‘It’s American Regionalist artist Grant Wood‘s birthday today and it’s being celebrated over on Echostains! American Gothic is one of the most iconic painting in the USA. Much has been written about this painting, but in some ways it remains an enigma. To read about the artist Grant Wood please see my corresponding post on echostains
The American Gothic House - also known as the Dibble house
Wood got the idea for the painting American Gothic from a cottage he saw which had been built in the Gothic revival style. The cottage can be seen in the background with its gothic upper window. Wood tried to imagine the sort of people who would live in such a house. He decided upon this rather stern and prim looking couple (modelled upon his own sister and his dentist). The man holds a pitchfork and stand besides his spinster sister – though some see these two as man and wife. if you look closely, the pitchfork shape is echoed in the farmers overall, the shape of the window behind him and even the shape of the mans face.. The pitchfork represents hard work. Nan (Wood’s sister) is the model for the farmers spinster sister. She is dressed in a Colonial print apron which mimic 19th century Americana. American Gothic has been parodied a great deal, but I thought it would be challenging (and fun) to write a poem about this picture. The poem can be long, short, a Haiku or even a limerick. How do you see this couple? kind? threatening? secretive? Make the poem as serious or humorous as you like. You may use my American Button if you want to 🙂
Usual rules apply;
The idea behind the challenges is to publicise Bookstains – as well as having creative fun, so it is imperative that the poet link to Bookstains to further the challenge so you MUST have a URL.. BUT, echostains is about communication – so this is a two-way street:
In return for your poem (which is always accredited to you) your poem is copied to the challenges particular page which is open indefinitely and the poets own website mentioned with a link and the poem critiqued on not only Bookstains but also on the poets own blog or website. I shall give your poem a Tweet on Twitter to further promote it. I also update my Echostains blog frequently, regardless on what the post is about – I mention if there is a new poem in the challenge.
Please note – and I only mention because I have had some of these….. If you wouldn’t put the poem on your own blog, please don’t send it to mine and expect me to promote it. This is a genuine challenge – so please play fair 😀
Images from here here and here
The first one is a Haiku by Jessica’s Japes – a great blog full of poetry and fiction which will make you think – and smile 🙂
Small town rhetoric
Defending dated dogma;
© Jessica D’Angelo 2011
Here’s a humorous one from Pamanner’s Blog by WordyWoman! Her blog is about poetry, relationships, life, nature, and whatever else procreates on her computer screen. Worth checking out 🙂
forget Mary and
your four kids
keep staring at her
perky milk jugs I
swear I’ll find a
new use for that
©Pamela A. Rossow
Well I stared and I stared at this painting for inspiration, and I looked into the couples faces hoping that they would tell me their own story. I had a bit of a job getting them to spill the beans but don’t let those closed faces fool you – there’s a lot going on behind those net curtains:-
On your way stranger!
There aint nothing for you here.
You’re only courting danger,
I’m king of this frontier!
You’re talking to the fork!
And it won’t hear no blaspheming!
You’d better start to walk
(My sister – stop that screaming!)
Compose yourself my dear!
We just don’t want no trouble.
Supplies will last all year
And we got more than double.
Remember when the law came by
Twas I that they did question.
Then you produced that hot meat pie
That gave em indigestion.
I aint seen no missing folk!
I told em loud and clear.
Yet still they all would prod and poke
Which filled me full of fear.
Stranger why you standing there?
Be gone into the rain.
And while you ride, just say a prayer
That you don’t pass this way again.
©Lynda M Roberts 2011
Our next poem comes from Val Erde (Absurd Old Bird) who plays with words and images. This great blog features her very original art and interesting writings – worth visiting!
One day you’ll find
a husband, he’ll help
with pitchin’ hay….
keep you out of my hair
for all the livelong day.
His name may just be Wilbur…
Wilbur? Are you crazy?
Hush now sister, don’t be
frettin’, I only said ‘maybe’.
Just stand there
with your pitchfork,
I’ll hold my stomach in.
Is that a smirk
upon your face,
or just a silly grin?
Your glasses they be slippin’,
slippin’off your nose.
I sure do wish I’d thought a bit
‘fore puttin’ on these clothes.
The apple pie is cookin’,
the cottontail’s been shot.
Uncle’s in the cellar
heatin’ up the pot.
I heard a noise from yonder
and thought it was the rain.
You heard it wrong, it’s cousin Orson
going down the drain.
I chopped him up this mornin’,
with camphor on my nose,
all the bits were washed right down
except for Orson’s toes.
