Posts Tagged ‘poems’

Just a small collection of some of the graffiti, and related, that I have seen lately.

part of a mural on a wall, words that say the walls won't know what hit them.

below: A on top and B below.  A = Alvin the Chipmunk as Aladdin.  B = Bugs Bunny as Bullwinkle eating a banana.

two coloured posters on a box on the street, both torn. On top, on red background is bugs bunny. on bottom on orange background is bugs bunny eating a banana

below: Street art by Mike Salisbury, “Out of Time” red emergency phone.

out of time, red emergency phone, street art, in old wall phone booth

below: Between the Madness Festival and the Hitler poster, a four line poem from “The Hawaiian healing program Ho’oponopono”.  It’s a real thing apparently and perhaps I’m forgiven, thanked and loved.

on a bulletin board, three 8 and one inch by 11 inch papers, posters in black ink,

below: Some friendly ghostly figures in time for Christmas.

ghostly white paper slaps on a met box, ghost faced bat, also bear in overalls,

below: Some black on white faces and a streetadventures sticker

stickers on a pole

below: Danger due to resisting.

red and white danger due to sign, altered to say Danger due to resisting

below: Life jackets required because of a water hazard danger.

red and white danger due to sign, altered to say danger due to water hazard, life jackets required

cat graffiti on cardboard, tied to Toronto circular bike stand

Parler23 is actually Parler Sneaker Company so this is probably part of an ad campaign.

happy cat waving sticker, holding gold coin that says get the money

happy cat sticker on a wall

To mask or not to mask?  Masks have turned out to be a very useful tool in stopping the spread of the corona virus.  All you have to do is look at the stats in countries such as South Korea and Vietnam where mask wearing is the norm and compare those numbers to the stats in countries such as here in Canada where mask wearing took some time to catch on.  Only 38 people have died from COVID in Vietnam compared to almost 10,000 here in Canada.

In the early days of COVID (doesn’t it seem like a long time ago?) masks were controversial.  There were a lot of mixed messages from public health – remember when wearing a mask was going to increase your chances of getting sick because you can’t help but play with your mask and then touch your face?   Now, there are laws and rules that stipulate that you have to wear a mask indoors – in stores, in schools, on airplanes (who’s flying these days any way?), and in other public places.   The argument switched from ‘masks won’t keep you from catching the virus’ to ‘the masks prevent you from giving the virus to other people.’

a couple walking on Yonge Street, holding hands, waiting for a light to change, he's in a blue shirt and wearing a covid mask

“Virtue has a veil, vice a mask.” quote, French author Victor Hugo

 I was looking for help in writing about COVID-19 and people and masks and why we were slow to accept the practice.  I went looking through google for quotes and poems about masks because I wanted to explore the idea that in western culture wearing masks is just not done.  Masks are for thieves and others who are up to no good.  The bad guy always wears a mask when he wants to rob a bank.  Masks are for hiding your identity and fooling facial recognition software.

I have to add that the wearing of masks has become political although not to the extent that it has in the States where Trump has made the mask a symbol of weakness.   We have our anti-maskers and they are still protesting (there was one in downtown Toronto today but I missed it).   Apparently there were a couple of hundred people at Yonge Dundas square protesting lockdown measures in the name of Canadians’ constitutional rights and freedoms (CityTV link).

three people on bikes on Yonge street during streets open, the man in front is wearing an anonymous mask

The ‘Anonymous’ mask, or Guy Fawkes mask, was used in the 2005 movie “V for Vendetta” where Fawkes was presented as a champion for human rights, an anti-establishment figure.  It has become one of the most recognized symbols of protest around the world.

three people, two women and a man, waiting outside in a line up for a store, all three are wearing masks.

One of the poems that I found was “We Wear the Mask” written by Paul Laurence Dunbar in 1896.  It’s opening lines are:

“We wear the mask that grins and lies,
It hides our cheeks and shades our eyes,–
This debt we pay to human guile;
With torn and bleeding hearts we smile,
And mouth with myriad subtleties.”

So now we have another “use” of a mask.  The invisible mask that we wear to hide our true selves from other people.  This quote from Japanese author Haruki Murakami complements the idea: “It’s not the people who change, it’s the mask that falls off”.

