Archives for posts with tag: Edward Hopper

by Anthony Costello

I am waiting
as I was advised to wait
by Arthur Koestler. He advised:
“soak and wait.” Good advice,
but it can lead to complacency
and over-confidence, my literary
future guaranteed (a fait accompli)
If I wait…

…I am waiting twenty years
and losing patience with Koestler.
I have read a lot in those years though,
so, perhaps, in terms of confidence,
the waiting might be over?

(A slight diversion, a philosophical proposition:
There Is No Such Thing As Waiting?
In the same way our fingernails
are always slowly growing
at the same rate the plates
beneath the ground, beneath our feet
moves consistently, imperceptibly, reliably,
then waiting is always moving,
always doing, like Bishop in ‘The Waiting Room”
or Ferlinghetti in “I am Waiting,”
or that lady on the bus
you always fantasized
led a moribund existence
when in reality she was
on the bus going somewhere,
meeting a lover, or engaged
In her just for today and nobody
else needs to know daily act of human kindness.)

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I have been feeling blocked and remembering long periods of being blocked (the biggest block 27 years before I began to write, but 27 years since I fantasized about being a writer) and recalling how Michael Longley did not write anything for a decade during his forties (he thought he was “finished as a writer”) but now and for a long time is in a purple patch of creativity.  The I Am Waiting Poetry Series, based on Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s poem “I Am Waiting,” helped me to break through a period where I have felt creatively blocked. I liked Ferlinghetti’s invocation of Wordsworth and how the list of things that Ferlinghetti awaits is, in some way, a commentary on the dynamics of creativity.

IMAGE: “Car Chair” by Edward Hopper (1965).


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Anthony Costello’s poems have appeared most recently in Ink, Sweat and Tears, The Shop, Orbis, English Chicago Review, and Acumen. The poems of Alain-Fournier, a collaboration with Anita Marsh and Anthony Howell, will be published by Anvil in 2015. The Mask, his first collection of poems, was published in Fall 2014 by Lapwing Publications, Belfast.

by David Orr

Not that anyone will care,
But as I was sitting there

On the 8:07
To New Haven,

I was struck by lightning.
The strangest thing

Wasn’t the flash of my hair
Catching on fire,

But the way people pretended
Nothing had happened.

For me, it was real enough.
But it seemed as if

The others saw this as nothing
But a way of happening,

A way to get from one place
To another place,

But not a place itself.
So, ignored, I burned to death.

Later, someone sat in my seat
And my ashes ruined his suit.

PAINTING: “Chair Car,” oil on canvas by Edward Hopper (1965).


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: David Orr is the poetry columnist for the New York Times Book Review. Winner of the Nona Balakian Prize from the National Book Critics Circle and the Editor’s Prize for Reviewing from Poetry magazine, his writing has appeared in Poetry, Slate, The Believer, and Pleiades magazine. Orr holds a B.A. from Princeton and a J.D. from Yale Law School. He is the author of Beautiful & Pointless: A Guide to Modern Poetry (HarperCollins, 2011), available at Visit him at

by Edna St. Vincent Millay

The railroad track is miles away,
And the day is loud with voices speaking,
Yet there isn’t a train goes by all day
But I hear its whistle shrieking.

All night there isn’t a train goes by,
Though the night is still for sleep and dreaming,
But I see its cinders red on the sky,
And hear its engine steaming.

My heart is warm with the friends I make,
And better friends I’ll not be knowing;
Yet there isn’t a train I wouldn’t take,
No matter where it’s going.

PAINTING: “Compartment C, Car 293,” oil on canvas by Edward Hopper (1938).


