Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Art: When We Make Things

Poem of the Day:
Eric Ekstrand's "Appleblossom"
Poetry, October 2008

Ekstrand's short poem concerns itself with art and the powers of representation. In the first sentence he addresses a higher being, writing, "When History turns soldiers into battles, you turn them into grass" (line 1). In considering history and spiritual force Ekstrand's speaker considers himself and his own power: "But for these men who died with grunts/and clangs in their ears, for their horses with snapped legs, I haven’t got/the art to make them into anything" (lines 2-4). Although the speaker is vividly perceptive of the horror endured by soldiers ("grunts/and clangs in their ears") he doubts his ability to reconstruct such torment.

I felt accomplished today at my internship. I had pushed myself further in my writing and was rewarded with praise and a sense of self-pride. It was a risk, but perhaps we aren't artists until we leap, fall, get back up and leap again.

Someone must have been looking out for me; art seems to sit in a tenuous balance between reality and surrealism, and if successful, art stands solid, connecting the two worlds. But often it seems that some force unknown to us provides art with its sturdy spine, making it function for reasons we can't often put into words.

I think this is the point that Ekstrand is trying to establish in the final lines of his piece. He writes:

I fold the grass in the shape
of a man, very literal, very primitive and leave it on
the field and say, “Forgive me valorous men for my ineptitude.”
Just then, the little man falls down in the wind and—huh!—there is art.

It is not until "the little man falls down in the wind" (line 7) that he becomes art, a successful albeit false representation of reality. An intangible force pushes Ekstrand's "primitive" grass-man into the realm of art, where before it sat, field-atop, as a flop.

So here's to that dim force, and the art that glistens because of it.

A Poem A Day Audrey


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