September 22, 2016

Ekphrastic Challenge, August 2016: Editor’s Choice


Photo by Heshani Sothiraj Eddleston
Photograph: “Clay Hands” by Heshani Sothiraj Eddleston. “Throwback at Art Show” was written by Carol Kanter for Rattle’s Ekphrastic Challenge, August 2016, and selected as the Editor’s Choice winner.

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Carol Kanter


Did these modern sculptors take a pledge
to flaunt here 3-D work that’s cutting edge
and spurn expected, classic forms sublime
as poets, at all costs, today spurn rhyme?
They aim to grab the public’s throat or heart;
but in their midst, on one small shelf
a dove gray bowl presents itself,
a throwback to the days when art was Art.

Slipped from modest earth and kneaded smooth
then spun and pulled a funnel shape, it soothes;
a dark tobacco glaze, precise and prim,
runs a lazy loop around its rim
and sends a web of taut stripes down inside,
connecting random dots as though
a spider moored her mites in rows
then tiptoed off to find some place to hide …

her center nest sits empty and unlined,
a blank plate its creator never signed;
it rode the fulcrum where this pot once twirled.
And should some cataclysm befall the world
this urn could sweet-talk drinker, viewer, bard,
to reconstruct its simple schema
(now passé as Ottava Rima)
when a newer age unearths it, shard by shard.

Ekphrastic Challenge, August 2016
Editor’s Choice Winner


Comment from the editor, Timothy Green, on his selection:: “Sometimes I feel downright desperate for a little light verse, so when I come across a poem like this, that’s playful, clever, and rhymes, it’s hard to pass up. This poem is itself, of course, an ottava rima, a form I haven’t come across in ages. It took me to a completely unexpected place, unique among all the entries, and made me smile.”

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September 15, 2016

Ekphrastic Challenge, August 2016: Artist’s Choice


Photo by Heshani Sothiraj Eddleston
Photograph: “Clay Hands” by Heshani Sothiraj Eddleston. “What We Keep in Clay” was written by Hannah Siobhan for Rattle’s Ekphrastic Challenge, August 2016, and selected by Eddleston as the Artist’s Choice winner.

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Hannah Siobhan


Memory has a habit of metastasizing and flooding
this house with the scent of your espresso. I called

your mother yesterday and we sat listening to
the injustice of our own ungrateful lungs still filling.

What we call dust is really flesh, and vice versa,
which is to say warmth is subjective and you and I

are eternity. I touched a hand that was not a hand;
I reached in vain for a hand that was. Like Adam

on the chapel’s ceiling, a finger extended to a
tenderness I’ll never reach. You are only in

photographs now. (Not photographs of you. Every
photograph.) This is my least favorite type of

ghost story. This is a haunting that reaches with
brittle fingers and tugs like a child at my sleeves.

According to some, there is a parallel universe
where Michelangelo painted the connection of

fingertips, which means in another world, Vatican
City is always smiling. All the light from God’s

grinning teeth leaks like smoke from the door; you
can see the glow from space. Which is to say

there is a universe where what we call dust is
just dust. Which is to say somewhere, you can’t

touch me. And I, with my own crumbling palms
reaching like sunflowers to a sky that is not the sky,

live a life that is solely mine. I eat popcorn. I brew
coffee. In photographs, I see only own soft wrists.

Ekphrastic Challenge, August 2016
Artist’s Choice Winner


Hannah Siobhan: “I was struck by the overlapping of human hands over clay hands. It made me think of loss and the ways art—especially a tangible sculpture—helps memories survive.”

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