Fantastic Ekphrastic at Guilford Art Center

A poetry reading inspired by the Guilford Art Center’s 2020 Student Exhibition, held on Sunday, March 1. The event featured poems by the following Guilford poets guild members: Dan Goldberg, Gwen Gunn, Juliana Harris, Nan Meneely, Jane Muir, Pat O’Brien, Jen Payne, Elizabeth Possidente, and Gordy Whiteman.


Robert Thomas, Supply Pond Morning

 

A Dwelling Place
Daniel Goldberg

I am lost in a fathomless wood,
Pondering which way that I should turn,
Perhaps this way, to the left,
Or maybe that way, to the right;
I could go back the way I came,
If only I knew how.
Of course, there is always forward,
Towards an unseen obscure horizon,
Into the beckoning sun which peeks
Out from the endless trees,
Into the vast trackless unknown.

Besides my beating heart,
I can only hear the sounds
Of creaking branches, muffled
By quilts of frosty snow.

I am so tired, cold, and lonely,
Daylight is fading, darkness enclosing;
Shall I make a soft white bed
In the freshly fallen snow,
So that I might look up in solitude,
To view the scintillating stars
Between the branches and the trees.

I’m remembering a song that I had sung,
In choir back when I was young,
My high school days filled with fun;
I think by Brahms if I recall —
“How Lovely Is Thy Dwelling Place”.
As I hum this song, here alone,
I see how lovely are these trees,
And I don’t feel quite as cold or lonely.

 


Nora Kolbowski, Outcry

Three Curious Objects
Gwen Gunn

they could be plump birds on a fence
or from a distance penguins on an outcrop
heads tilted up mouths angular and open
fearful or angry in outcry

close up their forms are smooth and delicate
a variegated sealskin gray
like shells of slightly out-of-kilter eggs
from which something alive may soon emerge

feathered and finely boned perhaps
with beaks which have already pecked holes
creatures fragile and lovely as their homes
three phoenixes rising from the ashes

 


Linda Giannelli, Penguin Guarding Nest

Penguin Guarding Nest
Juliana Harris

I’m a fool for penguins
but it’s your eyes,
slightly askew,
that really grab me

I want to take you home,
add you to my collection
of your flock.
What a find!

 


Nina Rose, Girl Crocheting

 

Girl Crocheting
Juliana Harris

I am so moved
by your hunched shoulders,
your curled toes,
your clenched fingers,
I want to reach out,
give you a hug,
and say
“don’t fret…I’m here.”

 


Jane Stanton, Untitled

 

Sunflowers
Nan Meneely

Midsummer, there is little else
that satisfies the eye the way they do
in brilliant ranks along the road
or caught mid-garden in the worship
of a pagan god. They’ve lengthened
past the sedum with its hint of rust,
past daisies crowding out
the smaller blooms in curving beds,
the upper crossbar of the fence,
the ornamental grass.

They claim their place in the open
and warmth of nearly sky,
turn their faces to the sun,
pull against the bracing
of their roots to swivel slowly
till the light descends
below a fringe of cattails
in the marsh.

But August finds them heavy
with the weight of summer
taken hour on hour.
They bow in new humility.

 


Sarah Geragotelis, Turtle Island

 

The Water World
Jane Muir

Put the fins on your feet
Take a deep breath
Tumble backwards off the ladder
Let the weights around your waist
Sink you to the ocean’s floor.

I sat cross-legged
In this strange new world
Looked up at the ceiling
Of this water world

Its ceiling is the ocean’s surface
Here is the world where life began
But whose denizens don’t even know
Of the existence of my world beyond

This is the whole world to trillions
Of the ocean’s creatures
Who learn about my world
Only at the end of a hook

Two worlds estranged
Is there any trip I have ever taken
More different than this? No.
Not even if I had gone to the moon.

 


Mary Wargo, Villa Melzi, Bellagio, Italy

 

Beyond What You Know
Patricia O’Brien

Just at that spot the road
disappears from sight,
just where the river, once broad,

narrows and loses its light
to the reeds and wavering wall
of grassy might,

you stop, surprised by all
the aching clamor in your chest,
by tears rising to the pall

of mysteries beyond a crest
or stand of trees or sudden drop
on the path you’d kept from sadness.

Or so you’d tried. And without
a map to assure you what’s just
out of sight, you know, on the spot,

sorrow’s coming next …
But wait! Joys too will be waiting,
you remind yourself, quietly amidst

that absent scene, countervailing
weights against life’s uncharted pain.

 


Robert Thomas, Supply Pond Morning

 

Sanctified without Assistance
Jen Payne

This is sacred space.
It needs no adornment,
sanctified without assistance.

In the spring
sweet green rejoices,
sings hallelujah at the unfurl.

Then summer’s
broad leaf and life —
a grand chorus from hallowed woods.

In fall,
the bright colors
play a crescendoed reminder:

To everything there is a season,
And a time to every purpose under heaven.

Come winter,
bare-branch whispers
of hope promised, stored.

This is sacred space
without adornment,
adulation ever on.

 


Susan Doolittle, The Egg

 

Which came first…
Jen Payne

Who better to guard
the mountains than
Ursa Major

Great She Bear
mothers over
oak and pine,
where Noctua / Owl
keeps watchful eyes on
swayed grasses
grown by Eridanus.
Sister river flows
clean and pure,
sings bubbling songs to
Grus and Vulpecula —
crane and little fox —
running nearby

We can almost imagine Aquarius,
great water carrier
divine this lush, verdant sphere,
pour life from a star-crystal pitcher.

But man gives and man takes
hardly in equal measure —

The ghost of Lepus, rabbit,
runs quick from Orion
hunter and destroyer
wondering: is this your Eden before
or our Eden finally after?

 


Denise Casey, Brood

Brood #91
Elizabeth Possidente

How do I manage all this

when I am anywhere or nowhere

everywhere and someplace

in between what time there is

Or is not

I AM (am I not ?)

though I am imperfect

and perhaps unformed

yet perfect and fully formed

as this is all I am

My eye is always
on with or around
my beloveds

I search and call in our sounds

they follow and stray
follow and stray
and follow

playful in mud
joyous even in darkness

they giggle

I think about food
and where we’ll find it
our shelter in flux

We are fat and matted
messy

Our lives are full
of pleasure

and yearning


Louis E. King, Platter

While Grieving
Elizabeth Possidente

We talk about food again

after joking a bit

Pizza

Panne

Straciatella

Mozzarella

Pomodoro

But the vino is beautiful

e rosso

Bellissimo!

e buono!

Picante!

A taste of nuts

(nocciole)

A warm Adriatic breeze

meeting

alpine air

Picture tiny flowers

yellow pink pale blue white

along a bubbling stream in mountain valley

sunshine

soft rain

a cowbell in the distance

Ah!

 


Susanne Davis, Garden Delight

 

Garden Heritage
Gordy Whiteman

Today I am luxuriating in my vegetable garden,
digging up and breaking down clods of rich,
brown soil. Generations before me, on my father’s
side, grew their gardens.

There is a comfort in making room
for the hand-me-downs of the generations’ flow:
the easy patience to water, weed, loosen the soil,
feel the sun, the breeze; hear the buzz
of the pollinating bees.

When a young boy, I worked with my grandfather
setting poles for his beans and, in turn
my grandchildren have known the satisfaction
of shelling fresh-picked peas, pulling carrots
and radishes grown from seed that I have sown.
They, too, have sat on the back porch steps
with rhubarb stalks clenched in their hands
and the sugar bowl wedged between their knees.

Today, I am planting a new round of lettuce.
The peas and pole beans are sprouting.
I see signs of Swiss chard, acorn squash, zucchini,
and from the herb garden, the dill is peeping through.

Certainly, I could buy my beets and tomatoes
from the local green grocer but I honor
this gift from my forefathers to plant, grow and harvest.
My father, Tom –
My grandfather, William –
My great grandfather, Edward –
As with the soil, the blood runs rich and deep.

 


Victoria Brodaski, Apple Orchard

 

Mantra
Gordy Whiteman

Apple

Make it your own,
red or green or the deep maroon
of a New York Rome,
or, a Fuji, savored
for its snappy resistance
to your teeth’s
eager insistence for

Apple

If your appetite leans
toward Delicious, if your
dish is a MacIntosh,
Cortland, Winesap,
Granny Smith, whatever
you wish, make it your own

Apple

Meditate on cider, fresh
or hard, made from windfalls
strewn on the yard around
and under the tree.
Use the excess for strudel,
butter, sauce, a sugar-free pie of

Apple

Think of the curved, uneven shape –
The stem – the eye of your apple
Where a blossom had been.

