Archives for posts with tag: painters

by Ruth Bavetta
Alice Neel, 1980, oil on canvas

Eighty you are, Alice, planted
in a blue-striped chair, more naked
than nude. In one hand you hold a brush
like a baton, as if conducting your life,
in the other, a rag for wiping out mistakes.

Your breasts, like mine, droop
over an abdomen poured like a land slump
onto plump thighs. Pizza, pregnancies,
peanut butter, whiskey, long sweet afternoons
in the studio instead of in the gym.

Turkey neck, jowls, marriage, divorce,
paint under the fingernails. I see myself
with the same downturned mouth,
the same skeptical stare and wonder
how we got our bodies through it all.

You used to say an empty chair by the window
would be your only self portrait. Save
that chair for me, Alice. I’m drawing close.
Tell me how to come ashore.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: My MFA is in Painting, so ekphrastic poetry is a natural for me. I wrote this after visiting a small Alice Neel retrospective a few years ago. It appears in my book, Fugitive Pigments, which is centered on art.

PAINTING: “Self-Portrait” by Alice Neel (1980).

PHOTOGRAPH: The author at home in a striped chair.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Ruth Bavetta’s poems have been published in Rhino, Rattle, Nimrod, Tar River Poetry, North American Review, Spillway, Hanging Loose, Poetry East, and Poetry New Zealand, among many others, and are included in four anthologies. She has published two books, Embers on the Stairs (FutureCycle Press) and Fugitive Pigment (Moon Tide Press). Two more books, No Longer at this Address (Tebot Bach) and Flour, Water, Salt (FutureCycle Press) are forthcoming. She loves the light on November afternoons, the smell of the ocean, a warm back to curl against in bed. She hates pretense, fundamentalism, and sauerkraut.


That’s Me (By the Sea):
Self-Portrait after Chantal Joffe
by Kerfe Roig
That’s my shirt: my beach,
my youth, my uncertainty:
which path leads home?

PAINTING (left): “Vita by the Sea” by Chantal Joffe (2014).

PAINTING (right): Self-portrait by Kerfe Roig inspired by Chantal Joffe’s painting cited above.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: After seeing the paintings of Chantal Joffe at The Jewish Museum in New York City, I decided to investigate her work in more depth. The portraits really resonated, and I chose Joffe as the first artist in my “100 Self Portraits” project.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Kerfe Roig is currently working on 100 self-portraits inspired by the work of other artists. You can follow the journey on the blog she does with her friend Nina here.

dual impressions cover front

Silver Birch Press is pleased to announce the August 18, 2015 release of Dual Impressions: Poetic Conversations About Art by John Brantingham and Jeffrey Graessley. The 138-page collection features ekphrastic poetry based on artwork by a range of artists, including: Paul Cézanne, Marc Chagall, Edgar Degas, El Greco, Edward Hopper, Paul Klee, Gustav Klimt, René Magritte, Édouard Manet, Henri Matisse, Amadeo Modligliani, Claude Monet, Pablo Picasso, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, John Singer Sargent, Georges-Pierre Seurat, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Vincent van Gogh, and James Whistler.

Dual Impressions: Poetic Conversations About Art is a discussion between John Brantingham and Jeffrey Graessley about art and life in the form of over 90 poems that cover themes such as war, poverty, and social justice. The collection also includes an interview with the authors — where they explain the genesis for the project as well as their collaborative methods, and discuss their museum visits and art research — plus links to the artwork that served as inspiration for the poems.


John Brantingham author photo bw

John Brantingham is Writer-in-Residence at the dA Center for the Arts. He teaches composition and creative writing at Mt. San Antonio College and Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. He has had hundreds of poems, short stories, and essays published in the United States and Europe in venues such as Garrison Keillor’s Writer’s Almanac, Tears in the Fence, The Journal, Confrontation, and Pearl Magazine. He is president of the San Gabriel Valley Literary Festival, a nonprofit that brings poetry readings to the San Gabriel Valley. He writes in a number of styles and genres including literary fiction, crime fiction, and poetry. His books include Let Us All Pray Now to Our Own Strange Gods (literary short stories), The Green of Sunset (prose poems), Mann of War (crime novel), East of Los Angeles (a poetry collection), and The Gift of Form (an instruction guide for writing formal poetry).

jeffrey graessley1

Jeffrey Graessley spends his nights in the San Gabriel Valley. His recent work can be found in a variety of magazines, including The Idiom, New Myths Magazine, and Tears in the Fence. He is the author of the chapbooks Cabaret of Remembrance (Sweatshoppe Publications, 2014) and The Old Masters (Arroyo Seco Press, 2015). His recent discovery of the Beat generation has prompted loving and longing thoughts for that simple, drunken, far-gone time in American history.

Dual Impressions: Poetic Conversations About Art by John Brantingham and Jeffrey Graessley is available at

COVER: “Waiting” by Edgar Degas (1882).

by Kerianne Methe Gardner

I am waiting for someone
To talk to me; to notice I am so lonely
Despite my bright smile;
I am waiting for a Friend,
Hoping my Friend Request will be accepted;
I am waiting for response to a message
Sent; Will you spend time with me?
I am waiting for someone to
Make time; to take time
To be with me
Because they like me;
Because they think I am sexy,
Funny, and a good conversationalist;
I am waiting for romance;
To be swept off my feet;
Doors opened, my hand
Held; an appreciative glance returned;
I am waiting to be asked out to dinner; candles low; wine,
Smoldering Gaze that says I want you;
I am waiting to dance; to be held so close;
I am waiting to be treasured;
To feel treasured; I am waiting
For someone who wants to
Know my body as well as their route to work;
I am waiting for warmth;
Campfire companionship; a good story;
I am waiting for someone to notice
My hair; to run their fingers through it;
To pull me near to them; solid contact;
I am waiting for an urgent caress,
Whisper and demand in the same breath;
I am waiting for a man
With perseverance to gift
A little death, even when satiated;
I am waiting to feel;
To be; to live;
I am waiting to love; to know what it feels like
To truly be one; I am waiting
To heal; to be healed;
I am waiting for you;
For you to notice
I am here, waiting.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This writing prompt came at an apropos time in my life, when I was feeling dissatisfied in my marriage and had been contemplating asking my husband for a divorce or beginning an affair to mitigate for features missing from my marriage. Turning forty has been an empowering event for me; I felt inspired to evaluate what I had and had not yet achieved in my personal life and contemplated why I was so forlorn about my marital situation. This poem documents where I hope to be, romantically, in the future.

IMAGE: “Green Lovers” by Marc Chagall (1915).

Kerianne Methe Gardner

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: With a B.S.A degree in Range Science, Kerianne Methe Gardner has written scientific and policy documents for the Environmental Protection Agency in Seattle, Washington, and invasive plant species field guides for the U.S. Forest Service Southwestern Region as a subcontracted ghostwriter. She has been an interim instructor at NMSU’s Range Science Department and family education facilitator in Washington. Composing poetry and short stories has been a creative outlet for her since she was eight years old; 2014 was her first foray into exposing her deeply personal work for publication. In August 2014, she had two poems published in La Palabra: A Word is A Woman’s Second Anthology (Mothers and Daughters, Swimming With Elephants Publications, 2014). She lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico, with her husband and three daughters.

by Mark Tully

Lawrence I’m waiting for the final word at a table outside Trieste over complimentary after-hours wine, arguing among poor comrades about the new Situationist corner in City Lights’ basement, placed by the heart of my Illinois runaway boy-philosopher.
It’s the first year of a new Gregorian century Lawrence I’m reciting DiPrima requiems under my breath waiting for him to lankily click up Grant in my wingtips with his train-tarred socks to join us, our disagreements tonight then standing for three generations fighting nihilism and further retreat.
I don’t even know you’re still alive and we sip red grape trying to resurrect you Lawrence, waiting for our stubborn impermanence to tap a quakenik that will rip the beat from under this abandonment and hurl it wet up into the face chakra of a perhaps ever-flaking town.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Mark Tully is a writer, community organizer, and Playback Theatre practitioner living outside Providence, Rhode Island.

IMAGE: “Self-Portrait with Bottle of Wine” by Edvard Munch (1906).

by Mark J. Mitchell

My sleepless neighbor
paces while I count his steps.

