Published on Academy of American Poets (https://poets.org)


A Painter’s Thoughts

I want to paint in a way that the “I” disappears into the sky and trees
The idea of a slowed down, slowly unfolding image held my attention

Variations on a theme are of no interest. A bowl and cup are not ideas.
I want my painting to be what it contains: it should speak, not me

The idea of a slowed down, slowly unfolding image held my attention
I paint things made of clay, just as the pigments I use come from the earth

I want my painting to be what it contains: it should speak, not me
Brown and ochre stoneware bowls beside a white porcelain pitcher

I paint things made of clay, just as the pigments I use come from the earth
I place the pale eggs on a dark, unadorned tabletop and let them roll into place

Brown and ochre stoneware bowls beside a white porcelain pitcher
The dusky red wall is not meant to symbolize anything but itself

I place the pale eggs on a dark unadorned tabletop and let them roll into place
I want to paint in a way that the “I” disappears into the sky and trees

The dusky red wall is not meant to symbolize anything but itself
Variations on a theme are of no interest. A bowl and cup are not ideas.

Credit


Copyright © 2020 by John Yau. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on May 18, 2020 by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem


“I wrote the poem in response to the paintings of William Bailey, an artist known for his austere still lifes and figure paintings. I had been commissioned to write an essay on his work for his exhibition at Yale University and was immersing myself in images of his work, reading statements he made and different interviews he gave, which got inside my head. I wanted to see if I could have the artist speak, rather than speaking about him.”
John Yau

Author


John Yau

Art critic, essayist, poet, and prose writer John Yau teaches at Rutgers University.

Date Published: 2020-05-18

Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/painters-thoughts