Art – Poetry – Donna Manley and Karen Elizabeth Sharpe

For our 2017 Art & Poetry pairing, one pairing was with artist Donna Manley and poet Karen Elizabeth Sharpe.

Here are the works they created!

Donna provided this photograph to Karen Elizabeth:

In response, Karen Elizabeth wrote the following poem:

Days End Dance

Billy Idol pulls my hair into pointy blonde spikes
throws a collar on me and I’m grooving

even before my eternal voice went bankrupt.
Suddenly, I’m thinking this poem wants

to be a love poem so bad.
I’m not saying my father abandoned me.

He just died, stranding me on the flip side of 13
when I was a needle ready for a vein.

I back-fill over and over in search of him.
I push my way into a scrum of boys

dancing to the radio on the patio.
I want to be a part of their music.

You look like a hooker. It’s my mother
standing in our orange and yellow kitchen

phone cord twisting round her fingers, you can’t
go out like that, she says. But I’m trying

to look like that, I say.
I could, if I wanted

hang Madonna’s crosses round my neck
make them want me even more.

The second half of this pairing involved Karen Elizabeth giving Donna a poem as a starting point. Karen Elizabeth provided this poem:

Soon Silence Will Have Passed Into Legend

The sounds of the city
are cars that need mufflers
church bells and sirens
a restaurant’s happy hour kitchen
bass lines bubbling from porches and windows
a fountain of beats spilling
from the sunroofs of cars
and this, too, the moment in the bar
when my husband needs the bathroom
and not recognizing the glad hand
of an old acquaintance reaching for him
he blurts out the way he leans
on the horn at Kelley Square
“I have cancer”
having just come from the hospital
“I have cancer”
like he’s got his foot on the gas
riding hard to get to the other side
“I have cancer,”
blaring, like the noon fire alarm
in our small town on Saturday afternoons
“I have cancer,”
his martini half gone
his shaker of ice just beginning to sweat
its steely perspiration the only thing
keeping silent in the din of it all.

In response, Donna created this photograph:

2017 Art-Poetry Pairing main page