Red Dress by Tatyana Ostapenko
Last week I participated in SPARK, an internet event in which visual artists and writers share their work to inspire new work. My partner Tatyana Ostapenko sent me the painting above. Over the next ten days I wrote my poem in response. My goal wasn’t to illustrate the painting but to allow it to spark my own creative journey. At the same time I sent my poem “Frog Woman” to Tatyana to inspire a new painting by her.
My favorite part of the process was opening Tatyana’s painting. I had absolutely no idea what I would see. I was immediately captivated by the little girl in her red dress, standing just in front of a deep, dangerous chasm and then far in the distance, a beautiful forest. As I sat down to write I drew on these experiences—sometimes feeling the need to own a piece of clothing as if it were somehow already mine, the innocent joy of Little Red Riding Hood as she set off into the woods, my father’s last days which he spent looking out the window at a beautiful field and forest, and, of course, my relationship with my mother.
SPARK happens four times a year, each time with more participants. For more information and to see more inspired art, go to the SPARK website.
To see more of Tatyana’s art, please go to her website or to her flickr gallery.
Finally, to enjoy more Poetry Friday go to Jama Rattigan’s Alphabet Soup.
(c) 2012 Elizabeth Ehrenfest Steinglass, all rights reserved
Liz, what a powerful poem. I loved the leap between section one and section two — as the speaker moves away from childhood. I’ve done SPARK twice. Always a surprise and always inspiring.
Thank, Laura. I certainly wouldn’t have written this poem but for Tatyana’s inspiration.
Wow, Liz! You have “sparked” very powerful words and images from this gorgeous painting. I love the lines:
It was already mine,
Sewn to my heart
Torn from me and
Set in the window
For others to claim.”
I remember wanting things so bad as a child that it became an intense visceral need. You captured that here. Thank you for sharing your words with us today. 🙂
I remember that feeling too, and I can sometimes see it on my kids’ faces. Doesn’t it also sometimes seem like objects have their true owner and find their way to them. Like my sister’s sweater really should be mine?!
I had not heard of Spark before today but think it’s such a great idea and opportunity for writers and artists. Your poem is so powerful — I like the different directions and paths it travels, surprising me in the second stanza especially. Wonderful juxtaposition of innocence and knowing.
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It was a great experience. I highly recommend it.
gripping, harrowing, powerful! loved it, Liz!
gripping, harrowing, powerful! Absolutely loved it, Liz!
BJ had the perfect adjectives. What a compelling poem, Liz – amazing writing.
BJ & Robyn said it best…very well done, Liz. I’m almost afraid to grow up now!
It’s a deeper story to contemplate, that relationship between mothers and daughters, Liz. I love your poem, each verse taking us further on the journey.