About the Poems
by Brandon Shimoda
The great American painter Agnes Martin died recently (in 2004). I became acquainted with her work through an initial aversion to it. The muted colors and hand-measured grids of her paintings seemed overwhelming impositions. And yet, at times, the only thing more productive than love is aversion. Her paintings were/are abstractions of landscape experience, spiritual in nature, finding their place in the space between Abstract Expressionism and Minimalism, neither category befitting. I won't attempt to describe or discuss her paintings at any greater length, except to say that over time my aversion molted, uncovering a relationship of true flesh and passion. I mourn her passing.
At some point in her life, and in her notes/poem "The Untroubled Mind", Agnes made these (re)marks:
I didn't paint the plane / I just drew this horizontal line / Then I found out about all the other lines / But I realized what I liked was the horizontal line.
I won't attempt to describe or discuss my poems at any greater length either, except to say that Agnes' initiation, discovery, and realization seems a manageable formulation of how things come to be. There is always that circling back to the realization of initial like, by way of an honest and intense finding out.
And so, these poems are dedicated to the memory of Agnes Martin, as well as to the real-life living of the Hudson River, Jabe Pond, and Jack Baker in New York, and Aimee right here in Montana.