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SallyMaria Profile
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Picasso's Last Words


This was submitted and accepted, but I'm always into improving...


Picasso's Last Words



The name lies on the page, flat,
like paint on a road sign.

Modigliani.

Did he turn his head?
Did the name blossom like sugar
or venom on the tip of his tongue?

Were his eyes open?
Was it said in recognition?
Did he see his friend wearing
that crumpled brown hat,
dancing on a Paris street

or did the name leak like rancid nectar
from fruit left in the dust
of his orchard floor?

Was the name whispered in sorrow,
as prayer, a mea culpa, in righteous
confession, or did the Spanish giant
finally exhale the name
of an artist greater than himself?





Last edited by SallyMaria, Jan/29/2009, 11:39 am
Jan/26/2009, 1:36 pm Link to this post Send Email to SallyMaria   Send PM to SallyMaria Blog
 
Terreson Profile
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Re: Picasso's Last Words


Good stuff, Sally Maria. So is the story true or apocryphal? All I know about the circumstance is what the Modigliani movie said. (What a good movie, eh?)

Two small suggestions. Consider making a couplet out of the penultimate strophe. The two first lines might be more powerful, since more suggestive, by themselves. Also, "Spanish giant" rather begs too much in my opinion. Everybody knows Picasso's stature. Why not just "the Spaniard?"

Congrats on the acceptance.

Tere
Jan/28/2009, 7:54 pm Link to this post Send Email to Terreson   Send PM to Terreson
 
SallyMaria Profile
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Re: Picasso's Last Words


Thanks for getting to this Tere- Actually, at the end of the movie, before the credits (when they tell who lived and died and when) they made the simple statement about Picasso's last words.

I became consumed with how little that one sentence said. Words can carry a civilization or lay flat, without dimension.
So that reflection became the poem. Fantastic movie!

And dear man, I don't speak poet - please explain what you mean by: penultimate strophe. The "Spanish giant" was meant to
be cynical, because while I respect much of his work I have a less-than-great opinion of the man. If that doesn't ring, I should change it.

Jan/29/2009, 2:16 am Link to this post Send Email to SallyMaria   Send PM to SallyMaria Blog
 
Dragon59 Profile
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Re: Picasso's Last Words


Telling me this was submitted and accepted makes me want to avoid commenting on it. (I hesitate commenting on accepted poems because I've had lots of experiences where the poet jumps down your throat *because* it's being published and therefore set-in-stone.) But since you say you're open to comments, here goes.

(I'll admit up front my judgment may be clouded, because I wrote a similar poem about the last words of Henri Matisse, imagining his last words, and addressing them in part to Picasso. And my opinions of the relative positions of the three artists in the run of historical importance is biased towards Matisse in general.)

The poem seems to be in conflict with itself. It's not working for me as well as I'd like.

First, I think your impetus for the poem was a very good one. More questions were raised than answered, in that last moment, and you've compiled a list of good questions. Many of them are very interesting questions. The least interesting questions are the ones about artistic rivalry at the end; but the rest are very good.

Because they're all questions without answers, though, I would have ended the last phrase with another question rather than a period, since that gives the last lines too much weight relative to the other questions—they're not the strongest questions in the poem, so they don't support all the weight given by a period. This is one instance where it might be best to keep the poem consistent and make it ALL questions. Yes?

Second, your opening stanza seems unnecessary. It also confused me, because we're talking about last words—verbal language—and you start off with "lies on the page." Which medium are we using, then? Verbal or written? Cinema or poetry? That could be clearer. One option is to drop this first stanza entirely; or at least remove the reference to the page. For example:

quote:

"Modigliani."

Did he turn his head? . . .



Third: A little of the cynicism you say you intended leaks through in those last two stanzas, but it's not very convincing, to me. It came across to me as sarcasm, as decadence, as judgmentalism. But who is being judged? Picasso, or the reader, or Modigliani? It's confusing and uncertain.

Now, ambiguity is a good thing in poem like this, I think, a poem that is nothing but questions—but the sarcastic/decadent/cynical tone pushed me over the limit and into queasy distaste. It doesn't make me want to like any of the characters in the poem. (Was that your intent?) So I wonder if maybe you're trying too hard to bring out that tone a bit too obviously—"rancid nectar" is over the top, for example—and if you backed off on it a bit, it would come through anyway but be less in-your-face.

Hope that helps.

---
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artdurkee.blogspot.com
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Jan/29/2009, 9:24 am Link to this post Send Email to Dragon59   Send PM to Dragon59
 
SallyMaria Profile
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Re: Picasso's Last Words


Hey Art,

I'm not a jump down your face kind of person. To me, my poems are never set in stone.

I'm glad you took time to comment because I have such respect for your writing, and I want to improve it.

You are so right about the period at the end. Blows me away that one dot can have so much meaning.

I see what you're saying about S-l not being necessary - except that the ambiguity
of a word, a name, on paper (without body language or context) was behind the questioning. I'll have to think about that.

The nectar-orchard reference was for those who didn't know enough to know that there was a bitter rivalry, or that Picasso tended to spit people out and walk on their bones.

I Still wish I had the answer to those questions. I'll be giving your comments a lot of thought. Thanks.



Jan/29/2009, 11:38 am Link to this post Send Email to SallyMaria   Send PM to SallyMaria Blog
 
carolinex Profile
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Re: Picasso's Last Words


Hi Sally,

Congrats on the pub! At that point, I'm finished with a piece myself. You have to stop somewhere...

I took the last line as the author's suggestion that Modigliani was the better painter, even though Picasso is typically considered to be.
Jan/29/2009, 12:44 pm Link to this post Send PM to carolinex
 
SallyMaria Profile
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Re: Picasso's Last Words


emoticon I think he was - Thanks X
Jan/29/2009, 3:12 pm Link to this post Send Email to SallyMaria   Send PM to SallyMaria Blog
 
carolinex Profile
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Re: Picasso's Last Words


I actually don't share that POV though I find many of his women difficult to swallow.
That's funny that Dragon wrote a last words poem too. Would like to read it also...
Jan/29/2009, 6:45 pm Link to this post Send PM to carolinex
 
carolinex Profile
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Re: Picasso's Last Words


BTW, you can keep calling me Ine. X was just because S was already taken.
Jan/29/2009, 6:59 pm Link to this post Send PM to carolinex
 


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