“Art Therapy” by Aaric Tan Xiang Yeow

Ekphrastic Challenge, April 2019: Editor’s Choice


Kandinsky's Slippers by Denise Zygadlo

Image: “Kandinsky’s Slippers” by Denise Zygadlo. “Art Therapy” was written by Aaric Tan Xiang Yeow for Rattle’s Ekphrastic Challenge, April 2019, and selected as the Editor’s Choice.

[download: PDF / JPG]


Aaric Tan Xiang Yeow


The key is to construct a self from
scraps. Be it an origami lily with

a credit card bill, or collage pieced
using childhood photos. Think

of a lost puzzle piece, its edge
bent to fit. Think of a home

as a blueprint, with a toilet
tap that keeps dripping

even when tightened till
the forearm aches. Think of

window blinds as rebars,
a ribcage as an iron scaffold.

Think of father at the balcony,
eyes closed. Before him, the city

sprawling like his firstborn child,
excited with a crayon stick.

from Ekphrastic Challenge
April 2019, Editor’s Choice


Comment from the editor, Timothy Green: “What first draws me to this poem is the voice, which genuinely sounds like the speaker in a guided meditation recording. But what holds me are the great leaps between the lines and images—and those great line breaks! There’s a wonderful sense of movement and surprise as we tumble down the poem, an expansion outward, until we reach that final line’s excitement. I feel revivified after reading this, and I can’t think of another poem that leaves me with that feeling. I want to go out and take a crayon to the world myself.”

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