Imagine a peeler in your one hand,
an apple in your other. Let the peel
dangle down, a red, green dappled
unchained bauble, as the peeler
exposes the snow-white

Apple

Consider its story starting
with Eve’s and Adam’s apple,
to Newton, to Tell, and a homework
reprieve stemming from the bribe
of a shining

Apple

From the ear of your mind
receive the sound of the bell
as the children bound from the school
into the autumn of pumpkin, maple,

Apple

Picture the apples on Bishop’s trees.
With look ma no hands and your eyes closed,
run through the seasons: trees in snow,
branches in blossom, summer growth,
pick your own. Touch the gnarl and bark.
Repeat this oath in the ephemeral dark:

Apple … Apple … Apple

Guilford Art Center and the Guilford Poets Guild Present an Ekphrastic Poetry Reading in Conjunction with the GAC Student Exhibition

Join members of the Guilford Poets Guild as they present original poems inspired by selected works of art in Guilford Art Center’s 2020 Student Exhibition. The reading will take place Sunday, March 1, 2-4pm, and is free and open to the public.

Ekphrastic poetry is a response to a visual work of art, often a vivid, dramatic work that takes a painting, sculpture, or other artwork as its inspiration. For this event, members of the GPG will read their poems in response to selected works of art that are part of GAC’s Student Exhibition, which include works in a wide variety of media by current and recent adult students. The Poets Guild frequently holds ekphrastic readings (including last year at GAC, for the Faculty Exhibition), and always brings a fascinating perspective to works on view.

Guilford Art Center’s Student Exhibition is on view February 21 – March 6, with an opening reception on Friday, February 21, 5-7pm. The exhibition is free and open to the public. The Art Center is located at 411 Church Street/Route 77 in Guilford.

The Guilford Art Center is a non-profit school, shop and gallery established to nurture and support excellence in the arts.  Through classes for adults and children, gallery programs, a shop of contemporary crafts, and special events, the Center fulfills its mission to provide opportunities for the public to participate in the arts, to experience their cultural and historical diversity, and to appreciate the process and product of creative work. 

For more information contact www.guilfordartcenter.org or 203.453.5947.

August Poetry Reading Features Guilford Poets Guild and Madison Art Society

One of the Guilford Poets Guild’s favorite events is the ekphrastic poetry reading held in conjunction with the Madison Art Society’s Annual Art Exhibit. The exhibit is currently on view at Guilford Art Center’s Mill Gallery where the poetry reading will take place on Wednesday, August 14 from 6:00 – 8:00 p.m.

Ekphrastic poetry takes a painting, sculpture, or other artwork as its inspiration. For this event, members of the GPG will read their poems in response to selected art that is part of the 44th Annual Madison Art Society exhibit (July 29 – August 16) which includes more than 100 paintings and sculptures.

Celebrating its 20th Anniversary this year, the Guilford Poets Guild is a group of poets from the shoreline who meet regularly to share poems and promote the love and engagement of poetry within the community. Throughout the year the GPG hosts a number of poetry readings including its popular Second Thursday Poetry Series, a Holiday Roundtable, the Guilford High School Poetry Contest, and coordinates poetry/art events with Guilford Art Center, the Madison Art Society and the Florence Griswold Museum. Its upcoming anthology, Our Changing Environment, celebrates the Guild’s 20th anniversary and will be available this fall!

The August poetry reading is free and open to the public.

Read Poems from GPG Event at Guilford Art Center

On Sunday, March 3, the Guilford Art Center hosted the Guilford Poets Guild for a reading of poems inspired by the 2019 Faculty Exhibit. Here is a sampling of poems and images.


The Mettle of Petals
Dan Goldberg
First Impression, Julia Rogoff

We look upon flowers as beautiful things,
The prom corsage, the wedding bouquet,
One dozen red blossoms on Valentine’s Day;
And even when someone passes away,
As a sign of love, respect, and honor,
A stately and somber floral display.

Red, white, and yellow are painted the flowers;
Blue, pink, and purple to pass by the hours.

Lily and lilac, gardenia and rose,
Honeysuckle and hyacinth, are two more I suppose;
Caressing the air, so fragrant and sweet,
Elixir of love, perfume for the nose.

