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Jay DeFeo’s Rose, or Stein cursived hers on her ceiling for Alice: November Butterfly Poetry Prompt 4

Beattie & Pryputniewicz Jay Defeo of November Butterfly

Here is an image of a flower’s flower, replete with “sinuous rills” to borrow from Coleridge (Kubla Khan). We all get to be Georgia in front of a flower, inhabiting her eye for a fractionally inspired several seconds, to the tune of Stein’s refrain “rose is a rose is a rose” circling, just as the words circled the ceiling over Stein’s bed (Alice’s idea, according to Rebecca Mark in the introduction to Lifting Belly). –A Modest Bouquet: Ten Mother’s Days Posts (Feral Mom, Feral Writer)

Today’s prompts are from a poem (forthcoming in November Butterfly, Saddle Road Press, November 1, 2014) written about Jay DeFeo’s painting, The Rose. The poem opens with a nod to Gertrude Stein’s famous phrase “rose is a rose is a rose is a rose”:

  • Stein cursived hers on her ceiling for Alice. Which image or phrase would you cursive across a ceiling for a lover? Write your way to some phrases worthy of such treatment. Use the photograph of the rose to write out your associations. What does a rose represent to you?  (Make your own list of women or associations to get started, ie., Janis Joplin, Bette Midler in her role as Joplin, Georgia O’Keeffe’s flowers).
  • Read this definition of ekphrastic poetry at The Poetry Foundation and browse the links for examples of other poems based on a work of art or statue. Choose a work of art in your home and write from “inside” the artwork. Describe it, enter the scene, inhabit some aspect or figure or object depicted in the painting.
  • Which image or object (if the rose might be associated with the feminine) would you choose to associate with such equal resonance for the masculine?
  • Jay DeFeo changed the name of her painting a number of times; White Rose, Deathrose, and The Rose were names assigned to the painting at different times. Choose a core image in one of your poems. If you were a painter depicting that core image, which three names might you give the image?
  • Choose your own flower and write from inside the flower.

Write for twenty minutes without stopping to edit or censor yourself. Share with us below in comments a portion of your writing or any reflections on your process.

Additional Links:small jpg November Butterfly

Jay Defeo Trust website (see the online gallery of images for The Rose accompanied by quotes), Chronology for Jay DeFeo

On source of Stein’s quote: Gertrude Stein: Rose is a rose 

An additional article, Ekphrasis: Poetry Confronting Art (from poets.org) with links to more examples of ekphrastic poetry

Photos by Robyn Beattie. Cover Design of November Butterfly by Don Mitchell, Saddle Road Press.




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