Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Subway Vision

It’s odd when what we’re reading merges with where.  So it is when Dan’s interior meditation
on a William Carlos Williams poem fuses with the visages of fellow train travelers.

Our thanks to guest artist Ann Ropp for her haunting images of isolated faces (selected from
her watercolor series titled “Ancestors”).
                                                                                                                   -- Suzanne

[For more about Ann's art, see the bio below.]


                   Note to Doctor Williams, from a DC Subway,
                          in the Lull Between Christmas
                                  & New Year’s Eve

                               “To give a damn”
                               (and to not give a damn) —
                                most difficult resolution!

                                William Carlos Williams
                                when your Christmas greens went up in flame
                                by your own hand (town father’s and life-giver’s),
                                at once a conflagration and a prayer,
                                I breathed that thickened heat
                                with you . . . .

                                             Writing this on a train,
                                your book in hand,
                                I dwell on faces purified, this moment,
                                by the task of being human,
                                simmering, I imagine,
                                                       with the slow incessant flame 
                                                       of gentle sorrow.


An earlier version of "Note to Doctor Williams … " appeared in Dan's original book of
poems, The Artist and the Crow (Purdue University Press), and will be included in his
forthcoming selected volume, "Back to the Source: Selected Poems & Parables" (San
Francisco Bay Press, 2018).

Ann Ropp has exhibited work in galleries throughout the US and Europe, and is also the
recipient of a Southern Arts Federation / NEA Fellowship.  Since earning an MFA from
Columbia University (NYC), she’s maintained a studio in Johnson City, Tennessee.  In 
2011, Ann and Suzanne first collaborated on an unusual series of drawings, later exhibited
as “Two Characters in Search of a Title” at East Tennessee State University’s Tipton Gallery
(see Scott Contreras-Koterbay’s lively review in Antennae: The Journal of Animals and
Visual Culture at http://www.antennae.org.uk/back-issues-2013/4583481046
issue 25, Summer 2013).

Ann Ropp in her studio