Final Project-Salvador Dali Ekphrastic Poems


Below are five ekphrastic poems I wrote for five Salvador Dali paintings. I manipulated poems to take the shape of objects that I thought represented the themes of my poems. Below these poems are the five Salvador Dali paintings themselves. Try to guess which poem correlates with which painting! Have fun!


Swans Reflecting Elephants

Geopoliticus Child

Cafe De Chinitas
City of Drawers

Face of War




Answers: 1st drawing–Cafe De Chinitas; 2nd–City of Drawers; 3rd–Geopoliticus Child; 4th–Swans Reflecting Elephants; 5th–Face of War



A blog post on Montevidayo

The primary reason that I was drawn to Montevidayo was the background: rough sketches of what looks like a group of people as well as an airplane flying in the sky. When I read the “about” page I was even more interested.  Montevidayo seems to be an everything blog, a collaboration of multiple authors seeking to create a dialogue about a multitude of subjects. I love this idea of many different writers coming together to bring this multifaceted blog to life. Moreover, the topics are diverse and intriguing, ranging from poetry to art to film to ecology to the metaphysical.

One of the first posts to catch my eye was “Japanese Gurlesque: Molly Bendall on Kazuko Shiraishi” by Lucas de Lima. I have never heard of the word “gurlesque” until I read this blog post. When I looked it up online I came across a book on Amazon with the same name in its title. Gurlesque: a combination of girl, grotesque, and burlesque. A part of me wishes that the blog post had provided some sort of definition or a little background information on the word, and a part of me is perfectly fine with it, seeing as there are context clues. Furthermore, it forces the reader to do his/her own research instead of laying out all the information, which might make blog posts sound clunky and awkward. In the blog post, the author provides some information about Shiraishi, a Japanese poet who, during the ’60s and ’70s, published  “risqué, outlandish poems,” though she still continues to write well into her ’80s. The author of the post provides three black and white photos of women, one of who I am assuming is Shiraishi herself though I’m not sure as there are no captions provided. One is of a woman in a polka dot outfit standing next to a horse. The other is of a woman, shirtless, sitting on the ground with her clothes clutched to her chest. The other is of a woman from the shoulders up. The author provides several pieces of poetry from one of Shiraishi’s collections, titled Seasons of Sacred Lust. He/she explains that she often performed her pieces with a jazz accompaniment and read them in a “Samurai movie voice.” The author describes her poetry as girly, grotesque, and brutal. With phrases like

“Sumiko, I’m sorry
But the penis shooting up day by day
Flourishes in the heart of the cosmos
As rigid as a wrecked bus”


“The sexual legs of chickens
Killed by your old lady
Boiling in a pot
Women’s pubic hair”

Shiraishi’s poetry is indeed bold, zany, and provocative. The explanation provided, while informative, takes a backdrop to the excerpts provided. They are extremely evocative and makes me want to read more.

Salman Rushdie reading November 13, 2013


Seeing Salman Rushdie in person and hearing him read aloud from some of his books was a hugely rewarding experience for me. He is a funny, smart, engaging individual, and I’m so glad I went to the reading. Mr. Rushdie started off by reading an excerpt from Joseph Anton, his memoir and most recent book (he used the name “Joseph Anton” as his pseudonym), which describes his life under the fatwa he had received in 1989. He explained that the excerpt hewould be reading from was in regards to his being invited to speak at a free speech conference at Columbia University. The scene itself was about the nine-vehicle motorcade that would be taking Joseph Anton to his hotel room as well a scene in the hotel room itself with Joseph’s literary agent and his wife. Although the reason that Mr. Rushdie had to use a pseduonym and go into hiding is tragic, the excerpt that Mr. Rushdie read had mein stitches. He is a wonderfully animated reader, adjusting his voice in line with the personalities and mannerisms of his characters and drawing the audience into his world. The next book that Rushdie read from was The Moor’s Last Sigh. The novel is about a character from a Catholic community in Kerala (in South India) who marries a member of the Jewish community in India. Rushdie explained that the book was written during a moment in India when there was a rising rhetoric that held that only the Hindu experience was authentically Indian. He then went on to read a sex scene in his novel. It was at once highly amusing and then uncomfortable, more so because of what Mr. Rushdie purposefully left out in his reading than by what he actually read. There were extended pauses that completely supplanted the action themselves (e.g. “First they….and then he…..and then she…..for a very long time”). In other words, the absence of words is what made that scene hilarious to me.

Mr. Rushdie finished off by reading an excerpt from what is probably his most famous and well-known novel, Midnight’s Children. After reading the excerpt, Mr. Rushdie talked briefly about the religion of Islam, declaring that the people most repressed by extremist Islam are Muslims themselves, as well as the fatwa, stating that there was a shift from him finding it terrifying to finding it humorous. The reading ended with a few audience questions. Hearing him answer questions about how he writes his books, about the fatwa, and about the Islamic religion was extremely interesting, especially considering his own personal experiences, and made me realize was a profound, passionate, and engaging writer and orator he is.


