March 2018 Words + Art Reading + Poem

exhibit | in a word
artist | christopher knowles

This was one of the toughest exhibits to work with. The artist, Christopher Knowles, is said to be on the autism spectrum. Because all the poetry produced through The Poartry Project explores and penetrates into the ecosystems of energy of the artist’s creations, as well as of the artist themself, the energy of this exhibit was an energetically challenging experience. It was an energy of disorder trying to impose order upon itself through repetition. Of course, repetition creates pattern, and pattern creates rhythm, and rhythm creates beauty. But this repetition was experienced as obsessive-compulsive, with a skittishness that formed a sliding and oily “energyscape” full of nervous energy. So it was with joy and relief that a small space of refuge was found during the live video tour of the exhibit with Words + Art’s founder, Mary Wemple. This space was formed by a triptych of three different portrayals of the same church formed out of the letter, C, typewritten over and over again. In each piece, different architectural aspects of the church were highlighted – for instance, the steeple prominent in one and just suggested in another where the flying buttresses took center stage.

Poems here at The Poartry Project tend to start with the arrival of a word or a phrase, but after initially having to work hard to connect to something – anything!, this one arrived as a fully formed opening of a movie scene: a languid and wilting dusty village square somewhere in the south of Franco’s 1930s Spain, drifting into Fascism during a frying summer, seen through the eyes of a woman coming upon this scene and becoming part of it.

POEM | VIEWFINDER (mar 2018)


The sweat drips down the back of her neck
as she mops it with her faded red and white bandana.
The yellow dust has turned her face and arms
into a ginger-colored hue,
and it feels like she’s in a 1930s movie.
A fat fly sounds like a Messerschmitt heavy
stalking the air to bump its laden meaty
bomb-body payload into her sweaty bare arm,
imprinting its germ of war into her dust.
It’s the only meat around,
until she spots a man
squat-rocking on the ground
on the other side of the square.
Obsessive and oblivious.
Chaos shoots out his eyes –
electric all the way across the square –
as he works to contain the chaos
as he counts grains of sand.
He sees explosions of color in his head
that sound like shards of glass scraping against each other,
scraping inside his skull goblet,
pieces of ice cooling electric liquid chaos.
She spots a dusty carpet of olive branch
draping-drooping over the wall across the other side of the square,
its leaves like washed out green handkerchiefs
dropped by village girls with vacant hollowed eyes,
beckoning to the possibility of beauty.
She finds a hidden opening in the wall,
two walls reaching towards each other creating a languorous fold,
and enters the fold to find herself in a place
that is not usually a sense of sanctuary for her.
A simple church the same color as the dust,
the same color as she is,
arises from the sand of a million countings.
“C-C-C,” it says.
“There is a pattern to me that makes me real.
Without the chaos, I am not the calm.
Without the broken glass, I have no windows.
Without you, I am the square to the tempest
inside the universe of his sand, wringing the beauty that never came,
in vain with the undoing of your sweat and dust.”

Our Debut Voicing Art Book

Voicing Art: Poetry of Space | Place | Time
is now available!

Poetry inspired by works of art, the art of nature and the exploration of beauty, perception and insight through the cartography of the unseen.


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