Verse Envisioned: Poems from the Post-Gazette and works of art they have inspired
January 7, 2016 12:00 AM
Cover of the book "Verse Envisioned: Poems From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and Works of Art They Have Inspired"
The Verse Envisioned project is a book and a gallery exhibition of poetry and art. It is a celebration of Pittsburgh’s brilliant artists and writers.
The poems were selected by a distinguished panel of poets from among more than 1,000 published in the Post-Gazette over the past 22 years. The original works of art were commissioned by curator Rachel Klipa. The results are:
• A book of 45 poems and 25 works of art, is available at the PG Store.
• A poetry/art exhibition at the PANZA Gallery in Millvale running Jan. 16 to Feb. 27. The public opening is from 6 to 9 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 16. All are welcome.
• This online multimedia presentation featuring six of the poems and artworks, with the poets reading their work and the artists describing how they brought that work to life.
(I am, I am not — Mixed media, 40” x 30,” 2015)
Disclaimer to My Future Husband February 16, 2008
I’m unsalvageable scrap metal, a collection of gnarled wire, rusty screws and steel bearings that even the most skilled alchemist couldn’t weld into copper.
I’m an investment that will never mature, a plummeting stock whose net worth is defined only in relation to how valuable it could have been.
I’m a display case that’s never housed any trophies.
I’m an alarm clock ringing in an empty room, always sounding off because that’s what I’ve been programmed to do.
I’m a plaid sofa-bed that refuses to open enough to sleep another person but prides itself on having the capacity.
I’m a dangling modifier waiting to be corrected by a greedy grammar god.
I’m an over-the-counter placebo pill whose authenticity is questioned even by those who rely on it.
I’m the flavor of ice cream you settle for when they’re out of your top five choices.
I’m a carefully constructed wind chime thrashing in the gales of a hurricane. Perhaps I’m the wind, too, as it delights in consuming its most fragile offspring.
I’m a warped sheet of plastic sticking out the side of an eclectic landfill.
I’m a looming neon "Caution" sign hidden from the main road by a Weeping Willow’s dancing branches.
I’m a jar you’ve worked on opening for so long that you no longer crave its brine-soaked treasures.
I’m a water stain on your ceiling — the blemish that ignores six coats of white.
I’m sunburn on a tender stomach — a reminder to the flesh of the carnage associated with being unprotected.
I’m an intense hunger pang whose presence reinforces the distance between Starving and Stuffed.
I’m skid marks betraying an otherwise virgin road, the physical proof that the impetus to slow down always comes a moment too late.
Corey Ginsberg(poet) Corey Ginsberg, a freelance writer living in Miami, has been published in Third Coast, The Cream City Review, The Nashville Review, The Los Angeles Review and other publications. Her nonfiction was listed as Notable in Best American Essays in 2012 and 2014. She is a graduate of Carnegie Mellon University.
Zivi Aviraz(artist) Zivi Aviraz was born and raised in Israel. She arrived in the United States when she was sent as a temporary emissary to the Jewish Community Center in Pittsburgh. What was intended to be a three-year commitment was extended for a lifetime when she met her husband in Pittsburgh and settled in to raise a family. Aviraz studies and experiments with mixed media, including watercolors, pastel and acrylic. Aviraz is a member of the Pittsburgh Society of Artists and of the Associated Artists of Pittsburgh.
(The Rose Bush — Acrylic/latex house paint and pastels on canvas, 24” x 48,” 2015)
Enlisting July 5, 2008
So the dog house is empty now.
Rexie died last summer battling a Honda and Isaac drank the last batch of dog house hooch you made four years ago.
The neighbors cut the front yard for us. No one cuts the back — the grass tassels, turns brown, scatters seeds.
Where are you going? When will you be back? Suddenly, one pair of your shoes on the floor and the living room is a mess.
Maybe the moon is big enough for you. Or the desert is big enough. Or the sky. Or the ocean. Or the Antarctic. Or the desert. Or the moon. Or a mountain somewhere with a desert and a moon.
