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Let’s Talk Poetry: I Am a Painting

September 29, 2013

Neil Carpathios


Contributing Columnist


One of the poet’s favorite techniques is personification. This is when an inanimate object is imbued with life: The tree danced in the wind, the ocean waves whispered their secrets of being and disappearing, the wine glass screamed in pain as it shattered on the floor. And so on.


A reader would be hard-pressed to find a poem in which the poet did not reach, at least once, into his or her bag of tricks to pull out the magic wand of personification. And it is a sort of magic trick. The poet, with this wand, touches an ordinary object, and—voila! The object has suddenly started to breathe and sing and dance before our eyes.


Kara Smith is a 12-year-old student at Minford Middle School. She offers us a wonderful example of extended personification in the following poem. The poem was written as an assignment for Mrs. Robin Seaman’s language arts class.


Painting


I am a painting


Blank and quiet at first


Swish, swish you lightly brush


Colors vibrant yet firm


I begin to whisper


Still delicate, puzzling


The secrets I withhold


You try to unlock


Adding to my color


Filling me with thoughts


Your mood is changing now


Mine is too


Amusing, wondrous


Beautiful and bright


I am what you make of me


Treat me right


Now telling a story


Wise and true


The story I tell is the story of you


I am a painting


Bravo to Kara Smith! Her poem makes me really imagine what a canvas might experience during the act of creation, and what it might say. Or what a blank piece of paper might feel as the poet starts writing.


Address poem submissions and correspondence to: ncarpathios@shawnee.edu or Neil Carpathios, Shawnee State University, Dept. of English & Humanities, 940 Second Street, Portsmouth, OH 45662. (740-351-3478).