Archive for Ekphrasis

The Genesis of The Metamorphosis of Narcissus

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on March 5, 2010 by matthewhittinger

Here is Salvador Dali’s 1937 oil painting Metamorphosis of Narcissus, referenced in the five sections of the same title in Narcissus Resists:

I wrote “Metamorphosis of Narcissuss” in Provincetown during the summer of 2002 when I was taking Mark Doty’s advanced poetry workshop and workshopped this poem in his class. I had originally included it in The Erotic Postulate (I later removed and replaced it with “Square Dance”), thinking that its tone was so opposite the sonnet sequence that they had to be kept far apart, in different manuscripts.  But then one day I was playing around and spliced it with the sonnet sequence and loved how the different tones played off each other, how its five sections broke up the sonnets and created almost “chapters” for the narrative of the sequence.  Narcissus Resists was born.



Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on March 15, 2009 by matthewhittinger

One of the many images informing Narcissus Resists is this massive drawing by the artist Jess (Burgess Collins), poet Robert Duncan’s long-time companion and lover. This is all graphite on paper and collage paste-up; Jess began it in 1976 and finished it in 1991:

I first saw it at SFMOMA back in March 2005 when I was visiting friends in San Francisco and couldn’t tear myself away, transfixed on all the glorious detail and resonance with my own interpretation of the Narcissus story.  I knew I had to reference the image in some way and found it worked well in the end lines of the “Concomitant” section where I conflate the image of Narcissus and Apollo depicted here, turning Narkissos into the sun god for a brief moment..