Some long finger beckons our children: come and live in this foreign city, come and live in this new and beautiful family. Here is better food. Here, your own new window to look out of. A view I will only glimpse from over your shoulder.
I’m the rabbit in the woods. I see too much. Even the trees are dangerous with their snapping twigs and owl’s nests. Listen, son, listen. Listen to everything. Stay still, son. Stay down. Don’t make a sound.
But you are afraid of nothing, yet. So far, nothing has killed you. Every moon you’ve seen has been blue and luck pulls in like a Japanese train. Why wouldn’t you expect holy crusades and rhyming couplets? Buckets of money and unrelenting true love in deep warm grass, along a friendly quiet road?
Linda Lee McDonald(poet) Linda Lee McDonald graduated with an MFA from the University of Pittsburgh where she taught composition and creative writing. Her poetry has been published in literary journals, including 5AM. She won the annual North Carolina State University poetry contest in 1999. A former instructor at the Pennsylvania Governor’s School for the Arts, McDonald now teaches English at Shady Side Academy and lives in Regent Square, Pittsburgh.
Christopher Galiyas(artist) Christopher Galiyas graduated with a BFA from Edinboro University and an MA in art education from Carlow University. He is an art educator, painter and muralist who focuses on bold, bright and “in-your-face” compositions and designs. He has painted numerous murals and paintings for residential and commercial businesses around the Pittsburgh area for more than 15 years.
(Steel Town: Night Shift — Textiles, 44” x 48,” 2015)
Night Driving in the Mon Valley February 26, 1994
And here we are the darkness rushing by the car windows like another river sweeping us downstream.
Stars fly in the night like sparks through the dry towns strung along the shore.
Driving past rolling mills, cold furnaces fallen like bones in the bottoms, we are explorers of our own ruin, driven onward across bridges sketched in steel and stone and light on the river, driven into darkness and off the edge of maps.
And we round the bend streetlights flow down the river, flames shiver on a stack on the far shore, one spotlight making sodium-yellow morning, steam rising like a corpse from the black waters and the sound of industry, trucks on the roads roiling smoke pumping blood
the beating of a heart
Nancy Marie Ott(poet) Nancy Marie Ott is a technical writer and editor for Carnegie Mellon University, where she studied mechanical engineering and engineering and public policy. She also studied nonfiction writing at the University of Pittsburgh, and her poetry has been published in several literary magazines and the Pittsburgh City Paper. She lives in Aspinwall, Pa.
Patricia Kennedy-Zafred(artist) Patricia Kennedy-Zafred is an award-winning textile artist. Originally from Ohio, Kennedy-Zafred moved to Pittsburgh in 1974. She majored in journalism and photography and worked as a paralegal for many years. An avid sewer, Kennedy-Zafred started her art career by making traditional Amish quilts. Her historical quilts have been shown nationally and internationally in places such as England, France and Spain. Kennedy-Zafred co-directed Fiberart International three times and previously served on the Board of Trustees for the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts. She continues to be active in Associated Artists of Pittsburgh and the Fiberarts Guild of Pittsburgh.
(Dear Patrick — silver gelatin print, 16” x 20,” 2015)
Marker: Patrick Flaherty Jr. 1905-1926 March 17, 2001
Ancestors herded like cattle in the steerage of ships, crowded in tenements on lower North Side, now huddle in one plot. Eight bodies in three graves. Young Patrick was the first to die — pneumonia. Then Grandpa Pat, Pittsburgh street paver, with hands as big as shovels and a heart to match. Two more sons, felled by pneumonia and TB. Two stillborn babies, baptized and saved. Grandma survived a while, selling bootleg whisky from the gallon can hidden under the loose floor board beneath the kitchen sink. Uncle Marty’s girlfriend claimed the final spot, so, there was no room for him. He’s planted on the hill. A whole generation marked by one solitary stone, the stone of the first to die on American soil.
