Jane Shlensky’s “Straw” after Starkweather

Join us Saturday afternoon, June 18 at 2 pm in the front lobby of Hickory Museum of Art. We will explore the new exhibits with poetry!

The photograph below is of Art of Poetry contributor Nancy Posey as she stands in front of the W.E.B. Starkweather work that we feature this week.  Nancy created a poem before on the website, but this week her good friend, Jane Shlensky, has a poem for the painting.  Photo courtesy of Roger and Ginny Sanford.


Jane Shlensky


after “Expert Criticism from a Classical Standpoint” by William E.B. Starkweather

 Your morning voice is a monologue,
your artist’s Yawp exploding into the universe,
“Behold the me of me! See what I can create
from time folded between a yawn and infinity,
purposefully refolded and placed beneath
life’s teetering table’s leg.  Stability!”
You observe what you have wrought.
“I create the world anew!” you cry.

Before long, other voices join the artists’,
questioning, mumbling, picking apart creation.
“Why does it rain on a sunny day?”
“Are you sure about that sweater, that tree?”
Characters proclaim themselves otherwise.
“Why must I be a painter and not a carpenter
or a baker?” They criticize themselves
and you, snickering at your choices.
“I would never do thus and so,” they say.

“I created you! Do as I say!” you will want
to say, but the voices now splitting like cells,
laugh as if you are their child, and say,
“We create you! Every day anew!”

And this is how rainbows, satyrs, and unicorns
come to be, how possibilities reinvent
themselves, myths afoot, visions
re-envisioned, how you can paint
dark castles while sitting in a sunny garden,
how self-criticism invents the artist
as simply a straw—although you
may proclaim yourself to be
a divine conduit.





About missmellibrary

A children's librarian who loves to excite youth about reading!
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