The last poem I found was one where the American author Maya Angelou adapted Dunbar’s poem (above).  It’s long.  It has nothing to do with COVID and probably not much to do with Toronto either.  But in these unusual topsy turvy times, so what?  It’s not a happy poem.  But mix together COVID and its doleful fall-out, plus the protests surrounding Black Lives Matter and the simultaneous fight to increase recognition of Indigenous rights, stir it all together and presto, befuddled and disconsolate times.

“We wear the mask that grins and lies.
It shades our cheeks and hides our eyes.
This debt we pay to human guile
With torn and bleeding hearts . . .
We smile and mouth the myriad subtleties.
Why should the world think otherwise
In counting all our tears and sighs.
Nay let them only see us while
We wear the mask.

We smile but oh my God
Our tears to thee from tortured souls arise
And we sing Oh Baby doll, now we sing . . .
The clay is vile beneath our feet
And long the mile
But let the world think otherwise.
We wear the mask.

When I think about myself
I almost laugh myself to death.
My life has been one great big joke!
A dance that’s walked a song that’s spoke.
I laugh so hard HA! HA! I almos’ choke
When I think about myself.

Seventy years in these folks’ world
The child I works for calls me girl

I say “HA! HA! HA! Yes ma’am!”
For workin’s sake
I’m too proud to bend and
Too poor to break
So . . . I laugh! Until my stomach ache
When I think about myself.
My folks can make me split my side
I laugh so hard, HA! HA! I nearly died
The tales they tell sound just like lying
They grow the fruit but eat the rind.
Hmm huh! I laugh uhuh huh huh . . .
Until I start to cry when I think about myself
And my folks and the children.

My fathers sit on benches,
Their flesh count every plank,
The slats leave dents of darkness
Deep in their withered flank.
And they gnarled like broken candles,
All waxed and burned profound.
They say, but sugar, it was our submission
that made your world go round.

There in those pleated faces
I see the auction block
The chains and slavery’s coffles
The whip and lash and stock.

My fathers speak in voices
That shred my fact and sound
They say, but sugar, it was our submission
that made your world go round.

They laugh to conceal their crying,
They shuffle through their dreams
They stepped ’n fetched a country
And wrote the blues in screams.
I understand their meaning,
It could an did derive
From living on the edge of death
They kept my race alive
By wearing the mask! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha!

 

Wear your mask!  The COVID one that is.

In Graffiti Alley to be more specific.

Recently, a few pasteups have appeared in Graffiti Alley that are either text based or have a lot of words written on them.

One series consists of posters with sayings credited to A.J. Maldo whose instagram page calls the work “Poetry for the Mind, Body, Soul”.  You’ll find many more of these positive messages if you follow the instagram link.  I saw three in Graffiti Alley yesterday. 

a poster with a saying or perhaps poes credited to A.J. Maldo

“A simple notion to reveal an ocean, without commotion, you can swim in stride if only you tried, even in times of waves, be confident, you have what it takes.”

.

a poster with a saying or perhaps poes credited to A.J. Maldo

“Dig in deep where beauty grows, see in you where the magic rose, your soul is at stake, no time to waste, choose your fate, inside it waits.”

.

on a wall in Graffiti Alley, a poster with a saying or perhaps poes credited to A.J. Maldo, with a woman in a turquoise sari walking past

“It’s not easy realizing that you’re the one who has been holding you back this entire time.”

The next paste-up, seen up high on a wood utility pole, is by hnr_hnr (aka Henrique Nobrega from Brazil).  You probably recognize the girl in the picture.  I am not sure what the words say but the text starts with “girl” and ends with “half woman”.    A lot of Nobrega’s paintings and stickers involve words.

on a wood utility pole, a picture of the girl in the Vermeer painting with words written part in English and part in Dutch over her face

below: The woman and the text/symbols below her are both by Nobrega.  The words talk about ups and downs and enjoying the ride in this cosmic world.

six paper paste up graffiti pieces, four with mens faces in profile with top of head missing but eye beside the chin, one with black woman in profile with yellow over her face, and one with words and symbols

And last is this hand written note, a poem.   By ending with this one, I am ending on a down note but c’est la vie, swim in stride, it’s all part of the ride.

hand written note on white paper written in pen, pasted onto wall in Graffiti Alley

A Thought without Warmth
More powerful a trauma
a wound of fright
Most and all the sadness
in the darkness with
no light
To be alone
alone in the night
[a drawing of an open book of paper matches]

***

I am me!

