Stuck at home during COVID-19, members of the Guilford Poets Guild recently engaged in an ekphrastic exercise of writing poems inspired by works of art in their own homes. Similar to seeing rooms on Zoom, these poems offer a unique and intimate glimpse into the lives of these local poets.
- Summertime, Evelyn Atreya
- November Walk with Andrea, Gordy Whiteman
- Heist, Jen Payne
- Eagles Mere, Summer 2020, Gwen Gunn
- Sea Turtle Breaking Through, Carol Altieri
- Stairway to the Stars, Juliana Harris
- Cotton Candy, Dan Goldberg
- A Wave, Ed Walker
- Sharing a Room with Two Other Women, Patricia Horn O’Brien
- Le Bal à Bougival, Sharon Olson
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.
In June, GPG poets will be writing about COVID-19, and their reflections on the pandemic. Stay tuned!
Members of the Guilford Poets Guild are writing ekphrastic poems this month, poetry inspired by artwork hanging in their home.
Le Bal à Bougival
by Sharon Olson
Is she more noticeable in his arms, or more forgotten?
We do not see his eyes beneath his straw hat,
but we know they burn.
The red trim on her white dress excites him,
his hand wants to slide from its grasp on her waist.
They are hardly moving but their steps are powerful,
he leads her even as they stand still.
All the while she watches the watchers,
knowing they are seen as lovers,
as invisible as a couple, but worth a few stares.
He is my sister’s husband,
she is laughing over there beneath the trees,
and does not suspect us as the others do,
strangers throwing us a strange eye.
We are full of cold beer, caught up in the dance,
and the way he holds me I am staggering.
My left arm thrown over his neck
leaves my right side open.
This is something he knows well:
not to press too hard or smother,
but to leave part of the body untended, waiting.
I bought this poster of Le Bal à Bougival by Renoir when I was a teenager and hung it in my room in the early 60s. By now it is yellowed on the borders but I framed it to be able to keep hanging it in my present home. The first time I saw the painting in the Boston Museum of Fine Arts was when I was well into my forties. I wrote a poem about it in my thirties and it was published in my book The Long Night of Flying.
For National Poetry Month this year, the Academy of American Poets asked its readers to share a poem that helps to find courage, solace, and actionable energy. Here is a selection of poems that were chosen from Poets.org:
“The Days to Come” by Medora C. Addison
“Alone” by Maya Angelou
“The 19th Amendment & My Mama” by Mahogany L. Browne
“Again a Solstice” by Jennifer Chang
“Blessing the Boats” by Lucille Clifton
“Manhattan is a Lenape Word” by Natalie Diaz
“Hope is the thing with feathers (254)” by Emily Dickinson
“The Changing Light” by Lawrence Ferlinghetti
“Migration” by Jenny George
“This Bridge Across” by Christopher Gilbert
“Consider the Hands that Write This Letter” by Aracelis Girmay
“Invictus” by William Ernest Henley
“Let Evening Come” by Jane Kenyon
“The Conditional” by Ada Limón
“Thanks” by W. S. Merwin
“Shedding Skin” by Harryette Mullen
“Octopus Empire” by Marilyn Nelson
“The Bronze Legacy” by Effie Lee Newsome
“Gate A-4” by Naomi Shihab Nye
“Shaking Hands” by Pádraig Ó Tuama
“The Psychic” by Victoria Redel
“Diving into the Wreck” by Adrienne Rich
“Patience” by Kay Ryan
“Everyone Sang” by Siegfried Sassoon
“Spring Morning” by Marion Strobel
“Do not go gentle into that good night” by Dylan Thomas
“Danse Russe” by William Carlos Williams
You can share your suggestions with by using the hashtag #ShelterInPoems on your social media or by writing to them at firstname.lastname@example.org. Whether you’re writing in or tagging to them on twitter, facebook, or instagram, Poets.org will select some of your responses to feature on the Shelter in Poems page.