Visual art is often an inspiration for poetry; poems based on visual art are called ‘ekphrastic poems.’ In “MO[DERN] [FRAME]” by Dawn Lundy Martin, Martin writes responses to an image by Carrie Mae Weems, an American artist who, over the past 25 years, has created “a complex body of art that has at various times employed photographs, text, fabric, audio, digital images, installation, and, most recently, video.” Through her artwork, Weems “investigate[s] family relationships, gender roles, the histories of racism, sexism, class, and various political systems” according to the biography on her website.
After seeing Weems’s art work “Modern Frame,” Lundy responds to the image with her own meditation on history and “the living, breathing black human female.” “MO[DERN] [FRAME]” is an example both of ekphrastic poetry and of how artists have conversations together.
Martin is the author of A Gathering of Matter / A Matter of Gathering; DISCIPLINE; Candy, a limited edition letterpress chapbook; and The Morning Hour. Her forthcoming collections include The Main Cause of the Exodus and Life in a Box is a Pretty Life.
Martin is also at work with Erica Hunt on an anthology of experimental writing by black women in North America and the Caribbean. She has written a libretto for a video installation opera that has been chosen for the 2014 Whitney Biennial and is a co-founder of the Black Took Collective, a performance group of experimental black poets. An associate professor of English in the writing program at the University of Pittsburgh, Martin lives in Pittsburgh and in East Hampton, N.Y..
* Written in response to Carrie Mae Weems’s “Modern Frame,” which is currently on view at the Montclair Art Museum in Montclair, N.J.
“MO[DERN] [FRAME] OR A PHILOSOPHICAL TREATISE ON WHAT REMAINS BETWEEN HISTORY AND THE LIVING BREATHING BLACK HUMAN FEMALE” Copyright Dawn Lundy Martin, reproduced with permission of the author.
Photo of Dawn Lundy Martin by Andrew Kenower
About Dawn Lundy Martin http://www.creativewriting.pitt.edu/people/faculty/dawn-lundy-martin
More poems by Dawn Lundy Martin http://www.poetryfoundation.org/bio/dawn-lundy-martin
Reading by Dawn Lundy Martin http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pY7pCoQi3Wc
Julie R. Enszer, Ph.D., is a visiting assistant professor of women’s studies at the University of Maryland. She is writing a history of lesbian-feminist presses from 1969 until 2000 and is author of Sisterhood and Handmade Love. She is editor of Milk & Honey: A Celebration of Jewish Lesbian Poetry, a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award in Lesbian Poetry. She has her MFA and Ph.D. from the University of Maryland. She is the editor of Sinister Wisdom, a multicultural lesbian literary and art journal, and a regular book reviewer for the Lambda Book Report and Calyx. You can read more of her work at www.JulieREnszer.com.