Polly Brody: Poet + Artist = Ekphrasis!
By Joanne Greco Rochman
Just pronouncing the word, “ekphrasis” sounds like it should be followed by an exclamation point. It certainly deserves a lot of attention. Ekphrasis is a literary response to a visual work of art. It is a celebration, especially when distinguished poet Polly Brody of Southbury responds to a painting by renowned Bristol artist Lorna Cyr. Then, not only do literary sparks fly, they will undoubtedly ignite on Nov. 5 at ArtSpace in Hartford.
Last year artist Cyr asked Brody to respond to her painting “Lost at Sea.” The response was electrifying. This year the dynamic duo are paired together again. Titled “Just a Theory,” Cyr’s painting this year already has the juices flowing in Brody’s vivid imagination. Brody took one look at it and thought “Kaleidoscope.” With the poet’s knowledge of science and math and her focus on nature, Brody said she envisions a poem about particles and energy in response to Cyr’s latest work.
Brody, who has four books of poetry and countless awards under her belt, investigates and observes nature as both poet and scientist. So deeply insightful about the natural world is her work that she enables people to see and understand what they have taken for granted. She transforms the ordinary into the extraordinary by allowing people to see their world from a completely different plane. Considering this, it’s not surprising that Cyr wanted Brody to respond to her work.
“In my new painting, I have the hand of a man, which represents reaching out to understand our universe and come to conclusions as to what laws of physics govern us,” explained Cyr adding that the apple represents Newton’s theory on gravity, and a dove which breaks through gravity and also serves as a religious symbol,” explained Cyr. In the corner of my painting there’s a little tiny image of our earth. If you look really closely at this painting you’ll see “E8.” In an exaggerated over-simplification, in physics E8 is a complex theory.
“Many physicists share an intuition that, at the deepest level, all physical phenomena match the patterns of some beautiful mathematical structure,” explained Cyr.
“I asked Polly to respond to my work again because we just click. Last year, her response was perfectly suited to my painting,” Cyr explained that both she and Polly see the beauty in mathematics and science. Last year, Brody’s poem embraced Cyr’s “Lost at Sea.” The last two verses of Polly’s response were:
There is no even keel
Under the curl of possibility’s wave
At the isthmus of space and time,
Yet we grasp our life’s helm
And sail, with our cargo of hope,
Ambition, disappointment, and fear.
This year, Cyr’s 26” X 26” painting “Just a Theory” deals with time and space once again. Within the painting is a sqaure with the E8 circles within. You can catch Polly Brody’s literary response at the Open Studio Ekphrasis Poetry Event on November 5 from 2 – 4 p.m. at ArtSpace Hartford. The gallery is located at 555 Asylum Street, Hartford, CT.
ArtSpace in Hartford
555 Asylum St
Hartford, CT 06105
Joanne Greco Rochman is the arts editor of “The Fairfield County Review,” a columnist, critic, feature story writer and English professor. Her work has appeared in “The New York Times,” “The Republican-American” and Hersam-Acorn Publications.