Summer: vacations, fireworks, picnics and more great WiVLA meetings. Many years ago, I drove up the driveway happy to be home from a stressful day at work. I could hear the kids playing in the A-frame clubhouse in our backyard not paying much attention until I entered the kitchen where the carpet was covered with mud. My screeching sent all but my two boys flying home. The thought that every good clubhouse should be protected by a moat was carried out with the help of the neighbors hose once the chasm had been dug. A tour de force quickly destroyed by my lack of appreciation.

This is an offhanded way of illustrating that our creative endeavors are often squashed even before they have fully bloomed. Nurturing those creative sparks is part of the essence of WiVLA, which, in many of our meetings become a virtual bonfire. At our June meeting, the second day of this summer, sparks flew as our presenters discussed and read ekphrastic poetry from ARTlines2: Art Becomes Poetry.

Fran Sanders, founder and Director of Public Poetry moderated the program. She related the background of the collaboration she developed with the Museum of Fine Arts to create the 2014 ekphrastic poetry contest that attracted five hundred eighty-one ekphrastic poems from thirty four states and abroad which culminated in a program in April 2015 at the museum to honor the contest winners who are celebrated the ARTlines2 Anthology. She introduced Dr. Anna Tahinci, the Head of Art History at the Glassell School of Art who with great enthusiasm commented on the art used in the poems that were read by the five local poets attending our meeting. No one who was there will ever pass the Roman, Sarcophagus Depicting a Battle between Soldiers and Amazons without stopping and hearing the fervor of Dr. Tahinci describing the history and the art; and the words of Christa Foster reading from her poem “Four Days After the Viewing.”

All of our seven presenters expressed their gratitude and delight at being present at the meeting. Many noted the synergy of art and poetry and the fit for WiVLA’s mission combining artist and writers. Following the event, grand prize winner, poet Carolyn Dahl wrote: “The audience was so attentive, receptive and interested.  It was a pleasure to have a group of artists and writers with us the whole evening, understanding our process and our sharing and what went into the effort expended on the poems. Amazing. I'd say it was our best group ever for a reading.  Thank you to all who attended.”

Dahl and Justin Jannise both wrote about Thomas Gainsborough’s Coastal Scene with Shipping and Cattle. Dahl’s highly personal ”Art Preserves What Can’t Be Saved” to Jannise’s reflective (and literal) “Coastal Scene with Shipping and Cattle” reminds how each artistic voice brings new appreciation and insight to the same subject.

Similarly, Gabrielle Langley and Nancy Thorleifson were inspired by the painting “Mademoiselle Boissiere Knitting” by Gustave Caillebotte with two very different poems. Langley’s “L’Ancienne” which she said was informed by her work with elderly people is somber using winter as the metaphor for old age. Thorleifson’s poem “Caillebotte at Yerres” focuses on the painter’s relationship with the woman, warm “and here yarn and chair offer up life.”
As my husband and I drove to Brasil Café where we assembled after the meeting for dinner, I said, “What a lovely meeting.”

“That’s a strange way to describe a meeting,” he replied.

“Yes,” I sighed. “But it’s true.”

He thought a minute and nodded in agreement.

Jane Mulholland

"An ekphrastic poem is like a jolt of electricity surging through a work of art."
- Patricia Smith, ARTLines2

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