Gertrude Stein and Alice B Toklas by ManRay

repeat meanings change – day – spring – rose    three   five
times – dans le jardin – á Rue de Fleurus
he the eyes lived there – Bateau-Lavoir dive

Alice said – served with brownies – he’d arrive
all came – all poets – all – who would know us
repeating – forms – sit beside & revive

so modern – rules learned – who else could connive
to smash  shards   symbols  altered new rebus
one with eyes – lived there – Bateau-Lavoir dive

generation lost in image – words – live
salon – kindness – art – food – give – generous
repeating – forms – sit beside & revive

drawn in paint – etch song – brush dance – he’d derive
square, cube, block out, heads turn and minds focus
one with eyes – lived there – Bateau-Lavoir dive

exotic – genius – women friends – alive
nurturers of new – finders of find-us
he the eyes, beyond – Bateau-Lavoir dive
repeating – forms – sit beside & revive

© Gay Reiser Cannon * 5/31/12

villanelle as free verse to fit ideas of repetition and novelty
posted for #FormForAll hosted by Sam Peralta

* Bateau Lavoire – name of house where Picasso lived 1901 – 1910 Montmartre Paris
27 Rue de Fleurus – the home of Gertrude Stein and Alice B Toklas – her collection of modern art displayed there and shown at her salons.

17 thoughts on “STEIN – ART – PICASSO

  1. Gay, simply fantastic. Loved the repetition and imagery. I am very much into cubism and Picasso’s part in its life. Very smart write. I pick up something new each read. Clever poem. A plus.

  2. Thank you Henry and Grace. Yes I wanted to scrunch the philosophies of both Gertrude and Picasso. She – thinking automatic writing, juxtaposition of words, spontaneity -would change language. Language changed by order, or repetition, or unusual associations would be suggestive. She was highly educated with a medical school background. She was surgically precise in her use of words, and pure in her philosophy and reasoning. She had studied philosophy and psychology under Henry James brother William James.

    She influenced the poetry of William Carlos Williams, Ford Madox Ford, the prose of Sherwood Anderson and Ernest Hemingway and she brought artists, poets and thinkers together with a respect for both genders. Picasso was a child prodigy. He could paint like an old master at five, he sought energy, vitality, beauty, and newness. In the time of the MODERN, he wanted to cut everything to its finest edge. His buyer, patron, friend and inspiration was Gertrude. What a gal!

  3. I love this poem, it’s artistic and philosophical drives. I learned quite a bit about William James in my psychology course last year and enjoyed deepening the interconnections here. Wonderful to see your experimentation and I always learn something from my visits.

  4. how interesting the compare and contrast of the two styles or philosophies that they had…the really stilted lines…one or two words is very interesting and how much you are able to relay in the snippets…i like it much gay…its fresh and different…

  5. This one is so far over my red neck, I won’t even try to fake a response! I hope you don’t mind a bit of mouth-agape, blinking-rapidly, honesty!
    I might sound like a simple country boy from Texas sometimes, and that’s because I is!

  6. hey..i saw the stein collection at the Met when i was in NYC… awesome… how you capture that energy of both of them, of the art, the time, connection– there must have been an unbelievable inspiring atmosphere when they met… this is a wonderful poem gay

  7. Part of me really wants to explicate this poem, and the other part of me resists. I am so grateful for those of you who have read and commented. This writing is very experimental for me.

    I was trying to take the scraps of things I’ve learned about why Gertrude wrote the way she did, and deduced other things from her poems that I have read. As you know it isn’t really my “voice” here, but my wanting to try this idea of having words do more than their meaning by repetition and juxtaposition. I’m not sure I succeeded but it was a noble experiment, I think.

  8. I loved the atmosphere, and kept looking for Woody Allen to step in, for his MIDNIGHT IN PARIS had a lot of this energy and historical inevitability. Artists and writers do not seem to hob knob in the same way today; a shame that. I see both women as taller than Picasso, so they sat a lot.

  9. This is an absolutely fabulous poem, and possibly the most accomplished and exact response to my challenge of a free-verse-poem-that-isn’t. Apart from the themes already raised above, I’m up in standing ovation mode for your use of the dashes.

    This device accomplishes so many things so simply: it introduces an pictorial “line” using nothing more than a standard typographic symbol; it sets up a manifestation of Cubism throughout the poem, with each dash a Cubist facet; it visually breaks up the villanelle so that to casual readers it is no longer a structured poem; it connects a “moving average” duo and trio of words throughout the poem to create new poetic and artistic associations (a symbolic rebus of .”drawn in paint – etch song” “etch song – brush dance”)… So effective that the mind pauses at the un-dashed lines, is forced to ponder the encapsulated un-dashed idea. Bravo!

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