Thursday, May 16, 2013

Weeping Woman: Giving Voice to A Painting

“Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.” -Pablo Picasso

Weeping Woman, Pablo Picasso (1937)

Even my hat mocks me
on the inside of my grief –
My twisted mouth
and gnashing teeth,
my fingers fat and clumsy
as if they were still wearing
those gloves –
the bloodstained ones you keep.
What has happened
to the pupils
of my eyes, Picasso?
Why do I deserve
such deformity?
What am I now
if not a cross between
a clown and a broken
piece of crockery?
- Part II, Grace Nichols

We only read parts of this poem in class but it really tugged at my heartstrings. The interlocking parts of the poem seem to take us through the various layers of the woman's consciousness. The tone ranges from sardonic to self-deprecating, as colorful as the various colors used in the poem's symbolisms. 
Like the Guardian article which praised Nichols' distinctly 'cubist' attempt to reclaim one of Picasso's muses as her own woman, I admire this poem for its frank tone and how it actually manages to give deeper insight to a painting which might not even have had such depth in the first place. 
The demanding voice of the woman in her journey of self-reclamation is beautifully touching, as she requests with unending determination, "Picasso, I want my face back/the unbroken geography of it." 
The voice is powerful and resonates in me. Definitely one of my favorite poems in Lit class so far!