Every once in awhile, an author should Google herself. I did my routine check last night and was amazed to discover that Prairie Schooner, one of my longtime favorite literary journals, had reprinted one of my poems. “Listening to the Paint” appeared in their 2012 issue, at a time that coincided with the record-breaking sale of an abstract painting. So PS chose to include my poem in their series of reprints.
The poem is about how my father’s being a painter influenced me growing up and deciding to become a writer. Click on the link above to read the poem in its entirety, but the heart of it is in these lines:
How many times he loaded the brush,
swiped on those parallel lines. Strokes now fossilized
in the exhibition room’s angled-down lights.
I have an idea how long that dry rhythm held
because as I waited for my father to speak
I counted the falling dust motes.
The silence art must bear.
This painting is “Joe Funk” and is of a printmaking friend of my father’s, a man he shared a studio with in San Pedro, where I grew up. The Exodus Gallery contained the oddest group of people I ever met. You had to climb an exterior ladder to get into the second floor space — which is probably why the artists could afford to rent it — and it was a wonderland of strange canvases, tilted pieces of pottery, and best of all an easel with a blank canvas for me to play on. That rich silence of concentration and inspiration floated around the vast space and started me on this journey.
Thanks to Prairie Schooner and their “Alberta Clipper” series for selecting my poem. Finding it now is like a tap on the shoulder from Dad, who’s been gone for seven years. Here’s another of his.