Archives for posts with tag: Self-Portraits

by Afaa Michael Weaver

I see myself in the shadows of a leaf
compressed to the green blades growing
to a point like the shards of miles of mirrors
falling and cracking to perfect gardens.

I never inspect the withered assumption
of my face’s petty dialogue in raindrops,
the deceptive spreading of the words
oozing from the skin to the edges of water
etched on the ground by gravity and wishing.

Passing for the seriousness of my eye,
platitudes of my white collar or
the perfect posture of my lips, it skirts
from the leaves of the plant hiding me
and sits stoic like stone in my pupil,
mute and unassuming, like Rashi.

To gather myself I will swim naked
in the wind, bending my blind elbows
in circles, stopping now to dance
like the cherubic gold on the ark,
and gather myself from the particles
of this excitement another structure,
one closely resembling the beginning.

SOURCE: “Self Portrait” appears in Afaa Michael Weaver’s collection Multitudes: Poems Selected & New (Sarabande Books, 2000), available at

IMAGE: “Self-Portrait by Sun and Grass” by Chuck Taylor. Prints available at


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: A native of Baltimore, Maryland, Afaa Michael Weaver was born Michael S. Weaver to working class parents in 1951. Weaver entered the University of Maryland at age 16, studying for two years before leaving to marry and take a job in a Baltimore factory owned by Bethlehem Steel. After military service, in 1971, Weaver was hired as a semi-skilled worker at Procter & Gamble in Baltimore. In 1985, and still a factory worker, he received a fellowship from the NEA — and his first book of poetry, Water Song, was published that year. That falll, Weaver entered the Brown University graduate writing program and finished his BA at the University of the State of New York. After graduation, he taught at several colleges before landing an appointment at Rutgers University in Camden, New Jersey, where he received tenure with distinction as an early candidate. Weaver is the author of over a dozen poetry collections and has  had two plays produced professionally. His awards include a Pew Fellowship, a Pushcart Prize, a May Sarton Award, and the PDI Award in playwriting from the eta Creative Arts Theatre in Chicago. Visit him at


The word “self-portrait” usually calls to mind a painting by a famous artist such as Vincent van Gogh, Frida Kahlo, or Pablo Picasso. With the advent of smart phones, the word “selfie” has entered the lexicon, and anyone and everyone can create their own portraits — and Instagram allows them to turn the images into works of art.  A less known or practiced art is the poetic self-portrait, where the writer creates a study in words of himself or herself. I think the idea of self-portrait poetry is fascinating and fun — yet a bit frightening. Sounds like something to explore — ergo this call for submissions.

CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS: To explore the concept of “selfie” from a poetic perspective, Silver Birch Press is issuing a call for submissions. We are looking for original, found, or erasure poems that provide a self-portrait of the author — and will feature the poems on the Silver Birch Press blog from August 1-31, 2014.

HOW TO SUBMIT: Please send entries as MSWord attachments to along with your name, mailing address, email address, one-paragraph bio, and any notes about your creative process (send all of this in one MSWord document). For erasure poems, send typed version of poem and a jpg scan of the original erasure.

DEADLINE: July 31, 2014


Yesterday, we posted a Dennis Hopper self-portrait from 1961 (see below) and talked about his lifelong love affair with photography. The above self-portrait was shot more than forty years later — when he was still one cool-looking gent. Hopper passed away in 2010 at age 74. His love of art was legendary — as was his art collection.