Mildred Flaherty(poet) Mildred Flaherty is a retired pediatric nurse and faculty member of the University of Pittsburgh. Her poems have appeared in regional journals and anthologies, including Voices in the Attic, Pittsburgh Quarterly, Loyalhanna Review and Taproot. Her children’s book, The Great Saint Patrick’s Day Flood, deals with remembrances of a 1936 disaster in Pittsburgh. She lives in Dormont, Pa.
Skip Allen(artist) Skip Allen is a Pittsburgh native. He earned a BA in chemistry from Carnegie Mellon University and a Master Craftsman’s degree from the University of Maryland. He studied photography under Bill Bordas and Harold Corsini (1919-2008), and was selected as an International Master of Photography. Allen is inspired by black-and-white landscapes from the 1930s.
(Curtain Call — Oil on panel, 11” x 14,” 2015)
Echocardiogram June 10, 2000
The heart is a large sheet of metal being flapped back and forth by a child making lightning behind the curtain
at a school play. It goes twang-whoosh-boinggg, with ribbons of silver rain blown by a fan offstage.
This is the story of the flood where everyone is saved from sudden death. The heart is a picture beamed back
from space, all dots and dust, clusters of haze on the screen. The child flaps the metal sheet for forty nights and forty days.
Noah wears a beard of cotton wool held up by loops of string around his ears. When it stops raining, the rain is lowered by pulley to the stage.
The tests are inconclusive, the doctor says. Noah won’t kiss Mrs. Noah because Mrs. Noah is a girl. When lightning is no longer necessary,
no noise is made. When Mrs. Noah turns fourteen everything will change. In the meantime, God needs to pee. Contrary to popular belief,
the heart cannot break. At the end, everyone takes a bow, even the fish. Outside, rush-hour traffic begins to build, the freeway on-ramp backed up
past exit 6. Lightning is a random event. The heart is a miracle. There is no limit to how often you can be struck by this.
Micki Myers(poet) Micki Myers is the author of Trigger Finger, winner of the Pearl Poetry Prize, and It’s Probably Nothing …, a breast cancer memoir in poems. Her poems have appeared in more than 100 journals and have been nominated for three Pushcart Prizes. Her original scholarship on the writings of Antarctic explorer Robert Falcon Scott was published in The Paris Review. Myers is also the author of several blogs, including Yuckylicious, featuring the world’s worst cookbooks. She lives in Pittsburgh.
Cara Livorio(artist) Cara Livorio received her BFA in drawing and painting from Pennsylvania State University and pursued graduate studies in visual art and curatorship at the Nuova Accademia di Belle Arti in Milan, Italy. Her current body of work explores intimate “slices of life” that are lost to time but reimagined through her art. Livorio is the owner of Artissima Studio in Fox Chapel, Pa.
(Anesthetic — Mixed media on wood, 24” x 36,” 2015)
Anesthetic July 12, 2003
Like the struggle to watch a late-night movie, you wake just in time to hear the end of a piece of dialogue, and you know you should be reacting along with all the other characters but you’re missing something in the space between work and sleep, movie and life, without a piece of you, without a clarifying line of the script, the key to interpreting that dream you just had, the one where you said goodbye to something taken from you and held, for a moment, under the light.
Jan Hardy(poet) Jan Hardy holds an MFA in poetry from the University of Pittsburgh and her work has appeared in 5 a.m., HEArt, Calyx, Rattle and other journals and anthologies. She works at Carnegie Mellon University and at Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, and lives in Penn Hills, Pa.
Aimee Manion(artist) Aimee Manion holds a BFA in fine arts and a BA in biological anthropology from Indiana University of Pennsylvania. She is fascinated by how art and science intersect, and explores in her art what science cannot explain. Manion’s work can be seen in local Pittsburgh restaurants such as Off the Hook and Bill’s Bar & Burger at the Westin Hotel. She designs album art for local bands and creates hand-painted backdrops for fashion photographers.
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