Writing Poetry about Clyfford Still – Clyfford Still Museum
Abstract oil painting with mostly black paint and some bare canvas showing

Clyfford Still, PH-929, 1974 (detail). Oil on canvas, 114 x 172 in. Clyfford Still Museum, Denver, CO. © City and County of Denver / ARS, NY

Writing Poetry about Clyfford Still

Posted on April 17, 2020 | Share:

Using the Clyfford Still Museum’s Online Collection, pick a painting that speaks to you, then write a poem about it.

Your poem could end up extremely long; it could be short; it could be a poem about how you feel when you look at the art; it could be a poem about how you think Still felt as he painted, or even what it’s like to be a shape, color, or stroke inside that piece of art. It could be a poem that rhymes or has the same number of syllables on every line. It could be a poem that uses the first letter of each line to spell out a word of your choice. There are no wrong answers to the structure of the poem. Still wanted viewers to make meaning for themselves when looking at the art, and you have total freedom to write your poem however you want. Share your poem online by posting a picture of the art you chose, your poem, or a video of yourself reading it. Make sure to include the #StillInspired so that way other folks can enjoy what you’ve come up with.

Kids! Try your hand at writing a lune about a Clyfford Still painting. Have you ever written a poem about a painting before? Poets often choose to write about how art makes them feel: excited, happy, or even confused. Sometimes, poets look at the art, pick out their favorite part, and write about what it would feel like to be that cloud or this yellow shape. For your poem, try a structure to keep it simple, like a lune. A lune poem has 3 words on the first line, 5 on the next, and 3 again on the last. A lune might look like this:

This yellow painting
looks stranger than the others.
So many shapes!

It can help us to use a structure for our poems, the same way it helps painters to decide how big their canvas should be before they start to paint. Just like Clyfford Still wanted us to come up with our own ideas about his paintings, we get to come up with our own ideas when we make art. Any poem you write is exciting, true, and worth sharing! Maybe you even write more than one! Get your parent’s permission to post your poem on social media using the hashtag #StillInspired.

 

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