Scott-Patrick Mitchell ‘Under the Sea’ written to ‘Ursula’ by Adam Churcher
SoulReserve ‘Radko’s World’ written to ‘Pink Car Church’ by Radko Medin
Margaret Farrell Billie’ written to ‘Billie’ by Rosie Powner
Poetry Judge’s Report
It’s a great honour to have been invited to judge the poems in this year’s Creative Connections collection. Ekphrasis and its close cousins invite not mere translation or description, but the seeking of deep, empathic connections with the artist on the one hand and the examining of the poet’s own soul on the other. Paintings are like ponds: they reflect; but they can also drown the unwary. Poems are more like the creatures lurking beneath the surface of a pond which are always surprised when they find themselves miraculously transformed into birds.
Like the archaic torso in Rilke’s poem, painting and poetry exhort the viewer and listener: “You must change your life.”
The poems beautifully evince a number of qualities that speak to the theme Side by Side. So much so that process of selecting two highly commended poems and a single winner was very difficult, and in the end it had to come down to what most resonated with me, personally. In other words, the triumph of subjectivity over objectivity.
But we’ll get to those poems soon. First, let’s enumerate those qualities, and some their other poetic exemplars.
For firstly, flights of fancy in which poet and artist walk hand in hand, side by side. Such as Jane Davis’s riffing on Greg Barr’s Uncle Bowler:
If Uncle glimpsed deliberate strokes Flowing through steady hand, just for him, Would he stroke his thick, wild beard, Tilt a bald head and consider,
The efforts of your expertise The flashes of brightness In a distant landscape Of dark yet calming beauty?
For secondly, the affinity with non-human animals in which poet and artist reveal their affection for, and their willingness to walk side by side with, rabbits, frogs, birds and other creatures. Such as that in Coral Carter’s Rabbit, after Samantha Meuller’s Bunny Rabbit:
loud foot thump
fur stroke soft
is bunny love
For thirdly, a desire to enter the world of the painting, poet and artist as co-creators standing side by side, a shared desire to know each other, to discover each other’s ways of seeing and listening. Such as that in Rose van Son’s direct address to whoever is hiding amongst the branches of Aimee Dicksons’ The Abundance Tree:
I will come to your party … but what shall I wear? Reds, yellows, blues, Striking hues! Someone is hiding in the branches of the apple tree. Could it be you? I can’t wait to meet you!
For lastly but not leastly, a side-by-side predilection for that pure sense of play which is common to all the best poems and artworks. Such as that in Chris Palazzolo’s artful dodge on David Lindermann’s Ed and Eddie in the USA:
‘Ed & Eddy in the USA’ – that’s the hashtag we’ll run today. Now the only other thing I need is a selfie of you guys for the feed. Get it to me quick sticks chop – just on the road there when you stop. They wanted a boxing kangaroo! We’ll give them the ‘Ostralian Eemoo’!
And now for the highly commended and winning poems, which will be performed by the poets themselves.
SoulReserve for Radko’s World, after Radko Medin’s Pink Car Church.
For the painful acknowledgement of the disparity between the dream world of the artist (and of religion) and the so-called real world: but an acknowledgment that is articulated with grace and joy and a light touch.
Margaret Ferrell for Billie, after Rosie Powner’s Billie.
For the pure shared affection and empathy for Billie and the delightful concept that a bird can choose to stay in an artist’s creative world.
Scott-Patrick Mitchell for Under the Sea, after Adam Churcher’s painting Ursula.
For its pure sense of fantasy and moving lyricism and connection to other and expansive imagery… and for its gentle wit.
Under The Sea
I would give you my voice
if it meant I could become
the depths of Perth Canyon
& The Mariana Trench to
discover all the wreckage
of our world, drowned, sunk.
How I marvel at the aquatic
swimming around on those
– What do you call ‘em? –
——— Oh, fins.
In his dreams this is how
Radko imagines the world.
Cars that run on clean energy,
there is no fossil fuel corporate
enterprise that drives the world.
We breathe clean air, feel a sense
of upliftment from the blue-sky seep
into our being. Everyday. He paints
large, colourful houses on his canvas
where we live as one big family.
There is coherence in his world.
And there is plenty of love.
I’d much rather live in Radko’s painting.
When did Billie arrive in your garden?
How did you entice this gorgeous
bird? Perhaps the trees in bloom
whispered a message or the sky
wafted warmer waves of blue.
But I think Billie discovered
the beauty you created which sings
to be noticed. There he perches in the
creative world you’ve made, showing his
magnificent plumage, happy to stay.