Narrow the Vessels


Artist statement: Anselm Kiefer entitled this sculpture “Étroits les vaisseaux,” which is a line from a long poem by Saint-John Perce, “Amers.” The section specific to this line considers the march of history, and, to my reading, of war. “The same wave since Troy rolls on its haunches towards us” is one line from that poem. The wrenched concrete and rebar of the sculpture, that also contains the grace of waves, echoes that idea. “Narrow the vessels, narrow our bed” states another line, which spoke, to me, of humankind’s long history of reaching for weapons, for destruction. I layered my own poem considering this history with excerpts in French and my English translation of these few lines from Perce’s “Amers” as well as the first line in ancient Greek and English from Homer’s The Iliad to create a wave-like sonic accompaniment to my visual meditation on the sculpture, contained in the Anselm Kiefer exhibit hall at MassMoCA.


About Author


Marilyn McCabe's work has garnered her an Orlando Prize from A Room of Her Own Foundation, the Hilary Tham Capital Collection contest award from The Word Works resulting in publication of her book of poems Perpetual Motion, and two artist grants from the New York State Council on the Arts. Her second book of poems, Glass Factory, was published in 2016. Her poems and videopoetry have been published in a variety of print and online literary magazines. She blogs about writing and reading at Owrite:

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