Florine Stettheimer: Painting Poetry,
an exhibit at the Art Gallery of Ontario

Florine Stettheimer (1871-1944) was the 4th child of five, daughter of  Joseph and Rosetta.  Joseph, a banker, abandoned the family early on and was never mentioned again.  Older siblings Walter and Stella married and moved out while the younger three girls, Ettie, Florine and Carrie remained in the same household with their mother until their deaths.   They became known as “the Stetties”.  They hosted salons in Manhattan and lived a life of leisure and artistic pleasure.

below:  Family Portrait II, 1933, This painting has flowers, New York City references, and Florine Stettheimer’s immediate family portrayed in a theatrical setting/arrangement.  These are themes that occur over and over again in Stettheimer’s work.  Here Ettie is reading, Rosetta is playing cards, Florine is painting, and Carrie is playing hostess.

painting by Florine Stettheimer on display at the Art Gallery of Ontario

The Stettheimer children were born in Rochester NY.  Between 1906 and 1914 Florine and her mother and sisters lived in Europe before settling in Manhattan.

A portion of the exhibit features  a collection of designs for costumes for a ballet that Florine wrote while she was in Paris in 1912.  ‘Orphee of the Quat-z-Arts’ (or ‘Revellers of the Four Arts Ball’) was based on a costume parade organized by Parisian art students and in it the main character, Georgette, encounters the ancient Greek minstrel Orpheus and a parade of mythical creatures, as she and her father walk down the Champs Elysee.  The ballet was never performed.

below: One of 42 sketches and 9 relief maquettes, Georgette.

costume design mockup by Florine Stettheimer, AGO exhibit,

below: People, both men and women, were painted with elongated willowy shaped bodies.

a woman looking at a painting by Florine Stettheimer, AGO,

Florine also wrote poetry and she liked to send her poems to her friends.  In 1949 her sister Ettie published a book of Florine’s poems titled ‘Crystal Flowers’.  This is one of the poems:

And Things I Loved
a poem by Florine Stettheimer

Mother in a low-cut dress
Her neck like alabaster
A laced up bodice of Veronese green
A skirt all puffs of deeper shades
With flounces of point lace
Shawls of Blonde and Chantilly
Fichues of Honeton and Point d’Espirit
A silk jewel box painted with morning glories
Filled with ropes of Roman pearls
Mother playing the Beautiful Blue Danube
We children dancing to her tunes
Embroidered dresses of White Marseilles
Adored sashes of pale watered silk
Ribbons with gay Roman stripes
A carpet strewn with flower bouquets
Sevres vases and gilt console tables
When sick in bed with childhood ills –
All loved and unforgettable thrills.

 

below:  The painting in the foreground of this picture is ‘Self-Portrait with Palette (Painter and Faun)’, 1910s.  According to the words that accompany the painting, the faun behind her symbolizes a memory inspired by Russian ballet star Vaslav Nijinsky whom she saw perform in Paris in 1912.  After the performance, Florine wrote: “Nijinsky the faun was marvelous.  He seemed to be truly half beast… He knew not civilization – he was archaic – so were the nymphs.  He is the most wonderful male dancer I have seen”.

people at the Art Gallery of Ontario in a gallery featuring paintings by Florine Stettheimer,

below: Self-portrait, 1933

two women looking at a portrait painted by FLorine Stettheimer,

“For a long time
I gave myself
To the arrested moment
To the unfulfilled moment
To the moment of quiet expectation
I painted the trance moment
The promise moment
The moment in the balance
In mellow golden tones…
Then I saw
Time
Noise
Color
Outside me
Around me
Knocking me
Jarring me
Hurting me
Rousing me
Smiling
Singing
Forcing me in joy to paint them…”

This exhibit continues at the AGO until 28 January 2018