To all appearances, I inherited my poetic ability from my maternal great-uncle, the WWI British poet, Isaac Rosenberg. Rosenberg was a painter as well as a poet. While I didn't inherit his chops in visual art, I have always been drawn to ekphrastic poetry, writing about works of art, generally visual, but sometimes including other media as well. Following this inclination, I have completed a manuscript of ekphrastic collaborations with mostly visual artists, Together, which is now seeking a home. It contains about 76 pages, about 35 of which consist of mostly color plates. If you have any ideas about publishers who might be interested and who have the graphic know-how such a project entails, please let me know.
Editor's Note: In her submission letter Robbi wrote this beautiful introduction to her beautiful poem: "As a child in Philadelphia, I lived across the street from a library. It was a small, branch library, and by the time I was 11 or so, I had read every book in it I wanted to, several times. It still felt like home, more home than my actual one, by far. My sanctuary. The last line is the poem's connection to poetry. That's the only magic I know how to make."
Safe as Houses
After The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe
I stand before the ranks of sleeves and dresses,
shoes and trousers, and wish they would resolve
into another world—beyond the row of houses
all alike, stretching the length of this street
and the next and next with just the color
of the roses out in front to show the difference.
But my technique is faulty, and this house,
unlike the big one in the book,
is almost new, attached to others.
It lacks the secret corners, unused rooms
magic could easily infest, as weevils do
the flour in our pantry. My mother points
to new paint, new schools, the neighborhood
conveniences and stores, scrubbed clean
of any unwelcome elements, the people
all the same. Nothing to fear.
I dread this sameness, evoking legends
of the living dead, seeking to swell their ranks.
I hear them coming up the stairs,
each footfall thunderous, until
they stand before my bedroom door,
waiting for sleep to claim me.
I escape to the library, among the multicolored books,
home to the unexpected. No wonder
my mother prompts me to set the books aside.
They threaten to undo the work she’s done
to wall me off from everything that doesn’t fit
this tidy world. Like the children in the book, I flee,
embracing danger, making a brand of magic all my own.
©2016 Robbi Nester