ArtAscent Used by Writer Marian Kaplun Shapiro in an Art Discussion

The Rangeley Tuesday Breakfast Group (which actually meets at the Gingerbread House in the yet smaller town of Oquossic, ten minutes up hill) convened this morning to participate in a conversation about “New Eyes: From Order To Chaos And Back Again (And Again).” This erudite and over-accomplished group usually tackles scientific, philosophical, economic, and political topics; this was the first to address any of the arts. As you can imagine, I felt it to be a daunting task!

I pre-distributed poems by Agee, Kunitz, Yeats, Symborska, and cummings, with the question of how each author had set out to catch the reader’s attention and produce the “new eyes” result. I also included a tiny poem of my own, “Spring Sunlight,” in which a shape-shifted line results in this effect. A great deal of time was spent with the members batting around the Agee poem, “No Doubt Left. Enough Deceiving,” a brilliant hybrid poem from the 1930’s (!) beginning with five lines of bald, shocking prose before returning to rhymed ABAB form. We talked about breaking rules – how one has to know the rules and consciously choose to break them for a reason – after which I read my “Please Submit A Brief Bio,” almost all of which is a massive associative sentence, a violation of academic bios for sure. I distributed some copies of other poems that broke rules, including “Flying Poem,” by Caro Williams in the June issue of ArtAscent, a journal I praised as both beautiful and exciting.

We concluded with an exercise in which each person was to write a one-sentence description of anything – idea, living thing, object – whatever, and then write a question about it. My example was a description of a orange-breasted robin, followed by, “Why do we call him red?” After doing that for about 3 minutes, I asked them to play with their creations – break up the words, or lines, add pictures, drawings, making their writing eye-opening to others. Several were delighted with their results and shared them enthusiastically. In fact they were terrific!

What fun to see these serious-minded scholars get into poetry, see the correlations with music, art, and even creative thinking. I was so glad I had the nerve to do it – and now back to the peace of the canoe and my pad and pen.

By Marian Kaplun Shapiro
ArtAscent Art & Literature “Red” and “Unknown” Issues Distinguished Artist

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