Collaboration #5 Guillermo Delgado’s image, Anita Skeen responded

Guillermo Delgado’s “Untitled #5″ 2009  mixed media on painted wood, 13.25” x 10.25”

Guillermo Delgado’s “Untitled #5″ 2009 mixed media on painted wood, 13.25” x 10.25”


 For purple mountains majesty.....

 The mountains I knew bloomed purple
 with rhododendron and laurel,
 abundant in ginseng, yellow root
 and black cohosh.
 They were black with seams
 of coal stitching forests
 to slope, threads running
 through rivers and dreams,
 zippers that fastened a man to the land,
 teeth clenched tight against hammer
 and blasting cap.  Men swam
 in streams of blackness miles deep,
 crawled in black creeks, belly flopped
 onto ledge or slab, carbide lamp
 instead of goggles, pick and shovel
 instead of paddles.  A man
 could drown in the mountain.
 Sometimes a man couldn't hold
 his breath long enough.

 Now those mountains bruise
 with the slap and slug of backhoe,
 bone crunch of bulldozer treads,
 the top of the mountain pulverized,
 blown into clouds:  shard of pine,
 heart of tamarack, shattered jaw of possum,
 broken back of raccoon, hoof of deer,
 tattered wing of hawk.
 Rocks rumble down inclines, boulders
 clog hollows, gulleys disappear.
 Debris floods the back yard.
 Houses sit whopperjawed, cattywampus,
 kittycorner on foundations. 
 When a woman bends over
 her washtub, she gags on ammonia
 and sludge.  Clothes hang black
 on the line.  Her pins rust.
 A woman can't breathe in the dust.
 There's no way a woman can
 come up for air.


8 thoughts on “Collaboration #5 Guillermo Delgado’s image, Anita Skeen responded

  1. Almost Heaven… and not quite. The scarring of the mountains from strip mining leaves me searching for words to describe the horror of nature’s rape. Your artful words are a gift.

    I always wondered how to spell whopperjawed, cattywampus, and kittycorner, part of WV’s spoken language, but rarely written. Maybe I don’t read enough.

    G: Did you have any idea what your image would trigger in your poet?


  2. I began by looking at the piece of artwork to maybe get an idea to what the poem would be about. I knew the poem had something to do with a mountain. While I was reading the poem however, I began to make connections with what I saw in the picture and what the author of the poem was trying to explain. It made me think about what the miners went through while stuck in the mountains and why type of working conditions they encountered. However, more importantly, it made me focus on the many different layers of nature trapped within the stone. I believe nature traps history and holds onto it until someone/something discovers it.

  3. When I looked at the artwork I was thinking of a story of my own that connected to the artwork for me. I was interested to see what Anita’s poem would be and if there would be any similarities to the story that I had formed in my mind. But to my pleasant surprise there were no similarities at all. The poem helped me see the artwork from a different viewpoint. That is what I love about art! I also love how art can inspire art in different medians.

  4. What is so amazing and breathtaking about art is not really the art itself but rather the thought that it provokes in the viewer. These interpretations are unique and special to the viewer. No two can interpret a piece of art the same for the interpretations stem from the exclusive experiences and imagination of the observer.

    Looking at the mountain, I saw a journey- one that had a past, is standing in the present and is continuing on into its future. To me, the journey’s future is the focus of this piece. This future is not random or just any future, it is one that was shaped by the journey’s past.

    The top most layer of the mountain would not be there if it were not for the layer underneath it and that layer would not be there if it were not for the layer below that. Each layer is dependent on the mountains past, or the one layer before it. Looking at the mountain, one sees that history shapes the future. Putting this in terms of one’s life, our past shapes where we are heading. This can be taken one step further and interpreted as everything in life, no matter if it is good or bad, will partly influence tomorrow, the next day, the next day after that and so on.

    Now, this is my simple interpretation of the painting. As Catherine noted, Anita’s poem had no similarities to her own story. Not surprisingly, Anita’s poem was completely different than my own interpretation. I think this is not only fascinating but also essential. We need different perspectives to help open our eyes to interpretations we were blind to and concepts we would have never imagined.

  5. What is really remarkable is the fact that the poetry was inspired by the artwork. Something non-verbal/literal inspired a poet to create their own story; imagining things that are not explicitly expressed.

    A comment about the poetry: The enjambment and personification really aide the forward momentum of the poetry.

  6. I thought it was amazing how someone could just look at a painting and come up with such an amazing story. After I read the poem, I kept looking back at the painting and I began to see what the author described. I love the imagery used, even without the painting I could imagine a world that would resemble a similar place. You can tell the amount of effort it must have taken to imagine a world within the painting. I love how Anita interpreted the painting.

  7. Seeing the combination of the painting at the poem reminded me strongly of Postsecret, a series of books containing thousands of secrets mailed from individuals across the world to one man in Maryland. Every once in a while, you come across a rather cryptic secret, and it forces you to pause for a moment and search for a deeper meaning. I’ve been following Postsecret for so long that this method of “searching” for the author’s purpose has become almost ingrained within me, and therefore I viewed these works of art with a Postsecret like perspective. Often times, secrets come with both art and words, and so the words of the poem were the key to the secret of the painting, and vise versa; they are ONE thing, not two; they rely on each other for existence. Perhaps this vision is a bit abstract, but it is, for me, the easiest way to understand how the works are united and how one cannot exist without the other.

  8. When I first looked at this picture, I thought about the different obstacles that one might face when they get to a point in their life. They strive to make it to the top of the mountain, but there are many struggles. Different people will choose a different route to the top. After reading the poem, it became evident that this is the same in poetry. This poem was interpreted completely different by Anita, but in the end, we both came to a conclusion for the painting.

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