Sky is washed by mist.
A siren sets off a dog.

Brakes scream, horns bleat. I am waiting
for damp notes from a foghorn.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I always hesitate to write notes about my poems or my creative process. I think the poems should speak for themselves. I send you this one because I really would like to help Lawrence Ferlinghetti celebrate his birthday. I am a San Francisco poet and I have lived here for 36 years. I am so old that my copy of A Coney Island of the Mind cost me $1.00. I’ve met Lawrence once or twice at poetry festivals, not that he’d remember me, but his work has been a part of my life since I was 13, I visit City Lights once or twice a month. So, I hope this will fit into your tribute, because I am so grateful to Lawrence Ferlinghetti.

IMAGE: “Foghorns” by Arthur Dove (1929).


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Mark J. Mitchell studied writing at UC Santa Cruz under Raymond Carver, George Hitchcock, and Barbara Hull. His work has appeared in various periodicals over the last 35 years, as well as the anthologies  Hunger Enough, Retail Woes, Line Drives, and Good Poems, American Places. It has also been nominated for both Pushcart Prizes and The Best of the Net. Two full-length collections are in the works: Lent 1999 is coming soon from Leaf Garden Press and This Twilight World will be published by Popcorn Press.. His chapbook Three Visitors was recently published by Negative Capability Press. Artifacts and Relics, another chapbook, is forthcoming from Folded Word and his novel, Knight Prisoner, was recently published by Vagabondage Press, and a another novel, A Book of Lost Songs, is coming soon from Wild Child.

by Melissa A. Wood

Waiting for our reasons,
Dead voices
make a noise like flapping.
Like paper.
No, it’s like a power supply hum.
Talking to themselves together.
Hushed voices crackle.
Whispering they whir
On and on the
Stories of the days of
Breath. And life leaves them
Wanting more.
Death is not enough for them,
They whisper in the leaves.
They make a noise like purring lions.
Like rustling leaves.

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

Best Birch Shot

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Melissa Wood is the accordionist with the Rosendale Improvement Association Brass Band and Social Club. Currently, she is polishing her book of poems about herbs and flowers. She studies etymology, builds objects sculptural and functional, and is a multi-instrumentalist living in New York’s play land, the Hudson Valley. She also teaches English Language Arts. View her poetry and essays at

i am waiting for a peace
by Richard Vargas

i am waiting for the pie
the pie with the flaky crust
delicate and buttery on the tongue
with the sweet and tart filling
made from fresh fruit picked
with care by dark calloused hands
belonging to people named
Juanita, Diego, Elena, or Jorge

i am waiting for the pie
with the silky smooth filling
that melts in my mouth
the meringue or whipped
cream topping light and airy
as the taste of a summer cloud
providing shade for a wedding
or cover for an approaching drone

i am waiting to be seated
with people from all over the world
people of all colors and faiths
the men, the women, and most important…
the children exploited in my name

i am waiting for all of us
to be served a piece of pie
the room suddenly quiet
and calm as the soothing smell
from the oven works its magic
as we take a bite and smile

that knowing glance passing
back and forth across the tables
will be the universal language
of approval

then suddenly
someone begins to sing
someone has a story to tell
or a poem to recite
we laugh we cry

and everyone agrees to start over
from the beginning
when our tribes first met
when it was all different and new

only this time
with pie


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Richard Vargas was born in Compton, California, attended schools in Compton, Lynwood, and Paramount. He earned his B.A. at Cal State University, Long Beach, where he studied under Gerald Locklin and Richard Lee. He edited/published five issues of The Tequila Review, 1978-1980. His first book, McLife, was featured on Garrison Keillor’s Writer’s Almanac, in February, 2006. A second book, American Jesus, was published by Tia Chucha Press, 2007. His third book, Guernica, revisited, was published April 2014 by Press 53. (Once again, a poem from the book was featured on Writer’s Almanac to kick off National Poetry Month.) Vargas received his MFA from the University of New Mexico, 2010. He was recipient of the 2011 Taos Summer Writers’ Conference’s Hispanic Writer Award, and was on the faculty of the 2012 10th National Latino Writers Conference. He has read his poetry in venues in Los Angeles, Chicago, Madison, Albuquerque/Santa Fe, Indianapolis, and Boulder. Currently, he resides in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where he edits/publishes The Más Tequila Review.

