A Painter Without a Brush

Without a brush,
how could a painter flesh
out spectral fingers of left-over snow,
dab them with early sun’s glow,
or stroke lines of slender hazel trees
ablaze with catkins, golden with bees?

And yet, there they are, scraped
as if they had escaped
from canvas, pressed
and dragged, distressed
and burning
every summer, autumn, winter, spring,
all life erupting.

Kim M. Russell, 23rd March 2021

My response to dVerse Poets Pub Poetics: Poetics: The Poet as Painter

Laura is back for Poetics this Tuesday, with an ekphrastic prompt. She says that ‘when our Muse has withdrawn the helping hand and is seemingly reclining somewhere in the Greek Isles, we turn to others for inspiration… Quite often it is the visual – a photo, or any illustration or art work. Thus the ekphrastic poem is born’.

She gives us a definition from Merriam Webster and the stunning examples from X. J. Kennedy’s ‘Nude Descending a Staircase’, Sylvia Plath’s ‘The Disquieting Muses’, and Anne Sexton’s emotive vision of ‘A starry night’.

Laura says that what struck her about these poems is ‘how the poets managed to liberate themselves from the paintings’ visual reality so that instead of mere description, depiction and duplication, they engage, and interpret, and thus the paintings become their own works of art.’

For this Poetics prompt, she doesn’t want us to begin with the visuals but with some titles of modern and contemporary abstract art she has given, one of which is ‘Broadway Boogie Woogie’ by Piet Mondrian, the focus of one of my past Haibun prompts, Meet Piet from 25th May 2020, which is why I have chosen ‘A Painter Without a Brush’ by Gerhard Richter My first stanza is painterly and the second ekphrastic.

41 thoughts on “A Painter Without a Brush

  1. Oooh we chose the same title! 💝 This is exquisitely drawn, Kim 😀 I adore the culmination; “burning
    capturing every summer, autumn, winter, spring, all life erupting.” Yes! Your poem is a painting within itself 💝

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow, guess this title is going to be a popular one. Love how the canvas jumped from left over snow to all of life erupting. The energy moves with dazzling lines: escaped from canvas to
    every summer, autumn, winter, spring

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I most adore the first stanza. For me, you managed to capture the essence of those final magical touches a painter puts to his work….that shadow, that glow….I’ve always found that most fascinating. Many of us can paint a flat picture….but those little dabs, strokes, smudges of color make the apple, just on the side to the open window, glow…..leave the snow in just one place, crossed by the shadow of the tree that stands in the right of the painting because of the angle of the sun which somehow is etched almost imperceptibly in the corner of the sky. I enjoyed this post very much!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Bjorn. I wanted to include an image of the painting but the artist is still alive and I didn’t want to breach any copyright. So I linked the Joni song instead because of the line ‘I am a lonely painter, I live in a box of paints’.


  4. Loved this line: “scraped as if they had escaped from canvas” and its sudden about face with the headlong rush into “all life erupting.” Beautifully crafted.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much! I’m delighted you’ve joined us, Emine. You missed last weeks live Open Link Night, but there will be another one next month, I haven’t read your poem yet. but will be over later. It is indeed a small world. I live in Dilham.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. like how you responded both ways in the one magic poem … and Joni adds voice!

    these lines are exquisite …
    “as if they had escaped
    from canvas, pressed
    and dragged, distressed
    and burning”

    Liked by 1 person

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