Conversations with the Artist (2)


My first teacher told me

that what sculpture involved

was being a God. He was not talking


about the old ways, about fashioning

a man out of a rib.

Out of the earth. A god can see something


that does not exist yet in the world. Who

could have imagined the giraffe,

the octopus, the flounder? Who


could have imagined our sharp sensibilities,

our contortions? The materials

are all there – eyes and blood and respiration,


but still, they get made new. Now I know

that these days such a view

is against science, but the idea of a god is as real


as god is not. A scientist who sees

what has been done

versus one who can make straw out of gold.


Or more like plastic out of petroleum.

Paper out of trees. You

have to decide which kind you will be.


We’re mistaken when we equate the wise

and the prophetic. You’re always

looking either backwards or forwards.


This piece puts you on a precipice.

It’s up to you

which way you fall. You see – it’s all there.


The scientist and the artist were once one –

how else could you record

what you saw? How else, find a way of seeing?




Rebecca Morgan Frank (USA), from The spokes of Venus, Canergie Mellon University Press, 2016 (source Poetry Foundation)


To discover more about the poet:


The cover artwork is a neon installation (and a quotation by Franz Kafka’s The Castle) by collective artists Claire Fontaine, Untitled, 2015, seen at Art Basel (Air de Paris gallery)

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