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Michelangelo's Seizure

Overview

Providing poetic entry into the visual arts

In Michelangelo's Seizure, Steve Gehrke seizes the lives of several classic and contemporary painters—from Caravaggio and Magritte to Francis Bacon and Jackson Pollock—to demonstrate how these artists transformed physical, psychological, and political suffering into art. Mirroring the brushstrokes in long, metaphor-laden sentences, Gehrke moves freely through the canvas, into and out of the artists' lives, into the public realm, into ...

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Overview

Providing poetic entry into the visual arts

In Michelangelo's Seizure, Steve Gehrke seizes the lives of several classic and contemporary painters—from Caravaggio and Magritte to Francis Bacon and Jackson Pollock—to demonstrate how these artists transformed physical, psychological, and political suffering into art. Mirroring the brushstrokes in long, metaphor-laden sentences, Gehrke moves freely through the canvas, into and out of the artists' lives, into the public realm, into history, to capture the way the creative mind can transform even the most violent surroundings—a prison cell, a battlefield, a madhouse—into a masterpiece

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Steve Gehrke has delivered up a masterpiece of masterpieces, a book made up entirely of ekphrastic poems which is altogether unsettling, unfamiliar, uncanny, powerful. The secret of Gehrke's method is the force of his gaze, which within the dramatic illusion of such poetry is a stand-in for the mind; in these poems artworks melt under the pressure of the writer's consciousness of them, and products are re-rendered as pure process."
T. R. Hummer, author of The Infinity Sessions

"The poet manages to create a kind of double-imaging that oscillates between painters and subjects, between lives and painting. . . . Gehrke contributes a verbal resonance, in effect an interior voice . . . to all these reverberating images."—Parnassus

Library Journal

This is Gehrke's third book of poetry; the first two won prestigious prizes, and this one was selected for the National Poetry Series by T.R. Hummer. These brawny, ekphrastic poems trace the artistic endeavors of several great artists, including Rembrandt, Turner, and Mapplethorpe, and portray art as the grueling work that transforms suffering into beauty. Gehrke dwells on the horrifically real, from the guts of a cadaver model to the rotting carcasses in Géricault's famous painting The Raft of the Medusato Otto Dix's experiences of World War I. But of Sargent, he writes that "even if he could paint/the blistered, or dead bodies...the white angel-maggots burrowing/into a face, his mind at its core, could not help making things/beautiful." (Gehrke's novelistic details are rich and engaging, but a rhetorical tic detracts: "the valley of their myth," "the bull-ring of consciousness," "the bullets of infection") "the avalanche of his beard," "the foxholes of his eyes," "the wasp's nest of his mouth," and "the jewelry box of memory" all occur in the first 21 pages. Yet this poet's powers extend considerably beyond the easy metaphor. Recommended.
—E.M. Kaufman

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780252074202
  • Publisher: University of Illinois Press
  • Publication date: 4/6/2007
  • Series: The National Poetry Series
  • Pages: 88
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.30 (d)

Read an Excerpt

with the witchcraft hushed inside his veins,
onto the flayed skin of St. Bartholomew, crumpled, fierce,
with two dead bugs crushed into the paint, like that bit of terror, he would think, sealed inside of everything He makes.
—From the title poem Michelangelo's Seizure

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