Avrom Sutzkever: “Green Aquarium,” a poem newly translated from Yiddish by Zackary Sholem Berger - *(l. to r.): Avrom Sutzkever, Abba Kover and Gershon Abramowicz in the Vilna Ghetto, 1942*[The post-Holocaust fate of Yiddish writing is something that’s ...
Wednesday, September 28, 2011
"That’s all that’s left of the voice of Enrico Caruso"
So Poetry Scores' 6th annual Art Invitational is coming up 6-9 p.m. Friday, November 11, at Mad Art Gallery, 2727 So. 12th St. in Soulard. This year, some 50 visual artists are making new work in response to Paul Muldoon’s poem Incantata.
Muldoon's poem is an elegy for a girlfriend who died of cancer. The beloved, Mary Farl Powers, was a visual artist, and from the evidence of the poem, she and her poet boyfriend carried on an exciting artist-lover dialogue and journey. Not only creative art (in all media), but also food, liquor, history, politics, geography -- they seemed to share everything, and Incantata appears bent on remembering it all.
I'm not a visual artist, but I play one at our Art Invitationals. As creative director of Poetry Scores and curator of our Art Invitationals, I tend to slip myself quietly onto the artist list to pad out our numbers (and because I can). I'm a doodler desperately hoping to be taken for a sketch artist or caricaturist. I like to draw people's faces. Since a Poetry Scores Art Invitational requires that work be titled using a quote from the poem, I look for names in the poem we are scoring and pick a face to draw.
In Incantata, I have a lot of names and faces to choose from, because this is a serious name-dropper of a poem. It's as if the poet were desperate to write down one more time any name either he or his beloved ever spoke aloud to the other. Burt Lancaster as Elmer Gantry, Camille Pissaro, Andre Derrain, John Field, Enrico Caruso, Spinoza, Amelia Earhart, Airey Neave, Mountbatten, Joseph Beuy, Van Morrison, Rembrandt -- these names are all direct quotes from the poem, and therefore usable titles for a work submitted to the Invitational.
Tonight I ate an ice cream and attempted to enter Dunaway Books, in search of a book about Airey Neave, or perhaps Pissaro; but the place was closed. I feel like I am still looking for my subject, though the other night I took my first stab at a sketch of Enrico Caruso. In addition to being one of history's great voices, Caruso was a very theatrical and photogenic ham, so there are many evocative images of him to sketch from. As an inside joke, I sketched Caruso sketching -- a caricature of the opera star drawing a caricature.
There is talk of adding a children's art component to this year's Invitational. I'm working this out with new Poetry Scores board member and South City Studio & Open Gallery (SCOSAG) honcho Amy VanDonsel. I am typing this out now, in part, so I have a list of those dropped names to draw from later. I plan to find and print good images of all of these people, and have fun drawing faces with SCOSAG kids.
You know the jail cell in Mad Art, on your way into the main gallery space? We're thinking to hang the SCOSAG kids' art in the jail cell, along with mine, their mentor as a sketch artist, a'hem. We plan to put the kids through the same process as the other Invitational artists, in terms of putting their work up for auction and splitting proceeds three ways: artist, gallery and Poetry Scores.