Featured Writer: Poet Devon Balwit’s “Both”

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Devon Balwit

Both

Like Wagner before him, [Nolde] was both a vicious anti-Semite and a revolutionary creative figure.
                                                                                    Jonathan Jones (Feb 2018, The Guardian)

“The Mocking of Christ” by Emil Nolde

Luminous and malignant—Where exactly
should I stand before these tiny canvases,
rescued from beneath time’s floorboard?
I wince at the hook-nosed Jews foregrounded
in a dark gloat over Christ’s passion,
but before Adam and Eve, I feel livid
with identical horror at finding myself
alive, eyes opened, aware unto death.
Nolde’s colors absolve me (almost),
elevate me (almost), invite me (almost)
to overlook his cant, (his) vision’s fulcrum
canceling (his) imbalance. O to clutch the miraculous
baby as the rank waters runnel the gutter.

 

About the writer:
Devon Balwit‘s most recent collection is titled A Brief Way to Identify a Body (Ursus Americanus Press). Her individual poems can be found or are upcoming in Jet Fuel, The Cincinnati Review, Tampa Review, Rattle, Apt (long-form issue), Grist, and Oxidant Engine among others. Devon Balwit is the O:JA&L “Featured Writer” for June 2019.

Image: “The Mocking of Christ” by Emil Nolde (1867-1956). Oil on canvas. 88 x 106 cm. 1909. Public domain.