Ablution, from The Barking Wall by Brendan George Ko
We’ve been pairing art + poems since 2010 (unofficially, farther back than that!) and we’re perpetually pleasantly surprised by what the exercise exhumes. Poetry and art have a symbiotic relationship that goes beyond ekphrastic excellence. Their dialogue brings new beauty to the surface, revealing otherwise invisible interchanges, or magnifying certain moments and motifs. Taking a look at the two works in tandem enriches your experience of each, and opens the mind’s eye to the interplay of the written and visual worlds. Also, they’re just fun to come up with. Give it a whirl yourself and you’ll see what we mean!
In honor of National Poetry Month we’ve put together some new poetry + print matchups to win your word-loving heart. All the poems we are featuring come from our friends at Poets.org, publishers of the delightful Poem-a-Day series—sign up here! If you ask us, these pairings perform best when left to their own devices, so we’ll be presenting them without comment. Feast your eyes on the first batch, below (click through to the blog for the full reveal), and stay tuned all month for more. —Team 20x200
Paired: Brendan George Ko + June Jordan
These poems by June Jordan
they are things that I do
in the dark
reaching for you
whoever you are
are you ready?
they are stones in the water
These skeletal lines
they are desperate arms for my longing and love.
I am a stranger
learning to worship the strangers
whoever you are
whoever I may become.
Paired: a 20x200 Vintage Edition + Rae Armantrout
Thing by Rae Armantrout
We love our cat
for her self
regard is assiduous
for she sits in the small
patch of sun on our rug
and licks her claws
from all angles
and it is far
to “balanced reporting”
though, of course,
it is also
the very same thing.
Paired: Johanna Goodman + Mary Oliver
Wild Geese by Mary Oliver
You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting —
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.
With poems + prints for everyone,