This week we’re featuring a new poem by Rebecca Morgan Frank. Frank is the author of the poetry collection Little Murders Everywhere (Salmon Poetry), a finalist for the 2013 Kate Tufts Discovery Award. Her poems have appeared in such places as Guernica, Ploughshares, The Georgia Review, Post Road, Crazyhorse, and Best New Poets 2008. She is the recipient of the Poetry Society of America’s 2010 Alice Fay di Castagnola Award for her new manuscript-in-progress. The co-founder and editor-in-chief of the online magazine Memorious, she is an assistant professor at the University of Southern Mississippi’s Center for Writers.
This poem emerged from a mealtime conversation with visual artists at a residency. We joked about having “educational breakfasts,” but the truth is that those organic conversations, which wove between the research and creative work each of us were immersed in and amusing and interesting things we knew little about, were the seeds of several poems for me. When the artist told us the story of the astronomer Lowell, she remembered it as being about Mars. When I went to read the New York Times article about him, and discovered that it was Venus that he thought he was seeing, I knew I wanted to write this poem.
My newest work comes from conversations with artists, whether in-person, through their writing, or, sometimes, through their work. I’m interested in moving beyond how I see the world, in finding ways to try on other ways of seeing. But maybe, like Percival Lowell, this always brings me back to merely observing and sketching myself. What interests me most about Lowell is his conviction, how he adamantly defended his way of seeing the world. I’m not sure that what I do as a poet is so different. But I’ll keep trying to adjust the lens.
Spokes of Venus