Ekphrastic Challenge, September 2021: Editor’s Choice
Image: “The Blood in the Veins” by Rachel Slotnick. “Like Dust” was written by Ian Opolski for Rattle’s Ekphrastic Challenge, September 2021, and selected as the Editor’s Choice.
—from Ekphrastic Challenge
September 2021, Editor’s Choice
Comment from the editor, Timothy Green: “Rachel Slotnick’s painting captures Maya Angelou’s spirit with beauty and creativity, and this poem does the same. It reads to me like self-talk—a motivational interior monologue in which the speaker tries to imagine the advice Maya might give in the face of difficulty. Given the current mood of the world, the uplifting message of this ekphrastic pairing is especially appreciated. Comments from the author aren’t necessary or part of the selection process, but I thought Ian’s note was worth sharing, too, so I’m including that below.”
Comment from the author, Ian Opolski: “I teach high school English to students who are mostly indifferent to literature. I usually manage to sneak a Maya Angelou poem in each year, regardless of what’s in the prescribed curriculum. She always connects, particularly when the students can watch a video of her perform. I particularly like to teach ‘Still I Rise,’ where she confronts a difficult history with joy, never losing faith in the future or in herself. She seems to have a celestial wisdom and confidence that is both enviable and aspirational. I think Rachel Slotnick’s mural captures that same feeling, with Angelou against a field of stars, flowers and hearts emerging from her being. I see Dr. Angelou here as both creator and nurturer. I hope that I have honored that same optimistic spirit in this poem.”