About the Poems
by Matthew Hittinger
These “poems of the prism” are part of a primer I call Impossible Gotham. They are a late addition to the project, and were triggered by a series of classes on contemporary art I took at MoMA last year. In an “ah-ha!” moment after class one night, I realized ROY G BIV should be part of the primer too, and they've become the anchor poems in the sequencing of the book. One rule I set for myself was that each poem had to tackle its color in a different way. I tried to think of each poem as a painting, and decided whatever approach I used for the previous color, I could not repeat with the next color.
Many of the poems reference the visual arts, from the Contemporary (Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg in “Red Gotham;” Marina Abramovic and William Kentridge in “Blue Gotham”) to the Medieval (the Cloisters in “Yellow Gotham”), but visual culture is not the only source. There is a wink to a rather famous Frank O'Hara poem in “Indigotham.” And there is a debt to L. Frank Baum and Lewis Carroll, who taught me there are days where life in the Impossible Gotham can only be described through the language of Oz, in the rhythms of Wonderland.