Tag Archives: Ken Smith

Joyful Circumstance


I’m excited to be opening this ekphrastic show – painters responding to poets and poets responding to painters – at Zip 37 Gallery in six short days. The entire project had its origin in this blog, sort of, about a year ago. I was participating in Leslie Saeta’s 30 in 30 challenge after losing my studio made me wonder if I would ever want to paint again. Ken Smith was at that time writing a poem a day and posting those poems on Facebook. Ken wrote a piercing short poem titled Clown College Failure in response to one of my little 30 in 30s and I started a large canvas in response to his poem, “An Old Man’s Story.”  Do you remember the old Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Ads? Saying it was just like that is silly, but tonight I feel silly and I’m going to embrace that.

As the date for my show neared, I approached Ken to see if he would be interested in participating in a larger ekphrastic project, including works from some local painters I admire (Gina Smith Caswell, Rebecca Cuming, Joan Fullerton, Lance Green and Mark Penner Howell) as well as a few of my own. Not only was he up for it, he enlisted two Indianan poet friends, David Dodd Lee and Ross Taylor, to participate as well.


Each painting will hang along side its corresponding poem. I could not be more excited for this show. I haven’t seen most of the poetry yet, and one of the paintings will be a surprise to me as well. I love having something to look forward to in these dark times.

I look forward to seeing YOU if you can make it to Zip 37 between February 10 and February 26. The opening reception is Friday, February 10,   5 – 10 and there will be mini-receptions On the following 2 Fridays, Feb. 17 and Feb. 24. Zip is open Thursdays 5- 8, Fridays 5 – 10, Saturdays and Sundays noon – 6.

30 in 30 day 1 – Clown College Drop Out

I’ve been searching for a reason to keep painting. I found Leslie Saeta’s 30 in 30 challenge and it has given me some steam. Happy New Year to all.


Edit:Last year I learned a new word, “Ekphrastic.” My friend Valerie Savarie, an altered-book artist,  put together an exhibit with that title in which poets responded to works of visual art with their literary works, then read their poems aloud at the opening reception.

Yesterday, I was thrilled to read poet Ken Smith’s “Clown College Failure,” sparked by his looking at this  painting.

Clown College Failure

At the end he had that unconvincing smile, maybe half a tube
Of grease paint, one green shirt with matching pants, a box
Of small hats with massive wigs, and a keen sense of the shocks
That flesh is heir to. On the wide college lawn, after he begged
The dean of clowns for another chance to play the hapless rube,
The world said the role is yours and the world has not reneged.

Ken is a writer and English professor living in South Bend, Indiana.

Check out his Twitter feed here, and listen to him read his Michiana Chronicles essays here.

Thank you for the ekphrasis, Ken!