Back Row from Left to Right: Meghan Judge, Johannah O’Keefe, Courtney Woodburn
Front from Left to Right: Sam Protich, John Schell, (Not Pictured) Susannah Clark
Chelsea Newnam is a junior English major with a concentration in Creative Writing at the University of Mary Washington. She believes in the power of poetry to change the world (a romantic idea maybe) and likes to think that maybe one day she’ll find a job that will pay her to encourage that belief in others. She has worked with several literary magazines and enjoys reading and writing (like any good English major) as well as traveling and antiquing as often as she can.
“Hopper’s Nighthawks, 1942″ is a poem that grew out of my love and admiration for Edward Hopper’s painting, “Nighthawks”, which I was fortunate enough to see firsthand in the National Gallery in D.C. I thought it would be interesting to write a poem about the (possible) events and relationships of the painting, as the mystery behind those events and relationships has always interested me. The use of the sestina as dominating form was my shot at a sort of ironic approach to the idea of art as containment, which is interesting to me as art is usually seen as the opposite of that.
Hopper’s Nighthawks, 1942
A stillness sweeps the street into darkness
and we’re illuminated from the inside, out.
The bar smiles through red
striations to greet elbows with a light
kiss as my mug sputters to empty.
I order another coffee, black.
Night eyes wander through the window to black
pavement, mirrored by stagnant darkness.
The street whispers in empty
desire, as no one is out
tonight. No one to hover in our light
like moths towards flames of deep red.
The woman in red
is poised against the crisp black
reflection of the window. Light,
waiting to relieve or receive darkness-
blushing fingertips reaching out
to touch the parts of me that are empty.
A pair of empty
pupils are invitations for her red
fingernails to bend and siphon out
the tension layered thick in black
hoping to expose hidden light.
But our diner produces the only light,
before dawn returns an empty
suburbia. Relenting darkness,
exchanges bursts of amber red
for the night’s concealing black
Before the sun stretches out
its waking arms of light
to soothe away the bleak black
fear of another empty
evening, I wait and watch habitual red:
faceless, and sheathed in darkness.
Alone, she walks out into the morning and leaves the empty
fragments of light to caress my skin , waiting for the returned assault of red
on the senses: to know the black wells of her eyes is the symmetry of my darkness.
Toussaint comes from Charlotte, North Carolina, and currently studies at the University of Richmond.
Toussaint on “Unseen”:
“The piece conveys an episode of musical expression that touches on the theme of crossing genre lines, as the abstractions of sound and personal perception of the self are brought to visual awareness through the art of music.”
“Poetry has always been a part of my life; it’s familiar to me. I prefer to write about love, and aspire to say something new about the subject. I’ve been described by a fellow UMass-Boston MFA student as a ‘love poet.’ However, I’ve also written about such topics as my friend’s self-described childhood in El Salvador, and a Minotaur who lives in the basement of a Manhattan Library. Readers and listeners seem to respond best to my poetry that is about the human heart.
“Although my poems tend to be about love, they are rarely confessional in the sense that they give away intimate details. Also, my poems are more as though I’m writing for myself, and what comes out must please me first. And it doesn’t please me to straight-out confess.
“The poem featured here is a breath of fresh air for me, as it was in response to another person’s work, a painting. Is it true that we write the same poem over and over again? Honestly, I do my best to not do so. When I’m tired of writing poems in a vein, I hope I find a new one, or perhaps I will keep finding new angles to the topic of human emotion? My poems include details that may or may not have happened, and end in a places that are unexpected, just as the poem featured here.
“I enjoy writing poetry because it is an exploration of the inexplicable, an attempt to make sense of the world in a way that is not always easy. If love always ends with one lover knocking on the door to an empty room, as I write here, so does writing consume you and make demands of you—it is the ultimate intimacy with oneself, whether you write straight confessional poetry or rather dip into the imagination as I do. There’s always a connection with your life in art; if you don’t have an emotional connection to what you’ve written, usually the audience won’t either.”
“‘Monolith and Remnant’ is based on my reflection of a ceramic art piece titled ‘Coetaneous Stasis’ by Matthew McConnell of the University of Colorado at Boulder. I reflected upon this piece as it was presented in the gallery ‘NCECA: Regional Student Juried Exhibition from the National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts’ at the Tempe Center for the Arts in Tempe AZ. The bit of information provided on Matthew McConnell and his visions or interests of art could possibly be summed up as themes based on the impacts humankind has on its environment. He seemed interested in how the Earth’s ecosystems adapt or cope with what humans are doing. I tried to direct “Monolith and Remnant” toward a similar theme to respect the original inspirational art piece. Undoubtedly, the difference between the genres still exists. The ceramic piece was highly crucial to my inspiration, but the play with words through homophones allowed me to present my own tone on the theme and encrypt some of it through the abstraction of poetry.
Schulz on “Immersed”:
“This poem is based on the reflection of an old photography portrait once exhibited at ASU’s Northlight Gallery. The aged method of photography left a certain aura about the woman’s face and the picture as a whole. This literal ‘presence’ is what allowed me to cross the medium of photography with my poetry. Not only was the portrait received with an artistic reflection, in which I searched for a meaning in a photography sense, but also with the abstract reflection allowed by poetry. Both receptions of the work could not have taken place without that initial portrait, but at the same time, both receptions were independent. The poem created by my poetically abstract view stands alone, but because it was created from that melding of genres it could quite possibly inspire other mediums of interpretation through other genres of art.”
“My work often includes sharp, almost violent sounding words. These acute sounds are then often paired with alliteration to accent their stress. Metaphor and allegory also have great appeal to me. These techniques are present in both my poetry and prose to which I aspire. The abstractions allowed through poetry clarify fiction as my forte, and I am currently studying at ASU toward a B.A. in English with a concentration in Creative Writing. Themes chosen for my works often vary but tend to follow darker, sometimes pessimistic views, but the objective presented through The Ledger Line allowed me to step a bit away from my own view by reflecting on another medium of art. However, my own views will always be present to some extent within whatever work I create.”
Ellen Ferrante is a student at the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, Virginia, majoring in English. She lives in Arlington, Virginia.
Morley on “Meet the Horsey…”:
“This piece was composed and processed using the Roland MC303 and the Roland SP-808, melding samples from The Valley of the Dolls and Multiple Maniacs.
“The piece needs no explanation. It is a very simple dance track. Just fun and interesting sounds arranged together. It was created in 1998.”
Marquisee on “Waking up…”:
“‘Waking up in the Middle of the Night’ was created in Fall 2008. It was performed with a computer synthesizer and a violin. Both instruments were recorded live, at night.
The piece blurs genre lines in its attempts to inspire imagery with sound.
Specifically, it tries to illustrate the actions and feelings associated with being woken from bed, into a dark room.”