And what of these flowers that delight us for hours,
Showering us over with sight and with scent;
What is their reason, their purpose for being,
With petals so wondrous and magnificent.

The flowers bloom only to pass on their species,
Not for the pleasure of what he or what she sees.


Quiet Contemplation
Dan Goldberg
Centering, Marcy LaBella

The girl with the golden hair
Stares pensively ahead,
With eyes that could penetrate
The deepest blue ocean;
Hands, gentle and expressive,
Lie tender and relaxed,
Red lips, mysterious and beguiling,
Not quite frowning, not quite smiling.

I dare not disturb
Your quiet contemplation;
You look too wrapped up in thoughts
Profound, distant and deep,
Which drift like tumbleweed,
Or milkweed tufts upon the wind.

Are you glancing at your lover’s eyes
In the eternal longing for human embrace,
Your golden hair glistening,
As radiant as summer’s sultry sun,
Your face so soft, so warm, kind and strong.

I hope you have not had much pain,
Nor loneliness, nor sorrow,
Nor feel as blue
As the flowers that surround you,
New worlds await tomorrow.


Say Goodnight, Gracie
Juliana Harris
Say Goodnight, Gracie, Dolph LeMoult

No, no…not Gracie
Hedy
radiant star of the silver screen
who enchanted Pepe LeMoko
and beguiled Samson out of his locks.

Not only the most beautiful,
a scientific genius as well.
Her invention could have
helped us win World War II

Hedy Lamarr

Whatta gal!


Art History
Jane Muir
Yellow Lily, Christa Lorusso

Let’s start with history
Gaul is divided into three parts
And so is this piece of art
Base of stone
Stem of copper
Flower of glass.

The stone, itself a map of history,
Came from maybe Manitoba or even Hartford
Somewhere north of here,
Scoured, shoved, dragged forward by a growing a sheet
Abraded, smoothed cut down to size
Ground down, made round
And finally found, millennium later
On the northern shore of Long Island Sound.

This copper stem
Is of a later time
Not the Ice or Stone Ages
But the Bronze Age, ushered in with
Copper mixed with tin.

And here we have an even later time
A flower, a lily, made of glass.
Glass from the very sand where the stone base lay
Melted sand turn to magic, glass.
A modern day miracle, millennia in the making.


For Want of a Bowl Garden
Jen Payne
Bowl Garden, Linda Edwards

Ah, this.
Yes. This is what I need.
A garden of bowls!

Small enough just
to hold the pieces of stories
I hunger to tell you.
The rhythms and rhymes,
etched in fine detail,
their mark-made patterns
like notes to self:
the whats to remember,
the whos and wheres
to scoop from delicate vessels.
Yessss.
These patinaed memories,
complete and incomplete —

holy, one might say —

swaying like blossoms,
await the bee and me
to drink their sweet nectar,
propagate prose or poems.

Yes this, this is what I need.

Thank you!


Haiku for Wall Platter
Elizabeth Possidente
Wall Platter, Robert Parrot

You see where I am
When I sit still I will sing
A faraway place

Where I am flying
A flourish of gold dances
No hurry wind comes

I see in your eyes
Wisdom of soft fluidity
Reflections of joy


Dancing Scared
Elizabeth Possidente
Incarcerated Scarfaces, Jason Gerace

When first I saw this stoneware piece I looked away
I envisioned pain anger stubborn disarray

I saw a vessel shaped of traditional mold
like a Greek amphora but the difference is bold
This feminine shape by tradition to hold
is contoured thus but fractious and cold

A worrisome grid has been torn at the sides
I fear cries of despair release from inside

See meticulously carved out bars and seams
haunting though on the surface the shape of joy gleams

No more the nurturing of life death and rebirth
this vessel reflects today’s current of life and its girth

How migrants and those of color are thrown in the grid
And scarred by our thoughts our actions our bid.

Though I cannot fathom her colorful moves
I see the amphora like vessel as a goddess who grooves
She dances rhythmic and writhing smooth
She spins her discord in a dance to soothe

************

“I celebrate color, your color, mine
I celebrate origins and all of them shine
I am scarred by my life imperfect at best
I am skidding and sliding There is no rest

I am a house without walls my edges undefined
Impassioned graffiti! Who can follow their lines!
These laws and byways mix me up
I look for answers for water I have no cup

A crisis of credibility. A crisis of systems
A crisis of almighty catechisms
A crisis of stability and prediction
A crisis of comfort and position

I hear so many lies truth tongue-tied
Words velvet-lined and sanitized
Sounds of violence pierce the air
Words that shame No shaming will heal or repair!

