The Poet's Notes On Her Poem
James Rosenquist's painted series, "Gift Wrapped Dolls." Rosenquist's works portray close-ups of the faces of dolls from the 1950s -- mass-produced dolls with generic features offering blank stares. The artist had wrapped the dolls in plastic, photographed them and, from the photographs, created his paintings. The paintings are also huge, all 60" x by 60" squares. As I wrote in my interview, "The paintings disconcert and perhaps repel; but, ultimately, they seduce the viewer into fascination."
Certainly, when you see even just this photo from the book, I think you can sense the power of Rosenquist's paintings:
It's no wonder that Hagedorn opens her ekphrastic poem "Picture This" with a visceral image from her lines
A woman hurled. Hurled out
Hurls herself out the window
Jessica's poetry is inspirational to me in many ways, but in the case of my poem "IN PASSING," I nod to something she'd once said about poetry or the poem: that it doesn't sit on its ass fanning itself. That is, the poem has to be more energetic. For "IN PASSING," I nod to the power of imagery, specifically its ominosity. I'd grown up considering dolls a positive thing -- an object of joy, of gifts. The idea that a doll can disconcert and possibly repel -- as can be the case with the dolls Rosenquist painted -- has stayed with me for years. Perhaps its implications just align themselves with long-held speculations about the cost of Beauty.