The day the artist died

The day the artist died
                 In memory of Marío Colín

Today the artist died.
Drummers drum the dancers’ steps,
firm and heavy beneath the trees.
The dancers dance a prayer.
A black dove leaves a feather at my back door,
another on my front step.
The sky paints itself a heaven.
The Queen of Heaven
fades and crumbles on adobe walls,
her flesh cracked and weathered
by the unrelenting sun.
Without the artist to create her,
without his hands,
stained blue and gold,
how will She know herself in all her glory?

How will She love herself
without his devotion? Each stroke of his brush
another prayer. Each star placed deliberately
on her cloak by his knowing touch.
Her double chin an invocation.
Her sorrowful eyes, a lament.
Each precise shade he adds, a request,
“Pray for us sinners,
now and at the hour of our death.”

How will She know to pray
without the clasped hands of the artist
devoted to Her glory?
Who will paint the Queen of Heaven?
Who will kiss the stained hand of her most devoted son?
In the park the drums have ceased to call us to the dance.

The dancers have packed their rattles and hoops
and gone away.
A black dove nests in the arms of my Bird of Paradise.
He leaves me feathers,
in memory of the one who’s gone.

by Donna Snyder

 

Published in my book Poemas ante el Catafalco: Grief and Renewal (Chimbarazu Press: New York City 2014)

Information on my new book

 

 

NeoPoiesis Press link to various distributors in the world

 Amazo

 Barnes and Noble

 Abe Books

or for an autographed copy, buy it directly from the author   donnajosnyder@gmail.com

 

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El Paso Times Review of my book, Poemas ante el Catafalco: Grief and Renewal

http://www.elpasotimes.com/living/ci_27760627/through-grieving-process-step-by-step-and-poem

Through the grieving process, step by step and poem by poem

March 21, 2015

El Paso Times

Donna J. Snyder’s new work, “Poemas Ante El Catafalco: Grief and Renewal” (Chimbarazu Press), is a work about intimate desolation and poignant recovery.

The poems document Snyder’s travel through the hard processes of grieving after the passing of her beloved, the renowned El Paso artist Mario Colin.

Much as in her first collection, “I Am South,” Snyder uses straightforward imagery and unpretentious phrasing to drive her work from start to finish. It is the power of this simplicity and knack for a good turn of phrase that invites the reader to step inside her journey.

Snyder does not overwhelm, but rather coaxes one along with melodic wording, vivid imagery and religious symbolism.

In her poem “Lamentation”:

I am the stigmata in Jesus’ hands & feet,

Purple flesh a cup for putrefaction.

I am the green odor emanating from his god’s wounds.

Jesus has delivered his painful flesh and ravished spirit

Into the faithful arms of Morfeo.

Sleep is his only friend,

Oblivion his only love.

I am the despair that compels his hand

To mutilate his own flesh.

I am the mutilated flesh.

I am the sad blood singing him to sleep.

I am the sad blood.

I am the blood on Jesus’ hands.

I am the lonely earth

Beneath his feet.

In each poem, Snyder subtly shifts between the mystical and the commonplace, between the abstract and the detailed, between shifting moments of anxiety and rebirth, in what seems like an effortless and seamless flow.

In “We got married on Día de los Muertos,” Snyder superbly blends all her elements:

We got married on Day of the Dead,

We clung to each other like tattoos,

Calaveras dancing in wedding clothes.

Roses hung across the breast of death.

The smell of dampness dissipated.

Darkness became light.

Each poem is a complete work of art that can stand alone.

Snyder has also mastered the short poem, streaming her imageries, line by line, like counterpoint melodies playing off each other; very haiku-like. In “Green is a fine way”:

A mockingbird sings through the humid evening,

The smell of oleander dizzies the dancers into silence.

There is a magic door in a leaf-crept wall, green with portent.

Only the gravest ill can justify such anguish.

The way to the other side is through the ancient door.

Green is a fine way to end one’s days.

At times, “Grief and Renewal” reads like a poetic novella, bringing the reader, poem by poem, along a sequential journey of healing. Snyder’s new work is risky in its edginess with the use of such dark thematic material. Again, nothing is overplayed.

If poets, traditionally, have one, or perhaps even two, defining works, “Grief and Renewal” certainly ranks as a seminal work for Snyder. Her first work, “I Am South,” has an earthy quality and a professional feel to it. “I Am South” is a good and competent work. However, “Grief and Renewal” packs a hard punch and flirts with greatness.

After reading “Grief and Renewal,” well, count me as a fan.

Lawrence Barrett is an El Paso poet and musician.