I celebrate color, your color, mine
I celebrate origins and all of them shine
I am scarred by my life, imperfect at best
I am skidding and sliding! There is no rest!

Thrill in your dance but never be mean
Dance from your heart and dare to be seen

Look at me now! how I am spinning!
I am flying, all arms and legs, and winning!
A face scarred behind bars but I am me, all me all me all me!
And in this crowd of color I am free. Yes free! Yes free! Yes free!”


Town Jewels
Ed Walker
Town Jewels, Lisa Wolkow

1

learn this way
they said, on amorphous curves
excavate the hard questions
then gauge the stuff of substance
formed with crown transparent,
then beyond that

2

peering through unnatural
forever city pavement,
I young, our tiny fenced yard,
shaded, rocky

we slinked through slender alleys
with fragile balls, barrels of cats,
number two pencils

and a non-crystalline barge
to get here scribbling
about towers adorned in highbrow,
thoughtful


Miss Matisse
Gordy Whiteman
Miss Matisse, Anita Griffith

She sends forth a steamy coo –
“Mon pere, my father, made me
What I am – what you see –
A picture of pleasure – n’est-ce pas?

My lips are – que’st-ce que c’est?
What is it in English? – Alluring?
Heart-shaped – waiting for romance.
Inviting your kiss, si’l vous plait.

Mon pere says what he dreams of
Is an art that is pure and calm –
An art for not only the intellectual,
Not just the business man or the writer,

But for everyman to become a hedonist
For the moment – to just look at me
Without wondering if some deep message
Might be hidden behind my black eyelashes.

Come to me, mon ami, pick me up,
Pour me, take me to your lips.
No, you will not need sugar,
I am sweet enough. Relax. Drink me in.”


A Lily for Gertrude
(in remembrance of Gertrude Talmadge)
Gordy Whiteman
Yellow Lily, Christa Lorusso

At ninety-two she has given up
On the out-of-doors – sits at
Her kitchen table with a window view
Of the white clapboards on the side of

Our house across the way.
So we have planted a rhododendron
And an azalea to brighten
Her springtime hours but come

Early June the scene will lack color.
Day lilies and tiger lilies not yet in bloom –
No show ‘til July. Our rose bush –
The clerk at the nursery blushed

When we asked its name –
“Passionate Kisses” – has been
Slow to pucker up. The lilac’s sweet smell
Has wafted away on the late May air.

What to do to bring color for Gertrude
Beyond the green grass with its dandelion
Threat sprouting here and there.
I need a perennial with flair.

I need a Christa Lorusso creation.
Kiln-formed glass and copper –
Yellow – burnt umber freckles –
A bulb as big as an elephant’s heart –

A show-stopper to ameliorate
The slow hours of later years.
I’ll plant this yellow lily to coax Gert’s smile.
A yellow lily that will stay awhile –

At least ‘til the zinnias –
Boisterous, bouncing beauties
At least – ‘til the zinnias, Gertrude –
The yellow lily – the zinnias…

Guilford Poets Guild Poetry Reading in Conjunction with Guilford Art Center’s Faculty Exhibit

Sunday, March 3, 2:00-4:00pm at Guilford Art Center Gallery

Join members of the Guilford Poets Guild as they present original poems inspired by selected works of art in Guilford Art Center’s 2019 Faculty Exhibition. The reading will take place Sunday, March 3 from 2:00-4:00pm, and is free and open to the public. (Snow date, Sunday, March 10)

Ekphrastic poetry takes a painting, sculpture, or other artwork as its inspiration. For this event, members of the GPG will read their poems in response to selected art that is part of GAC’s Faculty Exhibition, which includes works in a wide variety of media by its teaching artists. This interdisciplinary celebration of art should bring a fascinating perspective to the works on view.

Guilford Art Center’s Faculty Exhibition is on view February 1-March 10, with an opening reception on Friday, February 1, 5-7pm. The exhibition is free and open to the public. GAC is located at 411 Church Street in Guilford. For more information, visit www.guilfordartcenter.org.