This is an excerpt from Aracelis Girmay’s “Arroz Poetica” from her poetry collection, Teeth.

This is no wedding.

This is no feast.

I will not send George Bush rice, worked for rice

from my own kitchen

where it sits in a glass jar & I am transfixed

by the thousands of beautiful pieces

like a watcher at some homemade & dry

aquarium of grains, while the radio calls out

the local names of 2,000

US soldiers counted dead since March.

&, we all know it, there will always be more than

what’s been counted. They will not say the names

of an Iraqi family trying to pass a checkpoint

in an old white van. A teenager caught out on some road

after curfew. The radio will go on, shouting

the names &, I promise you,

they will not call your name, Hassna

Ali Sabah, age 30, killed by a missile in Al-Bassra, or you,

Ibrahim Al-Yussuf, or the sons of Sa’id Shahish

on a farm outside of Baghdad, or Ibrahim, age 12,

as if your blood were any less red, as if the skins

that melted were any less skin, & the bones

that broke were any less bone,

as if your eradication were any less absolute, any less

eradication from this earth where you were

not a president or a military soldier.

& you will not ever walk home

again, or smell your mother’s hair again,

or shake the date palm tree

or smell the sea

or hear the people singing at your wedding

or become old

or dream or breathe, or even pray or whistle,

& your tongue will be all gone or useless

& it will not ever say again or ask a question,

you, who were birthed once, & given milk,

& given names that mean: she is born at night,

happy, favorite daughter,

morning, heart, father of

a multitude.

Your name, I will have noticed

on a list collected by an Iraqi census of the dead,

because your name is the name of my own brother,

because your name is the Tigrinya word for “tomorrow,”

because all my life I have wanted a farm,

because my students are 12, because I remember

when my sisters were 12. & I will not

have ever seen your eyes, & you will not

have ever seen my eyes

or the eyes of the ones who dropped the missiles,

or the eyes of the ones who ordered the missiles,

& the missiles have no eyes. You had no chance,

the way they fell on avenues & farms

& clocks & schoolchildren. There was no place for you

& so you burned. A bag of rice will not bring you back.

A poem cannot bring you. & although it is my promise here

to try to open every one of my windows, I cannot

imagine the intimacy with which

a life leaves its body, even then,

in detonation, when the skull is burst,

& the body’s country of indivisible organs

flames into the everything. & even in

that quick departure as the life rushes on,

headlong or backwards, there must, must

be some singing as the hand waves “be well”

to its other hand, goodbye;

& the ear belongs to the field now.

& we cannot separate the roof from the heart

from the trees that were there, standing.

& so it is, when I say “night,”

it is your name I am calling,

when I say “field,”

your thousand, thousand names,

your million names.

“Public Secrets” by Sharon Daniel

“Public Secrets” is a powerful, moving, and angering piece of e-literature. It has both text, audio, but also other visual components (in the form of color) that add to the overall effect of the piece and drive home the mood. I say that this piece was angering because of the content of it. “Public Secrets” contains what might be considered a prologue and an epilogue narrated from the author herself, Sharon Daniel. The main body of work (so to speak) consists of testimonials from various women in a Women’s Correctional Facility in California. Often in our society (or perhaps in any society), one does not think of a prisoner as an individual being with an identity or a family. To the rest of society, they are simply criminals. But “Public Secrets” dismantles that societal belief. Each of the women’s testimonials is in the form of an audio clip, and a transcript is provided along with it. By literally giving voice to these women, Daniel not only shows their humanity but also shows that they each have an identity. Each of the women she’s interviewed has a different story, a different reason for being here, a different past. They expose the cruelties, the injustice, the misogyny, abuse, and the serious flaws of the prison system, how they are essentially stripped of their humanity and their dignity. Through the audio, you can hear how intelligent, thoughtful, socially aware, and articulate they are, adjectives which society does not usually use to describe prison inmates.

Another layer to this piece of e-literature was the actual background of the site and the narration by Sharon Daniel. The webpage is completely black, though the content itself sits inside a large white square. Daniel’s voice is almost calm and soothing, which perhaps seems out of place given the subject matter that she’s dealing with. Her narration is both a description of what the prison looks like as well as a socio-political and cultural analysis. As she moves, black rectangles with splotches of gray shift across the white space, like shadows moving across a wall. In this way, Daniel creates this mood of light vs. dark and inside vs. outside. The same sort of thing happens in the epilogue to the piece, except for a slight shift that happens. Halfway through her concluding narration, the large white square changes to black, and instead it becomes white rectangles that shift and move over the black space, as if light is breaking through. Of course this then changes back, and by the end of the piece, the screen is completely black. Daniel’s narration itself matches that ending; I saw her conclusion as both a warning and a plea of sorts. Her saying that we (as in all of society) could not be free or practice our inalienable rights unless they (the women in prison) were free sort of sums up the piece itself. It was not simply an analysis or a collection of a sort; it was also a call to action, not only because of her conclusion but also because along with the testimonials, she provides additional sociological and political information about the prison system and about society in general as well as information about what you can do and how you can help.