Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Visual Art and Poetry

I can’t remember not being interested in visual art.

From the time I was a small child, I wrote. I made up stories and plays and typed them on my great-grandmother’s 1910 typewriter. This was largely born out of a childhood with absolutely NOTHING to do. We lived in boring towns, and my parents, who had five kids and little money, pretty much left entertainment up to us. Despite the writing, I always remember being interested in painting. (Interestingly, it never even crossed my mind to be a painter). My interest grew when I went to the University of New Mexico and started a series of grueling art history classes in which we had to memorize the names of paintings, artists, stories, and so on. What might be mind numbing for some was my definition of bliss. And I thought I was fabulous to have all this information in my head. Still, at the ripe age of 18, I had never really seen a “real” painting (or other) other than O’Keefe. This helped prompt my first trip to New York, my four year career at the MFA, Boston, and eventually, my permanent move to New York.

Art has informed my poetry in the most pronounced way. I write about paintings, film, and photographs often -- my forthcoming book is called Derivative of the Moving Image. I write in museums. Curiously, as I have anxiety and depression and am often mentally uncomfortable, museums calm me down and can often bring me to a state of bliss. Despite all the bad politics, I thing my job at the MFA was the only “right” job I ever had (and there have been plenty!).

I know I’m a LITTLE unusual, but not solitary in this equation. Ashbery was an art critic. O’Hara spend years working at MOMA (if memory serves right – he started as a guard and became a curator. Berstein is married to a wonderful artist - Susan Bee. Clemente worked with Ginsberg and Creeley. Jorie Graham slips painting into her art on a regular basis and was trained in film.

Some of my favorite painters are Warhol, Basquiat, Charlotte Solomon, Cy Twombly, Lucien Freud, Kiki Smith, Rothko, Pollock, Milton Avery, and Clemete.

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