I put them in the pie bowl
and filled it to the brim.
Come now brother, raise a smile,
or folks will think we’re grim.
D’you like the little pattern
that’s on my old brown dress?
I can’t afford a new one
but hate to look a mess.
Your hair’s been gone for decades
but your overalls are neat,
Uncle! can you hear me?
I said turn down the heat!
Uncle cannot hear you,
the pot is boiling dry
I’ve tipped the remnants of his
guts into the pan to fry.
They’ll go nicely with the onions
nicely with the corn,
but best to put his bones to rest
before the break of dawn.
We’re just an average couple
Average to the core
The sun is shinin’ on our house
There’s fresh paint on the door
We found ourselves an artist
to paint us nice and neat
and when he’s done we’ll cook him
And then we’ll be replete.
Copyright © Val Erde
This contribution is from Adam Dustus who has the most wonderful poetry blog, full of challenges and delights! Well worth checking our here AND with the added bonus of actually hearing the poems read by the author!
Approximately 650 miles from Winesburg, Ohio
Much nearer sticks to hospitable care
When boring wood lampooned beliefs
You may feel free
Bury me there
Ulysses & Grant would go home again
Iowa forgiving prodigal pride
Blond Emily Dickinson stares into oblivion
Poseidon’s prop gripped by father time
Behind them lies someone’s home
Spring arresting American plum
Sprouting hawthorn of unmentionable kinds
Reckoning they did die here too
©Adam Dustus 2011
Our next unique poem is from poet and writer Jenne Rodey Andrews who has several blogs here and they are all well worth checking out too especially if you love poetry!
You search those sere faces
for any quiet declaration
like laugh lines
of wincing, spending
Just as holding the porcelain tea cup
on your knee in its quivering saucer
at Aunt Bessie’s just so, Mother watching,
Uncle Roy slumbering in the family graveyard
under the Sandia mountains
about the rosy Venus she had surely been
having conceived strapping sons
now a yew-crooked hostess pouring oolong
in mute and tremulous decorum
So it is with American Gothic
Miles, or Jared.
He stands composed, in solemnity
as if he slept in his suit
and had never cracked a joke
in all his days
And she, Naomi, or Mary+
had babies via
A pop of the tractor’s exhaust pipe
an infant in a christening dress
in the drawing room hand-hewn oak cradle
and everyone singing, old pipe organ
belching resurrected dust
shall we gather at the river.
Now or later.
One day in the country
an old man I knew went running
down the road talking to his hands
as if they were bound with cobwebs
At his back
his small, plain clapboard house
the lawn freshly barbered.
Then I saw the coroner’s van
pull in and I conjectured
that she who lived behind the curtains
unwrapping store-bought cinnamon rolls
Had settled into the good sleep
under the quilt she and other
girdled Lutheran women made one spring
in the hen-house coffee-scented
ambience of farm wives
But did those hands of the archetypal
that grip the trident of his pitchfork
in that painting that scares us all
about the Puritan strain
we bear within us
Ever please her
ever tend, placate
or wipe away a tear of hers.
copyright Jenne’ R. Andrews 2011
What I love most about the challenges is how everyones who participates brings their own special and original style and interpretation to the poems. This next one is by Olivia from
Aspiring Big throughout our lives;
Then losing it all at once!
It may be an American Lifestyle
To Me, it’s a Gothic trance.
I am left with this pitch- fork-
To dig my own grave..
It may appeal to you as American,
But I live in a Gothic cave!
© Olivia 2011
Square Feet of Roofing
He: Change is a good thing
when it is for the better
She: What use is this quiet
if it becomes another fetterHe: Our boring lives will now
take on a brand new color
She: If blue turns to grey,
things can only get duller
He: Wind plays many tricks
on creaky wooden stairways
She: There’s more than just wind
in the deceptive empty hallways
He: For my safety, I have
a pitchfork turned candle holder
She: But it’s always safe
to look behind your shoulder
He: It is now all ours;
this giant old house
She: But here’s known to live
the ghost of a vicious mouse
Our next poem is by the ubiquitous Kserverney aka the artswebshow. which features his own personal art, comedy, poetry, music and cookery. Richard now uses video for most of his work, so this poem comes to you from his latest project witty snippets – all worth checking out 🙂
Why the Long Face?
The American dream.
Your own house and pitch fork
So why the long face?
Gothic art take two.
A mind of modern darkness
I cant smile at all.
Glum, dull and dreary pitchfork
After the wind turned east
©Richard North 2011
My comedy take on American Gothic by Grant Wood.
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