Prompt 225 Still life with oysters (part one) and abalones (part two)

Anyoung haseyo!

That’s a Korean greeting, meaning “Are you at peace?” And done with a slight bow. I just thought I’d like to emulate Misky’s “Top of the morning” greeting last week. So Brit, I thought. 🙂

Well, my prompt is inspired by Mark Doty’s excellent book, which was inspired by Jan Davidsz de Heem’s Still Life With A Glass And Oysters, in which he contemplates art and poetry in relation to objects. Why still life? I guess the painterly eye is a way of seeing. Still life embodies a way of seeing objects that is intimate, that is infused with the subject who sees. In its way poetry does that too.

Doty writes: ““As advocates of intimacy, as embodiments of paradox, as witnesses to earth, here, this moment, now. Evidence, thus, that tenderness and style are still the best gestures we can make in the face of death.” The world is filled with objects, isn’t it? The objects lend utility and grace to our lives, don’t they? They’re infused with memory and desire. With story. They’re also gloriously self-referential. An apple is an apple. A tiger is a tiger. An oyster is, erm, an oyster.

If they’re anything else, then it’s the subject who interprets. Right?

In that sense, a painting of oysters is more literal because it is immediate. The visual experience is non-verbal, very visceral. It is a primary representation. A poem about oysters would be what? … secondary representation. Both are art and therefore mimetic experiences. And all art is a meditation.

So this week I want you to write about those things. What, you ask? Well, I’ll leave it up to you, whether you want to do comparative studies, or focus on one of these things.


Jan Davidsz de Heem, Still Life With A Glass And Oysters


Jose Fernando, Still Life With Oysters, Lemon and Belgian Beer


The third image is a photograph taken in Seoul by myself.

That’s Part 1 of the prompt. I thought I’d like to give further food for thought. So this:


Abalones is Part 2. Now that you’ve had practice thinking about art, poetry and oysters, I thought you might want to give abalones a go. Yes? No?

Well, whatever you come up with should be fine. If you’ve been tuning in to our prompts, and not writing, do try and write this week. I hate to sound the death knell but you know, this prompty thing too is a finite thing. A thing of memory and desire. So write. Think about relations between things. Seize the pen.


25 thoughts on “Prompt 225 Still life with oysters (part one) and abalones (part two)

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  2. Pingback: Part 1 – Oyster | georgeplacepoetry by Debi Swim

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      • I live a long day’s drive from the water, in the land of breaded-and-fried everything. Can you imagine what was passed off as “fresh” seafood sixty years ago? Sometimes reason doesn’t have a chance in the fight with what I learned in childhood.

      • Breaded and fried everything? Jeez. I get seafood withdrawal symptom. The shrimps in Korea are pathetic sized, I realize to my barely contained horror. I like breaded and fried shrimps.

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  8. Hey poets,
    As you probably know, next week’s prompt is a wordle and it’s derived from selected words from this prompt’s poem submissions. We’ll be implementing a cut off point for submissions for the purpose of preparing next week’s prompt. The cut off point is Sunday. Of course you can still link poems to this prompt after Sunday. It just means that no words will be selected from your poem for next week’s prompt. So let this not be a deterrent for writing to this prompt after Sunday. For tardiness is no sin at all for poets.

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  10. Pingback: A trip to Pompey – BJ and Red Wolf – November 16, 2014 | Bastet and Sekhmet's Library

  11. Pingback: A Gourmet’s Soul – Free Verse – November 17, 2014 | Bastet and Sekhmet's Library

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