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MacQueen’s Quinterly: Knock-your-socks-off Art and Literature
Issue 3: May 2020
Poem: 127 words [R]
By Robbi Nester

Juxtaposition

—After a photograph of Salvador Dalí with Vermeer and rhino (1955)
 

Art is about nothing if not context. 
Shown here, the artist, 
perched on the edge 
of the keeper’s wheelbarrow, 
ponders his canvas. 
On either side of the animal’s den, 
symmetrically posed, 
Vermeer’s Lacemaker 
and the rhino, ears perked, 
regarding the famous painting 
like a tourist. 
The real and the human-made—
the artwork somehow affixed 
to the cave wall, 
the cave itself, not a natural 
formation of wind and weather, 
but composed carefully 
of concrete, easy to clean 
and care for, 
nothing of the veldt. 
Whose eye is this 
that makes the artist 
part of his own composition, 
stationed among  hollow blocks 
meant to resemble boulders, 
a further comment 
on the juxtaposition 

of life and art? 

 

 

—From Crossing Borders: Ekphrastic Poems and Collaborations, Robbi Nester’s full-length collection of 34 ekphrastic writings, with an introduction by the author and 29 artworks by numerous visual artists; this book is available for publication.

—Poem published previously in Ekphrastic California (20 November 2015), and appears here with the poet’s permission.

 

Publisher’s Notes:

1. Photographs of Dalí with Vermeer and François the rhino can be seen in this article by Alex Q. Arbuckle in Mashable: Retronaut (14 August 2016):

April 30, 1955: Dalí paints a rhino: While balancing a crust of bread on his head (Dalí, not the rhino)

2. See also a related article by Paul Chimera at The Salvador Dalí Society (5 October 2016):

Dalí “Horns” in on Interpretation of Vermeer’s Lacemaker

3. A short video clip: Dalí’s Lacemaker/Rhinoceros Experiments

Robbi Nester
Issue 3, May 2020

is the author of four books of poems, including a chapbook, Balance (White Violet, 2012) and three collections: A Likely Story (Moon Tide, 2014), Other-Wise (Kelsay, 2017), and Narrow Bridge (Main Street Rag, 2019). Her poetry, reviews, articles, and essays have been published widely.

She has also edited a print anthology, The Liberal Media Made Me Do It! Poetic Responses to NPR & PBS Stories (Nine Toes Press, 2014), and an e-anthology of ekphrastic poetry, Over the Moon: Birds, Beasts, and Trees (Celebrating the Photographs of Beth Moon), which was published online in 2016 as a special edition of Poemeleon Journal.

More on the Web: By, About, and Beyond

Three Poems by Robbi Nester in Verse Virtual (January 2020)

Law of Attraction, ekphrastic poem after Van Gogh’s Starry Night Over the Rhone, in Verse Virtual (May 2019)

Night Tunnel, ekphrastic poem after artwork by Robert Rhodes, in The Ekphrastic Review (21 April 2016)

The Locusts, ekphrastic poem after a collage of the same name by Mary Boxley Bullington, in The Ekphrastic Review (13 October 2015)

 
 
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