Saturday, April 5, 2014

Mutual Muses: “Angel of Cape Cod”

I love the phrase ‘Mutual Muses’ – it denotes a shared creation and the exhibit/poetry reading last night perfectly captured that idea. The artist who received my poem “The Season When” created a huge painting of spring flowers in a vase. By contrast, I wrote a poem titled “Angel of Cape Cod” for Carole Johnson’ delicate pendant.

Often when I begin to draft a poem, I have little idea what the finished product will be. I might have an image or brief narrative in mind. Working with a visual picture gives the poet focus. For the past few months, I have studied the angel-looking pendant as its picture graced the piano in our living room. Lauren Wolk, associate director for the center,  had told me last November that the name for the piece was “Angel of Cape Cod” so I took that for my theme.

I knew I didn’t want some ethereal, floaty depiction of an angel, but something more earthly and evocative of the Cape. In my poem, I addressed my angel like this: “Oh, barnacled one, with gull feathers for wings,/skate egg cases as eyes,/seaweed dangling – a bedraggled gown.” My husband, Greg, thought my description was creepy but I liked its raw, sea-inspired tone. Later in the poem, I wrote: “Shy soul adrift in the waves/you float over blue harbors/kettle ponds and salt water bays./Birds trail in your wake, their cree cree/signalling your earthbound work.” When the angel is called back, there is “only mist as it rises/over open waters.” I wanted to capture power and healing, presence and absence.

Now, it was time to share this new poem with a hundred people! I think it was a good omen that the very first creature I saw on entering the Cultural Center last night was the resident cat sitting by the front steps. I almost think she gave me a wink as I entered the large, noisy room brimming over with expectant people looking for their friends.  During the reading, I anxiously awaited my turn. Since the poets are called up in alphabetical order, I was one of the last to read. I sat clutching my poem and my reading glasses as I waited. When my name was called, I tried to remember to slow down my reading. I realized it’s easier to read a familiar poem rather than a brand new one. Still, there was a nice roar of applause when I sat down. It was a magical night and wonderful to share with so many local poets and artists.

In the next few weeks, I hope to travel once again to the Cultural Center to take a quiet hour or two to study the pairings of artwork and poetry. Perhaps I’ll take a friend or family member to share the experience with. It’s a nice way to absorb the experience and feed my creative spirit.


  1. I would love to go and see the exhibit! :)

  2. And I would love to see it, too

  3. I love the idea of the visual as muse for poetry. Still have to see you read soon!