According to cultural scholar Remy Saisselin: "A dress may be at some moment of its existence, a poem of form, color and motion, and that at such a privileged instant the dress may transform the wearer into a poetic apparition." With the buzz of the Spring 2008 Fashionweek upon us, Poets.org is showcasing essays & poems that explore the ways poetry and fashion intersect...from the functional to the extravagant. They are even celebrating with a limited edition tee emblazoned with And our visions, the visions of poets, the most solid announcements of any - the wisdom of the uber-fabulous Walt Whitman (for a 20% discount, at checkout use the code newsletter), or a Cynthia Rowley-designed We Real Cool tee inspired by a Gwendolyn Brooks poem.
"The insights into clothing that I came across while reading made a lasting impression," muses Stan Tymorek, a fashion copywriter and creative director, discussing the diverse approaches to clothing in poems by Thom Gunn, Anne Carson, and Charles Simic. "This much is true: you cannot deny the power of the shoe," explains Meghan Cleary, author of The Perfect Fit: What Your Shoes Say about You, and host of Shoe Therapy on the Home Shopping Network, musing on poems dedicated to shoes, - including Red Slippers by Amy Lowell, My Shoes by Charles Simic, The Broken Sandal by Denise Levertov, and Honor Moore's New Shoes & Red Shoes - along with her thoughts on how poetry demonstrates the grandeur and power of a great pair of shoes.
To impress fellow literary-minded fashionistas, take fun Poets' Fashion Quiz! Who said:
a) "...I had just gone hog-wild and bought myself a pair or thirty-dollar shoes—French, with buckles, very something-or-other and possibly a mistake."
b) "I'm sorry, I can't go east now, in spite of your generous invitation. Reasons: 1. People will like me the better if they don't meet me; I have nothing to say to anyone and don't really like to listen, and can't bear to answer questions. 2. I haven't owned a hat since 1918, nor worn one since 1912."
c) "When anyone speaks of a knit dress, I think of the cumbrous, knap-sack-like rolls of hammock-like yarn that people stuff into knitting-bags in the subway, before hastily getting out, and this delicate zephyr of a thing stirs us to the soul."
d) "...I was wearing a horrible (yet somehow magnificent!) ancient baggy overcoat that my father gave me years ago, a coat which (before I retired it formally some months ago) possessed that weird old-fashioned virtue of resisting all fraying of elbows, sleeves, collar, etc."
e) "And sometimes when I arrived on a cold winter evening dressed in a conventional way, I would be greeted by 'Elizabeth, silk stockings!' as if I were reckless or prone to suicide."
f) "I shall now crawl into my pyjamas + be meditative, if I can."
Quiz Answers: a) Amy Clampitt, May 1966; b) Robinson Jeffers, March 27, 1927; c) Marianne Moore, August, 1943; d) James Wright, March or April, 1965; e) Elizabeth Bishop on Marianne Moore, written between 1969 and 1979; f) Wallace Stevens, December 31, 1900.
Find some cultural justification for your incurable fashion habit at Poets.org.
- Lesley Scott