Table of Contents
The Bordighera Poetry Prize
(Wise Women's Web)
Fortunato Galt: Poems from The Annunciation
ANNUNCIATION | HER LETTER TO A PATRON (from
the painter Artemisia Gentileschi) | TRANSLATE
Here Margot is pictured second
from the right with other poets, at the Poets House Award
Ceremony, November 2000, for THE BORDIGHERA PRIZE READINGS.
The Annunciation won Third Place for the Bordighera Poetry Prize 2000.
Fortunato Galt, Italian-American on her father's side, grew up
a Yankee in Charleston, South Carolina; her father taught at The
Citadel before it was little known outside the state. Since the
late 1960s , she has lived in St. Paul/Minneapolis, published
art criticism,poetry, and regional essays before five books, one
a fine-art chapbook of poems about anonymous family photos, The
Country's Way with Rain (Kutenai Press, 1994). Her other books
include The Story in History: Writing Your Way into the American
Experience (New York: Teachers & Writer Collaborative,
1992) Up to the Plate: The All-American Girls Professional
Baseball League (Lerner, 1995); Turning the Feather Around:
My Life in Art with Ojibway Artist George Morrison (MHS Press,
1998); and Stop This War: Americans Protest the Vietnam Conflict
(Lerner, 2000). She teaches in Hamline University's Graduate Liberal
Studies Program, and in Minnesota's various writers-in-the-schools
programs. Her work has won grants and awards from The Loft, The
Jerome Foundation, The Center for Arts Criticism, The Minnesota
State Arts Board, the Minnesota Historical Society, and the Minnesota
Humanities Commission. Currently she is writing a mother-daughter
travel memoir about travels in Germany and Italy and has taken
a group of writing students to Florence in May 2001. This is what
W.S. DiPiero said of The Annunciation,"These poems
are rather elegant struggles to recover and understand the past--a
personal past, certainly, but also the past represented in art.
Tonally, they're candid and declarative, not muted or indirect.
I admire that. The Poems address difficult questions, usually
about cultural and familial legacies, but they refuse easy answers."
are three sample poems from The Annunciation:
Leonardo's painting, she studies
of doors, this eminent virgin
her habitual cloth of red and blue.
her on a pedestal table
with a mollusk shell, lies
open book from which she raises her eyes
the boy dressed in swan's wings, wearing
cap of curls and carrying a lily wand.
may have seen him ahead of her
church, his shoulders and torso
and square, his hair
tangle of innuendo.
he comes to her in the garb
heaven is only an accident
myth and history, for she needs
announced. The cleft in the palm
her raised hand anticipates all he means
she accepts only privisionally,
he is her inspiration, not a winged word
an unbon child. This child-man,
fabulous pinions, will cause her
abandon the protected corner,
crush the low, delicate plants
dream his weight will never rise.
LETTER TO A PATRON, Naples 1649
the painter Artemisia Gentileschi
you ask the price
my figures, I will tell you,
one hundred scudi per figure
you will not possess
canvas by Artemisia.
painted flesh will never crack
Anguissoula's. She clothed
in reticent colors.
Judith's strong arm
in a sword.
each canvas I battle
light and shade, so
nineteen, I was taught
the man my father hired.
hand guided mine
we painted callas,
red heads hissing
sun. We entered the clash
ash and flame until
I commanded surrender,
broke the brush
my hand, tore
clothes from my breast,
forced me to the ground.
at my nail,
was accused of inviting rape,
I defended only my virtue
in a fallen brush.
I paint Judith.
the tent of Holofernes.
only a candle,
made him drunk
ease and certainty.
have beheaded many men.
canvas a study
brocade and blood,
maid holds the fruit
the general's head
I, with sword
the approach of fame.
ask for a madonna.
madonnas are few.
the soul of a Caesar
in this woman.
means nothing to me.
played like children
on the keyboard
sharp in G major,
told about failure,
legs on the pedals,
spoke in Italian;
hair down your back.
have lived with husband,
woman he knew
began making a garden
have painted the walls,
have painted the walls,
night we talked
blue eyes sharp,
played all the notes,
spoke in our language,
said it in English,
learn to be single.
lost in the courtyard
in the garden
longer the girl
could never be good
I hear you
the language itself
the snake's mouth,
words from the son,
daughter's slammed door.
hear you, amica,
all the notes,
in our key.
THE ANNUNCIATION, Copyright © 2001
by Margot Fortunato Galt. All rights reserved.