was worried the shape might detract from the reading experience). Might be time to experiment more with shape poetry after this!