Edouard Manet, The Railway (1873)
Hey guys do you realise the inner monologue that’s going on inside you? Those are basically your thoughts, right? You think about another person and this monologue’s going on, about how she is offending you and how you feel offended and how you’re not showing it but you’re thinking it. Nothing and no one is innocent. So look at this painting (or another one if you wish) and write a poem based on an inner monologue. You want to know what I’m thinking right now? Actually I’m just thinking how I am going to make stuff up for the poems I’ll be writing in July. Guess I’ll be winging it.
Paul Cézanne, Madame Cézanne in a Red Dress, 1888 – 1890
The world is full of colors. Paul Cézanne said that everything in nature is colored. And that “shadow is a colour as light is, but less brilliant; light and shadow are only the relation of two tones.” Interestingly, he painted an abstract portrait of his wife above based on a fragmented visual world. He has been called the father of modern art. Picasso made his first cubist paintings based on Cézanne’s idea that all depiction of nature can be reduced to three solids: cube, sphere and cone. Your prompt is to write about an abstract painting. Alternatively you could write an abstract poem.
Edgar Degas, Cafe Concert: The Song Of The Dog
He liked to catch his subject unawares.
Like nudes bent on washing themselves
and ballerinas in the waiting room
and cafe singers after dark. As
unromanticised a portrayal as one
would come across. An artist, he set
the bar pretty high.
The cafe singer in a yellow dress
and black choker was a satire. Just look
at the title–Song Of The Dog–hands
like paws! Uncompromising, into the world
he poured a kind of disdain. First restrained
in colors then heightening palette to
Imagine this was anti-religious Russia
so the singer Sylvia could not sing of
God or Lord or Christ or Jesus.
What would ooze out in song?
She sang, “Rise and shine, and give
Dog the glory! Glory! Rise and shine!
Give Dog the glory!”
What? Have you taken a liking to paws,
Sylvia? Has Degas degraded you?
She wiped ber brow, that honorable woman,
saying, I’m not sore either. What is
d-o-g but God spelled backward?
That said, poured herself some vodka
like one who’s landed on all paws.
So I’ve watched a Youtube documentary on French Impressionist artist, Edgar Degas. And I was reading Langston Hughes’s biography, I Wonder As I Wander, and he’s wandered to Russia to work on a movie about Blacks in America and this subject came up about a Black spiritual singer called Sylvia and she was the singer in the movie singing spirituals like “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot”. Anyhow in stanza three above, this was what she came up with, when she was faced with an actual Russian conundrum. I thought I’d like to link that to Edgar’s painting by virtue of the painting’s title, and so I did. So the prompt is to think about a strange pairing in a poem.
So I was wondering, would you rather be promptless? So I can commute to a cubicle to do some real work? So I can go up a mountain and sit by a waterfall? So I can chow down a bowl of clam chowder with crusty bread? Well, I’m just kidding. Don’t look at me with that steely gaze. It’s creepy. The prompt’s coming right up. It is to write about something that is out of everyday life. What? You mean, write about everyday life? No, I mean, something that’s out of … so you know, that isn’t everyday life, like you know, out in a cabin somewhere kind of life.
I don’t know who said it first–clothes make a man–Shakespeare or Mark Twain, or someone else? No matter. You are to find a quote and then write a poem around that quote. Here’re a couple if you’re too lazy to find a quote yourself.
“My formula for living is quite simple. I get up in the morning and I go to bed at night. In between, I occupy myself as best I can.”– Cary Grant
“I think everybody’s nuts.”– Johnny Depp
“As you think, so shall you become.”– Bruce Lee
Henri Rousseau, The Dream
Wiki says, “Post-Impressionists extended Impressionism while rejecting its limitations: they continued using vivid colours, often thick application of paint, and real-life subject matter, but were more inclined to emphasize geometric forms, distort form for expressive effect, and use unnatural or arbitrary colour.” So it goes further afield into the unconscious, one might say, as this painting from Rousseau does. Write a poem that is inspired by this piece of art.
Edgar Degas, Breakfast after the Bath II
Impressionism is “a style or movement in painting originating in France in the 1860s, characterized by a concern with depicting the visual impression of the moment, especially in terms of the shifting effect of light and colour.” In terms of literary style, it “seeks to capture a feeling or experience rather than to achieve accurate depiction.” So would you like to have a go at doing an impressionistic poem? You can do one of this painting or any other you like.