Ann Cefola paints with poems: still
lifes, landscapes, self-portraits and other works of art. She is a visual
artist, as surely as those who delineate with brush or pencil. She
shapes, carves, digs in and reveals. Peeling away layers of optical appearance,
she mines for meaning, creating a personal iconography of circumstance.
In “Teint Pur Mat,” Cefola begins
our reading of the poem with a French proverb: “Il fait dur d'êtrejolie (It's hard to be pretty).”
In white slip like lace, close to
mirror, my mother fills
eyebrows with Charles of the Ritz gold
Chanel No. 5's scent glossy and brown as her mink stole, dabs
from a square bottle. Touch
& Glow, shaken hard in one hand.
And so the poet continues to describe the intimacy of a
woman's toilette observed by her daughter, the room suffused with “pharmaceutical scents” sprinkled,
sprayed and poured into use that become the heirlooms of experience: habits,
products, gestures and olfactory associations. These moments of watching
and waiting transition into joining the female tribe by enacting rituals of
pale frosts of junior high.
How makeup marks my life;
Elbowing at the girls' room mirror, I
And contemplate: ruminating over
this fashioning of the mask, this living inside and outside of the body:
help me get closer to my true
To swim toward grace, she knew what
must be applied.
Along with these evocative images – the optical, the
physical, the invisible and the remembered – which interact and overlap, simultaneously,
like a Cubist's collage, there is sound: a voice that too sketches out the
scenery, as in "Sugaring"
At the pancake house, I say Blueberry, you
say Cinnamon Sugar.
This poem makes my mouth crave maple syrup.
Thankfully, Cefola includes her masterpiece “Demoiselles 7,” which I have
enjoyed for lo these seven years since we worked on our respective “Demoiselles”
for the 100th anniversary of the painting's birth (mine was the catalog essay
for an exhibition; Ann's her magnificent dialogue between the five prostitutes
and art history):
and daily be discarded.
To live a heaviness in limb,
to feel one's blood finely
to sink back into empty pupils.
Braque, Léger, Gris
the world vibrate, could see the other side.
the discordant violin, broken guitar.
the danger of still life.
Picasso's ladies talk back, released
from their stationary poses, to rant about the issues that still plague
We Demoiselles that changed the world,
As we travel from page to page,
following the poet alight on urban and rural terrain, capturing the very
essence of existence in all its vibrant or drab quotidian colors, we eventually
face death itself in her poem “Road to Windsor,” dedicated to Susan Hall
Anthony (1930-2009), co-founder of the New England Writers Association.
There she is, shimmer and light,
about to loose the body like an
I offer useless prayers.
Embrace her a second, last, time.
She holds on as if spirits speak
in dialogue no one can hear.
This mural-like existence no less
than two women, a portrait,
a Vermeer. Love doesn't
go away, I say. She knows.
I put my hands at my heart in Namaste,
a gesture she returns.
And so the poet heads for home
through the Vermont farms and Main Streets as we too take our leave from this
journey through a virtual exhibition of Celofa's perceptive imagery:
Green hills home to sheep and dog,
black-eyed Susans bright.
The envelope that folds in on itself,
daylilies that close at night.
Chuffed, we look forward to another
Ann Cefola's Face Painting in the Dark was published by Dos Madres Press in 2014. Her
other collections of poems are St.
Agnes, Pink-Slipped published
by Kattywompus Press in 2011 and Sugaring published
by Dancing Girl Press in 2007. She also translated Hélène
Sanguinetti's poem Hence this Cradle published by Seismicity Editions in 2007 (enjoying
the Witter Bynner Poetry Translation Residency at Santa Fe Art
Institute to prepare). Cefola received the Robert Penn Warren
Award, judged by John Ashbery. She earned her MFA in Poetry Writing
from Sarah Lawrence and still lives in New York.
Time for the Fall auctions at Christie's and Sotheby's, best known for the impressive Impressionists paintings and other delicious Modernist treasures that chase those Post-Halloween blues away.
The star of Christie's evening sale on Wednesday, November 5 is Edouard Manet's Le Printemps (Spring), from 1881, which features the actress Jeanne de Marsy or Demarsy. A video about this magnificent painting can be viewed here.
However, during my visit to the auction exhibitions yesterday, I completely fell in love with the Hope and Abraham Melamed Collection of Cubist Works, an exceptional find on display for this week's auction of works on paper, November 6th.
Pablo Picasso, Figure, 1913
Melamed Family Collection
Hurry to see this wonderful group of prints, drawings, books and one letter from Juan Gris to AndréSimon (Daniel-Henri Kahnweiler's partner for his Galerie Simon in Paris) before it disappears from public view (unless Leonard A. Lauder scarves it up for his promised collection of Cubists works for the Met).
Pablo Picasso, Guitar, Spring 1920
A Swiss Charitable Foundation
Could Fall 2014 mark the beginning of Cubist Fandom? I hope so. Cubism is the most intellectually stimulating modernist movement to date - and its quiet appearance among the usual art celebs (Renoir, Pissarro, Matisse and Dufy) convinces me of that more and more.
Still cogitating on the Lauder Collection. Review in the works.