“Throwback at Art Show” by Carol Kanter

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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