Experience Ekphrasis: Art and Poetry at PMA

Posted on March 7th, 2017

Artword at the Portland Museum of Art is an event based on the ancient practice of writing poetry in response to visual art. An ekphrastic poem offers the reader insight into visual artwork that the eye might not see. April 14th I will join other poets in sharing a written interpretation of a piece of visual artwork that is currently on display and part of the permanent collection at the PMA. My poem is inspired by the piece At Cassis, painted by my cousin Russell Cheney (see below).

I was born the year he died, and I grew up next to his studio. Although I never knew him, his art inspired me to follow in the family tradition. The last stanza of my poem reflects that connection:

Your backs are turned from
the water view. You look directly
at me, as if to say,
           I see you there
as you see me:
           through a brush lightly,
across a century.

—Kate Cheney Chappell

Art Cassis by Russell Cheney; Courtesy Portland Museum of Art

Art Cassis, 1930, oil on canvas
Russell Cheney (1881-1945); Portland Museum of Art

For more information on this event: portlandmuseum.org/events

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