Friday, April 01, 2016

Watching TV in the Presence of Christ

This month my poetry sisters and I are experimenting with Ekphrastic poems. Laura Purdie Salas chose the image for us and we all went off in different directions, responding to the images as we were called. Ekphrasitc poems are written in response to visual art; an image, a painting or a sculpture. The images we are working with this month are photographs of the ceiling frescos of Mark Balma (, part of a 7-part ceiling fresco at the University of St. Thomas in Minneapolis. Balma studied the art of fresco painting with an expert in Italy. The unique thing about this type of painting is that the pigment is ingrained into the plaster while it is wet, so that it dries as a permanent surface. The series is called "The Seven Virtues". Here is the image I chose to write about:

I did some searching for information on allegorical representation of The Seven Virtues in Christian tradition, as represented by animals. I found a lot on animal imagery, but nothing about grasshoppers watching TV, which was the part of this image that really grabbed me. What is going on here?

Old skool technology, the "boob tube" as we used to call it, captivating grasshopper's attention while all the other wild and crazed creatures turn toward the LORD and bow, offering what-have-you (honest or not...). That spoke to me. I decided to revisit the Sedoka Japanese poetic form that we used last month, and explore that connection.

Watching TV in the Presence of Christ

Bug-eyed, she lounges,
reclined in Holy Presence;
eyes fixed on flickering screen.

Her LORD approaches
barefoot upon Holy Ground.
All worship; she surfs the screen.
   -Andromeda Jazmon   

Take a look at what the my Poetry Sisters have written this month at their blogs:

And don't forget to visit the Friday Poetry Roundup at The Poem Farm
April is National Poetry Month, and Jama is rounding up kidlitosphere bloggers who are doing special poetry projects. Enjoy!



Sara said...

I grew up with no TV until the 3rd grade---and then, when we finally got one, I wasn't allowed to watch it. Of course, I hated it then. Love it now.

Why watch TV when there is poetry? (Okay, some TV is great---Call the Midwife, anyone?)

So glad you re-visited the sedoka, too---I tend to forget the forms we've done and strike out, unanchored. You've grounded me, once again. xo

tanita✿davis said...

I still love that you caught that out of all the imagery. The grasshopper is completely absorbed, and everyone else reacts... for whatever reason. I love the alliteration of surfing the screen.

laurasalas said...

Andi, I am so pleased that you posted this work. I especially love the Holy Presence, which could be God or the TV in this line. Hugs to you, and thank you for the reminder that life is precious through this wry, sly poem!

Anonymous said...

You really captured the grasshopper's perspective in this one - and the temptation, right? To become absorbed watching TV (or whatever media is around) rather than to remain focused on broader things. The sedoka really works well here.

Mary Lee said...

Ugh. (But I mean that as the highest compliment possible!) You totally captured today's society in your grasshopper. Tear your eyes from the screens and be amazed by the riches of our world, people!!

Violet N. said...

I have enjoyed your various perspectives on this intriguing painting. I appreciate the irony of this moment: " All worship; she surfs the screen."

Brenda at FriendlyFairyTales said...

Yes another clever take on the mural. I hadn't seen that central figure as a representation of the divine. Fascinating how differently people can see the same things. Great poem, especially as commentary on where the world is headed. Some days I want to be the grasshopper. :-)

Amy LV said...

Whoa. Wow. There is a lot of disturbing truth in this. A real poetry jolt. Thank you. We don't have a TV...and I am relieved. Happy Poetry Month! xo

Tricia said...

I love this. It reminded me an awful lot of the announcements made before our service begins. The deacon asks folks to "Turn off all electronic devices and refrain from text messaging during the service." Apparently, phone use in church has skyrocketed! It seems unfathomable to me that people can't be present for the short time a service demands.

Thank you for this poem. And I'm so glad you chose sedoka as your form!