|Rothko Chapel, Houston, TX|
This past April 4, the Friendswood Public Library hosted a poetry reading by a group of poets known as Net Poets Society. Their newest member, a fine poet by the name of Kathryn Lane, read a poem inspired by the work of artist Mark Rothko. I was reminded how much I admire this artist’s work and later asked Kathryn if she would share these Rothko inspired poems with our from the reference desk readers. Those of us who live in the Houston area are privileged to be close to The Menil Collection, Rothko Chapel, and Cy Twombly Gallery off of Sul Ross Street. I have visited these collections many times and have never left without feeling inspired by the experience.
This entry is timely given the fact that the Menil is celebrating Rothko Chapel’s fortieth anniversary with “an installation of rarely exhibited canvases by Mark Rothko, closely related to those the artist completed for the chapel.”
Below we find two poetic expressions of the work of Mark Rothko by poet Kathryn Lane.
Kathryn Lane began writing fiction in 2009 after leaving an international finance position in Latin America and the Caribbean with Johnson & Johnson. Her short stories have been published in Swirl and The Texas A&M Border Fiction Anthology. While attending a writing workshop at Texas A&M in November of 2011, Kathryn attended a poetry reading and fell in love with the intimacy of poems and began experimenting with poetry. Since then, her poems have appeared in Homeless Diamonds, a London-based poetry journal, Primitive Archer, Swirl and The Poetry at Round Top Anthology. A native Spanish speaker, Kathryn has performed poetry in both English and Spanish.
Kathryn is a board member of the Montgomery County Literary Arts Council.
Subdued light bathes the gallery
where paintings hang
in a mysterious, almost spiritual, quality.
Brushstrokes talk in hushed tones
over rabbit skin glue,
revealing shadows of vagueness
apparent in the under painting,
tails of pigment fanning out into fuzzy edges
like a million nerve endings dancing
on the reds, maroons and crimsons.
After all these years, the old
yet energetic blocks of color palpate
the artist’s energy: his ecstasies, his tragedies,
his doom, like a shadow of the man falling
upon a red canvas, foretelling the future.
The paintings were black with a hint of brown, perhaps;
they hung on walls—brooding;
the rectangles hovering tensely next to each other
like unhappy lovers.
The silence suddenly seemed profound;
the room acquired a dimension beyond the mundane—
like the artist would have liked—
space widened, diffused light became three dimensional
and the paintings reflected movement and modulation of color.
I sat there feeling the luminosity of silence
observing dim light infuse breath and life
into the black paint until the silence inside of me
became too much to bear.
~ Kathryn Lane
More poems by Kathryn Lane: