Mildly Ekphrastic Poetry: Timothy Dodd’s Tenebrists

Recently, we have enjoyed an uptick in what I’d broadly call ekphrastic poetry here at North Dakota Quarterly. These poems describe, meditate on, and celebrate art (and architecture) while offering us new, transmedia, transhistorical, windows into the human condition.  

This week, we’ll feature Timothy Dodd’s poem “Tenebrist” from NDQ 88:3/4 not only to showcase a bit of mildly ekphrastic writing, but more importantly to celebrate the appearance of Dodd’s forthcoming chapbook Modern Ancient from The High Window Press (and available soon via Amazon). 

As you likely know, these days are particularly challenging for many cultural institutions, publishers, and little magazines. So even if NDQ doesn’t float your boat, If you can, consider buying a book from a small presssubscribing to a literary journal, or otherwise supporting the arts. I heartily recommend grabbing a copy of the new issue of Hotel Amerika which is celebrating its 20th anniversary by publishing an anthology of some its most creative, provocative, and stimulating work. Grab a copy here.  


What did Caravaggio say to us:
           in the light and dark, you might
           get an impression of malaria
           or the sting of an old vendetta 

but I have headed across to Malta
           in the light and dark, you might
           ask how are the beaches there
           or the cannelloni and spinach

like with all so many of our nations
           in the light and dark, you might
           love its old cultures or even
           its demons coming contemporary

her artists sifting through faux brands          
           in the light and dark, you might
           find the tourist field, vacation
           drives broken on moonlight

and the madness gripping my sail
           in the light and dark, you might
           sense the waves brushing up
           to shore, covering more color,

until death ends our pleasurable trip
           in the light and dark, you might
           see a life from another age, left
           to speculation, wrecked, on canvas.


Timothy Dodd is from Mink Shoals, WV. Author of Fissures, and Other Stories (Bottom Dog Press), his fiction has appeared in Yemassee and Broad River Review; his poetry in The Literary ReviewCrab Creek Review, and Roanoke Review. Sample more of his work on his ‘Timothy Dodd, Writer’ Facebook page.  

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