Wednesday, July 25, 2018

What is it About Shoes?





by Bacopa Literary Review Editor in Chief Mary Bast

I've written before about ekphrasis, the intersection of verbal and visual arts. Not included in that post are Marianne Moore's poem "Nine Nectarines and Other Porcelain" and Elizabeth Bishop's poem "Large Bad Picture" (based on George Wylie Hutchinson's "Seascape," right).

As Bishop's title implies, creating ekphrastic poetry can be enormous fun.

In the same Melanie Almeder workshop that inspired my Bacopa 2012-published "plummet" (imagining Icarus in Brueghel's "Landscape with the Fall of Icarus" as a woman), Almeder also asked us to to make a list of terms describing something ordinary in our lives, and then to write an ode to that item. My most ordinary and also cherished possession, after years of corporate-consulting-required-suits-and-oh-so-uncomfortable-high-heels, were (and are still) my Birkenstocks:

ode to my birkenstocks 
(from "Eeek Love")
sole-mates I am barely
clothed in you
so easy to slide into
walking me
away from suits
you've taken me
to places high-
class shoes would fear
you relish luscious mud
& sand & bits of twigs
that hang on tightly
to your treads
I am besotted birkies
with the child in you
who tastes & smudges
oh you messy shoes
this simple-minded
search for ground
may wear us down
you mortal stumble-bums
Then, just this morning, I read a a friend's post about a Poetry Workshop on Ekphrastic with Pauletta Hansel [Cincinnati Poet Laureate Emeritus (April 2016-March 2018)].

Barbara Sliter's ekphrastic poem "The Red Shoe," much like mine, remembers "a time . . . / before the guy selling lettuce / said "I don't think of you / as an old person. . . a time before / shoes became practical. . . ."

I'm still smiling.


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