Poemas ante el Catafalco:  Grief and Renewal Cover art is

Poemas ante el Catafalco: Grief and Renewal
Cover art is “Angel in Decline,” by Victor Hernández

Lawrence Barrett’s review of Poemas ante el Catafalco: Grief and Renewal

https://www.facebook.com/SlimGizzardz?fref=photo

Slim Gizzards Poetry Review

Review: Poemas Ante El Catafalco: Grief and Renewal; by Donna J. Snyder; Chimbarazu Press; NY; 2014; $16.00. Reviewed by Lawrence Barrett

Donna J. Snyder’s new work, Poemas Ante El Catafalco: Grief and Renewal, is a work about intimate desolation, and, poignant recovery. Snyder travels through the hard processes of grieving due to the passing of her beloved, Mario Colin, renowned El Paso artist and local legend. Much like her first work, I Am South, Snyder uses straightforward imagery and unpretentious phrasing to drive her work from start to finish. It is the power of this simplicity and a knack for a good turn of phrase that invites the reader to step inside her journey of Grief and Renewal and experience a sensitivity of expression that exists solely in the travail of somber aftermath. Snyder does not overwhelm but rather coaxes one along with melodic wording, vivid imagery and religious symbolism:
Lamentation
I am the stigmata in Jesus’ hands & feet,
Purple flesh a cup for putrefaction.
I am the green odor emanating from his god’s wounds.
Jesus has delivered his painful flesh and ravished spirit
Into the faithful arms of Morfeo.
Sleep is his only friend,
Oblivion his only love.

I am the despair that compels his hand
To mutilate his own flesh.
I am the mutilated flesh.
I am the sad blood singing him to sleep.
I am the sad blood.
I am the blood on Jesus’ hands.
I am the lonely earth
Beneath his feet.

In each poem Snyder subtly shifts between the mystical and the commonplace; between the abstract and the detailed; between shifting moments of anxiety and rebirth in what seems like an effortless and seamless flow. “We got married on Dia de los Muertos,” Snyder superbly blends all her elements:
We got married on Day of the Dead,
We clung to each other like tattoos,
Calaveras dancing in wedding clothes.
Roses hung across the breast of death.
The smell of dampness dissipated.
Darkness became light.

Each poem is a complete work of art that can stand alone. Snyder has also mastered the short poem, streaming her imageries, line by line, like counterpoint melodies playing off each other; very haiku-like.
Green is a fine way

A mockingbird sings through the humid evening,
The smell of oleander dizzies the dancers into silence.
There is a magic door in a leaf-crept wall, green with portent.

Only the gravest ill can justify such anguish.
The way to the other side is through the ancient door.
Green is a fine way to end one’s days.

At times Grief and Renewal reads like a poetic novella, bringing the reader, poem by poem, along a sequential journey of healing. Snyder’s new work is risky in its edginess with the use of such dark thematic material. Again, nothing is overplayed. If poets, traditionally, have one, or perhaps even two, defining works, Grief and Renewal certainly ranks as a seminal work for Snyder. Her first work, I Am South, has an earthy quality and a professional feel to it. I Am South a good and competent work. However, Grief and Renewal packs a hard punch and flirts with greatness. After reading Grief and Renewal, well, count me a fan.

Catafalco_Cove final

A Virtual Interview with Donna Snyder

An interview by Cindy Huyser
A Virtual Interview with Donna Snyder.

Belinda Subraman’s article at The Gypsy Art Show about Poemas ante el Catafalco: Grief and Renewal

Publisher and writer Belinda Subraman posted a write-up about my book Poemas ante el Catafalco:  Grief and Renewal on her longstanding site, The Gypsy Art Show.

http://www.gypsyartshow.com/2014/12/poemas-ante-el-catafalco-grief-and.html

Belinda Subraman's Gypsy Art Show

Belinda Subraman’s Gypsy Art Show

Video recording of “More Beautiful with Sangria”

Mark Walsh recorded me in his studio in downtown Los Angeles, California on November 23, 2014. I am reading from Poemas ante el Catafalco:  Grief and Renewal (Chimbarazu Press).

http://www.laartstream.com/words/more-beautiful-with-sangria/

cropped-catafalco_cove-final.jpg

Video recording of me reading “I Am the Sound of the Sea”

Mark Walsh recorded me in his studio in downtown Los Angeles, California on November 23, 2014. I am reading from Poemas ante el Catafalco:  Grief and Renewal (Chimbarazu Press).

http://www.laartstream.com/words/i-am-the-sound-of-the-sea/

Photo by Victor Hernández taken at the Black Orchid Lounge in El Paso,  Texas September 22, 2014.

Photo by Victor Hernández taken at the Black Orchid Lounge in El Paso, Texas September 22, 2014.