IMAGE: “Pies, pies, pies” by Wayne Thiebaud (1961).

Why Isn’t There A Tenth Muse Named Margie?
by Joan Jobe Smith

Forgive me Erato, Euterpe, Terpsichore, Calliope,
Clio, Thalia, Urania, Polyhymnia, Melpomene,
when I don’t listen to you. You know I love you,
all of you, but today my mother Margie talks to me.

I tried not to listen to her today while I thanked you all
for what you’ve meant to me since I was a child and
heard your whispering knowledge of music, poetry,
tragedy, history, dance, and the stars but you’re all

so Grecian, ancient, while Margie talks to me of Texas,
still sings to me Cole Porter and Artie Shaw, teaches me
boogie-woogie and the world too much with us as she
explains god, the stars, my sun sign of Aquarius, Leo Moon.

Margie sings, weeps, prays, dances and soars like a comet
in the dark universe of my blood, just as your mothers do
in yours, dear Nine Muses. Who were your mothers, your Eves,
sweet beauties? I hear them crackle starburst as they breathe

sugar and fire around me and you, to tell me they know well
my Margie.

IMAGE: “Les Muses” by Maurice Denis (1893).


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Joan Jobe Smith, founding editor of Pearl and Bukowski Review, worked for seven years as a go-go dancer before receiving her BA from CSULB and MFA from University of California, Irvine. A Pushcart Honoree, her award-winning work has appeared internationally in more than five hundred publications, including Outlaw Bible, Ambit, Beat Scene, Wormwood Review, and Nerve Cowboy—and she has published twenty collections, including Jehovah Jukebox (Event Horizon Press, US) and The Pow Wow Cafe (The Poetry Business, UK), a finalist for the UK 1999 Forward Prize. In July 2012, with her husband, poet Fred Voss, she did her sixth reading tour of England (debuting at the 1991 Aldeburgh Poetry Festival), featured at the Humber Mouth Literature Festival in Hull. She is the author of the literary memoir Charles Bukowski Epic Glottis: His Art & His Women (& me) (Silver Birch Press, 2012). Her writing is featured in LADYLAND, an anthology of writing by American women (13e note Éditions, Paris, 2014). Her poem “Uncle Ray on New Year’s Day . . .”  won the 2012 Philadelphia Poets John Petracca Prize.

by Molly Meacham

Mother, their fingers press soot
into my skin.

I dream of lentils in ashes,
of dress-blooming trees in graveyards,
of pigeons sacrificed, split, and read.

I sit by the hearth,
smoke, sift through the cinders.
I think of selling organic dresses,
of performing pumpkin-to-carriage tricks.
It is not enough to sing by windowsills,
to water your grave with salt.

I am an elegant ex-maid:
pink dishpan hands, cracked fingertips
gloved to the elbow for satin touch.
He took the covered hand in marriage.
My fingers ache in sleep—
the sting of soap on stone.

He is so charming that I must scour
for each long blond straw
that has swept our bedroom floor.
He wears gold cufflinks
and the most elegant apron strings
around his neck.

My shoes have cracked like any cheap window
under the body of a woman.

He made me a book.
He made my spine ache.
I am painted—so many formal portraits
with flowers and birds framed by gold.
I am a precious heaviness
hanging in air.

I want to fall from his hands.
I want the pumpkin
to crack. I want his hands
to pull me out still kicking.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I do look to fairy tales and mythology because there is a great deal of nostalgia for me, but I am bothered when I look at the myths and stories I enjoyed as a child. Part of me feels like I want to explore how I would feel as these characters. I predominately choose female voices and free verse, but I will vary from time to time.

IMAGE: “Cinderella” by Edward Burne-Jones (1863).


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Molly Meacham is a writer and performer. She has featured in Germany twice with the Speak’Easy Ensemble directed by Marc Smith. She is a writing and performing member of the Chicago Slam Works House Ensemble. She has had poems published with journals including, The Foundling Review, The New Verse News, and Right Hand Pointing. She co-edited Write Bloody’s Learn Then Burn Teachers Edition. She teaches in a Chicago Public School the rest of her time.