They Will Take My Island

Came across this cool blog by Paul Vermeersch, where he has invited a number of poets to respond to a work of art by Armenian-born painter Arshile Gorky called “They Will Take My Island.”  Each poem on the blog shares that same title and takes off from there in a kind of group ekphrasis (a dramatic or poetic description of a visual artwork.) I like that he chose a piece which is fairly abstract, offering a wide possibility of interpretation, but the evocative title has enough charge to bring out some great poems.

Here is the original poem by Vermeersch and below is another by Adam Sol. I met Adam in Toronto and just got his Jeremiah, Ohio in the mail and am super excited about it.

They Will Take My Island

by Adam Sol

You taught me language, and my profit on’t
            Is I know how to curse.

They will take my island
if I don’t scorch it to the bones, though
to speak truly,

I did not know it was an island
until they said so.
I thought it was the world.

The river-fish would drift
into my clasp and I would gnaw
on their flesh while the gills still

gasped.  It had edges and pleasures
and dangers.
What more is a world?

(Read the full poem here)


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