lyrical abstraction

Anita Skeen

Anita Skeen

Lyrical Abstraction was selected for MSUL’s themed call for work about Water, in coordination with the MSU Broad Art Museum’s fall 2023 exhibition, Flint is Family in Three Acts, featuring the photography of Latoya Ruby Frazier.

after Helen Frankenthaler's Mountains and Sea (1952)
Splashes of blue, periwinkle and cobalt
wings lifting the image, bottom
to top, and green, sage
of the New Mexico desert,
early spring mountains in West Virginia
and red -- apples, blood, lipstick
on a tissue, rubber boots for winters
long gone.  Rising through the whirlwind,
wind-whipped color, fabric swatches,
a diaphanous shape, ghost
of a memory:  my mother, most
of whose years were spent in mountains
with ice on winter roads, but who longed for
the ocean, waves repeating their coming
and going, curl and foam, and she out beyond
the breakers, side stroking, white bathing cap
blooming a blue dahlia, swimming back and forth,
and I'm a child on the shore (see sand dumped
on the paint?) watching, loving the bright suits
of the women, all-day sucker swirls of beach
umbrellas, even my sunburn (see splotches
of pink?) not thinking at all about waves
of pine, white caps of snow, the path (see
it curving, right to upper left?) that I follow
into the woods, into the future.  And the past.
Anita Skeen is currently Professor Emerita in the Residential College in the Arts and Humanities at Michigan State University where she was the Founding Director of The RCAH Center for Poetry at MSU and is the Series Editor for Wheelbarrow Books.  She has been the Coordinator of the Creative Arts Program at Ghost Ranch for 41 years, and the Fall Writing Festival for 23 years.
She is the author of six volumes of poetry: Each Hand A Map (1986); Portraits (1990); Outside the Fold, Outside the Frame (1999); The Resurrection of the Animals (2002); Never the Whole Story (2011); When We Say Shelter (2007), with Oklahoma poet Jane Taylor; and The Unauthorized Audubon (2014), a collection of poems about imaginary birds accompanied by the linocuts of anthropologist/visual artist Laura B. DeLind.. With Taylor, she co-edited the literary anthology Once Upon A Place: Writings from Ghost Ranch (2008). Her poetry, short fiction, and essays have appeared in numerous literary magazines and anthologies. Collaboration is an important aspect of her work and she currently involved in writing projects with poets Jane Taylor and Cindy Hunter Morgan, and visual artist Laura DeLind.

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