Homage to Storni

This poem is part of my Comfort Zone series, funded by Newton’s Harmony Foundation. Alfonsina Storni, as my native Spanish-speaking neighbor Juan Sebastian Ospina Leon explained to me, was a modernist Argentine poet who brought into print aspects of female bodily and intellectual experience that had not been written about before. As always happens when members of an underrepresented group begin to express themselves, some members of the elite thought her work was not literary enough, not poetry at all. She responded by writing “anti-sonnets” which broke some of the traditional rules of that form while retaining others and creating a new form of her own. That made me want to write an anti-poem in her honor. I liked the idea of it being as short as possible, and as you know if you read my first Comfort Zone contribution, I’ve recently been enjoying the extreme concision of Chinese. I dreamed of taking the Chinese character for “poem” (whatever that is) and putting a red diagonal line (the universal symbol for “not” across it). It would be a visual image meant to be pronounced as “This is not a poem” – similar to the famous picture of Magritte’s where he paints a hat and labels it “This is not a hat.” But for that I’d need Photoshop skills I lack. So, I did this simpler version. It’s meant to make us think, in what I believe is Storni’s spirit, about what’s art and what’s not, how you can tell the difference and who gets to decide.




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