Friday, 16 August 2019

Review ~ Ten Poems About Art From Candlestick Press


Candlestick Press
July 2019

Poems about art have a long and vivid history, and some of our greatest poets have tried to capture in verse the beguiling worlds of colour on canvas. Geoff Dyer’s remarkably wide-ranging selection encourages us to look at familiar and unfamiliar paintings and artists with fresh eyes.

We find ourselves in Vermeer’s studio next door to a rowdy alehouse and meet a Bonnard nude day-dreaming in her bathtub. There’s a contemplative poem capturing the calm of a Vuillard interior, and then there’s life as one of Miró’s dots:

“So here I am, on the edge of animation,
a dream, a dance, a fantastic construction,

A child’s adventure.”

from ‘I Would Like to be a Dot in a Painting by Miró’ by Moniza Alvi

These poems are sure to delight every art lover, reminding us that any painting worth its salt has a thousand different meanings. This title is the second co-publication by Candlestick Press in association with Pushkin Press.

Geoff Dyer is the award-winning author of numerous works of fiction and non-fiction. His books have been translated into 24 languages.

Poems by Fleur Adcock, Moniza Alvi, WH Auden, Sue Hubbard, Mark Doty, Linda France, Mimi Khalvati, RS Thomas, Tomas Tranströmer and William Carlos Williams.

Donation to Teapot Trust


What did I think about it..

There's a little bit of an artist in all of us, some can express this in beautiful paintings, whilst others are more inclined to paint pictures with their words and in this latest collection of Ten Poems about Art, Geoff Dyer has chosen a fascinating range of poetry which describes the colour, sensation and emotional appeal of artists, their models and their masterpieces.

I think opening poem sets the atmosphere really well:

From Musée des Beaux Arts by W H Auden(1907-1973)

"About suffering they were never wrong.
The Old Masters: how well they understood
Its human position; how it takes place
While someone else is eating or opening a window or just walking dully along;"

An artist's visionary colour palette is recreated in glorious detail in Four Cut Sunflowers, One Upside Down by Mark Doty.

"...They are a nocturne
in argent and gold, and they burn
with the ferocity
of dying..."

In the poem Cézanne The Card Players by RS Thomas the scene is captured perfectly and those who knows the painting will recognise the two enigmatic card players who sit intently staring at the cards in their hands, wine bottle between them..

"..The Pipe without 
smoke, the empty
bottle,the light
on the wall are the clock
they go by.."

Ten Poems about Art brings into focus diverse works of art which then give a tantalising glimpse into a world of sensation, colour and emotion. And for anyone who has ever gone into an art gallery and, like me, bought a bunch of postcards, this one will ring true:

Leaving the Tate by Fleur Adcock

"..Coming out with your clutch of postcards
in a Tate Gallery bag and another clutch
if images packed into your head you pause
on the steps to look across the river.."

Ten Poems about Art is a lovely collection of poetry made all the more special by a glorious cover and would make a perfect gift for any art lover.


Candlestick Press is a small, independent press publishing sumptuously produced poetry pamphlets that serve as a wonderful alternative to a greetings card, with matching envelopes and bookmarks left blank for your message. Their subjects include Clouds, Walking, Birds, Home and Kindness. Candlestick Press pamphlets are stocked by chain and independent bookshops, galleries and garden centres nationwide and available to order online.




Twitter @PoetryCandle




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