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Edna St. Vincent Millay (1892–1950) received the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1923, the third woman to win the award for poetry. During her career, she was one of the most successful and respected poets in America. Like her contemporary Robert Frost, Millay was one of the most skillful writers of sonnets during the twentieth century — and also like Frost, she was able to combine modernist attitudes with traditional forms, creating a unique American poetry. Her middle name came from St. Vincent’s Hospital in New York City, where she was born. Friends and family called her Vincent.

by Denise Levertov

This person would be an animal.
This animal would be large, at least as large
as a workhorse. It would chew cud, like cows,
having several stomachs.
No one could follow it
into the dense brush to witness
its mating habits. Hidden by fur,
its sex would be hard to determine.
Definitely it would discourage
investigation. But it would be, if not teased,
a kind, amiable animal,
confiding as a chickadee. Its intelligence
would be of a high order,
neither human nor animal, elvish.
And it would purr, though of course,
it being a house, you would sit in its lap,
not it in yours.
“What My House Would Be Like If It Were A Person” appears in Denise Levertov’s collection Poems 1972-1982 (New Directions, 2002)

PAINTING: “Hills, South Truro (Massachusetts)” by Edward Hopper (1930)

NIGHTHAWKS, 1942 (excerpt)
by Gerald Locklin

In those days, even the
nighthawks wore suits, not
to mention ties and fedoras.
but notice they were hawks,
not owls…
gangsters? gamblers? police
detectives? private eyes?
…it is a clean place, with
good wood, and it is a source
of light for a dark and empty
downtown neighborhood, where the
second-story shades are drawn
to half-mast.

PAINTING: “Nighthawks” (1942) by Edward Hopper, © The Art Institute of Chicago


East River (New York City) by Edward Hopper (1920)

The calm after Hurricane Sandy in New York City made me think of the above painting by Edward Hopper (1882-1967).


A man watches the rising tide in Battery Park as Hurricane Sandy makes its approach in New York. (Andrew Kelly/Reuters, Oct. 29, 2012)

Today, our thoughts are with the people from Georgia to Maine affected by Hurricane Sandy.  There are no words that can adequately express our concern, but we just wanted to thank all the brave souls — rescue workers, firefighters, medical personnel, and others — who have helped (and continue to assist) the weak, sick, infirm, and those in harm’s way.

Of the hundreds of Sandy-related photos I’ve viewed during the past few days, the one featured above by Andrew Kelly of Reuters is my favorite. In fact, I’ll go so far as to say that this is one of the best photographs I’ve ever seen — anywhere, anytime.

The photo’s composition is masterful — the top bar of the fence parallel with the horizon line, the man in the foreground facing the Statue of Liberty in the distance, the ripples on the ocean mirrored by the rippled water on the ground, the bench on the right a counterpoint to Liberty Island beyond.

Then there’s the man in blue standing on the left-hand bench looking out to sea like an explorer. I was going to call the color of his pants and jacket  “Titian blue,” but this photo is reminiscent of a Edward Hopper painting — and I didn’t want to mix my art-related metaphors.

While I couldn’t find any Hopper paintings of “man on shore facing impending storm,” I did find many of people facing the vast sea, even if they were just sitting on the beach. The man in blue in this photo doesn’t want to stay home. He is a New Yorker and he wants to be where the action is. He wants to meet and greet Sandy, wants to see what she’s all about. And if this whole storm took him by surprise and he’s unprepared, no problem — he’s a New Yorker and will improvise, just give him some Glad Bags and he’ll make himself some rain boots.

This photo speaks volumes more to me, but, for now, I think I’ll just leave it at that.


Nighthawks (1942) by Edward Hopper, © The Art Institute of Chicago

Nighthawks, 1942 (excerpt) by Gerald Locklin

In those days, even the
nighthawks wore suits, not
to mention ties and fedoras.
but notice they were hawks,
not owls…
gangsters? gamblers? police
detectives? private eyes?
…it is a clean place, with
good wood, and it is a source
of light for a dark and empty
downtown neighborhood, where the
second-story shades are drawn
to half-mast.
Mark Your Calendars: Gerald Locklin will read his poetry at the Hotel Cafe, 1623 1/2 N. Cahuenga Blvd., Hollywood, California, Sunday, July 29th at 6 p.m. — the July installment of Tongue & Groove‘s monthly literary series. Find more info here. Wendy Rainey, Dana Johnson, Yuvi Zalkow, and Kerrie Kvashay Boyle (T.C. Boyle‘s daughter) will also appear, along with musical guest Foster Timms. The performers promise a fun, thought-provoking evening — and it’ll only set you back $6!