The Beauty of Indifference – Mary Aherne

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The Beauty of Indierence. What do John Keats, W. H. Auden, and many contemporary poets have in common? They have all written ekphrastic poetry. Ekphrastic poetry, or poetry inspired by visual art, has a well established history dating back to Homer’s description of the Shield of Achilles in The Iliad. Its popularity in the Romantic period was marked by Keats’s quintessential Ode on a Grecian Urn. Twentieth-century examples include Auden’s Musée des Beaux Arts inspired by Pieter Breughel the Elder’s Landscape with the Fall of Icarus and Anne Sexton’s The Starry Night inspired by Vincent Van Gogh’s painting of the same name. In this spirit, I have written a sequence of poems in response to a number of Duchamp’s works of art including , Nude Descending a Staircase, L.H.O.O.Q., Bicycle Wheel and Prelude to a Broken Arm, amongst others. The title of the sequence is The Beauty of Indierence which makes reference to Duchamp’s process of selecting his famous Readymades.

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