Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Art in 5.7.5 - Sestina Variation

© Chuck Close, Self Portrait (detail of right eye), 2000

In Haiku Form with Sestina Formula Repetitions
A fold in his mind
where the brain hides lines; faces
retraced, drawn by marks
the work imagines.
As it becomes art itself,
the copying ends.


Where goals find their ends
in ardors learned by the mind,
eye detects itself
in seas of faces;
colors what he imagines
in shapes that he marks.


Repression leaves marks
expressed through whatever ends,
Aha! imagined.
Right back of his mind
where filmed masks become faces,
he shapes thought itself.


Work wrought, by itself,
unlike those others he marked;
 read in their faces.
Beginnings to ends-- 
disconnected from his mind.
Now, they imagine.

What's meant, imagine
how to arrive at itself?
Where's that in one's mind?
The point that he marks
where every achievement ends,
found in their faces!


In all of their faces,
what lights do they imagine,
when their viewing ends?
Surpassing itself,
moving past color and marks--
to shadows in mind.


In ends and faces
Art's what the mind imagines--
Done, it marks itself.

© Gay Reiser Cannon * 2011* All Rights Reserved

© Gay Reiser Cannon * 2011* All Rights Reserved

Art in 575 by beachanny
Chuck Close in his studio with self portrait.

Inspired by the conversation about the mind and its inspiration for Art among Chuck Close, Oliver Sacks, Richard Serra, Ann Temkin, Eric Kandel, and Charlie Rose - The Charlie Rose Show, PBS, 9/5/2011


  1. Oh, I like this variation of the sestina, combining such economy of form with ordered repetition.

    I'll have to look up Rose's show. What an amazing group of people.

  2. Fascinating creative flow, much different than the original patterns. A wonderful example for those of us learning here. Thank you Gay.

  3. Done, it marks itself.... oh gay - so thankful for this chuck close love his art..i admire your poetic skills and hope i'm one day brave enough to approach a sestina..

  4. "where filmed masks become faces" I liked that.

    made me think of "Pattern Recognition" by William Gibson

  5. If you get the chance to look at the episode, you'll find it inspiring too. Much discussion regarding faces as both Chuck and Richard are "face blind" and that "handicap" has informed their work. They were classmates at Yale and this inability to recognize faces that they saw often enough that they should have known them, but didn't propelled the way they thought, the reason for making notebooks of faces, and changed art in this time.

  6. Thank you guys for reading and commenting. I have no idea if this is the thing they referred to as a haiku sestina - but it's mine and I'm pleased with it. I didn't find it as overwhelming (you know, a "bastard") as the usual ones.

  7. Wonderful to have the short lines. And to actually have it make sense! (Ha ha!) A kind of pointilism. Very cool.

  8. Thanks, Gay, for stepping out of the box and encouraging others to do the same... I love this haiku sestina.

  9. Thank you Gay, I'll really have to catch that Charlie Rose. I love how you've woven together the art and your words, with the inspiration behind them. Written as only a poet and artist could write it, thank you.

  10. This looks like an amazing form to play with, but it definitely doesn't look any easier to me--but then, I can't write in good sharp short lines naturally to begin with. Loved the very beginning and the very end here.

  11. What a wonderful wove together the art and your words. I saw his work in San Francisco and I loved it :)

  12. I really like this! It takes the massive form and places it into small, manageable bits. Well written and beautifully composed.


  13. Having finally written my first standard sestina, I am so inspired by what you present us here to try the haiku variation at some point. Simply amazing.

  14. Wow, amazing piece. I have enough trouble getting through a regular one, I can't think of how hard doing a variational one would be, let alone having to adhere to Haiku standards. Really awesome job Gay, love the write, thanks for a fun but challenging Form for All

  15. wonderful, I had to read everyone's before I began mine. But you seem to have done well.

  16. glad to see shuck once his art since seeing it in nyc...this was so cool how you play within form...i unfortunately struggle

  17. A real hootenan-Beachannean romp here, the Texan haiku Sestina, three harmonic dissonances enfolding, like cerebellum, into this poem ... Something about neuroscience and psychology is fascinating to poetry, as you show, that dull sea brain rousing arising the conscious mind poem, synapses holding hands to fire a mirror held up to nature -- "Art's what the mind imagines--/ Done, it marks itself." Since the ocular switches and reverses the image (projecting what's seen in the left eye onto the screen of the brain's right hemisphere), is the poem then BizarroWorld writ large? I hope so ...

  18. this is truly stunning in its form, Gay! i could not have even imagined it, let alone actually written something like this. you are, i know, a very well-educated and well-read poet but you are sooooo much more! your talent is amazing and you have written a poem more brilliant and beautiful than the art you are describing. thank you for sharing your knowledge at dVerse and your words with us here. ♥ dani

  19. To all you talented guys - I'm so SORRY if I haven't yet read your sestina. Real life interrupted me today. Things are still hanging by threads here and the day wasn't even that productive. I promise to get by as soon as I can and will eventually read all not because I must, but because your work is just too GOOD to miss.

    Brendan, I did read yours before the bell rang me out into the world of medicine, but I want to read it again before I comment. To everyone after Brendan on the list, I'll be by sometime tomorrow if humanly possible.

  20. Very complex train of thought weaving through this! I'm intrigued now, and want to try this variation myself some time.

  21. Oh Gay! This is exquisite!!! I don't understand the form sestina at's so 'foreign' to me for some reason, but I know something of haiku. This honors not only the form (5-7-5) absolutely and formally, but takes it into a new psychological territory.

    These are absolutely fascinating, and so worthy the obvious work that went into them. You have really taken haiku, in my humble estimation, a level above the usual.

    Reading each of these just as haiku is like falling deeply into a river and hitting the bottom where there is more clarity than at the surface. You have done a masterful job with these....


    Lady Nyo

  22. you know, because i was at the beach i did not listen last time...lovely...seriously i love how you show off your mastery of form...

  23. You're getting very creative! Excellent work.

  24. i don't know anything about poetic form, but this was deep and meticulous. you popped in and out of the mind like a house of mirrors:)

  25. It was a bonus to get to hear you read Gay.

  26. oh this is brilliant. there's a lot to learn from your dealing of the form. thanks for sharing.

  27. this was lovely...and I loved listening to you read it!

  28. Thanks everyone for kind and generous remarks on this poem. It was oddly satisfying although limiting too to use this form. It really did force me to think in a different way to try to express the thoughts and make it my take on what was discussed, as well as make it meet those end words.