VVP: Art 434 & Engl. 410

Website for Vision Voice and Practice: An Interdisciplinary Course in Art and Creative Writing

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Marianne Moore & Constraint

Each time we've taught this course, we've paired artists and writers together who we hope will help students  see how shared, or similar, sensibilities manifest themselves differently in visual and alphabetic texts, respectively. One of these pairs is the artist Joseph Cornell and the poet Marianne Moore, both of whom work within tight constraints--for Cornell, the box; for Moore, the syllabically bound line and stanza. These constraints reflect biographical realities for both artists, as well as philosophical commitments, something Jennie-Rebecca Falcetta describes, in an essay about Moore and Cornell: "[B]oth made inspired use of bounded microcosms as metaphors for their real-world ideals." One of those microcosms is found in Moore's poem "The Fish," which we asked students, over the weekend, to read--preferably out loud, preferably more than once. 

The microcosm of that poem is not only the surreally imaged underwater world it depicts, bound by "the iron edge / of the cliff," but the delicate, and quite rigidly made, ecosystem of the form within which the expressive life of sentences reside. Here are the opening stanzas (the title provides the first words of the first sentence):

The Fish

through black jade.
     Of the crow-blue mussel-shells, one keeps
     adjusting the ash-heaps,
          opening and shutting itself like

injured fan.
     The barnacles which encrust the side
     of the wave, cannot hide
          there for the submerged shafts of the...

(Read the rest here.)

To help our students understand the material qualities of the language Moore uses, and of the language they use everyday, we asked them to work together or alone to make imitations of "The Fish," using the same syllable count and end-rhymes as the poem. Here is some of what they made:

The Brand

A logo's drab
location at the front of the brain
settle soft tissue plane,
manifesting business destiny.

ty of car
drivers slapped with something to eat,
Wear, watch, love, look, see, meet
the farmers you want to have relations with —

"distressed new"
both dichotomy and
architecture, trending
priced by dollar store sticker tags.

cle of serv-
ices elegantly formed in
primordial vision:
burrito that sounds so good right now.

— Jared Sumners, Jenna Schmidt


The Bird

day and night
            to keep the chicks always so safe,
            as they hide from the waves
                        of the other birds looking for homes.

bird’s eyes flee
            from place to place, in search of food and
            enemies that may stand
                        between him and the chicks needing care.

bird’s wings speed
            through the air, with the wind down under,
            like when the Wright brothers
                        changed the sky, giving men bird’s-eye views.

bird’s feet leave
            the ground after hugging some unlucky
            now-dead life.  Luckily,
                        the chicks can eat to live like the bird.

- Jesse Fowler



helps you think.
    strong and black, or light and sugary --
    coffeehouse creamery
        waking up your brain to start the day

once again
    you don't want to get up but have to.
    The pot grumbles to you
        that you're late already, so get up.

golden hue,
    percolating, French-roast dirt-water
    drips as you pour, hotter
        on hand than in cup or on the floor.

Rise ,
Oh surprise!
    The mild drug has done its duty of
    enabling you to love
        the world and people you see and meet.

- Abby Blake, Hannah Brown, Melanie Kim


     as we make
            up after our heated argument,
            ignoring what we meant
                        when we said we couldn’t go on.  

    It’s burning.
            As smoke is rising from the iron,
            “How could I ever earn
                        your time and your love and your respect?
 ed, gridlock-
       ed, I am syrup in a divot.
       You’re an iron rivet.
                   So, eat up—that’s what I am here for.”

- Megan Brady, Sharayah Hooper


The Dress
through the haze
    as the evening approaches. The dark-
    ening woods leave their mark
    on her pale, luminescent features.
runs from the
    evil which follows her everywhere.
    Her feet, the dress, her hair
    entangle with elements of
They draw near
    As they hear the thief in the moonlight.

- Jill White, Alessi Debartolo, Olivia O'Brien


but almost gone.
Constellations arranged the order
to give the disorder
of sleep upon clementine bedsheets.

in college
brought inside from a childhood memory.
Outside common reverie;
the bright mass to be mounted upon the wall.

- Destiny Gough, Krystyny Vandenberg, Jessica Dueker


The Pack
with much borne.
Secrets carried on sleepy shoulders,
books and bulging folders.
Threadbare canvas carries a life’s work.

- Annika Tuttle, Katie Tuttle, Megan Van Vlear


The Bees
with black fuzz.
    delivering a pollen package
    like mailmen with baggage,
          making hexagon cubicles as

stow away.
     For calling you pudgy faced, you sting
     and with attack, you bring
           burning and suicidal death. You

you can't fly.

- Jordan Wilson, Hope Daley, Dani Isaacs

No comments:

Post a Comment