Who says poetry “makes nothing happen”? My Bourgeois post inspired my cousin Charlie Finch, columnist for Artnet, to send me a couple of the poems he’s published as a form of art criticism over the years: for example, these on Deborah Solomon and Elizabeth Peyton, or this on Louise Bourgeois. Even though we disagree entirely about Bourgeois’ art, he has here picked up, albeit mockingly, on her very true message that it is never too late to heal from childhood wounds. This is one of the reasons I found Bourgeois’ late work at the Whitney exhibit so moving–the pain of the child was so close to the surface, and it was clear from the rest of the exhibit how much work and time it had taken her to bring it out to that point.
It’s exciting, and surprising, that someone not known for writing poetry would choose serious poetry (not only light verse, which is of course used more often for political and social commentary) as a vehicle for actually conveying ideas in this day and age, when poetry is supposed to be defunct except as a lyrical mode of art-for-its-own-sake. Wanting to acknowledge this effort, I asked Charlie if he’d be willing to respond briefly to a few questions for this blog:
What inspired you to use poetry rather than prose to get your ideas across in these two instances?
All my poems are about women artists; they are a platonic billet-doux, to wit, they and their work inspired me.
The Bourgeois poem is a sonnet, the Solomon free verse. Do you see a connection between form and content there?
Unlike my learned cousin, the foot fetishist, I wouldn’t know a spode-ee-o-dee from an anabaptist. It’s all rhythm in my head, and I studied poetry at Yale with Richard Howard and Jean Valentine to no visible effect.
Do you know of any other art criticism poems? Do you plan to write any more?
No other art critic, to my knowledge, uses poetry as a means of criticism; I invented it, for better or, probably, worse. I write personal poems to my friends, male and female, all the time; my pal, art critic Sarah Douglas, believes that Twitter will lead to new avenues in doggerel; if the inspiration is there, the poem follows.