For our 2023 BVAA Art & Poetry Show pairing, one pairing was with poet Evan Plante and artist Dennis Smith.
Here are the works they created!
Dennis Smith provided this artwork to Evan Plante.
In response, Evan Plante wrote the following poem.
By Evan Plante
Color exists, sound exists and love exists
On two electromagnetic spectra.
One is physical… a mere sliver of which
Can be felt, heard or seen.
The other is spiritual… all knowing, all seeing
But stumm to those who say they hear
And hidden from them who say they see.
I took a walk on a woodland trail
Trying to stay in the moment
But I couldn’t… I simply couldn’t.
Thinking about the ancient stones transported me
Back to their origin, forward to their destruction
And inward to their essence —
To our essences, to our oneness.
We are both stardust… eroding and changing
Both mere slivers of light —
Light which merely hints at our manifold energies.
You see, every entity sings its own song.
Some sing colors and some sing sounds.
But as for those stones and me… well…
We sing love.
The second half of this pairing involved Evan Plante giving Dennis Smith a poem as a starting point. Evan Plante provided this poem:
By Evan Plante
(Joshua 4:6-7). That this may be a sign among you, that when your children ask their fathers in time to come, saying, What mean ye by these stones? (7) Then ye shall answer them, That the waters of Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the LORD; when it passed over Jordan, the waters of Jordan were cut off: and these stones shall be for a memorial unto the children of Israel for ever.
The top-most stone did not fall only suddenly, but reluctantly, at various functions of time, wind, freeze, thaw, moss and animal. He took the time to build the wall, this farmer, in between some desperate runs at agriculture, beating his will against our New England fields—yet defining them with the curious placement of one stone upon another. In time these lines became his lines, these lines became our lines—our boundaries real or imagined, but without care they would surely breach.
While the stones underground work their way up through the soil, the stones on the wall work their way down to the ground. When we stopped cultivating the good fields, we stopped considering their worth, their interruptions, their necessary weight and rightful place in the piles of stones. Without tilling the good earth, its good stones remain and its good walls breach.
I killed a squirrel with such a stone, a mighty toss from a place centuries unplowed. I breached life by cruel misuse. The farmer breached life by giving up. We all breach life by giving in, like the wall which bowed over the frost, its center of gravity drifting by microns to a tipping point beyond our vision where the people perish.
True, the stones were occasionally placed amiss—perhaps in the farmer’s hurried fatigue or even misjudgment, but where were the farmer’s sons that early December after the harvest and before the deep frost? What activity—or inactivity—did they chose to place before their mending wall? When did they decide that the carrying of stones, the inspecting of walls, the plumbing of their sides and the straightening of caps were no longer worthy of attention on a modern farm?
Their father handed over a completed work, his body spent both by using and by defining fields—dragging huge stones to their wall of opportunity. If they had just repaired that one breach—you remember—the one they made to placate the loggers, or if they had replaced that one key stone on the face by the corner, or added to the wall’s width, investing in generations, then I’d not have breached life. But gravity prevails, and blood will not unshed.
In the middle of this thick woods a rubble wall shoots across an impossible hill. A decoration now, shorter by sinking, by the increase of soil around it, and by the accumulating slopes of its breaches that spill mossy rocks over the leaf litter like Impatiens spilling out of those phony whiskey barrels at the corner of driveways. The days shall come when there shall not be left one stone upon another—a time beyond the mending—when we seek another city.
In response, Dennis created this artwork:
To hear a reading of the poetry, and a discussion of the art:
To follow Dennis:
Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/densmith_art/
Main page for the 2023 art-poetry show: