My LibraryThing friend Louise recently traveled to Washington D.C., for a whirlwind tour of the city's many museums. She's an excellent photographer and has exquisite taste in books and art, and her recent blog entry has me jonesing for a visit to the Smithsonian Institution to see its collection of American Impressionists. Where was I when the Smithsonian's traveling exhibition, American Impressionism, was at the Minneapolis Institute of Art in 2000? I'm in love with this painting in the Smithsonian's collection, Robert Reid's The Mirror (1910). Reid (1862-1929) was a member of a group of American painters who called themselves "The Ten," who banded together in an attempt to resist the prevailing commercialism of American art at the turn of the century. Perhaps the most famous of The Ten was Childe Hassam (1859-1935), famous for his patriotic scenes, his New England landscapes, and his paintings of Celia Thaxter's garden.
One American artist who declined an invitation to join The Ten was Abbott Henderson Thayer (1849-1921). Thayer is known mostly for his paintings of angelic girls, like the one at left, and the landscape around Mount Monadnock. He was also obsessed with protective coloration in animals, and devoted much of his life to promoting the idea of camouflage to the United States military. Thayer's second wife was Emeline (Emma) Beach, who as a seventeen-year old had been a passenger on the cruise that provided the inspiration for Mark Twain's The Innocents Abroad. On that trip in 1867, Twain took a shine to Miss Beach, and kept up a friendly correspondence with her for a few years after their return to the States. In the last years of his life, Mark Twain rented a summer home near the Thayers in Dublin, New Hampshire, and the Thayer's children befriended Twain's epileptic daughter, Jean.
Meanwhile, Jim H.'s Brautigan-themed blog, Trout Fishing in Minnesota, has introduced me to the the quirky poetry of Ed Dorn (1929-1999). I particularly like his poem "Flatland" (the link takes you to an mp3 file of Dorn reading his own work). I like the cautious laughter of the audience at the end, which seems to wonder aloud, "Is this poem profound, simplistic, or stoned?"
My poem " Phrasebook " has been published online in Ergon: Greek/American Arts and Letters .
The frontispiece from Countee Cullen's The Black Christ and Other Poems (1929). Illustration by Charles Cullen. Click to enlarge. On...
Here's the poem I wrote and read for the student-organized International Day of Peace gathering in Bridge Square on Wednesday, Septembe...
In early August, the director of the Northfield Public Library, Teresa Jensen, asked me to write a poem to be displayed prominently in the...