Archives for posts with tag: Henri Matisse

Laurie Blauner Poem
Matisse in the Company of Strangers

could only see their forms and sizes, an alphabet
of color, the clouds gone haywire

against the fact of sky. The conversation
meanders to how ready life is

to leave, the way abstrations of gray birds
always know how to fly without our help.

And Matisse says he believes in imagination
for even the slightest things,

white roses imitating angels, the half smiles
of fish or music leaking into a library.

The moon rises like a glimpse of light seen
from the distance of a keyhole in a dark room.

Al the strangers’ faces turn smooth
and featureless in their representation

of the turning of one century into another,
and Matisse can only think about capturing

a little brown, the mimicking red, radiant blue, and
sympathic green in shapes that defy this changeable worlds.

SOURCE: Poetry (March 1993)


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: The author of six books of poetry, three novels and a novella, Laurie Blauner received an MFA from The University of Montana. Her poetry and fiction have appeared in various publications, including The New Republic, The Nation, The Georgia Review, The Seattle Review, The New Orleans Review, Poetry, and American Poetry Review. She has received an NEA grant, King County Arts Commission, Seattle Arts Commission, Artist Trust, and Centrum grants and awards. Laurie Blauner lives in Seattle, Washington. Her most recent novel is The Bohemians (Black Heron Press, 2013), available at Visit the author at

IMAGE: “Still Life with Sleeper” (1940) by Henry Matisse

by Gertrude Stein 

One was quite certain that for a long part of his being one being living he had been trying to be certain that he was wrong in doing what he was doing and then when he could not come to be certain that he had been wrong in doing what he had been doing, when he had completely convinced himself that he would not come to be certain that he had been wrong in doing what he had been doing he was really certain then that he was a great one and he certainly was a great one. Certainly every one could be certain of this thing that this one is a great one…

MORE: Read “Matisse” by Gertrude Stein in its entirety at

IMAGE: Self-Portrait (1906) by Henry Matisse 


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Gertrude Stein (1874–1946) was an American writer of novels, poetry and plays and a fervent collector of Modernist art. She was born in West Allegheny (Pittsburgh), Pennsylvania, raised in Oakland, California, and moved to Paris in 1903, making France her home for the remainder of her life. For some forty years, the Stein home at 27 rue de Fleurus on the Left Bank of Paris was a renowned Saturday evening gathering place for both expatriate American artists and writers and others noteworthy in the world of vanguard arts and letters, most notably Pablo Picasso. Entrée into the Stein salon was a sought-after validation, and Stein became combination mentor, critic, and guru to those who gathered around her, including Ernest Hemingway, who described the salon in A Moveable Feast. In 1933, Stein published a kind of memoir of her Paris years, The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas, written in the voice of Toklas, her life partner. The book became a literary bestseller and vaulted Stein from the relative obscurity of cult literary figure into the light of mainstream attention. (Source:

Modern Masters episode about Henri Matisse hosted by Alastair Sooke.

by Alicia Ostriker

Matisse, too, when the fingers ceased to work,
Worked larger and bolder, his primary colors celebrating
The weddings of innocence and glory, innocence and glory

Monet when the cataracts blanketed his eyes
Painted swirls of rage, and when his sight recovered
Painted water lilies, Picasso claimed

I do not seek, I find, and stuck to that story
About himself, and made that story stick.
Damn the fathers. We are talking about defiance.

SOURCE: Poetry (December 2006)

IMAGE: “The King’s Sadness” (1952) by Henri Matisse (1869-1954).


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1937, Alicia Ostriker received a bachelor’s degree from Brandeis University and an MA and PhD in literature from the University of Wisconsin–Madison. Her collections of poetry include The Book of Seventy (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2009); The Volcano Sequence (2002); The Little Space: Poems Selected and New, 1968-1998 (University of Pittsburgh Press, 1998) which was a finalist for the 1999 Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize; The Crack in Everything (1996), a National Book Award finalist and winner of the Paterson Poetry Award and the San Francisco State Poetry Center Award; and The Imaginary Lover (1986), winner of the William Carlos Williams Award of the Poetry Society of America. She teaches poetry in New England College’s Low-Residency MFA Program.

by Carl Sandburg

Drum on your drums, batter on your banjoes,
sob on the long cool winding saxophones.
Go to it, O jazzmen.
Sling your knuckles on the bottoms of the happy
tin pans, let your trombones ooze, and go husha-
husha-hush with the slippery sand-paper.
Moan like an autumn wind high in the lonesome treetops,
moan soft like you wanted somebody terrible, cry like a
racing car slipping away from a motorcycle cop, bang-bang!
you jazzmen, bang altogether drums, traps, banjoes, horns,
tin cans — make two people fight on the top of a stairway
and scratch each other’s eyes in a clinch tumbling down
the stairs.
Can the rough stuff…now a Mississippi steamboat pushes
up the night river with a hoo-hoo-hoo-oo…and the green
lanterns calling to the high soft stars …a red moon rides
on the humps of the low river hills….go to it, O jazzmen.

Illustration: “Icarus” from Jazz, a book of 100 prints based on paper cutouts by Henri Matisse published in 1947. Copies available at

by Denis Johnson

Looking out our astounding
clear windows before evening, 
It is almost as if
the world were blue
with some lubricant,
it shines so.

…Read “Looking Out the Window” by Denis Johnson in its entirety at The poem appears in The Throne of the Third Heaven of the Nations Millennium General Assembly: Poems Collected and New, Copyright © 1995 by Denis Johnson. Find the book at

Painting by Henri Matisse (1869-1954)


“Doesn’t it seem to you,” asked Madame Bovary, “that the mind moves more freely in the presence of that boundless expanse, that the sight of it elevates the soul and gives rise to thoughts of the infinite and the ideal?” GUSTAVE FLAUBERT, Madame Bovary (1857)

Painting: “Young Woman at the Window, Sunset” by Henry Matisse (1921)


Reading is like looking through several windows which open to an infinite landscape…For me, life without reading would be like being in prison, it would be as if my spirit were in a straightjacket; life would be a very dark and narrow place.”


Painting: Open window by Henri Matisse