The Written Image: Poets on Painters

From the July/August 2007 issue of
Poets & Writers Magazine

Guillaume Apollinaire and Marcel Duchamp, Gertrude Stein and Pablo Picasso, Frank O'Hara and Larry Rivers—they were some of the great poet-painter collaborators of the twentieth century. Now, an exhibition at the Ulrich Museum of Art at Wichita State University in Kansas presents a look at the next century of collaborations by pairing twenty contemporary poets with twenty contemporary paintings. The painting above, Untitled by Lamar Peterson, is being shown along with the poem it inspired, "Down the mountain (an afternoon appearance of man and mystery)" by Sueyeun Juliette Lee, in Poets on Painters, through August

5. The show's catalogue, designed by Jeff Clark, features all twenty paintings and poems, as well as an essay by curators Katie Geha and Travis Nichols that is written as a series of letters. In his introduction to the catalogue, poet Anselm Berrigan, the former director of the St. Mark's Poetry Project in New York City, describes the way in which a viewer-reader of the exhibition is asked to look at a painting and read a poem near simultaneously, resulting in a third kind of experience. Berrigan characterizes this third experience as "necessarily intense, bewildering, tonally charged at all points, and capable of changing at any moment." After its premiere in Wichita, Poets on Painters will travel to Queens Library in Jamaica, New York, and the Sheldon Memorial Art Gallery at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln.