If you stripped your art down to the bare bones, what would be left? A line? A word? An emotion? If you look at the history of the arts, you will notice that artists vacillate between extravagance and simplicity, between embellishment and bare bones. My style has been one of simple speech, with few big words or large flourishes. If you distilled your art down to its essence, what would you find? What is at the core of your art?
April is poetry month. Here is a poem by Rita Dove.
"Teach Us To Number Our Days"
In the old neighborhood, each funeral parlor
is more elaborate than the last.
The alleys smell of cops, pistols bumping their thighs,
each chamber steeled with a slim blue bullet.
Low-rent balconies stacked to the sky.
A boy plays tic-tac-toe on a moon
crossed by TV antennae, dreams
he has swallowed a blue bean.
It takes root in his gut, sprouts
and twines upward, the vines curling
around the sockets and locking them shut.
And this sky, knotting like a dark tie?
The patroller, disinterested, holds all the beans.
August. The mums nod past, each prickly heart on a sleeve.
(By Rita Dove from Yellow House on the Corner, Carnegie Mellon University Press, 1989)
Here is Rita Dove reading another of her poems.