“The Writing Spider” by Paula Schulz

Ekphrasis Challenge #1: Artist’s Choice


Spider by Judy Keown


Paula Schulz


Everyday I step out into the world,
air all around me. It’s a high wire act

and I’m walking without a net. The wind
blows; the earth rolls beneath my feet.

Sometimes I can’t stop crossing the canyon
on a rickety rope and slatt bridge. I long

for surety and grace, for one clear idea
that will hold—something I might autograph.


It’s times like these I think of the writing
spider, her body a fearless All Hallows.

What must it be like to live as a saint,
no longer earthbound. Daily work for her

is spun glass thrown out in faith that it will
land where it should and catch God’s good light.

When the work is done, she signs her name
as any artist would: in startling


seismograph script on the net that’s always
there, though often I don’t see it.

Ekphrasis Challenge #1
Artist’s Choice Winner

[download audio]


Comment from the photographer, Judy Keown, on her selection: “I am in love with the poem I selected and was amazed with the quality of work submitted by each and every poet! Paula Schulz’s poem, ‘The Writing Spider,’ spoke to me and my desire to achieve professional acceptance in the tough world of photography. We each have that inner desire to be recognized for our efforts. Yet for me, I have now learned if I’m happy with an image, that’s really all that counts even if no one sees my work. Acknowledgement from others is just a welcome bonus. I applaud each of the authors and will treasure the poems submitted. As a whole, this group has forever changed my perspective. So now when I’m out photographing nature in the middle of the woods, high atop a mountain, watching the sun rise or set, your words will be there to keep me company. ‘… when the work is done, she signs her name as any artist would …’ Thank you!” (website)

Note: This poem has been published exclusively online as part of our quarterly Ekphrasis Challenge, in which we ask poets to respond to an image provided by our current issue’s cover artist. This fall, the image was a photograph of an argiope spider by Judy Keown. We received 266 entries, and the artist and Rattle‘s editor each chose their favorite. Timothy Green’s choice will be posted next Saturday. For more information on the Ekphrasis Challenge visit its page. See other poets’ responses or post your own by joining our Facebook group.

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