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Art in Translation

On December 7, the Museum hosted a poetry reading and open mic in the Harriet L. and Paul M. Weissman Gallery. Co-sponsored by the Department of English, the event saw marvelous readings by students and faculty alike. Several students presented poems and prose written in response to exhibitions and works of art on view at MHCAM. Thank you to Becca Mullen ‘18, Ben Sambrook ‘18, Anisha Pai ‘19, and Henna Joshi ‘18 for sharing those poems with us for the first blog post of 2018. Happy reading!

January 9, 2018
Hannah Blunt

Watching the Tango

by Becca Mullen ’18

& aren’t we all destroyed anyway?
Tallied in encyclopedias,
Bibles & veritas.
Memento mori
in latin means
remember that you have to die
But here a hiccup —
a lifetime in 2 minutes, 48 seconds
a man paces, chases, bleeds    out
a woman dances the tango
& I wonder what happens when they turn the lights off at night
My socks are wet in my boots
Its monday & yesterday
I found a hole the size of my little
finger in the cracked leather
My little finger slides easily into many things,
it is a good measuring tool that way.
I suppose I too slide easily into many things.  
But today my back hurts;
I’m in the wrong chair.
& This wasn’t history when I started writing it down
The film figure-eights
She’s beautiful in ink and chalk.
2 minutes, 48 seconds just to know her
But I am unseen, unremembered, unneeded
caught in a particular collision.


Poem inspired in part by the exhibition William Kentridge: Tango for Page Turning, on view from September 5-December 17, 2017.

William Kentridge (South African, b. 1955), Tango for Page Turning (still), 2012-2013


stone boy (blues)

by Ben Sambrook ’18

as a child I built / found my likeness on a beach in Wales

my small weight sinking into wet sand

teeth aching from cold breath

sometimes I wonder if you scooped up pieces of me that I dropped

turning out all my pockets learning how to love

like a boy

I rubbed soft rocks between my thumb and pointer finger

and hurled them / myself into the sea

in this museum I am half boy half sticky and warm

half Welsh beach in the dead of winter

half naked body in your new sheets

half peach pit in the center of your palm

the voices go all the way up to the ceiling and hang there

like lanterns, ornaments, hot air,


shadow statues with no eyes just holes

eye to small, black, hollow place

were they created first and then gouged out?

left unfilled while the artist finished

the feet

an ear

a cock?

I kiss with my pupil

men carved from stone with bodies not much different than mine

I see my 19th century chest welded in iron, scars sealed by a hot knife

our bodies close and opened

an impressionist body of hermaphrodite

sits in warm gold

minor deity of androgyny, marriage, sexuality, fertility

only a suggestion of form

almost dancing in clean light

I see myself at 5 angles under 34 perfect spotlights

Aphrodite and Hermes’ beautiful child

Born man, woman, God

She says:

What’s it like to be soft?

I say:

Dr. Johnson did a better job in 2 hours than God did in 7 days.

She says:

What if being and making are the same thing?

I think of tube in throat, soft blades and warm sheets

arms soldered to hips

a small bare chest on the cold coast of Wales

Poem inspired in part by the exhibition A Very Long Engagement: Nineteenth-Century Sculpture and Its Afterlives, on view from July 29, 2017-May 27, 2018.

Installation view, Mount Holyoke College Art Museum, fall 2017  


the world is becoming so small

by Anish Pai ’19

In order to preserve the author's formatting, the poem is available via this clickable link:
PDF icon anisha pai_the world is becoming so small.pdf
Poem inspired in part by an installation in the Museum's Harriet L. and Paul M. Weissman Gallery, fall 2017.
Installation view, Mount Holyoke College Art Museum, fall 2017     Audrey Flack (American, b. 1931), Esperanza, ca. 1972


Charles Louis Remond, Oil on Canvas

by Henna Joshi ’18

I’d rather die than write about this
This ugly ass painting
This beautiful painting
Of an ugly ass man
He’s everything I’d never want

Poem inspired in part by Nicholas Largillière's, Charles Louis Remond, Comte de Hergh, Capitaine de Royal Croate, Chevalier des Ordres du Roy, 1715.
Nicolas de Largillière (French, 1656-1746), Charles Louis Remond, Comte de Hergh, Capitaine de Royal Croate, Chevalier des Ordres du Roy, 1715